What the heck is an OEC you ask? It is your Overseas Employment Certificate or exit pass. Honestly I didn’t know that thing existed until I brought the subject of going home to the Philippines to my fellow overseas workers. You need it to exit the Philippines in order for you to go back to your job’s country.
I dread going back to the Philippines mainly because I escaped the immigration authorities: I exited the country as a tourist, meaning I wasn’t a documented overseas worker.
What does it mean to be a documented overseas worker? It means that you are a member of the Philippine Overseas Employment Association (POEA) and if you die overseas, your body will be repatriated back for free (I thought this was a basic human right but apparently, things work very differently in my country). You will also get exempted from paying travel tax in Philippine airports (which amounts to $10/Php 500 more or less). It also comes with the fringe benefits of being a member of the social security system and the government housing association, both of which offices I am a member of since I have been employed in the country before and it is a legal mandate for all Filipino employees to have their tax cuts for these payments. However, as an “overseas Filipino worker” member, you get an option to loan a “livelihood package”, which is basically a stimulus fund, if you ever decide not to go back and work abroad worth $400/Php 20,000 to start your own business.
Why did I become an undocumented worker?
It’s easier to escape the country as a tourist. I tried doing it the right way, don’t get me wrong, but it is so difficult to get visas in the Philippines.
I have scored a job in Thailand last December 2013 as a Prenursery Teacher online. The school sent me all the paperwork I need to process my work visa, and told me I had to be in school by January 4, 2014. By December 26, 2013, I was in the Thai Embassy in Makati having my visa rejected because I need to have a Thai Ministry of Education recommendation and said that even if I had it, would take three weeks to process. I didn’t have three weeks, I said. Then the embassy lady told me, just exit the Philippines and take care of your work visa in Malaysia or Laos. Many people do that. So that, I did. I exited the country as a tourist (separate entry on that).
That is technically illegal, I know, but many overseas workers start like that. Personally, I like it like that because I don’t get taxed! But the government is sneaky and it wants its money. When you get back to the Philippines and your passport is stamped with your work visa, you can’t get out unless you have this paper called OEC. Many people say it is unconstitutional to hold people off for travel but you are at the mercy of these immigration people!
According to the Philippine Embassy in Singapore, this is what OEC is:
Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)
The Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is a requirement under the rules and regulations of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to help ensure that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are properly documented and protected.
The OEC, sometimes also called the “exit pass,” is required to be presented to international ports of exit in the Philippines as proof that the holder is a bona fide OFW. It is thus necessary when a Household Service Worker (HSW), or any OFW, goes back to the Philippines for home leave, if he/she intends to return back to the country of employment.
OEC holders are exempted from paying the travel tax and the airport terminal fee.
Apparently, it is a nightmare to get it. My titos and titas told me it will take at least three days in Manila to do it, some say it will only take a day if I will do it in the province. It requires traveling to many government offices, and knowing how these offices are located so far each other, I can imagine it – not to mention the queues.
Sad to say there is a lack of step by step guide on how to procure a fresh OEC from a non-member of the POEA, I am getting frustrated at looking through Google for stuff, so I will document how my adventure goes.
Meanwhile, I will gather some stuff out for you and feel free to browse the blog for it.