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    Overseas Filipino workers would ultimately  shoulder the $8,000 bond required from foreign employers under the new guidelines issued by the  Philippine Overseas Employment Administration  governing direct hiring of OFWs, an alliance of migrants’ organizations said on Friday.
 Memorandum Circular No. 4 approved by the POEA board  on Dec. 18, 2007 requires foreign employers directly  hiring Filipino workers to post a repatriation bond  of $5,000 plus $3,000 performance bond.
 But Connie Bragas-Regalado, chair of Migrante  International, said foreign employers usually recoup  recruitment costs from OFWs themselves, either  through maximum exploitation of their labor or  through direct deductions from their salaries.
 “Mafiosi is the most apt word for the (machinist) of  the new POEA policy, which exposes the  administration of President Gloria Arroyo as a  ruthless thug who makes sure that all the activities  on its labor-exploitation alley must fall under her  ‘protection racket’,” Regalado said.
 The new guidelines took effect last January 15.
 Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas 2007 records show that  government exactions from OFWs through the various  agencies netted around P13 billion. The new POEA  guidelines could be another hole in the pockets of  migrant workers, Regalado said.
 Migrante has joined OFWs, mostly professionals, from  different countries across the globe in demanding  the immediate scrapping of the new POEA guidelines.
 Many OFWs view the guidelines as anti-OFW because it  would mean loss of employment opportunities, saying  that foreign employers would rather recruit workers  from other countries that do not impose bond  payments.
 “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, chair of  United Filipinos in Hong Kong , an affiliate of Migrante.
 She said 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.
 “For an employer of a domestic helper in Hong Kong , this translates to almost HK$50,000. Practical and  financial reasons alone will inhibit prospective  employers from shelling out the amount,” she said.
 The required bonds, she said, would only cause  confusion and inconvenience that will most likely  push the employers from hiring Filipino workers.
 Even if the prospective employer decides not to  direct hire a worker and just go through recruitment  agencies, the resulting worse situation for the OFW  will also likely cost his or her job, Balladares  added.
 “Due to the high fees that recruitment agencies  charge, many OFWs are forced to borrow money from  financing agencies. In our experience, the serious  debt situation of Filipino migrants also oftentimes  leads to their termination from their jobs,” she noted.
 “Either which way is taken, it is us OFWs who will  ultimately suffer the consequences,”s Balladares  averred.
 She said the government could have crafted the new  guidelines out of “desperation…to increase its  financial gains from the labor export industry while  letting go of its responsibility for protection of  and services to Filipinos abroad” and has put the  livelihood itself of OFWs in a vulnerable situation.
 In view of the strong opposition to the direct  hiring policy, Regalado said Migrante will intensify  efforts for the immediate scrapping of the new  guidelines and strengthen the ongoing campaign for  the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo  because she would never implement policies for the  genuine benefits of OFWs.
 Migrante International is spearheading a signature  campaign and a series of protest actions in the  Philippines , Italy , Hong Kong, the Middle East and  other countries against the new policy. –

    Please pass it on. This is a serious matter for  Overseas Filipino Workers.