Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd has lifted the suspension of the issuance of overseas employment certificates (OECs) to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are seeking exemptions from the ban on direct hiring.
Through Administrative Order (AO) 155-A, Series of 2017, Bello directed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) to resume the processing and issuance of OECs, which are one of the requirements under the rules and regulations of POEA on the recruitment and employment of OFWs to ensure protection and proper documentation.
AO 155-A supercedes AO 155, which Bello issued earlier ordering a stop to the processing and issuance of OECs for all directly hired OFWs until further orders.
He lifted the suspension after conclusion of investigation of reported involvement of POEA employees in alleged irregularities in the processing of documents for directly hired workers.
Fixers in a POEA division supposedly have been extorting about P15,000 to P17,000 from each applicant to process the latter’s exemption documents.
Bello said he has ordered the reshuffle of some directors in the POEA and will continue to reorganize the ranks of division chiefs.
“We must ensure that our OFWs are protected when they leave the country. We should prevent them from being victims of anomalous schemes,” he added.
Section 123 of the 2016 Revised Rules and Regulations on the Recruitment and Deployment of OFWs of the POEA states, ‘No employer shall directly hire an overseas Filipino worker for overseas employment.’
Section 124, however, provides the exemption to include those employers who are close relatives of the OFW, members of the diplomatic corps, international organizations, heads of state, government officials with the rank of at least deputy minister and other employers permitted by the Labor secretary.