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Bohol Radio Reporter Killed in Iraq
« on: May 06, 2007, 03:36:13 AM »
IT could happen to any soldier who swears to lay down his life for his country. But when it happened to a simple Boholano maintenance worker earning his living in a hostile environment in Iraq, it becomes another alarming call for the government to open better job options here.

Another Boholano comes home this time in a box, a victim of a raging war of ideologies he may may very little to care about.

Life was nipped out of 36 years old Boholano Neciforo Idulsa who was one working as a security officer and finally as a maintenance man in an American facility right in the heart of Iraq.

Three days of continuous mortar and rocket fire into the heavily fortified Green Zone in Iraq finally had one rocket streaming into the zone and found Idulsa and three other foreign nationals in the open.

The Department of Foreign Affairs initially released a bulletin about four Filipino fatalities in the most recent Iraqi extremist attack, but confirmed the sole fatality Friday.

In a statement released shortly after the rocket attack, Foreign Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Esteban Conejos Jr. said the lone Filipino fatality was confirmed by Chargé d’Affaires Wilfredo Cuyugan of the Jordan-based Philippine Embassy in Baghdad.

“After the media reports came out, Cuyugan called the department to confirm that, although four people were indeed killed in the attack, only one of the casualties was Filipino, the others being of different nationalities,” said Conejos in an Associate Press report.

Now, Boholanos await for the arrival of Idulsa's remains, the latest Filipino fatality while being exposed to dangerous working conditions in exchange for a better life for their families. Years back, a Boholano soldier, Myla Maravillosa also died while in active duty in Iraq.

The Idulsa family of Villa Aurora, Bilar has accordingly expressed their desire to have the remains shipped here in Bohol and not in Surigao where his family currently settles.

Asde from grieving relatives in Bohol, Neciforo also leaves behind his wife Teresita and three kids.

While in Bohol, Necie worked as a radio reporter in a Bohol station in 1997. He finally got the chance to work abroad and took on it as a security guard via an agency in Manila.

But Thursday morning, when mortar fire and rockets streaked across the Tigris River for three days, one errant rocket exploded just outside a tunnel and found the young maintenance man exposed to fire unconfirmed reports said.

But DYTR radio technician Hilario Idulsa, the slain worker’s brother confirmed the news after the station wired the Manila agency, which his brother was serving. The agency’s Liezl Roluna also confirmed the news to the victim’s radio workmates.

The slain Idulsa was then sent as a security guard to a US facility in Kuwait and then transferred to Iraq when his contract in Kuwait reportedly expired, sources said.

US embassy spokesman and Charge d’Affaires Daniel Speckhard was quoted as saying [Idulsa] was an integral part of the embassy community.

Reports cited the embassy as saying that Wednesday’s attack left it “with a profound sense of sadness and regret” over the loss of the Filipino.

When President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo learned of the unfortunate incident, he was saddened and has instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to ensure the immediate repatriation of the remains and the delivery of due benefits to their bereaved families.

The DFA has also been directed to conduct a quick reassessment of the situation to determine if more OFWs there need or want to be repatriated.

The Idulsa death happened even as a travel ban to Iraq is in effect from 2004 and as Filipinos there are urged to take the safety precautions while keeping in close touch with the embassy in Baghdad.

US military camps across Iraq employ 5T-6T Filipinos, mostly as cooks and maintenance personnel.

Most of the Filipino workers were in Iraq before the Philippines imposed the deployment ban.

Despite the ban, many Filipino workers are believed to have slipped into Iraq through neighboring countries like Jordan, prompting the government to appeal to those countries to help block such passage.

Bunye said the ban on Filipinos traveling to Iraq would remain, but nationals who were already there were “urged to take necessary precautions for their safety” while keeping in touch with the embassy there. (rachiu/PIA)

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