PHILIPPINES: Recruiter Faces Government Sanctions

A firm that recruited for Iraq contract work despite a Philippine ban on the deployment of workers to that country will be sanctioned.
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Sun Star Network/Philippines

The firm that recruited kidnapped Dabawenyo Robert Teodore Tarongoy for work in Iraq despite a standing ban on the deployment of workers to that country will be sanctioned, a government agency reported Friday.

Lawyer Venchito Bangayan, overseas employment adjudicator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)-Mindanao based in this city, said in a Philippine Information Agency (PIA) report that the license of JS Contractor would either be suspended or cancelled.

He made the statement after a telephone conversation with POEA-Mindanao head Francis Domingo.

The recruitment agency, according to Bangayan, violated an existing government ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Iraq. JS Contractor had reportedly recruited Tarongoy and several other applicants.

A JS Contractor insider, who requested not to be identified after a run-in with the media recently, cleared the recruitment office of any responsibility, claiming it merely recruited Tarongoy but did not deploy him.

"He left on his own," the woman said.

She said Tarongoy applied as an accountant for Saudi Arabian Trading Company (Satco) in April this year and knew from the start he would be working in the firm's Iraq office.

"During that month, he was interviewed by the employer, then he was selected," the source said.

The source explained that right after the selection, Tarongoy's papers were immediately endorsed to the head office of JS Contractor Inc. While Tarongoy was waiting for his papers to be processed, the National Government ordered a ban on the deployment of OFWs to Iraq.

JS Contractor discontinued processing Tarongoy's papers because of the ban but before that, some five applicants in May and one in June were able to find employment with the Satco office in Iraq, she explained.

She clarified that Tarongoy was not deceived and that his employer even asked him if his wife or his mother would allow him to work in Iraq.

"Kumbaga, full disclosure talaga ang nangyari," the source added. (He was told everything and he chose to go.)

The source said it was a representative of JS Contractor and an official of the Overseas Workers Welfare Office (Owwa) who accompanied Tarongoy's wife, Ivy Grace, to Manila right after it was confirmed that Tarongoy was the Filipino abducted in Baghdad, Iraq.

It was Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas who ordered that Tarongoy's wife be brought to Manila, through the Owwa 11 here. The Owwa then coordinated with JS Contractor to locate and escort Ivy Grace to Manila.

It just happened that Secretary Jesus G. Dureza was in the same flight, the source said.

She said the Owwa employee accompanying Ivy Grace approached Dureza at the airport and introduced Tarongoy's wife. The secretary decided to accompany the Owwa employee and Ivy Grace to the press conference.

Owwa 11 Officer Zenobia Caro said they have activated the psychosocial component of the Regional Council for Overseas Filipino Workers Reintegration Program to assist Tarongoy's family.

She said a social worker visits the family of Tarongoy from time to time to talk to them and see to their concerns and needs.

A press statement released by Owwa Administrator Marianito Roque, official spokesperson of the Department of Labor and Employment on the hostage situation involving Tarongoy, confirmed that he worked as an accountant for Satco since July 26, 2004.

It said Satco is a Saudi Arabian firm, which does catering and supply work for the US base n Qatar.

Roque in the statement said they are aware Tarongoy may have been in Iraq irregularly as his employment documents did not undergo processing at the POEA but they consider him a regular OFW and are exerting all efforts to effect his immediate release.

He said they are on monitoring mode at the moment, coordinating all efforts with the appropriate agencies of government like the Department of Foreign Affairs and its overseas posts in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq, Dole, Philippine Overseas Labor Offices, and Owwa's welfare offices in various countries for the purpose of gathering as much information as possible on the whereabouts and situation of Tarongoy.

Roque said their actions are consistent with the country's contingency plan for any crisis situation in Iraq.

He reiterated the call of Sto. Tomas to the families of all OFWs who have left the country irregularly to contact the Owwa and provide the office with specific or particular information about their loved ones if they happen to be in Iraq so they could be given the necessary assistance if needed. (With reports from PIA/PDB)

AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering