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Militants call anew for OEC scrapping

16 December 2016

By Daisy CL Mandap

A militant Filipino migrants group is to call for the total scrapping of the overseas employment certificate in a protest set to be held outside Admiralty Centre (where the Philippine Overseas Labor Office is located) on Sunday, Dec. 18.

In a statement issued ahead of the rally held to coincide with International Migrants Day, United Filipinos -Migrante Hong Kong decried the Philippine Overseas Employment Administ-ration’s (POEA) decision to issue exemptions to the OEC, instead of abolishing it altogether.

Because of this, workers set to return home for the holidays have had to again endure several hours of queuing to get into Polo just to get help in creating accounts through which the exemption slips are issued.

Unifil-Migrante chairperson Dolores Balladares-Pelaez said in a statement: “Our demand was very clear – to abolish the OEC once and for all. We never asked for exemption. If only the POEA  listened to us, we would not have to suffer this crisis again.”

She noted that after meeting with them in October, Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre decided to issue temporary exemption slips to speed up the queues ahead of the anticipated Christmas holiday rush.

“But even this (the issuance of exemption slips) has already been suspended by POEA,” said Pelaez.

Migrante also decried the acts of certain individuals or groups of making money off applicants who are required to set up email accounts and go online to sign up with the OEC registration site, BMOnline.

“Naglipana ang mga buwaya na nambibiktima sa mga nakapila sa POLO para kumuha ng OEC. Naniningil sila ng $70-$100 para sa pag-setup ng e-mail address at BMonline registration. Nagbebenta din sila ng forms,” said Migrante’s statement.

Other reports that reached The SUN indicated the main culprit as the operator of a first floor shop in Admiralty Centre.

“(Pero) kung wala lang sana ang kilo-kilometrong pila... kung ginawa lang sana ng POEA ang gusto nating mangyari noon - ABOLISH THE OEC - hindi na sana mape-perwisyo at makokotongan ang ating mga kababayang uuwi ngayong kapaskuhan,” said the statement.

The scrapping of the OEC, which is supposed to prove the tax-exempt status of an OFW, has long been demanded by Filipinos in Hong Kong. Without the certificate, OFWs returning to their job sites are not allowed to fly out of the Philippines.

The OEC costs $20 each time, but it is the long hours of waiting to get it issued by Polo that has long been a concern in Hong Kong, where there are about 187,000 OFWs who need it to return to their work place.

In response to the call, the POEA through then administrator Hans Cacdac ordered in September that OECs will no longer be required of workers returning to the same employers at the same job site. However, they were required to register online to get an exemption certificate – and still queue up to get Polo to verify the data that they entered.

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