Pinoys in Spain protest employment certificate requirement

Daniel Tuaño, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 24 2017 05:16 PM | Updated as of Sep 25 2017 09:06 AM

MANILA - Filipinos based in Spain have expressed resentment against a requirement by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for issuing employment certificates, which has supposedly made it harder for their relatives to bag jobs there. 

Some expatriates have successfully asked their employers to hire their relatives. The POEA, however, requires job offers to be coursed through manpower agencies. 

The requirement is unnecessary because the job opportunity did not come from the agency and all documentary requirements have been taken care of by the family members, claimed some overseas Filipino workers. 

Manpower agencies practically copy the employment contract without offering any other service and for a charge of at least P40,000, explained Willy Teves, a Barcelona-based resident who assists Filipinos with their documents.

Carmelita Asuncion, another OFW, shared that she paid P105,000 to the OVM Visa Assistance and Travel Consultancy agency in connection to her son's expiring work visa. 

The agency, she said, only gave her a receipt and accompanied her and her son to the airport, but did not give them any employment certificate. OVM did not immediately reply to ABS-CBN News' request for comment. 

The Asociación Mujeres Filipina de Madrid (AMFIL) earlier wrote the Department of Labor and Employment to complain about the documentary requirements. 
 
"Our community is suffering greatly because of the loss of employment for our family members, waste of lots of money and time for processing documentary requirements in the Philippines and here in Spain," reads their petition letter sent last March. 

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Madrid has made a request to consider Spain as a special market to be exempted from the agency requirement, said Labor attaché Bing Lavilla. 

OFFICIALS ON DEFENSE 
 
The agency requirement, however, is not new, according to POEA officer-in-charge and Labor Undersecretary Bernard Olalia. 

"Noong mga unang administrasyon, masyadong maluwag pinapayagan sila kahit na wala doon sa probisyon ng batas, eh. Ngayon masusi nating iniimplement kung anuman 'yung nakalagay sa batas, eh tayo ngayon nababatikos dahil sa ating pag-implement sa probisyon ng Labor Code," Olalia said.

Household workers bound for Spain, he added, have to pass through manpower agencies as they are not included in the list of exemptions under the direct hire policy. 

"Ang pwede lamang mag-apply for direct hire ay 'yung empleyo ng tinatawag nating members of the diplomatic corps, 'yung mga workers na ang magiging employer nila ay mga diplomatic corps, mga employers nila mula sa international organization, mga employers nila ay mga heads of state and government officers with rank of at least deputy minister," he said. 

"Mayroon din tayong pinapayagan, itong mga professionals at skilled workers. Samantalang 'yung mga nag-apply kasi sa Espanya ay hindi sila pasok sa kategoryang ito."

Olalia also reminded OFWs that the processing fee paid to agencies should be shouldered by the employers.
 
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, meanwhile, said POEA's requirements only aim to protect OFWs against illegal recruitment. 
 
"Pag ‘di kasama sa exemption, pasensyahan na lang... Naa-abuse 'yan and results to illegal recruiting...Anong guarantee ko pag may mangyari sa 'yo?" he said.