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Philippines – Four recruitment agencies suspended following breaches

30 August 2013

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac ordered the preventive suspension of four recruitment agencies that recruited and deployed two female workers to Saudi Arabia. The women testified against officials of the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) in Saudi Arabia in the “sex-for-flight” investigation of the Senate.

Mr Cacdac issued the order of preventive suspension against Kozen International Inc., Azizzah International Manpower Services, Jobstar International Manpower Services, and Ideal Placement and Manpower Services. The recruitment agencies were found to have engaged in acts of misrepresentation, contract substitution, illegal collection of placement fee, and other recruitment violations in the process of recruitment and deployment of Elena Beleta and Grace Sales.

Attorney Leah T. Fortuna, Chairperson of the Department of Labour and Employment’s (DOLE) Investigating Team endorsed the two cases to POEA, seeking legal action on the allegations of the complainants.

In her sworn statement, Ms Beleta alleged that she applied as a beautician with Azizzah International and paid the agency PHP 15,000 (USD 335.47) as a placement fee but her documents were submitted by Kozen International for processing as a female nurse at the POEA.

Ms Beleta left the Philippines on 28 March 2013, hoping to work as a beautician in a parlour but was instead brought directly to the house of a certain Mohammed Al Faisal. She ran away from her employer on 18 April 2013 and went directly to the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.

Mr Cacdac said Kozen and Azizzah, on the basis of the complainant’s sworn statement and information sheet, committed serious violations relative to the recruitment and placement of Ms Beleta.

Mr Cacdac stated: “The evidence is strong indicating that the complainant’s documents were reprocessed –having been deployed by a recruitment agency other than the one she originally applied with, and was made to work for a different position and employer other than what she initially applied and accepted for employment.”

Grace Sales, the other witness presented during the Senate hearing, alleged in her affidavit that she applied as household service worker with Jobstar International on December 2011 and was required to pay a placement fee to be deducted from her salary of SAR 800 (USD 213.08).

Upon verification of Miss Sales’ records at the POEA, the investigators discovered that her documents were processed by Ideal Placement for a housekeeping position at AMI Saudi Arabia Limited/Security Forces Hospital with a monthly salary of USD 314.

Miss Sales left for Saudi Arabia on 27 January 2012 and it was only on that day she discovered that her documents were processed for overseas employment by Ideal Placement when she opened the envelope given by her recruiter. She also checked her employment contract and was surprised that it bore a different name.

Nevertheless, Miss Sales said she took up the job taking care of the house and kids of her Arab employer who made unwanted sexual advances toward her. She left her employer in March 2012 and went to the POLO’s Bahay Kalinga where she worked as janitor.

Mr Cacdac said that based on available records, the testimony of Miss Sales, and the gravity of the allegations, he found strong evidence that Jobstar International and Ideal Placement committed serious violations of the POEA rules on recruitment and deployment of Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs).

Mr Cacdac also ordered the suspension of AMI Saudi Arabia Limited and Samaya Advanced Dental Polyclinic -- the foreign arms of the recruitment agencies -- and their inclusion in the POEA list of agencies and principals temporarily disqualified from recruiting Filipino workers for overseas employment.

An order of preventive suspension is issued against a licensed recruitment agency or employer when there is reasonable ground to believe that its continued operation will lead to further violation and exploitation of workers being recruited.

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