THE LAST conciliation hearing had been set for Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Bantay OCW’s correspondent Marge Albania was there, together with 11 complainants against the Silver Horizon recruitment agency, whose representatives did not arrive until 12 noon.
Some of the complainants had been waiting for more than a year for their promised overseas deployment in a county in Central Africa. They are heavily in debt, having borrowed tens of thousands of pesos to cover the so-called processing fees and other expenses.
The complainants finally gathered the courage to complain last October and had approached Bantay OCW for help in getting their money back. That morning, it looked as if the case would drag on.
But the complainants were in for a surprise. Entering the conciliation room unexpectedly from the fire exit was POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.
Cacdac, seeing a big audience of complainants, ordered Alfredo A. Robles Jr., head of Conciliation and Repatriation to immediately act on the case.
According to one of the complainants, James Lloyd Mendoza, he applied as a trailer truck driver a year ago and paid a P20,000 processing fee, but no job order was issued to him. Another complainant, Romeo Rosendo, applied last November 2011 and immediately resigned from his job expecting to be immediately deployed overseas.
Nine more complainants had similarly bad experiences with the recruitment agency. They had borrowed money from lending companies and informal loan sharks. Some borrowed from relatives, and were becoming uneasy and embarassed.
Bantay OCW’s legal advisers, Atty. Dante Mercado and Judge Conrado Zumarraga (Atty. Randz), told them they had a strong case.
Seeing Cacdac emerge from the fire exit, the complainants suddenly regained hope for the speedy resolution of their case.
In fact, before the conciliation hearing ended, the recruitment agency handed over P170,000 to each of the 11 complainants.
Three more complainants have sought assistance from Bantay OCW against Silver Horizon and a hearing is scheduled on Nov. 8.
We would like to thank POEA Administrator Cacdac for his surprise visit. Kudos to this kind of public servant.