Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Online system set to ease travel hassles for Filipinos

Lifted from Gulfnews


Dubai: The hassle of physically securing travel exit clearances from the Philippine missions here and elsewhere will soon be a thing of the past as plans to make the application system available online are set to go live within the year, Gulf News has learnt.


The Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) or travel exit clearance is a document that proves a returning Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) is in the Philippines for a holiday and intends to go back to the same employer abroad. Manila airport officials do not allow OFWs to return to their jobs abroad without the document.

Contrary to media reports in Manila, the OEC system will not be abolished but will be improved in response to complaints by OFWs of the "slow processing" of the OEC, Labour Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz told Gulf News from Manila.

"It is not an abolition of the OEC system. The OEC still stays but we will make the process easier and more efficient," Baldoz clarified.

"We are working on a system wherein all OEC applications and processing will be done online. We also plan to have the OEC co-terminus with the validity of the contract so that the OFW does not need to apply for it every time," Baldoz added.

Details of the project will be announced during Migrant Workers' Day on June 7 alongside other outreach projects of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) for Filipino migrant workers.

"Our IT group already has the concept for this project but we are still working on the nitty-gritty details of the project. If things go as planned, we will launch the project within the year," Amy Reyes, POEA Deputy Administrator for Management who oversees the project, told Gulf News.

POEA and many Philippine missions, including the ones in the UAE, have been faulted for the hassle reportedly brought about by applying for OECs.

"Usually an employee will need to take a day off or half day from work just to get it [OEC]. Every year when you go back home, you have to secure this document and go through the same process," Bryan Vergara, a Filipino worker who applied for an OEC recently, said.

"This move by the POEA is a good one because getting this OEC is a burden for OFWs as it is time consuming," he added.

"When I applied for my OEC here in Dubai last April, it took me one whole day…I think the online system is a good idea to avoid the inconvenience of queuing for a long time under the sun at the labour office," Wilson Ariem, Sr, a technical manager, said.

Acting labour attaché Venus Abad said: "The application process takes time because of the volume of applicants that we receive on a daily basis. During the peak months in April and May, we process around 400 OECs per day. For non-peak months, we process around 200 a day."

"We are working on a system wherein all OEC applications and processing will be done online. We also plan to have the OEC co-terminus with the validity of the contract so that the OFW does not need to apply for it every time," Baldoz added.

Details of the project will be announced during Migrant Workers' Day on June 7 alongside other outreach projects of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) for Filipino migrant workers.

"Our IT group already has the concept for this project but we are still working on the nitty-gritty details of the project. If things go as planned, we will launch the project within the year," Amy Reyes, POEA Deputy Administrator for Management who oversees the project, told Gulf News.

POEA and many Philippine missions, including the ones in the UAE, have been faulted for the hassle reportedly brought about by applying for OECs.

"Usually an employee will need to take a day off or half day from work just to get it [OEC]. Every year when you go back home, you have to secure this document and go through the same process," Bryan Vergara, a Filipino worker who applied for an OEC recently, said.

"This move by the POEA is a good one because getting this OEC is a burden for OFWs as it is time consuming," he added.

"When I applied for my OEC here in Dubai last April, it took me one whole day…I think the online system is a good idea to avoid the inconvenience of queuing for a long time under the sun at the labour office," Wilson Ariem, Sr, a technical manager, said.

Acting labour attaché Venus Abad said: "The application process takes time because of the volume of applicants that we receive on a daily basis. During the peak months in April and May, we process around 400 OECs per day. For non-peak months, we process around 200 a day."



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