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Training fee cap talk sparks overcharging claims

17 November 2016

Labatt De la Torre
By Vir B. Lumicao

Many domestic workers who claim to have been charged as much as Php90,000 in training fee and other charges back home have been filing complaints with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in recent weeks.

This was apparently the result of a statement made two months ago by the former chief of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Hans Cacdac, that the training fee should be no more than Php22,000 per worker.

On Sunday, Nov 6, more than 20 workers executed sworn statements at the POLO, which transmitted the documents to the assistance to nationals section of the Consulate for notarization.
POLO officials said the cases have been endorsed to POEA for further action.

“Since the complaint is against the Philippine agency, obviously the action we can take is to endorse the case to POEA so the latter can hear the case,” Labatt De la Torre replied to an online query sent to him by The SUN.

They expect to see more of such complaints as workers react to news that much lower training would be implemented soon.

Most of the complainants said they were charged by the agencies between Php30,000 and Php40,000 for just the cost of training, one of the government’s pre-departure requirements for workers going abroad.

One complainant claimed she was charged Php90,000.

The complainants are, however, having a hard time proving their claims as agencies do not provide receipts for the money that they collect from workers.

They also face the possibility of losing their cases because they are unable to attend the hearing set at the POEA’s main office in Manila, since they work in Hong Kong
Assistant Labor Attache Maria Nena German said the upsurge in complaints against excessive training fees began after Cacdac put a cap on the amount that of training fee that could be collected from each worker.

Cacdac who accompanied Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on his visit to Hong Kong in the last week of September, , said the training fee should be no for that Php7,000 for just training and Php15,000 if  it includes board and lodging.

German said she expected many workers to file complaints of overcharging because of Cacdac’s remarks.

She also said that at least five agencies that overcharged Hong Kong-bound domestic workers had their licenses revoked by POEA before Cacdac was moved to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in October.

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