THE Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Friday, June 9, 2023, bared a list of 20 "mortal sins" for recruitment agencies that would lead to the cancellation of its license.

Speaking during the release of the new rules and regulations on the recruitment and employment of land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), DMW Secretary Susan Ople said they have been able to come up with a list of the most serious offenses.

"This list of 20 'cardinal sins' may lead to the cancellation of a recruitment agency’s license. This new set of rights-based rules will ensure better protection and empowerment of our OFWs," said Ople.

"The list of serious offenses was drawn up in consultation with various stakeholders," she added.

Included in the list are deploying a minor or a worker below the minimum age requirement; engaging in acts of gross misrepresentation for the purpose of securing a license or renewal thereof; engaging in an act of reprocessing workers through a job order that pertains to non-existent work, positions different from the actual overseas work, or a different principal/employer; engaging in an act of reprocessing workers through a job order that belongs to another agency; and engaging in the recruitment or placement of workers in jobs declared as harmful to life, public health, morality, human dignity, or the dignity of the Republic of the Philippines.

Also on the list are transferring or changing ownership or control of a single proprietorship licensed to engage in overseas employment; becoming an officer or member of the board of any corporation or partnership engaged directly or indirectly in the management of a travel agency; deploying workers, whose employment and travel documents were not processed by the DMW; allowing a non-Filipino citizen to head or manage a licensed recruitment agency; and allowing a foreign recruitment agency, principal, or employer to own and/or participate in the management and/or operations of a licensed Philippine recruitment agency.

Considered also as "mortal sins" are deploying a worker recruited by a non-Filipino citizen; allowing illegal agents, non-employees, or representatives or employees not duly acknowledged by the DMW to conduct recruitment and placement activities on behalf of the agency; charging or collecting placement fees for deployment to countries where the prevailing system does not allow the charging of such fees either by law, policy, or practice; passing on to the worker the fees and costs that are solely chargeable to the principal/employer; and refusing or unreasonably failing to act on any request for assistance leading to death, psychological impairment, sexual abuse, or maltreatment of the worker.

Completing the list are substituting or altering a processed employment contract without the approval of the DMW; imposing a compulsory and exclusive arrangement, whereby an OFW is required to undergo health examinations, training, seminar, instruction, or schooling of any kind only from specifically designated institutions, entities, or persons or medical clinics unless the cost is shouldered by the principal or licensed recruitment agency; imposing a compulsory and exclusive arrangement, whereby an OFW is required to avail of a loan from a specifically designated institution, entity, or person; committing all other acts constituting trafficking in persons; and directly or indirectly committing acts constituting graft and corrupt practices involving any official, employee, or personnel of the DMW.

But aside from the 20 "mortal sins," Ople said the new rules now require licensed recruitment agencies to employ a full-time and trained welfare desk officer (Wedo), who shall monitor and assist in the resolution of workers’ problems and complaints in their job site.

It also seeks to regulate the accommodations of recruitment agencies for its workers, the official said.

The DMW its new rules also extended the validity period of provisional licenses from two years to three years, while the validity of a regular license has been extended to six years from the previous four-year period.

Ople said the escrow deposit of recruitment agencies has also been increased from P1 million to P1.5 million in a bid to expand their capability to cover claims of OFWs over employment contract violations. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)