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Pinoy Abroad

OFWs seek scrapping of POEA direct-hiring rules

January 30, 2008 7:38pm
Filipino workers here and abroad strongly oppose the Philippine government’s new policy on direct hiring and they demand its immediate scrapping, particularly the requirement on foreign employers to post a repatriation bond of $5,000 plus $3,000 performance bond in hiring an employee from the Philippines.

GMANews.TV has been swamped with e-mails from Filipinos protesting the new rule under Memorandum Circular No. 4 of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) that took effect on Jan. 15.

POEA is an agency under the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).

Under the circular approved by the POEA board on Dec. 18, 2007, foreign employers who want to directly hire Filipino workers need to have their applications screened by the labor attaché or the Philippine embassy and approved by labor secretary.

“The new policy will cause propagation of red tape and corruption and will definitely necessitate additional expenses from the employers," said Cesar S. Macuja Jr. who works in Gabon, West Africa.

Malony Bustillo from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates said: “Because of too much requirements under the new guidelines, foreign employers will look for other workers in a foreign country."

“The new POEA rule on direct hiring would definitely stop me from hiring Filipino workers," a Filipino-Canadian businesswoman from Toronto Canada said.

Readers’ feedback on the GMANews.TV story regarding the stringent policy revolve around possible problems the new policy could bring about, such as lost opportunities as employers would be discouraged from hiring Filipinos and reduced income because aspiring overseas Filipino workers would be forced to pass through agencies that collect exorbitant fees.

Marco of Doha, Qatar said, “kung direct hiring makakapag-demand ka ng maximum salary, kasi ikaw mismo ang nakikipag-deal sa employer (in direct hiring you can demand maximum salary because you deal directly with the employer)."

“Under the new policy, employers cannot give high salaries because they have to shoulder $8,000 worth of bonds. The tendency is employers would instead get workers from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and form other labor-sending countries," he added.

"This policy should be thrown out or at least re-evaluated to only apply to those class of direct hires that usually have problems and will need those bonds and insurances. Others that don't should be spared from this or make this optional for them," an angry Victor Templonuevo said from Singapore.

"This is another way of enriching a deeper meaning of bribery and loss of job opportunity of fellow OFWs, just like (the policy on) acquiring an entertainer's book, but ended up with lots of poor women entering Japan who cannot entertain professionally. It’s simply the pressure tactics that will eventually happen to this new hiring policy. Foreign employers will never give up to this type of pressures and they can easily look somewhere else," said RTC, a Filipino worker in Atyrau, Kazakhstan.

From Oslo, Norway, OFW George shared the view that the new policy would only serve as a tool for corrupt immigration agents at the airport to squeeze money from departing Filipino workers.

"Kung talagang gustong tulungan at i-confirm ng ating gobyerno ang mga employers ay pwedeng gawin ng embassy. O kaya ayusin ang mga tao sa immigration para 'di natatarantado ang mga taong gustong magtrabaho at kumayod sa ibang bansa," he suggested.

Jen Dela Cruz in Singapore said: “I just spoke with my HR recruitment friends and they told me they won't hire Filipinos because of the very complicated process."

She added, “You (government officials) are limiting our opportunities. And for us who will insist to work abroad because it's limited in our country, will now be more prone in accepting a below average offers and treatment, because employers who will agree on this will want something ‘big’ in return."

For Carlo Palma, also working in Singapore, the new policy is “basically killing two birds with one stone. Killing Filipinos who want to improve their lives by going abroad because his country cannot provide better jobs and killing the billions of dollars in remittance sent by OFW."

Another Filipino in Singapore, Angelina Reyes, said: “How could the Philippine government implement a law that would cover all types of professionals/non-professionals? If the policy is intended to deter abuses against domestic workers, the law should be specialized for domestic workers."

“POEA should think of ways to minimize illegal recruiters and abuses. But their ‘solutions’ or ‘protection’ measure would discourage employers to hire Filipinos," she added.

Senate intervention

A group of OFWs have also started a signature drive for an online petition for the scrapping of the direct hiring rules under Memorandum Circular No. 4, saying it is "restrictive and (can be) easily abused."

The petition has so far gathered 1, 995 signatures since its posting a week ago.

Another petition seeks the intervention of the senators through a thorough review of the POEA policy.

The petitioners said the new policy would discourage prospective foreign employers from hiring Filipinos. It would mean lost opportunities for thousands of Filipinos.

Some foreign companies would prefer direct hiring, especially those who need immediate deployment. “Employers do not want to engage in the tough and strict requirements stipulated in the POEA circular," the petition said.

“We would like to request the Senate to engage all the authorities of the POEA, DOLE and the Philippine consulates, attaches and embassies around the world to be potent and resolute in performing their duties and responsibilities; and more involved in rendering their services, police functions and assistance in alleviating the hassles, hardships, abuses and misfortunes being experienced by some OFWs," the letter contained.

"We hope that our requests be part of the 'first order of the day' when the Senate re-convenes (its regular session)," it added. - Luis Gorgonio, GMANews.TV