The Court of Appeals has upheld the authority of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to cancel licenses of erring recruitment agencies for violating the rules on the recruitment and deployment of Filipino workers.

In a decision, the CA also denied a 2015 petition by Wright International and Al Negair against the Department of Labor and Employment and Mercedita Calape, an overseas Filipino worker who was deployed by the said agencies to three different households in Riyadh and was only paid a salary lower than the minimum required by law.

Calape was also abused by her employer, hospitalized for exhaustion and was only able to seek help from Philippine Overseas Labor Office after she escaped.

In November 2013, the POEA found Wright International and Al Negair liable for violation of its rules in the deployment of Calape. Wright and Negair jointly appealed the decision with the Secretary of Labor but was denied in 2014. Subsequently motion for reconsideration was also dismissed prompting the two placement agencies to go to the appellate court.

In its ruling, the CA’s 12th division affirmed the DOLE Secretary’s decision upholding the authority of the POEA under its rules to conduct and proceed with the investigation of recruitment violations.

The court also upheld POEA’s findings of the recruitment agencies’ liability on the misrepresentation when they deployed Calape to three employers, a situation not stipulated on her employment contract and the liability of not paying her monthly minimum prescribed salary

”Upon the disqualification of a corporation, it automatically becomes prohibited from engaging in recruitment and placement of land-based OFWs. The grant of a license is a privilege and not a right thus making it a proper subject of POEA’s regulatory powers,” the appellate court ruled.

With legal assistance from DOLE, Calape will soon receive her unpaid salaries and other monetary claims. – Abegail De Vega

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