Baby A denounces exploitative policy victimizing OFWs

THIRD District Rep. Rose Marie “Baby” Arenas denounced the pre-employment medical examinations for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) imposed by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries.

In a privilege speech on Jan. 22, Arenas asked the Department of Health (DOH) to investigate and stop the implementation of the new system which she described as a tool for exploitation because it perpetrates decking designed precisely to evade the law and cheat the Filipinos.

She also asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to require the GCC to define the role of its Health Ministry and to put in place a protocol for consultation, dialogue and approval of GCC requirements and impositions.

Arenas said the decking practice which requires an OFWs to register with an office then they are farmed out to GCC’s accredited medical clinics, a procedure that is illegal.

“Decking, in all its forms and by any name is illegal and against our laws and puts our poor OFWs at grave risk,” Arenas said.

She warned the recruitment agencies and medical clinics that they are risking having their licenses revoked and face criminal charges for violating Philippine law.

She questioned the implementation without due advice to the government, disregarding all protocols for approval and nature and relationship of the Philippine government with the Ministry of Health of the GCC.

She said the Supreme Court issued an en banc resolution in 2015 that denied the motion of the Gulf Cooperation Council accredited medical clinics association, otherwise known as the GAMCA, to stop the DOH from implementing the prohibition of the so-called “decking system”.

The GCC is the association of countries of the Persian Gulf, which includes Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman, Arenas said.

The GAMCA, on the other hand, was established for the purpose of providing medical screening of OFWs.

Arenas said that on November 27, 2017 the GCC Health Ministry unilaterally  informed recruitment agencies and medical clinics through an email that the new system for medical screening would be put in place.

“This is a clear case of cheating because it curtails the freedom of the applicant to choose,” Arenas stressed. (Eva Visperas)

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