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Philippine partners responsible for maid documentation, say S'pore agencies

Maid agencies in Singapore say the onus is on the partners they work with in the Philippines to ensure proper documentation for bringing Filipino maids into Singapore. 

SINGAPORE: Singaporean Yvonne Phua, who is currently under arrest in the Philippines for suspected human trafficking, allegedly brought Filipino maids into Singapore illegally as a recruiter for PEM Maid Employment Agency. But the agency claims that its maids have proper certification issued by the Philippine authorities.

Filipino maids have to pass a whole battery of certification and accreditation requirements with the Philippine authorities before they are allowed to work in Singapore. These include the Pre-Departure Registration and Orientation Seminars (PDOS), as well as certifications with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). However, these requirements are separate from those set by Singapore's Manpower Ministry.

Maid agencies in Singapore say the onus is on the partners they work with in the Philippines to ensure proper documentation to bring Filipino maids into Singapore, stressing that only accredited companies are able to produce the relevant documents.

Ms Ivy Lee, managing director of Maid-Power, said: "The agencies here who are bringing the girls - they have to be accredited with the Philippines Embassy. And that would mean we need to submit documents, our licence, and we also need to submit a copy of our counterparts’ licences. So when we do accreditation, we will know whether or not our partners are licensed. Because if they are not, there's no way they can produce documents for us to submit to the embassy.”

Many Singapore-based maid agencies need to tie up with Philippine counterparts due to difficulty in meeting the requirements, such as local Filipino ownership conditions, to set up a recruitment source.

However, agents from Singapore-based maid agencies are allowed to work together with their Philippine partners to interview, train or supervise the recruitment process within the premises of the accredited partner agency, even though the agent is not visiting the country for work.

K Jeyaprema, president of Association of Employment Agencies Singapore, said: “I think as long as you're involved in any type of recruitment process, even if it's supervising, or even if it's overseeing - it is considered to be a recruitment activity.”

Ms Phua's case rests on whether her Philippine partner company can indeed prove that it is licensed to operate as a recruitment agency in the Philippines. 

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