Philippines Government Bureaucracy Restricts Migrant Workers

Published: Mon 4 Jan 2016 11:10 AM
Philippines Government Bureaucracy Restricts Migrant Workers Coming to Work in New Zealand
Bruce Porteous
It may come as a surprise to many New Zealander’s that Filipinos wishing to migrate to New Zealand on a work visa are required to purchase an “Overseas Employment Certificate” from the notorious dysfunctional Philippines Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). The Philippines Government claims the prime purpose of this agency is to “protect Filipinos working overseas”, but many overseas foreign workers (OFWs) claim its real purpose is to collect tax from departing Filipino workers going overseas.
The money sent back to the Philippines by OFWs has long been the No 1 source of foreign exchange for the country. It is estimated that there are over 12 million Filipinos working around the world, most being forced to flee their country as economic refugees, due to lack of employment opportunities in the Philippines. Philippine Government propaganda encourages Filipinos to work abroad, claiming those who do are “national heroes”. The money being sent back to the Philippines is one of the key economic drivers for their economy. Most go to Middle East and Asian countries, have to leave their families behind, and are paid low wages
Meanwhile the poverty problems in the Philippines continue to worsen, as a direct result of failed government economic policies, rigid labour laws, unattractive overseas investment policies, wide-spread corruption in the government, high cost of doing business, and the lack of legal protection in enforcing contracts.
New Zealand has become a popular destitution for Filipino migrants. Most come on work visas, working in the agriculture, medical and engineering sectors, but also many other occupations. Those who have a valid work visa may bring their families and most go on to become permanent residents and eventually citizens. The Philippines Embassy in Wellington has recommend Filipinos obtain a job offer before migrating to New Zealand.
Sadly, many New Zealand employers will no longer hire Filipinos because of the policies of the POEA. Before hiring Filipinos, employers are required to have their documents “approved” by a Philippines Government bureaucrats in Canberra, Australia where they need to have their employment contracts and other documentation required by the POEA “verified”. This complex process is typical of the Philippines Bureaucracy which most Filipinos suffer under when dealing with various Government Depts. in their country, even though unnecessary red-tape was outlawed with the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007.
Last year the POEA required migrants who had obtained a job offer New Zealand work visa from leaving the Philippines unless they had an OEC obtained from an “Licensed POEA Agent”. Prior to this migrant could obtain an OEC themselves from the POEA. Now the migrant is required to show the POEA that the employer has paid all the costs of migrating to New Zealand, including POEA processing fees, agent’s fees and air tickets. In addition, the POEA expects employers to pay for housing, food and transportation costs. No other country in the world places such conditions for employing migrant workers, putting Filipino migrant workers at considerable disadvantage in obtaining a job offer to qualify to migrate to New Zealand with their families.
12 months ago the NZ Government signed an “agreement” with the Philippines Government requiring employers to pay all the migrant’s costs in coming to NZ on a Work Visa. This agreement requires NZ employers to pay for all the costs of bringing migrate workers to New Zealand, including the cost of obtaining their work visas, POEA fees, agent fees, Philippine Government tax and airfares. As no other country requires employers to pay the costs of bringing migrants to New Zealand, the result of this agreement has meant that thousands of Filipinos hoping to escape the poverty in their own country have been denied the opportunity by their own government to migrate to New Zealand with their families
Many question why the New Zealand Government has entered into such as “agreement” with the notorious corrupt Philippines Government. The current policies of the POEA preventing Filipinos leaving their own country without an OEC, though they have valid visas. This is in breach of both the Philippines Constitution, and the UN Human Rights Charter which guarantees all Filipinos the freedom to travel. Yet this “agreement” was signed without the approval of NZ Parliament.
Today NZ employers have migrants applying to work in New Zealand from all over the world. Why would employers pay to bring in Filipinos when they can easily obtain better qualified workers from other countries? Many question the stupidity of the POEA in making it so difficult for their own people the right to migrate to New Zealand, preferring to keep Filipinos trapped in poverty in their own country.
Bruce Porteous has been helping skilled migrants from all over the world in immigrating to New Zealand. He is based in Manila, Philippines and may be contacted on

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