01/11/2009 | 10:50 AM
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MANILA, Philippines – The largest alliance of Overseas Filipino Workers’ groups worldwide are up in arms over the recent order by the Labor Department banning direct-hiring of Hong Kong-bound Filipino household service workers.
“The Arroyo regime’s slave traders in the Labor Department has once again exposed its treachery and barefaced underhandedness when it sneakily ordered the ban on direct hiring of OFWs bound for Hong Kong,” said Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.
Upon direct orders from Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Hong Kong has announced recently that starting January 1, 2009, they will no longer process documents of direct or name hired OFWs.
Migrante International said this move runs contrary to the February 2008 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) decision exempting the countries Hong Kong, Italy and Canada from the Philippine direct hiring ban as stipulated in POEA Memorandum Circular No. 04.
To recall, the Philippine government retreated last year from fully implementing POEA MC – 04 after facing global protests from OFWs calling for its abrogation.
“In this time of severe financial crisis, this latest order from the Labor Department will surely put OFWs to an ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ kind of situation. The direct hire ban will certainly drive OFWs into deeper debt bondage and modern day slavery because they will be forced to submit themselves to abusive recruitment agencies that impose astronomical fees but are utterly indifferent to their plight,” Martinez said.
At the same time, Martinez added that the order is another scheme that absolves the Philippine government of any responsibility regarding OFWs in distress.
Martinez further said that his group is preparing to mount coordinated national and international actions against the latest DOLE order.
“As the Arroyo regime is apparently determined to cook up ways to further exploit our ranks and bleed us dry even before we are deployed abroad, Migrante International vows to stand guard against all their machinations and make them fully accountable for their gross abandonment of OFWs’ rights and welfare,” he said. – D’Jay Lazaro, GMANews.TV