Manpower agencies rally behind Sec. Bello amid corruption allegations

Marje Pelayo   •   July 30, 2018   •   4643

MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of staff of manpower and recruitment agencies accredited under the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) condemned the allegations of corruption against Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

The group said they do not believe the complainant, Amanda Araneta, owner of MMML Recruitment Agency, and called her action as a move to destroy the credibility of the Labor Secretary.

They attest to the improvements in the country’s state of employment under Bello, especially when it comes to the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).

“Sa administrasyon po ni Silvestre Bello III, napakarami pong naiayos lalong lalo na po iyong welfare and protection ng ating mga OFW. Tuwing kami po ay makikipagpulong sa kaniya, ang amin pong mga organization, lagi po siyang may tagubilin na “bawal ang kotong.” Lagi din po niyang sinasabi sa amin na mayroong ahensya na nagbigay ng pera sa akin ay ibinalik ko,” testified Lucita Sermonia, president of Coalition of Licensed Agencies for Domestic and Service Workers, Inc. (CLADS).

The group argued that not all recruitment agencies deserve to be dragged into the issue of corruption as there are job providers who keep their hands and operations clean of illegal activities and violations.

“Kung meron silang problema ay huwag silang mandamay. Kami po hindi katulad nila, Kung meron silang mga violation, hindi po lahat ng recruitment (agency) ay may violation. Kung kami ay (sabihing) may violation ay ilalaban naming iyan sa tamang proseso. Hindi po kami naglalagay,” said Milagros Abuhussein, CEO and President of Kingdom Int’l Manpower Services, Inc.

“Huwag nating gamitin ang isang tao para masira ang isang tao, ito po ay industriyang meron ho tayong integridad,” said CLADS chairman, Thelma Uanang.

The group is planning to submit a joint manifesto to President Rodrigo Duterte as a show of support to Secretary Bello and also to justify that they do not tolerate corruption and illegal practices in their respective recruitment agencies. —  Aiko Miguel / Marje Pelayo

Bello vows justice for OFW raped in Saudi Arabia

Marje Pelayo   •   July 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Monday (July 5) directed Philippine representatives in Saudi Arabia to take immediate action on the case of a Filipina overseas worker who was raped by her foreign recruiter and abused by her employer there.

Specifically, Bello ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh to initiate appropriate legal steps against the suspects, and impose administrative penalties on the local recruitment agency which deployed the victim.

The OFW identified by the name Michelle was allegedly raped by the owner of the foreign recruitment agency (FDA) and molested by one of her employers before she was repatriated recently.

The Labor Chief directed POLO to take legal action and go after Meshail Mabrook Al Bassani Al Qahtani and employer Abdulaziz Ahlas, owners of Home Comfort Recruitment Office/Home Comfort Manpower Services, for the rape and abuse of the Filipina.

Bello also directed the POEA to penalize the local company SAMA International Recruitment Agency which reportedly ignored Michelle’s complaints and her ordeal in Saudi Arabia.

In his urgent memorandum to Labor Attache Fidel Macauyag, Bello instructed the POLO in Riyadh to work with authorities there for immediate legal action there as the case is cannot be processed in the Philippines “due to lack of jurisdiction.”

“The crime happened outside of the Philippines and the principle of extraterritoriality can’t be applied to the case,” he explained.

Nevertheless, Bello vowed justice to the aggrieved OFW.

“I will do everything possible to help our OFW fight back against her tormentors,” Bello said.

He noted that he already ordered the suspension of the FDA’s accreditation with the POLO.

He also directed Macauyag to coordinate closely with Arab authorities for the filing of criminal cases and prosecution of Al Qahtani and Ahlas.

On the other hand, Bello tasked POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia to probe Ahlas over violations of POEA rules and impose penalties for the sexual abuse committed against the OFW.

The Labor chief also told Olalia to sanction the FDA and Qahtani.

Likewise, he ordered POEA to build up an administrative case against SAMA and suspend the agency to prevent further violation and exploitation of Filipino migrant workers.

Upon her arrival in the country, Michelle went to the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) where she was given legal assistance in the preparation for her sworn statement.

PAO also conducted forensic tests on the OFW which yielded results indicating sexual abuse and injuries.

