Even After Ruling vs Decking System OFWs Still Paying Excessive Fees to GAMCA Clinics

Even after more than one month since a joint circular issued by four government departments against the so-called “decking referral system,” many Filipinos bound for jobs at Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are still paying excessive fees to the 19 clinics affiliated with the GCC Approved Medical Centers’ Association (GAMCA), a recruitment consultant alleges in a report by InterAksyon.com.

Emmanuel Geslani, in a news release, said GAMCA is still “lording it” over the 180 clinics accredited by the Department of Health (DOH) as destination for Filipino workers aiming to work at GCC member countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The GCC mandates that workers from the Philippines, India, Srilanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, and other Asian countries are required to pass medical examinations from approved clinics.

“Decking referral” system requires that applicants set an appointment from a central office where they will be referred to a designated GAMCA-accredited clinic. Filipino job applicants have complained against the system which caused deployment delays. Cost, among others, is a subject of contention; DOH-accredited clinichs charge P2,580 for a complete medical test while fees charged by GAMCA clinics range between P3,500 and P4,500.

Under “special arrangements” which Geslani alleges, many OFWs are sent to GAMCA preferred clinics, whose fewer numbers lead to swelling of applicants lining up as early as 5am for their medical examinations. Geslani added that GAMCA clinics bypass I-Clinicalab, a facility set up by DOH to monitor laboratory tests.

The Departments of Foreign Affairs, Labor and Employment, Justice, and Health on August 1 signed a Joint Memorandum Circular 2015-0016 which outlawed “decking system” and abolished the monopoly of GAMCA, allowing Filipino migrant workers to freely choose any DOH-accredited medical clinic that charge lower fees for medical examinations.

The joint circular empowers the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to suspend or revoke licenses of recruitment agencies engaging in “decking referral” system.

Likewise, the same circular also grants power to Health Facilities and Services Regulatory Bureau of the DOH to suspend or revoke licenses of medical clinics and testing centers involved inthe decking and referral system.

Photo credit: www.alderbrook.org