MANILA, Philippines - As quietly as he was appointed, new Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Hans Cacdac officially assumed the post yesterday.
Malacañang had confirmed that POEA administrator Carlos Cao Jr. had been replaced, but referred to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz the task of explaining why he was given the boot.
Cacdac took over the post after a simple turnover ceremony attended by POEA directors and several senior Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) officials.
Baldoz and Cao both did not attend the event.
As head of POEA, Cacdac said he would work with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for the forging of new bilateral agreements that would open new opportunities and provide protection for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“It is about time we increase the number of our bilateral agreements with other countries to protect the welfare of our OFWs,” he said.
He noted that under existing law, the country could only deploy Filipino workers to countries with existing bilateral agreements with the Philippine government.
The new POEA chief vowed to fast-track the processing of overseas employment certificates (OEC) and intensify the campaign against human trafficking.
Cacdac also expressed his full support for proposed measures providing additional protection for OFWs abroad, such as the International Labor Organization (ILO) convention for household service workers.
The recruitment industry welcomed Cacdac’s appointment and vowed to work closer with the agency in an effort to deploy more workers abroad.
Recruitment leader Victor Fernandez said industry members expect faster processing of overseas employment documents from the POEA with the assumption of Cacdac.
“Attorney Cacdac has the clear vision and proper experience in the management of the POEA, having been a former deputy administrator and with his stint as undersecretary of the DOLE,” Fernandez explained.
However, a group of OFWs expressed disappointment over the ouster of Cao for still unclear reasons.
Migrante International chair Garry Martinez said Cao has so far been the most accessible, sincere and open-minded head of POEA.
“He was clearly new to the job but we appreciate his sincerity and good intentions for OFWs,” Martinez said, noting that Cao backed their efforts to improve the lives of OFWs.
He said politics could be behind Cao’s ouster since the former POEA chief declared that under his leadership, the agency cancelled the permits of 300 recruitment agencies.
Until his last day in office, Cao said he had not received an official letter from Malacañang and the DOLE concerning his removal from the post.
However, Cacdac already took his oath of office as new POEA chief before Baldoz weeks ago.
Labor officials also insisted Cao has been officially informed that he will be serving only until the end of December and that Cacdac will be taking over.
Cao said he has no rancor, but merely wants to be officially informed of his removal so that he can step down with dignity.
Palace mum on replacement
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Baldoz had already made an announcement about the changes.
“We just wanted to get confirmation. We received confirmation that he was replaced. But apparently, Secretary Baldoz already made the announcement,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda pointed out that change was part of being in government service.
“Being in government, it’s always in a state of flux. It always depends – if there will be improvements, there will be changes in personnel. It’s not something surprising. It’s something that you can expect, working for government is not exactly an easy thing to do. You will receive a lot of work at the same time you have a number of difficulties that you face,” he said.
He added that it was part of the normal course for government service, especially for appointees.
Lacierda could not categorically say, however, what were the reasons why Cao was replaced, saying, “We have to ask Secretary Baldoz.”