Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Collecting Money from Recruiters for Repatriation

Am I the only one thinking that this is a stupid idea? Since when did employment agencies become responsible for the evacuation of citizens? Isn't that the responsibility of the country's government? Next thing you know, they'll be asking the airlines for money because they transported them there. Then, the travel agencies because they sold the plane tickets to them. 

I have a novel idea -  only the Philippine government should pay for this evacuation. 
WHY? They had the final say, didn't they. They approved them to work in Libya, didn't they? 

When will the insanity end? 

Serenity now!

OWWA to collect P143M from recruiters for OFW repatriation

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on Tuesday said it will be collecting P143 million from recruitment agencies for the expenses they incurred for the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from strife-torn countries.

"As of today po, meron po kaming collectibles na P143 million from the licensed recruitment agencies whose employees we repatriated," OWWA administrator Carmelita Dimzon said during Tuesday's Senate hearing on the situation of OFWs abroad.

She said that they have yet to draft a notice to the recruitment agencies but that they will soon inform the various firms of their debts.

She noted, however, that some employers and recruitment agencies had repatriated on their own accord around 3,000 of the 9,000 OFWs affected by the political unrest in the Middle East.

"Kaya natutuwa po ang DOLE dito dahil ito po yung example ng responsible employers (The Department of Labor and Employment was happy for this example of responsible employers)," said Dimzon.

Section 15 of Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 says that "the repatriation of the worker and the transport of his personal belongings shall be the primary responsibility of the agency which recruited or deployed the worker overseas."

Request from recruiters

However, Philippine Association of Exporters Inc. (Pasei) president Victor Fernandez said they shouldn't have to shoulder all the expenses regarding the repatriation of OFWs.

"Ito po ay binabalikat pa rin namin dahil sa pagkakaayos ng batas... yun po ang nakikita naming hindi po makatwiran (We have been shouldering this because that is what the law says but we don't think it's fair)," he said during the same hearing.

He said there should be a limitation on until when they'll be responsible for the repatriation of the workers they send abroad, noting that there are workers who enter into new contracts with other employers without telling them.

Because of this, he said they still shoulder the responsibility over these workers even after they have already switched employers, with whom they have no ties with.

Fernandez likewise said that if the government cannot afford to repatriate a certain number of OFWs, they certainly can't be expected to. "Hindi po namin kakayanin (We won't be able to handle it)," he said.

OWWA fund

Senate foreign relations committee chairman Sen. Loren Legarda, for her part, asked the OWWA why it can't just use its P13-billion trust fund for repatriation purposes.

RA 8042 says that the OWWA shall "undertake the repatriation of workers in cases of war, epidemic, disasters or calamities, natural or man-made, and other similar events without prejudice to reimbursement by the responsible principal or agency... in cases where the principal or recruitment agency cannot be identified, all costs attendant to repatriation shall be borne by the OWWA."

Dimzon, however, said that they cannot "unilaterally" spend the OWWA fund because it is the money of their members. The P13-billion trust fund is sourced from the $20-contribution of OFW employers for every two-year contract.

But she said that their board of trustees had already earmarked P500 million as contingency fund for OFWs, members and non-members, who need to be repatriated. "In times of crisis, we cannot distinguish from a member and a non-member," she said.

She added that they will also collect an amount from the Department of Foreign Affairs for the repatriation of OFWs who are non-OWWA members and are not identified with any licensed recruitment firm.

Dimzon said that OWWA operates on an annual budget and that they were allocated P1.2 billion for 2011, which they use for the operating expenses of their 37 posts abroad and 17 regional offices nationwide. -

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