Bello, Mama-o 'war of orders' concerning POEA reshuffle heats up

Published May 28, 2022, 6:34 PM

by Ariel Fernandez

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) slammed Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III for what it described as intervention on his order to reassign officials of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) as part of the establishment of the new department.

Bello earlier blocked the memorandum issued by DMW Sec. Abdullah Mama-o for the reassignment of 16 officials of the POEA, arguing that the latter has no power to do since the newly-created department for the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) is not yet fully constituted.

Bello issued the letter blocking Mama-o’s order to POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia. He argued that the POEA remains to be an independent agency.

Based on the law that created the DMW, POEA will be under the new department.

But Mama-o said Bello has no legal basis to block his order.

He argued that the law itself, the Republic Act 11641 which created the DMW, stated that the consolidation of all the agencies that will be under the DMW, including POEA, shall take effect when the law took effect on February 3 this year.

Citing the provisions of the law and a Supreme Court ruling, Mama-o said Bello has “no business giving orders to any and all the officers and personnel of POEA.”

Mama-o also said Bello could not use the argument raised by Executive Sec. Salvador Medialdea in pointing out that the DMW has no authority yet on other government agencies dealing with OFWs since it is the Department of Justice Secretary who has the authority to do so.

“You cited the opinions of the Executive Secretary. I strongly disagree. For the Administrative Code (EO 292 of 1987, Book 4, Chap 14, Secs 66 and 67) provide that the Secretary of Justice is the one authorized to settle disputes between and among executive agencies, not the Executive Secretary.

The Executive Secretary, Mama-o said, could not overstep the power of the DOJ Secretary.