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Lawmaker seeks House probe on Php530-M fraud targeting Kuwait-bound OFWs

By Filane Mikee Cervantes, Philippine News Agency

MANILA, Aug. 15 — Albay Second District Rep. Joey Salceda on Monday filed a resolution that seeks to investigate a Php530-million fraud targeting overseas job applicants for Kuwait through a private company known as WINSTON Q8 Certification Solutions, Inc.

Photo courtesy of BicolStandard.com

Photo courtesy of BicolStandard.com

House Resolution No. 220 directs appropriate committees of the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry into the new certification and medical screening process introduced by WINSTON Q8 and the Embassy of Kuwait.

Salceda said that the Philippine government should not allow a foreign embassy to intrude in its policies to protect the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) through a “questionable and highly irregular medical screening and certification process.”

”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 said.

”The House inquiry will help establish culpability in relation to this embassy-sponsored fraud and remedial legislation to further protect our OFWs,” he added.

The medical certifications company described itself as a Philippine-based company that represents the Ministry of Health of Kuwait.

WINSTON Q8 is a web-based system that all Kuwait-bound OFWs must undergo for the prescribed medical exams and referral to the Embassy of Kuwait for visa stamping at Php8,400 per worker.

The Embassy of Kuwait will not entertain any requests for visa stamping unless endorsed by the said company.

Salceda described this new scheme as “fraudulent” and “monopolistic”, noting that the Philippines deploys around 70,000 OFWs to Kuwait and the cost of standard medical tests for overseas job applicants is estimated at Php2,500.

”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.

Meanwhile, pro-OFW group Blas F. Ople Policy Center head Susan Ople expressed support to the House resolution authored by Salceda.

”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, otherwise they will be complicit in violating the law,” said Ople.

”There is an impasse going on, and it must be resolved in favor of the rights and welfare of our modern-day heroes,” she added.