By Corina Oliquino
FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA — In its newest campaign to ease the lives of OFWs, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will soon provide the iDOLE-OFW Identification Card to replace the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) of deploying migrant workers.
“Under this program, all bona fide OFWs will be given iDOLE, the ID of the Department of Labor and Employment at no cost to the OFWs. This will serve as the OEC of the OFWs,” Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello III said in a press briefing in Malacañang last July 4.
According to Bello, the OFW ID will provide easier access and transaction to government and private agencies including SSS, Pag-IBIG and Philhealth as well as electronic access to government records without having the need to go to the concerned government offices and it can also serve as a debit card and an ATM card for the soon to be launched OFW Bank.
The OFW ID can also be used as a beep card to ride the LRT and MRT trains.
Bello also added that the iDOLE Card is the “best gift” of President Rodrigo Duterte to OFWs. “The President has seen to it that their lives are more comfortable, more secured and their stay abroad are properly attended to. And it has been my policy to prioritize the protection, welfare, and interest of our Bagong Bayani.”
In a report by Rappler last February 7 Duterte approved the proposed special card for OFWs but with conditions at a cabinet meeting.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said that Duterte approved the iDOLE-OFW ID with conditions due to “certain technicalities” that the spokesperson did not elaborate on.
Bello also noted that DOLE is trying to adopt a system that will allow the OFW ID to serve as the Electronic passport for OFWs; for their convenience and easier access.
“We are trying to adopt a system that this iDOLE can serve as OFWs passport. Kakausapin natin nang maigi ang Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice, through the Bureau of Immigration. Para yang iDOLE na yan ay pwede na ring gamitin bilang passport,” Bello said.
Aside from the OFW ID, the Labor Department will also be launching the OFW Bank in October 2017 even as the One-Stop Service Center for OFWs continue to streamline frontline services needed by OFWs.
In another story by The Philippine Star last July 9, DOLE Undersec. Dominador Say said that departing overseas OFWs will be the first ones to get a hold of the iDOLE-OFW ID.
Say related that the Labor Department and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) meeting on July 11 with members of the recruitment industry was held “to ensure that there will be no hitch when the ID system is officially launched on July 19 in Malacañang.”
“The ID will be issued free to OFWs, but their employers will be required to shoulder the cost,” Say told The Philippine Star while also noting that the government will set up an online application and payment system for the OFW ID