• Lawmaker asks: Did OFW money go to IS?

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    MONEY from overseas Filipino workers bound for Kuwait may have ended up financing the Islamic State (IS), a lawmaker claimed on Friday.

    Rep. John Bertiz of ACTS OFW party-list raised the alarm as the alleged IS member Husayn Al-Dhafiri nabbed by authorities on Thursday had the same name as the owner of Winston Q8 Certification Solutions Inc.—a company that identifies which clinics should service overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for Kuwait for pre-employment medical examination.

    Bertiz noted that Al-Dhafiri and wife Rahaf Zina were nabbed in the address of the Winston Q8 office in Taguig City.

    “Our OFWs cannot proceed to work in Kuwait if they will not pay Winston Q8 first, even if the law states that OFWs are free to choose any medical clinic to their liking. It worries us that our OFWs have shelled out so much money to this Winston Q8 firm which has an operations manager who has the same name of the arrested alleged [IS] member,” Bertiz told reporters.

    Winston Q8 charges P2,900 to P5,800 per OFW for pre-employment tests even as a Health department circular only allows a P2,200 fee per OFW.

    Bertiz said Winston Q8 conducts its business in the Philippines without accreditation from the Department of Health and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

    The Kuwaiti embassy in Manila sent a note verbale to the Department of Foreign Affairs just last week requesting that the firm be allowed to continue operations, even if Winston Q8 has been operating since September 2016, he said.

    Winston Q8 is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and lists a certain “Bandar S SH F Al-
    Dhaflri” as one of its incorporators.

    “The Justice department has to find out if these people are one and the same. Also, where’s the OFW money paid to the Winston Q8? Is our OFWs’ money being used for Winston Q8’s operation also being used for terror activities? Is the money still here in the country? Is Winston Q8’s operation sanctioned by Kuwait’s Ministry of Health?” Bertiz asked.

    The Department of Health has ordered the suspension of at least eight clinics that Winston Q8 did business with: Abakkus Medical Diagnostic Services; Agoncillo Medical Clinic; Ruben C. Bartolome, M.S. Clinic Inc.; Global Medical Clinic Inc.; Orion Medical and Diagnostic Center; Our Health Medical and Diagnostic Center; Our Lady of All Nations X-Ray Laboratory, Medical and Dental Clinic; and San Marcelino Medical Clinic.

    “If our OFWs refuse to pay Winston Q8 and decide to go other clinics not preferred by Winston Q8, they can’t go to Kuwait to work. That is illegal but it has been happening. It is puzzling why other government agencies are silent about this,” Bertiz said.

    “Since Winston Q8 has been operating since September last year, it could have already amassed millions from our OFWs. The Justice department should be able to find out where this money has been since,” Bertiz added.

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