New medical screening system for Kuwait-bound OFWs opposed
Migrant workers' rights advocates on Thursday called on the government to stop a new medical screening system for overseas job applicants for Kuwait that they said would give rise to a "cartel" of medical clinics.
The new system, which started operations on August 8, was set up by a Philippine-based firm called WINSTON Q8 Certification Solutions Inc., which ACTS OFW party-list Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III described as a "mysterious company."
"Who controls WINSTON Q8 Certification Solutions, Inc? No one really knows because even its website does not mention who the owners are," Bertiz told the Serye Media Forum.
"Yet, this company shall have full control over the fate of the job applicant and the financial transactions of its accredited medical clinics," he added.
GMA News Online was still trying to reach WINSTON for its comment as of posting time.
Bertiz said the new system is "oppressive" as it limits the choices of overseas job applicants for Kuwait to only seven accredited clinics all based in Metro Manila.
He said under the new medical screening system, applicants for jobs in Kuwait would not be issued receipts after depositing P8,400 to a BPI account.
Only after paying this amount and uploading scanned documents of the deposit slip, passport, photos and other documents to the WINSTON website can an applicant choose from the seven pre-selected clinics that would schedule his or her medical exams, Bertiz said.
"This is a clear case of a monopoly at the expense of our overseas workers and the national government," he said.
These concerns were echoed by civil society organizations such as the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and the Filipino Migrant Workers Group.
"The new medical scheme is clearly anti-OFW. Why are they forcing overseas job applicants from the Visayas, and Mindanao to travel all the way to Metro Manila for medical tests with only seven clinics to choose from?" said Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center.
She noted that the applicants are not even sure of being accepted by their desired Kuwaiti employer.
Jun Aguilar of the Filipino Migrant Workers Group (FMWG) said other countries might follow the WINSTON model in creating their own cartel of medical clinics if the Philippine government fails to enforce existing laws against the cartelization of medical tests. —KBK, GMA News