x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Exit clearance pilot makes travel easier for Filipinos

Filipinos in Hong Kong, Brunei and Cambodia can now apply for multiple travel exit clearance, allowing them to return to and leave the Philippines as often as they wish for two years.

ABU DHABI // A pilot has begun of a new scheme that will remove the need for Filipinos working overseas to apply for an exit clearance each time they go on holiday.

Filipinos in Hong Kong, Brunei and Cambodia can now apply for multiple travel exit clearance, allowing them to return to and leave the Philippines as often as they wish for two years.

The pilot began in August. If successful, it will eventually be expanded to other countries including the UAE, where the need to apply for a separate exit clearance for each vacation has long been a bureaucratic headache.

The pilot applies to workers who have finished their contracts and are rehired, those who renew their contracts and those are on emergency leave or business. It also covers workers returning to the same employer under a renewed contract with a new job site. However, it excludes domestic workers.

Officials could not say when the scheme would be extended to the UAE. “We are still at the pilot-testing stages,” said Hans Cacdac, the head of the Philippine overseas employment administration (POEA), from Manila. “We are expanding to southeast Asia for the next two weeks. Thereafter, we open up to the rest of the world.”

And it cannot come soon enough for some. Robert Ramos, 43, a managing partner of Technolux, a supplier of kitchen equipment, travels to the Philippines four to five times a month.

“It takes two to three hours to get a certificate,” he said. “Why can’t we have online processing instead?”

Multiple-exit clearance would remove the need for him to re-apply for an overseas employment certificate (OEC) at the Philippine overseas labour office in Dubai ahead of each business trip.

There are also plans to start a new online system, which is undergoing “some refinements” and the POEA hopes it would take off “within the year”.

rruiz@thenational.ae