HOW many times have we been told not to believe hearsay? How many people have told us not to entertain rumors even from friends and family? And how many times have we been advised to trust only official government pronouncements when it comes to our stay in foreign lands?
These are sound counsel especially as we are living in a land which customs, traditions, and especially laws are very alien to us as we are to the citizens of our host country. Trust in government statements often times could literally save our lives as we live and work here. Government instructions also clarifies what would otherwise cause confusion on how we should act, behave, and interact with other nationalities.
But what if the cause of the confusion is government itself?
This appears to be what is happening now with regards the iDOLE program of the government. Recently, OFWs have been trying to get more information about what people are now calling the OFW ID which is supposed to replace the OEC or the Overseas Employment Certificate which is necessary in order to be able to return overseas and continue work.
The confusion it seems started when Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced that the OFW IDs could start rolling out as early as the last week of July. Aside from being free, government will subsidize the purchase of the IDs for all OFWs, it will also facilitate other transactions with government.
Anyway, as soon as news about the OFW ID quickly spread as it would seem to be the golden key which could make life easier for the millions of overseas workers. As is expected, rumors started flying as soon as the Secretary made the announcement. And everybody wanted one as soon as possible.
The problem was that Secretary Bello made the announcement even before government could finalize the implementing rules and regulations for its release. Even the official website of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration was of little help. Saying only that the sought after IDs were still not available and that the OEC was still in force, there was not much else to learn from a source which should have been the official statement of the government on this matter.
Now even the integrity of the OWWA website is put into question. OFWs everywhere just want straight answers to this very ticklish issue. Questions which will quell other rumors which will crop up because of this small conundrum.
What needs to be done is obvious. Government, especially its embassies where these OFWs are to be found, should double their efforts to explain and clarify the entire misunderstanding the announcement may have generated. Government must satisfactorily illuminate the millions of OFWs the worldwide just how it is to acquire the IDs and the services it promises to ease.
After which, of course, government must be immediate in delivering what it promised through these cards. Otherwise, we can only expect more confusion and tongues flying as the days progress.