From the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) creation of Task Forces against human trafficking and child labor to the strict implementation of the Alien Employment Permit (AEP) to combatting illegal drugs and the worst forms of child labor in the workplace.

2019 has been highlighted by the issuance of Administrative Order 551 for the creation of DOLE Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment, Trafficking In Persons and Recruitment Of Minor Workers in order to have a more focused, concerted, coordinated and effective programs to action to stop and eliminate illegal recruitment, trafficking In Persons and recruitment of minors.

The task force is composed of a DOLE Undersecretary;  the POEA Administrator as vice chair and the members are the directors of  while the task force members are the Administrator Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA); Directors of  Bureau of Local Employment (BLE ); International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), and Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) while the task force’s operational and law enforcement arm are from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).

Among the general functions of the task force is to develop and execute strategies and schemes against the modus operandi of illegal recruiters, human traffickers and recruiters of minor workers; development and execution of strategies against syndicates responsible for tampering of birth records, securing spurious passports and travel documents; and recommend to the Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III for the prosecution of recruiters of minors, human traffickers and illegal recruiters, syndicates, their cohorts, protectors, and coddlers. There will be creation of task forces in all DOLE Regional Offices nationwide and the DOLE-CAR and NBI-CAR has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last November 19, 2019.

The AEP is not an exclusive authority for a foreigner to work in the Philippines. It is just one of the requirements in the issuance of a work visa (9g) to legally engage in gainful employment in the country. The foreign national must obtain the special temporary permit (STP) from the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) in case the employment is practice of profession and authority to employ alien from the Department of Justice (DOJ) where the employment is in a nationalized or partially nationalized industry and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in case of mining.

The influx of South Koreans in the Philippines generates a host of questions, most of which remain unanswered. Some Koreans come to the Philippines for vacation, for study, employment, and business, and other purposes and some choose to stay preferably in Baguio City and the Cordilleras longer than the others. Today, Baguio City is ranked number 4 in the country where Korean migrants are located for different purposes such as retirement, employment and residency. Number one host is Cebu, followed by National Capital Region (NCR) and number 3 is Pampanga.

With the setting up of Korean Assistance Desk (KAD) in the National Capital Region (NCR), Central Luzon Region (Region 3), Calabarzon Region (Region 4a), Central Visayas Region (Region 7), Davao Region (Region 11) and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). The KAD is tasked to ensure completeness and correctness of AEP applications and not to accept incomplete or incorrect applications of Korean nationals and goes on to all other foreign nationals wanting to legally work in the Philippines including Holders of Special Investors Resident Visa (SIRV), Special Retirees Resident Visa (SRRV), Treaty Traders Visa (9d) or Special Non-Immigrant Visa 47(a)2 who occupy any executive, advisory, supervisory, or technical position in any establishment or company are required to secure the AEP.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III issued Labor Advisory No. 10 or “Entitlement of Kasambahay to Other Statutory Leave Benefits and Labor Standard Benefits” which will further strengthen the rights of household workers and their entitlement to work benefits and statutory leaves. Today, household workers who have rendered at least 1 month of service shall be covered by SSS, Philhealth and Pagibig Fund and be entitled to all benefits provided by law.

Also in the Cordilleras, the present minimum wage rates of kasambahay is P4,000 in our cities and first class municipalities and P3,000 in all other municipalities. This minimum wage rate took effect last May 19, 2019. For the minimum daily wage rate in the CAR which took effect last November, 18, 2019; for Baguio City, La Trinidad, Benguet and Tabuk City, Kalinga the minimum wage rate is P340 (basic) plus P 10 peso COLA or a total of P 350.00 for all Sectors and Industries while for other Areas in the Region is P330 (basic) plus P10 (COLA) for a total of P340.00.

During the May 1 Labor Day Job Fair, a total of 2,401 job seekers trooped to the Baguio City High School Main Campus.  There were forty one (41) local employers and eleven (11) Overseas Recruitment Agencies who offered 2,638 local jobs and 15,618 overseas job vacancies respectively. A total of three hundred forty nine (349) jobseekers were Hired on the Spot (HOTS) and 1,839 near hire applicants totaling to 1,021 are for local employment and 818 are overseas jobs.

The Department’s continuing anti-illegal drugs campaign for a drug-free Philippines will monitor business establishments, companies and workplaces for the strict compliance of Department Order 53-03 (DO 53-03) or the guidelines for implementation of a drug-free workplace policies and programs for the private sector. Under the DOLE Drug-Free Workplace Policy and Program, an employee who, for the first time, is found positive of drug use, shall be referred for treatment and/or rehabilitation in a DOH accredited center. After the rehabilitation, the company’s assessment team may recommend to the employer the resumption of the employee’s job if he/she poses no serious danger to his/her co-employees and/or the workplace.

Random drug test in the workplace is legal. The goal is to discourage drug use by not telling anyone in advance when and who will be tested. You don’t have to worry if you don’t use drugs. The Supreme Court has taken judicial notice of scientific findings that drug abuse can damage the mental faculties of the user. Employees who use dangerous drugs could have serious problems to their health, wellbeing and productivity.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence  — Martin Luther King, Jr.

END/Patrick Rillorta