DOLE launches ID card system for OFWs
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday launched the free and permanent identification card system for millions of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), replacing the much-criticized Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) or the “exit pass.”
Overseas workers are no longer required to obtain an OEC at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) upon entering or exiting the country, as the ID of the Department of Labor and Employment (i-DOLE) will now serve as their permanent pass.
“OFWs who carry this ID would mean that his documents have been legally processed by the POEA,” Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The processing of the i-DOLE would be shouldered by the employers; hence, OFWs need not pay for the cost of the ID, which would be delivered by PhilPost to their respective addresses,” he added.
Before, overseas workers had to process an employment certificate at the POEA before returning abroad. This document served as their proof of exemption from travel tax or terminal fee at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
But many OFWs had expressed dismay over the system, pointing out that they had to endure long lines and waiting hours every time they went home for vacation.
In a previous statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that these inconveniences experienced by OFWs when obtaining employment certificates at the POEA will now be “things of the past.”
“They (OFWs) won’t have to go to the POEA every time to get their OEC. All they have to do is show their i-DOLE and that will serve as their license to go abroad and go back anytime they want to,” he said.
The ID system for overseas workers, which was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte last February, also features access to the holder’s records with government agencies such as the Social Security System and Pag-IBIG.
In a Palace briefing on July 4, Bello said the DOLE would coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice through the Bureau of Immigration to see if the i-DOLE could later on serve as passports to OFWs.
“Given another six months, we are trying to adopt a system that this i-DOLE can serve as their passport. We will talk with the DFA and of course the DOJ, through the Bureau of Immigration, so that the i-DOLE could be used as a passport,” he told reporters. Winona S. Sadia, INQUIRER.net trainee/JE
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