Friday, July 20, 2007

Justice for Sentosa 27++ Migrante hits Malacanang over illegal recruitment of RP nurses to US

News Release

July 20, 2007
For reference: Connie Bragas-Regalado

Justice for Sentosa 27++
Migrante hits Malacanang over illegal recruitment of RP nurses to US

With Congress set to open in a few days, an alliance of progressive organizations composed of Filipino migrants and their families today called for a congressional investigation into the plight of the Filipino nurses in New York illegally recruited by the Sentosa Recruitment Agency.

"We are working with the Gabriela Women's Partylist and approaching other pro-OFW legislators to ensure that as soon as Congress opens, a resolution is forwarded to investigate the culpability of Sentosa and Philippine government officials in violating the rights of these nurses. This campaign for the Sentosa 27++ exposes only the tip of the iceberg of abuse suffered by health care workers and other migrants under Arroyo," says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International Chairperson.

The Campaign for Justice for the Sentosa 27++ is an international campaign launched in the US by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. In the Philippines, Migrante International, the Alliance for Health Workers and the Health Alliance for Democracy are also forwarding this campaign.

"We are deeply concerned over the conditions of the twenty-six nurses and one physical therapist recruited by Sentosa. Clearly, Sentosa is guilty of contract violations, violating human trafficking laws and involuntary servitude. Many of the promises made to the nurses were broken shortly after their arrival in New York," she added.

Sentosa Recruitment Agency is run by a certain Francis Luyun, who also works as Director of International Recruitment for the New York-based Sentosa Care, LLC owned by a Brent Philipson.

"In particular, the role then Sec. Mike Defensor played in having a POEA preventive suspension order against Sentosa lifted must be exposed," said Bragas-Regalado.
Citing the Sentosa 27++ fact sheet, Bragas-Regalado explained that the suspension against Sentosa was lifted on June 8, 2006 less than two weeks after it was ordered. The lifting came after US Senator Schumer interceded for Sentosa by writing POEA Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz and then Labor Sec. Patricia Sto. Tomas. Then Presidential Chief of Staff Mike Defensor is also reported to have called POEA Admin. Baldoz the day before she signed the order to lift the suspension.

The fact sheet states that one of the owners of Sentosa in the United States is a big political contributor of US Senator Schumer.

"As we approach Arroyo's State of the Nation Address, it is evident that the exploitation and oppression of Filipino migrants continues to heighten – even among the ranks of the highly-skilled and professional workers. Instead of relying on the export of people to prop up the country's ailing economy, a policy geared towards creating long-term viable jobs in the Philippines is our demand," she said, noting that in the immediate, the baseless charges against the Sentosa nurses in the US must be withdrawn. #

To gather greater international support, an internet petition on the Sentosa 27++ campaign can be found at www.