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POLO taps agencies for OEC online registration

01 January 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

Hong Kong employment agencies have been tapped by the Consulate to help in registering OFWs on BM (Balik Manggagawa) Online so they can get exemption from the overseas employment certificate.

More than 100 agency owners or their representatives gathered on Dec 23 at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office at Admiralty Centre Tower 1 where they were taught how to fill up the online registration forms.

The orientation began at about 10am and lasted until around 12:30pm. Afterwards, about a dozen participants remained to ask more questions from POLO staff Josh Villa and Engelbert Causing.
“We now require the agencies to register their recruits on BM Online,” Assistant Labor Attache Henry Tianero told The SUN.

Tianero said POLO had been harnessing the agencies since Dec 15 for help in the registration process.

He attributed this innovation to Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre, who has been actively looking for ways to speed up the online registration of the estimated 187,000 OFWs in Hong Kong.

Once all the workers’ personal details are captured in the BM Online database, all they need is to access the system with their android phones or personal computers to apply for an OEC exemption slip each time they need to go home.

The only time they need to re-register is when they change employers.

Through this new innovation, the  number of people queuing up to POLO for OEC exemption each time vacation season comes will hopefully shrink.

Tianero said that over the past week before Christmas, POLO had been registering an average of 500 OFWs daily and the number of applicants was declining.

Labatt De la Torre himself was not at POLO for the briefing as he had already left for a Christmas break with his family in Australia. But just before he left, he posted on Facebook that he recognized that the difficulties arising from the online registration for OEC exemption was due to many workers' unfamiliarity with the system.

“The BM Online's teething problems (too many data fields required, operates real-time and should have offline version, etc) can be remedied because these are technical issues. But the real problem is the fact that many workers are unfamiliar with it,” Labatt De la Torre said in his post.

“Therefore, the solution is to have as many workers registered as we possibly can. It's an attrition challenge and the more people willing to help, the less people who will complain. The more volunteers willing to tutor our workers, the better for all,” he said.

He admitted that  “there is a demand for its scrapping but until it’s abolished we’re stuck with it, and we’re going to do the best we can to assist as many as our resources and our human strength would allow and more”.

Since the OEC queues began around mid-November for the current Christmas peak season, Labatt De la Torre and his staff had been skipping their weekend rest to keep POLO open for OFWs who needed the

“Another holiday well spent in the service of our OFWs. Nearly 300 OECs issued and 50 tutored,” the labor attaché said of the service rendered by his staff on Dec 21, when the rest of the Consulate shut down to observe the Winter Solstice.
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