MANILA, Philippines – Good news for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)!
In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to streamline government processes, the overseas employment certificate, also known as the OEC, has been scrapped for vacationing OFWs who are bound to return to the same employer at the same job site.
Resolution no. 12 was passed by the Governing Board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), chaired by Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III and vice chaired by POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, on August 4.
It takes effect on the first week of September.
The resolution said that the following OFWs will be exempted from the OEC requirement:
OFWs who are returning to the same employer and jobsite and with existing record/s in the POEA data base;
And those hired through the Government Placement Branch, or the POEA’s in-house recruitment facility for Filipinos aspiring to work abroad.
To qualify for the exemption, however, the returning worker must first register through the BM Online Facility before departure. Registration is free.
The information that the worker will provide will be stored in the POEA database and transmitted to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to serve as reference for the Immigration officer who will validate if the worker is qualified for the exemption.
Those who will not be exempted from the requirement will be directed to the BM online webpage where they may register again and set an appointment with their preferred POEA center.
Those who will go to the BI counter at the airport without registering online, meanwhile, will be referred to the Labor Assistance Counter (LAC) for evaluation.
Travel tax and terminal fee
The returning worker will also be exempt from paying travel tax and terminal fee upon presentation of any of the following documents to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA):
Valid work visa
Valid employment contract
Valid company ID
Recent payroll slip
Other equivalent document
Before the resolution was passed, there have already been calls for the OEC to be scrapped. During peak seasons like Christmas and graduations, the volume of OFWs securing the OEC reaches up to 5,000 to 7,000 workers a day.
OFWs complained about long lines and having to wait for hours, wasting time they could’ve spent with their families.
LONG LINES. OFWs in Hong Kong line up for hours to obtain their Overseas Employment Certificates. Photo by Daisy CL Mandap/The Sun-HK
The United Filipinos Worldwide (U-OFW), an advocacy group in Saudi Arabia, welcomed the new resolution. “We welcome the POEA resolution providing exemption of Balik-Manggagawa (BM) or returning OFWs from the OEC requirement,” its convenor, John Leonard Monterona, said.
The group said that the OEC itself should be free of charge.
“If really the intent of the Duterte administration is to unburden the OFWs from unnecessary government fees and charges, then there must be no charge in obtaining the OEC,” Monterona added. – Rappler.com