A Christmas gift from POEA

December 21, 2009

For Naija Pinoys, it’s always a stressful experience coming from a vacation in the Philippines. With all the hassles and expense we have to endure with the Philippine immigration just to be allowed to get back to Nigeria.

Although we are secretly thankful to the immig boys for being more “understanding” to our situation, more than the other “supposedly” concerned government agencies who couldn’t make up their minds about the total travel ban indefinitely imposed against Nigeria OFWs.

In October 2009, there were news from vacationing Naija Pinoys that POEA started issuing the much-coveted Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). The OEC provides an OFW clearance to travel overseas without challenge from immig. This piece of paper also provides exemption from the payment of travel tax..

Those Naija OFWs who got the OEC were kind enough to post and share their experience in the naijapinoy yahoogroup.

As my own vacation neared (mid-November), I was already getting stressed at the thought of spending 2-3 days in Manila just to renew my OEC.

So instead of taking Qatar Airways via Cebu, I have to take Emirates via Manila and thus spend a lonely night in Manila, before flying to the province the next day. I was planning to get an OEC from the POEA main office in Ortigas. That would mean 2-3 days in Manila, on my way back to Nigeria.

A week before my travel to Manila, i decided to visit the regional office of POEA in Cagayan de Oro. I wasn’t really optimistic about getting something from a regional office. Just the same, I made sure I had photocopies of my passport, visa pages, and my CERPAC receipt.

After I identified myself as a Naija OFW, i was shown by the POEA staff a memo from Chief Manalili about Nigera OFWs. It was the same memo circulated by the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria. I was thinking that, this is it, the expected red tape…

But to my surprise, the regional manager gave her go-signal for the OEC processing. I was told to go to Philhealth office where i paid my contribution. They took one set of the photocopies. Then I went to OWWA office to make payments for the OWWA insurance.

Going back to POEA, i was still unconvinced that I will be given the OEC. But after i paid a hundred pesos, I was finally issued an OEC. The entire process just took 2 hours to finish.

Yes! I really got an OEC from the regional office.

I texted another Naija OFW, who’s going back to Nigeria the next day, that I was issued an OEC in the POEA Regional Office.

Since he’s taking an afternoon flight, he decided to go to POEA in the morning. And as i have experienced, he also got an OEC that same morning…. After he boarded the plane, he texted me that the OEC worked like magic– it gave him a hassle-free exit from the country – for the first time in three years he’s been in Nigeria.

I came back to Nigeria this second week of December. And i’d say the issuance of OEC was a timely gift by the POEA to Naija OFWs.

I was told that the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), led by Ellen Sana had a hand in the change of travel advisory to Nigeria.

In behalf of Nigeria OFWs, i would like to thank POEA Chief Jennifer Manalili, the CDO regional office and the CMA for finally lifting the heavy burden imposed on Naija OFWs.

I surely would like to get the Multiple Travel Exit Clearance (MTEC) on my next vacation this March 2010.

A Merry Christmas and a – hopefully – Prosperous New Year to all….

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Recruiters accuse NGOs of not doing role in pre-employment of OFWs

August 10, 2008

My hair stands after reading this statement of Mr. Gan, president of the employment agencies federation.

Kailan pa kaya naging trabaho ng mga NGO ang pre-employment concern??

Hindi naman mga NGO ang nagpapadala ng OFW. Kung mag hugas-kamay lang din si Mr Gan sa kanilang obligasyon, dapat ipasara ng POEA ang employment agency ni Mr. Gan.

If Mr. Gan’s statement is the the statement of all employment agencies, this, is a very serious concern to all would be OFWs and OFWs.

What is the purpose of these employment agencies if they cannot provide proper pre-employment support to their contract workers?? As if milking the hapless OFW (mula Pilipinas hanggang sa overseas station nya) is not enough, employment agencies have the ‘pachyderm face’ to pass the pre-employment responsibility to NGOs. Na Wow.

Hindi lang pala gobyerno ang nang huhugas-kamay sa kanilang responsibilidad, kundi pati na rin mga employment agencies, na sya dapat unang mangalaga sa kanilang mga ipinapadala sa abroad.

Really, POEA and DOLE should remove the license of Mr. Gan’s employment agencies for so being anti-labor, anti-OFW.

This statement should be investigated by the Senate. This is serious. Very serious.

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Recruiters accuse NGOs of not doing role in pre-employment of OFWs
08/09/2008 | 04:26 PM
http://www.gmanews.tv/story/112604/Recruiters-accuse-NGOs-of-not-doing-role-in-pre-employment-of-OFWs

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MANILA, Philippines – An association of recruitment agencies in the Philippines accused non-government organizations (NGO), specifically migrant groups, of not doing their part for Filipino workers being deployed abroad.

