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Friday, August 29, 2008

Congress Committee Takes Up Concerns of Recruiters

House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, chaired by Representative Manuel “Waykurat” Zamora, has taken up urgent concerns affecting the overseas recruitment industry.

Responding to the appeal made by Eduardo T. Mahiya, president of the Federated Associations of Manpower Exporters Inc., the committee has been conducting public hearings to look into the shortage of airline flights that hamper the deployment of overseas workers to various countries in the Middle East. The committee is also looking into the complaint of overseas workers against the decking system being practiced by the Gulf Cooperation Council-Approved Medical Clinic Association, which in turn delays the medical examination of overseas workers and makes it costly.

“The committee has acted swiftly on all concerns such as passport problem, birth certificate, booking problem and NBI clearance. Present at the hearings are representative of various government offices concerned regarding the matter. In the said hearing, the Civic aeronautic Board and Philippine Airlines, were tasked to address the shortage of airline flights for which a commitment was made by PAL to provide daily bookings for 500 departing workers”, Mahiya said.

“On the other hand, Representative Magtanggol Gunigundo, chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Employment, and concurrent vice chairman of the committee, has directed the representatives of GAMCA to do away with the decking system and come out with another one that will be convenient and less costly to the workers’ Mahiya further said.

The federation has also attended the recent two meetings conducted by the technical working group of the committee which is deliberating on the proposed amendments to the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (RA 8042) for the purpose of enhancing the protection of overseas Filipino workers.

A position paper was submitted by the Federation with respect to the proposed revision of several sections of the law. The position paper considers the interests of industry stakeholders while respectful of the welfare of overseas workers.

“The committee will soon continue with the public hearings to complete the inquiry on the GAMCA issue and take up new concerns that we recently brought to its attention. I am referring to the mandatory psychiatric testing proposed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the policy for a “unified contract” that the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia is set to implement come September 1, both of which the Federation already strongly objected to”, Mahiya said.

Mahiya explained that the unified contract will be detrimental to the industry as it requires the deploying Philippine agency to have an agreement with a Saudi agent before it is allowed to apply for visas of Filipino overseas workers. The policy will serve as a stumbling block to the entry of Filipino workers to Saudi Arabia.

On the other hand, the psychiatric test will drive further the household workers to the arms of illegal recruiters and depart as undocumented workers to avoid the new requirement.

“Thousands of household workers have left the country as undocumented workers and hundreds of them continue to leave daily because they refuse to subject themselves to the requirements of a policy mindlessly imposed two years ago. And here come the Department of Foreign Affairs with a new restrictive requirement which will only force them to become illegal workers”, Mahiya pointed out.

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