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POLO tells OFWs to register online for OEC exemption

06 December 2016

The temporary exemption slip is no longer
honored at 2 Philippine airports
By Vir B. Lumicao

Overseas Filipino workers going home for Christmas will now have to register online to get exemption from the overseas employment certificate or OEC.

Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre told The SUN that at least two airports in the Philippines are no longer accepting the temporary exemption slips that he ordered to be issued to fast-track the process for the thousands of OFWs set to go home over Christmas.

He anticipates that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration itself will stop allowing those with the temporary slips to go through airports unhindered.

“Natatakot kami baka idi-disable na ng POEA, kasi kapag nagbigay kami, baka hindi io-honor doon, mabuti i-BM Online na lang lahat,” Labatt De la Torre said.

He said immigration officers in at least two airports outside Metro Manila have begun refusing to honor the temporary slip – fist, Clark International Airport in Pampanga last month, and Mactan International Airport in Cebu last week.
The hiccup prompted Labatt De la Torre to ask the POEA to intervene.

“Bakit sa ibang lugar sa Pilipinas puwede tapos sa Cebu hindi puwede?” Labatt said.

But without any official word from POEA, he decided not to take the risk of seeing OFWS getting stranded back in the Philippines because they don’t have the officially recognized pass.

Thus, starting last weekend, his office began processing OEC exemption only for applicants with online appointments.

First-time online registrants will also have to pay the $20 OEC processing fee in order to get their registration validated, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office said.

The labor attaché said the quota for the appointment system was 400, but, about 200 applicants unregistered online also came. Thus, two queues were formed: one for those already registered, and those applying to be registered.

People with the temporary paper slips were directed to go to the POLO office on the 16th floor to get help in registering online from volunteers.

At the 8pm close of the POLO last Sunday, all the 600 had already been registered online and given their OEC exemptions.

“Kaya naman pala,” Labatt de la Torre told The SUN.

He said he would rather be criticized for the long queues of workers waiting for their turn to be helped with the online registration, than having to rescue anybody long-distance if the POEA suddenly scrapped the temporary exemption slips.

He said for now he would issue the temporary slips only in extreme cases, such as for OFWs who had to go home urgently for three days only without any opportunity to go online there, or for old people.  

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