More than 2,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) inside two US bases in Afghanistan-Bagram and Kandahar are in danger of losing their jobs amid President Donald Trump’s reported threat to withdraw the 5,000 American troops on January 15, 2021.
A former spokesman for the Filipinos in Afghanistan and Pinoy Bunker, said the defeated Republican President has recently ordered Pentagon to draw up the withdrawal plans of 2,500 American troops out of the 5,000 currently stationed in Afghanistan.
The remaining 2,500 are to train the Afghan military and police in anti-terrorist measures against the Taliban.
Despite the misgivings of former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the senior generals in the US Armed Forces, President Trump ordered the drawdown of the US troops by January 15, 2021 several days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
The 2,000 OFWs inside the US bases have been there since 2014.
“They were left behind after the US’s massive withdrawal of 150,000 troops ordered by former President Barrack Obama in 2014,” said the former spokesman and now recruitment consultant Manny Geslani.
He said the OFWs are employed by international contractors that provide maintenance services and logistical support like cleaning mess hall, motor services, clerical work and many other forms of manual labor.
Geslani said the OFWs receive more than three times the salaries of other OFWs in the region, “and they remain safe and secured inside the bases with good accommodations.”
Filipinos have been laboring in the war-torn country since 2003 when most of them were transferred from Iraq to Afghanistan by international contractors.
“And many more were able to enter Afghanistan using Dubai and Kuwait as jump-off points,” Geslani said.
“The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration [POEA] considers these OFW as undocumented workers and are no longer issued employment certificates if they want to go back to Afghanistan once they come home for vacation,” Geslani said.
The OFWs in Afghanistan grew to about 10,000 as 140,000 US troops poured in under President Obama, together with 50 other nations that joined the fight against the Taliban.
In 2011, the 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 until then President Benigno Aquino III issued an executive order legalizing their stay.
In Iraq, President Trump ordered the withdrawal of 500 troops out of the 3,000 US soldiers there to train the Iraqi Army. There are also about 1,000 Filipinos working in US bases in Iraq and many more inside the Green Zone, a heavily fortified zone in Baghdad.