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Labatt seeks techies’ help amid new rush for OEC

02 April 2017

The BM Online training room is always full nowadays.

By Vir B. Lumicao

Labor Attaché Jalilo de la Torre is appealing to computer-literate members of the Filipino community for help in registering OFWs with the government’s BM Online system so they could be exempted from overseas employment certificates (OEC).

He made the appeal on Facebook as the queue for the OEC began building up anew, as thousands of overseas Filipino workers prepare to go back to the Philippines for the graduation and Lenten seasons.

 “If you’re computer-literate and have time on your hands, please come and volunteer to help our OFWs register with BM Online. We need volunteers every Sunday afternoon from 12 pm to 5 pm. Thank you,” Labatt De la Torre said in a Facebook post on Mar 24.

No sooner had he launched the appeal than a reader, Celine Lakias, commented the new system had more hassles than the lineup for the paper OEC in previous vacation seasons.

“Buti pa yung pila lang. Pinahirapan nila yung OFW, di naman free, may bayad pa rin. Daming nagco-complain before sa one-time only, but now 2 to 3 times,” Lakias said without clarifying what she meant and admitting she was echoing other OFWs’ views.

“Totoo po, mas hassle yong no print,” another reader agreed.

Some of the more than 300 OFWs who had lined up on the Admiralty footbridge leading to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office on Mar 19 also grumbled about the long wait, or the difficulty of navigating through the BM Online site on their mobile phones.

“Buti pa yung dati noon, mas madali” was the common moan.

 In the face of the flak online and on the ground, Labatt De la Torre appealed for patience and understanding.

“We are okay with complaints but when you are already enjoying the exemption, you will find it a better system. Ngayon lang mahirap kasi may registration,” he replied to the comments on FB.

In reply to queries The SUN sent in a private message, he said: “More importantly, we need the patience and understanding of the community. We have gone out on a limb to help out, including opening on weekends and extending our working hours on Sundays.

“What those who are computer literate can do is to register on their own using their smart phones and come only to POLO for evaluation and payment. This will lessen the crowds on Sundays.”

Labatt De la Torre said he needed more volunteers to tutor walk-in BM Online registrants, ideally one for each of the 17 terminals in the OWWA computer training room. The POLO can handle about 300 walk-in registrants on Sundays.

There are only seven regular volunteers on weekdays and Saturdays, and 10 on Sundays, for the one-on-one tutorials that last at least 30 minutes, depending on the registrants’ computer skills. The process is tedious, as there is a labyrinth of fields to navigate.

At that pace, it would take about 18 sessions or 9 hours to register 300 on a Sunday.

Labatt De la Torre has admitted the difficulty and said developers were working on a simplified version more suitable for mobile phones.

He said more computers could also be installed for the OEC exemption processing.

But he said that what they need more are Filcom leaders who will help by gathering OFWs who could be serviced by POLO in one go.

“The Filcom groups have to set up the place and invite their members,” he said, adding that so far, only two churches – Jesus is Lord and Jesus the Living God - have responded.

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