An alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and advocates on Thursday expressed opposition over the Aquino administration’s appointment of Rosalinda Baldoz as head of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and its retention of Alberto Romulo as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Migrante International accused Baldoz, former administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), of incompetence in “addressing labor-related concerns of OFWs.”
“We are worried that the appointments of Baldoz and Romulo as heads of agencies directly affecting the protection, welfare and defense of OFWs could be reflective of the Aquino administration’s policy framework and perspective for the migrant sector,” Migrante chairperson Garry Martinez said.
Martinez disclosed that Baldoz failed to resolve numerous cases of unfair labor practices involving OFWs.
The Migrante official also accused the latter of enforcing anti-migrant policies, particularly the Memorandum Circular 04 banning direct hiring by requiring applying OFWs to undergo trainings only in recruitment agencies accredited by POEA.
“This resulted in loss of jobs and employment opportunities and imposed added exorbitant fees on OFWs,” Martinez said. “It also served as a milking cow for corruption in POEA.”
Martinez also cited the case of 27 Filipino nurses and physical therapists who accused the Sentosa Care of committing unfair labor practices and “involuntary servitude” against them in 2006.
They also filed an administrative case before the POEA against the Sentosa office in Manila and its representatives.
He said this particular incident “exposed how Baldoz treated cases of OFWs brought to the POEA.”
During a dialogue with the families of the OFWs, Martinez related, Baldoz dismissed the case by telling the OFWs’ relatives that “she could not do anything despite the overwhelming evidence against Sentosa.”
He said Baldoz willingly sacrificed the 27 OFWs in exchange for “thousands of jobs at the pipeline.”
“How can we now entrust the welfare of our Filipino workers, both here and abroad, to the kind of incompetence and neglect that Baldoz has so far displayed?” Martinez asked.
He also expressed fears that “no significant change” will occur in DFA in the next six years because of the reappointment of Romulo.
Martinez expressed worry that under Romulo, the DFA will remain unresponsive to “endless cases of repatriation, countless OFWs in jail and in the death row that the Arroyo administration had failed to urgently address.”
“There is also a pressing need for Romulo and the Aquino administration to instill major policy reforms in terms of labor migration and unfair and one-sided treaties that have long endangered the lives and welfare of our OFWs,” he added. — LBG/FONJ, GMANews.TV