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Dole issues recall order for Labatt Jolly; Filcom says, ‘not yet’

26 March 2019




By Daisy CL Mandap

Never say die. That seems to be the prevailing sentiment of Filipino community leaders when it comes to letting go of Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre, who has just been issued a recall order by his bosses in Manila.

Just a day after the recall order was issued on Mar 15, Filcom leaders started circulating a letter asking that he be retained as the country’s top labor official in Hong Kong.

This was despite a farewell party for Labatt Dela Torre held on Mar 25, hosted by former Hong Kong legislator Emily Lau and human rights lawyer Alan Bell.

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The petition letter dated Mar 16 states that while Labatt Dela Torre’s regular three-year term is set to end this month, his recall from April to October last year “due to unfounded allegations” should not be counted as part of this period.

“Labatt Jolly has done his job exceedingly well that he enjoys wide support in the Filipino community in Hong Kong. As a topnotch lawyer, seasoned labor official and veteran administrator he is much more than we can expect from a labor attaché,” said the petition.

Dela Torre was cited for, among several things, getting the ban on dangerous window cleaning inserted into the standard employment contract of migrant workers, and cracking down on the illegal deployment of OFWs to third countries, particularly Russia and Turkey.

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The petition also took note of his Project HealthWise, where OFWs are given free medical check-ups so those who are shown to have serious health issues can seek doctor’s help immediately.

Among the first to sign the petition were about 100 OFWs who availed of the first medical outreach of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Taipo on Mar 17.

Dela Torre himself led the outreach program, and helped issue overseas employment certificates to those planning to go on vacation in the Philippines in the next few months.

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Active parish member Rodelia P. Villar, who is also the founder of the online group Domestic Workers’ Corner, urged the OFWs queuing up for service to sign the petition, after extolling the labor attaché’s good deeds.

As of this writing, about 5,000 have already signed the petition, including Lau, Bell, church leaders and migrants.

Several other big groups like the Global Alliance, United Filipinos in Hong Kong, Mindanao Federation, Global Ministers Association, National Organization of Professional Teachers, Filipino Nurses Association, and the Integrated Midwives Association, also support the call to retain the labor official.

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Dela Torre was recalled in mid-April on orders of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who only hinted at various allegations against him, like his supposed favoritism in dealing with employment agencies, and acting beyond his powers in issuing overseas employment certificates to Filipino workers in China.

But no clear reason emerged from the recall, and Dela Torre was sent back to his post after six months in the Philippines.

The revocation of his recall came in large part to the wide opposition from community leaders, who sought help from politicians to get Bello to send the highly popular labor envoy back to his post.


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