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Recruitment agencies slam moratorium proposal, calls it unfair and unjust
August 3, 2013, 11:39 am
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“Why do you always blame the agencies for the misfortunes that befall on Filipina domestic helpers in Kuwait? Who wanted these misfortunes to happen to them? If such cases happen we never fail to provide support and defend their rights. I agree some of these agencies need to be disciplined and suspended from operations for not complying if not denies the rights of the workers but generalizing the suspension is unjust” commented representative of a recruitment agency Mariam Macapudi.

In confrontational and heated argument between heads of Filipino community leaders and representatives of recruitment agencies that lasted almost half hour in a meeting organized Thursday evening at the Philippine Embassy, representatives of the Philippine recruitment agencies braved contentions hurled at them by different community leaders on issues of neglect, non-compliance of contracts and several vital issues, which FilCom leaders claim as partly caused by the agencies.  Among questions raised by leaders were the implementation of US 400 salaries for house helpers required by the Philippine government, but Executive Secretary of FIL-ASEAK Jones Garcia contested that the Kuwait sector called “Amala” will never allow such salary in Kuwait but nevertheless, the agencies often provide the highest salary possible for the house helpers they deploy in Kuwait. “We cannot demand what is not allowed in Kuwait” affirmed Garcia. In fact, Garcia added Filipina house helpers are the highest paid in the country at the moment and this is due to the persistence of the agencies to reach the maximum salary approved for house helpers.

Another representative of a recruitment agency Honeycel Bermudez contested the accusation that agencies neglect their responsibilities after they deploy the house helpers. Bermudez questioned “Who wants these things to happen to our workers? No one! Should they ran away from employers and decide to return to Philippines, we are often summoned to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and required to assist or face suspension of deployment and in most cases we provide the tickets for their return”. Bermudez added that in her case she has three different maltreatments and two are now in court, which she personally look after. They also have repatriated in numbers and employed thousands too and provided jobs. “How can you say that we neglect to assist?” questioned Bermudez.

“Why are these accomplishments not highlighted in the media too? What we read are always the horrific things that happen to the workers and not those who successfully achieved certain status at work. Such as those who have become successful businesswomen, graduated from computer and secretarial courses in Kuwait, work in prestigious places and holding on to good job positions or further got married to locals and are now accomplished in their own rights? There is a gap, which readers and people fail to see, what matters most to them are the adversities that occur and where do we read then the good part? Look at the bad side but don’t close your eyes to the good part too!” commented Macapudi.

 The recruitment agencies also highlighted that instead of earning in most cases, they spend more to assist ran way workers or those victims of violence, rape and others. Tina Lim, another agency representative said that she had the case of a ward, which jumped from the balcony of the flat to escape her employer, the Filipina was admitted to the hospital but due to loss of her medical records in the hospital, she had to stay in the hospital for four months to recuperate from broken and dislocated bones. In an interview with the ward prior to her repatriation last month, she told The Times that she lauds her agency for the regular visits, provision of food and money and attention given to her while she was in the hospital. “I have never been neglected or ignored and thank my agency for getting me through this ordeal and I am forever grateful,” commented the ward.

A media personnel explained that such problems would not have existed if the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed during the visit of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait to Manila. The media personnel said that the protection of rights of the workers and salaries were stipulated in the MOU but what was signed instead was for the Visa 18 workers. The media personnel said that when she asked former Ambassador to Kuwait Shulan Primavera as to why the MOU for Visa 20 failed to materialize, the former ambassador said was due to lack of time.

Among the highlights of the meeting was President of Mga Oragons sa Kuwait (Oragons in Kuwait) Ann Abunda read a note that described her group’s stand as to why the moratorium must be implemented immediately. The moratorium signature campaign, which also gains and earns signatures from other Filipino leaders, have gathered so far substantial numbers prior to its submission to the Philippine government. Charges D’ Affaires Atty. Raul Dado who also spearheaded the meeting provided updates on fitness instructor Jenny’s case as well as questions raised on concerns about travel documents, assistance provided by the embassy and its personnel and other vital issues pertaining Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs) in Kuwait.

No resolutions have been reached so far but the opportunity for both the recruitment agencies and FilCom leaders to air their stands

Ricky Laxa,   Staff Writer

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