DOLE suspends processing of OFW overseas employment certificates

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 11) — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Friday suspended the processing of Overseas Employment Certificate applications following "persistent reports" of illegal recruitment of overseas FIlipino workers (OFW).

No new OEC applications will be accepted or processed from November 13 to December 1, as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) probes anomalous recruitment schemes, it said in a press release.

Department Order No. 185 covers all OFWs.

However, workers hired by international organizations; members of diplomatic corps, including royal families; and sea-based recruitment agencies, are excluded from the suspension.

According to DOLE, the move serves as a safety measure to protect OFWs from being exploited.

"We are taking this important action in view of the persistent reports of illegal recruitment activities including direct hires, and in order to protect the public from the pernicious activities of certain unscrupulous individuals preying on our OFWs," Bello said in a press release.

DOLE will create an investigative team to prove and give recommendations on the matter.

Last April, DOLE temporarily stopped issuing OECs to direct hires after it learned some Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) employees were extorting money from those seeking exemptions from the direct hire ban.

The 15-day suspension, which takes effective November 13, may be extended depending on the need, DOLE said.