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Changes to Migrant Workers law welcomed

A recruitment official lauded Wednesday the passage of an amended version of the Migrant Worker and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 making “repro orders’’ an illegal recruitment act.

The two Houses of Congress adopted last Monday the bicameral conference committee report amending Republic Act 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers Act of 1995, “to further improve the standard of protection, promotion of welfare and assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).’’

One of the salient provisions is making reprocessing of job orders for OFWs an illegal act.

“The amended version should now instill fear among recruiters, legal or illegal,’’ Emmanuel Geslani said in an interview.

“The scheme, commonly termed as contract substitution, has victimized many OFWs who sign contracts here in the Philippines but execute and enter into employment contracts upon reaching their destination,’’ he said.

According to the bicameral report, “illegal recruitment’’ to include reprocessing workers through a job order pertains to non-existent work, work different from the actual overseas work or work with a different employer whether registered or not with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The amended version provides a penalty of imprisonment of from 12 to 20 years and a fine of at least P1 million to P2 million.

Geslani said the imposition of longer prison terms and heavier fines for persons who will commit illegal recruitment acts like “repro orders” were intended to address the mounting problem of recruitment and deployment of OFWs.

In 2008, he said the scheme was the reason for the deployment of some 100, 000 domestic helpers to Lebanon, Dubai, Jordan and Syria.

He claimed that licensed and non-licensed holders used the “repro orders” in processing household service workers under different categories like janitress, cleaners, chambermaids, washers, and other service workers.

“Many of those service workers were trafficked to Lebanon and Jordan to work as domestic helpers while the rest were deployed as house maids in Dubai and Kuwait,’’ the migration expert said.

Moreover, the bill also provides for accountability on the members of the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in the deployment of migrant workers.

“Government officials found responsible for the issuance of permits and allowing deployment of OFWs to countries that do not guarantee or comply with international labor standards shall suffer the penalty of dismissal from service or be disqualified from holding appointive public office for five years.’’

Earlier, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, concurrent chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and of the joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, said the consolidated version of Senate Bill 3286 and House Bill 5649 features a combination of preventive measures to address problem in the recruitment and deployment of OFWs and better rescue and assistance mechanisms.

By SHIANEE MAMANGLU
January 20, 2010, 5:05pm

Filed under: OFW Corner,

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