The Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are the new heroes of the country. With limited opportunities available in the Philippines, so many Filipinos are looking for greener pastures abroad.
But then, illegal recruiters prey upon the hopeful. Filipinos sell their family’s prized possessions and properties. Or worst, incur usurious debts just to pay the fees. This has to stop!
Last Friday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III temporarily suspends the processing of Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC). This is under Department Order 185-17 entitled: “Suspension of acceptance and processing of all new application for Overseas Employment Certificate for all Overseas Filipino Workers including direct hire workers“.
The suspension spans 15 working days dated November 13 to December 1, 2017.
The OEC is a document issued by the POEA for OFWs. It is a proof that the holder is a legitimate worker abroad.
It is also a requirement for OFW perks. OEC holders are exempted from travel taxes and airport terminal fees when bound to the country they work in.
It is to note that returnee OFWs are exempted from this halt. People hired by international organizations, diplomatic corps, sea-based recruitment agencies, balik-manggagawa (workers on leave), and OECs that have been signed by Labor Secretary Bello and Undersecretary Bernard Olalia are all exempted.
It is estimated that 75,000 hopefuls will be put on hold when the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) cleanses the ranks from those ravening our Kababayans through illegal recruitment.
It is due to the complaints of our OFWs. It is estimated that 80-90% of direct hires are illegal recruits. And some corrupt POEA Employees earn PHP 250,000 from the issuance of OECs to illegal recruiters.
“Yung ating mga kababayan po na nabiktima po ng ganitong maling paraan, pumunta lang po kayo sa aming opisina, sabihin ang mga detalye, at kami po ay handang tumulong sa inyo upang malinis po natin ang ating sistema,” Olalia said.
[To our fellow citizens which were victimized by this unlawful practice, please go to our office and narrate the details. We are ready to help you to cleanse our system.]
To add, qualified applicants are expected to get their OECs after 3 working days. But with the agency’s current state, OFWs take weeks or even months before they get their OECs.
With this suspension, the POEA will have its much-needed overhaul. This “cleansing” might get extended if the need arises. I hope this all works out for the interest of our nation.