MANILA - An overseas recruitment services sector leader has called on the Department of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs to finally halt the “medical referral decking system” that continues to plague Filipinos who want to work in Saudi Arabia and other member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
“The medical referral decking system has been a long-standing problem that previous administrations had swept under the rug, and which the present administration has not touched even if it could have removed another layer of bureaucratic red tape, albeit private. Had concerned government agencies been decisive in dealing with this issue, the low rating of the country in ease of doing business could have improved,” Lito Soriano said in a press statement.
Under the medical referral decking system, Filipinos are required to undergo medical examination only in GCC Approved Medical Centers Association (GAMCA) clinics. The system requires overseas Filipino workers to go first to an office for registration before he/she is "farmed out" or referred to a medical clinic located elsewhere.
Filipinos bound for Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar have long complained, however, that the clinics supposedly operate only for profit.
Soriano said the system has resulted in long delays in the approval and stamping of OFW-applicants’ medical certificates, thus affecting the entire application process.
“Every single day of delay is bad for business. It is very bad for OFWs and their families. It is bad for the reputation of the overseas employment services sector; and worse, it is bad for the reputation of the country,” he said.
Soriano also said the system violates the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Act of 1995, as amended by RA 10022.
“This is specifically provided in Section 16 of the law, which states that ‘no group or groups of medical clinics shall have a monopoly of exclusively conducting health examinations on migrant workers for certain receiving countries; that every Filipino migrant worker shall have the freedom to choose any of the DOH-accredited, or DOH-operated, clinics that will conduct his/her health examination and that his/her rights as a patient are respected,’” Soriano said.