Saturday, November 18, 2017

DOLE to study possible deployment of OFWs in San Marino

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is studying the viability of deploying Filipino workers, particularly health professionals, in the Republic of San Marino, a microstate in northeast Italy.
In a statement Thursday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said an assessment team has been formed to undertake the study.
The team is tasked to study the San Marino nursing and caregiving professional regulatory framework and look into the possibility of enabling the Filipino professionals to work there.
Bello said the team will also identify all possible deployment modalities, such as POEA deployment, Movement of Natural Persons (MNP), under the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS).
Bello also said he wants the team to look into how opportunities can be maximized under a proposed Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Home Services between San Marino and the Philippines.

The team is chaired by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and composed of member institutions coming from Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB).

Following its appraisal, the team will recommend to Bello appropriate measures to address the identified gaps in the Philippine nursing and caregiving training, certification or accreditation to make them competitive and viable.

A draft strategic plan for the viable supply of nursing and caregiving services in San Marino is also expected from the team.

Meanwhile, as provided for in the POEA Governing Board Resolution No. 2 series of 2011, the Republic of San Marino, one of the countries in Europe, is a certified compliant country, or where the rights of Filipino migrant workers are protected.

POEA records show that from 2015 to present, there are only 22 overseas Filipino workers in San Marino, composed of two new hires while the rest are rehires. —KBK, GMA 

Bello confident ASEAN nations will comply with 'landmark' pro-migrant workers accord

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday expressed confidence that the labor accord on the protection of migrant workers signed by ASEAN leaders on Tuesday night will not be a mere scrap of paper.
Interviewed on News To Go, Bello said he believes that even if the accord is not legally binding, ASEAN member countries will still heed its provisions, which include, among others, allowing migrant workers to join unions and prohibiting employers from confiscating their workers' passports.
"Hindi ka naman pipirma for the sake of signing, but you will sign with the intention na you will comply with the provision that you are going to sign," he said.
The ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of Rights of Migrant Workers, Bello said, can be a way of forging bilateral agreements between each ASEAN nation to give the accord more teeth.
"When you sign that agreement and it involves the promotion of the welfare and the protection of the OFWs or the migrant workers, you will have every reason to count on a bilateral agreement between the countries," Bello said.
"Legally binding"
Bello said he had to meet with the Indonesian labor ministry to leave out the terms "legally-binding" and "morally-binding" in the consensus.
"I had to fly to Indonesia for the purpose of convincing the Minister of Labor, in fact I was with him this morning, to agree to 'yung aking formulation na 'morally-binding.' We ended up in agreeing to a formulation na wag na lang sabihin na legally-binding o morally-binding," he said.
Bello noted that the Philippines and Indonesia wanted to have a legally-binding accord when ASEAN adopted the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers when the Philippines had chairmanship in 2007.
He added several ASEAN countries — Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Brunei — do not want the accord to have a legally-binding effect. 
"'Di ko sasabihin sa inyo kung ano ang dahilan. That was the reason why they were never able to arrive at a consensus," Bello said.
While lauded by some sectors, some critics and civil groups view the consensus as "simply an expression of intention" as any of the ASEAN's 10 member states can opt out of it because of its non legally-binding nature.
Bello said migrant workers, especially OFWs, still have legal recourse to settle their labor problems.
"They are forgetting na meron tayong mga people from DFA and people from POLO, ito yung Philippine Overseas Labor Offce, who are taking care of the interest and the welfare of our overseas workers. Hindi natin pinapabayaan sila," Bello said.
According to GMA News Research and the Department of Foreign Affairs, there were 863,040 Filipinos in different ASEAN countries in 2016. The POEA said more than 20,000 of these were OFWs.

As of 2016 there were 23,000 Filipinos in Brunei, 5,557 in Cambodia, 10,455 in Indonesia, 1,523 in Laos, 620,043 in Malaysia, 1,044 in Myanmar, 180,000 in Singapore, 17,618 in Thailand, and 3,800 in Vietnam. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinay in Bahrain whose passport was confiscated by employer gets justice

A Filipina cleaner and caterer assistant will finally get her passport back along with her backpay months after her employer unceremoniously cancelled her visa and held her passport hostage, according to Bahrain's DT News.
Jeny Agbulig will receive her documents seven months after her sponsor and employer cancelled her work visa unannounced on May 2, 2017, the report said.
Months prior to this, Agbulig was told to stop working and given three options for her release — pay her sponsor 300 Bahraini dollars for her passport, use her pending salaries to pay for her airline ticket, or continue working for 70 Bahraini dollar.
Agbulig was hired by her employer and received her work visa in August 2016.
From that month to March this year, she and her colleagues were reportedly subjected to more than 15-hour workdays, had no fixed working hours, and were not given salary slips nor copies of their offer letters or employment contracts.
Even when they complained, Agbulig said they were told that their visas would be automatically renewed once their contracts were finished and that no actions would be taken regarding their complaints.
It was after she asked for assistance from the Ministry of Labor of Bahrain that she found out that her signature was forged on the employment contract.

