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Labatt Nida takes up HK post, to stay until replaced

13 August 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao  

It’s Labatt Nida’s second posting in HK

Newly arrived Labor Attaché Nida Romulo says she will do as the Home Office has told her – to be the Philippine labor attaché in Hong Kong until her replacement comes.

Labor Attaché Nida Romulo: “Ang order po sa akin is to come to Hong Kong as labor attaché, so, I’ll be the labor attaché until my replacement comes. 
Labatt Nida said this in an interview with The SUN on Jul 17, her third day in office. She was sent by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to head the Hong Kong post as a replacement for Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre, who was recalled for still unknown reasons.

But she could be caught in a bind come Aug 1, when Labatt Jolly is supposed to return to his post as head of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, as ordered by Bello in a Jun 27 memo.

The only thing that could prevent that happening is if Labatt Jolly somehow fails to fulfill conditions set for his resumption of office: secure an exemption from a ban on the transfer of government personnel ahead of the May 2019 election, and get all the paperwork done.

(Responding to a recent inquiry, Labatt Jolly said it is not likely he could come as scheduled because of the many paperwork he has to do before he can cleared to resume the post. He did not indicate when he could come).

Romulo, who served as a deputy to two former labor attaches in Hong Kong, Bernardino Julve and Romulo Salud, before being posted as labor attache in Toronto, does not seem perturbed by the confusion that is emanating from the Department of Labor and Employment in Manila.

“Ang order po sa akin is to come to Hong Kong as labor attaché, so, I’ll be the labor attaché until my replacement comes. Kung ano po ang mandate ng opisina namin ay gagawin ko po iyon,” Romulo replied when told about the possibility that there could be two labatts come Aug 1.

“Siyempre, kasama na po ang taking care of the OFWs,” she added.

She said there was no timeframe given for her term as the new POLO head. However, reports from various sources indicate Romulo has only a year to go before compulsory retirement.

On her first three days at work, Romulo was already in the thick of the action, working on, among things, shortening the processing time for work contracts.

She said she had required POLO staff to stay on after normal office hours until they finish all the work for the day. That would cut processing time, she said.

But she could not give a fixed number of days for processing contracts because, she said, the documents would also have to pass through the Consulate.

As of now, Labatt Nida said she would await mandates from DOLE, but assured that all the training programs that have been going on at POLO would continue.

Asked if she had any word from Bello about his reported scrapping of the OFW ID which was promised early last year in place of the much-disparaged overseas employment certificate or OEC, she said she had yet to receive instructions on this.

As for her return to Hong Kong, she said she was impressed by the physical changes in the city – the many new buildings and ongoing works – and astonished by how much rents have risen.

But for now, she is still staying in a hotel, she said.

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