Migrant Filipino workers have turned against their supposed representative in Congress and filed an ethics complaint against him.
Migrante International, an advocate of migrant workers’ rights, filed the case against Party-list Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III of ACT-OFW on Thursday.
Chairman Arman Hernando of Migrante said Bertiz does not deserve a seat in the House not only because he does not truly represent the Filipino migrant workers but because of his alleged arrogance as a public servant.
“A series of his unacceptable actions in public, as well as his manifest conflict of interest with OFWs, have made him unqualified to represent the sector,” says Migrante’s complaint signed by Hernando.
“His conduct and ideals are unbecoming of an OFW representative. Thus we seek for his outright removal from office.”
Hernando also cited Bertiz’s alleged conflict of interest for being the owner of several recruitment agencies.
Lawmakers from the Makabayan Bloc and a migrant worker from Oriental Mindoro, Shiela Mabunga, joined Hernando in the complaint.
However, the House has yet to receive a sworn statement detailing the complaints against Bertiz.
At the NAIA Terminal 2 on Saturday morning, Bertiz scolded security checker Hamilton Abdul who had asked him to take off his shoes as part of security measures.
Bertiz then shoved his identification card at Abdul and tried to grab his ID card. His actions were captured by the closed-circuit television cameras inside the airport.
In her complaint, Mabunga related how Global Asia Alliance Consultants Inc. allegedly violated the provisions in her employment contract. Migrante said Bertiz was the president and chief executive of GAACI.
Mabunga said in her written complaint that in 2013, she applied as a cook for deployment to Dubai with Keys Placement, a recruitment agency owned by Bertiz’s wife. Midpoint during the processing of her papers, however, Mabunga said her documents were transferred to Bertiz’s GAACI for processing.
Mabunga said in her complaint that instead of being deployed in 2014 to her real employer, she was instead fetched at the airport by a different employer, who then abused and maltreated her.
When half of her body was paralyzed due to her ordeal, Mabunga said her family “sought help from the GAACI countless times but their pleas fell on deaf ears.”
Fearing for Mabunga’s life, her father filed a request for repatriation at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in February 2015.
Bertiz allegedly took four months before meeting with Mabunga and negotiate with her employer. Mabunga said she “begged Bertiz to take me back with him to the Philippines but my supplication was not granted. Instead, Bertiz persuaded me to return to work for the employer until the end of Ramadan.”
Mabunga also said Bertiz promised her repatriation and assistance for her college education on the condition that she abstained from filing a case against his agency GAACI and her employer. She said she was subjected to more abuse and severe exploitation when she returned to her employer.
Finally, in August 2015, Mabunga was repatriated to the Philippines but none of the commitments made by the agency was ever fulfilled and Bertiz did not even show up in any of their hearings at POEA, she said.
In 2016, Mabunga filed a case against Bertiz and his recruitment agency at POEA and NLRC. The case is still pending.
Migrante, in a statement, also cited the case of Emmanuel Villanueva, a Filipino working in Hong Kong and secretary general of UNIFIL-Migrante who said that in January 2017, he had a heated exchange with Bertiz during a dialogue with Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod.
The dialogue was about the Filipino workers’ demand for the abolition of the overseas employment certificate. Despite being an uninvited guest, Villanueva said Bertiz took much of the time by lecturing on the need for the OEC and his proposed OFW ID which infuriated those present at the meeting.
“When I politely asked the lawmaker not to consume much of the time, he yelled at me and accused me of being an undocumented OFW," Villanueva said.