Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Albay solon quizzes PHP530-M medical screening, certification for Kuwait-bound OFWs
By Mike dela Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 30 (PNA) -- Albay second district Representative Jose Salceda is seeking investigation of an alleged irregular medical screening and certification process for Kuwait-bound Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) being required by a private firm through the Kuwait Embassy.

Salceda filed House Resolution No. 220 seeking an inquiry into the new certification and medical screening process to be undertaken by Winston Q8 Certifications Solutions Inc. in partnership with the Embassy of Kuwait.

An official of an organization of agencies sending OFWs to Kuwait told Salceda that Winston Q8 is charging PHP 8,400 (eight thousand four hundred) for the medical tests of every job applicant to Kuwait while the Embassy of Kuwait will not process the visas of the applicant unless endorsed by Winston Q8.

The Albay lawmaker estimated that the amount to be generated from the thousands of jobseekers to Kuwait will reach around PHP530 million if the screening and certification procedures will be followed.

Salceda said the Philippine government should not allow a foreign embassy to intrude in its policies to protect the welfare of overseas Filipino workers through a “questionable and highly irregular medical screening and certification process.”

He said those aspiring for work in Kuwait cut across all regions and represent workers seeking a better life.

“We should not allow Winston Q8 to earn from the backs of these prospective overseas workers, especially not at the instigation of a foreign embassy,” Salceda said.

He told a forum on August 22 that the House inquiry will find out who should be held responsible so that “remedial legislation” could be done to further protect the OFWs.

Winston Q8, in its website, describes itself as a Philippine-based company representing the Ministry of Health of Kuwait.

Roland Collado, vice-chairman of the Philippine Association of Agencies Accredited for Kuwait, said their officers were called to a meeting at the Embassy of Kuwait last Aug. 5.

The meeting discussed the new certification and medical screening process to be undertaken by Winston Q8.

Collado said Winston Q8 charges PHP8,400 from every jobseeker to Kuwait who upon payment registers online using an activation code to be provided by the company.

He said after uploading the deposit slip as proof of payment and a scanned copy of passport and photos, the applicant shall be made to choose from only seven clinics for medical tests, all of which are based in Metro Manila.

Job applicants would have to go through Winston Q8 because the Embassy of Kuwait will not entertain any request for visa stamping unless endorsed by the said company,” said Collado.

Salceda said the practice should be stopped because “it is exploitative, fraudulent and monopolistic.”

He said if made with the best of intentions, Winston Q8 should have asked approval from the

Department of Health and Department of Labor and Employment.

“I find this very fishy, hence the need for a full-scale House investigation,” Salceda said.

Leaders of the association of recruitment agencies accredited for Kuwait and civil society organizations such as the Blas F. Ople Policy Center welcomed the House resolution authored by Rep. Salceda.

“We welcome the resolution because right now, overseas job applicants for Kuwait are in a quandary,” said Susan Ople of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center.

She said the recruitment agencies deploying the Kuwait-bound jobseekers have no intention of referring the applicants to Winston “otherwise they will be complicit in violating the law.”

“There is an impasse going on, and it must be resolved in favor of the rights and welfare of our modern-day heroes,” said Susan Ople. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MDR/CBD/EBP