x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Online processing dismay for UAE Filipinos

Filipino officials have pulled the plug on an online service that made it easier for their citizens in the UAE to get the paperwork they need for holidays back home.

Abu DHABI // Filipino officials have pulled the plug on an online service that made it easier for their citizens in the UAE to get the paperwork they need for holidays back home.

Since November 2004, Teleserv, a Manila firm, has offered online processing for overseas employment certificates. Filipinos need to present the certificate at the airport when they return to prove they have been hired legally.

The privately operated service, which has been available for almost eight years, will be replaced by a similar one run by the government. No date has yet been given for the launch of that service.

Teleserv said it was asked to stop its service in April this year following a review by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), an agency that monitors overseas employment.

Hans Cacdac, the head of POEA, said in January there were plans to start a new online system this year.

For now, it is still undergoing "refinements" and the POEA is hoping it will take off "within the year".

"The budget requirement for the project is also being worked out," a POEA official said. "But we are confident that this will not be a stumbling block for the realisation of this project."

Nasser Munder, the labour attache in Abu Dhabi, said the office had received many inquiries about online certificates since the Teleserv service was stopped.

"Many have complained and others have questioned the need to renew their memberships when they're still active."

Raffy David, Teleserv's marketing director, said the company was "on standby in the event we are invited to participate" in the replacement POEA service.

"Teleserv is a service partner of Philippine government agencies and it is always ready to work on solutions for our overseas Filipino workers," he said.

Until the new online system is ready, the certificates are available from the Philippine overseas labour office in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, and at the POEA's main office in Manila.

"I wish we had an online system so we don't need to queue to get an OEC," said Oscar Digutan, a 30-year-old welder in Abu Dhabi, who applied for the certificate last week.

"They ran out of OEC forms in the morning and I was lucky to get one from a fellow applicant."

By the end of September, the POEA has said it will start issuing exit clearances that remain valid for as long as a worker's contract, removing the need to reapply each time.

rruiz@thenational.ae