Monday, May 7, 2007

DISCUSSION GUIDE: Facts about the Justice for the Sentosa 27 Campaign

An online petition outlining these demands can be found at

A .pdf version of this document can be found at: (Right clisk, then "Save As")

Together with the Filipino-American community, community-based organizations, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), solidarity networks worldwide, allies and friends; we call for the following demands:

1. to have all criminal and civil charges against the Sentosa 27 dropped by the State of New York;

2. to seek unpaid overtime wage compensation and all other backwages for the Sentosa 27;

3. to permanently revoke the recruitment license of the Sentosa Recruitment Agency by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency in Manila;

4. to call for an immediate investigation by the state of New York of all Sentosa operations on the basis of violations of human trafficking laws and involuntary servitude;

5. to seek explanation from the Office of US Senator Charles Schumer of New York State on matters regarding correspondences between his office over the handling of the victims' class action suit against Sentosa with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency and the Philippine Consulate General in New York, Ms. Cecilia Rebong ; and, to seek explanation from the Office of the Philippine Secretary of State and senatorial candidate Michael Defensor on matters regarding correspondences between his office over the handling of the a previous license suspension by the POEA of Sentosa that led to the eventual lifting of the said suspension

Q: What is Sentosa?
A: Sentosa Care, LLC is a healthcare management
company owned and by Bent Philipson. Philipson is also the managing partner and chief operating officer of several nursing home facilities affiliated with the Sentosa Recruitment Agency.

Q. Who are the Sentosa 27?
A: The Sentosa 27 are 26 nurses and 1 physical therapist who signed up to work in the United States through the Sentosa Recruitment Agency in Manila, Philippines. They each signed to work for different nursing facilities in New York as termed in their employment agreement contracts. Among the Sentosa 27 is Elmer Jacinto, a medical doctor who scored the highest in the national medical board exams in the Philippines.

Q: What violations did Sentosa commit?
A: Upon their arrival in New York, most of the nurses were surprised to find themselves assigned at nursing home facilities different from the ones that sponsored them. Worse, all of them discovered that they were made agency employees of Prompt Nursing Employment Agency, doing business as Sentosa Services. Other contract violations followed, including but not limited to:
· Withholding of green cards
· Wage rate ($12-14/hour reduced)
· Work hours and overtime terms (backwages)
· Withholding of benefits promised

Q: Why are the Sentosa 27 seeking justice?
A: Sentosa retaliated against the nurses by filing civil charges for breach of contracts. The POEA also lifted the suspension less than 2 weeks after issuing it after reports that US Senator Charles Schumer and then-Philippine Cabinet Secretary Mike Defensor both intervened with the Philippine Consulate in NY and the POEA to have the suspension lifted. Philipson is believed to be a political contributor to both elected officials.
How can you show support for the q Sign the online petitionq Sign you organization to carry the campaign and receive updates from NAFCONq Join actions coordinated by NAFCON in the US and in the Philippines.q Help spread the word with outreach to your friends and networks.

Q: Why is it important to support the Sentosa 27?
A: This is a case that not only touches on massive labor law violations, but anti-trafficking and involuntary servitude as well.

The Philippines is the world’s number one exporter of health workers, many of whom seek to work in the United States. The Sentosa 27 represent the droves and droves of Filipino nurses exiting the Philippines in search of greener pastures.

But forced migration should not be at the cost of human dignity and respect. Filipino workers, and all foreign contract workers, deserve equal recognition and equal rights to citizen workers.

Sentosa Care LLC continues to recruit health care professionals from the Philippines. There are over 4000 outstanding job orders with the Sentosa in the Philippines.

Though the pursuit of justice has been stunted through various channels, the Filipino, nursing, and various other contract labor sectors have the collective power to seek justice for the Sentosa 27 by way of community pressure to meet the Sentosa 27’s demands.

Q: What initial steps did they take?
A: The nurses called the attention of the New York State Nurses Association about their work conditions. They also complained to the Philippine Labor Attaché’s Office in Washington DC and the Consulate General in New York, which referred them for legal advice and consultation with lawyer Felix Vinluan. On April 6, 2006, Vinluan lodged the nurses' discrimination charges against Philipson and his group of companies before the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices under the Department of Justice in Washington DC. Vinluan also filed an administrative case against Sentosa Recruitment Agency before the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)., which led to the suspension of license.

How can you show support for the Sentosa 27?
- Sign the online petition
- Sign your organization to carry the campaign and receive updates from NAFCON
- Join actions coordinated by NAFCON in the US and in the Philippines.
- Help spread the word with outreach to your friends and networks.

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, or NAFCON, is a multi-sectoral network of Filipino-American groups and individuals across the US, spanning 23 cities, for the promotion of Filipino culture, the protection of the Filipino people’s rights and welfare in the US, and the advancement of Filipino-American community interests.


Executive Vice President

Executive Director

National Headquarters
54-05 Seabury Street
New York, NY 11373

Phone: 718-565-8862
Email: nafconusa @