Friday, January 07, 2011

Fil-Am worker in Afghanistan urges Philippine govt to lift travel ban

Take it straight from the horse's mouth.
Filipino-American Carlo Echano urged the Philippine government on Wednesday to act fast in lifting the travel ban to Afghanistan because of the immense job opportunities in the country.
A member of the Filipinos in Afghanistan organization, Echano said that working inside the military bases of the US was safer than walking in the slums of Tondo, Manila or the long highway, EDSA.
Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kabul asked the Malacanang to lift the deployment ban of OFWs who want to venture in Afghanistan.
About 80 percent of Filipinos work in US facilities in Afghanistan, according to Echano. Attacks on US bases are fewer than those in Iraq. Missile attacks "do not even make it over the perimeter fence."
The Fil-Am worker also said that the US is building at least 20 more camps in the country. His company alone--among the 70 firms that employ OFWs--was hiring 7,000 workers this year.
Echano confidently said in a press conference in Manila, "I think it's very safe. I mean, it's probably more dangerous to cross EDSA than being in Afghanistan or being in any of the slum areas in Manila or being in Mindanao. That's more dangerous than being in Afghanistan."
The Filipinos are said to be worried because the Philippine government's travel ban makes it difficult for foreign companies to hire Filipinos and other nationals are being hired.
OFWs in US bases in Afghanistan receive tax-free incomes. The jobs vary from white to blue collars. A laundrywoman could earn $2,000 per month; a driver $5,000; and a supervisor $15,000. They also have $50,000-insurance policy, a requirement of the US law.
He said, "So, all the income that you make, you can send home. There is no tax. Everything is take home … So, it would be a very big impact on their family situation here in the Philippines if they lose their jobs."
Filipino professionals are also working in the country such as in the fields of administration, finance, dining facilities. Others are working as carpenters, electricians, or site managers.
Many of these workers were hired from Middle Eastern countries and even from the Philippines.
He also mentioned having complete recreational facilities inside the bases. There are KFC and Friday's outlets.
Asked why he is working in Afghanistan when he is already an American citizen, Echano said that there are slim chances for him to get a job in the US. There are more opportunities in Afghanistan.
Author's note: This report is another example of the Press' incomplete and biased journalistic practice. Like in the previous years, the media have shaped a bad image of these countries for reasons we don't know.

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