Most Filipinos in the UAE who try to get their Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) endure long lines and have to head out early to get to either the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Dubai or the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi only to find out all the slots for that day have been given out.
But that would be a thing of the past in a few months as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) launches an online OEC application process.
OEC is a document attesting that a Filipino is a documented overseas worker who should be allowed to return to his or her jobsite after spending sometime in the Philippines.
It is crucial for every Filipino working overseas, for without it, the airport and immigration personnel would not allow them to board the plane to return to their work abroad.
The soft launch is scheduled to be implemented in the Philippines as early as 2015. Four other hotspots which include Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have the largest population of OFWs, will go live later in the same year.
“We’re included. I think Dubai is ranked as 4th or 5th in terms of population,” Philippine Labor Attaché Delmer Cruz said in a phone interview.
But he stressed there are still issues that must be addressed like synchronizing all agencies involved in the online system so that when one’s name is checked all the necessary details and membership payments would appear.
For the moment, countless Filipinos are facing problems getting their OEC. Rose Icalla, one of the thousands of Filipinos residing in the UAE, speaking to The Filipino Times said she went to the PCG thrice to get her OEC.
“I went there thrice to get my OEC. The first time I went the 250 per day quota had been maxed out. I returned the next day at 7 am but again all the slots were given out. I decided to come at 3 am. But even at that hour, my number was already at 97. It’s just too much hassle for overseas Filipino workers,” she said, adding that the current location of PCG causes inconvenience as it is away from the Metro, thus, visitors had to take a cab or walk several miles.
Cruz said only a maximum of 400 applications per day can be processed right now at the PCG.
“That is true,” Cruz told TFT referring to unusual and long hours that OFWs spent to apply for OECs, “especially during peak season. We only have two dedicated staff to handle that. We’ve been campaigning for them to get their OEC in the Philippines.”
He said his office even had to delegate other staffers just to accommodate the large number of OEC applicants during peak seasons—March, April, May, Holy Month of Ramadan, November and December.
OEC is valid for three months only and Filipinos must get a new one if they spend more time at home to be able to go back to their host countries.
The Philippine government anticipates the number of Filipinos in the UAE to grow further from the current estimated 750,000 as the World Expo 2020 that Dubai is hosting approaches.
While the majority of Filipinos are employed in the retail and hospitality sectors, a growing number of them are getting key positions in various companies.
Cruz said this is an indication that Filipinos employment skills in various industries are genuinely recognized in the UAE as the country pursues further economic growth.
The labor official, a lawyer by profession, said one of the key skills that Filipinos hold is their ability to write, speak and read English better than other nationalities.
Cruz also said the growing number of Filipinos in the UAE require more resources. Unfortunately, their hands are tied up with whatever the Philippine government allocates for their office.
Nonetheless, he urged Filipinos in the UAE to cooperate with their policies to better serve them as the Philippines tries to move forward to become “Asia’s next economic miracle” and a potential powerhouse in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We must be responsible for ourselves. We should not expect the state to baby us all the time,” Cruz told TFT.
THE OEC CONUNDRUM
OEC is crucial for every Filipino working overseas, for without it, airport and immigration personnel would not allow them to board the plane going back to their jobsites.
The OEC program is under the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration or POEA and costs Dh 10. But one is obliged to renew membership with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for Dh92 before the OEC can be issued.
POLO-OWWA is under the Department of Labor and Employment while the Philippine Embassy and PCG are both under the Department of Foreign Affairs. This creates a lot of trouble for Filipinos, who have to shuttle between different departments just to get clearance to come back to their place of work.
Additionally, membership to Pag-IBIG (Mutual Housing Loan Program) must be activated (if inactive) costing Dh10.
Current OEC Requirements
The documents required to process the Balik-Manggagawa OEC include:
1. Immigration Contract (original) of the worker with two (2) xerox copies
2. Original passport of the worker
3. Passport copy of the sponsor and the worker – two (2) xerox copies
4. Residence Visa copy of the worker – two (2) xerox copies
5. If the sponsor is non local, two (2) sponsor’s residence visa copy
6. OEC forms
7. Preapre the following fees: 10.00 AED for OEC, 92 aed for OWWA membership, 10 aed for Pag Ibig
Click this link: (https://www.bmonline.ph/ ) you will be asked to update your personal information and upload photo. Then you will be directed to choose your appointment date and time.
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