The regulatory authority of the POEA

Article 36 of the Labor Code grants the Labor Secretary the power to restrict and regulate recruitment and placement activities. (PASEI v. Torres, G.R. No. 101279, August 6, 1992)

Art. 36. Regulatory Power. — The Secretary of Labor shall have the power to restrict and regulate the recruitment and placement activities of all agencies within the coverage of this title [Regulation of Recruitment and Placement Activities] and is hereby authorized to issue orders and promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the objectives and implement the provisions of this title. (Emphasis ours.)

On the other hand, the scope of the regulatory authority of the POEA, which was created by Executive Order No. 797 on May 1, 1982 to take over the functions of the Overseas Employment Development Board, the National Seamen Board, and the overseas employment functions of the Bureau of Employment Services, is broad and far-ranging for:

1. Among the functions inherited by the POEA from the defunct Bureau of Employment Services was the power and duty:
"2. To establish and maintain a registration and/or licensing system to regulate private sector participation in the recruitment and placement of workers, locally and overseas, . . ." (Art. 15, Labor Code, Emphasis supplied)
2. It assumed from the defunct Overseas Employment Development Board the power and duty:
3. To recruit and place workers for overseas employment of Filipino contract workers on a government to government arrangement and in such other sectors as policy may dictate . . . (Art. 17, Labor Code)
3. From the National Seamen Board, the POEA took over:
2. To regulate and supervise the activities of agents or representatives of shipping companies in the hiring of seamen for overseas employment; and secure the best possible terms of employment for contract seamen workers and secure compliance therewith. (Art. 20, Labor Code.)
The vesture of quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial powers in administrative bodies is not unconstitutional, unreasonable and oppressive. It has been necessitated by "the growing complexity of the modern society" (Solid Homes, Inc. vs. Payawal, 177 SCRA 72, 79). More and more administrative bodies are necessary to help in the regulation of society's ramified activities. "Specialized in the particular field assigned to them, they can deal with the problems thereof with more expertise and dispatch than can be expected from the legislature or the courts of justice" (Ibid.).

It is noteworthy that the assailed circulars do not prohibit the petitioner from engaging in the recruitment and deployment of Filipino landbased workers for overseas employment. A careful reading of the challenged administrative issuances discloses that the same fall within the "administrative and policing powers expressly or by necessary implication conferred" upon the respondents (People vs. Maceren, 79 SCRA 450). The power to "restrict and regulate conferred by Article 36 of the Labor Code involves a grant of police power (City of Naga vs. Court of Appeals, 24 SCRA 898). To "restrict" means "to confine, limit or stop" and whereas the power to "regulate" means "the power to protect, foster, promote, preserve, and control with due regard for the interests, first and foremost, of the public, then of the utility and of its patrons" (Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation vs. Alcuaz, 180 SCRA 218).

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