The two Filipinas who were seized by armed men last week were rescued by Iraqi authorities after being held in captivity, the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed Monday.
“We thank God for the successful rescue of our two kababayans,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement.
Cayetano conveyed the Philippine government's gratitude to authorities in Iraq for the swift and successful recovery of the Filipinos.
Iraqi authorities informed the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad on Sunday that the two Filipinas are now under police custody after they were rescued in Diyala Province north of the capital on Saturday.
“Their safe recovery would not have been possible without the swift response of our Iraqi friends and for that we are very grateful,” Cayetano said.
Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Julius Torres said he was informed by authorities in Diyala Province that the two were rescued from members of a criminal group who forcibly took them on Friday.
Several members of the group were arrested during the police rescue operation and that charges were being prepared against them, Torres said.
"The embassy has requested Iraqi authorities access to the two rescued women and the two other Filipinas who were earlier reported to have been taken into custody after escaping from the same armed men who took them," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The four Filipinas came from Erbil in the norther Kurdistan Region and were on their way to Baghdad when their vehicle encountered the armed men along the highway in Uzem District between Kirkuk and Diyala.
They were taken by the armed men after their driver abandoned their vehicle. However, two of the four women were able to escape.
Torres said the embassy would request custody of the four women as soon as the police investigation is concluded so that they could immediately be repatriated.
There are 4,000 Filipinos working in Iraq, with around 3,000 based in Kurdistan.
The Philippines is among the world's top labor-exporters with about 8.6 million skilled and unskilled workers scattered abroad, earning more than they could in the country where jobs are scarce and poverty is widespread. — RSJ, GMA News