New Authentication Process: Red Ribbon versus Apostille



Effective May 14, 2019, the DFA will be replacing the “red ribbon” process of authenticating a document with “apostille”. What is an apostille and when do you need it? Below is an excerpt from the DFA website:

“An Apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document. It is issued by a country that is party to the Apostille Convention to be used in another country which is also a party to the Convention.

On 14 May 2019, the Philippines will officially become a party to the Apostille Convention. Authentication is still required for all Philippine documents to be used abroad, but this time with an Apostille instead of an Authentication Certificate (“red ribbon”) as proof of authentication.

After authentication (Apostillization) by the Department of Foreign Affairs – Office of Consular Affairs (DFA-OCA), as Competent Authority, there is no more need for authentication (legalization) by the Foreign Embassies or Consulates except for countries that have not acceded to the Convention and countries that objected to the Philippine accession.”

Here are some of the many questions that are expected to come out of the implementation of this new process which the DFA has already prepared an answer for. All succeeding graphics are from the DFA.

For more questions or inquiries, contact the DFA hotline at 556-0000, 651-9400 and 234-3488.



DFA Online Payment System: Where to Pay?




As of May 2019, the payment system of the DFA Passport Appointment process is actually not an "online" transaction. So much for an appointment that is created through the internet.

Upon submitting your application, you will receive an email that contains an instruction on how and where to pay. There will also be a reference number that you will use to process the payment:

Related post: I did not receive an email for the appointment code of my DFA online passport application

So, while we wait for the DFA to actually upgrade their system to include credit card payment or at least via mobile banking apps, we'll have to settle to what is available:

To pay in cash via Bayad Center outlets (USSC, 7-11, ECPay, SM, Robinsons, Pera Hub, True Money, Cebuana, etc.) or download Bayad Center Mobile App for both iOS and Android Devices.

I went around Quezon City looking for an actual Bayad Center branch not knowing that I can just tap on that machine inside a 7-Eleven branch! Yes, that's what I did and it worked.

Once paid, you will receive the confirmation email in less than three (3) minutes. I made my payment on a holiday so the email is obviously auto-generated. It also includes an attachment which you will need to print prior to making an appearance to your selected DFA branch to complete your passport application.


DFA Online Passport Application: Blank Payment Facility Page




I’ve been trying to book a new passport appointment via the DFA website in the past two weeks. I tried three times using three different email addresses (Yahoo and Gmail), but everytime I click on the "Proceed to Payment" option, the page gives me this "Invalid Transaction Request" error:

The above error is showing up in Chrome. The error did not appear when I used Internet Explorer but the page remained blank despite refreshing it multiple times:

If you encountered this problem while processing your DFA passport application online, you may try doing any of the following as suggested by their Consular Information Center:

  • It may not work on your mobile phone or tablet so use a laptop or a desktop.
  • Copy the payment facility URL and paste it in a new tab or a different browser and try to open it from there.
  • Clear your browser’s cache and cookies and try again. You can use the same email address but you can only do so after two (2) hours. The system still recognizes an active application for the same email address if you attempt to re-book within the two-hour time frame. Nonetheless, a different email address can be used.
  • Make sure that you are not accessing their website from your workplace. Your internet connection in the office may be blocking their system which is the reason why the page is not loading correctly. This is what happened to me and it finally worked when I tried at home. If you are in an internet café, you may seek help from an attendant or move to another one.
  • From my experience, the payment facility was blank in Internet Explorer. I copied the URL and pasted it in Chrome and it worked!

Per the staff whom I spoke with when I called, you will NOT get an email notification from the DFA if you were not able to reach the payment facility page. They can only assist you in obtaining an appointment code if you made it through the payment page but did not receive the two emails mentioned below:

"Applicants should receive two (2) emails:

1. Reference number for payment
2. Appointment reference number
If your appointment booking was successful and you were able to pay for your reserved appointment, the appointment code will be sent through your email. Appointment details may also be filtered in the spam/junk folder. If you did not receive your appointment details, you may contact the following number for more information: 556-0000."



