DMW puts out new rules on hiring land-based OFWs, highlighting one-strike policy vs. recruiters

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 9) — The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has released new rules and regulations on the recruitment and employment of land-based FIlipino migrant workers, notably adding a list of serious offenses that may lead to the cancellation of a recruitment agency's license.

The serious offenses, dubbed 20 "cardinal sins" by the DMW, include deployment of minors or those below the minimum age requirement; negligence of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) experiencing abuse; acts of graft and corruption including attempts to bribe DMW officials and personnel; placement of workers in jobs that are harmful to life, health, morality and dignity; allowing a non-Filipino citizen to head or manage a licensed recruitment agency; and reprocessing workers for jobs that are non-existent or different from the actual work.

In a briefing on Friday, Migrant Workers Secretary Toots Ople highlighted the agency will implement a one-strike policy against recruitment agencies that will violate the new set of rules and regulations.

"Dati kasi, dahil 1st offense, 2nd offense, 3rd offense ang daling palusutan, pwede kang magtago sa dami ng papel, sa dami ng proseso, ito kasi 20 very specific offenses na ang kapalit pag ginawa ng agency, cancellation ng license," Ople told reporters.

[Translation: Before, since there is a 1st offense, 2nd offense, 3rd offense, you easily wriggle out of it because of many papers and processes needed, but the new rules have 20 very specific offenses that if committed, will mean the cancellation of an agency's license.]

The DMW said less serious offenses will result in suspension of six months to one year, while agencies with light offenses will face suspensions of one to six months.

Undersecretary Bernard Olalia explained the DMW will have a "derogatory list" to flag recruitment agencies, and even their set of officers, that can no longer operate and ban them to apply for a new license in another formed group.

Under the new set of regulations, the DMW extended the validity of provisional licenses from two years to three years, and from four years to six years for regular licenses. The agency will also fast-track the process of deployment of migrant workers.

It increased the escrow deposit of recruitment agencies from ₱1 million to ₱1.5 million to expand their coverage of claims of OFWs over contract violations.

One person corporations are now also allowed to engage in overseas recruitment and employment.

Ople said the rules on OFW recruitment also seek to regulate the accommodations of recruitment agencies for its workers. She said they are pushing for more "gender responsive" facilities and accommodations.

"We aim for a rights-based approach and ease of doing business mindset to labor migration and migration governance," the DMW chief said. "This new set of rights-based rules will ensure better protection and empowerment of our OFWs. Likewise, it will enable the industry to succeed and flourish."

The new set of rules is a revised version of the 2016 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration rules and regulations, the DMW said, that may take effect around July as the agency has yet to complete the formal requirements needed for the issuance.

Ople said the agency is also set to update the rules and regulations on recruitment and deployment of sea-based OFWs as it is "heavily influenced" by rules for land-based workers