Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said that government’s concerned agencies are continually ensuring the safety and protection of the overseas Filipino workers against the “tanim bala” modus operandi.
“Several steps have been taken by the Inter-Agency Committee to make sure that proper and immediate assistance will be provided to OFWs who will be apprehended for alleged possession of ammunitions or bullets at Philippine international airports,” said Baldoz.
Baldoz, citing a report from Undersecretary Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III, said the DOLE met with the officials of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Department of Justice (DOJ), Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Office for Transportation Security (OTS), Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup), National Prosecution Service (NPS) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).
The meetings are aimed at establishing procedures and coordination on the investigation of OFWs who were allegedly in possession of ammunitions/bullets in Philippine international airports.
During the said meeting, DOTC, OTS, and Avsegroup agreed to the following:
• The OTS shall immediately inform the Labor Assistance Center of the POEA/OWWA-Repatriation and Assistance Division (RAD) if an OFW has been found to be in possession of ammunition/bullets during security screening.
• OTS may require from the OFW an Overseas Employment Certificate. POEA and OWWA shall provide additional information if needed. The OTS shall consider the personal circumstances and employment records of the OFW in evaluating the case.
• The luggage of a female OFW shall be inspected by a female OTS officer in the presence of OWWA/POEA/PAO representative. In no way shall further inspection be conducted in an isolated room.
• The worker will not be handcuffed unless he/she manifest violent behaviour.
The PAO, on the other hand, agreed to provide immediate legal assistance to the OFW who is being held for custodial investigation. POEA/OWWA shall immediately contact PAO upon notification of OTS of said incident.
Baldoz added that a Memorandum of Understanding was proposed by the Department to establish procedures and coordination mechanism on the investigation of cases, as well as in the provision of assistance to OFWs held for alleged possession of ammunition/bullets.