Filipinos bound for Iraq stopped at Dubai airport

DUBAI — About 50 Filipino workers bound for Baghdad were hindered by UAE authorities from boarding a chartered flight at Terminal 2 of Dubai International Airport yesterday.

By Ramona Ruiz

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Published: Sat 18 Dec 2004, 11:30 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:30 PM

Libran Cabactulan, Philippine ambassador to the UAE, told Khaleej Times yesterday that the embassy immediately acted upon a tip received from a Filipino on Thursday that about 50 Filipinos, along with other workers of different nationalities, were departing for Iraq at 6.30am.

The flight took off on schedule after approval has been given not to allow the Filipinos to board the aircraft.

“We immediately sought the assistance of the Dubai Police, immigration and airport authorities who stood behind us in effecting the policy of the Philippine government. We had earlier informed the UAE government of our temporary ban on Filipinos travelling to Iraq,” he said.

Cabactulan declined to reveal details about the company as they are yet to further investigate the matter.

Sources disclosed that the foreign-owned company had a satellite office in Dubai.

He added: “I want to send this message across to the company which deployed the Filipino workers: we have a problem in Baghdad and you should pay heed to the policy of the Philippine government. Please respect our government’s policy.”

He clarified that the travel ban was temporary and that it will be reviewed after the elections in Iraq. Passports are now being stamped with ‘not valid for Iraq’. Filipino authorities are still working to secure the release of Roberto Tarongoy who was kidnapped by militants in Iraq in early last month. As for his message to Filipinos who attempted to travel to Iraq, Cabactulan said that the treatment of the Philippine and UAE governments will not be generous in the future.

“We have to be brutal in order to be kind. Those on UAE visit visas will be detained and deported to the Philippines. The National Bureau of Investigation in the Philippines will welcome them as soon as they arrive in the Philippines,” he said.

Along with Cabactulan, Consul-General Generoso Calonge, Consul Jose Cabrera and Labour Attache Vicente Cabe swung into action on Thursday evening and early yesterday morning to ensure that the temporary ban on Filipinos travelling to Iraq is implemented.

Cabe said that at 8.30pm on Thursday, the embassy made the necessary arrangements with the police, immigration, and airport authorities in Dubai. They left for the airport at 5am yesterday before the flight departed for Iraq.

He said: “We spoke to the company representatives and to the Filipinos before they checked in. The initial report we got that there were more than 32 Filipinos, and some claimed there were 65 Filipinos in the group. The company representative later told us there were around 47 Filipinos.”

“We told them that they (Filipinos) cannot proceed to Iraq as we are merely implementing the Philippine government’s policy. The Filipino workers, of course, were unhappy with our decision. They claimed that they were earlier stranded on Kish Island and had got their visas expired. Others said that they were already working in Dubai, but were promised higher salaries in Iraq.”

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