By Leonel Abasola
MANILA – Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Thursday urged officials of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and other concerned government agencies to be on the lookout for alleged “dummy” Filipino owners of placement agencies recruiting land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Estrada raised this possibility during Wednesday’s Senate hearing following the cancellation of the recruitment license of the local and foreign placement agencies of slain OFW Jullebee Ranara.
During the hearing, the lawmaker requested the DMW to scrutinize the recruitment agencies, whether the proprietors of these recruitment agencies have the financial capability to run its operations, after his office received information on alleged foreign ownership of placement agencies, which is prohibited in the licensing and regulation rules of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Labor Code of the Philippines.
Under the Labor Code, only Filipinos citizens, as sole proprietors, are allowed to secure licenses to operate placement agencies with a minimum capitalization of PHP5 million.
Estrada noted that based on the information he received, it is “common knowledge” in the industry that some Filipinos are posing as “dummy” incorporators of some recruitment or placement agencies deploying OFWs.
The senator expressed concern that some of these foreign-owned recruitment agencies are responsible for the deployment of distressed OFWs, as in the case of Ranara, who was the subject of his privilege speech last Jan. 24.
Ranara was burned and found dead in a Kuwaiti desert on Jan. 21, and the suspect behind her killing is the 17-year-old son of her employer.
Initial investigation conducted by the DMW showed that Ranara’s local and foreign recruitment agencies failed to comply with the mandatory monitoring requirements to ensure the well-being of their deployed workers.
DMW officials told senators that once the licenses of recruitment agencies are revoked or cancelled due to various violations, all of its officers, board of directors, and incorporators are placed on a derogatory list and are disqualified to participate or operate in any other recruitment activities. (PNA)