#BertizAlis: OFWs lodge complaints, want Bertiz out of Congress

As part of the #BertizAlis campaign initiated by Migrante, victims of ACTS OFW Partylist Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz III filed their complaints today as the Committee on Ethics of the House of Representative probes on the congressman’s misconducts. OFWs Shiela Mabunga and Emmanuel Villanueva submitted their testimonies detailing their harsh encounters with Rep. Bertiz.

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In Mabunga’s written testimony, it was in 2013 when she applied as a cook for Dubai at Keys Placement, a recruitment firm owned by Bertiz’ wife, however at midpoint, Mabunga’s documents were transferred to Bertiz’ agency Global Asia Alliance Consultants Inc. (GAACI) for processing.

On her written testimony, Mabunga recounted the contract violations of GAACI. Instead of being deployed in 2014 to her real employer, Mabunga was instead picked up at the airport by a different employer from whom she suffered abuse and maltreatment. When half of her body was paralyzed due to her ordeal, her family sought help from the agency countless times but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Fearing for Mabunga’s life, her father filed a request for repatriation at POEA in February 2015.

It took four months before Rep. Bertiz met with Mabunga to negotiate with her employer. She begged Bertiz to take her back with him to the Philippines but her supplication was not granted. Instead, Bertiz persuaded her to return to work for her employer until the end of Ramadan. Bertiz likewise cajoled Mabunga promising her repatriation and assistance for her college education on the condition that she abstains from filing a case against his agency GAACI and her employer. Upon returning back to her employer, Mabunga underwent even more abuse and severe exploitation.

Finally in August 2015, Mabunga was repatriated back 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.

In 2016, Mabunga decided to file a case against Bertiz and his recruitment agency at POEA and NLRC.

“Tumagal na ng dalawang taon ang kaso ko, nahalal na lamang ang kaniyang partylist at naging kongresista na siya, ngunit hanggang ngayon ay wala pa ring linaw kung ano ang kahihinatnan ng aking kaso. Hanggang ngayon ay mailap pa rin sa akin ang hustisya.  Nakadadagdag sa aking hinagpis kapag nakikita ko siya sa telebisyon na umaastang maka-OFW at galit sa illegal recruiter dahil alam ko sa sarili ko na isa ako sa nabiktima ng kaniyang pagsasamantala sa OFW.  Na siya mismo ay sangkot sa illegal recruitment at isa sa mga taong hindi napapatawan ng kaparusahan sa kaniyang ginagawa,” Mabunga lamented.

Another OFW calling for Bertiz’ expulsion from Congress is Emmanuel Villanueva, an OFW in Hong Kong and Secretary General of UNIFIL-Migrante. In January 2017, Villanueva had an intense confrontation with Bertiz during a dialogue with Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglungsod. The dialogue was about the OFWs’ demand for the abolition of the overseas employment certificate (OEC). Despite being an uninvited guest, Bertiz took much of their time by lecturing on the need for the OEC and his proposed OFW ID which infuriated OFWs present at the meeting. Villanueva politely asked the lawmaker not to consume much of the time, only to be yelled at and accused of being an undocumented OFW.

Meanwhile, a petition for the removal of ACTS OFW Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz III was launched yesterday by OFWs. The petition enumerated compelling reasons for his expulsion. Number one on the list is “conflict of interest” since Bertiz is not an OFW but a big time recruiter who should not be recognized as a legitimate representative of OFWs. The petition likewise cited the irregularities of his agency as well as his disrespectful behaviour towards OFWs and their leaders during a dialogue in Hong Kong.

Petitioners denounced the congressman’s involvement in a botched rescue mission in Kuwait which endangered the lives of many OFWs. His relentless justification of the OEC and the OFW ID despite denouncements from OFW communities was likewise pointed out.

“Dahil dito, walang moral na awtoridad si Rep. Aniceto “John” D. Bertiz III na maging kinatawan namin sa Kongreso. Wala na ring dahilan para siya ay manatili pa sa kanyang katungkulan sa Kongreso,” the petition stated