4 gov't agencies join hands to ensure OFWs are safe from 'laglag bala'
Four government agencies on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at ensuring the protection of all departing passengers, especially OFWs, from the "laglag bala" extortion racket.
At a press briefing, Office for Transportation Security (OTS) administrator Roland Recomono said the MOU "spelled out in clear terms" the roles and responsibilities of the agencies involved in handling "laglag bala cases" from arrest to investigation.
Those that signed the MOU were the departments of Justice (DOJ); Labor and Employment (DOLE); Transportation and Communications (DOTC); and Interior and Local Government (DILG).
"The MOU is aimed at resolving the 'tanim-bala' cases, especially those involving OFWs," Baldoz said at the press briefing held at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Under the MOU, the Office of the Transportation Security (OTS), which is under the DOTC, will perform passenger, cargo, and employee screenings in the presence of personnel from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), PNP- Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP), and in the case of OFWs, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
The POEA, an agency under DOLE, meanwhile shall provide representatives in NAIA terminals 24/7 to assist OFWs intercepted with prohibited items in their luggage, while the National Prosecution Service (NPS), which is under the DOJ, shall have stationed prosecutors on-duty in the NAIA terminals 24/7 to conduct inquest and preliminary investigation.
"The POEA shall also require recruitment agencies that deployed the OFW to provide assistance to the worker by contacting and making representation with the employer on the potential delay in the worker’s arrival," Baldoz said.
The MIAA, an attached agency of the DOTC, meanwhile, is tasked to provide harmonized coordination and leadership at the airport in cases involving immediate security resolution in security screening checkpoints.
Baldoz said a Technical Working Group chaired by the MIAA and composed of representatives from the parties to the MOU will be created and convened within 15 days after the signing.
"The TWG shall serve as the coordinating mechanism for the implementation of the activities under the MOU," she said. —KBK, GMA News