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DFA-Mindanao warns against use of 'visit visa'
for overseas jobs

December 10, 2004

DAVAO CITY (PNA) -- The Mindanao Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office here has issued a stern warning to those attempting to find jobs abroad by using 'visit visas" issued to them by DFA passport offices in Mindanao and other parts of the country.

DFA-Mindanao head Asst. Secretary Walter Salmingo issued a statement to strongly "advise" those looking for work overseas "not to leave using a visit visa" but instead exert effort to have an employment visa before leaving by dealing only with recruitment agencies accredited with POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration).

Salmingo said "to avoid spending so much only to be exposed to harassment, extortion, abuse, substandard wages and working conditions, imprisonment and deportation, leave with an employment visa with a job contract attested by POEA."

He stressed that by doing so, it "will save OFW from much grief and heartache," pointing out that a "visit visa is not a guarantee that you will find work in your country of destination, particularly in Abu Dhabi or Dubai."

The DFA-Mindanao chief's statement bolstered the warning earlier aired by the Philippine Emassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), which reported an alarming increase in the number of Filipinos who arrived in UAE on visit visas and were victimized by fixers and illegal job recruiters.

Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Libran Cabactulan revealed that fixers charge as much as P100,000 in exchange for a visit visa and promise of a job upon arrival in the UAE and other points in the Middle East.

The Ambassador further bared that in many cases, the promise of a job "does not materialize and the poor job-seeker is left with the option of either returning to the Philippines empty-handed or looking for work on his or her own before the visit visa expires in a month or two."

According to the UAE-based envoy, some companies "exploit the situation and offer only menial jobs and wages much lower than other expatriate workers who arrive armed with employment visas."

Unfortunately, he pointed out, "the most vulnerable are some Filipino women who are exploited and forced into prostitution." Many among these victims found out too late that their visit visa was not changed to employment or residence status.

He further bared that "this results in hefty immigration fines for overstaying," while in other cases Filipinos find themselves "stranded" in Kish island in Iran where they are required to exit or made to wait for employment visas promised by prospective employers, further adding to their desperation.

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