Labor Secretary Walden Bello 3rd has ordered the temporary suspension of the acceptance and processing of all new applications for overseas employment certificates (OEC) amid persistent reports of rampant illegal recruitment activities of land-based Filipino migrant workers.
Bello’s directive issued on Friday covered all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), including those who are hired directly.
Exempted from the coverage of the suspension were workers hired by international organizations and members of the diplomatic corps, which include members of the royal families, and sea-based recruitment agencies.
The order will be implemented by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for compliance by all land-based private recruitment agencies.
It will take effect from November 13 to December 1 subject to extension as circumstances may require.
The departure of an estimated 75,000 would-be OFWs will be put on hold during this period as DOLE launches an investigation to “cleanse” the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) of employees benefiting from illegal recruitment.
“We are taking this important action in a view of the persistent reports of illegal recruitment activities including direct hires, and in order to protect the public from the pernicious activities of certain unscrupulous individuals preying on the OFWs,” Bello said in a statement.
“I am creating a team that will conduct an investigation to get to the root of this malfeasance and they will submit their official findings and recommendations,” he added.
OFWs who wish to return home during this period can still do so, though Olalia warned that the balik-manggagawa program will be assessed as there are reports of new OFWs being deployed as balik-manggagawas.