By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Citing that there are employment opportunities waiting for Filipino professionals in Eastern Europe and Canada, the chairman of the House Committee on Migrant Workers’ Affairs said it was about time to exempt land-based professional Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from obtaining overseas employment certificate (OEC) as a requirement for leaving the country.
ANGKLA partylist Rep. Jesulito Manalo said professional OFWs should be exempt from securing OECs for as long as their destination country is one of those recognized by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as having sufficient safeguards for migrant workers.
“My cousins are doctors, they apply to the US without POEA. They applied directly to hospitals and they were interviewed. They were accepted with immigrant status sila,” he said.
“Chefs, highly-educated workers, they can apply on their own. They can safeguard themselves. We have to trust them. Nurses, doctors, engineers, they must know what they are doing,” Manalo pointed out.
He said Congress should include in its priority list a bill seeking to facilitate the global employment of Filipinos by reducing processing time and regulatory requirements for OFWs.
Manalo cited that in Eastern Europe and Canada, there are openings for our workers for direct hiring on road to migration and citizenship.
“There are only 500 million Europeans and there are only 400 to 500 million Americans. Japan will be an ageing community very soon. They are selling more adult diapers. They need workers,” Manalo said, citing the globalization of workers.
The House leader said he filed House Bill 8842 or the proposed Filipino Global Employment Act, to recognize the increasingly globalized nature of the workforce, and aim to allow Filipino professionals to fully take advantage of the opportunities available to them.
Under HB 8842, Manalo is proposing to allow Filipino professionals and highly-skilled Filipinos to work abroad without having to process their overseas employment through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
“Because of unnecessary government regulations that are no longer pertinent to the global economy, their right to liberty to seek better employment is violated,” he said in filing the bill.
“Although the remittances of our OFWs are increasing, the number of OFWs is declining. This is why the government must make sure that the deployment of OFWs, especially professionals and highly-skilled, must not be hampered nor delayed,” he said.
House Bill 8842 provides that Filipinos seeking employment abroad shall be given, by the government and all its agencies, instrumentalities and all its officials and employees, the utmost support for their travel and employment abroad by ensuring the issuance of their travel documents and other documentary requirements, such as passports, NBI clearances, and birth certificates among others, within the shortest possible time without unnecessary or avoidable delay.
Under the bill, professionals and highly-skilled individuals seeking employment abroad shall not be required to go through any private recruitment agency nor through the POEA except for information purposes only. They shall not be required to obtain an OEC provided that their country or territory of destination and employment have met the guarantees of protection or are compliant with the requirements set forth under Section 4 of Republic Act 8042, as amended by Republic Act 10022.
Filipinos seeking employment abroad are encouraged to become voluntary members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), PAG-IBIG Fund , Social Security System (SSS) and Philhealth.
The bill tasks the POEA to issue the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.