Agbulig was forced live with her friends to hide from her sponsor after she complained to the ministry and could not secure any work for being undocumented. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA New

Mary Jane Veloso’s family name used to raise funds, gets nothing in return

Unknown persons have used the Veloso family's name supposedly to raise funds for a trip to visit Mary Jane in Indonesia without the family's prior knowledge or consent.
On Friday, Celia Veloso, the mother of the convicted migrant, said that their name had supposedly been used for a collection drive held on the anniversary of her daughter's stay from execution at the premises of the municipal hall of Talavera, Nueva Ecija.
"Hindi namin alam (kung sino nanghingi). Nalaman ko lang sa balae ko, biyenan ni Mary Jane, sa city hall sa Talavera, nasabi daw. 'Aling Tessie, may pumunta po dito na humingi ng tulong, pamasahe daw ng pamilya Veloso', kaya namin nalaman," Mrs. Veloso said.
"Hindi naman kami humihingi, pero nagbigay ang city hall ng pera, ng pamasahe daw ng Pamilya Veloso," she said. "Hindi naman kami umaalis eh... Baka ang alam naman ng mga tao, baka dadalaw kami, pero hindi ho nakakarating sa amin."

Party-list solon welcomes ASEAN pact protecting migrant workers' rights

ACTS OFW party-list Representative Aniceto "John" Bertiz III welcomed the signing of an agreement among ASEAN countries that would protect the rights of migrant workers in the region.
In a statement, Bertiz said the pact demonstrated the ASEAN's vision of a caring and sharing community.
"We are also now telling the world that our regional bloc is a sterling example of how labor-sending and labor-receiving countries can cooperate to ensure that migrant rights are protected," he added.
The landmark document, according to ASEAN chair President Rodrigo Duterte, would "strengthen social protection, access to justice, humane and fair treatment, and access to health services for our people."
Bertiz also commended Duterte and the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Labor and Employment, and Social Welfare and Development for their efforts in making the signing of the document possible.
"Truly, the Philippines has become the conscience of the world when it comes to the rights and welfare of every migrant worker," he said.

The signing of the agreement came a decade after the ASEAN adopted the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers during the country’s chairmanship in 2007. — DVM, GMA News

Villanueva urges approval of Dep’t of Migration as ASEAN leaders sign pact on migrant workers

Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday appealed for the approval of the proposed creation of a separate department for migrant workers to “complement” the landmark agreement signed by leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In a series of tweets, Villanueva said the signing of the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of Rights of Migrant Workers is a welcome move.
“This agreement will definitely benefit our OFWs. Truly, there is a need to do so especially since we are in an era where our countrymen have increasingly chosen to work abroad,” Villanueva, chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development, said.
“The agreement will complement and strengthen our pending bills in the Senate to improve the benefits and protection of our OFWs. One example is the creation of a separate Department for Migrant Workers,” he added.
The proposed creation of said department pending before Villanueva's committee seeks to solely cater to the concerns of migrant workers while “eliminating bureaucracy in OFW assistance.”
“With the recently signed ASEAN consensus, we are confident that our efforts and advocacies in the legislative department would be given adequate attention for the sake of providing sustainable future for our citizens here and abroad,” Villanueva said.
A counterpart bill is also pending in the committee level at the House of Representatives.
Based on the recent data presented by Susan "Toots" Ople, founder and president of Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, there are 247 million international migrants around the world, of which five percent are Filipinos.
On Tuesday night, leaders of the ASEAN member-states signed the landmark agreement on the protection of migrant workers.
The agreement has provisions that include allowing laborers to join unions and prohibiting employers from confiscating their workers' passports.
Other provisions include upholding fair treatment of migrant workers with respect to gender and nationality, providing for visitation rights by family members, ensuring the protection of their right to access information pertaining to their employment and employment-related conditions, and respecting their right to fair and appropriate remuneration and benefits.

