Thursday, February 26, 2009

Herding OFWs into the wolves lair

26 February 2009

President Arroyo’s POEA job fair:
Herding OFWs into the wolves lair

Migrante International, a global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations, accused President Arroyo of personally luring OFWs into the burrow of illegal recruiters, human traffickers and loan sharks when she graces a job fair which was held at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) last Wednesday.

The group claims that the President practically ignored reports of illegal recruitment and rampant overcharging cases in POEA when she graced the agencies job fair instead of attending the People Power ceremonies.

“Recruitment agencies gave the loudest cheer when President Arroyo arrived at the POEA’s job fair. For them it was the ultimate consent that illegal recruitment and overcharging OFWs are going to be continuously disregarded for the sake of the government’s intensified labor exportation program,” exclaims Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Martinez claim that no less than the Bureau of Immigration revealed recently that the POEA is engaging in large scale illegal recruitment and human trafficking victimizing at least 10,000 OFWs monthly yet this was allegedly ignored upon the visit of the president in the said agency.

“Retrenched OFWs from Taiwan, for example, filed formal complaints to the POEA and has even personally informed DOLE Secretary Marianito Roque and POEA Administrator Jenifer Manalili during a dialogue that most of them have paid licensed agencies three times more than what is allowed by law. Up to now their complaints remain unheeded and their recruiters continued to overcharge their new recruits up to the present,” Martinez added.

The group lauded Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz for blaming the Arroyo administration on the social cost being brought about by the present migration of Filipinos abroad. The Pilate recently denounced the administration for its aggressive marketing of OFWs abroad at the expense of their welfare.

“We certainly cannot compare the exodus of Filipinos abroad today to the Diaspora of the Israelites to the promise land during the time of Moses. On the contrary, capitalizing the desperation of the people to institutionalize labor trade is systemic exploitation equal to the slave trade during biblical times,” explains Martinez.

POEA data shows that 1.3 million OFWs were deployed last year and Administrator Manalili recently claim of having about 400,000 job orders from abroad at present. OFWs were able to remit more than US$18 billion last year, the highest ever recorded so far by the Central Bank of the Philippines.

Migrante International for their part announced that they will hold a picket in front of the office of Secretary Marianito Roque at the Department of Labor and Employment building tomorrow to protest the alleged inutility of government to protect women workers amidst the global financial and economic crisis. ####

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