By William Depasupil Manila Times
The Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) has instituted counter-checking measures on departing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for Kuwait, to ensure that they are qualified and made no misrepresentation when they secured their overseas employment certificate (OEC).
Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello yesterday reiterated his instruction to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to strictly scrutinise the OECs issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) or Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) to all returning workers or balik-manggagawa who are exempted from the total deployment ban to Kuwait amid reports of misrepresentation by some Filipino workers.
“This is necessary to further ensure their security and welfare before going back to Kuwait,” Bello said.
Hundreds of skilled OFWs affected by the ban have reiterated their appeal to the Labour chief to exempt them from it since they are covered by a separate law for the private sector and need not be part of the proposed memorandum of understanding (MoU) on work policy that the DOLE is negotiating with Kuwait labour officials.
POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia earlier warned OFWs, specifically overseas first timers, against misrepresenting themselves as returning workers when applying for an OEC to circumvent the DOLE-issued guidelines on the total deployment ban to Kuwait.
Olalia also warned recruitment agencies from presenting false information or processing travel documents of newly-hired workers to make it appear that they were returning workers. Misrepresentation constitutes a criminal offence under Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 as amended by RA 10022.
A balik-manggagawa or returning worker refers to an OFW who has served or is serving his/employment contract and is returning to the same employer and the same job site.
It also refers to an Administrative Order 4A, the deployment ban covers only all types of workers being deployed for the first time for overseas employment in Kuwait, without distinction as to skill, profession or type of work.
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