Thursday, May 3, 2007


By Yong B. Chavez

Four Filipino contractors working for the American government were killed when a rocket attack hit Iraq's Green Zone on May 2.

The identities of those killed have not yet been released.

According to a report, the extremists' attacks started three days before the deaths.

The U.S. embassy in Baghdad has been quoted as saying that Wednesday's attack left it "with a profound sense of sadness and regret'' over the loss of Filipinos who "were integral members of our embassy community.''

The Green Zone, also called the International Zone, home to the U.S. and British embassies, American troops and major US consulting companies, is a heavily guarded area of closed-off streets in central Baghdad. It is also where the main palaces of former President Saddam Hussein can be found.

It has numerous armed checkpoints, coils of razor wire, chain link fences, and is surrounded by reinforced and blast-proof concrete slabs.

But according to a report, two Americans were killed in late March in the Green Zone also due to a rocket attack. In the same week, two suicide vests were found unexploded in the area.

The embassy statement did not provide other details about this recent attack.

Philippine president Gloria Arroyo expressed her sadness over the tragedy and ordered the country's Department of Foreign Affairs to repatriate the remains of the victims.

No data was immediately available as to how many Filipinos have died since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq started.

In 2004, Rodrigo Reyes, a 52-year-old truck driver was the first Philippine casualty in Iraq. He was killed in an ambush in northern Iraq while working for a U.S. firm.

The same year, the Philippines banned deployment of workers to Iraq after extremists abducted another Filipino truck driver, Angelo de la Cruz.

His captors demanded for early withdrawal of a small Philippine peacekeeping contingent from Iraq. Arroyo granted the kidnappers' demand to save his life which earned the ire of Washington officials.

Robert Tarongoy, a Filipino accountant, was also abducted by Iraqi militants and held captive for almost eight months.

There are about 5,000 to 6,000 Filipinos who are employed in U.S. military camps across Iraq, according to reports.

Despite the Arroyo government's Iraq deployment ban, many Filipino workers slip into Iraq through neighboring countries such as Jordan.

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

No comments: