Manila: The Philippine government is rolling out the first phase of a plan to provide all overseas Filipino workers (OFW) with an identification card for easier access to government services and benefits.
According to Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the OFW (iDOLE) card will initially be available only to returning workers or “Balik-Manggagawa” as the system is still on its trial phase.
“The initial implementation of the Integrated Department of Labour and Employment (iDOLE) eServices is intended to further test and secure the features of the system. We are doing this to secure the database and for further improvements in the system,” Bello said.
Using a single plastic card, OFWs can avail services such as travel tax and terminal fee exemptions (exit pass or Overseas Employment Certificates) and access information with regards to government services such as information on their contributions with the Social Security System (SSS), Philhealth, among others.
To access the services, the Balik-Manggagawa, or those vacationing OFWs, need to open BM Online accounts so they can apply for the ID.
“They can now log-in and create an account with the iDOLE.ph or the iDOLE One-Stop Online Facility/Portal and apply for the OFW ID by putting their latest and valid Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) Number. The unique ID is equipped with decrypted QR code for security,” Bello said.
The iDOLE Card is provided for free to OFWs.
“We do not want our OFWs to shoulder the cost because this is a gift from the President [Rodrigo Duterte] — to recognise their sacrifices and immense contribution to our economy,” he said.
The iDOLE OFW ID Card had been announced as early as July this year, however, the cards were only available for use this December.
The card is expected to provide convenience to OFWs when transacting with the government as they will no longer need to queue at various agencies.
Eventually, government aims to provide all OFWs including those exiting the country for the first time for work abroad, with the iDOLE OFW ID card.
The initial phase of the system links DOLE with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
The iDOLE system will further interlink the databases of DOLE offices and agencies with other government agencies.
In a related development, the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad advised Filipinos in Iraq to continue to remain vigilant and to avoid large public gatherings, particularly protest actions and other demonstrations.
This was made, in light of ongoing unrest in the country, particularly in Kurdistan where there is current political upheaval.
Philippine Charge’ d affaires Elmer Cato said he advices Filipinos in Iraq to contact the Embassy if they are in need of assistance.