Paying my AMILYAR in Quezon City



Just the thought of paying my real property tax for the first time sounds stressful already – spending hours inside a dreadful government building coming face to face with their often disgruntled, lazy employees.

I intended to visit the Quezon City hall on a Valentine’s day. I was hopeful that no one would attempt to run such a very sad errand on any given February 14th, and the line leading to those ugly windows may be shorter.

But thankfully, I learned the day before that payments are accepted in satellite Quezon City treasure’s offices. After a quick Google search, I decided to go to their SM North EDSA-Annex branch.

I was there at around 2:45PM, and believe it or not, I was done in less than 5 minutes! That was the quickest transaction I made in a Government office so far, so you could imagine how delighted I was with the experience.

So, if you are wondering how is it like to pay for your AMILYAR or real property tax, it would be perfect if you do it in the most inconspicuous days and way before the deadline.

In Quezon City, the 20% discount is applicable from January to March. After that, you will be paying for a penalty already instead of a discount. I recommend making your payment in a branch instead of the city hall. Make sure to bring any of the following:

1. The receipt of your last payment, or
2. A copy of your property tax declaration.

And if you get lucky, you might be done in less than 5 minutes just like me. Good luck!



Direct Hiring OEC Process for Professional and Skilled Workers

Recently, I have been receiving questions about the OFW direct hiring process for Professionals and Skilled workers. These questions are posted as comments in these related articles:

How to Get an OEC for Direct Hires
Online: List of Direct Hires with DOLE Clearances or OEC

Per Section 124 of the Exemption from the Ban on Direct Hiring, Professional and Skilled workers are exempted from the ban:

“2. Professionals and skilled workers with duly executed/authenticated contracts
containing terms and conditions over and above the standards set by the
POEA. The number of professional and skilled Overseas Filipino Workers hired
for the first time by the employer shall not exceed five (5). For the purpose of
determining the number, workers hired as a group shall be counted as one;”

However, the OEC processing for Professional and Skilled workers seem to confuse some applicants as they were told by the POEA that they do not handle the paperworks for this specific category.

I browsed the POEA website to check for any new updates or advisories regarding this, but I couldn’t find any. The published REVISED POEA RULES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE RECRUITMENT AND EMPLOYMENT OF LANDBASED OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS OF 2016 has not been replaced or amended:

http://www.poea.gov.ph/laws&rules/files/Q%20&%20A%20on%20Revised%20POEA%20Rules%202016.pdf

Anyway, upon checking the Overseas Filipino Workers tab in the POEA website, it looks like the applicant’s documents need to be submitted to DOLE directly, based on this guideline:

This PDF document can be found here: http://www.poea.gov.ph/services/workers/NH_Professionals.pdf

If I got it right, this means that applicants who are qualified under this exemption will have to submit their requirements to DOLE instead of POEA.

UPDATE: It looks like Professionals and Skilled workers are no longer part of the exemption, at least based on the accounts of applicants who’s been to the POEA office lately: These comments are posted HERE.

Anyone who went through this process this year (2018)? Care to share your experiences?

How Much are you Paying for your Condo Association Dues?



Our property management just announced that there will be no increase in our condo dues this 2018.

The cost of association dues vary depending on the developer and property itself. Other factors, such as location and type of development, are also being considered.

For some condominiums, the amount is the same for all units, which ranges from P1000-P1500 per month. For others like SMDC, this is computed per square meter:

Residential Units: P79/sqm/month Parking Units: P61/sqm/month

The same is true for Robinsons. A friend who owns a unit in a Robinsons development is paying P74 per square meter a month for condo dues. I believe DMCI also follow this per square meter computation. This means that the bigger your unit, the higher your association dues will be. It sounds unfair, but NOT if you have more than three tenants in those bigger units (as opposed to three or less in the smaller units).

And for some good news, association dues will no longer be taxed under the new TRAIN law. This looks like an additional savings for condo owners?


How much are you paying for your condo association dues?

What is the POEA Online Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS)

What is the POEA Online Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS), and why do you need to take it?

