I stand corrected on this issue.

In the first instance, i was really for this bond — all because i am thinking about the DH in Middle East and how they are taken advantage in salaries.

After reading all the email exchanges, i was mortified to see the darker side of this memorandum.

This memo can actually affect me once i go back to the Philippines because by then, i will be covered by it. And it is 100% sure my present employer will not pay the f***ing bond and i will lose my job to other nationalities.

What is worse is that the government, with this memo, has shown how seemingly incompetent and useless it is. Look, the government has just abdicated its primordial role of protecting its citizens and helping them if they are in distress wherever they maybe found. By requiring employers to post repatriation bond, the government is actually saying it cannot pay for any emergency that will befall the OFW (death or repatriation). So the OFWs 10-centavos question is: “Where is the OWWA fund?” Is it not that the OWWA is an insurance already for the OFWs emergency?

We pay a lot to POEA and OWWA and the government complains they lost money in repatriating OFWs. There was even a report by POEA saying that OWWA funds were depleted in repatriating undocumentd OFWs in distressed. So what? We OFWs are not complaining. Whether legal or illegal, it is the bounden duty of the government to help every Filipinos overseas.

How many OFWs paid 200 USD for OEC every year that OWWA complains the OFW funds are depleted?

Of this late, all OFWs are wondering what kind of policy planners are there in POEA/DFA/OWWA when all of its decisions todate are soooo anti-OFWs. It seems to us that POEA alone has lost sight of its mandate that all it can think of is wash its hands and pass the burden and responsibility of repatriating OFWs to the employer. It makes us OFWs look ungrateful to our employers. As if it is not enough that we are preferred for the jobs and given decent salaries (compared to RP), and the government now wants to our employers to pay bond that can hire other 3 foreign nationals.

Sometimes you will think that maybe POEA hired some shady private labor employment agency to draft its policies. Maybe POEA came up with this memo in a FREE lunch in an Indian restaurant.

The President’s attempt to diffuse the violent reaction from this memo is of no help at all. Too bad.

The memo should be scrap outright.

Their is also an urgent need for a CHANGE in leadership at POEA and DOLE.

===========

ofw_protest.jpgFilipino 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
============

READER’S FEEDBACK:
From: Renato V. Pepito in Dubai, UAE
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 9:04 PM

The POEA rules are not the serious ways that can benefit the OFWs. They make rules for the benefit of the corrupt individuals working in the said institution.

I’m was one of the blessed OFW who have an opportunities to work abroad through direct hiring in my own initiative to find Employer not the Government to do so… Sad to say I’m one of the victim of corruption before I depart giving the Immigration 5T pesos cash so that no more questions like others do.

Okey yung Rules na ginawa nila pag sila ang maghanap ng Employer and negotiate.

From: Gregorio Devaras (g_devaras@yahoo.co.uk) in Singapore
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 9:32 PM

This direct hiring rules will cause a great disadvantage to OFWs because direct hiring is the best solution to problems caused by these opportunistic recruitment agencies.

In the company I am working now here in Singapore, the company will be direct hiring 40 to 50 OFWs in the coming months. With these rules the company for sure back off from their plans.

The OFWs here will lose a great opportunity. I hope the POEA will scrap these rules as soon as possible.

From: Cherry in Singapore
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 10:10 PM

Dear Mr. Editor,

Nais ko lamang po sanang magbigay na opinyon na isa ring OFW dito sa Singapore.

Napakalaking usapin para sa aming nasa ibang bansa ang mga ganito.

Nakakapagtaka lamang po na parang hindi n’yo (ang media) nabibigyang boses ang mga kababayan natin nagpapakahirap sa ibang bansa.

Sa mga nakaraang balita, kung hindi po ako nagkakamali, isang beses lang po naipalabas sa TV ang issueng ito.

Sana lang ay sa mga ganitong pagkakataon maging boses namin kayo, mga bayani ang bansa “kuno.”

Maraming Salamat

From: Ronnah (hannor18@yahoo.com) in Tel Aviv, Israel
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2008 5:41 AM

Whew! New rules and regulation ah now they are looking for more ways to gain control and have more money to corrupt ..are they not satisfied that the OFWs are helping the economy of the Philippines.

What did the government even do for the past years? None, just sitting pretty and we are the one who is doing everything to feed our family.

And now they want to do THAT regulation. We are grateful that there is so called POEA but I think you’re already in the point of doing INJUSTICE.

I just only want to ask from …let see this in different aspect HOW MANY FROM ALL THE SURVEY (HOPEFULLY THEY ARE ACCURATE) OF THE DIRECT HIRING IS LET SAY NOT GOOD.?

AND HOW MANY FROM THE SURVEY OF THE DIRECT HIRING SAYS IT’S CHEAPER, FASTER AND EASIER AND SAFER?

From: Jun Medios in Cheongju, Korea
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2008 8:10 AM

Sa bagong policy ng POEA, maraming OFWs ang apektado, lalo na kaming nandito sa Korea.

Kung ako ang employer halimbawa bakit pa ako kukuha sa Pilipinas ng workers na gagastos pa ako ng malaki, nandyan ang China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka.

Sa dami ng kakumpetensya ng Pilipinas sa pagpapadala ng workers dito sa Korea para na rin nilang pinatigil ang pagpapadala dito sa Korea ng workers.

From: Cheska Ravenelle in Singapore
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2008 2:39 PM

Thank you very much for writing this article and giving OFWs the means to voice out their concerns and opinions!

