نظم عمال فليبنيون مظاهرة حاشدة في مانيلا للمطالبة برفع الحظر على سفرهم إلى العراق. ويذكر أن الحكومة الفلبينية قد قامت بفرض هذا الحظر في يوليو/تموز الماضي بعد وقوع أحد العمال الفلبينيين رهينة في ايدي مجموعة مسلحة في العراق.
Chanting and holding banners, Philippine protesters marched to the presidential palace, calling on President Gloria Arroyo to lift a ban against working in Iraq. Most of the demonstrators at this and other recent protests are jobless. They say, without work in Iraq they have no chance to feed their families and escape poverty at home.
Lorry driver Angelo dela Cruz was released by Islamic militants in Iraq last month after President Arroyo agreed to their demands to withdraw fifty-one Philippine soldiers. The pull-out drew sharp criticism from the United States and other allies but won widespread support at home.
Around eight million Filipinos - that's a tenth of the population - work overseas. More than four thousand work in Iraq, mostly as labourers and drivers, but every day hundreds more queue outside recruitment agencies in the Philippines for a chance to go. A third of Filipinos live on a dollar a day.
The billions of dollars overseas workers send home every year means the difference between mere survival and a better life. President Arroyo has asked her officials to study whether it's safe to end the ban on going to Iraq. But for the protesters and other workers here, they are ready to leave now.
Sarah Toms, BBC, Manila