POEA Caraga office faces closure due to unpaid rent

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The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) satellite office in this city, which serves 20 to 50 jobseekers daily throughout the Caraga region, faces closure due to six months of unpaid office rental.

The POEA office has served some 15,000 OFWs in Caraga and nearby provinces outside the region but near Butuan City.

Officer-in-charge Marietta Bellotindos said the POEA office has not been able to pay its P28,000 monthly rentals since Feb., adding that the satellite office will have to go back to the POEA mother office in Zamboanga City if ordered to vacate the building.

“Almost daily the owner of the office building would show up in our office to remind us of our unpaid rentals. That does not include our water and electricity bills," Bellotindos told GMA News Online in an interview.

“Despite followups I made, until now central office [in Manila] has not responded yet. I hope Manila will respond positively. Maybe the people there are busy this time," she said.

According to her, she has only two office personnel helping her with all the job orders, and that she has one volunteer worker whose allowances are drawn from her own pocket.

She added that aside from serving job applicants, the Butuan POEA office also monitors 13 accredited foreign employment recruiting agencies in the region.

She said despite the absence of intelligence funds, the office has already assisted law enforcement agencies in the arrest of 20 illegal recruiters.

The POEA satellite office was established in the late 2009, after several overseas Filipino workers from the Caraga region complained of having had to travel to faraway cities such as Davao and Cagayan de Oro where POEA offices are located just to follow up on their applications and make official transactions with the agency.

Bellotindos said Butuan City Rep. Jose Aquino III was the one who had made possible the opening of the POEA office in Butuan City during the Arroyo administration. — Ben Serrano/MRT/LBG, GMA News

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