Tuesday, February 12, 2008

MC No. 4 Exempts Professionals

Our OFWs applying for office positions are exempted from the controversial MC no. 4. MC no. 4 has imposed a hefty surety bond of $8,000 for directly hired OFWs. The bond will al be shouldered by their employers. The MC is to ensure that our OFWs get a fair shake. At present, OFWs hired through employment agencies have some level of protection against abuse. Directly hired OFWs however do not enjoy the same protection. The MC had incurred the ire of our OFWs that could imperil their jobs. Since the controversy erupted, the POEA had to revise the said MC.

GMA ordered the exemption for professionals. The POEA clarified that the move will cover OFWs hired by reputable companies. But going through agencies does not guarantee protection from abuse. The perfect example of this is the Sentosa case which involved nurses. Like what I expressed in a recent post, the MC looks more like a way out for the government from their responsibilities. The OWWA collects membership fees from departing OFWs to be used for emergencies as the one we had during the Lebanon crisis.

During the elections of 2004, OWWA funds were reported to have been used for the administration campaigns. Irregularities were discovered during OFW repatriations during the Lebano crisis. The bulk of repatriations were undertaken by foreign NGOs. Several chartered flights were contracted by the private organizations which facilitated the exraction of our countrymen from war-torn Lebanon. For exposing the anomalies in the handling of the funds, the ambassador was stricken of his post.

The bonds imposed of by the POEA could once again be mishandled. Several countries are in the the process of directly hiring our professionals. With numer of these OFWs reaching the thousands, the bonds would surely reach millions of dollars. Also, Gloria went on several trips bringing back employment agreements. Clearly these treaties are cover the protection of our OFWs. Why then would the POEA ask for bonds from prospective employers. For sure, any labor abuse would be covered by these agreements.

I still think that this MC should be scrapped. Funds in the hands of this government are most likely to be misused. Time and again, diversion and misuse have been exposed and no one had been made accountable. Allies of the administration continue to sit on these cases. No resolution is in sight in the near future. Corruption in government continue to wreak havoc not only on our institutions but to public funds as well. Public service had been turned into business.

At the end of the day, the lack of investment is due to real and perceived corruption in government. Families are torn apart due to lack of opportunity. So the vicious cycle of labor migration will continue. Children of former OFWs will take the same path their parents took years ago. If reforms fail to materialize, the saga of the OFW will never end and generation upon generation will take the road their forefathers took, the lonely life of the toiling OFW.

*Details of MC No. 4 can be viewed here.