Retrenched OFWs fed up with government promises

stage protest at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office




January 18, 2009



Retrenched OFWs from Taiwan, together with Migrante International, today staged a protest in front of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office to press the government to respond to their basic demands




January 18, 2009


Retrenched OFWs fed up with government promises

Retrenched OFWs from Taiwan, together with Migrante International, today staged a protest in front of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office to press the government to respond to their basic demands

Cristina de Borja, one of the retrenched workers, declared: "We condemn the continued government inaction to our demands. 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!"

Other demands include the payment of the unexpired portion of their contracts and the full payment of their airfares from Taiwan to the Philippines.

"We want to hear directly from Secretary Roque why government's promises have all been empty so far," Borja laments. "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."

DOLE Secretary Marianito Roque earlier said contingency plans for retrenched workers, such as livelihood projects and redeployment, were in place to cushion the impact of the economic crisis.

For his part, Migrante Chaiperson Garry Martinez said the organization has already established a hotline for retrenched workers.

"This is not an isolated experience. Our hotline is busy attending to more and more workers from different Taiwan companies asking for our assistance because of their dismay at government's inaction."

Martinez also criticized the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) for tolerating recruitment agencies that collect overprized placement fees which is tantamount to illegal recruitment. He insisted that these should be given back to the retrenched OFWs. The Migrante officer declared that "we are already fed up with promises made by DOLE and the Arroyo administration. We are mulling taking more serious measures against these illegal recruiters."

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

Martinez urged that the Philippine government should prepare for the worst as the Taiwan government recently announced that they will cut the number of foreign laborers amidst the global financial crisis.###




19 January 2008


For Reference:
REP. LUZ C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221
Abby Valenzuela (Public Information Officer) 0915-7639619

Gabriela Women's Party on Monday urged the House of Representatives to investigate where the P250 million OWWA fund set aside last year for OFWs affected by the global financial crisis went.

"The Arroyo government's so-called `assistance program' for Filipino
workers displaced by the global financial meltdown could be a ruse to
divert millions of OFW money to the pockets of corrupt government
officials," Rep. Luz Ilagan said.

Ilagan's call for investigation was brought about by the "duping"
incident in Malacanang last December, wherein around 100 retrenched
workers from Taiwan were escorted to the presidential palace
supposedly to accept checks amounting to around P50,000.



But after they were used for a photo gimmick by President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo, the OFWs were asked to return the checks.

Ilagan demands that DOLE Secretary Marianito Roque and OWWA
Administrator Carmelita Dimson be included in the investigation as
they were the ones who escorted the OFWs.

"The incident was a grand show of this government's insensitivity and
further exploitation of migrant workers. The OFWs have already lost
their jobs and still they were cruelly used and tricked by the
institutions and people they are relying on for help," said Ilagan.

The P250 million crisis fund came from the P11.2 billion OWWA has
accumulated using the $25 OFW mandatory membership fee.

Thus, Ilagan said, "Filipino overseas workers should have immediate
access to this fund as it came from their own sweat and blood."

Gabriela Women's Party also demands that the Philippine government,
through its departments and agencies, particularly DFA, DOLE and OWWA,
establish a more responsive program for Filipinos displaced by the
global financial crisis, other than the current questionable program
which requires a tedious and lengthy application process.