POEA criticized for setting up OFW centers in malls
A GROUP advocating for the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) has criticized the government’s decision to set up centers for the processing of OFW exit permits at two SM malls in Metro Manila.
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona claims that commercialism was a factor in the move of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to place the Global Pinoy Centers for exit permits at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City and SM Northh EDSA’s The Block in Quezon City.
“While at first glance, this project is intended to benefit vacationing OFWs, easing their way in getting exit permits by avoiding the long lines at the POEA main office in Ortigas, the project’s ultimate motive is commercialism, not convenience,” said Monterona.
The permit, which is also called overseas employment certificate (OEC), serves as the OFW’s travel exit clearance issued by the POEA.
OFWs with working visas or empolyment contracts will not be allowed to leave the Philippines without the said permit.
An OEC also exempts OFWs from paying travel tax and airport terminal fees.
Monterona said that if the POEA intends to decongest the long lines at its main office during the Yuletide season, it could have tapped the services of local government units in Metro Manila and the provinces instead.
He also said that the permit could be made free of charge. However, the POEA is charging P100 for the document, according to Monterona.
He said this is aside from collecting payments for the OFWs’ renewal of their Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Medicare memberships. D’jay Lazaro