MANILA - The Philippines has barred two maid agencies in Singapore from recruiting Filipinos after they were linked to marketing schemes that purportedly treated maids as "commodities" at shopping malls in Singapore.
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Here is a statement posted on the Philippines Department of Labour and Employment website:
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday announced that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Singapore headed by Labor Attache Vicente Cabe has suspended its accreditation of a foreign placement agency (FPA) suspected of having been engaged in the so-called 'discount on maids' marketing strategy.
"Following my directive to verify a report that foreign domestic workers, including Filipino household service workers, are being put in display and made available for "purchase" at "discounted prices" in some shopping malls in Singapore, Labor Attache Cabe has reported that the POLO has suspended its accreditation of Homekeeper Agency, one of two agencies alleged to be involved in the practice," said Baldoz.
Citing the POLO report, she said the POLO had invited the manager of Homekeeper Agency to answer the allegation of treating their foreign household service workers like "commodities" and instructed them to bring to the Philippine Embassy the Filipino HSWs under their care for interview.
"The other agency, Budget Maid Agency, which is not accredited with POLO-Singapore, as well as the other agencies doing the same practice, had been referred to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower," Baldoz added.
In his report, Cabe said MOM officials had assured the Philippine Embassy and the POLO that they will look into the matter and provide feedback at the soonest. Meanwhile, Baldoz bared that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), headed by Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, has identified the four POEA-licensed agencies in the Philippines which has the Homekeeper Agency as their principals.
The four are Maanyag International Manpower Corporation, Migrant Workers Manpower Agency, Inc., Kirsten Recruitment, Inc., and Uni-Link Overseas Placement Agency Corporation.
"POEA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac will meet with the officials and representatives of these agencies tomorrow and ask them to explain why they allow their principal, Homekeeper Agency, to practice the 'discount on maids' marketing strategy in enticing Singapore employers.
The POEA will base its subsequent action on their explanation," Baldoz elaborated. Further on the Secretary's instruction, Labor Attache Cabe also reported that the POLO was able to effect a settlement and obtain a refund of the money claims of two of the five Filipino household service workers who were present during the POLO's investigation during its inspection of the Bukit Timah Shopping Centre over the weekend.
One of the two, Louvette Seguerra, is from Davao City. She arrived in Singapore on 2013 November and had worked for two employers. Homekeeper Agency settled her claim of S$1,676 prior to her repatriation yesterday.
The other Filipino HSW, Gina Limpag arrived in Singapore last March and had worked for two employers. Homekeeper Agency refunded her plane fare and placement fee of S$724 (P25,338) before she was repatriated also yesterday, July 1.
The three other Filipino HSWs are Mary Grace Cansejo, Armie Ponce, and Lilia Patrocinio. The POLO is still working on their cases. The other day, Baldoz had directed the POLO and the POEA to coordinate their efforts in laying down stritker measures to protect Filipino domestic workers from practices that degrades human dignity, such as the so-called 'discount on maids' marketing strategy practiced by FPAs in Singapore.