How OFW rehires can apply for employment certificates online
MANILA, Philippines – Rehired overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) based in 4 countries can now apply online for an overseas employment certificate (OEC), with Israel adopting the system only last January 19.
"More expansive information drives are needed to make the BM (Balik Manggagawa) online system a byword among OFWs so that they will use it. Emphasize the benefits of convenience and speed," said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Monday, March 23.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has a program dubbed Balik Manggagawa Online Processing System, which allows vacationing OFWs who are rehired by their employers to secure an OEC via bmonline.poea.gov.ph.
"Many of our workers will be able to accomplish this transaction from any location where there is online connection," Baldoz said.
The system has benefitted some 31,354 OFWs so far: 4,495 successfully secured their OEC online; the rest secured appointments with POEA to apply for their OECs in person.
Locally, 13 POEA regional offices have implemented the BM system. Overseas, Singapore, Dubai, Israel, and Macau have thus far used it.
Since it urges OFWs to go online instead of falling in line, the BM system is seen to lessen queues at the POEA.
In a report to Baldoz, POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac assured the users that "their OECs can be processed straight online as long as they will return to the same employer and since their information are already stored in the POEA database."
The online application covers OFWs who meet all of the following criteria:
- "on vacation returning to the same employer/principal and job site"
- "with employment visa/work permit"
- "have a record in the POEA database"
- "was previously issued an OEC/E-Receipt under the same employer/principal"
(Below is an instructional video from the POEA on how to use the system.)
OFWs who do not meet these standards are still encouraged to visit the system to secure an appointment on their preferred processing site, date, and time.
The BM system will redirect an OFW to an appointment page if he or she does not meet the criteria for online application for an OEC.
The labor department vowed that "those with appointment will be prioritized in any of the POEA processing sites within the country and even in the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs)."
In Israel, with the system in its initial phase, OFWs will still need to go to the POLO site to pay for the OEC fee. Other collecting facilities will soon be in place.
Baldoz is keen on implementing the system in all POLOs within 2015, with labor attachés committing to the same.
"I hold them accountable to this promise of 100% implementation of the BM online system," she said.
A recent study by the University of Southern California (USC) said technology-based networking services for OFWs must be developed to prevent irregular practices "dependent on the maintenance of a specific information asymmetry between job seeker and recruiter." (READ: Tech-based services needed to protect OFWs – research)
The Philippines is a known labor-sending country, with over 10 million Filipinos either temporarily working or permanently residing abroad.
Comprising more than a 10th of the country's gross national income, OFW remittances have boosted the Philippine economy.
President Benigno Aquino III, however, said he envisions "a government that creates jobs at home so that working abroad will be a choice rather than a necessity." – Rappler.com