Nurses cry foul, warn vs. illegal recruitment

Eppie L. Enguito, Bukidnon Provincial Hospital Maramag chief nurse and registered nurse Jose Arsenio Jude Ormillada speak about the problem of illegal recuitment of nurses in the province during the Kapihan sa Bukidnon Press Club on April 13, 2011 at the PPDO Conference Hall, Malaybalay City Bukidnon News photo

MALAYBALAY CITY – A group of nurses from Maramag cried foul against a questionable recruiter and warned the public against attractive offers for employment abroad.

Accompanied by Bukidnon Provincial Hospital-Maramag chief nurse Eppie Lim Enguito, three nurses who said they were duped by a nurse now based in Singapore, reported during the Kapihan sa Bukidnon Press Club on April 13 the need to raise public awareness of the threat of illegal recruitment and demanded that more than a million pesos of placement fees they paid since 2010, be returned.

Jose Arsenio Jude Ormillada, a registered nurse, said they were duped when they were convinced by a nurse identified as Jeanelyn E. Noveno to apply through a direct hiring opportunity for the Mt. Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

Noveno, who posed as a hospital representative, allegedly convinced them to apply after a colleague, Levi Lovitos, a radiologic technologist at the BPH told them he already has paid placement fee and is scheduled to travel to Singapore for employment.

The nurses lamented their difficulty in the ordeal, some of them caught between the prospect of being hired and the fear of losing their parent’s hard earned money.

“What we are going through is not easy. It is frustrating. We have to stand both anger and shame. But there is also challenge (to fight for justice),” Ormillada said.

Noveno, in her statement to this reporter, denied recruiting them saying she was only helping the applicants. She cited a certain Lina Ng as the recruiter, who is supposed to return the money.

‘Too good to be true’
The nurses now consider the offer of direct hiring to Singapore as ‘too good to be true,’ and one that they realized was a fraud, too late.

Because of a colleague’s testimony, Ormillada and other nurses were enticed to apply and paid advance placement fees starting February 16, 2010.

But alleged delays in placement, scheduled interviews, and alleged lies prompted him and two other nurses out of the 11 who paid placement fees, to withdraw. In his withdrawal letter Ormillada cited a health problem that has to be addressed.

Ormillada showed documents that he deposited a total of P115,000 to Noveno’s BDO bank account; P25,000 on February 16, 2010 and P90,000 on March 19, 2010. Nurses Bryan Troy Sarausa and Riza Jean Benitez, who withdrew with Ormilllada and were at the Kapihan sa BPC, paid P125,000 each.

Ormillada said after they signified intention to withdraw in August 2010 they have been promised that money will be returned not later than October 15, 2010. But six months after, not a peso was returned.

In Ormillada’s prepared incident report, he said Noveno told him in March 2010 that there was great interest from two departments in the hospital for his application. He was told that he and other applicants will be scheduled for interview in June 2010.

But they have to pay P120,000, he added, for placement “so that the recruiters will directly process their application especially at Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower for work permit.”

A week after depositing P90,000 of the P120,000 on March 19, Noveno called him to inform her receipt of the money and that she has paid the balance of P30,000 for the meantime.

In April 2010, Ormillada received another call from Noveno, who informed him that his papers passed the test at the ministry. They were supposed to have work permit already. When he asked for a copy to show proof to his parents, he got nothing.

In May, Lovitos, the radiologic technologist, who helped convince them to apply took a leave of absence from the hospital for his interview in Singapore. She also informed him that Lovitos passed the interview.

Lovitos ‘success’ and his accounts of the quality of the hospital in Singapore convinced others to apply and deposit placement fees, Ormillada said.

Noveno also informed Ormillada of his own schedule on June 16, 2010.

But Ormillada said it was cancelled.

Noveno told him the Singapore hospital chief nurse is on a “foreign trip”.

Duped?
It was an incident later in June that awakened the applicants: they might have been duped.

Another applicant Bryan Troy Sarausa’s schedule was pushed through in the last week of June. He went to Singapore for the scheduled interview. But there was none.

Instead, a receptionist at Mt. Elizabeth Hospital told him Noveno was no longer connected with them.

Sarausa, as quoted in Ormillada’s written account, said that Noveno asked him to tell others that the interview pushed through even if it didn’t.

Noveno subsequently denied this account (in her statement below).

When he returned to BPH, Sarausa was mum about his foiled interview in Singapore. But he confessed to Ormillada in July that there was no interview. In his mind, they were really tricked.

In August 2010, Ormillada, Sarausa, and another applicant Gloria Anne Cabaron who paid P82,000 placement fee, decided to withdraw. Right then Noveno pledged to return their money “in two to three weeks,” Ormillada said. That did not happen.

The group feared that the money went wayward. An internet search showed that the recruitment agency Noveno claimed as owned by a certain Lina Ng, supposedly the owner, was non-existent.

Fabricated certification
BPH nurses are required to notify the management in case they plan to move out. They kept it from management. This is one reason why Enguito did not know about the recruitment of her nurses.

She said the hospital never had a hand in the recruitment. Now, she is helping the nurses in their decision to withdraw from their application. As soon as she heard of it,she has reminded them against transacting with the suspect.

