Just Another OFW Rant

November 16, 2015

A three-parter post that I typed on my phone at separate instances with no particular reader in mind. As stated in the title, it's a ranting rampage so proceed with caution. Or maybe just don't read it at all.

I F*ckin' Forgot I Had A Lighter
I have been very irresponsible by accidentally bringing a lighter in my bag for a total of 6 flights, local and international, all of which touched base in NAIA. Irresponsible, because I essentially upped those flights' risk factor, and worse, without me being aware.

It wasn't even concealed. It was right in the middle of my handbag, along with other trash I refused to part ways with. (Read: most likely highly flammable) It was a very cheap lighter we bought at the convenience store one midnight in Taguig. I can still remember which date it was and who I was with. It had sentimental value.

Even so, every time I'd see the lighter still in my bag after a flight, I'd give myself flak and then a mental note to remove it right away. Of course, me being me, I forgot. And since I have never actually smoked or had no other use for the lighter, I kept on forgetting I had it in there.

I know the much sensationalized Laglag Bala Scam we keep hearing about in the news has already (thankfully) started to die down but as an OFW who would want to visit the Philippines every now and then, I must admit I still have a fear of getting victimized. IN MY OWN COUNTRY. BY MY COUNTRYMEN, WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SERVING SAID COUNTRY.

That seemed more absurd as I was typing it.

If I had unknowingly brought something dangerous that could endanger the lives of others, I want to be stopped by the scanners and be dealt accordingly by all means. But a frame-up is a completely different thing.

OFWs only have a few vacation days. I don't want to spend hours or even days getting hassled. I don't want my precious time to get wasted. Time I could spend with my family and friends. And more importantly, I don't want any more international ridicule towards the NAIA Terminals.

I just want these officers to do their jobs, and  to do their jobs well. After all, this is what they are being paid for to do. Is this really too much to ask?

[Add]: After verifying what the regulated/illegal items that can be brought inside a plane are, I have learned that a single lighter is OKAY. What's not allowed is if you bring two lighters or more. The law also states the lighter should always be with the person, not inside the checked baggage. 

It makes sense but a few months back, I had a cheap lighter blow up in my hands. I was able to save our kitchen from getting lit up so no harm done. But it makes me also think lighters are unpredictable, even on their own.


Now Showing: Laglag Bala The Movie
For those who didn't watch the Senate Hearing on the Laglag Bala Issue, here is a rundown on what went down.

1. First victim put into the stand is an Ilocana. Jokes made by BBM. Senate committee and people in the audience laughs.

2. Security upgrade of additional 700+ cameras in all NAIA terminals in the works. Funded from the terminal fees collected, which apparently is around 4.6B for January-August alone.

3. Recomono making excuses.

4. Grace Poe referencing the Bandila episode where Recomono was grilled by Julius Babao, Karen Davila and Ces Drilon.

5. In a week, the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) will be allowed to setup a physical help desk with 1-2 lawyers to help out Filipinos in a #LaglagBala scam situation.

6. Alan Peter Cayetano (or was it Guingona?) said the existing law is okay, but obviously when a person is caught with a lone bullet, person can't/shouldn't be charged if person doesn't have intent to fire, to hurt anyone or to posses.

7. More politician on-screen mileage.

8. Abaya says they need to review first the definition of "intent". (This was super annoying! Ano pa ba kelangan i-review?)

The hearing lasted almost three hours. I was listening while working. What I really got out of this, or what it reiterated to me rather, is that these local government officers are FAR from productive or efficient, and they are not even sorry about it. Sadly, to them this is the norm.

Imagine, all the data they have collected over the years on bullet incidents, when asked what they do with it. "Reports lang yun na pinapasa sa amin bilang part ng management. Hindi kami ang nagpapatupad ng batas." (Non-verbatim)

No data analyzation. No follow through. Nothing.

Is It Easy To Get An OEC
I just booked a round trip ticket to the Philippines and back to SG for this weekend. I tried booking an OEC appointment online and looked at all the possible offices I can get them from.

Next Available Date for Appointment
Lucky Plaza I-Remit: Only on Sundays
POEA Singapore: Dec 16, 2015
POEA Main Office (Ortigas): Nov 23, 2015
POEA Field Office (Trinoma): Nov 23, 2015
POEA Field Office (Duty Free Paranaque): Nov 23, 2015
POEA Field Office (Makati): Nov 23, 2015
POEA Field Office (SM Manila): Nov 23, 2015
POEA ALL Regional Offices: Nov 17, 2015

1) My flight back to Singapore is Nov 22, and 2) I can only get the OEC at the airport. (See above)
At this point I'm thinking... I don't have a lot of options aside from getting one at the airport, where I'm hoping the OWWA desk will be open, even at late night hours because that's the schedule of my flight.

Now, imagine experiencing that same scenario in Kalibo.

To those saying the article is sensationalized, I also thought the same earlier. Then I noticed, it's an editorial piece. I may not agree with how the article was written, but it is the writer's opinion after all.

The current OEC system is not very effective for OFWs who book flights just a few days beforehand. This is a fact. But accepting this as a norm is what's keeping it in status quo, preventing legit OFWs from traveling in and out of our OWN country.

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