The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), is the body of the government to assist OFWs in their journey. Since there are a handful of Filipinos who are working abroad, they also have different experiences. These experiences include being victimized by fake recruiters, get abused by their employers, and they even get extorted by government employees and fixers. Given this fact, the POEA has a division where OFWs can file complaints and ask for counseling.
POEA’s Legal Assistance segment is the division where the public can ask for the following:
- The preparation and filing of complaints. This is for illegal recruitment, recruitment violation, and disciplinary action cases
- Legal advice on the other hand is to provide counseling services to workers sent back and those who are informed of their rights and possible options for redress of grievances.
- Another is the conciliation. This is then to give repatriated workers and their recruitment agencies a time to discuss the possibility of amicable settlement.
- Lastly, counseling during preliminary investigation and hearings of criminal cases for illegal recruitment.
If you are part of the scenarios mentioned above, then you are on the right page. In order for you to be provided with Legal Assistance, follow the following steps:
1. First step is to go to the Legal Assistance Division at the 4th Floor of the POEA Central Office. Secure a verification form and Fill it up.
2. Submit the duly accomplished form at Window 3. Licensing Branch is located at the 4th Floor; it is for verification of status of agencies/persons.
3. Deployed workers are required to secure an OFW Information Sheet from the Central Records Division; this is at the 6th Floor.
4. Submit the verified OFW Information Sheet to the Legal Assistance Division Officer and wait for them to call your name.
5. When you hear your name, directly go to the table of the designated Legal Officer for:
- Initial interview and;
- Counseling or legal assistance in the preparation or filling-up of a complaint form.
6. Submit the duly accomplished complaint form to the Legal Officer and swear under oath of the things written in the complaint.
7. The Legal Officer will evaluate and endorse the complaint to either of the appropriate units (or all):
- Conciliation Unit
- Adjudication Office
- Public Prosecutor/Fiscal
8. Conciliation, on the other hand, you may file this complaint/s at the Conciliation Unit at the 2nd Floor
9. For other cases, however, you may file your complaint/s at the Docket and Enforcement Division which is located at the 3rd Floor.
As you may have noticed, it’s kind of a tedious process, right? But you don’t have to worry anymore. Why? Because YES, this process can now be done online!
- For repatriated OFWs staying at the OWWA Hostel, a lawyer from the POEA Legal Assistance Division will visit the Hostel to provide legal assistance. You may contact POEA for the schedules.
- And for those who cannot travel, there is now an ONLINE form in requesting Legal Assistance and Counseling!
How do I get legal assistance online?
1. First thing you need to do is to go to the POEA website/Legal Assistance Division -> https://legalassistance.poea.gov.ph/
2. In this page, you would have to fill up all the information. This is for POEA to easily distinguish you.
3. Selecting for your Date of Birth can be quite tricky. If you click on the calendar, it would show the current date. For you to navigate on the year, click on the Month/Year (September 2017). Clicking this would allow you to see the months. Clicking on that same area again will let you choose a year. So to cut things shorter and simpler, click on that two times for you to select the appropriate year.
4. After you’re done filling out the personal information, you can scroll down and there you will see the Case Details. Here is where you can narrate the occurrences that happened. First thing you have to do is to choose what incident happened; you can continue on from there.
The page is accurately straightforward and you would have to choose specific categories for some.
You can also upload documents, pictures, etc. for evidences.
Note that the stronger the evidence, the heavier POEA will treat your case. Although you are not really required to provide evidence, of course it will lift you up the ladder and it can even turn the situation around in a snap.
After you’ve done all of this, you will be provided with a reference number which you can use to track the status of your request.
Take note that submitting a request for the online Legal Assistance and Counseling does not constitute a formal and valid complaint.
A valid complaint requires a submission filed under oath at the POEA’s Legal Assistance Division. So if you have extra time, you may want to visit the POEA office for the oath. In scenarios where you have a relative abroad and you know that he/she is being abused, relatives can also submit a complaint in place of that OFW who is out of the country.
Although visiting the POEA office provides a more formal approach, you can start the process by just going online. For OFWs who have experienced not-so-good things while they’re trying for their journey abroad, this can now be sent to POEA and ask for legal assistance and counseling.
So for those of you who think they have no means in reaching out for the Philippine government, you now have the online LAD.
If you think you need help, do not hesitate to reach out to your fellow countrymen because they’re in that position in order to help.
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