Migrant group pushes probe of Labor execs in Mideast

Published by rudy Date posted on May 22, 2011
An alliance of overseas Filipino migrants group yesterday asked Congress to conduct an investigation into the alleged involvement of some members of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in the Middle East in human smuggling.
“These reports must be investigated, after gathering (pieces of) evidence, we hope it will lead to filing of appropriate charges against these erring overseas Labor officials,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, in a statement, said.
The group urged Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to file an administrative and appropriate criminal case against erring officials in Kuwait who are accused of accepting bribe from recruitment agents.
He noted that several distressed and stranded OFWs who have been staying at the Philippine Embassy-run Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) in Kuwait have accused Labor Attachés Ofelia Castro-Hudson and Vidal Vivo of “selling” them to agencies in exchange for “cash and gifts.”
“The accusation, especially coming from distressed OFWs themselves, must be heard and investigated. This is not the first time we have heard such reports,” Monterona stressed.
He said report reaching his group is that the Labor officials are forcing runaway OFWs to seek another employer so that they could still earn while being an absconder from the first and original employer.
“The act of transferring an OFW from one employer to another in exchange of
money or gifts is essentially human smuggling or trafficking punishable under the Migrant Workers Act or Republic Act 10022,” Monterona added.
He said it is highly illegal and immoral and condemnable if the person committing such act is an embassy or Labor official, who is duty-bound to protect our distress OFWs who have no other choice than to abscond from the abuses of their employers.
Monterona also revealed that they are also receiving reports that some POLO officials in Kuwait and in other Mideast countries are accepting money from recruitment agencies in exchange of job order referrals from prospective employers.
He added by merely referring “job orders” to a recruitment agency, a Labor official is paid ranging from P50,000 to P100,000.
“This report must be investigated too,” he said.
Philippine Labor Attaché in Kuwait Vivo Vidal has vehemently denied the allegation that some POLO officials are involved in human trafficking.
But Baldoz recalled Assiatant Labor Attaché Ofelia Castro Hudson for her alleged involvement in human trafficking.
Ambassador Shulan Primavera of the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, for her part, has asked Baldoz to reconsider her recall order on Hudson, calling it a “grave act of injustice.”
In his letter to Baldoz, Primavera said he is willing to stake his 36 years of dedicated service to the government to assure her that the accusation against Hudson “is unfounded, a misnomer and is ill-motivated.”
“Madame Secretary, please believe me when I say I have the interests of the entire Philippine bureaucracy represented in Kuwait at heart when I wrote this letter,” said Primavera.
“Please reconsider your decision to have Ms. Hudson recalled to the (DoLE) home office. On the contrary, I strongly recommend that her assignment to Kuwait be extended for another two years for the greater national interest and practical consideration.”

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