Friday, April 17, 2015

Pinay travel consultant admits selling fake e-visas to vacationers in UAE

A 25-year-old Filipina travel consultant on Thursday pleaded guilty before a United Arab Emirates court to selling faked e-visas to potential vacationers wanting to visit Dubai.

She was accused of embezzling some Dh64,000 (P774,176) by faking the e-visas and emailing them, UAE news site Gulf News reported.

“Yes, I forged the visas and took the money for myself,” she told presiding judge Ezzat Abdul Lat at the Dubai Court of First Instance on Thursday.

A ruling is expected on May 28.

Prosecutors said the Filipina printed out authentic tourism visa forms obtained from Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners’ Affairs online system.

She then made photocopies and tampered with the tourists’ details on them, then sent them to potential tourists.

The Filipina was then accused of keeping the money sent by the potential tourists who thought the visas were authentic.

Business partner

An Indian business partner in the agency where the Filipina worked told prosecutors they learned about the Filipina's activity from two Filipino victims.

He said the tourists called them from the Philippines and told them the visas they bought were forged.

"Our records revealed (the Filipina) had issued those e-visas. Upon confronting her with the findings, she immediately confessed that she had forged visas and embezzled Dh64,000," he said.

Also, he said the Filipina admitted she "abused her duties and sold the forged visas and to cover up for her wrongdoing she also forged the receipts on (document) files."

"Thereafter we reported her to the police,” he said.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

Mary Jane Veloso maintains innocence, says she’s leaving her fate to God

Maintaining her innonence, Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipino facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling, is leaving her fate to God as Philippine authorities continued to exert efforts to spare her life.

“Hindi ako nag-aalala,” she told her sister in a phone conversation shown in a report on “24 Oras” Thursday. “Lagi ko sinasabi sa iyo, kung anuman ang mangyayari sa akin, 'yun ang kagustuhan ng Panginoong Diyos. Naniniwala ko na tutulungan ako ng Diyos kasi wala ako kasalanan.”

Veloso, 30, also thanked the groups that have openly expressed their support to her and her family throughout the crisis.

“Nagpapasalamat din ako sa buong mundo na handa silang tumulong sa akin. Kahit 'di nila ako kilala pero naniniwala sila sa akin na wala ako kasalanan,” she said.

Her sister, Maritess, told "24 Oras" that she is scheduled to leave for Indonesia on Friday to meet with Veloso. The rest of Veloso's family, including her children, however, are unlikely to have another chance to speak with her personally.

Group blames govt

In a separate report on “24 Oras,” the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) blamed the government's alleged slow action on Veloso's case for her fate.

Lawyer Cris Yambot of NUPL said that language barrier hampered the positive progress of Veloso's case.

“Binigyan po siya ng interperter, pero hindi po ito duly approved o kung baga, 'di po siya rehistrado. 'Di po English ang secondary language po nila at nakikita naman po natin talaga na may language barrier,” she said.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose has earlier denied that the government did not pay enough attention to Veloso case, saying it is exhausting all its options to spare her life.


Veloso was arrested at the Yogyakarta Airport on April 25, 2010 after her suitcase was found loaded with 2.6 kilograms of heroin.

Her father, Caesar, believes in his daughter's innonence. The family has earlier claimed that Veloso was tricked by a close friend into bringing the illegal drugs to Indonesia.

“Nung nabalitaan kong nakakulong siya, 'di ko matanggap. Nung nakakulong na siya, 'di ko na po alam kung anong ginawa ko. Pinukpok ko na po yung ulo ko sa pader,” Caesar said.

“Sana tulungan niyo kami. Wala hong kasalanan ang aking anak, inosente lang siya,” Veloso's mother, Celia, pleaded.

Celia and Caesar previously blamed Veloso's recruiter for putting their daughter in danger, though the recruiter insisted that she merely helped her go to Indonesia.

The Philippine government is pushing through with its second request for a judicial review after the first one was rejected by Indonesia's Supreme Court.

Indonesia, for its part, said it is scheduled to proceed with the executions of convicted drug smugglers when the Asian-African summit or Bandung Conference concludes on April 24. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

PHL embassy expands care team for Pinoy caregivers in Canada

Available loans, tips on how to avoid getting victimized by financial scams, legal and psychological assistance were just some of the things offered to Filipino caregivers working in Canada during a special forum last April 11.

The forum was dubbed “Juana Know?” and was presented by the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

During the forum, the Ottawa Community Loan Fund presented options for professional development or small businesses, while Philippine Consul General Eric Gerardo E. Tamayo introduced caregivers to the reintegration program by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Newcomers to Ottawa were advised on legal assistance for immigration cases and other situations by the Catholic Center for Immigrants, which also offered counseling for settlement, community connections, and career transitions.

Meanwhile, Canadian professional Lucia Harper spoke on self-empowerment for a better quality of life, following stressful or traumatic situations. She also cautioned caregivers on the risks of multi-tasking and advised them to include in their support systems contact details of professional practitioners such as doctors, dentists and counsellors who are licensed to dispense medical and stress relief.

Dr. Omega Garibay, wife of Deputy Chief of Mission Uriel Norman R. Garibay, also espoused the need for caregivers to have emotional strength to cope with work-related stress.

Consul Porfirio M. Mayo, Jr. also gave caregivers pointers on the consular services offered by the embassy to those with immigration issues. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

POEA reminds OFWs not to use passport as collateral for loans

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on Thursday reminded overseas Filipino workers not to use their passport as collateral for loans or obligations.

