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Solon wants memo on OFW hiring scrapped

February 3, 2008 11:21pm

Bayan Muna on Sunday said it would file a resolution asking appropriate committee in the House of Representatives to investigate the controversial order of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) regarding the new policy on direct hiring of overseas Filipino workers.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro “Teddy" Casino said his office has been receiving complaints from OFWs in Saudi Arabia and Italy over the implementation of the controversial POEA memorandum circular no. 04.

“It turns out that this policy could be another moneymaking venture of the current administration to further render OFWs as milking cows for government coffers," Casiño said.

The militant lawmaker said the memo would reveal that some parts of the memo shows the methods of government exactions on OFWs such as the performance and repatriation bonds.

He questioned the requisites for two OFW categories in the memo, such as The Skilled Category and Household Service Workers. These types of OFWs are required to get a Certificate of Worker Coverage under a “repatriation bond" worth US$5,000 or its peso equivalent. The memo states that the OFW will not be made to pay this amount, as this would be charged to the employers.

“Although the four-page memo states that the OFW will not shell out anything, OFWs will still foot these amounts as their employers will pass these on to them by underpayment or salary deductions. Concrete examples are what employers do when they are made to pay the OFW’s US$100 POEA processing fee," Casino pointed out.

He added: “The memo also does not state where and how these new fees will be spent by the government. This is apparently another hocus-pocus revenue generation scheme by the Arroyo administration at the expense of OFWs and their families. It must also be noted that memo is a blanket policy on all OFWs in all countries."

Casino vowed that the militant bloc at the House would push for a probe into the POEA memo, which he said has direct effect on OFWs and their families.

Aside from Casino, other members of the militant bloc in the House are Reps. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna), Luzviminda Ilagan and Liza Maza (Gabriela) and Crispin Beltran (Anakpawis).

The controversial memo was implemented starting December 18, 2007.

On Saturday, Labor Sec Arturo Brion said that the new guidelines on direct hiring of OFWs by foreign employers were intended to “strengthen the protection mechanisms for overseas Filipino workers."

He said the policy was meant to reinforce the provision of the Philippine Labor Code that prohibits direct hiring of Filipino workers, except for selected employers such as diplomats, heads of international organizations and other employers as may be approved by the secretary of labor and employment, he explained.

“Some people who are against the policy are trying to sow confusion among OFWs and foreign employers by giving false information about its implementing guidelines," Brion said.

He explained that contrary to what the critics say, employers will have to pay only the premium of the US$5,000 repatriation bond and performance bond equivalent to three months salary of the worker." - GMANews.TV
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