Philippine consular officials in Dubai on Thursday clarified issues regarding the issuance of overseas employment certificates and denied rumors circulating on social media that Filipinos based in the UAE can no longer go on vacation or return to their workplace due to the “suspension of the issuance of OEC or travel exit clearance.”
In a Facebook video, labor attache Felicitas Bay said Filipinos who are already working abroad who are going on vacation in the Philippines may do so and will not encounter problems obtaiing OEC or exemption through the Balik Manggagawa website (www.bmonline.ph).
“We would like to clarify that there is no suspension in the issuance of OEC for workers who are taking their vacation..”
“So long as they have a valid visa, valid passport and valid employment contract, they can secure their OEC or OEC exemption and return to Dubai or UAE,” Bai told Gulf News.
The clarification follows the confusion generated right after the order of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to suspend the processing and issuance of exit clearances for all direct hire overseas Filipino workers on Tuesday “until further orders.”
Posts appearing on social media that said “OEC has been removed completely” and went viral were not true, Bay said, adding that direct hires are Filipinos who are hired directly from the Philippines by their overseas employers without going through an accredited employment agency.
The ones who will not receive OECs from April 25 are those whose applications ae still pending in the Philippines and have yet to be deployed for overseas jobs. However, this group only comprise just 1-% of all OFWs leaving the country, Bay said, without giving specific numbers.
As a rule, Bay said there is a ban on direct hiring of Filipinos except on some cases.
Bello on Tuesday signed an administrative order suspending the OEC issuance to new direct hires, saying it is “in the interest of justice” and in view of alleged extortion activities by some employees of the Philippine Overseas Employment Adminstration.
Workers who are not supposed to be under direct hires and are not under the exemptions are allegedly being charged by up to P17,000 each to be allowed to leave the country.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q Who are affected by the Ainistrative Order?
A New hires as of April 25 or those who are hired directly by their employers abroad without going through accredited agency in the Philippines.
Q Are tourist visa holders affected by the Order?
A Filipinos who arrive in UAE on tourist visas and got employment can still get their OECs through www.bmonline.ph
Q Is the OEC exemption for existing workers still in place?
A Yes, Filipino workers who are returning to the same employer and are alredy in the POEA database are still exempted. Check www.bmonline.ph to verify if you are excempted.