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OEC may soon be linked to contract verification, says labor official

29 November 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap


Asst Labor Attache Angel Sunga disclosed the plan in The SUN Interviews

The Department of Migrant Workers is planning to link the overseas employment certificate (OEC) to contract verification in a bid to ease the long-standing problem encountered by many overseas Filipino workers in securing the pass that they need before they are allowed to leave the country.

This was according to Assistant Labour Attache Angelica Sunga during a Facebook Live interview with The SUN last Wednesday, during which she was asked why the government is still insisting on requiring outbound OFWs to secure the OEC, despite it serving no obvious purpose.

There have been talks po na i-link na yung OEC sa verification pa lang, so hintayin po natin yun. Pag mag verify ka ng kontrata, may OEC ka na. Inaayos na po, it’s a work in progress,” said ALA Sunga.


(There have been talks of linking the OEC to the verification of contracts, so let’s wait for that. If you get your contract verified, you will already have an OEC. It’s in the works, it’s a work in progress.)

Sunga said the plan is the brainchild of Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople, who is also pushing for the digitization of both the OEC and contract verification. This would mean that personal appearance could also be dispensed with when verifying contracts with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office.

Sunga’s disclosure was in response to a call for the scrapping of the OEC from Marites Palma, founder of Social Justice for Migrant Workers. Echoing the call of most Filipino community leaders, Palma said the OEC is superfluous because all OFWs already have employment visas in their passports which could serve as proof that they still have obs waiting for them abroad.


Hanggang ngayon, hindi ko maisip kung bakit nandyan pa rin ang OEC na pahirap (sa mga OFW) mula noon hanggang ngayon,” said Palma. “Ano pa ba ang gusto nilang patunayan ng mga OFW?”

(Until now, I can’t see the reason why the OEC is still around, when it has caused hardship to OFWs in the past, and until now. What more do they want the OFWs to prove?”

Sunga said even Polo is looking forward to getting this plan implemented, admitting that the OEC has been giving headaches not only to OFWs but also to their staff.

Global Alliance's OEC desk at St Joseph's church was packed last Sunday

But asked for a reaction to this news, Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, which has been calling for decades to scrap the OEC, was dismissive.

“Lahat na lang online, inaasa sa teknolohiya, sumasabay kuno sa modernization pero di naman sila nagtuturo, hindi angkop,” she said. “Sobrang walang malasakit ang mga nasa gobyerno. Dapat sa kanila mag-resign.”

(They are trying to do everything online, relying on technology and keeping up ostensibly with modernization but they do not even provide training, it’s not right. Those in government do not care about us at all. They should ust resign).

Press for details

The longtime migrant rights advocate was feeling frustrated, having just issued a call for Sunday protests against the often-chaotic process of obtaining the OEC just days before hundreds, if not thousands, of OFWs are set to go home for the Christmas holidays.

Despite the many complaints aired by OFWs who find it difficult, even impossible, navigating the new online portal set up for obtaining the OEC, Polo has seen it fit not to keep the volunteers who used to provide help in gaining access to the all-important document.

Sunga said this was done to prevent Polo being accused of providing OFWs with parttime employment.


However, even the Consulate has had to rely on the help of OFW volunteers to maintain orderly queuing for those on the way to its offices, and when big events are being held, such as the overseas voting for Filipinos.

Because no physical help is provided to those who cannot or do not even know how to access their employment records online, various groups such as Social Justice, Global Alliance, Mission Movers and Domestic Workers Corner, have been setting up makeshift desks in various places across the city to provide assistance.

Some businesses operating in United Centre, the building where both the Consulate and Polo are located, have taken advantage of this problem by also lending a hand – for a price. Their charges range between $40 and $100, and often, this is just to help workers set an appointment with Polo.

Asked why they could not accommodate walk-in applicants, like what the Hong Kong Immigration Department does, Sunga said they do entertain them, but only at around 4pm, when all those with appointments had been served.

But, she hastened to clarify, this is not the typical walk-in assistance, as the OFW still has to secure an appointment first on another date and time. “So we can see your records,” she said.

But even with Polo assisting, there are certain cases where the OFW is told that nothing could be done for them in Hong Kong. Instead, they must go to the nearest branch of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) – no matter how far from their home – to secure the all-important exit pass.

Often, these are the workers who, in utter frustration because they keep forgetting the email address they registered earlier, or their password, have created new accounts just so they could obtain an OEC before going home.

POLO warns, having multiple accounts could lead you to trouble

In yet another blow, the Polo issued a warning yesterday that those who created “multiple accounts” could be construed as having committed misrepresentation, and as such, be subjected to legal action.

There were many other concerns raised during the online interview with ALA Sunga and the four Filcom leaders who have personal knowledge of the difficulties encountered by practically all those who had tried to access the OEC portal.

Apart from issues they encountered navigating the website or failing to advance to the next page to set up an interview, there were also a lot of problems getting a new password to their accounts, and the long delay in getting a “ticket” for setting up an appointment at Polo.

Questions were raised also as to why membership in Pag-IBIG Fund was made mandatory for all those applying for an OEC.

Everyone agreed that the only way these problems could be overcome was to junk the OEC, once and for all.

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