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PIA Press Release

Commission on Filipinos Overseas conducts info campaign in Ilocos

by Aleli Aggasid-Batara

LAOAG CITY (12 August) -- Stock estimate of the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) place the total number of Filipinos abroad at 8.08 M as of 2004. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) under contract or temporary migrants account for 3.60 M, immigrants and spouses of foreigners make up 3.19 M, while 1.30 M are either undocumented or overstaying and are thus referred to as irregular migrants.

Jose Edison Tondares of the the Migrant Integration Office under CFO, says that this number is expected to soar even further with the increasing demand for workers in rich countries - with ageing population like Italy and Great Britain, and the offer of an attractive remuneration package.

Immaculada Concepcion, also of the same office, added that migration is a phenomenon and people go to great lengths, even circumventing the legal process, in their fervent desire to leave the country.

It is for this reason that illegal recruitment or trafficking in person has become a lucrative business, raking in as much as P10 - 12 B every year, she said.

She reported that for the last 10 years, only 10 percent of illegal recruiters have been recommended for prosecution. She identified the tedious process and the tendency of some complainants to drop the case after getting their money back as the two main reasons behind the discouraging statistics.

"There are 4,486 complaints lodged at the Presidential Anti Task Force for Illegal Recruitment (PATFIR), only 400 suspects have been identified and of this number, only 20 have been arrested," she said.

She warned that 1-2 M women and children fall victim to illegal recruiters every year and that people should be aware of the tell tale signs of illegal recruitment.

Moll advised would-be applicants to check the license of recruitment agencies before engaging in any transaction with them. She explained that the license should specify the jurisdiction and time of recruitment.

"A recruitment agency with license to recruit in the National Capital Region (NCR) cannot just recruit here in Laoag or Sorsogon without securing a provincial license, she said. Also, they cannot recruit beyond the time set, if it say's 8:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m., then it can only be within that period" she said further.

Moll added that recruitment agencies can only conduct recruitment activities if they have a job order on hand and it should indicate the country of destination, the employer, nature of work and compensation.

The health and and well-being of the person being recruited is always a primary consideration, she said. 18-20 hours of manual labor and exposure to harmful chemical elements is a clear violation of the worker's right, she added.

Substitution or altering of contracts is another common problem being encountered by our OFWs, she relayed. Moll said that this usually happen at the country of destination.

She cited the experience of some registered nurses that were deployed to the US. "They were given immigrant status and the contract indicated $28/hour but they ended up receiving a minimal amount of $7/hour, even after passing the NCLEX exam," she said.

"Their license was not recognized by their host country and they ended up working as nurse's aid, she recalled. They had no choice because they were already there and they have to pay borrowed money for the processing of their application papers, she said.

Withholding of documents needed for travel like passport, should give recruitees an inkling that it is an illegal transaction, Moll emphasized. "We have the right to our passport and other basic documents like birth certificate. It should be in our possession not theirs, she said"

"The only job of a recruiter is to find someone who can give jobs to people looking for jobs, she added.

There are also cases of failure to deploy workers without valid reason, Moll said. Applicants are caught by surprise to find no work waiting for them at the country of destination, she noted. They can always be repatriated back home but they should demand back their placement fee. It is strictly indicated in the contract "no work no fee", she said.

Moll and Tandero were in the city as part of the Commissions yearly community education program on migration. (PIA Ilocos) [top]

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