OFW group denounces looming appointment of ex-Rep. Paras as POEA head
A group of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) expressed qualms on Saturday over the looming appointment of a former politician to head the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Advocates and Keepers of OFWs (AKO), a non-government organization of migrant workers in the Middle East, opposed the planned appointment of former Negros Oriental Representative Jacinto “Jing” Paras as POEA administrator.
It would be a “mistake and disastrous move” for President Rodrigo Duterte, the group said, amid the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) internal cleansing of the POEA.
“To appoint a politician who has no previous knowledge or inkling of the operations of the POEA will throw a monkey wrench into the current total revamp being undertaken by the DOLE leadership to remove or replace certain POEA personnel allegedly involved in the illegal recruitment schemes,” said AKO founding chairman, Dr. Chie Umandap in a statement.
The position of a POEA administrator has been vacant for more than a year after its former head, Atty. Hans Cacdac, was transferred to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). DOLE Undersecretary Bernard Olalia currently serves as the POEA’s officer-in-charge.
Umandap said what the POEA needs is a technocrat or an insider that already knows the ropes of POEA operations, “familiar with the various layers of bureaucracy,” and incorruptible and would not bend to pressure.
“The POEA has a long history of former politicians who have failed during their terms to provide the leadership needed in the POEA and a few were accused of corruption during their time at the (agency),” Umandap said.
The group said Paras has a “soiled reputation” as he was tagged as a member of the “Gang of Five,” the group of lawmakers who reportedly received P2 million to delay a 2001 congressional inquiry into the collusion of telco networks Globe and Smart over the reduction of free text messages.
Paras, who is on break from politics, has recently been busy filing and preparing cases against some officials allegedly involved in a destabilization plot against the Duterte administration.
He is the complainant of the impeachment case against former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Andres Bautista. The complaint led to the impeachment of the poll chief at the House of Representatives.
Paras has also said he would file an impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
Sought for comment, Paras told INQUIRER.net that only Duterte could decide whether he is qualified for the POEA position or not.
“He alone has the right to determine whether an appointee is qualified for the job or not,” he said in a text message.
Paras said he believes he is “qualified for the job” of solving problems of OFWs and maintained that he has “no experience in committing corruption in the government.”
“I am qualified to protect the interest of OFWs, safeguard and secure their welfare while working abroad,” he noted. /jpv
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