POEA Direct Hiring requirements detrimental to OFWs in the midst of global financial crisis

For Reference: 

REP. LUZ C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221

Abby Valenzuela (Public Information Officer) 0915-7639619

The continuous implementation of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Memorandum Circular 04 (MC-04), which sets illogical and unreasonable requirements for the direct hiring of OFWs, is highly detrimental to the rights and wellbeing of Filipino migrant workers in the face of global financial meltdown and massive retrenchments abroad.

According to Gabriela Party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan, "no foreign employer will fall for the ridiculous traps such as the posting of a performance bond equivalent to the worker's three month salary and repatriation bond in the amount of US$5,000".

The additional costs will cause prospective employers to hire some other nationalities who are willing to accept lower wages, and may mean a big loss in employment opportunities among Filipinos.

"In their desperation to find jobs abroad which the Arroyo government cannot provide, OFWs are forced to succumb to the whims of recruitment agencies and become susceptible to abuses and human rights violations," Ilagan said.

Recruitment agencies are notorious for overcharging OFWs for unnecessary "services" and for trapping them in the vicious debt cycle without any hope of escape due to the descending value of OFW remittances.

Ilagan also fears that the POEA guidelines on direct hiring may compel OFWs to submit to illegal schemes in their bid to eke out a decent living overseas.

Last year, Ilagan, filed House Resolution No. 463, urging the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the disadvantages of the POEA MC04 to the OFWs, and the grave repercussions it may cause to their jobs and livelihood.

The bill also aims to scrap the said policy, and to urge the POEA and the DOLE to instead institute mechanisms that will genuinely protect the rights and wellbeing of OFWs.

"The POEA direct hiring guidelines, along with other migrant policies based on the Labor Export Policy of the Arroyo administration, are violative of the migrants' rights. They only intensify the slavery and commodification of OFWs by passing on the government's responsibility of protecting the so-called "modern heroes" to recruitment agencies and employers," Ilagan said.

Co-authors of the bill are Gabriela Party-list Rep. Liza Maza, Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano, and Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casino.