Migrante mulls OFW permits suspension as band-aid solution, calls for immediate abolition of OEC

photo by UNIFIL-Migrante

Migrante International criticized the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) latest issuance suspending the processing of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) saying that it is another “band-aid solution” to a longstanding problem and called for the immediate abolition of the “useless and money-making government exaction.”

Last November 9, DOLE Sec. Silvestre Bello III issued Department Order No. 185 Series of 2017 (DO 185) suspending “the acceptance and processing of all new applicants for OECs for all OFWs, including direct hire workers.” It will take effect tomorrow, November 13 and will last until December 1. According to Bello, the suspension is due to “persistent reports” of workers becoming victims of illegal recruitment. Around 75,000 aspiring OFWs are expected to be affected by the suspension.

“Bold and momentous as it may seem, DO 185 is but a band-aid solution to the rampant illegal recruitment practices that DOLE is fully aware of. It does not address the root causes of illegal recruitment and human trafficking. Unscrupulous recruitment agencies and employers will only find a way around this Order and tie OFWs to more exploitative arrangements,” said Arman Hernando, Spokesperson of Migrante International.

Hernando asserted that DOLE should not just penalize the corrupt government officials and reorganize the POEA. Their identities should be disclosed to the public including the names of the individuals and business entities that they are coddling, and be ordered to pay all their victims.

Migrante also challenged DOLE to “immediately and completely” abolish the OEC before the year ends.

“Now it has become clearer that OEC is but a useless and ‘legalized kotong’ scheme of the government. It has become a tool of officials to amass ill-gotten wealth and let labor exportation businesses to exploit and profit from OFWs. It must be abolished now,” asserted Hernando.

Migrante argued that if the government is truly sincere in curbing illegal recruitment and human trafficking, it should genuinely address issues that would stop forced migration and put an end to the policy of labor export. ###