Friday, November 28, 2014

Runaway expats in Saudi Arabia may be allowed to go home without jail – report

Expatriate workers who run away from their employers in Saudi Arabia may soon be allowed to return home without being jailed, a Saudi news site reported Thursday.
 
But the expatriates must have no criminal cases pending, settle outstanding fines, and pay for their tickets, Arab News reported.
 
They must also have an undertaking from their consulates assuring they will leave in 72 hours, the report said.
 
Arab News said it got a copy of the circular dated Nov. 18 containing such conditions, from Pakistan Consul General Aftab Khokher. The circular was sent to all consulates by Muhammad Abdulwahab Nugali, representative of the Foreign Ministry, it added.
 
Khokher said the concession had been proposed by the Pakistani mission due to the large number of distressed workers from there.
 
Under the same circular,  workers who want to go home must be taken by their consulates to the Shumaisi center for fingerprinting and they should have passports issued by their consulates.
 
Before this, an expatriate declared a runaway had to return to his or her sponsor and police to sort things out.
 
On the other hand, many expatriates including those from Southeast Asian countries, had complained they were declared absconders by unscrupulous sponsors who merely wanted to settle scores or obstruct lawsuits.
 
An expatriate declared an absconder could not go home through regular procedures, as the Saudi police had to arrest and detain them at the local deportation center.  Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News

P2-M blood money needed to bring OFW in Saudi home

The family of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was saved from the death penalty in Saudi Arabia has appealed for help in bringing their loved one home hopefully before Christmas.

A report on GMA News TV's “QRT” on Thursday said the family of Jonard Langamin is appealing for help in raising the P2 million blood money needed for him to get home.

Langamin was sentenced to death for killing fellow Filipino Robertson Mendoza in 2008.

Due to the tanazul or affidavit of forgiveness signed by Mendoza's family and released last November 3, which saved Langamin from the death penalty, he only needs to pay the blood money in order to be allowed to return home, the report said.

Under Saudi law, the private aspect of the case is more important than the public aspect. The private aspect involves the victim's next of kin granting forgiveness to the family of the accused.

No deadline was set for Langamin to raise the needed money, the report said.

The Department of Foreign could not say if Langamin could be released in December. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoys make mark in Milan fashion scene

Filipino producer Evelyn Amorin has earned herself a spot in European fashion history when she spearheaded the first ever Filipino-produced fashion show in Milan, Italy.

A report on "24 Oras" Thursday night said Amorin's fashion show featured over 40 models, including 14-year-old Filipino-Italian stunner Simone Pani.

The event, held in October, showcased designs by fellow Filipino Roger Esteron, who is also known as Korn Taylor, the report added.

Filipinos have been making splashes in the fashion industry abroad, with Filipino designers opening boutiques and showcasing fashion collections in the United States.

Their presence in high-profile fashion events are also widely noted, as their designs had been tagged as "hip, young, vibrant, wearable, and cool" at the LA Fashion Week and as emerging trend in the Boston Fashion WeekRie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoys among awarded foreign workers in NY


For their achievements in medicine, education, and other fields, 13 foreign workers — including Filipinos — were recently awarded in New York.

The 13 were recognized for their contribution in nation-building both in the United States and their countries of origin by the Team United Maharlika Foundation during its third anniversary celebration last November 16 at Astoria World Manor in Queens.

Leading the list of awardees was Sen. Gustavo Rivera, the Puerto Rican-born state senator of New York who helped introduce the Bronx CAN Health Initiative in 2011, giving school children free health screenings in various health centers.

Monsignor Oscar Aquino, a Pangasinense, was also recognized for aiding numerous Filipino-Americans bond through informal breakfast gatherings.

Other awardees include:

– Dr. Richard Holsman;
– Engineer Levi Tejada;
– Teacher Ronnie Mataquel, president of the United Filipino Teachers of America;
– Nurse Maritess Pabalan;
– Chef Rosalie Palma, who served former President Bill Clinton and President Barrack Obama at the White House;
– Retired Nurse Carmen Marquez;
– Esther Faith Batino, recipient of Ambassador for Peace from Universal Peace Federation;
– Joseph and Maricel Cheng, entrepreneurs;
– Miguel Braganza, stage actor and director;
– Elton Lugay, reporter for The FilAm and Philippine Daily Inquirer; and
– Dr. Ben Sales, late president of the Philippine Medical Association in the US

Team United president Rene Ballenas said more foreign workers will be honored in the future.

“This event is very important since we celebrate the excellence of Filipino and our capacity to lead beyond our own community,” said Consul General Mario de Leon during the event.

“We are now the 2nd largest Asia ethnic group in the US, and with our visibility comes our responsibility to the greater community,” he added. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News


Photo from Philippine Consulate General in New York

Upgraded contracts seen to end exploitation of PHL maids in MidEast

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Thursday hailed the decision of labor ministers in the Gulf to improve the contracts of foreign domestic workers, saying this could “end soon the days of abuse” of Filipino maids in the Middle East.

“This is a boost to our efforts to ensure increased protection for the well-being, safety, and welfare for our Filipino domestic workers,” she said in a statement.

“It will, I hope, end soon the days of abuse and exploitation suffered by many domestic workers who, because of the nature of their work, are extremely vulnerable.”

Baldoz said the new minimum terms on contracts to be imposed by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will help the Philippines with its efforts to protect its domestic helpers.

Among the improvements in the contracts are the provision of annual leaves, eight-hour work shifts, weekly dayoffs, and a right to live outside the employer's house.

Employers will also be barred from confiscating their employee's passports, and ordered to pay the domestic helper's end-of-service indemnity and overtime pay.

The GCC is composed of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

Baldoz said these provisions were in line with the International Labor Organization's (ILO) Convention 189, ratified by the Philippine Senate in 2012 for its goal of providing decent work to domestic workers.

“These principles became universal after ILO Convention 189 had entered into force, and I am very happy that the GCC has stepped-in with the times and with the rest of the world in affording decent and productive work for domestic workers,” she said.

Baldoz also said the Philippines, as a leading voice in the promotion of domestic workers’ welfare and protection, should take advantage of this new agreement to ensure that its strong regulatory regime in the deployment of domestic workers will result to the drastic reduction, if not elimination, of abuse and exploitation.

“Uncaring recruiters, opportunistic middlemen, and abusive employers who do not treat our HSWs with respect and dignity as workers and as human beings with universal right should be penalized and banned from participating in overseas employment," she said. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

PHL envoy elected chairman of int'l mobile satellite assembly session

The Philippines has been elected to chair the session of an international body handling public satellite safety and security communication services, the Philippine embassy to the United Kingdom said Wednesday.

Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Enrique Manalo was elected chairman of the 23rd Session of the International Mobile Satellite Organization Assembly in London.

Nominating Manalo was Monaco representative Armelle Roudaut-Lafon, who cited his diplomatic experience in chairing international meetings.

China, Malaysia, Spain, the Marshall Islands, Poland, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Republic of Korea, Oman, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Liberia and Argentina seconded his nomination.

"Ambassador Manalo chairs the 99-member state Assembly which meets biennially. The Assembly will elect the new IMSO Director General who will take over from Director General Esteban Pacha-Vicente of Spain," the embassy said.

As the largest nationality of seafarers, the Philippines benefits greatly from these mobile satellite communication systems, the embassy added.

The International Maritime Organization is hosting the 23rd Session of the IMSO Assembly from November 25 to 28.

IMSO, established in 1979, is an intergovernmental organization that oversees certain public satellite safety and security communication services.

These include the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and the Long-Range Identification and Tracking of Ships (LRIT) system.

"GMDSS ensures timely response of search-and-rescue teams to ships in distress while the LRIT system allows the identification and tracking of merchant ships in addressing security concerns," the embassy said.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

No OFW infected with Ebola so far, says DOH

Health authorities have not yet monitored any overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who has been infected with the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed over 5,000 in West Africa.

“As of this time, no Filipino has been infected by Ebola,” said Dr. Lyndon See Suy, spokesperson for the Department of Health (DOH), in a press conference Thursday.

Still, he said the government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), is sending a rapid assessment team to Ebola-hit nations in West Africa where some OFWs work as health professionals.

Lee Suy said Filipino heath workers in areas with recorded Ebola cases are not working on the frontline against the infectious disease, but are instead hired by private companies to supervise the health of its workers in a specific area.

Nevertheless, Filipino health workers from West Africa will still have to undergo a 21-day quarantine period once they arrive in the Philippines.

In the same press briefing, Dr. Mari Rose Delos Reyes of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Disease (PSMID) said that Filipinos with low exposure to the virus may be exempted from the quarantine.

“We don't need to quarantine everybody coming in from these areas,” she said, referring to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Mali, the countries with high number of Ebola cases.

She said people with low risk of getting Ebola are those who had no direct contact with body fluids from an Ebola patient and those who had traveled on an aircraft with a person manifesting Ebola symptoms.

Still, Lee Suy said the DOH has made quarantine mandatory for all OFWs returning from West Africa because they cannot immediately determine if an OFW is a low risk or high risk case.

For his part, Ludovico Jurao Jr., PSMID's president, reminded OFWs that it is their “social responsibility” to call DOH if they are showing symptoms of the infectious disease.

“Meron kang responsiblidad sa pamilya mo at sa community mo, if ever meron kang sintomas,” he said. —KBK, GMA News

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