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Ilocos Norte strengthens employment assistance, partners with POEA in anti-illegal recruitment campaign

A serious bid to reinforce hands-on employment assistance for Ilocano job-seekers, overseas Ilocanos and returnees was raised by Governor Imee R. Marcos during a session with the municipal mayors of the province and representatives from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) held at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Session Hall, Provincial Capitol on November 20.

Marcos made the call in line with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between and among the officials of the provincial government of Ilocos Norte, the local government units and POEA, with the aim to establish an information campaign against illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

“By information dissemination, we can save a lot of lives…It is the LGU’s mandate to protect its constituents, and the POEA’s mandate to protect [job] applicants and at the same time OFWs from abuse,” Deputy Administrator Jesus Gabriel Domingo, signatory for POEA, said.

The MOU also aims to reach out to the grassroots level.

On the other hand, Marcos   said that illegal recruitment is actually not the primary concern in the province as information dissemination on illegal recruitment is already widespread among localities..

“We are proud to say that here in the province, there have been little incident of illegal recruitment…Habang nandito ako sa Ilocos Norte, isang insidente ng illegal recruitment pa lamang ang nangyayari,” Marcos said.

The governor said there is a need for a more market-driven training approach even as she added that there are more job openings which require skilled manual workers like “welders and aluminum fitters” than white-collar professionals.

“The real challenge is to change the minds not only of the students but also of their parents that vocational and skills [jobs] are in fact in demand [in then province],” Marcos said.

She in turn invited “good employers” who can bring back Ilocanos working abroad to the province.

She raised the issue of the high number of Ilocanos overseas, saying that “61% of all families receive foreign aid.”

According to her, the challenge lies on how to convert these people “who are employees all their lives” to entrepreneurship.

In terms of overseas recruitment issues, she said: “It’s no longer just information dissemination but closer ties and cooperation with prosecution and justice…Tulong kung may kakulangan sa papeles, sa pag-iintindi ng batas at higit sa lahat tulong sa lahat ng nabibiktima ng illegal recruitment,” Marcos said. (Grazielle Mae A. Sales, PGIN-CMO)