The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) suspended the processing of overseas employment certificates (OECs) because of continued illegal recruitment.
In a press briefing on Friday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the suspension would be in effect for 15 working days, beginning Nov. 13, and also apply to direct-hire overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“We are taking this important action in view of persistent reports of illegal recruitment activities including direct-hires,” Bello said.
The OEC is required of all departing OFWs to prove that their exit is valid and legal.
But Dole Department Order No. 185 exempts Filipinos working for international organizations and members of the diplomatic corps.
Also exempted were sea-based recruitment agencies and OFWs hired by members of royal families.
The order said a team would investigate the cases of illegal recruitment. It would be headed by Labor Undersecretaries Joel Maglungsod and Bernard Olalia.
Bello said he received reports that 80 to 90 percent of direct-hire OFWs were victims of illegal recruitment.
He said some officials of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration would be reshuffled, too.
According to Bello, the suspension of OEC processing, which was to end on Dec. 1, could be extended “as circumstances require.”