But she said she was not spared from the controversy. Her signature was forged in a falsified certificate of employment submitted by the recruiter to the Singapore Nursing Board. The certification was attached to one of the applicant’s documents. She said instead of the 130-bed capacity of the hospital it was indicated in the certificate that the hospital has 200 beds, among other misrepresentations.

Twisting the story?
In her statements to this reporter, Noveno stood by her word that nothing irregular was happening. The applicants said they deposited the money in Noveno’s bank account.

Noveno lives in Singapore and works as a “psychiatric unit staff nurse” at the Parkway Health Group of Hospitals. She finished her nursing studies at the Liceo de Cagayan University in 1996, according to her social network account, which she used to respond to this reporter’s queries.

While on vacation on August 23, 2010, Noveno met with Ormillada and other applicants in a restaurant in Valencia City. She denied Sarausa’s account that she is no longer connected with the hospital. Ormillada quoted her as saying it was only part of the hospital’s security protocol. He said Noveno was silent when asked about Lovitos’ and Sarausa’s foiled interviews.

Noveno said Sarausa was the one who asked her to lie about the foiled interview because he allegedly botched it after requesting a postponement, a claim that Ormillada said was her own irrelevant twist. To the nurses, what matters is the return of their money.

Noveno promised to ask Ng, which according to her was the agency owner, to return the money.

She told this reporter that the applicants have already been interviewed with one of them already has taken the Singapore Nursing Board examinations. She also said one of the applicants Riza Benitez, one of those who backed out, already has an employment contract.

Ormillada said Benitez did not have a contract, but a received copy of her application.

Noveno denied having introduced herself as a representative from the Mt. Elizabeth Hospital. Ormillada said Lovitos introduced her to them in March 2010 as such.

It was Ormillada and other applicants who invited her to discuss their application in their house, not in the hospital (to avoid Enguito), Noveno said.

“And now they are twisting the story against me?” she said.

Ormillada said it was proper to keep their transaction from office hours and outside the compound of their present employer, the BPH.

One worry of the applicants is that “Lina Ng” could be a fictitious person. Ormillada said Ng could be contacted only via email and that only Lovitos claimed to have met her.

‘Help’ from the authorities
The BPH Maramag Grievance Committee investigated the possible involvement of Lovitos in the supposed illegal recruitment operation. Lovitos allegedly admitted lying and cried in the hearing. Ormillada said the result was vague as Lovitos remains an employee of the hospital.

The group has also filed a request for investigation at the Capitol but they are still waiting for action.

What really frustrated them, Ormillada said, is the government agency that they hoped could investigate the case. In November 2010, they filed a complaint against Lovitos and Noveno at the National Bureau of Investigation in Cagayan de Oro, with media coverage.

But more than a month later, they were told that the NBI lost the copy of their complaint. Ormillada said it added to their dismay.

Facing the Bukidnon media on April 13 was both a relief and a risk.

A television reporter who interviewed them promised but failed to air their story. They felt their problem was not given importance.

Still another of the nurses’ fear is that they suspect Noveno’s husband, a senior police official to have a hand in keeping his wife off the hook.

But they said they clamored only for justice and so that the public will know the threat of illegal recruitment.

They also needed their money back. (Walter I. Balane)

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Dengue preparedness up in Bukidnon PDRRMC meet

MALAYBALAY CITY (12 April) – Preparations for a dengue
outbreak in Bukidnon will top the agenda in a meeting of the
Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council slated on
April 13.

Dr. Josephine Ibalio, chair of the Department of Health’s
mosquito-borne disease program in Bukidnon on Friday said that in 2009
she had proposed for inclusion in the provincial budget at least P6
million for dengue.

She said the proposal was included in the Provincial Integrated Plan
for Health which she helped prepare as a member of the technical
working group on dengue control.

She said the proposal was disapproved but added she will still push
for the fund’s inclusion in the 2011 budget.

The budget was supposed to be used to buy platelet separators,
clinical refrigerators, and other equipment for blood banking, and for
information and education campaign.

Municipal health officers also recommended the purchase of an
ambulance and fumigators for rural health units.

Ibalio said the provincial government must have at least a
supplemental budget for dengue and not just rely on calamity funds in
case an outbreak occurs.

“I disagree about preparing a budget for dengue on the need-basis only
or as an emergency (recourse). It will come too late (for the needed
action),” Ibalio told reporters in a briefing organized by the
Provincial Health Office.

She cited the experience this year when calls for a declaration of a
state of calamity took long and the resolution only came after the
Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) had ruled that the
number of cases had dropped.

“One lesson from this years’ experience is to declare the state of
calamity right away (when the cases soar up) like in July (2010),” she
added.

Bukidnon did not declare a state of calamity this year following a
check on the statistics of dengue cases. The Provincial Health Office
said many of the cases counted were not confirmed to be dengue
infections.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier announced he has allotted P25 million
to the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center for a separate ward for
tropical diseases like dengue.

But Gov. Alex Calingasan announced during the project’s groundbreaking
on March 26 that it will be used for the construction of additional
private wards at the hospital. (Walter I. Balane)

A grab from an ad campaign against dengue from a DILG webpage