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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

OFW case spurs formation of anti-trafficking body for migrants in Taiwan



Migrante International, a global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations, welcomed the decision of the Taiwanese government to form an anti-trafficking group that will investigate human trafficking cases.


"This is a positive development borne out of the recent complaint filed by 10 OFWs at the Taiwan's National Immigration Agency with the assistance of an NGO called the New Immigrants Labor Rights Association (NILRA)," Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante explained.


The special body is going to be composed of the National Immigration Agency, Court Police, Foreign police and the National Police Agency. Taiwan's Council of Labor Affairs, for its part will take care of providing the workers NT$10,000 as allowance and working permits as the workers are allowed to work in any job category while the case is being heard.


Ten OFWs in Jia Chiarng Company recently lodged a complaint against underpayment of their salary and the confiscation of their passports by their brokers. The National Immigration Agency of Taiwan recently concluded that Jia Chiarng Company and its broker are guilty of Labor Trafficking due to slave-like wages and confiscation of passports of its migrant workers.


"How ironic that a foreign government has shown more concern in taking legal actions against employers found guilty of trafficking Filipinos while the Philippine government officials remain inutile in going after abusive employers," adds Martinez.


Martinez specifically named MECO Labor Attache Rodolfo Sabulao who has allegedly been remiss in immediately blacklisting Jia Chiarng Company. 


"On Januray 22, our chapter in Taiwan informed Sabulao that OFWs were being severely exploited by the said company. They also recommended that Jia Chiarng be blacklisted." Martinez explained. "But instead of acting upon the complaint, Sabulao asserted that the company's contracts were legal even if there was an existing POEA-approved contract verified by Sabulao himself."


The group called for the "immediate recall of Sabulao, not only in his ineptness in providing protection for OFWs, but so he cannot put any other OFW in harm's way."


"Sabulao and MECO itself must be investigated. There have been so many complaints against the agency. The latest decision of Taiwan's immigration agency just affirmed that MECO and Sabulao are not doing their jobs at all!" Martinez exclaimed. 


Migrante also highlighted the positive role of local NGO's assisting the migrant workers in Taiwan.


"The local NGOs are more reliable than the likes of Mr. Sabulao and MECO. We urge OFWs in Taiwan to report all anomalous practices of MECO as we are planning to file cases against them in the Ombudsman and other appropriate bodies," Martinez concluded.

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