Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Dubai, Have You Heard About Common Sense?

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Does an electric fan (if you can't afford an air-conditioned waiting area) costs more than the chandeliers hanging inside your offices? Does one water dispenser with disposable cups also expensive?

All we wanted is to go back home, yet you're making us feel uneasy and frustrated about going through the process we need just to get an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

How uncommon your senses are? Have you ever seen any place in Dubai that isn't air-conditioned? Now I just did. At the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO-OWWA) in Abu Hail, their waiting area for applicants getting certification is a villa garage, covered only by a thin metal roof. Yes they have one small room inside, but not enough to accommodate applicants. You are a huge customer service / public service office and you provide a 'clinic' for a reception? You, public servants, sit comfortably in couches in your spacious offices - and you can afford to see people suffer under the 45 degrees Celsius heat?

Oh I forgot! That office isn't a UAE territory anymore. Welcome back to Philippines! What a pre-taste of homecoming.

We arrived 1:30PM - I couldn't come at a really earlier time as I need to finish crucial works in the office that day; Got my queue number - 394 - current number served was 230. So I was 164 heads behind. The designated holding room which is just as big as 10 toilet cubicles was overflowing with people seated and standing with literally no space to move elbows. Thanks to the malfunctioning aircon and the useless faulty electric fans - people are sweating. I wish this office also employs people who could organize and well handle a crowd, not just somebody who gives out papers to fill in and then cries when the people coming in becomes faster than their encoding.

One applicant - a lady attempted to take a photo of the room, and then, a staff yelled 'Mam bawal po yan!' (Madam, taking photo is not allowed). Since when did other people had the right to tell what's not allowed to photograph? But that's it - they don't want pictures of the heck situation to spill out.

This is their holding area outside. If we choose not to squeeze inside and suffocate - we'd brave the heat!
We decided to stay outside where dozens of people rather brave out the heat than to succumb in suffocation inside.  It's June 29 - for heaven's sake, temperature soars around 43-45 degrees! I asked a staff for water and guess what... NO WATER! I wonder how they drink. I have never been into any office in the UAE, private or government, that doesn't have water. In bus stations, RTA provide cold bottled water for FREE. In other establishments, you will be asked to choose what drinks you want. What is it to them to serve one glass at least to someone dehydrating? I'm fighting with my temper on that day to prevent from bursting out. It was really dehydrating - not the lack of water but the lack of senses of the so-called public servants. The nearest grocery is blocks away.  After some 2 hours, a water vendor came in... whew! Good thing he doesn't overprice (Only 1AED per bottle) - he's not a Filipino kasi.

A basic water dispenser (without fridge) in Carrefour doesn't cost more than 500AED - and is only a one-time purchase. A 5-gallon of water costs 8AED (80AED for 10 in a day maybe). Disposable cups are priced around 0.50 fils per piece. Now I wonder why they can't allocate budget for this wherein each OEC applicant pays more than 100AED for the certificate - and the number of OEC applicants day-to-day is on the range of 300-500 heads. (OEC applicants pa lang yan.) Now do the math.

They could've also talk to sponsors to put a vending machine for water, sodas and some chips and cookies. They just didn't.

And how about a single industrial fan at least? Heck, they will not spend more than 500AED for a decent one. Actually, why not air condition the holding areas? Why not for us overseas Filipinos?!

And you have 2 luxury SUVs parked inside huh... Plainly, totally insensitive.

The queue moves really slow at 10 people in every half an hour. The reason they say is that they only have 2 in the staff to process OEC. AGAIN, why not employ more? If demands are higher why not add service? Oh by the way, they are already taking pride that these 2 people works beyond the duty hours just to finish the applications... No thanks.

How dare you to prioritize applicants whose employers come with them? Which rule book says that when a non-Filipino employer pleads to prioritize their employees you will effin' give in?

I was called by around 6:15PM. That call is for me to get into another holding room. Finally, after 4.5 hours of being 'roasted.' I was so lacking of energy, hungry, deprived of a care and service I've been paying since I become an OFW.

Thought that was it but I was wrong. There are about 30+ heads before me waiting for their turns. Can you imagine how frustrating it was? This room though is a bit spacious, but some were still standing. I spent more than half hour on that room before finally claiming my effin' OEC. It was a grueling almost 6 hours of hell. 6 hours I borrowed from work just to attend to this mandate.

But in fairness, in the last holding room, most of the staff (the elder ladies) were polite, courteous and really accommodating. It's saddening that these real public servants are being eaten up and overshadowed by the rotten system.

I know this issue is not as heavy as others could be - but this post intends to create awareness (yet again) that even at the smallest needs of the people where the solutions are handy - the "leaders" doesn't seem to use their common sense to act on it - or maybe it's not common to them at all.  And I'm not referring to the topmost leaders. I'm talking about the immediate "leaders" - the Consul Generals, the Labor Attaches, even the OICs or the officers-of-the-day. We are your customers, you are our public servants. And nobody deserves to be b'sh****d in whatever way.

RELATED ARTICLE: Gulfnews: Filipinos sweat to meet employment certificate rule


A little trivia: Did you know that the Philippine Consulate / POLO-OWWA in Dubai (I don't know in other cities) could vie for a Guinness World Record for the public office with the most number of holidays? YES! They take both the UAE holidays and the Philippine holidays off. So if it is (example) National Heroes Day in the Philippines and it is just supposedly a typical working day in the UAE- the Consulate/POLO-OWWA is off and is on holiday - leaving a lot of kababayans on halt for their needed processes. Galing no! 



Anonymous said...

Viva bureaucracy ! Unfortunately, it also exists in other count tries too, e.g. in Europe. Obviously public servants especially like to care for themselves first. In Germany according to law the members of the parliament decide themselves on their salaries.

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