October 26, 2009
After the submission by more than 60 teachers of their statements detailing their miserable experiences with their recruiter, the party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) is challenging the POEA and the DOLE to act swiftly on their case.
A representative of the migrant teachers who are based in the state of Louisiana who has been working closely with PM has brought home a portfolio containing the complaints. The declarations were submitted to Labor Secretary Marianito Roque. The same documents are part of the evidences in the cases filed by the American Federation of Teachers in behalf of the Filipino teachers against the recruiting agency.
The subjects of the teachers’ complaints are the US-based Universal Placement International (UPI) and its local partner PARS International Placement Agency. Both companies are owned by Lourdes “Lulu” Navarro who is based in the US, and her brother Emilio “Mel” Villarba is the one who runs the local operations.
“POEA has knowledge of the exploitative practices of PARS and UPI long before. Feedbacks from the victims were already coming out since last year; several individual cases were filed against PARS by teachers who paid but where never able to fly to the US earlier this year; further we have informed our embassy in the US about the hundreds of teachers that are being recruited in a manner that borders on human trafficking. So we are appalled that no swift action was undertaken to look seriously into this issue,” asserted Renato Magtubo, PM Chairperson.
Magtubo is reacting to news reports recently where POEA chief Jennifer Manalili said that they will look into the complaints against UPI, which is based in California.
“A central mandate of the POEA is the protection of migrant workers. We challenge the POEA to walk their talk and bring an immediate stop to these exploitative practices of recruitment agencies particularly of those involved in this case. It is not only the US-based UPI who is the perpetrator of this injustice but also PARS which acts as its front here in the Philippines,” Magtubo further said.
PM through its Liaison Officer in the US also reports that more teachers are now coming out to join the complaints filed against PARS and UPI. Some of them are not even employed until now despite paying the recruiters an average of $15,000 each.
"Again, we reiterate our call for the immediate delisting of PARS International Placement Agency. This recruiter is a scourge to the workers and should be stopped from victimizing more Filipinos. PM further demands that POEA institute mechanisms for transparency such as the online publication of the track record of placement agencies, their violations, complaints filed against them and actual feedback from workers placed,” added Magtubo.
In the POEA registry that is available online, PARS is located at Suite 407 J&F Divino Arcade, 961 Aurora Blvd. Cubao, QC.