Senate Resolutions for the Protection of Migrant Workers; Legality of Entry Overseas

Senate Resolutions for the Protection of Migrant Workers; Legality of Entry Overseas

“We will never stop illegal immigration until this country has a comprehensive, realistic immigration policy.” –Ruben Hinojosa

Majority of Filipinos migrate primarily not for pleasure but for economic –related reasons. These reasons are intensively intersected with the fact that most of us are in search for greener pastures. However, it is crucially advice that the process of exercising these said rights must be legitimately undertaken for its legality is backed by existing laws should there be problems that is going to emerge in the future. Many legal migrant workers are keenly aware of this base from the previous multiple untoward events confronting illegal workers not to mention that even legal workers face varied kinds of predicaments in their jobs overseas. There should be more specific laws covering the protection of migrant workers in the government, to assure the materializations of defenses.

According to the cited data from an activist group for Filipino migrant workers, about 123 Filipinos have faced executions abroad. Lately, Mary Jane Veloso was about to be executed but was given reprieve hours before she could be executed under the Indonesian law. In conjunction to the plights of migrant workers, it can be recalled that Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has filed several resolutions that cater for the protection of migrant workers. It is then a crucial gesture that the senator kept urging her colleagues to expedite the approval of the pending bills and resolutions for the protection of workers overseas.
Santiago filed about five resolutions according to the Press Release published at the senator’s homepage dated April 18, 2015 which are related to overseas-workers’ securities and the avoidance for being victims of illegal recruitments.

Senate Resolution number 1007 urges the senate to probe the proliferation of illegal recruitment incidents online with additional Senate Resolution No. 608. Illegal recruits are the common and easy victims of unscrupulous activities abroad. Illegal recruits who are deployed undocumented are too tough to be protected by the laws governing migration. Additionally, Santiago filed a Senate Resolution No. 992 on October 14,2014 which commands the senate to investigate reports of double visa scheme by recruitment agencies. The double visa scheme allows the bearer of the said visas to move from one country to another illegally with an attached danger that said bearer could be manipulated by an entity or group for illegitimate activities such as drugs and/or human trafficking . This senate resolution is an emphasis of the earlier filed Senate Resolution No. 345 on November 7, 2013 which calls for the need to strengthen state protection for OFW’s (Overseas Filipino Workers) and anti-human trafficking efforts in the country. Furthermore, Senate Resolution No. 48 filed on July 15, 2013 urges the investigation alleged deployment of OFW’s to war-torn nations despite prohibitions imposed by the government. Santiago in support to her senate resolutions declared that “ all legal and diplomatic means must be exhausted to ensure that Filipinos abroad are not wrongfully deprived of life or liberty. But the ideal situation is one that is not necessary.” The Senator declared too that,” we must prevent these cases from happening.”
These senate resolutions which are currently examined in the legislative bodies for executive approval will benefit any individual Filipino migrant worker regardless of the nature of their jobs abroad.
Meanwhile, with the growing numbers of illegal recruitment incidents in the country, there is a need for concerned agencies in the government to campaign for citizen’s awareness in the avoidance of illegal recruitment. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should refurbish illegal recruitment community awareness which should be expected to circulate in all connecting agencies to be made available in all areas of the country. The performance of this reduces the occurrence of illegal deployment practices that are contrary to the immigration laws of the country. It is also suggested that this awareness should be circulated as a campaign project if not part of the curricula of the Department of Education (Dep Ed), Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Commission of Higher Education (CHED) of which hold majority of citizens interestingly capable to take part of the campaign since they comprise the populace that targets the global market for employment.

Here are important guidelines according to the POEA which every citizen planning to apply overseas should be aware of for the avoidance of illegal recruitment: apply only to recruitment agencies that are licensed by the POEA, check if there are job orders even if it’s a licensed recruitment agency, deal only with authorized representative of a licensed agency; transact business inside the registered address of the agency and when the recruitment is done in the province, check if the recruitment agency has a provincial recruitment authority; pay the appropriate placement fee which is equivalent to one month salary exclusive of documentation and processing costs; when there is a valid employment contract, demand for a receipt of any placement fees that you pay, do not be tempted by advertisements or brochures requesting you to reply to Post Office (P.O.) Box and to add payment for the processing of papers (In most cases, these are done through emails of would-be – victims though they never applied for a job),do not deal with training centers and travel agencies that promise overseas employment ( Training centers and travel agencies are not recruitment agencies), do not accept tourist visa (This type of visa is only for a temporary residence in a country of one’s destination which manifest that the bearer of such visa is not allowed to work. Should the bearers of this type of visa work in the countries of their destinations, they are considered illegal) and never entertain overseas job fixers.

Based from this writer’s experience, if they are directly hired by the company overseas, the applicants will handle their documentation and processing costs only and to play it safe, it is best to settle placement fees when there are lawfully available visas and plane tickets, which follow after the applicants have signed their viable contracts. This happens when your medical examination is favorable and you were finally advised to take the Pre-Employment Departure Orientation Seminar (PEDOS) in an authorized organization recommended by the recruitment agency responsible to deploy applicants.

Furthermore, the following elucidates how to identify the presence of an illegal recruitment based from the existing guidelines from the POEA: the recruitment agency instantly ask for a placement fee or any type of fees without receipt, the agency promises the applicant for an immediate deployment, the agency immediately requires the applicant to undergo medical examination or training despite the absence of a contract or a guaranteed employer, transacts with applicants in public places like restaurants, malls among other places not in the office of a licensed agency, perform house-to-house recruitment, insufficient information about the job being applied for, claims that they have arranged with an employer who’s going to directly hire applicants, promises applicants of fast deployment through tourist or visit visa, unable to provide a legal contract or a working visa, introduce themselves as employers or a representatives of a legitimate recruitment agency but fails to show identification card as proof, some may introduce themselves as employers connected with training or travel agencies, encourages the applicants to gather more applicants for immediate deployment and above all, they represent themselves using false names and addresses.

To add, these are other MODUS OPERANDI being performed by illegal recruiters stipulated under the POEA guidelines obtained. “Escort Services is performed when undocumented workers are escorted at the airport or any international exit to evade checkpoints set to check on the documents of workers. Tourist–Worker Scheme makes workers leave the country purportedly as tourist but in reality is being deployed as worker abroad. Assumed Identity operates by deploying workers abroad particularly minors under assumed identities. Direct Hiring claims that workers are hired by foreign employers without the intervention of licensed recruitment agencies and are deployed undocumented and without protection. Trainee Worker Scheme explains that hired workers are deployed allegedly not for employment but for training purposes only and will return to sending company after training. Backdoor Points Scheme is when workers are sent abroad not through regular exit channels like airports but are deployed usually through cargo ships. Tie-Up System is done by unlicensed recruiters with foreign principals who are usually in the blacklist use the name and offices of licensed recruiters in their illegal activity. Visa Assistance/Consultancy Scheme is another strategy wherein firms offer services including the pairing of workers with foreign employers and promising applicant’s immigrant visas but are in reality engaged in the recruitment business. Lastly, Blind Ads Scheme enticed workers to apply and send cash payments addressed to a Postal Office Box without the worker having the opportunity to communicate personally with the recruiter.”

Finally, the policy on Immigration Consultants specifically MC 10 ,series of 2003 stipulates that “Immigration consultancy agencies and similar entities which are based locally, are required to obtain a license in accordance with the guidelines as provided for in Part II, Rule I, sections. 1 and 2 and Rule 2, sections 1 to 5 of the 2002 POEA Rules and Regulations, before they may engage in recruitment and placement activities, regardless of the visa under which deployment shall be made eventually.” This order further adds that “fees shall be duly covered with OFFICIAL RECEIPTS and may be collected only AFTER a worker has been issued the necessary EB3 Visa.”

It is extremely annoying that illegal recruitments still creep skillfully and cunningly operated by corrupt individuals or organizations to these days. To combat these illegal actions requires the urgent moves of concerned agencies in the country as well as individual citizens’ involvement. It calls for a national responsibility which provides everyone lessons to be vigilant. It is then appropriately safe to apply under legitimate recruitment organizations and to only apply when qualified. Unqualified applicants yield unscrupulous individuals who are motivated to devise illicit ways for possible deployment abroad of which the consequential drawbacks boomerang to the applicants in the long run. Foolish individuals are fooled by fools. marvinwacnaglidawan@gmail.com