It’s never easy being an Overseas Filipino Worker. Despite the promise of a better life, there is always a possibility that your dreams of an improved future won’t happen. If you’re not too careful, you might even be a victim of illegal recruitment.
That being said, what is your legal remedy in case you became a victim of illegal recruitment? Can you file a case against the illegal recruiter? If yes, where should you file it? What is the procedure you need to follow to make sure that the illegal recruiter pays for what he did?
Here’s what you need to know about POEA’s Legal Assistance Services:
Coverage of Legal Assistance Services:
Legal Advice – this offers counselling services wherein repatriated workers are informed of rights as well as possible options for redress of grievances.
Conciliation – this gives both the repatriated worker/s and recruitment agency an opportunity to discuss and possibly come up with an amicable settlement. Per POEA, parties must undergo 30-day mandatory conciliation-mediation before a complaint will be filed in the Adjudication Office for the following cases:
- Administrative complaint involving OFW, licensed manning agency, or employer relating to overseas employment
- Issues arising from labor and employment
In case parties are unable to settle, the POEA Conciliation Unit will issue a Certificate of Failure to Conciliate.
On the other hand, the following cases are NOT required to undergo mandatory conciliation-mediation proceeding:
- Cases referred by POLO
- Cases initiated by the POEA
- Cases involving acts of misrepresentation to secure license
- Violations of POEA Rules and Regulations involving serious offenses
- Offenses penalized with cancellation of license
- Complaints against agencies with revoked, cancelled, or delisted license
- Disciplinary actions against land-based workers and seafarers, which are either considered serious offenses or carry the penalty of delisting from the POEA Registry at first offense
- Other complaints included in the POEA Rules that are not subject to compulsory mediation
Preparation and Filing of Complaints – if the case prospers, the agency, through Legal Assistance Division, may help in the preparation and filing of complaints for illegal recruitment, disciplinary action cases, and other forms of recruitment violations.
Counseling – this is done during preliminary investigation and and hearings of criminal cases for illegal recruitment.
Procedure in Availing POEA’s Legal Assistance Services:
Before you proceed, you need to make an appointment to ensure that the agency will assist you when you arrive. Consequently, this assures the agency that the assistance is extended to OFWs only.
Click this link to make an appointment. Make sure to tick the box that indicates “Legal” under “Assistance” tab for the purpose of such request.
Once you made an appointment, here are the other steps you need to do on the day of your schedule:
- Proceed to Legal Assistance Division, 4th floor of the POEA Building.
- Get and fill out a Verification Form from the guard-on-duty.
- Secure an OFW Information Sheet from the Central Records Division, 6th floor, POEA Building.
- Submit the documents, Info Sheet and Verification Form, at Window 3, Licensing Branch, 4th floor of the POEA Main Building. The LB Verifications Officer will verify your status as OFW.
- Once your status is verified, submit the verified documents to the Legal Assistance Division or LAD Officer. Wait for your name to be called.
- When you’re called, go to the designated Legal Officer for counselling or legal assistance. The Legal Officer will also help you in the preparation or filing of a complaint form.
- Submit the duly accomplished complaint form to the Legal Officer. You will also be asked to swear under oath as to the truthfulness of the facts contained in the complaint.
- File the complaint at the Conciliation Unit, 2nd floor of the POEA Main Building if proper for conciliation OR Docket and Enforcement Division, 3rd floor of the same building.
For further details, you may contact:
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
Legal Assistance Division
4th Floor, BFO Building
EDSA corner Ortigas Avenue Mandaluyong City
Telephone Nos.: 721-0619/722-1189