The Manila Economic and Cultural Office has asked law enforcement agencies to go after a placement operator based in Manila for mulcting young students bound for Taipei under the Taiwan government’s scholarship program.
MECO chairman Silvestre H. Bello III also requested the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to blacklist JS Contractor, a recruitment agency in Intramuros, for illegal collection of fees from the young scholars.
Bello acted on reports that JS Contractor collected P45,000 each from 32 students who arrived in Taipei last Nov. 2 under a scholarship program in one of Taiwan’s leading universities. The amount was supposed to cover air fare, visa, PDOS and overseas employment certificate.
While plane ticket and student visa fee are shouldered by individual scholars, Bello said the students are not required to secure an OEC, and they do not undergo pre-departure orientation seminar or PDOS.
One way plane ticket to Taipei is P10,000, and the processing fee for a student visa costs only about P2,400. Only departing Filipino workers for deployment overseas are required to secure OEC from the DMW and go through PDOS for a fee.
“Aside from being too excessive, the collection of OEC and PDOS fees is patently illegal,” Bello said.
“This agency must be punished for its nefarious activities. It has to be prevented from further victimizing hapless young people whose families are seeing fresh hopes with their inclusion in the scholarship program,” the MECO chief added.
The Taiwan Ministry of Education guidelines on the program provide that a university or college can not accept scholars deployed through recruitment agencies.
The scholarship is a work-study program for Filipino students under Taiwan’s Academe-Industry Collaboration Program of the New Southbound Policy. The recruitment of students is through a joint partnership with the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo-Scalabrinians (MSCS) who approach different diocese in the Philippines.
Selected universities arrange for internship with industrial/ semiconductor companies located at the Science and Industrial Park where the students are also provided with the opportunity for immediate employment after graduation.
The field of study is Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering major in Management (IEM). It is a three-year baccalaureate in-school program specially designed to integrate study and internship in eight semesters.
For the first year, students study full time on-campus with free Mandarin lessons. In the second year, the internship training off campus starts. In the third year, students stay full time on-campus. In the fourth year, students do internship training off-campus.
So far, there are 201 recipients of the study-work program which started in March 2019. The program already produced two batches of Filipino engineers this year with a big majority of them having secured jobs in Taiwan, while a few had returned to the Philippines to establish their own businesses and some pursuing higher studies.