POLO-OWWA London warns Filipinos against recruitment scam

Marje Pelayo   •   January 4, 2021   •   766

LONDON, United Kingdom — The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) – Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in London warned Filipino jobseekers against fake entities posing as recruitment agencies supposedly authorized by the agency.

In a statement, POLO – London said they have received a report against a certain company named Cornerstone Employment Agency (CEA) Ltd, that has been offering partnerships with Philippine recruitment agencies to recruit Filipino workers for jobs in the UK.  

The dubious agency has been using an email address that resembles the official email address of POLO, and presenting documents with fake verification stamps and forged signatures to make them appear legitimate.

POLO clarified that it “has never emailed any document to CEA nor has it sent any document to that agency.”

Applicants who were recruited by CEA also reported that they were asked to pay a fee of $800 USD for the processing of a work visa.

POLO stressed that the activity is definitely a recruitment scam and advised the public to stop any dealings with the said agency. MNP / Raymund David

Budget for OFW repatriation depleting due to extended quarantine period — OWWA

Marje Pelayo   •   March 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Around 10,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are now under quarantine in around 140 hotels in the country.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said such a volume of OFW occupants is due to the extension of the quarantine period to eight up to nine days from one to three days in the past.

Such extension followed the changes in the protocol on COVID-19 testing for returning OFWs.

In the past, OFWs were being tested for swab samples upon arrival at the airport.

But that changed and they needed to stay at the quarantine hotel and wait for the fifth day to get tested, as this procedure is deemed more effective.

“Kaya nga we resorted to budget hotels and facilities kasi nga na-overwhelm na yung mga hotels natin dito sa Metro Manila,” said OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.

The official explained that their budget is depleting as they need to spend about P30-M a day for the quarantine procedures apart from the transportation expenses of ferrying returning OFWs to the hotel from the airport.

“As a result talagang challenged ang funds natin ngayon and we project na by April and May ay mauubos yung 2021 Budget, yung P6.2 Billion,” Cacdac said. 

The official said they have notified the Department of Budget and Management of the situation and requested for additional budget.

The agency recorded around 470,000 OFWs who returned to the country since the start of the pandemic and is expecting to receive 100,000 more this year. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

 

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)

UK declines PH offer to deploy more Filipino nurses in exchange for vaccines

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The United Kingdom (UK) government has declined the offer of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to deploy more nurses to the UK in exchange for vaccines.

UK Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce said the recruitment of nurses and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines are two separate issues.

“We’ve got no plans to link vaccines with those conversations around the recruitment of nurses. You know those two strands of conversation I think continue but as I’ve said again we have no plans to link those two issues,” he said during a virtual conference.

DOLE Silvestre Bello III proposed forming an agreement with the UK to lift the deployment cap of healthcare workers, provided the UK would allocate vaccines for them. Bello also made the same proposal with Germany.

DOLE Information and Publication Service (IPS) Director Rolly Francia clarified the proposal was to make sure the nurses are safe when deployed abroad and not for the country to have additional supply of COVID-19 vaccines. This was after the proposal drew ire for making nurses look like ‘commodities’ to be exchanged for vaccines.

“What Secretary Bello wants is to ensure that the nurse gets vaccinated if ever the request for an exemption in the cap would be granted by the President,” Francia said.

Nevertheless, Ambassador Pruce said he will meet with Bello in the coming weeks to further discuss the issue. AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

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