Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Sunday licensed recruitment agencies are now required to assist applicants for overseas jobs who were stranded locally due to quarantine restrictions.
Bello said the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has approved separate resolutions, one of which directed all private recruitment agencies (PRAs) to help their stranded applicants.
In Governing Board Resolution No. 11, private recruitment agencies are ordered to act on issues or complaints brought to their attention and to closely monitor and to submit report on the status and condition of their respective processed OFWs whose deployments were deferred on the account of community quarantine restriction.
POEA also instructed PRAs to help overseas employment applicants currently housed in their accommodations and those who were promised or assured employment assistance.
“All PRAs are directed to assist the locally stranded individuals, which shall include but not limited to, temporary accommodation or shelter, food, COVID-19 test, and transportation back to their respective provinces,” Bello said.
He added that non-compliance with the reportorial requirement, willful neglect, or failure by the licensed recruitment and manning agencies to provide assistance without just cause will warrant their suspension and other sanctions the POEA may deem necessary.
The Labor chief said the other resolution allowed the withdrawal of their escrow deposits in excess of P1 million.
Bello, who is the chair of the POEA board, said in order to provide relief to legitimate manpower exporters, their payment of additional escrow deposit has been suspended for two years to help them cope with the impact of the pandemic.
In Governing Board Resolution No. 10, licensed agencies will no longer be required to make additional escrow deposits, with those with no more than 30 pending recruitment violation cases qualified to request for the withdrawal of their deposits.
But the withdrawal may be allowed only provided that they post a surety bond for two years equivalent to the amount of the additional escrow deposit requested to be withdrawn as guaranteed by the insurance company.