THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has admitted it used two privately-owned internet domains to facilitate the issuance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) identification cards and overseas employment certificates (OECs).
The bmonline.ph is the website of the Balik-Manggagawa Online Processing Center that facilitates the issuance of OECs to returning OFWs, while the https.idole.ph is the internet portal of the controversial OFW ID Card. Both websites collect, access, use, disclose or process private OFW data or information.
The private websites also use the official logo of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), an agency under DOLE.
Labor Undersecretary Bernard Olalia, officer-in-charge of the POEA, made the admission but said it was just a case of oversight on the part of the Labor department.
“May oversight lang. Di namin napansin yun. Alam niyo naman tayo, open tayo sa criticism, open tayo sa suggestion. Kung alam nating may pagkukulang tayo, agad naman nating kino-correct. Hindi naman masamang tumanggap kung minsan ng konting pagkakamali, [It was a case of oversight. We did not notice it. But we are open to criticisms and suggestions. If we find out we have shortcomings, we take action to correct. It’s not bad if we admit some minor errors],” Olalia told The Manila Times.
He added that idole.ph has been changed to idole.dole.gov.ph, while bmonline.ph was converted to a government domain.
Asked when the internet addresses were changed, Olalia said the agency quickly took action after receiving the report. The Times came out with the story on December 13.
Contacted by The Times, Olalia explained on Monday idole.ph is no longer operational, saying that while it can still be opened “once you log in, you will be redirected to the new website idole.dole.gov.ph.”
“We did it on purpose because our OFWs still do not know the new idole.dole.gov.ph website,” he added.
Records showed the website idole.ph where OFWs can log in for their applications for OFW IDs was launched by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 12 as part of the test run.
The bmonline.ph, on the otherhand, was launched sometime in 2015 during the time of then Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, who is now chief of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an agency also under DOLE.
The Times tried but failed to get Cacdac to weigh in on the issue.
A public interest group, the Lilac Center for Public Interest, earlier said that because the two POEA portals were engaged in the collection, access, use, disclosure, or other appropriate processing of private data or information, the servers being used by the websites should be governed by Republic Act No. 10173, or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and its implementing rules and regulations.
According to Lilac president Nicon Fameronag, the .ph domain name is administered by dotPH Domains Inc., which is owned by businessman José Emmanuel “Joel” Disini, also its chief executive officer. The same firm also holds and maintains the database of domain names .com.ph, .net.ph, and .org.ph.
Fameronag said whoever owns the domain names bmonline.ph and idole.ph could have access to valuable private data of five million or more OFWs.
That is possible, he said, because dotPH Domains developed the so-called Shared Registry System (SRS) that enables domain name registrars and internet service providers (ISPs) to manage domains and accept registrations on their own websites by connecting to the dotPH registry backend.