July 22, 2018, 11:51 pm
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Solon: DOLE charges for OFW IDs

REP. Aniceto “John” Bertiz III (PL, ACTS OFW) yesterday accused the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) of charging overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for IDs when the cards were actually donated by his party-list group.

Bertiz, in a press conference, said DOLE has been charging P720 per OFW ID called iDOLE.

He scored Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III for saying that the ID cards are the Duterte administration’s gift to the OFWs, who will no longer endure long lines to get overseas employment exit certificates (OECs).

“You’re bragging that it’s your achievement. You seem to have forgotten that it was donated for free by ACTS-OFW Party-list to which it was created by my fellow OFWs for the OFWs and as a sign of gratitude to President Duterte! You haven’t done anything for us, OFWs!” he said.

“You (Bello) said the card is free, there’ll be no need for OECs. They just need to present it to the Bureau of Immigration and they’re free to go,” he said.

Bello, in a radio interview, said the OFW ID project was held in abeyance after he learned that some people inside and outside the department want to turn it into a cash cow.

“I said, this iDOLE card is for OFWs so the government and the OFWs do not have to spend for it. That’s why if that’s what you’re planning, it would be better to just scrap it, which I did,” he told dzBB.

Bello said the project will remain on hold “until we can find a system that will provide an iDOLE Card to our OFWs at no expense to the government and especially at no expense to our OFWs.”

Bertiz said while Bello claims that the OFW ID card has great value as a substitute for the OEC, “it is just an ordinary ID card that no machine whatsoever can read – it only thickens the wallets of OFWs.”

“We challenge Secretary Bello to join us at the NAIA. Let us count together the number of departing OFWs actually carrying the useless ID card that the Secretary claims is his No. 1 achievement,” he said.

Bello earlier scoffed at Bertiz for allegedly saying that the government has not done anything for OFWs – a statement which the congressman said he never issued and was merely spread by Communications Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan during a pre-state of the nation address (SONA) forum.

“In Wednesday’s second pre-SONA forum, Mr. Ablan maliciously, if not ineptly distorted my previous remarks at the first pre-SONA forum. Mr. Ablan’s misrepresentation in the subsequent forum, which I did not attend, then gave Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello the excuse to attack me – to malign my name and character,” Bertiz said.

Bertiz, who called Ablan an “idiot,” said the least Ablan can do “is apologize for his irresponsible acts or better yet resign from his post.”

In the first pre-SONA forum, Bertiz said he merely urged DOLE to draw up new strategies and programs to uplift the conditions of the 7,000 Filipinos leaving the country every day for jobs abroad, especially the 250,000 domestic workers departing annually.

“I was asking why, in the presentation of the economic cluster, there was no mention of their plan for OFWs. I never attacked the President; I even praised him. I never said that he has no projects for OFWs,” he said.

Bertiz said Ablan mangled his statements and spread “fake news” when he said in the second pre-SONA forum: “It seems from their (Bertiz) perspective, the Duterte administration has no projects for OFWs.”

But Ablan denied peddling fake news or ay disinformation against Bertiz, saying he merely restated the lawmaker’s statements regarding the plight of OFWs.

Bello challenged Bertiz to show proof that he received money from the OFW ID card project and he will resign outright from his post.

But he said Bertiz must also be prepared resign if he fails to prove his claims.

Bello said any charges made for OFW IDs did not have clearance from the DOLE. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Gerard Naval
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