MANILA, Philippines – More and more Filipinos are leaving the country either for work or leisure despite the global financial crisis, official records show.
The recruitment industry yesterday reported that about 10,000 people flock daily to different National Statistics Office (NSO) offices in Metro Manila to get documents needed to secure a passport.
About 5,000 applicants visit the NSO main office in Quezon City while more than 3,000 people troop to the NSO Pasay City branch everyday.
“NSO personnel are up to their necks with all the requests for documents like birth and marriage certificates which are needed for passport application,” a recruitment official disclosed.
The NSO Pasay office could hardly cope with the influx of applicants, 95 percent of whom request for birth and marriage certificates for their passport application.
The official said not all those applying for passports are workers, and some of them are traveling for leisure.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that passport applications have reached a new peak of 10,000 daily, up from the average 6,000 early this year, the official said.
The increased number of applications has led to computer breakdowns at the DFA which in turn has delayed the processing of applications that have to be encoded under the new passport system.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reported that an average of 4,000 people are being deployed daily to various job sites abroad.
More than 1,000 Filipino medical health personnel are set to leave the country soon to work in medical hospitals and clinics in Saudi Arabia, according to a report by clinics accredited to undertake the medical test for OFWs.
Meanwhile, at least a hundred illegally recruited Filipina workers are now being forced to work as prostitutes in the Ivory Coast in West Africa, the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) reported yesterday.
PNRC chairman Richard Gordon said they learned about the illegal operations of Filipino-owned restaurants in the Ivory Coast after three of the victims escaped from the sex den.
The three women victims arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) early yesterday morning with the help of the Philippine embassy and PNRC officials in Ivory Coast.
At a press conference, Abby (not her real name) said she was recruited by a certain Arnold to work as a cashier in a restaurant with a monthly pay of P150,000.
Using tourist visas, Abby said she and her two companions left the country first week of April with assistance from immigration personnel at the NAIA.
Upon arriving in the Ivory Coast, Abby said they were taken to a restaurant used as a front for prostitution.
She said their passports were confiscated and they were not given food for refusing to be prostitutes.
She also said a string of restaurants in the Ivory Coast employing mostly Filipina workers are being used as prostitution fronts.
“About 100 Filipina women are working in those restaurants and more are going there without knowing that they will be working as prostitutes,” a PNRC official revealed.
Gordon ordered a probe into the matter and directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to arrest the illegal recruiter.
He also vowed to file charges against the people behind the illegal activities, including the immigration officers.
Meanwhile, Sen. Manuel Villar expressed alarm over the worsening situation of 96 Filipino migrant workers in Poland after a number of them were terminated yesterday from the glass company where they work.
Villar’s office also received reports that at least 21 of the Filipino workers have already run away.
The workers stopped work due to fatigue and disillusionment over labor problems.
The OFWs earlier complained of contract substitution, diminution of agreed salaries, sickness due to inadequate food provision and heavy work load.
Ronaldo Corpuz, one of the OFWs, said their passports were returned but some of their contracts were terminated.
“We were fooled by our agency in Manila about our salary,” Corpuz told Villar’s office.
Aside from keeping their passports, their employers also banned them from sending money to their families in the Philippines.
The OFWs in Poland signed contracts with their agency in Manila for a monthly salary of $500 to $750 but ended up getting the equivalent of only P12,000 to P14,000 in pay ($250 to $300).
Each paid a $720 placement fee plus P6,000 in additional fees prior to their departure last month.
Villar asked the Philippine consulate in Warsaw and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office to assist the beleaguered OFWs. –- Mayen Jaymalin with Christina Mendez, Philippine Star