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POLO’s staff shortage to worsen with Labatt Jolly’s departure

12 July 2019

Part 2 of a series
Assistant Labor Attaché Antonio Villafuerte who will be OIC until a permanent labatt arrives.

The designated caretaker of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Hong Kong admits the departure of Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre has posed a tough challenge to his successor in terms of serving the Filipino community here.

“Mahirap talagang pantayan, masyadong malalim yung bakas na kanyang iniwan. Mataas ang benchmark na ini-set niya. Hindi natin alam yung papalit sa kanya,” Assistant Labor Attaché Antonio Villafuerte told The SUN on Jul 9.

He was supposed to be on his second day as POLO officer-in-charge but Labatt dela Torre was still around, giving last-minute instructions to staff.


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Villafuerte said  he would continue with ongoing projects for OFWs that Labatt Jolly had begun.

But his job will be tough, especially with the severe staff shortage which is about to get worse with his superior’s departure.

He said that since February, three personnel have gone home and two local hires have left but no replacements have arrived. “Ngayon, aalis si Labatt, so anim,” he added.

Two replacements are expected to arrive on Jul 16, hopefully easing the manpower shortage, he said.

Villafuerte said the manpower complement problem is not POLO HK’s own making but is due to the tedious process involved in posting staff from Manila.

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He said the request for manpower was made several months ago but the applicants are required by the Department of Foreign Affairs to undergo pre-departure training at the Foreign Service Institute.

“Mandatory po iyon, you cannot leave, you cannot be deployed if you don’t have an FSI certificate,” Villafuerte said.

Another reason for the failure of replacement staff to arrive is the need to secure an exemption from the Commission on Elections ban on staff movement before and after an election.

Villafuerte said the Comelec has rejected the DOLE request for exemption for unknown reasons.

The immediate task at hand, though, is the backlog of paperwork that has heaped up and is waiting to be cleared.

As he was speaking, a huge pile of employment contracts waiting to be signed was on his desk while outside his room, a worker who had run away from her employer was waiting for him to escort her to the Labour Department.

With the indefatigable Labatt dela Torre about to leave, the work would definitely be more difficult, even insurmountable. – Vir B. Lumicao
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