Thursday, February 5, 2009

Migrante urges gov't to prioritize penalizing illegal recruiters

Press Release
03 February 2009

Amid aggressive marketing of OFWs abroad:
Migrante urges gov't to prioritize penalizing illegal recruiters

While the Philippine Overseas Workers Administration (POEA) boasts about half a million available jobs abroad, Migrante International demands penalty for recruitment agencies that continue to function despite complaints and record of malpractice against them.

POEA Administrator Jennifer Manalili said that there are 400,000 job offers particularly in the health care services sector in Canada and Australia and the construction industries sector in the Middle East.

Migrante International Chairperson Garry Martinez denounced the government's ceaseless efforts to deploy more workers abroad while it fails to ensure their protection from recruitment agencies that might breach more contracts and overcharge more clients.

"The government must penalize illegal recruiters first before engaging in more contracts abroad especially at a time of a worldwide economic crisis wherein massive cases of retrenchment are reported. The government must ensure that they do not suffer the same fate as the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who went home from Taiwan this January. They were conned by their recruiters through breach of contract and overcharging in fees," Martinez said.

Martinez cited five agencies that retrenched OFWs accused of breaching the contract and overcharged at least 54 OFWs laid-off in Taiwan. These agencies were Forever Manpower Services (FMS), Network Management Resources Corporation, Filsino Manpower Services, MIP International Services (MIP), and Flourish International Manpower.

For instance, Diona Cepeda, one of the OFWs displaced from a company in Taiwan revealed that MIP collected P94,500 as placement fee from her while the agency only recorded P25,920 in the official receipt. Aside from the placement fee, she also paid P550 for birth certificate and P3,650 for medical test fee. Meanwhile, like the other retrenched OFWs, she now worries on how to pay the lending company for the money she lent to pay for the placement fee. Other OFWs from Taiwan also complained FMS' collection of unnecessary fees such as P2,400 for the company jacket.

Manalili said that out of the 5,404 OFWs displaced from October to January 30, there were about 1,000 cases referred to them. She said that they have settled 130 to 140 of these cases and released P6.5 million in return for placement fees and other costs paid for by OFWs.

However, Martinez said that this refund is inadequate as the amount mentioned is only equivalent to P50,000 for each of the victims while they were overcharged with at least P100,000 for each person.

"Victims, first and foremost, seek justice from their breached contract and conning of these recruitment agencies. They need job security and the reimbursement of the excessive fees they paid to their recruiters. These recuitment agencies must be punished or else, 400,000 more will be conned," Martinez said.###

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