Migrante slams new POEA memo on direct hiring

An alliance of organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and their
families today slammed the new POEA guidelines on direct hiring as
another Arroyo scheme against the interests of OFWs.

“Mafiosi is the most apt description for these new POEA guidelines.
It exposes the Arroyo administration as a ruthless thug whose message
is that all activities in its labor exportation alley must fall under
its `protection racket’. We demand no less than the immediate
scrapping of POEA MC 04,” says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante
International Chairperson.

The POEA MC 04 was implemented last December 2007 and it covers all
foreign employers wishing to directly hire Filipino workers. It also
requires foreign employers to post a Performance Bond equivalent to 3
months salary of the OFW and a US$5,000 Repatriation Bond.

“Although the Arroyo administration is sure to justify these bonds as
insurance for the welfare of the OFW, it is clearly nothing but
`grease money’ in that foreign employers will only be allowed to
recruit if they fork out the necessary funds. The painful reality
here form OFWs is that employers usually extract their recruitment
costs from the OFWs themselves – either through their maximum
exploitation or through direct deductions from their salary,” she added.

Central Bank figures indicate remittances from overseas Filipinos last
year was around US$14 billion while state exactions or fees by OFWs to
various government agencies amount to approximately P13 billion annually.

Global actions against the POEA MC 04

“OFWs around the world are already in an uproar against this latest
exploitative scheme. We commit to intensifying the campaign to demand
its immediate scrapping. Further, given that this scheme underlines
how Arroyo will never implement policies for our genuine benefit – we
will also strengthen the campaign for her immediate ouster,” said
Bragas-Regalado

As part of its campaign to scrap POEA MC 04 and oppose other unjust
anti-migrant policies, a petition campaign and a series of protest
actions in the Philippines, Italy, Hong Kong, the Middle East and
other countries is being spearheaded by Migrante International and its
member organizations in the coming weeks. #

5 Comments

  1. Just stunned of this new policy. I am now overseas, although not necessarily an OFW as I am now considered a “dependant”. I am based in the Cayman Islands and a lot of my friends are already affected by this country’s roll-over policy, we do not need any more nonsense stringent blah-blah policy from our own country as well.

    For what position does this apply to and for which country?

    I mean, does it matter which country you are going to and what position you were able to acquire, i.e. au pair, clerk, construction work, accountant?

  2. Hi joy,

    All direct hires, regradless of any position, are affected by this memo circular.

  3. i am not against the so called “protection for our migrant workers” but i personally felt that this new rule is not going to help people who are seeking greener pastures abroad.for one, the red tape that goes with it, will be longer than usual,second, not all employers can afford it (i work for a small company who has its shares of difficulties regarding the payment of hug expatriate workers permit in the host country). studies and consultation should have been done before this was implemented. as situation from country to country differs as they have their own rules regarding the hiring of workers too.
    the basic idea to protect our migrant workers is a great step. but this particular move certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouth..

  4. e.nigma thanks for dropping by..

    everytime we hear the government harp the ‘protection of our OFWs’ yarn, it is always a cause for worry because this means they want to squeeze more money out of our poor OFWs.

    That’s what they said when they implemented the OWWA Omnibus Policies almost 5 years ago. What happened? thousands of OFWs were stripped off their rights to the benefits from the agency..

    Plus, the POEA’s coming up with this memo circular without the benefit of consultation doesnt surprise me anymore.. alam kasi nilang hindi ito lulusot.

    Anyway, a bit of good news. Migrante Int’l has stormed the POEA office to protest MC-04.

    Read on.

    News Release
    February 4, 2008
    For reference: Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson

    Migrante pickets POEA to protest new guidelines on direct hiring

    An alliance of organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and their families today led a picket at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration this morning to demand the immediate scrapping of the POEA MC 04 guidelines on direct hiring.

    “These guidelines intensify further the Arroyo administration’ s clear abandonment of OFWs. Through the stipulation regarding the performance and repatriation bond, regardless of the amount paid, the Arroyo administration tries to absolve itself of any responsibility regarding OFWs in distress. Worse, under the guise of passing accountability onto employers – the burden will clearly fall onto the OFWs,” says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International Chairperson.

    “Instead of ‘direct hiring’ guidelines, the memo will also essentially force OFWs to submit to the often very exploitative process of recruitment agencies. From very high placement fees to the outright disregard for OFWs rights and welfare, recruitment agencies are notorious for pushing OFWs into conditions of debt-bondage and modern-day slavery,” she added.

    POEA MC 04 was passed last December and implemented January 15 this year. Recently, the Philippine Consulate in Milan said the guidelines do not apply with the general condition of Filipinos in Europe while the Philippine Embassy in Singapore announced its suspension until further notice.

    “As we dare other Philippine posts to follow suit, we will accept no less than its immediate scrapping,” said Bragas-Regalado.

    In the coming weeks, Migrante announced that its member organizations will lead forums, rallies and delegations to their local Philippine embassies or consulates as part of its global campaign to scrap the POEA MC 04. The group said they will also escalate their oust Arroyo campaign given that they hold her accountable for this latest trampling of rights and welfare. #

  5. Congratulations OFWs!

    Workers welcome POEA retreat
    By Jerome Aning
    Philippine Daily Inquirer
    First Posted 01:56:00 02/17/2008

    MANILA, Philippines — Migrant workers on Saturday welcomed the indefinite suspension of new government guidelines on direct hiring of overseas Filipino workers.

    The leftist group Migrante International attributed to “OFW Power” the indefinite suspension by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s of its Memorandum Circular No. 4 (MC-04), which, among others, required foreign employers to post up to $8,000 in repatriation and performance bonds for each Filipino worker they hired.

    “This is the result of the united protest of OFWs around the world and that of our families in the Philippines. We sustained the campaign and were not deceived by the promise of protection of MC-04 nor of the tricky exemption,” said Samahan Laban sa Katiwalian ng mga Recruitment Agencies at Patakarang MC-04, a coalition against the POEA rule.

    “Filipino migrant workers claim victory over the POEA’s MC-04. This is the result of the united protest of OFWs around the world and that of our families in the Philippines,” said Dolores Balladares, chair of Migrante’s Hong Kong chapter, the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil).

    In Manila, the Center for Migrant Advocacy said it hoped the government had “learned its lesson” in not consulting the OFW sector before imposing a “burdensome” regulation such as MC-04.

    “MC-04 did not look good to OFWs not only because of its being tedious, drastic and costly but also it seemed to them that the government does not want to have the responsibility of bailing out OFWs in distress,” CMA executive director Ellene Sana told the Inquirer.

    Sana said the OFW groups would be willing to sit down with the POEA to craft regulations that would “really” extend protection to OFWs, particularly the directly-hired.

    “The process of making rules should be transparent and participatory. If we keep on promoting a labor-export policy, we should be ready for distressed migrants. So the government must touch base with OFW communities and hear from them how their welfare may be best protected,” she said.

    POEA suspended the guidelines on Feb. 14, “until further orders,” less than a month after they were implemented. In suspending the guidelines, the POEA cited President Macapagal-Arroyo’s directives to relax rules on hiring white-collar OFWs and the need to deliberate further on the matter.


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