CLARK FREEPORT -- Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has required licensed recruitment agencies to assist applicants for overseas jobs who were stranded locally due to quarantine restrictions.
And 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.
Bello said the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has approved late last week separate resolutions directing all private recruitment agencies (PRAs) to help their stranded applicants, and allowing the withdrawal of their escrow deposits in excess of P1 million. Bello is chair of the POEA board.
In Governing Board Resolution No. 11, PRAs 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.
Non-compliance with the reportorial requirement, wilful 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.
In GB Resolution No. 10, meanwhile, 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that they post a surety bond for two years equivalent to the amount of the additional escrow deposit requested to be withdrawn as guaranteed by the insurance company.
This resolution suspends for two years the further implementation of Sections 15(b) and 16(b), Rule II, Part II of the POEA Revised Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land based OFWs and Seafarers, respectively.
However, only the amount of additional escrow deposit in excess of P1 million shall be released to the agency, Bello said.
Under the POEA rules and regulations, a licensed recruitment agency or manning agency is required to maintain an escrow agreement with a commercial bank authorized to handle trust accounts by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
The minimum amount of the escrow deposit is P1 million and the purpose of which is to address future liabilities arising from possible claims of workers due to employment contract violations.
Prior to the issuance of Governing Board Resolution No. 10, agencies with pending recruitment violation case/s before the POEA are required to have an additional escrow deposit amount depending on the number of pending case/s.
Licensed agencies who wish to withdraw their additional escrow deposit must submit the following requirements to the POEA: bank certificate representing the total amount of escrow deposit; certification from the Adjudication Office indicating the number of pending recruitment violation case/s; Board Resolution/Partnership Resolution (for corporation or partnership) or Letter of Intent (for sole proprietorship) on the decision to withdraw the additional escrow deposit; surety bond for two years; and Affidavit of Undertaking.
The requirements must be submitted to the POEA Licensing Branch through email address, firstname.lastname@example.org and the original copies through the designated drop box located at the POEA lobby.
Once the POEA Administrator approves the request for the withdrawal of the additional escrow deposit, the Licensing and Regulation Office, through the Licensing Branch, shall then authorize the escrow agent to release the additional escrow deposit to the licensed recruitment or manning agency.