Top-to-bottom revamp at POEA

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The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) will undergo a major revamp due to persistent reports of illegal recruitment and other anomalies involving officials and personnel of the agency, a Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) official said.

Undersecretary Dominador Say said on Nov. 24 that they were investigating reports of illegal recruitment by unscrupulous individuals victimizing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), including direct hire workers.

“Last January, nagkaroon ng reshuffle sa mga senior officials sa POEA. But now, this is a more in-depth reshuffling and revamp. We are doing this top to bottom and there will be some officials who will be removed from their posts while they undergo investigation,” Say said.

He said POEA employees and officials who are directly involved in the processing of OFWs’ documents will be temporarily removed while the investigation was underway.

Say also said that all security guards and janitorial staff at the POEA will also be replaced as a majority of them were “reportedly being used in the conduct of anomalous activities,” particularly in the processing and issuance of Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC).

He said the DOLE also ordered the installation of CCTV cameras in all offices and other areas of the POEA, except in comfort rooms.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier suspended the application and processing of OEC to all OFWs, including direct hires, from November 13 until December 1 to give way to the investigation.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary Bernard Olalia, who is also the OIC of the POEA, clarified the coverage of the suspension of the application and processing of OEC.

“Balik-Manggagawa and workers who already have stamped working visas are exempted from the suspension, including workers who are being hired by international organizations, members of diplomatic corps, and members of royal families, as well as sea-based OFWs,” Olalia said.

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