Striving to be more of service to overseas Filipino workers and their families, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), yesterday said it will offer an array of direct services and facilities to them in this year’s “Pamaskong Handog sa OFWs”

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz stated this yesterday as she bared the activities lined up for this annual tradition lead by the DOLE, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

“This has been a hard year for the country and we wish to make a difference in the lives of the workers and their families in every program and project that the department and its family of agencies conduct. We aim to give more meaning for this year’s “Pamaskong Handog” and make it more productive and worthwhile for the OFWs and their families,” Baldoz explains.

Highlighting the “Pamaskong Handog sa OFWs” is the recently concluded 2013 Model OFW Family of the Year Award (MOFYA). This annual event which features the best practices of the OFW families in tackling the difficulties of migration. Now on its 9th year, two winners, one from the land-based and another one from the sea-based sector, were chosen from among the seventeen (17) regional winners all over the country. Two special awards—OFW Family with Outstanding Achievement in Community Projects and OFW Family with Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship—were also given during the Awarding Ceremony last 9 December 2013 at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Recognizing that more OFWs will be coming home to spend the holiday season with their families and loved ones in the country, OWWA enhanced its expanded airport assistance services for arriving OFWs by designating teams to provide the said services at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on 3, 5, 10, 12 and 17 December 2013.

“Several facilitative services which aim to make the issuance and validation of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) will also be set up to make the process easier and more convenient for the OFWs, especially for the Balik-Manggagawa,” Baldoz said.

These facilitative services include a one-stop shop scheme of the POEA, in partnership with OWWA, Pag-IBIG, and PhilHealth.

A One-Stop Processing Center is operating at Room 101 at the Ground Floor of the OWWA Center Building in Pasay City starting 3 December 2013 up to 31 January 2014.

With the goal of reducing the process cycle time for the issuance of OEC from presentation of documents, the POEA will be implementing a Pre-Evaluation of Balik-Manggagawa (BM) Documents. Under this scheme, BMs who were already in the POEA database and have e-mail addresses on record will be sent an electronic mail encouraging them to fill-out an online BM Information Sheet and take advantage of the appointment system. Once accomplished, the information contained in the online form will be automatically saved in the POEA database and can be used to pre-evaluate the data against those which are previously recorded in the database.

On the scheduled time and date of appointment at the processing center, the BM will just present the printed copy of the information sheet together with the documentary requirements such as work visa/permit, passport, and proof of employment to the evaluator and proceed to the assessment/payment counter.

Last 24 November 2013, all 20 counters at the POEA main office evaluating OFW documents and issuing OEC start their operation from 6:30 A.M. up to the last client every Monday and from 7:00 A.M. from Tuesday to Friday.

“From 23-27 December 2013 and 2-3 January 2014, all transaction counters at the POEA Main Office open at 6:00 A.M. and will operate half-day on 4 January 2013,” Baldoz said, adding that additional evaluators and computers will be provided at the processing centers at the Duty Free Philippines, Trinoma, and at SM Manila to accommodate more BM during the peak season.

Baldoz further said that the One-Stop Validation System at NAIA, a database information sharing system jointly developed and undertaken by the ICT teams of the POEA and Bureau of Immigration with the primary aim of streamlining the OFW documentation will be launched by the 3rd week of December this year.

“As part of the transition period, OECs processed within the country will be validated directly by the BI while those issued by the POLOs will still be authenticated by the OFW Labor Assistance Center,” Baldoz explained.

With the theme, “Maagang Pamaskong Handog para sa OFW: Patuloy na Mabilis at Mahusay na Serbisyo, Pasasalamat sa OFWs”, will run up to 31 January 2014.

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