Gender-sensitive reforms ordered in POLOs
MANILA – Additional reform measures have been implemented to further strengthen the operations of the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) around the world.
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the latest order pertains to personnel management, resources or funding, and operation at the POLO "in order to prevent, pre-empt, and hopefully permanently root out the alleged malpractices and misdemeanor against overseas Filipino workers".
The rules, under DOLE Administrative Order No. 262-A, Series of 2013, itemizes the measures calling for clear-cut supervisory rules in POLO operation.
The additional reform measures follow the issuance by the Secretary of Administrative Order No. 262 last 1 July 2013 outlining 10 new corrective measures to further enhance and strengthen POLO operations and the operations at the Migrant Workers and Other Filipino Resource Center (MWOFRC), popularly known as Bahay Kalinga.
On personnel administration, Baldoz has directed the International Labor Affairs Bureau to ensure that gender balance is observed in the staffing of all POLOs, particularly in the MWOFRCs with many wards.
She ordered all personnel to be deployed overseas to undergo special training on gender sensitivity, and for the Bahay Kalinga to have a full-time "house mother" who must be an administrative staff trained prior to deployment.
"Only female personnel shall directly attend to the complaints and cases of wards, particularly during intake/initial interviews, for further processing and handling of the assigned Case Officer. Subsequent counseling and updating sessions, if handled by a male Case Officer, shall be done in the presence of the house parent or a female POLO staff," Baldoz instructed.
Baldoz also ordered the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to share in the cost of training of wards to ensure that materials and equipment are available. She also pledged adequate funding for the Bahay Kalingas for the basic and personal necessities of the wards.
She also ordered the installation of CCTV cameras in labor offices and at the FWRCs with the head of the POLO as the custodian of recorded videos.
"To ensure transparency, I have instructed the installation of a clear glass-enclosed room in the MWOFRC as venue for all transactions with the wards. The MWOFRC shall also maintain a first-aid kit for the wards and personnel," she added.
All POLOs are also ordered to submit to her the quarterly reports on all matters relating to MWOFRC operations, copy furnished the head of the Post or the Ambassador or Consul General.
She likewise directed the POLO to always prioritize the repatriation of wards and the resolution of their complaints and cases.
Lastly, Baldoz reminded all POLO officials and personnel to always observe proper decorum and utmost professionalism in dealing with their wards and clients, pursuant to the Code of Conduct of POLO personnel, and to be forewarned that sexual harassment against women and men in the employment, education, and training environment is unlawful and carries with it stiff penalties under R.A. 7877, otherwise known as the "Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995."