Philippine Palpak – The POEA OFW Clearance, June 2011

If you want solid proof of how incompetent this current Administration is, then you need to look no further than how it is currently running the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA).

‘POEA OFW Clearance’
Just a backgrounder for non-Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) out there: If you are an OFW, then you need to secure a clearance from the POEA everytime you go back to the country you are working after your vacation in this gad-forsaken country of ours. Take note that this has been made M-A-N-D-A-T-O-R-Y, meaning the Philippine Immigration will not let you leave the country without it.

The intent is okay, it seeks to register as much information about each OFW for easy reference, so the government will know which OFW went to which country for what company. It also saves OFWs money, as each clearance costs only P100 per exit, and it exempts you from paying the P750 Exit Tax and P2k+ Airport Fees.

‘Disastrous Implementation’
However, the implementation of the issuing of clearances to OFWs by the POEA has been nothing short of a D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R under this Administration of the Abnormal.

First issue, is that they have now closed the POEA at the NAIA Terminal 1. There used to be one, but now no more, you have to get it from the main office near the intersection between EDSA and Ortigas.

The immediate effect of this, is that the traffic at that main POEA Office has increased, so much so that it services approximately 2,000 applications each day. That office is S-W-A-M-P-E-D, it is common to see OFWs spending the E-N-T-I-R-E day there just to get that clearance. Imagine going in as early as 9:00 am in the morning, and leaving eight hours later at 5:00 pm in the afternoon in the same place, just waiting for the clearance to be done.

The POEA offices itself where you get the clearance gets overcrowded, with a lot of the people standing about because there are not enough seats for everyone, so it is hard around because of all the bodies packed like sardines. The seats themselves are an annoyance, with some of them without the tablet arm used for writing. And those with tablet arms, the arms are defective in that they tilt down too much to comfortably write on to. It is a disgrace.

Closing down the NAIA POEA Office also has another effect: You can process only during normal office days, meaning Mondays to Fridays. During the weekends AND holidays, there is no way for you to get those clearances. It used to be that if you have a plane ticket for the same day, you can process it at the NAIA POEA Office even during weekends and holidays, but nooooooo seeeerieeee … They have to make it life so much harder for OFWs, the saviour of this economy, this country and this damn Administration.

‘Making Things Worst’
I saw an OFW shouting at the staff recently out of sheer frustration. When he talked to the Supervisor, the Supervisor’s excuse was that she did not have enough people to serve so many OFWs. This is a stupid excuse. They know how many OFWs this country has, so they should’ve planned for it in advance. They should’ve known how much manpower is required for the POEA to process all of these clearances within a limited time period.

I even heard the Supervisor say they will change the system in July 2011, wherein you apply on one day, then come back again the next day to pick up your clearance. This is bullshit. You need to travel to a faraway place twice, just to get your damn clearance?

‘Home Delivery Alternative’
There is a service which will allow you to get your clearance, and have it delivered to your house. But there are problems with this: First, the turnaround time is about a couple of days if you live within Metro Manila. If you live in the provinces, it is at least a week. More, if there are holidays, because there is no work during those times.

Another issue is cost. Costs is much higher, no less than around P1k including the delivery. There is also the hassle of making sure that somebody is always at your house to pick up the clearance and Passport (which you surrender to the service provider), an option not most people have. AND, on top of that, you need to specify which person in advance will pick the Passport and Clearance if you are not around, or else they will not hand it over.

‘Final Thoughts’
I’d like to ask the morons who voted for that Abnormal in Malacanang, where are the changes they boasted and fantasized about if the AbNoy is elected as President? It has been a year now that the AbNoy has been sitting in power, so how come things are not only as bad as it used to, it has now gotten W-O-R-S-T?! How come the government services are starting to keel over, instead of improving as they kept boasting about earlier?

These are services that impact the lives of OFWs, the so-called saviour of our economy. How come is it, that they are being treated severely by this Administration? They have to sacrifice a lot being away from families, living and working in strange countries, with strange lands, cultures, food and places, and they are again asked to sacrifice even more when they arrive back into this country.

Where are the changes? Akala ko ba, iba na ngayon?

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