DOLE suspends issuance of OECs for Filipino workers

Patty Pasion

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DOLE suspends issuance of OECs for Filipino workers
(UPDATED) Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III says the suspension from November 13 to December 1 is due to reports of illegal recruitment and corruption in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) suspended the processing and issuance of overseas employment certificates (OECs) to outgoing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), saying the government will first look into allegations of illegal recruitment.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Friday, November 10, that the suspension will be in effect for 15 working days from November 13 to December 1. OFWs who will submit their applications on Friday won’t be affected by the order.

The following are also exempted from the order:

  • OFWs on leave or those under Balik Manggagawa
  • Outgoing OFWs whose OEC applications are already pending before the office of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Officer-in-Charge Bernard Olalia
  • Seafarers and workers hired by international agencies and heads of state

According to Bello, the suspension is due to “persistent reports” of workers becoming victims of illegal recruitment. (WATCH: How OFWs can avoid illegal recruitment)

“Eighty to 90% of direct hires are victims of illegal recruitment… In the POEA, there are people there who are earning as much as a quarter of a million [pesos] for the issuance of OECs,” he said. (READ: ‘Slow’ gov’t process makes OFWs fall for illegal recruiters)

Bello has instructed a team headed by Olalia to conduct a probe into these reports. After the investigation, the labor chief is planning to reshuffle POEA personnel to curb corruption.

“We will reshuffle the POEA,” said Bello. (READ: Are zero placement fees for OFWs scam or solution?)

Based on the POEA’s estimates, some 75,000 aspiring OFWs may be affected by this suspension.

The Federation of Free Workers lauded DOLE’s action as “a good stop-gap measure”. But the labor organization stressed there are possible effects on aspiring OFWs. 

“We hope the new OFW applicants will not lose out in the process if the suspension of OEC issuance will result in the lapse of their job placements, as some of them have sold or pawned land, property and other things of value just to raise the amount needed for placement,” said FFW Vice President Julius Cainglet. 

They also called on DOLE to swiftly act on the investigation and cleansing of the POEA. –

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Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.