Philippines – OFW ID project comes under serious criticism

By | July 22, 2017

THE proposed OFW ID card of the Department of Labor and Employment has come under fire from another policy advocate, the Lilac Center for Public Interest.

Lilac said the OFW ID card was a ‘half-baked’ project that needed to be returned to the drawing board for further serious technical and social study.

“All the signs point to the OFW ID as a ‘rushed’ concoction, so much so that it elicits more questions than it provides answers,” Lilac Center president Nicon Fameronag said.

The Lilac Center official said the DoLE’s pronouncement that the OFW ID was free was dubious, as an unofficial DoLE document pointed to the card to cost more than the present Overseas Employment Certificate that the OFW ID Card sought to replace.

An OEC costs only P100 for returning workers and P200 for newly-hired OFWs.

The unofficial document is an annex to a Memorandum of Agreement that details the roles and obligation and responsibilities of the DoLE, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Development Bank of the Philippines, DBP Data Center Inc. APO Production Unit Inc., Philippine Postal Corp., and the Bureau of Immigration, the institutional parties to the MoA.

The MoA looks like it is a final document ready for signing.

Under Annex A of the MoA, the APO Production Unit Inc. will charge P40.00 for printing of each card; the DBP to charge P20; while the DBP Data Center, Inc. will charge P440, a total of P500.

In addition, the PhilPost, whose responsibility is to deliver the OFW ID Cards in the Philippines and abroad, will charge P7.00 per card for “letter shopping” service, which refers to “collating,  inserting, labeling, and sealing,” as well as “insertion of odd-sized mail pieces.”

This will be on top of the mailing, which varies depending on the weight of the mail to be delivered; local destination; mode of delivery, i.e., either by domestic registered mail, express mail, or international registered or express mail; zone; and country of destination.

“On the average, the cost of mailing an OFW card by domestic registered mail is P35.75; by domestic express mail, P106.33; by international registered mail, P166.75; and by international express mail, P1,348.57. These costs, if the DoLE delivers all the cards by mail, will be enormous. How can it recoup these delivery costs by not passing it on to the card payor?” Fameronag asked.

Another cost that is seemingly benign is the standard channel fee, the amount that domestic and overseas payment channels, such as banks, online banking systems, mobile wallets, bayad centers, credit and debit cards, etc., charge to users.

“If the OFW, or whoever pays for the ID card, pays using these channels, naturally, they pay the standard channel fees just like when they remit money. That’s another expense that will increase the cost of the card,” he said.

“Our estimate at the Lilac Center puts the cost of the OFW ID Card from a low of P542.75 to a high of P1,855.57. As against the present cost of the OEC, that would be a very expensive ID card,” Fameronag said, adding:

“The questions are: Who really will pay for the cost of the OFW ID Card?” On what factors were the charges of the APO Production Unit, DBP, DCI, and PhilPost’s “letter shopping service” based?”

APO Production Unit is  involved in the alleged anomaly of an overpriced printing of electronic passport and declared illegal by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Slavador Panelo after it contracted a private entity, UGEC.

In a legal opinion issued on the behest of former Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., Panelo said APO-PU committed administrative and criminal offense in engaging the services of UGEC relative to the printing of the so-called e-passports.

Panelo said even a supplemental agreement would not legitimize the illegal subcontract between APO-PU and UGEC because the transaction was consummated in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Administrative Code, and pertinent rules and regulations on government procurement.

APO, which is operating under the PCOO, is described in the said agreement as the only Recognized Government Printers that expressed willingness to print the e-passport. 

The other two RGPs are the National Printing Office and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The agreement was made possible after the Department of Budget and Management issued a Multi-Year Obligational Authority to the DFA for the printing of e-passport for 10 years, covering the period of 2016-2026.

A check at its website showed that UGEC is a private printing company that specializes in packaging materials, ads and promos and collaterals. It has a huge printing facilities in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

In 2016, the DFA issued 3,102,278 passports to Filipinos.

Source: The Manila Standard

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