Sunday, July 26, 2015

OFWs: New Procedure for OEC Processing at POEA

"Go online, don't fall in line."

So goes the catchphrase of the new procedure for OEC (Overseas Employment Certificate) processing at POEA Davao.

It seems that in May of this year, POEA launched their new online system for processing overseas worker applications, which they call "Balik-Manggagawa Online Processing System."

Here's a quick run-through of the new application (for renewal) procedure:
  1. Go to
  2. For new users, fill up your details under the "New User?" panel, check the "I accept..." checkbox and then click the "SIGN ME UP" button.
  3. You will then be asked to fill up an online version of the application form that you used to fill up manually at the POEA office. If you still have a copy of your latest OEC, you can enter your OEC number when asked. But if you don't have a copy, like me, you can leave this field blank. When filling up the form, always click SAVE after you've filled up each section.
  4. Upload a recent ID picture.
  5. Choose your POEA branch and set an appointment. The date and time is up to you, but the system will display available slots for each day.
  6. Print the form that you filled up. It doesn't have to be in color.
  7. Go to POEA on your appointed date and time, bring the printed form, a photocopy of your passport (page with picture and the page with the VISA stamp), a photocopy of your visa, and for workers in Japan, a copy of your residence card. Just in case, also bring a copy of your employment contract.
  8. Submit your documents to Table 2 and wait for your name to be called at table 5 for the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) membership payment. Prepare around Php 1,500. PAG-IBIG and PhilHealth payments are optional, but you can pay at tables 6 and 7 after processing.
  9. After paying for your OWA membership, wait again until your name is called at either table 3 or 4 for final evaluation.
  10. When you are called, you will be handed only the receipt and your passport. Your OEC will be sent to the email that you registered with at BMOnline and you will have to print 2 copies, which you will present at the airport during check-in.
(Note: The procedure above is for renewal. For new applicants, the procedure and requirements may differ so please check the POEA website for more details.)

And here's what I think: the new system SUCKS.

Instead of making it easier for OFWs, I felt that it just made the process even more inefficient than it already was. Sure, when you say "online", you imagine a smooth, lightning-speed process, but this system? Nuh-uh.

Why do I say the system sucks? Let's face it- not all OFWs are tech-savvy. Take for example this one lady who looked like she had no idea what the guard at the entrance was talking about when he explained that she had to go online and such. Honestly, even I found the system difficult to use. There were no clear explanations and it was just plain confusing.

Even if you go there early, they can easily brush you away with a "We don't accept applications that are not made online." Imagine how I felt when I specifically went there early to avoid the crowd.

I also feel that this new system just increased the burden of OFWs. I mean, you have to print the form and the OEC! This means more expense and more hassle for the OFWs. Only POEA is benefiting from this- they can save paper and ink.

And no, don't get me started on their catchphrase. What "don't fall in line?!" Well, I guess technically, you can't call sitting on a hard, metal chair for 2.5 hours "falling in line." But I still had to wait for 2.5 hours! It took an hour more to finish the processing compared to the pre-online days. If you don't think something's wrong with that, then there must be something wrong with your head.

Okay, so maybe the system is still young, and there's much more left to be improved. But I really wonder if the people at POEA have actually tried using the system. I think they would understand how user-unfriendly it is. And I also wish they moved faster. They move really slowly, as if oblivious to the people who would rather get out of there and spend time with their loved ones before leaving the country but are patiently enduring the heat and the hard seat to get their OEC, which exempts them from paying the expensive travel tax.

Sorry. I just had to let off some steam. And I hope this will give OFWs a heads-up on what awaits them at POEA.

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