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Pinoy nurses accused of abandoning NY patients

Pinoy nurses accused of abandoning NY patients

The lawyer of a recruitment agency accused of exploiting 28 Filipino nurses abroad on Thursday turned the tables on the complainants by accusing them of abandoning their patients in New York.

"Naghain kami ng kaso, inilagay namin doon 'yung mga nangyari na iniwan nila 'yung mga pasyente noong April 5, 6 and 7 of 2006 (We filed a complaint because they abandoned their patients)," Ibarro Relamida Jr. told a Magandang Umaga Pilipinas interview.

He said the complaint filed by Sentosa Recruitment Agency was received by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration on May 9. POEA, however, suspended Sentosa on May 24. On June 8 the suspension was lifted.

"Na-receive namin 'yung order of suspension without any complaint attached to the suspension order so ang ginawa namin we filed our motion to lift the suspension order (We received the suspension order without any complaint attached so we filed a motion to lift the order)," Relamida said.

He said Sentosa's complaints against the 28 nurses, who he did not name, were supported by documents proving the agency's claim.

Relamida said the agency had also filed the report before the New York State Education Department. "There is now a danger that their (nurses') license to work in the United States will be revoked."

Mike tagged

Sentosa hogged the headlines after Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. delivered a privilege speech Monday that accused Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor of lobbying for the lifting of a suspension order slapped against the agency.

Pimentel claimed that the suspension order was lifted two days after Defensor called POEA chief Rosalinda Baldoz.

Relamida, however, said Sentosa has submitted all the necessary documents and presented strong evidence to the POEA to lift the suspension. He maintained that the nurses were properly compensated despite their infraction.

The lawyer said the agency’s deployment of nurses abroad will continue despite the controversy.

"There are 500 Filipino nurses working with Sentosa right now. These 28 nurses are not even 10 percent [of that number]. More than 470 are happily working with us. In fact, six of these Flipino immigrants are now holding the highest positions [in] nursing home care," he said.

The nurses have accused the agency of reneging on several commitments made before they were deployed.

The benefits include a competitive salary ranging from $21-$35 per hour, medical coverage, relocation and housing allowance, free malpractice insurance, free airfare from Manila to New York, reimbursement of processing certification and licensure fees, generous shift differentials and flexible eight- and 12-hour schedules and comprehensive training.

Pimentel said the agency failed the nurses, including a 2004 medical board topnotcher who opted to become a nurse, and did not pay them in accordance with their contracts.


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