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Over 2K OFWs face loss of jobs in Afghanistan

IF outgoing US President Donald Trump pushes through with his directive to pull out troops in Afghanistan, more than 2,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are in danger of losing their jobs in two large American bases in the war-torn country by January 15, 2021.

The 2,000 Filipinos working inside two large US bases namely, Bagram and Kandahar, are in danger of losing their good paying jobs as Trump plans to withdraw the 5,000 troops now operating Taliban infested country of Afghanistan.

Manny Geslani, former spokesman for the Filipinos in Afghanistan and PInoy Bunker, said that the defeated Republican President has recently ordered Pentagon to make plans for the withdrawal of some 2,500 US troops out of 5,000 currently stationed in Afghanistan for the purpose of training the Afhgan Military and Police in anti-terrorist measures.

Despite the misgivings of former Secretary of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and senior generals in the US Armed Forces, Trump ordered the drawdown of the US troops by Jan. 15, 2021 — several days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Approximately, there are more than 2,000 OFWs working in the US bases since 2014 and were the only ones left after the massive withdrawal of 150,000 US troops ordered by former US President Barrack Obama in 2014.

The OFWs are under contract with international contractors that provide maintenance services for the operation of the US bases like logistical, cleaning mess hall, motor services, clerical and many other forms of work.

It was learned that they received salaries 3-5 times the ordinary salaries and are safe and secured inside the bases with good accommodations.

Filipinos have been working in the war-torn country since 2003 when most of them were transferred to Afghanistan by international contractors from Iraq and many more got inside using Dubai and Kuwait as the jump-off points.

Government authorities considered these workers as undocumented and every time they would come home to the country for a vacation every six months, their return to Afghanistan was a painful financial loss.

OFWs in Afghanistan grew to more than 8.000-10,000 as more troops were poured in by Obama to about 140,000 American forces together with 50 other nations that joined the fight against the Taliban.

In 2011 OFWs in Afghanistan were granted documentary privileges by the POEA to allow them to continue working in that country when the US Military threatened to kick them out but then President Benigno Aquino III issued an executive order legalizing their stay.

In Iraq, Trump ordered also the withdrawal of 500 troops out of the 3,000 soldiers who are there to train the Iraq Army. There are also about 1,000 Filipinos working in US bases in that country and many more inside the Green Zone.

Filipinos working inside the US bases are presently worried about losing their good paying jobs inside US bases once the troops leave the bases. By Willy M. Balasa