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POEA moves to scrap OEC

08 August 2016

Overseas Filipino workers returning to the same employer at the same work place will no longer be required to secure an overseas employment certificate, or OEC, as early as the first week of next month.
In addition, all OFWs returning to their job sites will be exempted from paying the travel tax and terminal fee upon the mere presentation of their valid work visa, contract or any document that will prove their overseas employment status to qualified airport personnel.
These new measures are in line with Resolution No. 12 passed on August 4 by the Governing Board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), headed by the new Labor Secretary Silvestre T. Bello III,  
Under the Resolution, the OEC exemption will apply to two categories of workers:
1)      OFWs or BMs (balik manggagawa) who are returning to the same employer and jobsite and with existing record/s in the POEA data base;
2)      And those hired through the Government Placement Branch, or the POEA’s in-house recruitment facility for Filipinos aspiring to work abroad.
A copy of the POEA resolution
To be exempted, the returning OFWs must use the BM Online facility to register - for free - before departure. The information stored in the POEA data base and electronically transmitted to the Bureau of Immigration will serve as a guide to the immigration officer in validating whether the worker could be cleared for departure.
According to the POEA Board, the new measure is being put in place in accordance with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s directive to streamline processes in the deployment of OFWs.
It was also in response to a clamor from OFWs for ease in processing their employment documents.
True to these objectives, even those who do not fall in either of the two exempted categories will no longer have to obtain an OEC, as long as they register with the BM Online system and get their records entered in the POEA website.
According to Resolution No. 12, returning workers who are not exempted will just have to register with the BMOnline web page, then set an appointment with their preferred POEA office or center for evaluation and validation.
Even those who go to the airport without appropriate registration will not be turned away, but will instead be asked to go to the labor assistance center (LAC) for evaluation to determine if they can be “cleared for departure, or subjected to further evaluation/completion of documents”.
Based on these guidelines, those who are in Hong Kong or other places abroad and want to avoid the hassle of being held at the airport should just register, or update their work status in BMOnline system, to ensure that they could be cleared for departure.
As to the travel tax and airport terminal fee exemption, the resolution says the returning worker could present any of the following documents to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and the Manila International Airport Authority:
1) valid work visa
2) valid employment contract
3) valid company ID
4) recent payroll slip “or other equivalent document”
The resolution also says the POEA will issue implementing guidelines to ensure that the “pilot implementation” of the resolution will take place in the first week of September.
Apart from Secretary Bello, the members of the POEA Board who signed the resolution were POEA Administrator Hans Cacdac who acts as vice-chairman; and members Milagros Isabel Cristobal, Estrelita Hizon, Alexander Asuncion, and Felix Oca. - The SUN Team

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