"The implementation of the ASEAN Consensus will be subject to the respective laws of the ASEAN Member States," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. —ALG, GMA News

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Martin Buber Plaque Award is for the Children

Fr. Shay Cullen 
17 November 2017  
There is a massive and positive change in the level of public awareness, knowledge and commitment to challenge, confront and expose the sexual harassment and abuse of children and women in the past decade. In recent months, women have been coming out in public and naming those that had sexually harassed, abused or raped them. They had hid it for years and were afraid or reluctant to speak out. But that is changing and the hashtag #MeToo is a venue for make the truth to be known. The accused are people in power and positions of influence over others and they have abused their positions to sexually exploit the people dependent on them. May they face justice and be held accountable for their behaviour and actions.
This year, the Martin Buber Award is given to recognize the work that enables many children to speak out and overcome adversary. For those who have been sexually abused and exploited in childhood, it has been almost impossible for them to speak out because they were vulnerable, dominated and controlled by their abusers. They seldom had someone they trusted to tell their terrible secret ordeals.
People with ascendency over children are the abusers and even teenagers are abusing younger girls with alarming frequency. The victims are silent because of fear, intimidation and threats by the abuser. This can be their own biological or step-father, a live-in partner, a friend or neighbour of the family or any one in society who has access to the child- a sports coach, clergy or any professional. The greatest fear of the child is that she or he will not be believed and every one will blame her and be angry with her. Besides the victims have been threatened and they believe the threats of the abuser will be carried out. One convicted paedophile in a family abused his niece and killed pet rabbits in front of her telling the child that is what will happen to her if she tells anybody about the abuse.
Twenty years ago, the abusers had it their own way. No one dared make any accusation of child abuse against a well-off man with a position in society. Even police, parents and authorities were reluctant to believe the child victim and the laws were weak and unenforced. But that has changed with the campaigning and awareness-building to make speaking out and reporting abuse mandatory for adults and especially for people in authority who know of any act of abuse against a child. There is still a lot of cover-up and looking the other way but change is gathering momentum.
The detection of child abuse and speaking out has to be the common and regular thing to do like reporting an accident or a fire. Child victims who hide their trauma and endure the abuse silently suffer depression, loss of interest in life, loose self-confidence and esteem. They lose interest in school and many then run away to friends or relatives or live on the streets where traffickers and pimps quickly pick them up and their lives are lost.  But when they are helped, rescued and given the chance of freedom, support, education and therapy, they come back to life and are empowered and resilient. They can then pursue justice successfully against their abusers and go on to a strong positive future. Many victims helped by the Preda Foundation have this experience of  “resurrection” and now enjoy a life of peace and happiness.
This week, the Martin Buber Plaque award is given to us in the Preda Foundation in recognition of these children who have spoken out, got help and engaged and challenged their abusers and justice was done. The award particularly recognizes those children who still suffer abuse secretly, alone, unknown and silently. It recognizes the Preda staff that engage in a dialogue of healing and empowerment with the children helping their recovery.
The Martin Buber philosophy in one of its aspects is about dialogue. It is a way of resolving conflicts and finding justice by meeting people face to face and challenging them as persons recognizing them as individuals.
This focus of the Martin Buber Plaque Award 2017 is on the dignity and rights of the child in 2017. Here are my personal reactions to receiving the award. The awarding of the Martin Buber Plaque to recognize the work of bringing peace and reconciliation to the abused, exploited, abandoned, and jailed children of the world is most welcome and appropriate and greatly appreciated by me and the staff of the Preda Foundation who make the work possible.
The award of the plaque to this work is in the true spirit of Martin Buber’s writings and his stand on making peace in the individual by direct contact with people by addressing human rights issues. Martin Buber’s advocacy of peacemaking is based on compassionate listening, understanding the person, affirming each other, and engaging in dialogue directly with people who have or are suffering abuse and human rights violations. 
It is a philosophy to create the possibility and the chance of peace and reconciliation through full personal relationship between individuals and in society. It is a process of human interaction that brings healing and recovery, individually and in community. The work of freeing children from abusers, illegal imprisonment and abusive situations and bring them healing from trauma and bring them to a peaceful existence with society is what I have been doing for the past 43 years in the Philippines through the Preda Foundation with the help of dedicated co-workers.
I am deeply honoured and happy to receive the  Martin Buber Plaque as it recognizes and honours the victims of abuse and rights violations. It is the resilient and courageous children who are survivors and victors who are the true recipients of this award.  
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