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Protesters press call for junking OEC, terminal fee

17 March 2017

By Daisy CL Mandap

Militant migrant workers picketed the Philippine Consulate in United Centre, Admiralty yesterday, Mar. 16, to again call for the scrapping of the overseas employment certificate (OEC) and the Php550 terminal fee.
The protest came close on the heels of the Philippine government"s announcement that the terminal fee will no longer be collected from all departing overseas Filipino workers from next month.
OFWs are by law, exempted from paying the terminal fee, but under a regulation imposed by the Manila International Airport Authority in 2015, the fee was integrated in the price of all air tickets. OFWs were told they could ask for a refund at the airport on their way back to their job sites.
Meanwhile, the OEC fee of $20 is still being collected from OFWs.  who are then compelled to create an account with  Balik Manggagawa Onljne so they can get the required exemption slip each time they go home.
Yesterday's protest also marked the 22nd death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, the OFW hanged in Singapore for murder, which many said could have been avoided if she got timely help from the Philippine government.
"Twenty-two years after the death of Flor Contemplacion, ano na ang kalagayan ng mga OFW? " said Migrante Sectoral Party chair Vicky Cabantac. " May nabalitaan na ba kayong nabigyan ng legal assistance,?"
Cabantac recalled that as a result of Contemplacion's death, the Migrant Workers Act was amended to provide better protection to OFWs.
However, migrant workers are not in a better position now than they were at the time. Proof of this is the continued collection of all sorts of fees from them, including that for the  OEC and the terminal fee.
United Filipinos-Migrante Hong Kong chair Dolores Balladares said that instead of junking the OEC, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte came up with exemption.
On a broader scale, the widespread unemployment, poor pay and higher prices continue to force tens of thousands of Filipinos to seek jobs abroad,
"Nais po namin na wakasan na ang labor export program," she said.
Balladares- Pelaez also scored the continuing human rights violations in the country, citing the spate of extrajudicial killings that accompanied the government's war on drugs.
The protest ended with the migrant leaders presenting a joint petition letter  by 64 organisations to the Consulate's representative. Vice Consul Alex Vallespin.
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