05/16/2008 | 08:58 PM
MANILA, Philippines – The House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs will summon officials of GCC Accredited Medical Clinics Association (GAMCA) that was tasked to conduct medical examination to overseas Filipino workers (OFW) bound for the Middle East.
Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsasay said Friday that members of the panel have many queries regarding the operation of GAMCA.
Magsaysay said the panel is conducting an investigation on lowering the fees or expenses of OFWs.
In Wednesday’s hearing of the committee, migrant groups led by the Center for Migrant Advocacy, Global Filipino Nation, Migrante International, association of recruitment agencies as well as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration have denounced the ‘decking system’ imposed by GAMCA.
GAMCA has a select 17 medical clinics arbitrarily all based in Metro Manila imposed by Middle East countries for the medical examination of OFWs bound to the oil rich region.
Representatives of the migrant groups scored the Department of Health for failing to implement the Administrative Order No. 5 signed by then Secretary Manuel Dayrit in 2002 suspending the implementation of the GAMCA Centralized referral system.
Jun Aguilar of the GPN said the decking system cause inconvenience to applicants aside from imposing exorbitant medical fees.
Migrant groups said the system makes it difficult for workers in the Visayas and Mindanao regions to undergo the medical exam since all the GAMCA clinics are in the Manila area.
Ellene Sana of the CMA welcomed the proposal that DOH will put up its own OFW medical clinic in every region.
However, Sana said the issue of medical exam for ME bound OFWs is beyond the DOH.
“Kailangan ng bilateral agreement because of the GAMCA. Kailangan ang tulong ng [Department of Foreign Affairs] DFA dito (We need bilateral agreements because of the GAMCA. We also need the DFA’s help in this),” Sana said.
Federated Association of Manpower Exporters president Eduardo T. Mahiya told the body that the recruitment agencies have long expressed their willingness to forego with the rebates.
Mahiya, concurrent president of OPAP (Overseas Placement Association of the Philippines), has opposed the GAMCA system since 1999 when it was first implemented by the medical association accredited by the GCC states medical technical committee.
Philippine Overseas Employment Agency Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz also expressed her opposition to the decking system with the inconvenience of workers being sent to distant clinics and the unnecessary examination involved in Phase 2 of the medical protocol, where the workers pay for it even they are not sure of passing Phase 1.
The congressional hearing was investigating in aid of legislation HR. 402, looking in to the excessive collection of fees on OFWS and HR 395, the shortage or lack of airline seats for departing OFWs. -Fidel Jimenez, GMANews.TV