OFWs in South Korea given one-year extension of stay

Marje Pelayo   •   April 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in South Korea who are under the Employment Permit System (EPS) and whose contract term expires within the period April 13, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2021 are given an extension of stay to one more year.

The policy, which took effect April 13, allows foreign workers to remain in the country given the prevailing condition brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Labor Attaché Maya Valderrama of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Korea in a report to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the said issuance from South Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is in line with the relevant amendment to the Act on Employment of Foreign Workers.

The issuance provides that the stay and employment period of foreign workers (E-9 and H-2) under the EPS and whose employment period (three years or four years and 10 months) expires from April 13 to December 31, 2021 is extended for one year.

Valderrama said the Korean government expects this measure will resolve the difficulties of workers entering and leaving the country during the pandemic.

This will also help in the manpower shortage of small and medium-sized companies.

Bello thanked the Seoul government for the move that will benefit hundreds of workers in Korea.

“We welcome this unprecedented employment measure extended by the Republic of Korea (ROK) to our EPS workers especially during this time of the pandemic. The preservation of jobs of our OFWs everywhere in the world is our primordial concern, and this development highlights the value of our 15 years of continuing bilateral cooperation on labor with the ROK,” Bello said in a news release on Sunday.

The extension period of stay and employment also applies to EPS workers who have been given a 50-day visa extension by ROK’s authorities, provided that the extended period also falls within the period April 13 to December 31, 2021.

Bello clarifies ‘nurses-for-vax’ issue; says UK asks exemption from PH deployment cap on nurses

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III cannot put in detail yet the response of the British government on the conditions the Philippine government has offered to allow the deployment of more Filipino health workers to the United Kingdom.

But Bello has high hopes that the negotiations will yield positive results for the benefit of overseas Filipino workers.

“Positive naman ang reaction ng Ambassador. Sabi niya, I can go back to his principal and he will come to me after 10 days which he did. Bumalik siya noong February 24 at meron siyang sulat,” Bello explained.

“Kaya lang hindi pa ko at liberty na i-public ang content ng sulat because I will first submit it to the President,” he added.

Secretary Bello said it was the UK government who requested not to include them in the Philippines’ list of countries with deployment caps for health workers.

The said deployment cap allows only 5,000 Filipino health workers to go abroad each year.

Bello clarified on the matter after a group of nurses expressed disappointment over reports of alleged ‘nurses-for-vaccine’ in which DOLE appeared to be bargaining Filipino nurses for COVID-19 vaccine supply from the UK.

“Nasaktan kami and we think na hindi yun tama dahil ang mga nurses ay matagal nang nagsasakripisyo at tumutulong sa pandemyang ito pero hindi magandang pakinggan na parang kami ay barter commodity na kapalit noong bakuna,” said Jocelyn Andamo, secretary general of Filipino Nurses United.

Bello explained that the UK is sixth among countries in the world with the fastest infection rate for COVID-19. 

He said they just want to make sure that the nurse will be protected first before they are deployed to the UK.

“Gusto ko bago sila ma-deploy ay naka-vaccine na sila para ligtas sila,” Bello noted.

“Hindi ko sinabing bigyan nyo ako ng vaccine tapos kapalit ng nurses,” he stressed.

The FNU opposes the deployment cap saying the country has enough nurses.

In fact, the group said, there are about 800,000 to 900,000 registered nurses in the country. 

Over 250,000 of them are deployed in different countries; over 220,000 works outside of the field of medicine; and only about 90,000 are practicing their profession.

“Ang shortage ng nurses sa tingin namin ito ay acute or even false shortage because we have enough nurses in the Philippines,” Adamo argued.

“Hindi lang sila maximized, tapped or encouraged to work in that nursing profession or maglingkod within the healthcare system dahil nga sa sobrang kababaan ng sahod at hindi magandang work conditions,” she added.

It can be recalled that the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 imposed a deployment cap on nurses to ensure that the country has enough number in case the COVID-19 situation worsens in the country.

Bello confirmed that aside from the UK, about 50,000 nurses are also needed in Germany though there is no negotiation yet between Berlin and Manila on the matter. MNP (with input from Rey Pelayo)

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.