More solons speak out vs. controversial medical service provider
Several more lawmakers on Tuesday expressed concern against Winston Q8 Certification Solutions International, Inc., the medical service provider for would-be OFWs in Kuwait whose manager was linked to the terrorist group ISIS.
Four lawmakers met on Tuesday to discuss Winston Q8 and how it allegedly monopolized medical services to Kuwait-bound OFWs.
"It's just an informal meeting because sabi nga namin, naipasara na ['yung medical clinics affiliated with Winston Q8], dapat malaman rin ng OFWs na 'wag na silang pumunta diyan dahil napa-padlock na 'yan," Pangasinan Rep. Rose Marie "Baby" Arenas told reporters after the meeting.
Arenas appealed to the media to help circulate news that clinics affiliated with Winston Q8 have already been ordered closed by the Department of Health (DOH).
"'Yung mga kababayan natin na galing sa iba’t ibang baryo, hindi nila alam, so sana kung puwedeng ipaalam through you (media) na naisara na ‘yan," she said.
Arenas, together with party-list representatives Harry Roque (Kabayan), Emmi de Jesus (Gabriela), and Jesulito Manalo (Angkla), faced reporters to raise their concerns about the firm, which has previously been the subject of a congressional inquiry called upon by ACTS OFW party-list Rep. John Bertiz.
Roque said Winston Q8 earned P5 million to P6 million a day because of the high fees it asked from prospective OFWs. The firm, however, did not offer the actual screening of the applicants, which was instead done by eight accredited clinics that the DOH ordered closed last month.
“As a way of justifying it, sinasabi nila na ang gobyerno raw ng Kuwait ang nag-require na kailangang dumaan sa Winston Q8. Dalawa po ang argumento natin diyan: Una, nagkaroon na po ng desisyon ang Supreme Court na pinagbabawal po ang decking, o pagpunta sa selected clinics. Kailangan kahit anong accredited clinics puwedeng puntahan. At dapat P2,500 lang ang binabayad,” he said.
“Apparently, hindi lang po sila nangingikil at nagsasamantala sa ating OFWs. Ngayon, sila po umano ay miyembro ng ISIS,” Roque said. "Nabasa ko lang rin sa balita, na ang Kuwait mismo ay nagre-request ng extradition ni Al-Dhafiri dahil siya po ay may nagawa ring krimen sa Kuwait, at related rin sa terrorism."
"So ang tanong ko po, paano naman maja-justify ‘yung existence ng Winston Q8 kung mismong si Al-Dhafiri wanted rin sa Kuwait? Ang tanong, paano napayagan ito sa Pilipinas?" he added.
The lawmakers took the Departments of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Health (DOH) to task on the matter.
They also said the exposition about Al-Dharifi and Winston Q8 has opened a “Pandora’s box” on other agencies that are committing fraudulent acts on prospective OFWs.
“This is also calling the attention of different departments [of government]. Sana po maging eye-opener ito dahil mas importante ang buhay ng ating mga OFW. Eye-opener ito para siguro bigyan ng pansin ang OFWs natin,” Arenas said.
Winston Q8, according to its website, is a Philippines-based company that aims “to achieve a preeminent position in this visa processing channels while representing Kuwait's Ministry of Health.” It began operating on August 8, 2016, after it was given the right to pre-employment medical screenings for Kuwait-bound OFWs by the Kuwait Embassy.
Prospective OFWs need to pay between P8,400 to P10,000 to Winston Q8 before they can undergo medical certification tests at any of the following eight clinics in Metro Manila:
Ruben Bartolome Clinic Inc.
Abakkus Medical Diagnostic Services
San Marcelino Medical Clinic Co.
Global Medical Clinic
Agoncillo Medical Clinic
Barthol Medical Clinic.
DOH issued the preventive suspension order against the said clinics after the release of a Congressional resolution that said there was an agreement between Winston Q8 and Mawared Services, the agency that issued visas for Kuwait.
The resolution said the Mawared Services allegedly accepted medical certificates exclusively from Winston Q8 Certifications Solutions.
The DOH said the practice was against the law, pointing out that "no group or groups of medical clinics shall have a monopoly of exclusively conducting health examinations on migrant workers for certain receiving countries." —KBK, GMA News