THE new Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) Labor Laws Compliance System, or LLCS, the landmark reform on labor inspection has covered establishments recruiting and deploying Filipino workers abroad, both sea-based and land-based.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said this “inclusive and expansive” system demonstrates that the administration of President Benigno Aquino III is resolute in its efforts to uphold the rights of overseas Filipino workers by ensuring that recruitment and manning agencies are labor laws compliant.

"In the maiden year of the full implementation of the LLCS, 958 of the 1,214 recruitment and manning agencies with valid licenses as of 31 March 2015 were subjected to assessment by our Labor Laws Compliance Officers (LLCOs)," Baldoz said, citing a report of Administrative Hans Leo J. Cacdac of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

"Of the 958 agencies, 944 were assessed under joint assessment; 13 under compliance visit; and one under occupational safety and health standards investigation," Baldoz said.

The labor chief said among the agencies assessed, 37 were issued with Certificates of Compliance (COC). The LLCS is a developmental approach to labor inspection that aims to propagate a culture of voluntary compliance among establishments and workplaces, through modalities such as joint assessment, compliance visit, occupational safety and health standards investigation, technical safety inspection, and special assessment or visit of establishments.

In his report, Cacdac said five LLCOs from the POEA licensing branch were accredited in May 2014 to complement the number of LLCOs performing assessment on overseas recruitment agencies and covered by a General Authority issued by the Secretary.

"To ensure that they are well-equipped for the task, the selected POEA inspectors/LLCOs attended a learning session on the rudiments of General Labor Standards (GLS) assessment in October 2014 facilitated by the Dole National Capital Region (Dole-NCR).

"I have also issued Office Order No. 55, Series of 2014, directing all POEA Inspectors/ LLCOs/ Enforcement Officers to strictly adhere to the existing regulations and expected core values and standards in the performance of their functions when conducting the assessment of agencies," Cacdac further said.

The POEA, in cooperation with the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC), and Dole-NCR also conducted a series of orientations to disseminate information on the new LLCS and to familiarize land-based and sea-based agencies on the requirements and processes of the LLCS. A total of 790 agencies, 507 of them land-based and 283 sea-based, attended our LLCS briefings," Cacdac added.

Also in 2014, a total of 152 Philippines-registered ships engaged in international voyages applied and have been issued the Declaration of Maritime Labor Compliance Part I, of which 125 were certified as Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) compliant.

It can be recalled that the Philippines is the 30th International Labor Organization (ILO) member-state to ratify MLC, 2006, dubbed the Seafarers’ International Bill of Rights.

“Given this unique characteristic of the Philippines as a flag State, a port State, and a labor supplying State under the treaty, it is but necessary that we, at the Dole, ensure the protection and welfare of our seafarers,” Baldoz noted.

Baldoz has instructed Cacdac to harmonize the LLCS with the proposed POEA Rules to ensure uniform implementation like agencies renewing their licenses shall be required to present their COC for General Labor Standards (GLS) and occupational safety and health standards (OSHS), issued by the concerned Dole Regional Office (Dole-RO); as well as COC for overseas employment issued by the POEA; the Dole-RO which has the jurisdiction over the place of business of licensed agencies shall undertake assessment as to their compliance with GLS and OSHS, where upon the request of POEA, they may also assess the agencies on the overseas employment aspect. The findings of LLCOs, complaints or requests for assistance filed before the Dole-RO against land-based and sea-based agencies shall be referred to POEA for appropriate action; and the Dole-RO shall oversee the conduct of assessment of the numerous branch offices of agencies located nationwide upon request of the POEA.

Findings and/or recommendations of LLCOs on compliance will be endorsed to the Dole Regional Director where the branch office is located.

The assessment of land-based or sea-based recruitment/manning agencies is conducted to ensure compliance with Department Order No. 130, series of 2013 or the rules and regulations on the employment of Filipino seafarers onboard Philippine registered ships engaged in international voyage; POEA Rules and Regulations; Republic Act No. 8042, or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, as amended by Republic Act No. 10022; and all relevant labor laws. (Press Release)