KUWAIT CITY, July 27: The Philippine Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) in Kuwait warned all Filipino nurses from falling prey into the modus operandi of some individuals or companies that offer jobs to nurses at the Kuwait Ministry of Health hospitals and clinics in exchange of a hefty placement fee.
This advisory came out after some Filipino nurses filed a complaint at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in Manila against a certain Filipina recruiter named Mia Gerardo Buenavidez who allegedly duped them with a promise of a job at the MoH.
According to the complainants, Buenavidez who works at a Kuwaiti company offered them to take the MoH Licensure Examination in Kuwait on a visit visa and promised that they will be employed at the MoH after they passed the examination. She is charging them KD 5,500 as placement fee but asked them to pay KD 500 to KD 600 as down payment for the visit visa and examination fee.
Months passed but the nurses did not get the visit visa. They followed up to no avail prompting them to file a complaint at the POEA.
“Last February 2016, Ms Mia Gerardo Buenavidez offered me a commercial visa to take the MoH Exam in Kuwait for the position of a staff Nurse. So I paid KD 450 for the commercial visa. She explained that the visa will be processed in 3 to 5 days. I waited since March 30 but I didn’t see even a shadow of the ticket or visa,” stated Leah, one of the complainants. Maribel (not her real name), almost fell to this kind of modus operandi and told Arab Times that her brother paid KD 500 to Buenavidez. “She promised my brother that he will get the visa in five days but a month has passed, two months and now it has been seven months and nothing happened. In fact, she’s still asking for additional money,” shared Maribel who works as a nurse at a private clinic in Kuwait. Aside from those nurses in the Philippines, Buenavidez has also lured some nurses working at private hospitals and clinics in Kuwait to take the MoH exam. Some have paid KD 2,250 to 2,750 as downpayment with the hope of getting a job at the MoH but nothing happened. The POLO led by Labour Attache Cesar Chavez Jr called Buenavidez to his office to answer all the complaints against her but she did not show up.
The company sent its Senior Technology Consultant Gerry Brioso who defended the transactions of Buenavidez. “They come here on a visit visa to take the exams. I don’t think there’s anything illegal about that because we also bring our artists to perform concert here?” pointed out Brioso.
Chavez explained to Brioso that going through the whole process of recruiting workers on a visit visa, promising them a job and charging them a placement fee before they get a job acceptance constitutes illegal recruitment.
He added that there are even some elements of human trafficking. He stressed that although Brioso’s company is a duly registered company in Kuwait, it has no authorisation from the MoH to recruit nurses from the Philippines. “As of now, there is no job order from the Ministry of Health that requires Filipino workers. My office hasn’t received any MoH job order. I want to remind all our Filipino nurses to be careful. Please check on the POEA website for the approved job orders in Kuwait or you can verify from us,” stressed Chavez.
More complainants surfaced in Kuwait after the news on this alleged modus operandi was aired on ABSCBN/ The Filipino Channel. It turned out that the visa modus did not only victimised nurses but also some domestic workers who paid as much as KD 1,200 for visa processing and transfer. Earlier this week, the embassy called Buenavidez to report to the embassy but she did not show up prompting Assistance to Nationals Unit (ATNU) Officer Francis Baquiran and staff Ahmad Arbues to go to the company to confront Buenavidez who in turn denied all the allegations against her.
“We are not recruiting any nurse direct to MoH. We only have one from Al Soqoor to IPI and the site of deployment is KOC and that’s it. We are just helping Filipinos get a job by giving them tourist visa,” she explained. Buenavidez added that she is not hiding and she is willing to refund all those who have paid her. “To those who have cancelled, you can refund. Just come to our office. Please I’m begging you to come and confront me. We are here. This is your office,” she reiterated.
In turn, Baquiran asked her to go to the embassy to face all the complainants and return all the money she collected from them. “To all those who have given money to Mia, please come to the Assistance to Nationals Unit and file your affidavit complaint and we will help you get back your money,” assured Baquiran. The POEA Anti-Illegal Recruitment Division in Manila is now investigating the case against Buenavidez while POLO has imposed a documentary suspension against Buenavidez, Brioso and the local company.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff