Offloading of Team Rave members due to 'work' visa – BI

MANILA, Philippines –  The recent "deferred departure" of 3 Filipino competitive DOTA gamers is due to their "employment" visas which require an overseas employment certificate (OEC) before travel, the immigration bureau said.

On Monday, April 6, lawyer and Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokesperson Elaine Tan pointed to the E-6 Korean visas of 3 gamers supposedly set to train in South Korea as the reason behind a controversial offloading incident.

She said an E-6 Korean visa is "a working visa issued for those who are seeking to make profit through entertainment, sports, and the like."

The bureau said that among the departure formalities for passengers carrying an employment visa is the presentation of an OEC secured from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

"We are coordinating with the POEA to make the process easier for the public, so as not to cause any inconvenience to the travelers. Right now, we must implement the guidelines," Tan explained.

Three members of Team Rave, which bagged $150,000 (around P6.6 million) in the DOTA 2 Asian Championships, were asked to disembark from their plane on Friday, April 3, due to lack of OECs.

The competitive gamers missed the original schedule of their flight and the training they were supposed to attend, enraging the gaming community. 

On Monday, Senator Benigno Aquino IV ran to the defense of the cyber athletes, who paid out of their own pockets for their trip.

"They have traveled several times to South Korea using the same documents they presented in the past without any hitch... Worse, the offloading happened during a crucial time where they were scheduled to train for several big international competitions," Aquino said. 

In a statement released also on Monday, the immigration bureau advised Filipinos "traveling overseas under an employment visa" to secure an OEC "to ensure a worry-free travel."

An OEC serves as an overseas Filipino worker's (OFW's) exit pass, which also provides him or her exemption from terminal fee payment. (READ: How OFW rehires can apply for employment certificates online)

OFWs as well as athletes endorsed by the Philippine Sports Commission are exempted from the International Passenger Service Charge or terminal fees in Philippine airports. (READ: MIAA: Why merging terminal fees in tickets is needed, easy) – Rappler.com