In a series of e-mail exchanges, Rashid Fabricante of the Task Force Pusong Mamon in Saudi Arabia told INQ7.net that the campaign, which started May 17, had gathered 5,000 signatures.He
said the target was to collect 100,000 in the Middle East alone.
"We are taking a mano-mano [one-on-one] approach to make sure that no stone is left unturned, that the issue is explained to everyone clearly," Fabricante
said, as the world marked Migrants' Workers' Day this Tuesday.Fabricante
, also a member of the Philippine-based Center for Migrants Advocacy
(CMA), said his
group hoped that the other Filipino workers in Asia-Pacific and Europe would follow suit.
CMA executive director Ellene Sana said the collection of these fees was illegal since it violates Republic Act 6713, which specifies that no fees shall be collected from leaving OFWs.Fabricante
said the OWWA membership fee was supposed to be paid by the employer and that the ongoing collection was a ruse.
OFWs pay the fee and are not reimbursed for it, he
said the official receipts issued by the OWWA indicated that the employer paid for it.
So aside from signing a petition letter, many of the OFWs are also signing an affidavit stating, among others, that they "refute and vehemently object" to "POEA's [Philippine Overseas Employment Administration's] conduct and manner of writing the name of the employer appearing on the final receipt, making it appear that it was the employer paying the OWWA membership fee of 25 dollars or its peso equivalent."Fabricante
said the campaign was thorough as the petition letter circulating in Saudi Arabia and the accompanying affidavits included not just the name and postal address of the OFW, but also the passport number and the OWWA receipt number.
In the Philippines, the CMA
has filed a court case questioning the legality of the collection of this fee.