Alert level 4 raised in Iraq

January 08, 2020
File photo of some Middle East-bound OFWs

THE Philippine government is now implementing mandatory evacuation of Filipinos in Iraq following Iran’s missile attack targeting the two US bases there.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Menez said Crisis Alert level 4 was raised in Iraq for mandatory evacuation.

More than a dozen ballistic missiles were fired against US military and coalition forces in Iraq, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).

“As a result of the government’s coordination meetings on the situation in the Middle East in the past few days, the Alert Level 4 in entire Iraq has been raised to Alert Level 4 calling for mandatory evacuation,” Menez said.

Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Jomar Sadie explained since it was the Philippine Government which calls for the mandatory evacuation, Filipinos who will be leaving Iraq will undergo the normal procedure of getting their exit papers.

“Dahil wala pa sa Iraq, ito ay galing sa atin, normal procedure po ‘yan, kakailanganin ‘yong  visa  at ticket (Since the announcement of evacuation did not come from Iraq, it was from us, this would be a normal procedure, you would still need a visa and a ticket),” Sadie said.

“Sino po ang mag-sisecure ng exit visa kung employed? Ito ay employer. Kung walang employer o biktima ng human trafficking,  makipag-ugnayan po kayo sa amin (Who will secure the exit visa if employed? The employer. If you don’t have an employer or you’re a victim of human trafficking, contact us),” he added.

Sadie assured that the Philippine government would repatriate any Filipino who may be affected or displaced by the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, he advised Filipinos in the area to remain vigilant, exercise caution and maintain situational awareness.

“Ngayon kasi ang status natin, ang marching order sa amin ay mandatory repatriation,” he said.

There are about 1,190 documented and 450 undocumented Filipinos in Iraq.

The Philippine Embassy in Iraq said it raised the highest in a 4-step crisis alert system, which called for mandatory repatriation of Filipinos.

Alert Level 4 is issued “when there is large-scale internal conflict or full-blown external attack,” according to the Department of Foreign Affairs website.

“Magkakaroon na po ng forced evacuation d’yan (there will be a forced evacuation there),” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello added in a DZMM interview.

Filipinos in Iraq should keep their passport at all times and coordinate closely with the embassy and their respective employers, said Chargé d’Affaires Jomar Sadie in a live video on the embassy’s official Facebook page.

An exit visa and ticket, which must be secured through employers, are needed during the repatriation, he said.

“Kung walang employer o biktima ng human trafficking, tumawag sa amin para matulungan namin kayo o pumunta directly sa embassy,” Sadie advised.

(If you have no employer or you’re a victim of human trafficking, call us so we can help you or go directly to the embassy.)

Overseas Filipino workers may reach the embassy at hotline numbers 07816066822, 07516167838, 07518764665 and 07508105240; via email through o r mbaphilbagh; and its Facebook page.

There are some 1,600 Filipinos in Iraq, a defense official earlier said.