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By Mayen Jaymalin
The Philippine Star

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has been overcharging overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), collecting a $25 membership fee from them based on an exchange rate of P51 to $1.

Amid complaints from OFWs and criticism from Senate President Manuel Villar, the POEA the membership fee imposed by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on all departing OFWs would be based on the exchange rate of P42 to $1, or P1,050, instead of the current fee of P1,275 based on an exchange rate of P51 to $1.

But the rate adjustment will take effect only next year, the POEA said.

POEA chief Rosalinda Baldoz said the agency should not be accused of overcharging because they only collect the fees based on the rate imposed by the OWWA for processing work papers.

Earlier, the local recruitment industry claimed that POEA continues to collect higher processing fees, particularly the OWWA membership fee, despite the continuing dollar depreciation.

Lito Soriano, former president of the Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. (PASEI), said OFWs are being shortchanged for the processing of their contracts with the POEA.

Although OWWA has already agreed to lower the membership fee, Soriano insisted that the new rate should be implemented immediately and not next year.

“OWWA should not wait a second longer to implement the lower fee because it would cost P2.5 million for the 100,000 OFWs who are mandated to pay such fees before returning to their jobs abroad after the holidays,” Soriano said.

Senate President Manuel Villar Jr., in a statement released yesterday, said the corrective move must be implemented immediately.

“I am calling for the immediate implementation of the reduction of the fee charged to overseas Filipino workers and the accounting of all excess collections,” he said.

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