We've got word that POEA has stopped issuing OEC for Direct Hires since April 27, 2017. Since many of the OFWs in China are direct hires, this has become a hot topic lately. The following are based on our own findings, we don't claim these to be complete nor accurate. Use this as a guide, but do your own digging.
In a nutshell
Airport immigration asks for OEC if you have a work visa. But if you're a direct hire, you can't get this physically in POEA anymore. If you've got an existing online account at http://bmonline.ph/ , you can still get your OEC for free there. Provided you are going back to the same employer.
If you don't have this online account, this could be an issue. Ask the Consulate or POEA about this, or check the FAQ above. Personally, I'd suggest you bring a copy of your authenticated work contract and other relevant documents in your hand carry, just to be safe.
If you are direct hire already in China and moving to a new job, technically you need to inform POEA that you've moved to a new employer. But all direct hire counters in POEA are currently closed (as of May 10, 2017), so this could be tricky. The good news is, according to POEA, you don't need to go back to the country BEFORE starting the new job, just to reapply for your POEA-change-of-employment. They can be informed the next time you go home.
If you are a new direct hire from the Philippines going to China, bring out your novena booklet. I don't have the answer on how to get your POEA clearance, try asking POEA. Their Direct Hire counters are closed, but perhaps if you ask enough people, they might send you to the right person. Or, get a legit manpower agency to process your papers.
If you've got relevant news to share, or see something that needs to be corrected, do contact us.
*A shout out to Consul Marlowe, Joanna and Ella from the PH Consulate in SH for finding the POEA FAQ link. And to Timmy Chua of http://megamanpower.com/ for answering our POEA questions in the simplest way. We are not connected to the PH Consulate nor Mega Manpower, nor have any benefits, nor are we endorsing them.