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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 August, 2004, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Manila protest at Iraq work ban
Workers protesting in Manila (11/8/04)
Workers say they are willing to take the risk
Workers in the Philippines have staged a noisy protest at a government ban on their seeking work in Iraq.

Hundreds of workers held a rally in Manila and called for the ban, which was imposed after a Filipino was taken hostage in Iraq, to be lifted.

The hostage, Angelo de la Cruz, was freed after the Philippines agreed to withdraw its troops from Iraq, sparking criticism from the US and other allies.

Thousands of Filipinos rely on jobs overseas, many in the Middle East.

The protesting workers, who gathered outside an employment agency in Makarti, said they were ready to risk working in Iraq if it meant an escape from poverty at home.

"In Iraq, we only have to face bullets from terrorists," Dave Santos, a tricycle driver, told Reuters news agency.

"But in our country we are up against three enemies - breakfast, lunch and dinner," he said.

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