MANILA: The Philippines has sought the assistance of Iraq and Libya in securing the release of five Filipinos who were reported seized by armed men in separate incidents in the two countries last week.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement released by his office Sunda that the Philippine embassies in Baghdad and Tripoli had been informed that five Filipino workers were taken by armed men in Iraq and Libya on Friday.
“We are in touch with authorities in Iraq and Libya and have requested their help in locating and securing the release of our missing kababayan (countrymen),” said Cayetano.
Citing initial reports from the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad, the secretary said two Filipinos were abducted by still unidentified armed men along a highway in Uzem District, south of Kirkuk.
“Chargé d’Affaires Julius Torres said the women were reportedly with two other Filipinos on their way to Baghdad from Kurdistan when their vehicle was stopped by the armed men,” he said.
Torres further informed the secretary that reports received by the Embassy indicate that the driver abandoned his vehicle and the four Filipinos were then taken by the armed men. However, the reports said two of the Filipinos were later able to escape and are now in police custody.
In Libya, the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli said three Filipino technicians were among four foreign nationals taken by armed men from a waterworks project site, also on Friday.
Chargé d’Affaires Mardomel Melicor said armed men entered the construction site 500 kilometers from Tripoli early in the morning Friday and took five foreigners and four Libyan from their quarters.
Melicor said the armed men later released one of the foreign workers and all the Libyans.
Earlier reports indicate that aside from the three Filipinos, a South Korean national was also abducted by the armed men during the raid at the water plant south of Tripoli.
Reports further state that kidnapping has become a lucrative trade in Libya amid the breakdown of authority.