MANILA, Philippines - Vice-President Jejomar Binay on Monday said he supports a Senate inquiry into alleged anomalies within the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
In a statement, Binay, who is the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers' Concerns, said all steps must be taken to protect the welfare of the nation's migrant workers.
"The national interest clearly lies with the protection of the rights and welfare of our overseas workers. If there are procedural or administrative gaps and even acts of collusion or connivance to the detriment of our OFWs, then let the truth come out," he said.
The clamor for a Senate inquiry came from civil society groups that were alarmed when a complainant recently filed human trafficking charges against certain POEA personnel with the Department of Justice.
The complaint said 3 recruitment agencies whose licenses were ordered canceled were still able to recruit because the penalty was not immediately carried out by the respondents.
As a result, the complainant, who is also an employee of the POEA, said that the workers deployed by the three agencies suffered abuse and exploitation including forced labor trafficking.
The respondents, however, claimed that the complaint was meant to harass those who protested an unlawful order meant to restructure and reorganize the POEA during the term of former administrator Jennifer Manalili.
Senate Resolution No. 329 directs the Blue Ribbon committee and other appropriate Senate committees to look into complaints of anomalies and alleged corruption within the POEA which may have led to the exploitation of overseas Filipino workers.
The Senate resolution stressed that the global demand for Filipino workers must be balanced with the need to safeguard their rights through duly-verified job contracts, carefully-screened foreign employers, and professionally competent as well as honest licensed recruitment agencies.
"At the core of this controversy is the welfare and protection of every overseas worker who relies on the POEA to ensure that his or her job contract and foreign employer have been duly verified and rigorously screened," the resolution, authored by Sen. Antonio Trillanes, said.