To prevent overseas Filipino workers like Mary Jane Veloso from falling prey to human traffickers and illegal recruiters, the Department of Labor and Employment is eyeing a TV show about various OFW concerns. DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz also ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to draw up an action plan to protect OFWs. A DOLE news release said Baldoz ordered POEA head Hans Leo Cacdac and OWWA head Rebecca Calzado to implement a radio or TV show preferably in a government-owned media entity such as PTV-4.
“The case of OFW Veloso is an instructive lesson, so were the other cases involving Filipino migrants, workers or not, who had (fallen victim) to drug syndicates, human trafficking gangs, or prostitution networks. Let us, at the POEA and the OWWA, carry out our mandates and do our jobs of helping protect our OFWs,” she said.
Veloso was sentenced to death in Indonesia after being caught with heroin. She was given a reprieve at the last minute, after the Philippine government said may be a victim of a drug syndicate.
Preventive measures Baldoz said POEA and OWWA should first strengthen preventive illegal recruitment measures, the first line of defense for OFWs. One is the Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS), a free public information service provided to individuals seeking work overseas.
The POEA conducts the PEOS to protect the public and prospective job seekers and contains guidelines, legal procedures, and documentary requirements for applying for an overseas job. It also offers tips to avoid illegal recruitment; advisories and warnings to OFWs; health and security issues; and government services available to overseas job applicants and hired workers.
PEOS will be held at the local level, in universities and academic institutions, malls, churches, job fairs, and POEA-sponsored events.
Some are in partnership with local government units, school administrators, faith-based organizations and the private sector. Baldoz particularly wants to expand the coverage areas of the PEOS “and get more partners to help or assist us.” Online PEOS Cacdac said the PEOS has reached 1,063,409 participants between 2011 and 2014.
He said POEA is designing an online PEOS for household service workers and for worker-applicants availing of the Employment Permit System (EPS) for Korea.
This may be complete by the end of the third quarter, he said.
“We are, likewise, formulating the guidelines to make PEOS mandatory for all new hires,” he said.
Baldoz also said the POEA and OWWA should strengthen their coordination and implementation in conducting the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS), which seeks to prepare OFWs to cope with living and working abroad; inform them of their rights and responsibilities; and provide them information to facilitate travel to and adjustment within the worksite and host country.
PDOS had reached 1.3 million newly-hired OFWs in the last three years, the DOLE said. (Joel Locsin/ KBK, GMA)