September 6, 2007
Reference: Rico Foz, Executive Vice President, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, email: nafconusa @ yahoo.com
SENTOSA 27 CASE STILL ALIVE-- NAFCON
US DOJ's So-Called Case Dismissal Untrue, Lawyer Says
New York-- The 27 Filipino healthcare professionals, victimized by illegal recruitment from the Philippines to the United States, known as the Sentosa 27 ++ clarified that their discrimination case filed with the US Department of Justice against the Sentosa Recruitment Agency were not only false, but "maneuvered by Sentosa's legal spin team to obstruct justice and build-up public opinion against them."
According to Sentosa 27 lawyer Felix Vinluan, "The reports are misleading and untrue. Far from being dismissed, the discrimination cases are now with the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO)."
On April 6, 2006, twenty six nurses and one physical therapist filed discrimination charges against the Sentosa-affiliated healthcare facilities that individually sponsored them, and with which the nurses signed employment contracts, as well as against Bent Philipson and Francis Luyun. Philipson is the common COO and Managing Partner of the Sentosa-affiliated facilities. Luyun is the proprietor of the Philippine-based Sentosa Recruitment Agency. Luyun also works as international recruiter of the New York-based Prompt Nursing Employment Agency, doing business as Sentosa Services.
The discrimination charges were filed before the US DOJ's Office of Special Counsel, (OSC), because the nurses were not directly hired by their respective petitioning employers on account of their immigrant or citizenship status. Instead, they claim they were made agency nurses of Prompt Nursing Employment Agency.
When it became apparent after several months of proposing extensions periods, that that OSC was simply stalling on addressing the case, the 27, without waiting for the OSC, directly filed the discrimination charges before the OCAHO.
"The OCAHO, under Administrative Law Judge Ellen K. Thomas, has taken jurisdiction over the discrimination complaints. The discrimination cases are no longer with the OSC," Vinluan added. "The headline of the news report misleads the public into believing that the cases filed against the Philippine-based Sentosa Recruitment Agency had been dismissed."
"We are disappointed that the US DOJ OSC did not take the victims' case very seriously enought to handle it expediently. But we are glad that the nurses took action and filed with the OCAHO, when it became apparent that nothing was moving forward under the OSC. We believe justice will be served as long as the world community stands behind the Sentosa 27. Theirs is a brave and legitimate fight," stated Rico Foz of the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns or NAFCON.
Foz also referred to the previous political interference of US Senator Charles Schumer who called the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) to lift its license suspension against Sentosa after the nurses filed a complaint with POEA administrator Rosalinda Baldoz.
"We cannot rule out that political interference, and Philipson himself, are behind these stall tactics," Foz added.
NAFCON, a nationwide Filipino-American alliance working with the Sentosa 27, initiated a campaign that garnered supporters worldwide in favor of the Sentosa 27's case against Philipson. The campaign also gathered thousands of support signatures at www.petitiononline.com/j4s27. A Justice for the Sentosa 27 website can be accessed at www.justiceforsentosa27.blogspot.com .
"The Sentosa 27 have a strong case. They have the truth on their side. These political maneuvers are a testament to how desperate Sentosa and Philipson are to keep their heads above water against the massive public opinion and bad press snowballing against their operations," Foz ended. "
The Sentosa 27++ nurses, are likewise awaiting developments on the Senate resolution filed by Senator Panfilo M. Lacson calling for the investigation of Sentosa Recruitment Agency, and which resolution was referred to the Committee on Labor chaired by Senator Jinggoy Estrada. ###
Friday, September 7, 2007