DOLE to launch gov’t IDs to replace employment certificates for OFWs
In a major victory for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Tuesday said the much-criticized overseas employment certificates (OECs) for OFWs will be replaced with a government ID.
Bello said that bona fide OFWs need not apply for the ID—named i-DOLE or ID of the Department of Labor and Employment—since it would be mailed to the OFWs in their workplace or residences.
He added that the new ID would be launched on July 12 while DOLE would try to find out if it could also eventually serve as the passport of OFWs.
“Under this program, all bona fide OFWs will be given the i-Dole at no cost to the OFW. This will serve as your OEC so that you don’t have to go to POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) every time they go and they come back,” Bello told reporters.
“All they have to do is show their (i-DOLE) and this will serve as their license to go abroad and come back here,” he added.
OFWs needed to obtain OECs before they are deployed abroad if they go back for vacation. By presenting an OEC, an OFW would not be required to pay a travel tax or the terminal fee at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
However, OFW groups had campaigned for years for the abolition of the OECs, pointing out that they had to go to the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices abroad and fall in line for hours to get an OEC every time they go home for vacation.
“This is a major breakthrough. This is the best gift of our President to OFWs. The President has seen to it their life is more comfortable and more secure,” Bello said.
Once the i-DOLE is launched, Bello said OFWs could present the ID at the airport to skip paying the travel tax and terminal fee.
He said OFWs also need not register for the Balik Manggaawa (BM) Online program to go on vacation.
“That’s no longer the case because they now have their ID. That (the BM Online) was needed before to get an OEC but we’ve done away with the OEC,” Bello said.
Bello said OFWs could also use the i-DOLE for their Social Security System, Pag-Ibig (Home Development Mutual Fund), and PhilHealth transactions.
He said the DOLE was conducting an inventory of its list of bona fide OFWs to determine who should get an i-DOLE and where to send it to.
“All we need is to inventory all the bona fide OFWs. On the basis of which, our POEA in conjunction with the Department of Labor and Employment will start processing the IDs,” Bello said.
“If you’re an OFW, there’s no need to apply because you are already in the roster, so an ID will be made for you and then they will send it to you. You will be asked if you want it sent to your workplace or your residence,” he said.
“The OFW will just have to wait and he will be given an ID. If he’s abroad, the labor attache could give the ID,” he added.
Bello said the DOLE would give the specifics of the program when it is launched on July 12.
He said the DOLE would also coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to find out if the i-DOLE could eventually be used as passports by 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,” Bello said. JE
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