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Tuesday, March 31, 2020
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Bello orders probe of HK POLO execs

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd has ordered the investigation of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Hong Kong for awarding a contract to a company with questionable credentials.

At the urging of Lilac Center for Public Interest (Lilac), Bello created a fact-finding team to look into allegations of improprieties in the selection of a new service provider said to be done in haste without any public bidding and prior consultation.

Under the contract, Polaris Tools Ltd. (Polaris) will provide an online system for processing, welfare protection and data storage for overseas placement to be used by overseas Filipino workers, employers and employment agencies.

For this reason, the POLO in Hong Kong terminated the services of EmployEasy Ltd., provider of the current system, on Dec. 5, 2018. POLO Hong Kong Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre cited the need to improve the system as the reason.

Documents showed that Polaris was incorporated on February 19, less than two weeks before it was awarded the contract in late February. The firm has only a registered capital of 10,000 shares worth 100 Hong Kong dollars and its Chief Executive Officer, Jaime Deverall, is 23 years old. The contract was signed on March 7.

According to Lilac Head Nicon Fameronag, the contract had many loopholes. He said it was not clear if the contract adhered to the requirements of Republic Act 10173, or the “Data Privacy Act of 2012,” and the government’s procurement process.

“There is something very fishy in this transaction. How can a newly minted company clinch such a contract in such a short period?” Fameronag pointed out.

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