President Arroyo’s Assistance Package a Hoax – Migrante

Migrante International together with retrenched OFWs from Taiwan today trooped down the office of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to denounce the government’s failure to deliver its promises of assistance to OFWs who were laid off due to the global financial crisis.

“This Filipino Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund is a hoax. Just like the cheques that were handed down in Malacanang, the President’s assistance package has yet to be seen and felt by OFWs who were unjustly laid-off from Taiwan,” says Gina Gaborni, Deputy Secretary General of Migrante International.

Gaborni criticized the Government for its continued negligence of the retrenched OFWs. Ironically, this happened after President Arroyo issued Administrative Order 248 in December, 2008 – its supposed ‘payback’ to the heroic efforts of the Filipino workers.

“The Government allotted PhP250 million for this Program but so far, has not benefited any returned OFW. And to add insult to injury, the Government’s assistance package is actually a loan, which OFWs must repay to OWWA,” Gaborni insisted.

According to Migrante, only 10 percent or PhP5,000 of the allotted P50,000 for each expatriate worker is available, the rest are in goods. They also claimed that before anyone can benefit from the Program, one has to attend seminars, training activities, draw a feasibility study for a livelihood program plus other requirements.

“OFWs have to go through a lot of red tapes before the said Fund is availed of. The process was intentionally designed to actually discourage anyone to claim the said assistance package. This is utterly evil,” exclaims Gaborni.

Overcharging OFWs

Gaborni also slammed recruitment agencies for collecting overpriced placement fees from outbound OFWs and the POEA for tolerating such actions. Furthermore, she urged the Philippine Congress to probe on this matter.

Migrante documented most of the retrenched OFWs in Taiwan worked from three to eight months only against their supposedly two-year contracts.

“These OFWs want payment for the unexpired portion of their contracts because they paid PhP135,000 as placement fees, which is four times the allowable ceiling amount set by the Government,” Gaborni said.

One of the retrenched OFWs is Angelina Arroz, 28, who arrived in the country last January 5. She paid PhP135,000 as a placement fee to Forever Manpower Services Inc., which is now offering her only PhP10,000.

“This is not fair since I only stayed in Taiwan for eight months. During those months, I was not able to work everyday. I want payment for the remaining months in my signed contract,” Arroz said.

Arroz also paid PhP2,500 for a jacket, which bears the said Recruitment Agency’s name and PhP750 for her Identification Card aside from the placement fee.

In Taiwan OFWs also pay NT1,800 for their meal, NT1,200 for board and lodging and NT1,800 as a broker’s fee. These are paid even when there was no work provided.

“Right now, I’m still paying for a PhP60,000 loan, a part of the amount I paid for the placement fee,” Arroz said.

Migrante said the Government should not sit idly and do nothing for expatriate because more and more OFWs will come back to the country as a result of the global financial crisis.(PinoyPress)

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