08 February 2009
For reference: Dolores Balladares
Chairperson, Tel. No.: (852) 97472986
Ban on direct hiring serves recruiters and gov't, not migrants
OFWs in HK submit 11T signs to scrap order
It is never for our protection. The only interest that the ban on direct
hiring is serving is that of the government and unscrupulous recruiters -
not us, migrant workers.
This was declared by Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of the United
Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) and convenor of the SKRAP the
Ban coalition, as about 1,000 OFWs trooped to the grounds of the
Philippine Consulate General to submit a petition signed by more than
11,000 OFWs that calls for the scrapping of the order.
"Overcharging of recruitment fees and the lack of government portection
and services are the widespread and serious probvlems we are facing, not
direct hiring. Direct hiring is in fact the only recourse we have to get
saved from overcharging of greedy recruiters," she said.
Balladres-Pelaez reported that in a survey of the HK-based NGO Mission for
Migrant Workers (MFMW), about 74% of Filipino domestic workers in Hong
Kong were employed through recruitment agencies. Of this percentage, 54%
of them paid P60,000 to more than P100,000 as agency fees.
She said that it must be noted that placement fees are supposed to have
been abolished by the recruitment guidelines of the POEA issued in 2007.
However, she said, recruiters continue to collect huge amount of fees now
guised as training charges.
"What the guidelines did was worsen the problem as it removed any legal
limitation to what recruiters can charge to migrants. Up to now, no
effective actions have been done to stamp up overcharging," she remarked.
In relation to this, Balladares-Pelaez also scored the "conciliation"
process that the PCG-HK uses to resolve disputes on overcharging. She said
that such moves only encourage unscrupulous recruiters to keep on with
their modus operandi for they know that they can get off easily if
complaints are lodged by the migrants.
The migrant leader also stressed that such a situation is also happening
in other countries. She reported that placement fees for Taiwan-bound OFWs
are from P80,000 P140,000 paid in cash or through salary deductions. In
the Middle East placement agencies do not care about the plight of
domestic workers and even force a number of them to work with other
employers with no or little pay until their loans are paid.
"Protection will never come from recruiters who are only concerned with
how much profit they can get from us. Ban on direct hiring is just the
government's way to pass on its responsibility of providing assistance to
the OFWs to the recruitment agencies. Ironically said agencies are now
batting for a compulsory employment liability insurance in Congress so
that they can be relieved of the burden of money claims or damages sought
by workers," she explained.
Balladares-Pelaez believed that the ban on direct hiring is an incentive
that the government is providing to recruiters in line with its agenda of
intensifying the export of Filipinos abroad. She said that such move is
reflected in the Administrative Order 247 issued by the government that
directed recruiters to be more aggressive in exploring labor markets.
"The ban is not the answer to our problems. In these times of crisis, what
we need are concrete protection and services and not license for
recruiters to overcharge nor a more intensifies labor export," she
03 February 2009
For reference: Dolores Balladares-Pelaez
Chairperson, Tel. No.: 97472986
HK OFWs gear to rally vs ban on direct hiring
In two Sundays, 6T sign petition to scrap rule
Instead of answering our need for sufficient services and genuine
protection, the Philippine government chose to resurrect the ban on direct
hiring that forcibly feed us to unscrupulous recruiters.
This was declared today by Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United
Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) as Filipino migrant
organizations gear for a major protest action this Sunday, February 8,
against the memorandum from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
that banned direct hiring of household service workers.
The group will also present a petition signed by more than 6,000 OFWs
calling for the scrapping of the said ban.
According to her, the ban on direct hiring has been repeatedly attempted
by the government through the POEA MC 41 in 1994 and the POEA MC 04 in
2008. However, due to the widespread protests it generated, POEA MC 41 was
scrapped through DOLE Order No. 11 in 2001 while POEA MC 04 was not
implemented at all.
"We said it before and we say it again: ban on direct hiring is never for
our protection as it puts us in an even more vulnerable position to get
exploited and overcharged by recruiters. They government doesn't do
anything to finally stamp out overcharging and now they have the gall to
throw us to the wolves," she added.
In 2007, the POEA issued the Guidelines on Hiring HSW's that stipulated
the removal of placement fees. However, she said, instead of reducing the
expenses of OFWs, the rule is now being used by recruiters to collect even
more money now masked as "training fee".
Balladares-Pelaez reported that, previous to the guidelines, Filipino
domestic helpers in Hong Kong who go through recruitment agencies are
charged up to P100,000 as placement fee. The previously legal limit was
approximately P20,000 or the equivalence of a one-month salary.
"Direct hiring is the way for us not to get victimized by overcharging.
What is more condemnable is, like his predecessors, DOLE Secretary
Marianito Roque continues to deceive us by saying that the ban is for our
protection," she remarked.
