Thursday, May 24, 2007

Launch National Week of Action Against Illegal Recruitment Agency

News Release
May 24, 2007

Reference: Rico Foz, Executive Vice President, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), email:

Sentosa 27+ March for Justice, Launch National Week of Action Against Illegal Recruitment Agency

New York-- Upon the launching of the Justice for the Sentosa 27 campaign by the abused Filipino healthworkers and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), more victims of abuse and exploitation at the hands of the Sentosa Care LLC, a healthcare management company based in Woodmere, New York are coming forward and joining the fight against illegal recruitment and fair and equal treatment for overseas contract workers.

According to Sentosa 27+ lawyer Felix Vinluan, at least 10 more Filipino healthcare workers have come to his office with similar stories of fraudulent recruitment by Sentosa Care LLC
and have signified their willingness to join the Justice for the Sentosa 27+ campaign.

The national campaign initiative for justice launched last May 6th during National Nurses Week will also embark on a National Week of Action for the Sentosa 27+ beginning on Sunday, June 3rd until Sunday June 10th. Actions in support of the 26 nurses and 1 physical therapist from the Philippines will begin with a Sentosa 27+ contingent that will march during the Philippine Independence Day Celebration in New York City on June 3rd. Solidarity actions are also for San Bernardino, San Francisco, and Chicago under the banner of NAFCON.

"We want our nurses to know that we support them all the way. Filipino nurses and other healthcare professionals are part of the backbone of this country's healthcare system. We will not back down until justice is served," stated NAFCON Vice President Rico Foz.

The alliance of Filipino organizations in the US spanning 23 cities has issued demands along with the Sentosa 27+ for all criminal and civil charges against the healthworkers to be dropped, for immediate compensation of all backwages and due overtime pay, for an investigation of Sentosa Care LLC and its owner Bent Philipson against anti-trafficking laws and involuntary servitude, a permanent suspension of Sentosa recruitment license in the Philippines, and clarification from the offices of US Senator Charles Schumer and former Philippine Chief of Staff Michael Defensor on their roles in having the previous order or suspension of the Sentosa Recruitment Agency by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) lifted last year.

An online petition supporting these demands can be found at

A public information campaign blog with a primer and updates on the issue can also be found at

The campaign has also garnered support from various cause-oriented groups in the Philippines including the Alliance of Health Workers, Migrante International, BAYAN Philippines, and the Health Alliance for Democracy.

The Sentosa Recruitment Agency at the Ortigas Center in Manila continues recruitment trained Filipino healthworkers under so-called employer contracts with various nursing facilities in the New York Area. There are over 4000 outstanding job orders with Sentosa in the Philippines.

The original 26 nurses and 1 physical therapist that comprise the Sentosa 27 came forward when none of the terms of their contracts with Sentosa were recognized. A class action suit against Philipson was filed last year for workplace discrimination.

For more information, email NAFCON at ###