A Christmas gift from POEA

For Naija Pinoys, it’s always a stressful experience coming from a vacation in the Philippines. With all the hassles and expense we have to endure with the Philippine immigration just to be allowed to get back to Nigeria.

Although we are secretly thankful to the immig boys for being more “understanding” to our situation, more than the other “supposedly” concerned government agencies who couldn’t make up their minds about the total travel ban indefinitely imposed against Nigeria OFWs.

In October 2009, there were news from vacationing Naija Pinoys that POEA started issuing the much-coveted Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). The OEC provides an OFW clearance to travel overseas without challenge from immig. This piece of paper also provides exemption from the payment of travel tax..

Those Naija OFWs who got the OEC were kind enough to post and share their experience in the naijapinoy yahoogroup.

As my own vacation neared (mid-November), I was already getting stressed at the thought of spending 2-3 days in Manila just to renew my OEC.

So instead of taking Qatar Airways via Cebu, I have to take Emirates via Manila and thus spend a lonely night in Manila, before flying to the province the next day. I was planning to get an OEC from the POEA main office in Ortigas. That would mean 2-3 days in Manila, on my way back to Nigeria.

A week before my travel to Manila, i decided to visit the regional office of POEA in Cagayan de Oro. I wasn’t really optimistic about getting something from a regional office. Just the same, I made sure I had photocopies of my passport, visa pages, and my CERPAC receipt.

After I identified myself as a Naija OFW, i was shown by the POEA staff a memo from Chief Manalili about Nigera OFWs. It was the same memo circulated by the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria. I was thinking that, this is it, the expected red tape…

But to my surprise, the regional manager gave her go-signal for the OEC processing. I was told to go to Philhealth office where i paid my contribution. They took one set of the photocopies. Then I went to OWWA office to make payments for the OWWA insurance.

Going back to POEA, i was still unconvinced that I will be given the OEC. But after i paid a hundred pesos, I was finally issued an OEC. The entire process just took 2 hours to finish.

Yes! I really got an OEC from the regional office.

I texted another Naija OFW, who’s going back to Nigeria the next day, that I was issued an OEC in the POEA Regional Office.

Since he’s taking an afternoon flight, he decided to go to POEA in the morning. And as i have experienced, he also got an OEC that same morning…. After he boarded the plane, he texted me that the OEC worked like magic– it gave him a hassle-free exit from the country – for the first time in three years he’s been in Nigeria.

I came back to Nigeria this second week of December. And i’d say the issuance of OEC was a timely gift by the POEA to Naija OFWs.

I was told that the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), led by Ellen Sana had a hand in the change of travel advisory to Nigeria.

In behalf of Nigeria OFWs, i would like to thank POEA Chief Jennifer Manalili, the CDO regional office and the CMA for finally lifting the heavy burden imposed on Naija OFWs.

I surely would like to get the Multiple Travel Exit Clearance (MTEC) on my next vacation this March 2010.

A Merry Christmas and a – hopefully – Prosperous New Year to all….

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