by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano
An OFW Journalism Consortium news flash exclusive
–CHARGING excessive fees and misrepresentation topped the list of violations committed by various recruitment agencies in the country, according to data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
In a copy of data provided to the OFW Journalism Consortium, the two violations, formally catalogued as charging/collection of excessive fees and misrepresentation in relation to recruitment/placement of workers, stand out among the 147 types of infringements handled by a POEA arbiter between 2006 and 2010.
Last year, misrepresentation topped the POEA violation list with 1,712 cases, while excessive charging had 1,208 cases.
The misrepresentation violation was the subject of 1,172 cases in 2006, 1,711 in 2007, 2,006 cases in 2008, and 2,515 cases in 2009.
Meanwhile, over-charging had 871 cases in 2006, 1,279 in 2007, 1,778 in 2008 and 1,870 in 2009.
The POEA has an adjudication branch that handles cases arising from violations of recruitment regulations and disciplinary cases. This office is tied to POEA’s licensing branch since the violations by recruitment agencies are evaluated vis-à-vis the licenses the agency hands out to recruiters.
Other types of violations in 2010 included non-issuance of appropriate receipts, 890 cases; default on contractual obligation to the migrant worker and to its Philippine agent, 527; premature collection of fee, 419; and misrepresentation for purposes of job application or employment, 383.
If a POEA adjudicator decides to pursue the case as illegal recruitment, the agency will file the case. In 2010, the POEA handled 1,648 illegal recruitment cases but the disposition rate, or cases resolved, was only at 17 percent.
In 2010, the POEA data shows that only 12 people were arrested for illegal recruitment, and only six establishments were closed.
A policy study by the state-run Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) on regulating labor migration found POEA’s resolution of welfare and adjudication cases as “satisfactory.”
Authors Dr. Aniceto Orbeta and Michael Abrigo observed, however, that illegal recruitment cases cannot be resolved rapidly.
“Something’s wrong with the letter of the law and the capacity to handle these recruitment cases,” Orbeta said at a recent regional policy forum on migration management in Southeast Asia.#