"We remind President Arroyo that gainful employment is only so if the welfare of our workers are adequately protected and secured. While we laud efforts to produce jobs for our countrymen during this economic crisis, employment – especially overseas – must never come at the price of grief, injustice, or even death," Escudero said.
At the same time, Escudero dared the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to crack down on recruitment agencies found violating labor and recruitment laws.
Escudero said the case of the 137 Filipino drivers who were recruited for bogus jobs in Dubai and charged P150, 000 each by a POEA-accredited agency should be a stark reminder to the government that many OFWs are still vulnerable to recruitment scams.
"Job placement programs can be justified only if the government matches its employment promotions with a no-nonsense campaign to protect the welfare of OFWs like our 137 countrymen," he said.
The 137 drivers left their jobs to apply with a POEA-accredited agency that charged them P150, 000 each for bogus jobs in Dubai. The agency then facilitated loans with a financing company for the drivers. Upon maturity, the loans would have cost each driver P500, 000, reports said.
"These drivers deserve swift and fair labor justice from this administration which, ironically, has made it a flagship policy to aggressively market Filipino workers to nearly all corners of the world," Escudero lamented.
"We will closely monitor this case and shall take into consideration how the agency performed when its budget is up for consideration before the Senate. When you have 137 victims of illegal recruitment undertaken by a licensed agency, it cannot be business as usual by the POEA," the senator added.