By Gillian M. Cortez, November 21 2018; Business World


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THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said that it will look into recruitment agencies operating with dummy Filipino ownership that are in fact controlled by foreign nationals.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Labor Undersecretary Jacinto V. Paras that DoLE will investigate licenses of recruitment agencies that are partly owned by foreigners, to monitor compliance with the 25% cap on foreign ownership set out in the 10th Foreign Investment Negative List issued by the previous government in 2015 and left unchanged in the 11th FINL issued in October.

“We’ll be looking at license holders, especially those whose stockholders and incorporators are foreigners,” he said.
On Wednesday, DoLE consulted recruitment agency owners regarding the operations of a task force against illegal recruitment and trafficking.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board Private Sector Representative Estrelita S. Hizon said she backed a crackdown on foreign ownership beyond the allowed limits, which she said will act as a deterrent for agencies illegally operated by foreign nationals.

Ms. Hizon, who owns and operates a recruitment agency, said she wants a “two-year” phaseout period, noting that many recruitment agencies are owned by Philippine dummies be controlled by foreign recruiters.

“There are those who use a Filipino dummy but the ones behind are foreigners. That cannot be… We have a hard time because we’re following the rules,” she said on Wednesday.

Mr. Paras called the phaseout a drastic measure to completely halt foreign operation of recruitment agencies.

“The only way to eradicate (the practice) is through the moratorium proposed by the stakeholders,” Mr. Paras said.

On the other hand, the labor undersecretary also raised concerns over the “job seekers visa” offered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this year. He said this type of visa contradicts bilateral agreements of the Philippines with the UAE.

“The job seekers visa is contrary to the bilateral agreement,” he said, which contains worker protections that address Philippine concerns about trafficking.

He called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) “to make a representation… because we are coursing our deployments through the proper channels (set out in) the bilateral agreement.”

Mr. Paras said that a Filipino worker who is given a job seeker visa won’t be covered by the protections and benefits he is entitled to under Philippine law, to be provided by the recruiter.

“They will be under the control and direction of whoever is their employer there,” he said.

POEA Memorandum Circular No. 8, Series of 2018 issued in April states that foreigners are not allowed to directly hire Filipinos for overseas employment with exceptions given only to members of the diplomatic corps; members of international organizations; and heads of state/government officials with at least a deputy minister rank. — Gillian M. Cortez