According to Jackson Gan, spokesman of the Federated Association of Manpower Exporters, recruitment agencies have been taking care of OFWs’ pre-deployment issues, but migrant groups have been remiss in their duties on the workers’ pre-employment concerns.

“Hindi ninyo ginagawa trabaho ninyo (You’re not doing your job),” said Gan to the representatives of migrant rights advocacy groups Kanlungan Centre Foundation and the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) last Wednesday during a technical working group meeting called by the House Committee on Workers’ Affairs.

“Lagi na lang kayong naghahanap ng problema o butas (You’re always looking for problems or loopholes),” Gan further told the migrant groups during the meeting.

But the migrant groups dismissed Gan’s claims, saying it was not their responsibility to handle pre-employment concerns of OFWs.

CMA Advocacy Officer Rhodora Abaño said her group did not have a program to handle the pre-employment concerns of OFWs and that CMA didn’t have to do such duty.

“We’re in advocacy so we only do information work,” Abaño told GMANews.TV in an interview on Thursday.

For its part, Kanlungan, through its lawyer Donnaliza Nicolas, said in an interview with GMANews.TV on Friday that she found Gan’s statements “funny.”

Nicolas said Kanlungan was not mandated by the government or anyone to address the said pre-employment concerns. “Our responsibility is to the migrant workers.” – Kimberly Jane T. Tan, GMANews.TV

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Reaction from Migrante/CMU:

I BEG TO DISAGREE THE ACCUSATIONS OF MR. JACKSON GAN. MIGRANTE IS ONE OF THE ORGANIZATIONS WHO VOLUNTARILY HELP OFWS WHO ARE IN NEED OF HELP, AND IT IS PROVEN IN MANY CASES, NO NEED TO MENTION

(PUBLICATIONS IN MAJOR NEWSPAPERS ATTESTED MIGRANTE’S ACTIONS IN HELPING OFW WORLDWIDE )

INSTEAD OF POINTING THE BLAMES TO NGOs, HE SHOULD LOOK FIRST THEIR UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR TO WOULD BE OFW ( THE POOR APPLICANTS HAVE TO PRODUCE ALL THE MONEY THAT RECRUITMENT AGENCIES WANTED ) i.e.

1.0 THE POEA APPROVED PAYMENTS TO ANY RECRUIMENT AGENCIES AS PROCESSING FEES IN EXCHANGE OF JOBS ABROAD IS ONE MONTH SALARY EQUIVALENT, HOWEVER, I PITY THOSE WOULD BE OFW WHO ARE HUNGRY OF JOBS OVERSEAS IN ORDER TO UPLIFT THEIR LIVES, WHEREAS, MAJORITY OF THE RECRUITMENT AGENCIES ARE CHARGING THREE TO FOUR FOLDS EQUIVALENT TO THEIR INTENDED MONTHLY SALARIES ( IMAGINE A POOR ORDINARY CARPENTER WHOSE CONTRACT IS USD 200 MONTHLY, THE SHARK AGENCY CHARGED STARTING P 30,000 PESOS, NOT TO MENTION OTHER CHARGES LIKE MEDICAL, TRADE TESTS, ETC. WHEREIN, THE AGENCY COLLECTS THEIR SHARE/COMMISSION FROM THESE ESTABLISHMENTS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE POOR WOULD BE OFW )

2.0 THE RECRUITMENT AGENCIES WHO CONDUCTS ‘PDOS’ ( PRE DEPARTURE ORIENTATION SEMINAR ) IS MISLEADING THE WOULD BE OFW BY NOT TELLING THE TRUTH, WHAT IS REALLY THE LIFE OF AN OFW IN ABROAD, THEY ONLY TALK ABOUT THE SALARIES THEY WILL GET ARE IN DOLLARS/BUCKS WHICH IS VERY ENCOURAGING TO WOULD BE OFW ( THESE RECRUITMENT AGENCIES ARE LIARS, THEIR ONLY ULTIMATE INTERESTS ARE THE FEES THEY HAVE TO COLLECT FROM THE POOR WOULD BE OFW )

