Filipinos about to work abroad for the first time may now use an exclusive online portal to book their passport appointments with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The portal for would-be OFWs in need of a passport was officially launched on Friday and will be accessible with a username and password provided by any of the 170 recruitment agencies licensed by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and registered with the DFA.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, during the launching, explained that the portal was created to help would-be OFWs who do not yet have the privilege to use the express lane in consular offices because they have yet to secure a contract or any proof that they are employed abroad.
“For the longest time, hindi namin tinatanggap unless balik-manggagagawa, meaning bumalik lang or may second contract. What we did now, when you go on the internet, there’s a separate for first-time OFWs. Nandun na rin ang requirements,” Cayetano said.
“We have to be able to distinguish whether you are an aspiring OFW or OFW ka na, meaning meron nang trabahong naghihintay sa ‘yo. It’s through agencies, POEA, or the direct hire that can do that,” he later added.
Creating a portal and service that can only be accessed by first-time OFWs through licensed recruitment agencies may also lessen the number of frauds or individuals taken advantage of by illegal recruiters.
“Hindi pwedeng pumunta ang ordinary Tom, Dick, and Harry at magkunwari na OFW kasi pag na-clog, kawawa ‘yung tunay na OFW,” Cayetano said.
According to the DFA, all 170 recruitment agencies will receive six passport appointment slots daily. Of these, 200 can be processed by DFA Aseana every day, though no estimates were given on how many appointments other regional consular offices can process on a daily basis.
“Kinalculate kasi namin ‘yung pila sa courtesy lane kasi kapag nagsabay-sabay, kawawa rin ‘yung OFW, masyadong matagal maghihintay,” Cayetano said.
The DFA hopes the more or less 300 other recruitment agencies licensed by the POEA will have themselves accredited with the DFA so they may offer this service to more first-time OFWs.
Cayetano said they will have longer hours for passport processing at consular offices and distribute 140 passport printing machines across the country and abroad, including Europe and Japan, in addition to more missions to ease renewals and applications abroad.