Philippine Representative to Taiwan Wilfredo Fernandez is hoping that a replacement fee — averaging 60,000 Philippine pesos (about US$1,190) — paid by Filipino migrant workers to recruitment agencies would be abolished.
“Sixty thousand pesos could mean one hectare of land in the provinces, so that those who can keep their land will have something they can build on, so that agriculture may flourish. It is only right that you just don’t make exorbitant money on the sweat of the workers. That is ungodly. That’s criminal,” Fernandez said in an interview on Tuesday.
Filipino migrant workers coming to Taiwan have long called for the abolition of placement fees, which they say are an excessive financial strain.
Rates vary depending on which company issues a job order, with lower fees for family businesses and higher ones — some as high as 120,000 pesos — for bigger companies, sources familiar with the matter said.
Fernandez, who took over as chairman and resident representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) on Sept. 1, said he would like to remove brokers entirely.
“Remove the recruitment agencies in Manila, so there will be no placement fee. Recruitment should be done on a government-to-government basis,” Fernandez said.
Asked about his top priorities as MECO chairman, Fernandez said: “The No. 1 priority is to promote investments. As you know very well, we are closest to you; we are next-door neighbors.”
He is also interested in exploring technology transfers, especially related to chips, solar panels, 5G towers, and medical treatments for cancer and COVID-19.
In particular, a COVID-19 test manufactured by the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) that can provide a result within one hour would be very helpful for Filipinos returning home, as they would not have to check into quarantine hotel to wait for the results of their tests, he said.
“We ask for the help of the ITRI to please expedite the manufacturing of this kind of test. This will be very helpful,” he said.
Workforce Development Agency Cross-Border Workforce Management Division deputy head Paul Su (蘇裕國) said that his agency was open to talks on expanding direct hiring.
“We still also need to consider the demand of the market,” Su said. “We already have direct hiring and we welcome talks to expand in that area.”
However, many Taiwanese employers opt to use recruitment agencies because of the convenience they offer, such as taking foreign workers to mandatory health checks and filling out paperwork, Su said.
As of the end of last month, there were 144,074 Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan, Ministry of Labor data showed.
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