Recruitment agencies should only deploy OFWs they can monitor — Ople
MANILA, Philippines — Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan Ople on Wednesday said the capacity of recruitment agencies to deploy overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) should be “based on their capacity to monitor,” amid reports of migrants being abused by their employers.
During the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers hearing on “Discrimination Against OFWs,” headed by Senator Raffy Tulfo, Ople added that the use of agents in recruitment agencies should also be criminalized.
“Kailangan po talaga ‘yung capacity to deploy ng isang recruitment agency is based sa capacity to monitor, hindi na pwede ‘yung tulad ng dati na 100 job orders pero iilan lang ‘yung staff ng isang recruitment agency,” said Ople.
(The capacity to deploy in a recruitment agency should be based on its ability to monitor, it should not be allowed, like before, to have 100 job orders but only a few staff of a recruitment agency.)
“Dapat may proportion na ma-ensure na ‘yung welfare officer ay talagang welfare officer. Hindi welfare officer ‘pag meron kaso tapos marketing o admin clerk lang ‘pag walang kaso,” she added.
(There should be a proportion to ensure that the welfare officer is really a welfare officer. Not a welfare officer when there is a case and then just a marketing or admin clerk when there is no case.)
Ople raised the call after the Senate committee tackled the case of Jovelyn Tang Andres, an OFW who was abused in Saudi Arabia. Andres later died.
Andres, who turned out to be pregnant when she went to Saudi Arabia for employment, was turned away by her employers so they returned her to her employment agency, forcing her to take drugs to abort the baby. This eventually led to her death.
Ban use of agents in recruitment agencies
Andres was allegedly recruited by an agent, identified as Emma Fernandez, whom Ople tagged as an “illegal recruiter.”
“Illegal recruiter siya dahil hindi siya empleyado ng isang licensed agency. Pangalawa, malamang commission basis ‘yan. Bukod sa pinapunta siya dito, malamang bawat nire-recruit niya, lalo na sa probinsya, may commission po ‘yan,” said Ople.
(She is an illegal recruiter because she is not an employee of a licensed agency. Second, it’s probably on a commission basis. It is probable that for everyone she recruits, especially in the provinces, she has a commission.)
According to Ople, this kind of recruitment is one of the primary sources of welfare abuse cases.
She also noted that almost all recruitment agencies that deploy house helpers use agents to recruit workers.
“Siguro po sa panukalang batas, if I may, baka dapat i-criminalize na rin ‘yung paggamit ng mga ahente bilang extension ng mga recruitment agencies kasi ‘yan po ‘yung talagang one for the money na tipo ng transaction po,” said Ople.
(Maybe the use of agents as an extension of recruitment agencies should be criminalized because that is really a one-for-the-money type of transaction.)
Tulfo then said the Senate would try to pass legislation based on this.
Ople, for her part, vowed to meet recruitment agencies and associations to address the use of agents. She also assured that Migrant Workers Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne Caunan would go to Saudi Arabia to tackle welfare cases that happened in the country, including the case of Andres.
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