MIGRANTE affiliates in the Middle East have received information and complaints against Philippine labor and welfare officials and staff who are allegedly working for foreign recruitment agencies (FRAs).

A FRA is a counter-part of the Philippine-based recruitment agency in which the latter can’t deploy an OFW without a FRA as per the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) agency-to-agency deployment arrangement.

The complaints came from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) victim of abuse and labor right violations.

The OFWs came to know that these labor and welfare officials have been working for foreign recruitment agencies as the latter themselves negotiated with the OFW victims during case dialog and negotiations. The OFWs have asked why there were no representatives of the FRAs amid several meetings set with the FRAs. The distress OFWs alleged that they were eventually told by these labor and welfare officials that they work for and on behalf of the FRAs. This could be an under-the-table arrangement between PH labor-welfare officials and the FRAs.

On a separate information and complaints recently received by Migrante officers, two welfare officers were named allegedly have been working for FRAs. Both were staff of POLO-Owwa Eastern Region Operations (POLO-OWWA-ERO) based in Saudi Arabia. While the other POLO-OWWA staff is based in Doha, Qatar. (We intentionally withheld their names but will send it to their respective Labor Attache as head of labor mission).

The act of conniving and working for FRA by Philippine labor and welfare officials is unethical. There was an issue of conflict of interest as we seriously doubt if the Philippine labor and welfare official can perform his or her duty to provide assistance to the distress OFWs while at the same time he or she is working for the FRA. This act is violative of the DoLE Code of Conduct issued through Administrative Order No. 476, series of 2010.

These are serious allegations that warrant thorough investigation by the Department of Labor and Employment. Thus, we call on DoLE chief Rosalinda Baldoz and the head of the POEA and OWWA to not just issue a warning but also to conduct an impartial investigation and immediately file an administrative proceedings against its erring officials.

We also urged the House committe on overseas workers affairs (COWA) and the Senate labor committee to conduct a separate investigation in aid of legislation.

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator