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POLO works overtime to serve OEC applicants

29 November 2016

OEC applicants at the POLO on a Sunday. Now POLO will extend office hours to accommodate them. 

By Daisy CL Mandap

The Christmas crush over the overseas employment certificate has begun, and in a bid to contain the usual over-crowding at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre has extended service hours, and even ordered that applicants be served during a holiday.

From Sunday, Dec. 4, POLO will be open until 8pm at both its 11thh and 16thh floor offices for the issuance of the OEC exemption slips. The extended opening hours will apply for all Sundays of December and January 2017.

Subsequently, Labatt de la Torre also ordered that his office would open on Saturdays, from 10am to 4pm.

“For those who can come on on Saturdays, please don’t wait for Sunday to come. Sunday is always very crowded,” he said on his Facebook post.

Then, as an afterthought, he announced that POLO would also issue OEC exemptions and help those who made an appointment to register for the slip online on Nov. 30, a public holiday in the Philippines and all overseas posts.

He also made a last-minute appeal for those who could apply online for the exemption slip to do so. “To all our OFWs in Hong Kong: kung matagal pa naman (ang) uwi ninyo baka puedeng mag online registration na kayo para mabawasan natin ang crowd tuwing Linggo. Kung marunong naman kayong mag computer mas maigi ho na mag online registration na. Sa ganitong paraan yung mga emergency trips lang o yung malalapit na ang alis ang bibigyan natin ng temporary OEC exemption, at saka yung mga hindi sanay sa Internet technology. Salamat po sa inyong pag unawa,” he said.

However, he later clarified that online registration is not available for those who have never created an account with the Balik Manggagawa Online site. They will still have to make an appointment with POLO, and be assisted in creating their account.

To cut the waiting time for this, they could ask for the temporary OEC exemption slip, which they could use to get past immigration at Philippine airports and return to their employer.

However, those flying out through Clark international airport are being asked to register online, anyway, because the slip is not being honored there, for some reason.

The slip must be kept by the OFWs on their return to Hong Kong as it comes with a reference number which serves as their one-time pass in creating an account with BM Online system.

Once they manage to create this account, they will be able to print their own exemption slip each time they need to go back to the Philippines, for as long as they return to the same employer, and work site.

Those who change employers, whether they finished or broke their contracts, are not entitled to the OEC exemption. They will have to secure an appointment with POLO or any POEA branch in Manila so they could be helped in either creating a new BMO account, or change the existing data in their account.

The apparent confusion over the temporary slip is, however, creating more troubles over at POLO. According to Labatt de la Torre, this was one of the reasons why the queue for OEC exemption suddenly swelled on Nov. 27, a Sunday.

“While many already applied online, a lot more wanted the small piece of paper, the temporary OEC exemption, for one reason or another,” he said in his FB post.

It appears that having a slip of paper in hand, like the old OEC which they had to apply and pay for each time they went home for a vacation, served as an assurance for many OFWs that no last-minute snags at the airport would ruin their return to Hong Kong.

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