By Leslie Ann G. Aquino
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has intensified its anti-illegal recruitment campaign through the online legal assistance program.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the POEA Legal Assistance Online platform is an avenue for those seeking legal assistance without the need to travel all the way to the agency’s main office.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, clients personally go to the POEA office in Ortigas to personally seek legal advice and counseling on a range of overseas employment issues.
“With limited transportation and mobility options, not only is the service convenient, it is also aligned with stay at home and community quarantine requirements,” said DOLE in a statement.
According to the Labor department, POEA Administrator Bernard P. Olalia already issued a memorandum circular outlining the guidelines for an intensified offering of legal assistance during this challenging time.
“The said Memorandum Circular was issued to ensure the timely and effective delivery of legal services in order to safeguard the rights and welfare of OFWs,” said DOLE.
“POEA advises overseas jobseekers, OFWs and their immediate families who would want to avail of free legal assistance to log-on to the POEA Legal Assistance online platform at legalassistance.poea.gov.ph or e-mail the Legal Assistance Division at [email protected],” added the department.
The DOLE said more than 620 clients have so far been served by POEA lawyers since the start of the community quarantine in mid-March.
Queries relate to contract violations, non-payment of wages and benefits, various forms of abuse, among others. Aside from legal advice, POEA lawyers also provided welfare assistance related to repatriation and the DOLE-AKAP (DOLE’s cash assistance program for OFWs).
Reports on illegal recruitment and recruitment violations were also handled and endorsed for proper investigation.