By Roy Mabasa
The Philippine Embassy in Baghdad has welcomed Iraq’s recent approval of the opening of a Philippine consular office in the Kurdistan Region (KRI) where many Filipinos are deployed and serving as frontliners against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a statement posted on its social media site, the Philippine Embassy said Iraq’s Council of Ministers approved on April 10, 2020 the opening of the consular office to be headed by an honorary consul in the region.
“The Embassy believes this approval is a big step towards the recognition of the Filipino community in the KRI which is home to around 400 OFWs, similar to Baghdad, including 64 health professionals,” the Embassy said.
At the same time, the Embassy extolled Filipino experts and professionals who are manning the frontline in the City of Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan Region “not just during the (COVID-19) pandemic, but all throughout Iraq’s various struggles.”
It added that they will continue to push for the reinstatement of the 2018 Balik Manggagawa Program in Iraq to allow OFWs to return their respective work places in that country after spending their vacation in the Philippines.
The Philippine government adopted a selective Balik Manggagawa Program in September 2018 shortly due to the conflicts arising in Iraq.