On National Migrant Workers’ Day, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano batted for a more unified and coordinated e-governance approach to the needs of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), saying Filipinos working abroad need a simpler and faster way to access government services.
“Halimbawa sa education, sasabihin may scholarship sa OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration), pero pagdating dito ituturo sa DepEd (Department of Education), sa TESDA (Technical Education And Skills Development Authority), et cetera. It’s not an excuse. Talagang nagkakaroon ng ganun,” Cayetano said as he presided over the second meeting on January 7 of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology on the various bills on e-governance filed before the Senate.
“So hopefully with one department, isa lang ang kausap nila,” the committee chair added, mentioning that as the principal author of the bill in the House of Representatives that created the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), it was his vision to have only one department that would deal with OFW concerns.
Cayetano said for OFWs, one of the main concerns is securing the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) when they visit the Philippines. He said many are afraid of missing their chance to return to their respective countries of employment simply because of failure to secure the OEC.
“Many of the OFWs mas gusto nila pag aalis sila from where they have employment, meron na silang OEC,” he said.
DMW director Charles Tabbu, who was present in the committee hearing, confirmed that the DMW app already has this feature.
“That’s correct po. Bale, y’ung mobile app po, may indicator po doon through the QR code, Kapag nag-green na ‘yung QR code, it means good to go na siya. The QR code is equivalent to a standard OEC po,” he said.
The DMW mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices and acts as a “repository of the OFW’s vital information such as passport details, photo, and employment details.”
According to the app, among its features is the “online application for their digital OEC.”
Need for integration
Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary David Almirol, for his part, said there is a need to integrate the DMW’s app with the DICT’s “super app” — dubbed eGov PH — which is envisioned to contain links to all government agencies.
Saying he understands their apprehensions, Almirol said all departments and agencies in the super app have full control over their respective systems.
“Hindi kami ang nagma-manage ng… system (nila). We don’t have access to their data, their source code. They have their own, but we have a single sign on,” he said.
“E-governance is not to take over and do your job, and we will not interfere in your mandate. Our job is to bring ease of doing business to people,” Almirol added.
Hearing this, Cayetano encouraged the DMW and all government departments to integrate their respective systems with the eGov PH app, which is already available for download for mobile phones.
“I think there’s so much pa with IT and social media that we can use to really help our OFWs feel talaga that they are modern day heroes,” he said.