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Polo suspends agency accreditation to clear backlog

24 July 2019

Polo’s officer-in-charge Tony Villafuerte


By Vir B. Lumicao

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office has stopped accepting applications for accreditation of Hong Kong employment agencies until it has cleared a backlog of pending applications.

Polo’s officer-in-charge Tony Villafuerte said he and other POLO officers decided on a moratorium starting Jul 15 as applications had piled up since accreditation was opened to more players while staff numbers declined.

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At the moment, about 80 applications are still waiting to be processed, said Villafuerte, who has been designated as Polo’s top official after Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre’s term was cut short on Jul 7. 

Polo posted a notice about the suspension on its website at the Jul 13 weekend. The cut-off for submission of accreditation applications was Monday, Jul 15.

“(Pero) kapag naayos na yung 80, lift na ang moratorium,” he said.

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He said the applications began to pile up after Labatt Jolly opened agency accreditation to more applicants in a bid to bring down employment agency charges.

“Para sa akin, pareho rin sa gusto ni Labatt na mas maraming agencies, sige lang. Ako naman OK din doon, dahl sa spirit of enterprise. The more the competitors, the lower the price. It will be for the benefit of the consumers,” Villafuerte said.

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There are now more than 400 Hong Kong agencies accredited by Polo, up from about 350 a year ago.

Villafuerte blamed the backlog on acute personnel shortage. Three former staff from the Department of Labor and Employment ended their tour of duty in February while the contracts of two local hires were not renewed. Labatt dela Torre’s departure has left six vacant slots to be filled.

The OIC said each one of the 15 staff left has been working on extended hours on weekdays, so they have no more time left to inspect the accreditation applicants after work. They can only do the inspections at the weekends, including Sundays when Polo is swamped with overseas Filipino workers asking for all sorts of service or assistance.
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