x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Online system to cut the queues

The head of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in Manila hopes that the online facility for Filipinos overseas will take off before the end of the year.

The busy immigration desk at Manila’s international airport. Filipinos will soon be able to apply for their exit certificates online. Jay Directo / AFP
The busy immigration desk at Manila’s international airport. Filipinos will soon be able to apply for their exit certificates online. Jay Directo / AFP

ABU DHABI // Filipinos will no longer have to queue as early as 1am to obtain exit certificates when an online system goes live this year.

A trial run of the system was conducted at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, or Poea, office in Manila on Wednesday.

Filipinos returning to workplaces abroad were asked to try it out.

So far it can only accommodate about 350,000 who obtained their overseas employment certificates at the central office, said Hans Cacdac, head of Poea in Manila.

“We are processing some returning workers in preparation for a bigger launch next week, when we will be announcing the URL for the online scheme,” Mr Cacdac said.

The second stage of the trial run would enable Filipinos abroad to access the system and obtain their certificates online.

Those arriving in the UAE to work or returning from holiday must obtain a certificate before they leave the Philippines to prove they have been legally hired.

It exempts them from the travel tax and terminal fee at the Philippines’ international airports. 

Mr Cacdac said he expected the system to go live by the end of the year, “but it would really depend on the success of the first phase of our soft launch. Our focus now is the current system before we move on to the next phase, to allow on-site online application overseas.

“The facility entitles one to provide his or her basic information then be guided to Poea’s database, where they can access their information as long as they are returning to the same employer.

“But if they are returning to a different employer, they will be guided to an online appointment facility for a face-to-face transaction.”

On Thursday, Filipinos queuing at the Philippine embassy for their exit certificates welcomed the system.

“It’s such as a hassle to apply,” said Reymer Laxa, 28, who travelled from Al Ain by bus. “I had to take a day off just to have this processed. They should start implementing the online scheme soon.”

Mr Laxa left Al Ain at 3am and arrived at the embassy more than three hours later.

Jonathan Perez, 42, a diver in Abu Dhabi, said it was his first time to apply for a certificate at the embassy. He was the 120th in line.

“The online facility should be up and running by now,” Mr Perez said. “We end up spending a lot in taxi fares and wasting time in a queue.”

The payment system will guide an applicant to a series of payment options, such as remittance or online payment through a bank account.

The service charge is 19.50 pesos (Dh1.64) which is on top of the Poea fee of 100 pesos. Ophelia Almenario, the labour attache in Abu Dhabi, welcomed the news but said she had not been formally notified about it.

“The online facility will help us to focus on other concerns such as welfare assistance and employment promotion,” Ms Almenario said.

rruiz@thenational.ae