Maramag nurses fall prey to dubious recruiter, want P1-M placement fees back

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 April) – A group of nurses from Maramag, Bukidnon, citing their own sad experience, on Wednesday warned the public against being lured by attractive offers of employment abroad.

At the Kapihan sa Bukidnon Press Club the nurses said they were duped by another nurse who is now based in Singapore into shelling out more than a million pesos in placement fees since 2010 after being promised jobs at the Mt. Elizabeth Hospital in the city state.

Jose Arsenio Jude Ormillada, one of the nurses, said they were convinced by fellow nurse Jeanelyn E. Noveno to apply through a direct hiring opportunity at said hospital.

Noveno allegedly posed as a hospital representative and convinced them to apply after a colleague, Levi Lovitos, a radiologic technologist at the BPH told them he already has paid a placement fee and was scheduled to report to work in Singapore.

“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.

But Noveno, in a statement to this reporter, denied recruiting the three nurses saying she was only helping the applicants. She cited that a recruiter named Lina Ng is the person who should return the money.

The nurses said they belatedly realized that the offer of direct hiring to Singapore was “too good to be true” and a fraud.

Ormillada said that the alleged delays in placement and interviews prompted him and two of his 11 colleagues who have paid placement fees to withdraw their application. He cited a health problem as his reason.

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, paid P125,000 each.

Ormillada said after they signified their intention to withdraw in August 2010 they were promised that their money would be returned not later than October 15, 2010. But not a single peso was returned.

In his prepared incident report, Ormillada said Noveno told him in March 2010 that the hospital showed interest in his application and that he and other applicants were scheduled for interview in June of the same year.

Noveno, however, reportedly told them to pay P120,000 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, Noveno called him to acknowledge receipt of the money and told him that she had paid the balance of P30,000 for the meantime.

In April, Noveno called Ormillada to inform him that the ministry had approved his work permit. He said he requested a copy of the work permit to show to his parents but received nothing.

In May, Lovitos took a leave of absence from the BPH for his interview in Singapore. Noveno also informed Ormillada of his own interview on June 16, 2010 and that Lovitos had passed his.

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

But Ormillada said his June schedule was cancelled because, according to Noveno, the Singapore hospital chief nurse was on a foreign trip.

Another applicant, Bryan Troy Sarausa, was able to fly to Singapore in the last week of June as scheduled but no interview took place. Instead, she found out that Noveno was not connected with the hospital which she claimed she represented.

Sarausa added that Noveno asked him to tell others that the interview pushed through even if it didn’t. In July, fearing that they might have been tricked, he told Ormillada that no interview took place.

In August 2010, Ormillada, Sarausa, and Gloria Anne Cabaron, another applicant who paid P82,000 in placement fee, decided to withdraw. But no money was returned despite Noveno’s supposed promise to give back to the nurses the amounts they had paid.

A search in the internet showed that the recruitment agency Noveno claimed as owned by a certain Lina Ng was non-existent. The applicants later found out that the recruiter also has no recruitment papers.

BPH-Maramag chief nurse Eppie Lim Enguito said the hospital never had a hand in the recruitment. She said she helped the nurses in their decision to withdraw from their application, adding she advised them against transacting with the suspect.

Enguito said she was not spared from the controversy as her signature was forged in a certificate of employment submitted by the recruiter to the Singapore Nursing Board. She said the certification attached to one of the applicant’s documents contained some misrepresentations.

In her statement, Noveno insisted that nothing irregular happened and that Ng intended to return the money, which was deposited in her (Noveno’s) bank account.

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

On August 23, 2010, Noveno met with Ormillada and other applicants in a restaurant in Valencia City. As quoted by Ormillada, she insisted she worked at Mt. Elizabeth.

The BPH Maramag Grievance Committee investigated the possible involvement of Lovitos in the supposed illegal recruitment operation. Lovitos allegedly admitted to have lied and cried in the hearing. Ormillada, however, said that Lovitos has remained an employee of the hospital.

The group has requested the provincial government to investigate but no action has been taken yet.

The nurses also filed a complaint at the National Bureau of Investigation in November 2010 against Lovitos and Noveno. But after more than a month, the NBI told them their document was lost, Ormillada said.

A television reporter who interviewed them never aired their story, he said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)