From Asia Times:
Jul 15, 2006
US outsources war to Filipinos
By Cher S Jimenez
MANILA - Filipinos are taking up work at US-run facilities in Iraq, dodging an official Philippines travel and employment ban on the war-torn country and providing the US military and its affiliated contractors the cheap, English-speaking manpower it is having increasing difficulty recruiting at home.
The deployments to Iraq represent an illicit spin on the Philippines' global outsourcing phenomenon, where more than 8 million Filipinos have left home for higher paying jobs abroad. The Philippine government imposed a ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Iraq in July 2004, soon after Manila recalled its small humanitarian contingent after militant captors threatened to behead a Filipino truck driver working for the
US occupation forces.
The Philippines remains a staunch supporter of US-led counterterrorism operations in Southeast Asia, including cooperation in combating alleged Islamic terror groups in the southern Philippines. Critics contend that the hotly contested 2004 election had abruptly influenced President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's government decision to withdraw from the US-led "coalition of the willing" occupation forces in Iraq.
Two months before the ban was announced, another Filipino truck driver was the Philippines' first casualty in Iraq, which unleashed a torrent of anti-American protests in Manila. More recently, however, the Philippine government has demonstrated a waning verve in enforcing that ban. Two years later, an estimated 3,000 out of the total 7,000 Filipinos now serving at four US military-run camps in Iraq are undocumented workers, according to Philippine labor officials.
Comparatively high wages have been a push factor: Filipinos in Iraq earn monthly salaries from the US military and its affiliated business interests ranging between US$600 to $1,000 excluding special allowances, according to the labor official. Filipinos already were a massive presence in the Middle East, and have historically shown extraordinary staying power in the region when faced with violent conflict.
When the first Gulf War erupted between Iraq and the US in 1991, there were nearly 100,000 OFWs working in a wide array of jobs in Kuwait. When Iraqi forces first invaded the oil-rich sultanate in 1990, despite offers of free repatriation by the Philippine government, only a few of the workers took up the offer to leave their jobs and fly home. Philippine labor officials estimate that there are currently about 1.5 million OFWs in the Middle East - many of whom are willing to work amid grave security risks rather than face the dismal labor market back home.
An estimated 11% of the Philippine's in-country labor force is currently unemployed, and that rate is steadily rising due to an explosive population growth rate. Last year an estimated 8 million OFWs pumped nearly $12 billion of remittances into the Philippine economy. The comparatively high wages on offer in Iraq has made it an attractive growth market for Middle East-based OFWs, Philippine labor officials say.
Despite the "not valid for travel to Iraq" advisory stamped into every Philippine passport, thousands of Filipinos are openly defying the ban and government officials are either hard-pressed or unwilling to find a solution to the subversion of the ban.
US looks the other way....
[cont reading at: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/HG15Ae01.html