Administrator Jennifer Manalili of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) confirmed yesterday that millions of pesos for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have gone missing after being invested in the padlocked Rural Bank of Parañaque.
In an interview, Manalili said the POEA will order the recruitment agencies whose OFW funds were deposited to the bank controlled by the Legacy Group of businessman Celso de los Angeles to replenish their escrow funds.
“We had done an inventory to identify the agencies that deposited fund to the Legacy and require them to replenish the fund within 30 days,” she said.
Manalili said POEA regulations require every recruitment agency to set up at least P1 million in escrow fund for the money claims of overseas Filipino workers.
“It’s not a welfare fund but the escrow fund that they deposited to the Parañaque Rural Bank,” she said.
Manaili said more than a hundred recruitment agencies had deposited their escrow fund to the Rural Bank of Parañaque.
“Not all of the funds of the agencies are missing, but they have to replenish and comply with the required P1 million escrow because it is necessary to ensure that the money claims of workers can be met and awarded,” she said.
Manalili said recruitment agencies that fail to replenish their escrow funds would be suspended.
“It’s a consequence that an agency should be prohibited from conducting documentary processing of OFWs until they can replenish the escrow fund,” she said.
Deputy Administrator Han Cacdac said the POEA has yet to determine the total amount of money lost to the Rural Bank of Parañaque.
A total of 144 recruitment agencies have invested their escrow funds to Legacy-controlled bank, he added.
Some P350 million was invested in a “double your money” scheme with the Rural Bank of Parañaque, according to the Parents Enabling Parents (PEP) Coalition, a support group.– Aurea Calica, Philippine Star