LABOR Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd has stripped the administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) of the power to approve and renew overseas recruitment licenses.
Bello on Thursday issued Administrative Order (AO) 241, recalling a 1998 Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) directive that gave the task to the POEA chief.
AO 241 gives back to the DoLE the full authority on the licensing of overseas placement agencies and other matters governing overseas employment.
It states that “all processed applications on the issuance and renewal of licenses; authorities to engage in the recruitment and placement of workers for overseas employment; the grant of exemption from the ban on direct hiring; and the grant exemptions from the age requirements for overseas workers shall be forwarded to the Office of the Secretary for approval or denial of the applications.”
“While all applications relative to the foregoing matters shall be filed with and processed by the POEA in accordance with existing rules and procedures, the said Administrative Order No.144 Series of 1998 is hereby recalled,” Bello said.
Bello explained that he issued the new AO to ensure that only the operation of legitimate and responsible recruitment agencies are allowed, to safeguard the welfare and security of overseas workers and their families and to develop and effectively implement programs on the deployment of migrant workers.
Earlier, Bello suspended the issuance of overseas employment certificates for workers seeking exemptions on the ban on direct hires, after some POEA employees were linked to alleged irregularities in the processing of documents for directly hired workers. Reports said fixers in a POEA division have been extorting P15,000 to 17,000 from each applicant to process their exemption documents.
Bello lifted the order following an investigation into the reported extortion activities inside the POEA, which led to the reshuffle of some directors and division chiefs.