POEA, BI link up database for OFW documentation

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To prevent the proliferation of illegal recruitment and human trafficking, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), through the Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration (POEA), and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement towards the development of an information-sharing system on OFW documentation.

POEA administrator Hans Cacdac (left) and BI commissioner Ricardo David seal the deal as DOLE secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and DOLE undersecretary for employment Danilo Cruz look on

DOLE secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz announced the initiative last week after witnessing the signing of the accord between POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac and Bureau of Immigration commissioner Ricardo David Jr. on the development of the shared database between the two agencies.

?The agreement shows our efforts to strengthen coordination and linkage among concerned government agencies. It also reflects our convergent action to ensure the protection of our OFWs against unscrupulous individuals engaged in illegal and predatory activities, including fixers, scammers, and traffickers,? Baldoz said.

?Aside from protecting our OFWs, we want to provide them a hassle-free, yet systematic, deployment process. Hindi na natin pahihirapan ang mga OFWs sa multi-layered na proseso ng gobyerno noon. Isang pila na lang tayo ngayon,? she added.

The labor chief explained that the development of the shared information system will cover the databases of:

? documented OFWs;
? foreign employers included in the POEA watchlist;
? OFWs included in the POEA watchlist; and
? departing and arriving OFWs.

The implementation of the system will start this August.

The MOA translates into action the joint proactive efforts of the POEA and the BI as members of the Presidential Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment (PTFAIR) recreated under Executive Order 41 series of 2011.

Both agencies are tasked to develop and execute strategies and schemes against the modus operandi of illegal recruiters, such as escort services and tampering and sale of spurious passports and travel documents.

The PTFAIR is also responsible for the prosecution of illegal recruiters and syndicates together with their protectors.

Under the MOA, the POEA shall provide and extend legal assistance to victims of illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons referred by the BI; provide technical assistance and necessary certifications to cases handled by BI; and provide assistance to immigration officers in answering queries on OFWs? travel exit documents.

On its part, the BI shall strictly implement the validation of travel exit documents; endorse suspected illegal recruitment cases to POEA for investigation; intensify intelligence efforts in checking legitimate departing OFWs and/or those tourists profiled as workers; and enforce watchlist orders and/or hold departure orders against illegal recruiters and human traffickers.

?I direct the POEA will work closely with the BI to prioritize this initiative as we continue to improve processes involving overseas employment. We also aim for the electronic processing of exit clearances and other procedures that can already be done online,? Baldoz said.

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