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House to probe P540-M scam on Kuwait OFWs

The House of Representatives is set to investigate a P540 million scam that has allegedly victimized overseas applicants for Kuwait through a private company claiming to beexclusively contracted to provide job document, purportedly by the Kuwaiti embassy.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has filed House Resolution # 220 last  August 15, calling for a probe of the scheme involving WINSTON Q8 Certification Solutions, reportedly appointed by the Embassy of Kuwaiti as the sole provider of the applicants’ requirements — certifications and medical documents — but was found out to be charging applicants exorbitantly.

During a recent media forum at the Manila Hotel, Salceda said the Philippine government should not allow a foreign embassy to intrude in its policies through a questionable and highly irregular medical screening and certification process, to protect the welfare of overseas Filipino workers.

WINSTON Q8, according to Salceda, charges P8,400 per applicant compared to the usual amount of P2,500 one pays for the same requirements from other providers.
   
“Yung P2,500 iiwan sa Medical clinic at ’yung P5,900 mapupunta doon sa nag-accredit. Asan ang hustisya (The P2,500 is paid to the medical clinic, while the P5,900 will be collected by those who give the accreditation. Where’s justice there)?” Salceda wrote in his social media account.
   
“Those aspiring to work in Kuwait cut across all regions, and represent workers seeking a better life. We should not allow WINSTON Q8 to earn from the backs of these prospective overseas workers, especially not at the instigation of a foreign embassy,” Salceda stressed.
   
He said the “House inquiry will help establish culpability in relation to this embassy-sponsored fraud and formulate remedial legislation to further protect our OFWs.” The WINSTON Q8 website describes itself as a Philippine-based company that represents the Ministry of Health of Kuwait.
   
According to Roland Collado, vice-chairman of the Philippine Association of Agencies Accredited for Kuwait (PHILAAK), their officers were called to a meeting at the Embassy of Kuwait last August 5 pertaining to the new certification and medical screening process by WINSTON Q8 Certifications Solutions.
   
WINSTON Q8 charges Php 8,400.00 for every job applicant for Kuwait. Only after paying the amount can the applicant register online, with an activation code WINSTON Q8 provides. Upon uploading the scanned copies of the deposit slip, passport and photos, the applicant is made to choose from only seven clinics for medical tests around Metro Manila.
   
The Embassy of Kuwait will not entertain requests for visa unless endorsed by WINSTON Q8. “We have to stop this, because it is exploitative, fraudulent, and monopolistic. If made with the best of intentions, then why did WINSTON Q8 not seek the approval of the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Employment? I find this very fishy, hence the need for a full-scale House investigation,” Salceda said.
   
Leaders of the association of recruitment agencies accredited for Kuwait and civil society organizations, among them the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, have expressed support to Salceda’s House resolution.
   
“We welcome the resolution because right now, overseas job applicants for Kuwait are in a quandary. The recruitment agencies deploying them have no intention of referring these applicants to WINSTON Q8 otherwise they will be complicit in violating the law. There is an impasse going on, and it must be resolved in favor of the rights and welfare of our modern-day heroes,” said Susan Ople of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center.