Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello announced an identification system for overseas Filipino workers and a bank dedicated to them will be launched this year.
“They will be launched this year. The OFW identification card system will be put in place in March while the OFW Bank will be operational by November,” Manila Times quoted Bello as saying.
The OFW identification system will reduce, if not eliminate, issues about authenticity of documents which can now be verified online.
Bello said the system is a major component of the Integrated DOLE System which connects databases of the Department with relevant government agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Commission on Higher Education, TESDA and SSS.
It will also double as a debit and ATM card OFWs can use at the soon to be launched OFW bank as well as Beep card for railway systems such as Light Rail Transit 1 and 2, and Metro Rail Transit 3.
The establishment of an OFW bank has been one of the campaign promises of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to migrant workers. The others were to create of a separate government department for OFWs and to make mandatory for consul generals to keep track of all the Filipinos abroad and provide free airfare to abused overseas workers who want to go home.
The OFW bank, Bello said, is intended to cater to remittances and other banking needs of Filipino migrant workers all over the world. Prior to Bello’s November launch announcement, it was originally scheduled to be operational by September.
Overseas Filipino workers, he said, would also become part owners of the bank through shares of stocks and have their own credit facilities.
The concept finally became a reality after it failed to materialize in the past two administrations, citing cost, redundancy and regulatory challenges.