The Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi is such a drama house.
I cannot recall one time when I went there without feeling frustrated or disappointed. Whether it be a rude staff, a complicated process, an unreasonable fee, an unclear document requirement where I needed to come back again, I leave that place with much grief.
Today I cut work 2 hours early, took a taxi (paid over 70 AED) and went to the Embassy to get an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), an exit-certificate mandatory for Filipinos travelling home. The necessity of such paper is greatly disputed by many.
When I got there, they refused to give me one because my visa is under my husband’s sponsorship. It shows I have no occupation in this country. I told them they issued me an OEC for my trip home last year under the same visa and did not raise any issue in that.
The lady in the counter asked me to present my labor card. I told her I had no labor card. She smirked and in a not-so-nice tone told me that was impossible. How can it be impossible when the flag-carrier of Abu Dhabi do not give their thousand employees labor cards?
Lady, look at all these people. FYI, they and a thousand more from my company do not have labor cards.
They asked me to present my contract. I told them I do not have my (10-paged contract) copy with me because the last time I applied for an OEC they did not ask for it. I told them they shouldn’t have given me an OEC the first time so I know my standing.
The lady told me that technically I am not an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) because of my visa and if something bad happens to me in this country, I get no help. Oh please. I know people who abide by rules, complete all documents and in the end still do not get their proper benefits from the government.
This is so confusing because I have an Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) membership certificate issued by the same embassy.
I had to go upstairs to higher authority to clarify my situation. The lady assistant labour attache was kind enough to explain to me that it would be better that I pay the travel tax and terminal fee back home rather than showing my non-working visa in contrast with an Overseas Employment Certificate.
I had an OEC with the same husband-sponsored visa during my last trip home and I was able to exit the Philippines in a breeze – no questions from immigration. Why the inconsistency?
It saddens me that I am not considered an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) simply because my good company allows its employees to work under a spouse visa.
All my remittances that helped the economy of my country goes unrecognized. And if I die here, my body may not be transported back home just because of people’s incompetence and confusing legalities.
It is one of those days when I wish I wasn’t born in a country with government services that consistently crush the Filipino pride in me.