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PCG to lose about $4.5 M monthly after contract authentication scrapped

20 November 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Congen Tejada (L) with Labatt Mel Dizon says authentication now 'superfluous'

The Philippine Consulate General (PCG) has done away with the authentication of all Filipino domestic workers contract as part of its streamlined approach to services, but at a tremendous cost to government coffers.

The new policy, which took effect today, Nov 20, was announced on the Facebook page of the Philippine Overseas Labour Office yesterday.

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The announcement said all standard employment contracts of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will no longer be authenticated at the Consulate. But they will still have to be submitted to Polo for verification.

No explanation was given for the move which could potentially result in the loss of at least $4.5 million monthly revenue to the Consulate and the Department and Foreign Affairs, given the number of contracts that are processed in Hong Kong daily.

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An insider said that before the coronavirus pandemic threw the country’s overseas deployment in disarray, between 1,000 and 2,000 contracts went through Polo and PCG each day. Using the smallest figure given, the monthly take of PCG would still come up to $4.5 million.

But no matter.

The advisory says FDW contracts will no longer pass thru PCG starting Nov 20

Asked for the reason behind the move, Consul General Raly Tejada said:  “Our accession to the Apostille Convention made it a superfluous process.”

Under the Apostille Convention signed in the Hague in 1986, signatories agreed to do away with authentication (or legalization) of a document signed in the originating country for use in another signatory country.

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The Philippines officially became a party to the Convention on May 14, 2019.

Congen Tejada added: “Where processes are unnecessary then we need to eliminate them. Verification of employment by Polo remains compulsory for the protection of our workers.”

Through verification, the Philippine government, through Polo, is meant to study the contract and ensure it fully protects the rights of Filipinos working abroad.

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Dolores Balladares, chair of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, welcomed the move to speed up the processing of migrant workers’ contracts.

“Welcome ang magandang balita. Malaking kaluwagan sa mga OFWs ang bawas-gastos na ito per contract lalo na ngayong may pandemic. Bawat sentimo, mahalaga,” she said.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang klwentong Dream Love

(This is welcome news. The reduction in fees per contract will greatly ease OFWs’ concerns, especially since there is a pandemic. Every cent counts.)

Balladares also recalled that the authentication of contracts had long been resisted by migrant organizations that see it as superfluous, and a mere excuse to exact more money from OFWs.

Actually natanggal na rin yan noon, ibinalik lang muli,” she said.

(This was actually scrapped before but was just put back)

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Another veteran Filipino community leader, Eman Villanueva of Bayan Hong Kong and Macau, recalled the same incident, when the authentication process was stopped in 2003 after a row between DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment over rent at the Consulate.

Authentication was first halted in 2003 after a row over rental of the PCG offices

But when then ConGen Corazon Belmonte-Jover assumed office later that year, she immediately had the old system revived, much to the dismay of Filcom leaders.

Two years later, then Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas tried to discard authentication again after getting reports from that some PCG officers in Hong Kong were interfering, and even reversing, Polo’s decision in some conciliation cases.

But after a meeting with her Foreign Affairs counterpart, Albert Romulo, the plan was shelved.

At that time, Unifil said only one other destination country apart from Hong Kong, was collecting a fee for authenticating contracts of OFWs.

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