Groups score gov’t for inaction on plight of OFWs

01/15/2009 | 06:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Members of Kilusang Mayo Uno and Migrante International on Thursday picketed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to protest the government’s alleged inaction on the plight of retrenched overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

QTV’s “Balitanghali” reported that the groups, together with some OFWs who lost their jobs in Taiwan, demanded that the government give back the alleged exorbitant fees that recruitment agencies charged them.

“We condemn the continued government inaction to our demands,” Crisitina de Borja, a retrenched worker, said. “At the minimum we demand that the exorbitant placement fees recruitment agencies have charged will be given back to us. This is the law and we cannot understand why the government cannot enforce it.”

In the same statement, Migrante chairman Garry Martinez criticized the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) for allegedly tolerating recruitment agencies that collect overprized placement fees, insisting that the money be given back to those who left their jobs.

“Let me make it clear that up to this very moment, not a single cent was given to the OFWs,” he said. “This proves that government has literally no contingency plan for OFWs whatsoever in response to the global financial crisis.”

The other demands of the laid-off workers include the payment of the unexpired portion of their contracts and the full payment of their repatriation from Taiwan.

“We want to hear directly from Secretary [Marianito] Roque why [the] government’s promises have all been empty so far,” De Borja said in a statement. “With the way the government has been neglecting us, we feel that we have truly been victimized not only by the recruiters, by our companies, but also by our government.”

GMA reporter James Velasquez also quoted the protesters as saying that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was a “liar” for reportedly taking back the check she gave the retrenched Filipino workers from Taiwan on Dec. 2.

“We are already fed up with promises made by DOLE and the Arroyo administration,” Martinez said.

Secretary Roque later met with Migrante representatives to discuss the issues raised. – Kimberly Jane Tan, GMANews.TV

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