Know the Difference Between DOLE, OWWA, and POEA


Do you have an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) relative or friend? How many times have you heard him or her mention the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)? Can you differentiate what these two agencies do, or are you as confused as the rest?

This week’s blog post will help you know the difference between these two agencies. But first, let’s get to know more about the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

DOLE in a Nutshell

Basically, DOLE is mandated as the primary policy-making, programming, coordinating, and administrative entity of the Executive Branch of the Philippine government in the field of labor and employment. It is primarily responsible for:

  • promoting gainful employment opportunities and optimizing the development and utilization of the country’s manpower resources;
  • advancing workers’ welfare by providing for just and humane working conditions and terms of employment; and
  • maintaining industrial peace by promoting harmonious, equitable, and stable employment relations that assure equal protection for the rights of all concerned parties.

Like any executive department, DOLE comprises different bureaus and attached agencies such as the following:

Bureaus of DOLE

  • Bureau of Local Employment (BLE)
  • Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR)
  • Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC)
  • Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC)
  • International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB)

Attached Agencies of DOLE

  • Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC)
  • Institute for Labor Studies (ILS)
  • National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB)
  • National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC)
  • National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP)
  • National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO)
  • National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC)
  • Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)
  • Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
  • Professional Regulation Commission (PRC)
  • Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)


As you can see, both the POEA and the OWWA are classified as agencies attached to the DOLE. Both agencies also serve the same stakeholders – the OFWs. Now, what sets them apart?

POEA is responsible for the overseas employment program of Filipino workers, as well as the monitoring and supervision of recruitment agencies in the Philippines. OWWA, on the other hand, focuses on the welfare of the OFWs and their families.

Services of the POEA

Hence, when an aspiring OFW is still looking for a job, the POEA is on the job ensuring that he or she deals with a licensed recruitment agency. Along with the licensing of recruitment and manning agencies, the POEA is also involved in the following:

  • Renewal of License of Recruitment Agencies
  • Registration/Accreditation of Landbased Principals/Employers
  • Registration/Accreditation of Seabased Principals/Employers and Enrollment of Ships
  • Documentation of Landbased Agency-Hired Workers
  • Documentation of Agency-Hired Seafarers
  • Issuance of Job Fair Authority (JFA)
  • Issuance of Special Recruitment Authority (SRA) and Letter of Acknowledgment (LOA)

Likewise, POEA offers the following services to OFWs:

  • Registration of Landbased Applicants
  • Registration of Seafarers
  • Documentation of Direct Hires – Household Service Workers
  • Documentation of Direct Hires – Professionals and Skilled Workers
  • Documentation of Government Hired Workers
  • Documentation of Workers-On-Leave
  • Verification/Certification of OFW Records
  • Verification of License of Agencies and Job orders
  • Legal Assistance
  • Filing/Docketing of Cases

Services of the OWWA

Meanwhile, when an OFW applicant is about to leave the country, the OWWA starts doing its part. It is present in all three stages of migration:

  • Pre-Departure – Before the first-time workers leave, OWWA educates them on the realities of overseas work and give them basic language training.
  • Onsite – Abroad, OWWA assists the OFWs whenever they encounter concerns with their employers.
  • Upon Arrival – When the OFW is back, OWWA is ready with its livelihood trainings and programs for the OFWs’ reintegration.

Having a two-fold mandate of (1) delivering welfare services and benefits and (2) ensuring capital build-up and fund viability, the OWWA provides assistance to all its members in all its regional and overseas offices. These onsite services include the following:

  • Providing information and guidance;
  • Psycho-social counseling and conciliation services; and
  • Legal assistance, outreach missions, and training, among others.

On behalf of the OFW, the OWWA also provides appropriate representation with employers, agents, and host authorities. The POEA, for its part, provides legal assistance as well, but only to victims of illegal recruitment.

To sum it up, POEA deals with the recruitment concerns of an OFW applicant, while OWWA takes care of the overall welfare of the employed OFW. DOLE is the Executive Department of the Philippines wherein both POEA and OWWA are attached to.

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