Citing Foreign Service Circular No. 214-99 dated August 19, 1999, POEA said in an advisory that passports used as collateral are automatically cancelled "upon notice by the passport holders."

“Philippine passports reported held as guarantee or collateral for loans/obligations are automatically cancelled upon notice by the passport holders,” the POEA said.

“The cancellation of the said passports therefore renders the documents invalid for purpose of guaranteeing payment of loans/obligations," it added.

The Consulate General of the Philippines added that passports must not be used as guarantees because they are government property.

Administrator Hans Cacdac also reiterated the rule against collecting placement fees after POEA cancelled the license of a recruitment firm for allegedly charging fees up to P110,000 from a domestic helper deployed to Romania.

The recruitment firm, identified as Jao International Manpower Services, has violated POEA Governing Board (GB) Resolution No. 6, Series of 2006.
“The GB Resolution prohibits the collection of placement fee from household service workers, whether collected prior to their deployment or on-site through salary deduction. Any collection in violation of the said prohibition is considered a grave offense punishable with the penalty of cancellation of license,” Cacdac said. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

3 Pinoys arrested for drug possession in Malaysia –report

Three Filipinos were arrested in a drug bust in Labuan in East Malaysia earlier this week after 14 packets of suspected illegal substance were found in their possession.

report on news site Bernama said the suspected illegal substance was seized from a 59-year-old man who tested positive for the drug and two unemployed men aged 26 and 29 years old.

Labuan police chief Supt. Adzhar Othman told Bernama that the seized crystalline substance, known locally as “syabu,” weighed 6.06g and cost more or less RM1,000.

All three men were detained in accordance with Section 39A(1) and Section 15(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952. They did not possess any travel documents.

They were apprehended in a raid at a house on Monday night. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

More Pinoys evacuated from Yemen, 60 due home Thursday

At least 60 more Filipinos are set to return from Yemen on Thursday afternoon, while another batch was evacuated from the strife-torn country Wednesday.

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh said a group of 21 traveled from Sanaa and was expected to cross the Yemeni-Saudi border by Wednesday afternoon.

"By (the) end of (Wednesday), the Philippine government would have evacuated a total of 538 Filipinos from Yemen," it said in a statement.

Leading the efforts were Philippine consul Winston Almeda and Honorary Consul Mohamad Al-Jamal.

The embassy said that as of April 13, 517 Filipinos had already been evacuated from Yemen. This included five evacuated by the Pakistan Navy.

60 to return to PHL

Meanwhile, the embassy said another 60 evacuees were set to leave Wednesday aboard FlyNas and Cebu Pacific. They are to arrive in Manila 3:40 p.m. Thursday.

"Today’s flight will bring the total of number of Filipinos repatriated to 401," it said.

More Filipinos are to leave Friday and Saturday aboard Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines flights from Riyadh.

As of Monday, 341 Filipinos have been repatriated to the Philippines from Yemen.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government urged anew all those in Yemen to contact the Philippine Embassy’s Crisis Management Team in Sanaa to arrange for their evacuation from Yemen.

Nice to be back

Meanwhile, 80 Filipinos, including two children, arrived home from Yemen on April 14, 2015 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR 655 at 9:15 A.M.

A news release from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said the returning workers were visibly happy upon arrival at the airport despite the 10-hour travel.

“Natakot po kami sa air strike na baka tumama sa mga bahay o buildings kaya nagdesisyon na kami umuwi,” the release quoted a repatriate as saying.

It said when asked if he has any plan to go back to Yemen when the situation there stabilizes, or to another country where his skills are needed, the repatriate, who worked for 20 y ears as a supervisor in Yemen, said, “Hindi muna, pahinga muna ako. Nakakasawa rin naman magtagal doon.”

The returnees availed of the Philippine government’s Mandatory Repatriation Program. Alert Level 4 was raised in February 2015 when the strife in the said country escalated, exposing the lives of Filipin workers there to danger.

On April 13, 20 Filipino repatriates from Yemen were extended airport assistance by the OWWA Repatriation Team. Upon arrival at the airport, the workers were accorded airport assistance that include special lane in processing of immigration papers.

Some of the OFWs are now temporarily housed at the OWWA Halfway Home before they return to their respective provinces. Most of those who are in OWWA are from the Visayas and Mindanao.

At the airport, the repatriates were briefed on the government programs and services to cushion the impact of their sudden job displacement resulting from the political conflict in Yemen. —Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News

DFA: Pinoys still getting in trouble in UAE, Gulf nations over fake documents

Noting an increase in the number of Filipinos detained in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf Cooperation Council-member countries, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday reiterated its appeal to Filipinos to refrain from submitting fake documents to gain employment.

In an advisory, the DFA also asked Filipinos to have their documents verified by the nearest Philippine embassy or Consulate General, as most Filipinos charged with falsification were unaware that they received fake documents from their relatives in the Philippines.

The DFA did not mention how many Filipinos were recently jailed in the UAE and GCC because of fake documents.

It, however, said diplomas, transcripts of records, certificates of completion of TESDA courses, and certificates of marriage were among the most common fake documents cited in cases handled by embassies in GCC-member countries.

Fraudulent documents are identified through close inspection of the stamp and seal of the DFA and the UAE Embassy in the Philippines.

Once identified as false, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs will confiscate the records for attestation and send the holder to police stations for investigations.

The holder may face a jail term of up to 10 years and deportation if convicted.

Filipinos looking for work abroad were advised to consult with licensed recruitment agencies and have their documents processed at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News


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