The awesomest person in the world i.e. my wife is in a professional transition. She’s already on board with her new firm and as always, part of the documentary requirements is an NBI clearance. We both had semiflex schedules so we decided to take a gamble and secure her clearance yesterday. And being that I’m also going with her, I decided to secure one for myself. You’d never know when you’d need one anyway. *wink*
I’ve secured/renewed since I got one around 2006. It was almost always an adventure. The first time I tried getting one was at the QC Hall satellite office which prompted me to queue for 4 hours only to get sent to their Carriedo renewal center because I got a hit. My first employer never bothered with a clearance so I didn’t bother going anymore. The first time that I really tried was in 2006 when I started teaching and needed to submit one to UP. I went straight to Carriedo, dealt with plenty of jackasses, got a namesake “hit,” went back, and finally got my “no remarks” clearance. I tried renewing every year after and it was the same tedious process. I gave up around 2009 since I didn’t need a new one since.
Since I already filed for a clearance, I should only be renewing. Unfortunately, NBI supposedly fired their old contractor and developed their own system. As with all changes in government IT contractors in the Philippines, that meant they had to start from scratch. Pretty dumb if you ask me, but this seems to be just the way things are. So all clearance applications are technically new so that meant going through the whole process all over again.
We got a bit worried since news from January had it that securing an NBI clearance was absolute hell. Some people had to queue up at 8 PM of the previous day only to get a slot for the day after. That meant spending your night on the street. That’s an adventure we’d rather not have.
We opted to go for the NBI clearance online application since that supposedly cuts your process a couple of steps. Filling up the form was straightforward though we had to be extra careful since the site’s pretty clunky and user unfriendly. An errant click of a button will submit your application (bad luck if you haven’t double-checked the details) and an errant window close without printing/saving your page as PDF meant your left with a filed application with no reference. The form asks for your email but doesn’t furnish you with a copy.
We assembled our document kits composing of the printed copies of our clearance application and supporting documents like IDs and a copy of our marriage certificate. We gambled going to the main clearance center at UN Ave at around 6 expecting it to open at 7 or 8. We got there and found out they open at 6 AM. Online applicants were ushered to the payment step. There were queues of around 40 people per counter but that was easy for anyone who went through registration and class cards in UP.
After payment, non-online applicants had to have their forms encoded but online applicants can proceed to biometrics (fingerprinting). Lucky us as bulk of those securing clearances were non-online. Lines at the biometrics station were around 6 people per queue.
At the station, we were asked to verify and correct the information. The online form has a bug that labeled a form supposedly for spouse’s birthplace as “Spouse’s Address” and for married women, the husband’s surname doesn’t get submitted properly. So fret not if you get these errors with the online form, there’s a step where you can get them corrected. The tech then entered our fingerprints via scanner and checked if we had a “hit” in the system.
We both had hits and were asked to go back next week to get our clearance. We saw others with no hits who were able to proceed to printing their clearances and be on their merry ways. (Lucky bastards. Kudos to their parents giving you unique names.) Hopefully, we do get our clearances hassle-free next week.
To be fair, we only spent around an hour there. We were in at around 6:40-ish and got out at around 7:30-ish. That is actually my quickest visit to an NBI clearance station since I always had to go back because of that darned hit.
So it was actually a pleasant surprise that we did not have to waste a day securing a piece of paper. We even got back in time to report to work with hours to spare. But as with any system, there are plenty of things to fix. It’s not because we had a relatively good experience far from the horror stories that we should be content with an obviously flawed system.
First beef – security. Being in IT, one of the first concerns my wife had was security. The online application website was not encrypted. Check out the url: http://nbi.njis-ph.com. Try adding an s: https://nbi.njis-ph.com. That’d get you nowhere. This meant that the information being transacted from your computer and the NBI’s server is not encrypted making the system more vulnerable to hacks. If you’re paranoid about identity theft and whatnot, this would really bother you.
Another beef we have is the darned “hit.” I’m on their system for almost 10 years and every damn time I get a “hit” due to a namesake. That meant that I had to wait a week since they had to “check” whether or not you’re a felon. Then you have to go back . Total waste of time.
Shouldn’t you already be cleared of namesake hits after the first time? All that time, they already have my fingerprint and information which they can use to check if I have a real record. This makes you question the whole point of having all that information which apparently they can’t even decently use for the purposes of a quick clearance.
Or at least most of the process. Make the filing and the payment online. That way online applicants can even cut the process more. If you’re renewing, the whole process should be done online since you shouldn’t be re-entering your fingerprints anymore.
Why not just make this a database subscription to companies? I’m not saying full access to all information but just a mechanism to see if a particular applicant is indeed clear of felony cases or not. This way, workers don’t need to spend an additional P115 pesos every time they have to switch jobs or apply for one.
I’m really puzzled by an NBI clearance as an employment requirement. Sure, as an employer, felons wouldn’t be my priority hires but should this be a burden to the applicant? Shouldn’t burden of proof lie on the accuser?
In my experience, companies only ask you to submit a clearance after they’ve hired you. So you’ve already signed a contract but sorry, they’ll let you go if your clearance doesn’t check out. Here’s where the database subscription idea comes in great. Let the HR people do their work doing background checks.
In the end, there’s really no way of telling whether or not a person is decent through a piece of paper. Heck, even by being in the trenches with that person, you’d only be able to know part of that person.
If you want to look for felons or felonious acts, just take a look at the government, NBI. Work for us for once.