3.0 TO MENTION A FEW OF THE PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED THAT RECRUITMENT AGENCIES HIDE DURING ‘PDOS’
– CHANGE OF CONTRACT UPON ARRIVAL TO EMPLOYER ( THE CONTRACT SIGNED BY BOTH PARTIES THAT SUBMITTED TO POEA WILL BE DISREGARDED – NO CHANCE TO WITHDRAW SINCE THE POOR OFW IS THINKING THE MONEY PAID TO THE SHARK AGENCY )
– THE ACCOMMODATION STATUS – THERE ARE EMPLOYERS WHO PROVIDE THEIR WORKERS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE NORMAL LIVING CONDITIONS
– WEATHER CONDITIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST (EXTREME HOT WEATHER CONDITION – you will feel the real hot weather when you are experiencing losing your consciousness AT 50 TO 54 DEG C )
– WAKE UP EARLY IN THE MORNING AT FOUR O’CLOCK TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE DAY’S WORK
– HAVING LUNCH AT JOBSITE WITH SANDS DURING SANDSTORM
– OWWA PERSONNEL ARE INUTILE WHEN PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED ( INSTEAD OF ASKING HELP TO OWWA, BETTER CONTACT A MIGRANTE MEMBER )

– MONTHLY SALARIES NOT RECEIVED ON TIME ( SOME EMPLOYERS DELAYS SALARIES )

– WORKING 10 HOURS PER DAY BY FORCE WITH NO OVERTIME PAY , INSTEAD OF 8 HOURS CONTRACT AGREED BY BOTH PARTIES SUBMITTED TO POEA

4.0 FROM ITEM 3.0 WHAT ASSISTANCE DO MR. JACKSON GAN CAN PROVIDE IN EXCHANGE OF THE RECRUITMENT FEES COLLECTED FROM THE POOR OFW

BASIS OF THE ABOVE, IT IS A NORMAL BUSINESS PRACTICE THAT THE RECRUITMENT AGENCY TO ASSIST OFW IN TIME OF DISTRESS, SINCE THEY COLLECTED THE FEES THEY WANTED , HOWEVER, IT IS MIGRANTE WHO IS AN ACTIVE ORGANIZATION READY IN EXTENDING ASSISTANCE TO OFW.

SHOULD ATE GLO CARES THE OFW, CONGRESS SHOULD CREATE A LAW CRIMINALIZING SHARK RECRUITMENT AGENCIES THAT DO NOT FOLLOW POEA POLICIES ON THE APPROVED ONE MONTH SALARY EQUIVALENT.

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OFW groups express opposition to Pichay appointment to OWWA

July 23, 2008

Arroyo offered post aside from SBMA, ex-solon says
By Veronica Uy, Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 19:01:00 07/21/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino worker groups have expressed opposition to the possible appointment of a former congressman and losing administration senatorial candidate to the top post of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

The Center for Migrant Advocacy and the Philippine Migrant Rights Watch said they wanted someone from the ranks of OFWs to handle OWWA and its billions of dollars in OWWA membership fees which they feared might be used for the 2010 elections.

Reports are rife that former Surigao congressman Prospero “Butch” Pichay, who ran for senator under the administration ticket, could take over the helm of the OWWA.

Pichay confirmed to INQUIRER.net that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had offered him the top OWWA post and the chairmanship of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and that there were also other offers of Cabinet positions.

He refused to elaborate however on the Cabinet offers “in deference to sitting officials.”

“OWWA at Subic. Iyan ang talagang inoffer ng President — a few months ago pa [OWWA and Subic. That is what the President really offered — a few months ago],” said Pichay who was in Vietnam.

Pichay said that he was considering the OWWA post.

“Maraming offer [There are a lot of offers] but I’m still trying to think about all these offers. In a few weeks, makaka-decide na ako [I can decide]. Inaasikaso ko pa ang negosyo [I am just attending to my business].”

OFW groups which spearheaded the drive to pass the Overseas Absentee Voting Law several years ago have launched a campaign to put Mike Bolos, an accountant who has worked for more than 20 years in Saudi Arabia to head OWWA.

Heeding the government’s call for overseas Filipinos to return to the country and contribute to its development, Bolos has since returned to the Philippines to start several business enterprises.

Rashid Fabricante, of the Pinoy-abroad-forum and elagda-Riyadh, started the e-mail thread with the suggestion that OFW groups and migrant rights organizations should lobby for OFW representation at OWWA.

OWWA, which is tasked to promote and protect the well-being of OFWs, was previously headed by Marianito Roque until he was appointed secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment when his predecessor Arturo Brion became associate justice of the Supreme Court.

The attached agency of DoLE does not get any budgetary allocation from the government. It lives solely off the $25- membership fee of every departing OFW.

While the membership fee is supposed to be paid by the leaving OFW’s employer, the OFW in most cases pay for the amount.

OFW groups have sought more representation in OWWA and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the other DoLE-attached agency concerned with OFWs.

There are an estimated eight million Filipinos who live and work overseas while some 3,000 leave the country every day.