By the OpinYon Reportorial Team

DISGUSTED and betrayed.

This is how several non-government organizations (NGOs) advocating for the welfare and protection of Filipino migrant workers felt over plans by Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac to hand-over the conduct of pre-departure orientation seminars (PDOS) for all departing OFWs exclusively to a favored group.

Poe Gratela spokesman of NGO Movement to Enhance PDOS (Movement Enhance) said Cacdac’s plan to authorize only placement agencies under the banner of Coalition of Licensed Agencies for Domestic and Service Workers (CLADS) “if true is highly questionable and anomalous”.


Conveniently Forgotten

He noted that Cacdac might have conveniently forgotten that many of the member- agencies of CLADS were the subject of his investigations when he was still POEA chief due to their shady operations especially on issues of human trafficking.

“Why the sudden turn-around and alliance with these people” he asked.     

All OFWs are required to take PDOS which is a vital government education and information program to prepare and equip them for overseas work and prevent abuses against them.

Under the amended version of RA 8042 otherwise known as The Migrant Workers Act of 1995, NGOs such as Movement Enhance that are duly recognized as partners of the State in the protection of OFWs are authorized to conduct PDOS in exchange for minimal fees.


Wrong Information

Lately, however, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello has been critical of PDOS and is threatening to stop its implementation altogether purportedly because of its failure to live up to expectations.

Gratela and his group raised the possibility that some vested interest groups had fed Bello with wrong information about PDOS that earned his ire before negotiating with Cacdac and convinced him to exclusively authorize CLADS members to conduct the seminars.

“It is a well-orchestrated move designed to discredit NGOS and have them replaced by CLADS members and take full control of the government program” he opined.

“While we admit there might be some operational problems facing PDOS, the NGOs are not to be blamed solely. OWWA is partly to blame too” Gratela pointed out.


Violation of RA 8042

Gratela further disclosed that CLADS is envisioned to be the mother group with all agencies sending household workers to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait and Qatar under its wing.

“The plan is dangerous with clear monopoly in mind” Gratela said adding that if the takeover by CLADS of PDOS succeeds it would be a clear violation of RA 8042 which stipulates that NGOs are authorized to hold PDOS being partners of the State.


Copy of Draft Order

According to sources privy to the developments, a copy of the draft order stating among others that CLADS has been recognized by Cacdac as the sole entity authorized to conduct PDOS is now being circulated at POEA, OWWA and DOLE offices.

“If this is true, then Secretary Bello must clarify this action, since the idea of transfer has not been clarified to multi-stakeholders meetings among PDOS providers within the industry” he stressed.


Letter to President Duterte

Although slighted by Bello’s statements and Cacdac’s moves, various NGOs engage in the conduct of PDOS have opted to go the high road and exhausted all possible legal means to explain the real reason behind the issue.

In a letter to President Duterte, one of the convenors of Movement Enhance Abdulhusin M. Kashim who is a former dean and diplomat and Chairman of Dumlag Council has sought to rectify the issue over the PDOS mess.

He noted that OWWA’s past and present leaderships including Cacdac are to be blamed over their failure to form and convene PDOS Advisory Council (PAC) which is required under the law.

As a result, the PAC was not activated as a tripartite mechanism that could have enhanced the partnership between the State and the NGOs and thus could have prevented the current situation.

“In 2010, because of NGOs representation, an NGO-OWWA Task Force was created to identify working points regarding PDOs Advisory No. 5. However, in 2013, OWWA took over from NGOS the conduct of PDOS for household workers bound for Saudi Arabia purportedly on request of the Saudi government” Kashim said in his letter.

It turned out however that the Saudi government did not make such a request.


Case Vs Cacdac

Kashim also blamed Cacdac for his failure to act on a recommendation by the Presidential Complaint Center (PCC) directing him to act on his letter/ complaint dated December 7,2016 relative to PDOS operations.

Cacdac’s deliberate refusal to comply with the PCC directive despite several follow-ups and requests have prompted them to file a case before the Civil Service Commission (CSC) for violation of Section 5 of RA 6713 or Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Employees.

The said section requires concerned state employees and officials to respond to letters within 15 working days after receipt.

If found guilty, Cacdac faces fine not exceeding to equivalent of six months of salary or suspension not exceeding one year or removal from the service depending on the gravity of the offense.




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Sunday, 25 February 2018
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