The PEOS is informal online seminar that you need to take when applying for a job overseas; you can access this at http://peos.poea.gov.ph/.

This is required by the POEA, and in case you are applying through an agency, the agency will be asking you to submit the printed copy of your PEOS completion certificate. This certificate will be provided at the end of the online seminar.

The PEOS consists of a series of videos showing all the information that you will need to know when applying for a job abroad. At the end of each video, you will be asked to answer a short “quiz” to test your knowledge and to ensure that you understood what was discussed in the videos.

Screenshot from http://peos.poea.gov.ph/

 

Why do you need to take the seminar?

It’s a quick and convenient way to learn and understand the ins and outs of becoming an OFW.

It will provide you information about the legal ways of obtaining a job abroad, tips on how to spot and avoid illegal recruiters, and the physical, emotional, and psychological preparations that one should do before leaving his or her family in the Philippines to work overseas.

A short, quick lesson about cultural awareness is also included.

I took it myself, and although I was confident that I am knowledgeable about what is legal and not, and despite my broad awareness of the cultural differences amongst regions around the world, I still incurred one incorrect answer.

It was a fun and easy online seminar, just like watching 5-10 minute Youtube videos. You can do it anywhere, and all you need is an internet connection and a computer.


Ideally, the PEOS should be taken before an aspiring OFW start his or her application. It will actually also help you decide whether you are “ready” to work abroad or not. Nonetheless, you can still do it at any time during your application process. My brother, for example, took this online seminar while waiting for his OEC to be released.

How to Get an NSO Birth Certificate or Marriage Certificate Online

Did you know that this system has been in place since around 2012? I have been their regular “customer” since I discovered this process four years ago and was able to obtain birth certificates for myself, my siblings, and my parents. Last year, I also requested for my sister’s marriage certificate and I received it in three days!


Here’s quick run down of what you need to know about this online transaction:
– NSO delivers within the Philippines only, via Air21.
– Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates and Death Certificates: Php 350.00 per copy (inclusive of processing and delivery).
– CENOMARs or Certificate of No Marriage: Php 450.00 per copy (inclusive of processing and delivery).

You do not need to go to an NSO branch anymore, and endure the long lines and hours of waiting time. Here’s how to get your NSO certificates online:

1. Go to https://nsohelpline.ph/order-now
2. Select the type of certificate that you want to order:
– Birth Certificate
– Marriage Certificate
– Death Certificate
– Certificate if Singleness (CENOMAR)

3. Next, you will be asked what you need the certificate for. Just select whichever is applicable for you.



4. Fill out the application form. Make sure to be very accurate as any incorrect information may cause delays in the processing of your document. This is the form that you will need to complete if you are requesting for a birth certificate:


5. You will be getting an Order Confirmation towards the end, along with your reference number.


6. A text message will also be sent to the number that you provided. Additionally, you will be receiving an email with instructions on how to proceed with your payment. Payment can be done through different channels. Personally, I went to Bayad Center for most of my past transactions.

7. To check the status of your order, you can go back to the NSO Helpline website (https://nsohelpline.com/), and click on the Status button at the top. Enter your reference number in the box and click Submit.

8. Processing and delivery takes 3-4 days after you made the payment. In the event of unsuccessful delivery, you may follow-up your request through (02) 737-1112.

Since 2013, I have requested six certificates through this online ordering channel, the latest being in July of this year. I haven’t experienced any delays so far. I’d say it is very effective and extremely convenient!


DOLE Suspends Processing of OEC from November 13 to December 1, 2017

Update: POEA resumes processing of OECs, as of December 4, 2017.

For the second time this year, DOLE suspends the issuance of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) for OFWs for 15 days. This will start from November 13, 2017 to December 1, 2017 and covers new applicants only.

Screenshot from ABS-CBN News’ Twitter account

“Balik Manggagawa” or OFWs who are on vacation are not affected by the suspension.

Screenshot from ABS-CBN News’ Twitter account

Here’s the official statement from DOLE: