A Dead-end of GAMCA’s Monopoly
“Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today.” Mohandas Gandhi
This monopolizing group‘s gradual disappearance from the nationwide overseas recruitment scene is a favorable news and information to fellow residents of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and to all citizens of the country who wanted employment in the Gulf Region as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).
Over the years, OFW’s endured manipulative procedures just to pass the medical examinations to make a living in the Mid-Eastern countries. Several complaints repetitiously were brought out by activists to the public of which media have been drumbeating ever since but due to the lack of government authorities’ concern, these forms of abuse over them became rampant prompting vigilant group advocates’ attention to resurface and exert efforts in exposing the wide spreading dilemma.
To further understand the nature of this devious organization, Gulf Cooperation Council -Approved Medical Centers Association (GAMCA) is a conglomeration of medical clinics authorized by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member- in the conduct of pre-deployment medical tests for Filipino applicants. Its scheme requires GCC applicants to be appointment by a centralized office upon which they will be referred to an accredited clinic. The practice is called decking system which undermines Philippine laws including but not limited to malpractices which define applicants from the different parts of the archipelago to being subjected to unusually extreme discomforts specially to those who are financially-handicapped.
And to address this predicament of successfully recruited applicants overseas, an inter-agency task force comprising the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) was delegated to reject a monopoly exercised by the GCC who accredited about nineteen (19) local medical clinics that process Filipino overseas applicants’ medical examination with legal contracts bound for work in GCC member-states: Kingdom of Bahrain, Kingdom of Kuwait, Sultanate of Oman, Kingdom of Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
I am among the migrant workers in the gulf who had untoward experiences with GAMCA’s decking system. As their generally- implemented procedure, all applicants’ medical examination documents are submitted by a specific recruitment agency that holds the job orders from overseas employers to GAMCA. GAMCA shuffles the names of these applicants to be directed to undergo medical check-ups not of their own choices but through its recognized hospitals and clinics. In every clinic or hospital, every applicant has to undergo long, tiring and stern procedures with its area barely able to contain a crowd of thousands of applicants. In worst cases, you need to walk sideward to be able to move from one place to another. Long queues would take you hours to accomplish a single step. If you are lucky enough, you would complete the examination for two days. While it is true that the applicant has to bear an expenses of his own medical examination which is usually Two thousand seven hundred (P.2,700.00) Philippine currency, this amount could extend into more financial constraints not to mention expenses incurred in going and returning to the hospital’s location in the National Capital Region (NCR). This is so because applicants are subjected to major and minor medical processes for two or several times like –x-rays, AIDS , drug and stool examination; blood pressure examination among others. Though some clinics allow you to have dental examination and cleaning from other places, the assurance of passing the test is slim because the dental groups of the hospitals usually find ways for applicants to repeat the procedure adding financial burden and inconvenience. Despite their awareness that the applicant has a visa and ready for deployment, their delaying tactics- repetition of the processes they deemed unsatisfactory done, may hamper the urgency of work travels which can possibly transpire even for several months. Some OFW’s employment status have been cancelled by employers due to GAMCA’s decking system. Applicants are fortunate if employers are patient enough to wait- a rare opportunity.
This beneficial action performed by the cooperating government agencies against the system links to the country’s Republic Act No.10022 that provides Filipino migrant workers the freedom to choose any clinic accredited or operated by the Department of Health (DOH). It stipulates that applicants need not to travel to the NCR to avail of their medical examination due to the establishment of accredited clinics in all regions depending on the origin of applicants that favorably results to cost-cutting expenses and reducing inconvenience.
Alay Buhay party-list Representative, Wes Gatchalian, Senior Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Workers’ Affairs (HCOWA), said that “the decision of the inter-agency task force has cleared the way for our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to exercise their democratic right to choose their preferred clinics under the law, of which the circular directs all Philippine posts in the GCC to inform and seek the cooperation of host governments to abolish the GAMCA decking system, which were practiced over the past fifteen (15) years.” It can be recalled that there were concerned citizens’ groups who constantly advocate the removal of GAMCA but were not successful enough in demanding reforms due to the displace focus of some government officials who almost squander their reigns on political affairs neglecting other major government issues that needed to be crucially addressed. Despite some officials’ inefficiencies towards their expected public services, there are still dedicated men and women, who acted on their credence to lead reforms.
In appreciation to some members of the government authorities, this is a manifestation that change can possibly occur depending on authorities that were converged and emerged by the changing times whose ultimate objectives to publicly rule concentrate on elimination of corruption and rejection of abusive powers. Edward Gibbon’s thematically-contained line says “Corruption is the most infallible symptom of constitutional liberty.” firstname.lastname@example.org