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OEC online sign-up stretches beyond holidays

13 January 2017

Queueing up to get into POLO for OEC online registration

By The SUN team
The queue to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office for online registration for the overseas employment certificate (OEC) has remained long, weeks after the Christmas holiday rush.
And among those who have come back from their holidays, several have complained about being held up at airports in the Philippines because of problems with the OEC exemption that they got back home.
Weekday applicants for OEC exemption average 300 a day, double this figure on Sundsya
Merly Bunda, a longtime correspondent of Bombo Radyo in the Philippines, said that on her way back from Iloilo on Jan. 4, she met a fellow OFW who was barred from taking the flight back to Hong Kong because of problems with her OEC exemption slip. The OFW reportedly said she obtained the certificate from POEA Iloilo.
Another OFW from Capiz reportedly complained about having made to pay P300 at a computer shop just to access her records and have her slip printed. She said she had to stay long at the shop because the internet signal in their area was weak.
The same experience has been shared online by OFWs who complained about the proliferation of shops around POEA offices and the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila that take advantage of the OEC requirement by offering online and printing services for a high fee.
Earlier, hiccups were also reported by those who were held up at the Cebu International Airport because the temporary exemption slip issued them by POLO were not being honored at the immigration counters.
One of them, Novie Maglasang, got so incensed on being told that her slip was of no use that an airport official ended up helping her register online so she could board her flight back to Hong Kong.
“Mabuti na lang nagpunta ako sa aiport nang maaga kaya nakaalis ako,” she told The SUN.
There were at least two other Hong Kong-bound OFWs who were unable to board their flights ahead of her, she said.
On Jan. 10, another OFW, Joan Ibayan Bruce, posted a complaint on the wall of Assistant Labor Henry Tianero about her online records not being found.
Pati sa immigration NOT FOUND kaya bumalik aq ng POEA sa airport, muntik na aq maiwan ng eroplano sa manila.”
Joan posted a screenshot of the stage where her online registration stalled.
In reply, Tianero said, “If no record has been found click ‘CLICK HERE’ to continue and complete your BM account registration and for appointment with POLO or POEA anywhere at your convenience to get your OEC.”
“In your case, this is an incomplete registration which requires to be fully accomplished to make an appointment and for your OEC,” he added.
Meanwhile, the long wait at POLO Hong Kong for the registration with the Balik Manggagawa Online (BMOnline) system has continued.
On weekdays POLO is still besieged daily by about 300 people waiting to get their registration completed so they are enabled to get the OEC exemption that they need when they go back to the Philippines for a vacation.
On Sundays the number doubles. Given these figures, the online registration of the estimated 187,000 OFWs in Hong Kong should continue well into the next year’s peak periods.
As of mid-December last year, only 38,000 OFWs have registered with the online system. Of this number, some may even have to re-register if they transfer to another employer.
The need to register online to enable POEA to build up its data base continues to meet resistance from older OFWs.
“Ang hirap naman mag-register sa online,” one middle-aged OFW in the queue to POLO in Admiralty Centre said recently, as she tinkered with her cell phone as the registration’s closing time neared.
Each of the 40 or so people who were also lined up was trying to create an online account using their phones with help from volunteers and fellow registrants.
Under the new system for the queue, applicants must have already created an online account, and have set an appointment so validators in POLO can finalize their registration.
Those with appointments on the same day are listed batch by batch on a pink elevator access form by NOPT volunteers who marshal the crowd.
Ayaw na ninyo ang pumila para sa OEC, iyan na ang kasagutan sa hiniling ninyo. Minsan lang ang online registration na ito at pagkatapos ay wala na. Diyan na lang kayo magkuha ng exemption sa mga phone ninyo,” Tianero told those waiting to get in.
He was shuttling between the POLO offices on the 11th and 16th floors and visiting the applicants on the bridge leading to the building.
POLO expects the crunch to ease up a bit after requiring accredited employment agencies in Hong Kong to register their new recruits from the Philippines. By mid-December, Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre also made it mandatory for all those processing a new contract to register with BMOnline.
But the full impact of these new arrangements has yet to be felt.

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