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OFWs flock to Polo to demand training fee refund

22 November 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap 

About 30 OFWs, mostly newcomers, fill up claim forms at Polo

About 30 overseas Filipino workers went to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office today, Nov. 22, to demand a refund of the training fee they paid to their recruitment agencies in the Philippines.

The group was led by Marites Palma, founder of Social Justice for Migrant Workers, who said the claimants sought her help through her group’s Facebook page in asking for a refund of the fee collected from them prior to leaving for Hong Kong.

The clamor came in the wake of Labor Attache Melchor Dizon’s statement during a meeting with a group of Filipino community leaders that recruitment agencies could not compel the OFWs that they deploy to undergo training.

Pindutin para sa detalye

This was in line with guidelines issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, which merely require OFWs to secure the NCII (certificate of competency) from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

An employer who requires the worker to undergo training before taking up employment in Hong Kong should pay for it, said Labatt Dizon.

Palma said the claimants were mostly newly arrived OFWs who paid between  Php30,000 to Php45,000 to their Philippine agencies.

Palma (kneeling, in black shirt) briefed the claimants before they went to Polo

At least one, Jean Enceso, was told to pay her training fee of Php35,300, to her agency in Hong Kong called AsiaOne.

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At the end of October, she said she went to the agency’s office and paid $2,500. When she asked for a receipt, she was given only a small slip of paper with the amount written on it. She is supposed to pay a second and final installment of $2,650 at the end of this month.

More anomalous was her having been made to undergo training despite having previously worked in Saudi Arabia, and still had a valid NCII. Under POEA rules, she should have been exempted from undergoing training all over again, despite being deployed to another territory.

Another claimant, Cherry Anne Zerrudo, who had worked in Qatar for three years and was also in possession of a valid NCII, was told she needed to train all over again as she was moving to another country. She was charged Php37,000 for her training.

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Palma said they were received at Polo by Assistant Labour Attache Angelica Sunga, who told them to fill up forms and leave them with their staff. They were assured that their statements will be forwarded to the assistance to nationals section of the Consulate for notarization.

Tatawagan na lang daw yung claimant kung may na-set nang conciliation with the agency,” said Palma. (We were told that Polo would just call the claimant once a conciliation meeting had been set with the agency).

Pindutin para sa detalye

Those who have claims against the same agency will be called together for a conciliation.

Palma said she expects more OFWs to file similar claims next Sunday, as some of those who reached out to her could not make it today.

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