The Department of Labor and Employment on Friday announced that it will temporarily halt the processing of new applications for Overseas Employment Certificates from November 13 to December 1.
The processing of new OECs was suspended "due to persistent reports of illegal recruitment," Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told reporters.
At least 90 percent of direct hires are victims of illegal recruitment schemes, he said.
Labor officials said a team has been formed to investigate allegations that several officials earned about P250,000 for granting OECs to unqualified workers, labor officials said.
The department is also planning to reshuffle Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) officials to ensure that illegal workers will not receive OECs.
The OEC, a document issued by the POEA to Filipinos working abroad, is proof that the holder is a legitimate overseas worker.
OEC holders are also exempted from travel taxes and airport terminal fees when flying to and from the country they work in.
Last August, OFWs slammed POEA for the slow processing of OECs.
Under the labor rules, OECs should be released to qualified applicants within 3 days, but OFWs said it took them weeks, if not months, before their documents were released.
POEA Undersecretary Bernard Olalia earlier said the deluge of Filipinos wanting to work abroad has resulted into backlogs in the labor department.
- report from Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News.