"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

OFWs Slams POEA MC No. 4

On December 18, 2007, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued Memorandum Circular No. 04, Series of 2007, entitled Guidelines on the Direct Hiring of Filipino Workers.

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion also concurrent POEA Board Chairman claimed that the adoption of a stricter policy that took effect last January 15, 2008 was aimed at strengthening the protection (heard that before) of the OFWs.

I must admit that I have been so focused on Among Ed Panlilio's moral crusade that I almost missed this POEA MC No. 4 thanks to Froilan Bulaong a blogger and Singapore OFW for his email requesting the jaywalker to write up the issue.

Glad I learned about it and voila here it is another master stroke of "brilliance" from the "geniuses" of the bureaucratic top honchos in portraying themselves as the "protector" of the countries milking cow errrr bagong bayani (new heroes).

In a perfect world in which the Philippines is not, you would have expected the OFWs to jump in joy and gleefully laud the government for their “concern” in protecting their export of human cargo errr subjects yikes I meant people. Instead Overseas Filipino Workers slams POEA MC No. 4 upset and angry at what they believed as another opportunity for corruption by government personnel known for their rudeness and cold treatment of OFWs.

Migrant workers knew well enough honed by their long sad experience that every time the Philippine government comes up with pronouncement purportedly to protect them it has always been the opposite. The 2007 POEA Guidelines on the Deployment of Filipino Household Service Workers and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Omnibus Policies in 2003 have been proven to be detrimental to the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants. And now these “tougher” rules that will actually leave direct hires at the mercy of recruiters and discourage employers with bond requirements and tedious red tapes purportedly to guarantee the safety of the OFWs are nothing but opportunity for corruption.

Can you imagine a foreign employer hiring an OFW as a domestic help and they have to get the Labor Secretary's signature? Heck what are these morons thinking anyway? I don't know about you but I have these nasty feeling that maybe they are really thinking of the milking cow errrr OFW's. Perhaps, out of desperation will fork out more money by selling more of their personal belongings or borrowing from usurers to be handed over to the rude boys and girls of POEA processing the OFWs in cahoots with recruiters?

I came across the joint position paper posted at mackybaka prepared by the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW) and Hong Kong-based group Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APPM) titled “A Critique of the new POEA Memorandum Circular No. 04 and the Ban on Direct Hiring” spells out in detail how it jeopardizes the OFWs instead of protecting them.

One of the highlights of the critique was the government acting like a weasel as if that is something new on their responsibility to their overseas citizen by passing the responsibility to their employers. These people are really brilliant at passing the buck but what they seem to forget is that although these employers were born at night they were not born yesterday.

How angry are the OFWs? They are angry enough to gather 3675 signatures and growing as of this writing at the online petition. Forums such as Filipino Expats Qatar are buzzing with the controversial MC No. 4 and posted news articles to inform their members and lead them to the online petition. The critique ends with these demands and if you are an OFW and agree with the demands below go to the petition online, sign (to include your name click on petition) and express your views. The 5 demands are:
  1. Immediately scrap POEA MC-04.
  2. Scrap the POEA Guidelines on the Deployment of Filipino Household Service Workers.
  3. Institutionalize effective mechanisms that will curb, if not not finally stamp out, overcharging and other malpratices of recruitment agencies.
  4. Improve the onsite services for and protection of Filipino migrant workers. Scrap the OWWA Omnibus Policies.
  5. Stop the deregulation of labor export. Institute policies and mechanisms for effective and concrete protection of Filipino migrant workers.

Letser Cavestany pointed out that when you include your name in the online petition it will take you to the donation page, please bear in mind that donation is optional and not required.

UPDATE: 2/12/08

Margaux Ortiz & Jerome Aning of Inquirer reports DoLE amends direct hiring policies for OFWs due to protest from migrant groups. Brion and POEA buckled proving the effectiveness of collective vigilant action.

Photo courtesy:

Arkibong Bayan

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