New Scheme Shortens OEC Queues, Foils Form-Selling

By Vir B. Lumicao

The long lines of Filipino migrant workers clogging the pedestrian bridge in Admiralty in previous days have virtually disappeared, as a new scheme intended to avoid chaos during the seasonal rush for overseas employment certificates went into effect on Dec 9.

But the sheer number of OFWs going home for the Christmas holidays resurrected the long queues again on Sunday, Dec 13, as application forms for the OEC reportedly ran out.

The scheme which took effect at the prodding of Consul General Bernie Catalla, involved designating time slots for OEC applicants queuing up on the Admiralty-United Centre footbridge.

It also cut short attempts by some people to make money by selling copies of OEC forms for up to $4 each to those on the queue. The original forms are free.

Staff at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office who handled crowd control on the footbridge leading to their offices have also begun issuing number cards to people on the queue for more orderly passage.

Applicants immediately welcomed the change, saying it should have come much earlier, although many of them insisted the OEC should be junked.

The crowd that used to stretch all the way towards the Government Centre before 11am on Dec 9 numbered just 46 — just a fraction of the 400 or so who lined up the day before.

Another 38 were slouching on one side of the bridge waiting for their turn to line up.

Those who received the forms with the time slot were told to queue up again 15 minutes before their appointment. However, on reaching the POLO on the 16th floor of Admiralty Centre, some 300 people were still packing the hall.

A woman said she arrived at 8:30 am and was still near the rear end of the queue.

The timed appointments and number cards also eliminated a widely known and criticized selling of OEC forms which some enterprising people had thought of to cash in on the shortage of forms on the previous days.

Applicants who had bought the forms said a photocopying shop in Admiralty Centre was selling them for $4 a copy.

“Grabe, wala man lang nag-aabot ng free form doon. May bumibili na ng form doon dahil takot silang mawala yung pila,” Trisha Mae Reyes commented on a Facebook post.

Vicky Serrano suggested that the crowd should have taken a photo of a man who came offering forms for $4 each.

“Dapat kinunan ng picture, baka taga Consulate lng yun. $4 eh, grabe, tapos sakripisyo pa sa pagpila,” she said.

Cecile Yraola Diala also welcomed the change. “Mabuti naman…grabe pinila ko noong Sunday grabe kahaba…maski makapag-rest naubos lang sa pagpila. Pagdating sa taas hinihilo kaapa..9:00 am until 6:00 pm grabe,” she said.

Others suggested what they thought were better options, such as POLO staff setting up tables on the footbridge where the OEC could be issued, instead of sending the people up the building.

But one applicant, calling herself Ri Tah, made a more practical solution to the queues: “Bakit di na lang kasi tanggalin ang OEC na yan? May kontrata namang ipapakita kung babalik. At makikita naman sa passport kung tapos na ang kontrata mo o hindi.”



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