Hong Kong, Middle East OFWs call for abolishing Overseas Employment Certificate

Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2022 06:16 PM

MANILA — Migrante International and its member overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are calling for the abolition of the Overseas Employment Certificate.

They complained about its stressful processing -- a perennial problem especially highlighted during holidays -- when a majority of OFWs return to the Philippines for a short break with families.

While the system is partially online, some said they had a hard time accessing the portal for OECs.

According to Mary Gold Cuanan, an OFW working in Hong Kong, she had to pay a fee in exchange for assistance from staff at the Philippine consulate. 

When she received her OEC after a week, there was an error on the document and she said nobody would offer assistance to correct it.

“Sana maglagay sila ng mag-a-assist sa mga nahihirapang pumasok sa online appointment para hindi na kami napipilitan na lumapit sa mga shop na sa baba at magbayad ng pagkamahal,” said Cuanan in a press conference.

Others complained about the fees tied to the OEC.

Although the Department of Migrant Workers removed the requirement for insurance, OFWs said they are still required PAG-IBIG membership before their OECs are processed.

Maritess Palma, an OFW in Hong Kong and officer of the migrants' group Social Justice, recounted her experience when she had to go back and forth from Tuguegarao and Roxas in Isabela to satisfy the OEC requirement for a PAG-IBIG number.

“Alisin na ang OEC na yan na siyang nagbibigay pasakit sa lahat ng OFWs. Hindi ko talaga, hindi ko, hindi ko mapigil na magalit dahil mula noon hanggang ngayon, bakit yan pa rin ang problema?” Palma said.

Winnie Jiuquillo, an OFW in Hong Kong, said securing an OEC is not an easy process.

“Sa tuwing pong kumukuha kami ng OEC kami po ay pumipila ng pagkahaba-haba at naghihintay pa po ng matagal. Saka hindi naman po kailangan namin yung OEC kasi meron kaming mga passport, visa at saka contract. So para saan pa po ba ang OEC at ano po ang gamit niyan? Sa tuwing pag-uwi namin kami ay kumukuha,” Jiquillo complained.

Migrante International Middle East also believes the OEC causes unnecessary hassle and stress for OFWs, taking away time that should have been spent with their families.

Migrante Hong Kong meanwhile said they’ve tried reaching out to the Philippine Labor Overseas-Hong Kong and have written Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople’s office, but received no response so far.

"We’ve been trying to ask for a dialogue, actually sumulat tayo. Hindi nga responsive si Secretary Ople, kahit dun sa kanyang assistant na, yung kanyang second in line, sinulatan din natin,” said Dolores Balladares-Pelaez of Migrante International Hong Kong.

ABS-CBN News has reached out to Ople for comment.