Some overseas Filipino workers in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, are asking for help to allow them to return to the Philippines and still return to their jobs in Iraq.
Annie Saucelo Astillo, a company accountant in Erbil, said they are also appealing to the government to lower the total deployment ban in Iraq.
Astillo was supposed to return to the Philippines last year when the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration declared a total deployment ban in January 2020 due to tensions between Iran and the United States.
Some vacationing OFWs have not been able to return to Iraq, he added.
“‘Yun ang battlecry namin, sana po maibalik po talaga ‘yung right po namin makauwi. Kasi kung talaga pong napakagulo dito, hindi po namin ita-take ang buhay namin para magstay dito kung magulo po,” he said.
“Nag-stay po kami kasi ang opportunity dito ay maganda at masusuportahan namin ang aming mga pamilya sa Pilipinas,” added Astillo.
According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, they will study reinstating the Balik-Manggagawa program.
“Pero susundin pa rin natin ang Department of Foreign Affairs kasi sila ang nakakaalam sa situation doon,” he said.
Bello said he would consult with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to discuss the situation in Iraq and the request of some OFWs.
Batanes records first COVID-19 death
Batanes recorded its first death due to COVID-19 along with the continuous rise of cases in the province.
A 70-year-old man from Basco was the first COVID-related death, the provincial government said Monday.
On September 25, the patient died of acute respiratory failure secondary to pneumonia and COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the number of active cases or currently with COVID-19 in Batanes reached 349 after registering 67 new cases.
The most active cases are in Basco, reaching 254. There are 25 active cases in Uyugan, 24 in Mahatao, 19 in Ivana, 14 in Itbayat and 13 in Sabtang.
It was also found that 1 critical, 7 severe, and 12 moderate COVID-19 patients were observed at Batanes General Hospital.
Batanes was under enhanced community quarantine from September 20 to October 4.