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Friday, August 24, 2012

Seafarers Deployed as Fishermen File Complaints Against Recruiter, Employer

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Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac said 12 seafarers have recently sought the assistance of POEA’s anti-illegal recruitment branch in filing separate complaints against a manning agency and the owners of two fishing vessels in Taiwan for alleged contract substitution, misrepresentation, maltreatment, and charging bribe money from them.

In their complaint sheet, the seafarers claimed that from January to February 2012, they engaged the services of JMP Polaris Navigation, Inc. which recruits regular seafarers such as messmen, deck cadets and engine cadets with a monthly salary of USD250.00 to USD350.00.

The complainants alleged that the agency’s crewing and operation manager assured them of employment as seafarers in an international vessel but they have to pay the amount of PhP15,000.00 as lagay (bribe) and some miscellaneous fees.

Cacdac said there is total prohibition on charging any fee from seafarers. “Under POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Seafarers, manning agencies are prohibited from charging or accepting directly or indirectly any amount of money, goods or services, or any fee or bond for any purpose from the seafarers,” Cacdac said.

Cacdac said the 12 complainants alleged they paid JMP Polaris Navigation, Inc. a total of PhP265,000.00.
The complainants stated that after submitting the required documents and signing their employment contracts, they left the country for Taiwan in separate dates from January to March 2012.

The seafarers alleged that before departure at the airport, an employee of JMP Polaris Navigation Inc. told them that the positions in their respective contracts would be substituted to “fisherman”. Nonetheless, the seafarers, boarded their plane bound for Taiwan to work in fishing vessels owned by Menh Hao Fishery, Co. Ltd and Jui Wun Fishery, Ltd.

The complainants said their employer maltreated them and made them work beyond the normal hours of work without pay. The seafarers also complained of poor accommodation, inadequate food and water, and lack of safety equipment and first-aid supplies.

They left their employers and came back to the Philippines in June 2012.  Cacdac said that on the basis of the sworn statements of the complainants, the POEA suspended the license of JMP Polaris navigation, Inc. and suspended Menh Hao fishery, Co. Ltd and Jui Wun Fishery, Ltd. from participating in the overseas employment program pending investigation of the case filed against them.

“We find strong prima facie evidence of a case for violation of the pertinent provisions of POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Seafarers and there exists a reasonable ground to believe that the continued deployment of the respondent agency of workers to the respondent employer will lead to further violations of the Rules and exploitation of the job-seeking public’” Cacdac said in his order.  Cacdac reminded job applicants that licensed agencies are barred from engaging in any recruitment activities while under preventive suspension.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012


A lawmaker today urged Congress to fast track the approval of a bill giving former Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) 20 percent discount on medicine, transportation, hotels and other business establishments.

House Bill 6323, authored by Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David (4th District, Manila), however, will cover only those OFWs who have reached 50 years of age.

The bill grants 20% discount to all Filipinos who have worked in a foreign country under employment contracts for a period not less than ten years, including but not limited to, professionals, seamen, entertainers, domestic helpers, regardless of their employment status in the foreign country.

"The Overseas Filipino Workers are our modern heroes whose hard earned dollars are responsible for buoying up our economy to levels that have allowed us to achieve growth as a nation, and industrialization along with modernization as a country," Bonoan-David said.

"It is but timely to express our debt of gratitude to our former OFWs in the form of discounts, medical assistance, enjoyment of benefits granted by the respective social service systems and even housing programs," Bonoan-David added. 

The measure defines former OFW as a resident citizen of the Philippines, at least 50 years old, previously certified by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) for overseas employment purposes and has an income of not more than P60,000 per annum subject to review by the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) every three years.

The former OFW shall be entitled to 20 percent discount from all establishments relative to utilization of transportation services, hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants and recreation centers and for the purchase of medicines.

The bill provides that former OFWs shall receive free medical and dental consultations in private or public hospitals and medical insurance from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC); 

Likewise, they will be given priority in the livelihood and housing programs of the government.

The measure shall establish the Office of Former Overseas Filipino Workers (OFOFW) under the Office of the Mayor and shall be headed by a Councilor designated by the Sangguniang Bayan and assisted by the Community Development Officer in coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

"The OFOFW shall maintain and regularly update on a quarterly basis the list of former OFWs; shall serve as a general information and liaison center that will facilitate the needs of former OFWs and shall issue uniform individual identification cards which shall be valid anywhere in the country," Bonoan-David said. 

source:  House of Representatives Philippines