MANILA - The Department of Labor and Employment has lifted the suspension on the processing of directly hired overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as it ended its investigation on allegedly anomalous activities at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he decided to lift the suspension as the investigation has identified those involved and with a reorganization already underway.
"I recalled the suspension of direct hiring of OFWs right after our investigation. Minabuti ko na imbestigahan na muna, at ngayong tapos na ang imbestigation, alam na namin kung sino ang mga involved, at nagkakaroon ng reorganization within the agency," Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in the statement.
Bello temporarily suspended the processing and issuance of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) for all direct-hired OFWs in April amid reports that some POEA employees illegally collected fees from OFWs seeking to be exempt from a ban on direct hiring.
In the statement, Bello said the suspension was for the OFWs' own protection and was intended to prevent them from falling victims POEA personnel who might take advantage of them.
Bello also directed the POEA and the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) to resume the processing and issuance of the certificates, which is required under POEA rules on the recruitment and employment of overseas workers.
Section 123 of POEA's 2016 Revised Rules and Regulations on the Recruitment and Deployment of OFWs states: "No employer shall directly hire an overseas Filipino worker for overseas employment."
But Section 124 exempts employers who are close relatives of the OFW, members of the diplomatic corps, international organizations, heads of state and government officials with the rank of at least deputy minister, and other employers permitted by the Labor Secretary.