I am one of the repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who left my employer abroad because he was not providing me with sufficient food and humane place to stay. After two months of being here in the Philippines after repatriation, I received a notice from the PaOEA that the agency who helped me with my employment has filed a baseless complaint for abandonment of work. What am I going to do with the complaint because I am already scheduled to leave for another work abroad through another agency? How can the PAO help me with my problem?
Dear E. Cruz,
An Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) may be subjected to disciplinary action by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) based on any pre-employment offenses and offenses during employment. The offenses during employment under the POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land-based Overseas Workers are as follows: (1) Commission of a felony or crime punishable by Philippine Laws or by the laws of the host country; (2) Unjustified breach of employment contract; (3) Embezzlement of company funds or monies and/or properties of a fellow worker entrusted for delivery to kin or relatives in the Philippines; and (4) Violation/s of the sacred practices of the host country. Abandonment of work is not one of the specific provisions mentioned under the aforesaid rules. However, it may be connected with the breach of contract of employment considering that an employee who abandons his work has violated the period agreed upon for work (Section 1, Rule 3, Part VII, POEA Rules and Regulations).
In connection therewith, a respondent worker subject of a pending complaint for disciplinary action shall be disqualified from overseas employment (Section 6, Rule 3, Part VII POEA Rules and Regulations). Thus, as a consequence of the complaint against you, the POEA may not permit you to work abroad because of the pending complaint. However, you may be temporarily cleared through the submission of an Answer to the complaint to the POEA following Section 7, Rule 3, Part VII of the POEA Rules and Regulations which provides that “upon filing of an answer, the respondent worker shall be qualified for overseas employment without prejudice to the outcome of the investigation whereby the proper penalty may be imposed”.
The Public Attorney’s Office may help you with the preparation of your Answer for your temporary clearance with the POEA provided that you qualify under the Office’s rules and regulations. Accordingly, the PAO may only assist indigent client or who are unemployed or those, who being gainfully employed, have net income not exceeding P14,000 if residing in Metro Manila, P13,000 if residing in other cities, and P12,000 if residing in other places (Section 3, Article II, PAO Operations Manual). But, the PAO can no longer assist you once your income or resources improve and you no longer qualify for continued assistance (Section 4, Article VIII, PAO Operations Manual).
Please be reminded that the above legal opinion is solely based on our appreciation of the problem that you have stated. The opinion may vary when other facts are elaborated therein.