Additionally, Balladares-Pelaez argued that with the ban, the Philippine
government is transferring its responsibility of protection and services
to OFWs to the private recruiters while continuing to also profit much
from the migration process.
Balladares-Pelaez said that Secretary Roque is muddling the issue by
insisting that only a small number of OFWs go through the direct hiring
process. She added that Labor Attache in HK Romulo Salud is also employing
squid tactics by differentiating name hiring from direct hiring which, she
said, are essentially the same.
"Still the major issue is if the ban will serve the interest of OFWs.
Obviously it will not and will even worsen our condition," she asserted.
The Sunday rally will be lead by the coalition SKRAP the Ban formed after
a meeting of 200 leaders from 75 organizations last January 18.
"This new ban on direct hiring will face the same wrath of OFWs. This
policy has only shown that what this useless government of GMA can only
offer to OFWs in times of crisis are more hardships, neglect and
irresponsibility," she concluded.#
Campaign to protect and secure
the P1-B Expatriate Livelihood Fund)
We, the overseas Filipino workers and our families, do hereby urge our
Filipino compatriots around the world to support our call and initiative
to protect and secure the now P1-Billion Expatriate Livelihood Support
fund, which amount was taken from OWWA funds, a compulsory collection of
US$25.00 per OFWs. The funds coming from OFWs were only held in trust to
the government. Thus, the rightful owners and stakeholders of the OWWA
funds are the OFWs themselves. OFWs and their families have all the right
to protect and secure the funds.
It is our rightful demand to the Arroyo administration to provide
assistance to OFWs who were laid off due to global financial crisis. But
to our surprise, the Arroyo administration is clever enough to take
initially P250-Million to fund its Expatriate Livelihood Support program
from the OWWA fund without any consultations from the real owners and
stakeholders of the funds. Now, it even took the opportunity to increase
the Expatriates livelihood fund to P1-Billion – all to be taken from the
We are not against using the OWWA funds for the welfare and assistance of
our fellow OFWs who were laid off due to global financial crisis. It is in
fact the very purpose of the funds. But our demands to use the OWWA funds
for social and welfare benefits of OFWs and their families had been denied
by the Arroyo administration since it implemented the OWWA Omnibus
Policies in 2004 that practically stopped all social and welfare benefits
program it has previously implemented like the family assistance loan,
departure loan, among many others.
More so, our repeated demands from the Arroyo administration to use the
OWWA funds for the repatriation of thousands of fellow OFWs in distress
and stranded in the Middle East has just fallen on Mrs. Arroyo's deaf
ears. Our rightful demand to provide lawyers to fellow OFWs charged in
court and on death row was always "killed" by the neglectful Mrs. Arroyo
On the other hand, side-by-side with local recruitment agencies, the
Arroyo administration never stops in overcharging OFWs and their families
by imposing a lot of fees and charges. The BIR-imposed Documentary stamp
tax on OFWs remittance, the excessive fees collected by government line
agencies in processing OFWs formalities that would cost them of not less
It is our worries and concern that the P1-B allocated amount for the
Expatriates Livelihood support fund taken from the OWWA funds will be
misused and be wasted by the Arroyo administration. OFWs and their
families along with the entire Filipino nation are living witnesses on the
left and right corruption and bribery charges against the Arroyo
administration. It alarms us because Mrs. Arroyo and the First Gentleman
often pinpointed on a series of corruption and bribery charges. It alarms
OFWs and their families because the Arroyo administration has an
undeniable record of OWWA funds misuses to advance its own political
interests and favors her political allies in her vain attempt to stay in
power even beyond her term.
It is through OFWs and their families' vigilance and concerted actions
that P-10-B OWWA funds misuse and possible malversation would be
It is on the interests of the 10-M OFWs and their families to demand and
call for the following:
1. We demand a "hands off" undertaking of the funds by Malacanang to avoid
possible maneuvering of the disbursement of funds for use to perpetuate
its own political and electoral agenda;
2. The funds must be made an open and direct support to OFWs laid off from
jobs to be facilitated by OWWA, subject to auditing by the Commission on
3. Portion of the P1-B funds
must be allocated for the revival of social and welfare benefits programs
previously offered by OWWA to OFWs and their families; the Office of the
President is urged to put an additional P2-Billion or more from its Social
4. Creation of a special
Congressional oversight committee with representation from OFWs and their
organizations and Church leaders that will look after the disbursement of
the funds and ensure that it will go to the rightful beneficiaries.
It is our humble aim to protect and secure the OFWs funds from possible
Arroyo administration's encroachment and misuse.
Let us sign this petition as a manifestation of our collective action for
OFWs rights and welfare.