THE PHILIPPINES has ordered an investigation of labor officials in Hong Kong for allegedly choosing an online system provider for overseas placement without public bidding, the Labor department said in a statement yesterday.

In an administrative order, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III created a fact-finding team to look into allegations of impropriety in the selection of the contractor for processing, credentialing, welfare protection and data storage for worker placement.

The new contractor will replace an 11-year-old system that has provided overseas Filipino workers, employers and accredited employment agencies data and information on Philippine Overseas Labor Office programs, projects and services in real time.

Reports said the labor office in Hong Kong terminated the service agreement with EmployEasy Ltd., now Employeasy Group Ltd., the provider of the current online system, effective Dec. 30 last year.

Based on the letter of termination written by Mr. dela Torre to Employeasy, the labor attache said they would announce an opening for service providers who will improve the current online system. No biddings were held in place before they awarded the new contract to Polaris, according to DoLE.

The labor attaché reportedly signed the contract for the new system with officials of Polaris Tools Ltd. on March 7.

Mr. Bello cited the alleged haste and “seeming lack of transparency” in the solicitation of the proposal and the awarding of the contract, according to the statement.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office is directly under the Philippine Labor secretary. It acts as the operating arm of DoLE in the administration and enforcement of its policies and programs applicable to Filipinos working overseas, according to the Foreign Affairs department website.

There are more than 30 Philippine labor offices overseas, many of which are in Asia and the Middle East.

A Philippine Overseas Labor Office is headed by a labor attaché who supervises labor corps personnel at post and manages the operations of the Filipino Workers’ Resource Center. — Gillian M. Cortez