Kailangan ring malaman ng mga kababayan natin ang mga hinaing ng mga OFWs.

From: Dennis (denex08@yahoo.com) in Singapore
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2008 3:01 PM

Please send this letter to the one who created the New POEA direct-hiring rules and to the President of the Philippines.

Let everybody know that Filipinos are disappointed with their new corruption strategy!

Thank you…

I am one of the thousands of Filipinos working in Singapore who wants to scrap and totally abolish the new policy of POEA direct hiring rules for the OFWs.

We all know that Philippine government is top in corruption and incapable to provide competent salary to professionals and non-professionals Filipino, that’s why most people move to other countries to find a job to get high salary.

One of the countries that provide a better compensation is Singapore, which is a place where most Filipino find it easy to stay and hunt a better job.

Like in other country Filipino are competing with local citizen which gives us a small chance to get a direct job in the industry, in this case here in Singapore employer seek their own race and permanent resident. That give us a small amount of chance to get the job, but still we are able to manage it. When a new policy from POEA came out, it provoke the Filipino citizen specially here in Singapore from 50% chance to get a direct job, now down to 0% chance to be employed bring about the new policy of POEA!

What will happen to our Filipino people if they won’t find a better job in other countries? Going back to the Philippines to work an underpaid salary and get starved is not the solution!

This is why Filipino people doesn’t cooperate as a one nation and abide the law with their own country because the government itself is corrupt and incompetent to implement the system that will lift Filipino from corruption and provide opportunity to have a better living.

From: Anonymous in Singapore
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2008 5:14 PM

I would like to request for this issue to be amplified to all national news and the media since this is really a matter of NATIONAL INTEREST.

Don’t let this crapola issue slip out.
 
POEA guidelines on direct hiring of OFWs draw flak

The Italian dream of many Filipinos may remain just that if a controversial circular of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) remains in effect.

POEA Memorandum Circular No. 4 or the Guidelines on the Direct Hiring of Filipino Workers states that foreign employers opting for direct hiring have to put up a repatriation bond of $5,000 and a performance bond equivalent to three months’ salary of the worker.

The memorandum, issued on Dec. 18, 2007, makes no distinction between new and current overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

An ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau report said the memorandum has turned off most Italian employers.

More than 2,000 Filipino workers in Milan had already signed a petition strongly opposing the POEA memorandum. They described the order as anti-worker and an additional burden to foreign employers and OFWs who are attempting to bring in their relatives to work in Italy.

The report said Italy is most affected by the provisions of the POEA memo since a large number of OFWs are working in the European country.

For Italian employer Susana Marchesin, Filipino domestic workers are one of the best in the world but with the implementation of the POEA memo she said she no longer plans to employ Filipinos in the future.

The Philippine Consulate in Milan scored the timing of the release of the POEA circular and said the provisions of the memo do not apply with the general condition of Filipino workers in Europe.

OFWs in Italy are not the only ones decrying the POEA memo circular.

“With the POEA MC-04, it will be our jobs that will be at stake. This rule is a grave threat to our employment,” said Dolores Balladares, chairwoman of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong.

Balladares predicted that Filipino workers who are renewing their contracts with the same employer or are transferring employers because of a finished or a pre-terminated contract stand to lose their employment under the new policy.
 
She said: “For an employer of a domestic helper in Hong Kong, this (bond) translates to almost HK$50,000. Practical and financial reasons alone will inhibit prospective employers from shelling out the amount.”

She said that in “the desperation of the (Philippine) government to increase its financial gains from the labor export industry” it has allegedly put the livelihood of OFWs in a vulnerable situation.

She called on the Philippine government to immediately scrap the “dangerous POEA MC-04.”

Meanwhile, OFWs in Singapore urged the Philippine Congress to review and repeal the circular, citing its negative effects on Filipino workers.
 
 
DoLE to chronicle OFW history, says Brion at Ople rites
 
The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) will lead the chronicling of the oral history of contract migration and the country’s journey as a global source of migrant workers, Secretary Arturo Brion of the Department of Labor (DoLE) said yesterday after a commemorative mass for the late Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas F. Ople at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
It was the 81st birth anniversary of Secretary Ople, acknowledged Father of Overseas Employment.

“It’s about time that we have a real effort to chronicle through first-hand interviews how overseas employment came to be, the institutions and policymakers that contributed to its beginning, and who were the pioneers who broke the barriers as our first batch of migrant workers,” Brion said.

It was during the Ople years as labor secretary that overseas employment began as a program of the government, Brion said. “He was really a visionary leader,” he added.

Sen. Mar Roxas, former Senator Ernesto Herrera, DBP Chairwoman and former Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Marianito Roque, and other special guests also attended the commemorative mass together with Mrs. Susana V. Ople and the family and friends of the late secretary.

The Oral History of Philippine Overseas Employment will also trace the occupational, technological, social, political, and geographic movements in the country and throughout the world that helped shaped the OFW phenomenon.

“We need to look back to get a sense of where we are and how we can strengthen our institutions in order to cope with the demands of an increasing OFW population,” Brion added.

DoLE created a project team to conduct interviews and document information needed to fulfill the best standards of an authoritative oral history. The project team has already had meetings with labor experts and former labor officials.

Former Labor Undersecretary Susan Ople, youngest daughter of the late Ka Blas Ople, expressed full support for the oral history project. “We welcome this initiative because it is important to document the growth of overseas employment and its contributions to the country,” she said.

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