An alliance of migrant organizations on Tuesday alleged that recruitment agencies in the Philippines and its counterpart in Israel are charging overseas Filipino workers with exorbitant placement fees.
The allegations were contained in reports received from OFWs deployed as caregivers in Israel by Migrante International-Middle East.
Migrante-M.E. regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said OFWs were allegedly asked to provide US$3,000 while others US$6,000.
“OFWs complaining of overcharging, almost everyday, is expected because the POEA, under the Arroyo administration, has already been transformed from a regulatory body into now a mere marketing agency looking for new labor markets to continuously sell cheap our human labor abroad,” Monterona said in a press statement.
The group said that charging OFWs with big placement fees is a violation of the POEA Guidelines on the implementation of Reform Package Affecting Household Service Workers (HSWs) issued in 2006 by the POEA Governing Board.
Overcharging complaints, Monterona said, is a manifestation that the POEA could not anymore exercise its regulatory function over recruitment agencies.
“Because side by side with recruitment agencies, it is also now at the forefront of promoting, in an intensified scale, of exporting human labor at the expense of OFWs rights, welfare, and their well-being,” said Monterona.
He added that the OFWs deployed as caregivers in Israel identified a recruitment agency that charges exorbitant placement fees.
“If the applicant does not have the said amount, the agency’s counterpart in Israel would usually offer a loan with 5% interest on top of the placement fee being asked by the recruitment agency,” Monterona said.
The OFWs also revealed to the group that upon their arrival in Israel, they were given a short briefing by Philippine Embassy officials and were allegedly told not to tell anybody how much they have paid their agency in the Philippines.
“With this revelation, it appears that the Philippine Embassy in Israel is acting as accomplice to the crime perpetrated by recruitment agencies in the Philippines in cahoots with counterpart local recruiters in Israel by illegally charging a placement fee to deployed HSWs mostly working as caregivers,” Monterona said.
The group said it is set to send a letter to concerned committees of the Philippine to investigate the matter.
In addition, the group urged the POEA to probe the recruitment agency that deployed the OFWs to Israel and for the Philippine’s foreign affairs department to investigate its officials accused by migrant workers of covering up the illegal imposition of placement fees.
“These are the very government agencies, mandated by law and thus duty-bound, which should be at the forefront advancing and protecting OFWs rights and interests, but look what these government agencies are doing?” Monterona said.