THE exact return date of Special Envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu from his Iraq mission remains uncertain, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

In a phone interview, DFA spokesman Eduardo Malaya said that the highly-anticipated return of the head of the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Committee might be anytime this week.

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“It is supposed to be this week but we haven’t received a word yet on what day it would be for his return,” said Malaya.

In a previous statement, the department said Cimatu is set to return to the country and will immediately submit his report and recommendations on the situation in Iraq.

His recommendation is expected to be the basis on whether the Philippine government would approve calls for the lifting of the deployment ban in the war-torn country.

“The inter-agency committee is expected to issue policy guidelines shortly after Ambassador Cimatu's return,” said the DFA.

Cimatu left for Iraq last Thursday in order to assess the security situation in Iraq and the security measures in place for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there.

The deployment of Cimatu comes after the United States (US) Central Command ordered the removal of all Filipinos currently deployed in Iraq by August 9 in respect to the laws of the host country and nations with deployment bans imposed.

Several sectors, including recruiters and OFWs, have since been calling on the government to simply lift the deployment ban in Iraq instead of risk having additional thousands of unemployed returning OFWs in the country.

Since July 2004, the Philippine government had imposed a deployment ban in Iraq following the abduction of truck driver Angelo dela Cruz in Baghdad and the start of the war on terror campaign by the American government.

Despite the ban, though, some 15,000 Filipino workers are still able to sneak to Iraq, most of which are working in US military camps and are in-charge of laundry, cleaning, maintenance of electrical and mechanical works, catering, transport of logistics and food. (AMN/Sunnex)