VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Netizens resurface MISLEADING stories; fees for gov’t documents waived only for first-time job seekers

At least three misleading reports have resurfaced online claiming in their headlines that fees for government-issued documents have now been waived for “everyone.” This is false.

From Jan. 2 to Feb. 8, netizens reshared on social media the inaccurate reports from websites netizenexpress.online, partnerforchangephilippines.blogspot.com and abo3antar.com. Stories from the first two sites bore the headline, “NBI Clearance, TIN, Birth Certificate Libre Na (Now Free)!” while abo3antar.com’s article title read, “Birth Certificate, Brgy. Clearance At Iba Pang Dokumento Libre Na Ito Para Sa Lahat (and other documents now free for everybody).”

The reports are misleading as their headlines do not match the content of the reports, which state that only first-time job seekers may get the following documents for free:

  • barangay clearance
  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate
  • medical certificate from public hospitals
  • unified multipurpose ID
  • National Bureau of Investigation clearance
  • police clearance
  • tax identification number
  • transcript of records from a state university or college
  • and other government-issued documents that an employer may require from a first time job applicant.

The misleading articles -- published on May 20, 2019; Dec. 7, 2019; and Oct. 5, 2019, respectively -- are about Republic Act (RA) 11261 or the “First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed on April 10 last year. Its implementing rules and regulations were signed on July 11, 2019.

First-time job seekers refer to Filipino citizens seeking employment for the first time, which include new graduates of the K-12 program, college, university or a technical-vocational course, an early school leaver or out of school youth, or a person intending to work while studying in the abovementioned programs, among others. To prove one is a first time job seeker, one needs to get certification from the barangay (village) where he/she resides.

A similar claim was debunked by VERA Files Fact Check in August 2019, where a Facebook (FB) page published a misleading public service announcement also claiming that fees for government documents were now free for anybody. (See: VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Post on new law MISLEADS; gov’t docs free for first-time job hunters only)

Netizenexpress.online and partnerforchangephilippines.blogspot.com’s versions of the report carried a Philstar.com photo of Duterte taken in April 2018 as he signed the appointment papers of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. It was superimposed with the text, “Libre Na (Now Free).”

The inaccurate reports re-emerged after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III released on Feb. 8 an advisory instructing private companies to accept certified true copies of pre-employment documents from first-time job seekers instead of original copies during the application process.

Original pre-employment requirements shall be submitted by the applicant after the job has been offered, the labor advisory read.

The erroneous posts of Netizenexpress.online, abo3antar.com, and partnerforchangephilippines.blogspot.com may have reached a combined total of 16.3 million people on FB, receiving over 223,000 interactions, including over 330 shares.

The top traffic generators from social media are public FB groups SSS(E-1 & Static Report), PhilHealth(MDR), PagIbig(MID no.), POEA(OEC form), OFW Magkakaisa TAYO and Solid Duterte Supporters Worldwide.

Netizenexpress.online has been posting since Nov. 2018; abo3antar.com was created on Feb. 5, 2018; and partnerforchangephilippines.blogspot.com was created in March 2017.

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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