POEA rules in favor of Filipino migrant teachers

Posted at 05/22/11 5:17 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Ten Filipino migrant teachers deployed to Louisiana, USA, have won a case filed before the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) against their recruiter, a workers group said Sunday.
 The POEA, in a May 9 decision, cancelled the license of a recruitment agency, imposed fines, and awarded refunds to the complainants, the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) said in a press statement.

"We welcome the victory of the brave Filipino migrant teachers of Louisiana. This comes in the wake of earlier awards by the Louisiana Work Commission (LWC) to the teachers for violation of labor laws in the US by their US-based recruiter. Hopefully illegal recruiters will learn a lesson from the courageous fight put up by the teachers," PM secretary-general Judy Ann Miranda said.

Among the complainants is Mairi Nunag-Tanedo, executive vice president of the Filipino Educators Federation of Louisiana (FEFL), an organization formed by the US-based teachers in pursuit of their campaign for justice against their illegal recruiters.

In the decision signed by POEA Administrator Carlos Cao, Jr., Philippines-based PARS International Placement Agency and the US-based Universal Placement International (UPI) were found guilty of overcharging of fees.

The license of PARS was ordered cancelled, and its officers and directors of the agency at the time the offense was committed were also prohibited from engaging in the overseas placement business.

Fines were also imposed on PARS while refunds in amounts ranging from USD 4,583.33 to USD 7,169.33 were awarded to 10 complainants.

 "We encourage other teachers who have been similarly victimized by PARS and UPI or other illegal recruiters to come out and fight for your rights. We will support you and through perseverance, you will surely win as the precedent of the Louisiana teachers have shown," Miranda said.

In the POEA ruling, UPI was also banned from participating in the government's overseas placement program. The owners of PARS and UPI, siblings Emilio Villarba and Lourdes Navarro, were also put in the POEA's list of people with derogatory records, according to PM.

In separate cases filed by some 15 teachers more than a year ago, the 2 agencies were accused of overcharging their clients of placement and other fees, and contract violations.

Last April 10, 2010, the LWC ruled that UPI had charged the teachers certain fees which were prohibited and premature under state laws, and ordered it to repay the Filipino teachers $1.8 million in illegally charged fees.