Monday, May 21, 2018

Hawaii reports first serious injury from volcano as lava threatens escape routes

Terray Sylvester, Reuters
Posted at May 20 2018 07:05 PM

Lava erupts on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. Terray Sylvester, Reuters
PAHOA, Hawaii -- A stream of lava threatened to block a key Hawaii highway on Sunday that serves as an escape route for coastal residents, while the first known serious injury was reported from fresh explosive eruptions from the Kilauea volcano.
A homeowner on Noni Farms Road who was on a third-floor balcony had his leg shattered from his shin to his foot when hit by lava spatter, said Janet Snyder, a spokesperson for the Office of the Mayor, County of Hawaii.
She added that lava spatters "can weigh as much as a refrigerator and even small pieces of spatter can kill." No other information was immediately available.
As magma destroyed four more homes, molten rock from two huge cracks merged into a single stream, threatening to block escape routes and touching off brush fires.
The erupting lava, which can reach a blistering 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, was expected to hit Highway 137 overnight if it kept up its rate and direction of flow, the County of Hawaii's Civil Defense Agency said.
Authorities are trying to open up a road that was blocked by lava in 2014 to serve as an alternative escape route should Highway 137 or another exit route, Highway 130, be blocked, Jessica Ferracane of the National Park Service told reporters.
The park service is working to bulldoze almost a mile of hardened lava out of the way on nearby Highway 11, which has been impassable, she added.
The Hawaii National Guard has warned of mandatory evacuations if more roads become blocked.
But officials went house-to-house in the area to urge more residents to flee, Snyder said, though no head count of the new evacuation was available early Sunday.
They also warned of laze, clouds of hydrochloric acid and steam embedded with fine glass particles formed when hot lava hits ocean water.
For weeks, geologists have warned that hotter, fresher magma from Kilauea's summit would run underground and emerge some 25 miles east in the lower Puna district, where older, cooler lava has already destroyed 44 homes and other structures.
"Summit magma has arrived," U.S. Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall said on a conference call with reporters.
"There is much more stuff coming out of the ground and its going to produce flows that will move much further away."
Fountains of bright orange lava were seen spouting at least 20-feet high, and spewing rivers of molten rock on Saturday.
Carolyn Pearcheta, operational geologist at the Hawaii Volcano Authority, told reporters that hotter and more viscous lava could be on the way, with fountains spurting as high as 600 feet, as seen in a 1955 eruption.
"We've seen the clearing out of the system," she said. "We call that the 'throat clearing' phase."
NEW EXPLOSIVE ERUPTION
At the volcano's summit, another large explosive eruption occurred around midnight, sending up a nearly 10,000-foot-high ash plume, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. There was another explosion around 4 p.m., according to a Reuters reporter.
Scientists expect a series of eruptions from Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, that could spread ash and volcanic smog across the Big Island, the southernmost of the Hawaiian archipelago.
That could pose a hazard to aircraft if it blows into their routes at around 30,000 feet.
Around 2,000 residents of Leilani Estates and Laipuna Gardens housing areas near Pahoa, about 48 km south of Hilo, were ordered to evacuate due to at least 22 volcanic cracks that have opened.
Many thousands more residents have voluntarily left their homes due to life-threatening levels of toxic sulfur dioxide gas spewing from vents in the volcanic fissures. 

Comelec: 1.6 million Pinoys registered for overseas absentee voting

ELEKSYON 2019


The Commission on Elections said 1.6 million Filipinos abroad have so far registered for overseas absentee voting for the 2019 midterm elections.
This number has surpassed the record-high 1.3 million Filipino overseas absentee voters for the 2016 national elections.
Comelec said the current number may even reach 2 million since the deadline for registration is still a few months away, on September 30.
Filipinos who are abroad from April 13, 2018 to May 13, 2019 and are at least 18 years old on May 13, 2019 may register for overseas absentee voting.
Those interested may submit their application forms at the nearest Philippine foreign service posts abroad, including the three Manila Economic and Cultural Offices in Taiwan. —KG, GMA News

OWWA to ‘stranded’ OFWs: Wait for guidelines before traveling to Kuwait




Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whose scheduled deployment to Kuwait was earlier halted by a recent total work ban can travel to the Gulf state as soon as the government's guidelines for it are released.
The guidelines will be issued in line with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) earlier signed by the Philippines and Kuwait that includes provisions about workers' security, food and working hours.
In an in interview on Unang Balita on Friday, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said the guidelines will be issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
"Ayon sa nilagdaan ni [Labor] Secretary [Silvestre] Bello, effective immedeately ang kanyang nilagdaan. Mayroon pang guidelines na ii-isyu ang POEA patungkol dito," Cacdac said.
"Antabayanan na lang po natin dahil effective immediately iyong order pero may guidelines. And I think na hindi na magtatagal at magkakaroon na ng guidelines para makaalis na 'yung ating mga kababayan," he added.
Prior to the MOU, a ban on sending Filipino workers to Kuwait was placed in February following the discovery of the body of Joanna Demafelis.
Relations between the Philippines and Kuwait deteriorated further after a video of Philippine diplomatic staff rescuing abused OFWs made its way online, with the Kuwaiti government protesting what it called the diplomatic staff's "inappropriate behavior."
On Friday, Cacdac said Philippine officials in Kuwait will now coordinate with the local police over cases of OFW abuse.
"Iyong ating embahada, Philippine labor office ay pwedeng dumulog doon sa police enforcement team. Iyong police team na isasagawa ng Kuwaiti side. So again cooperation effort ang mahalaga dito," he said.
Some 3,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) whose scheduled deployment to Kuwait was halted by the deployment suspension in January will be the first batch of workers who will be allowed to go back.
Some agencies ensured that there are enough jobs for Filipinos who want to try their luck and work in Kuwait.
Data from the POEA shows that more than 100,000 Filipinos are presently working in Kuwait.
Cacdac assured the public that OFWs being deployed to Kuwait are all documented.
"Hindi naman ganoon kalaking bansa ang kuwait mas amdaling ma-control yung kanilang boarder at mahigpit din kontra sa human trafficking yung kuwaiti immigration border control," he said. — MDM, GMA News

Deployment of Pinoys to Kuwait to start anew

Published May 17, 2018 8:43pm 

The deployment of Filipinos to Kuwait is expected to start anew following the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to lift the total ban on sending workers to the Gulf state.
According to a 24 Oras report by Chino Gaston on Thursday, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) will release a governing board resolution on Friday ordering recruitment agencies to again accept applicants for Kuwait.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was earlier signed by the Philippines and Kuwait that includes provisions about workers' security, food and working hours.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Duterte is convinced that Filipino workers in the Arab country will be well-protected following the signing of the MOU.
"With the signing of the MOU and the gesture of goodwill shown by the Kuwaiti government in giving justice to Demafelis, magandang gesture 'yun so I think the President feels our workers now are well-protected," Bello said.
A ban on sending Filipino workers to Kuwait was placed in February following the discovery of the body of Joanna Demafelis.
Relations between the Philippines and Kuwait deteriorated further after a video of Philippine diplomatic staff rescuing abused OFWs made its way online, with the Kuwaiti government protesting what it called the diplomatic staff's "inappropriate behavior."
Despite Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano's apology to the Kuwaiti government, the Arab state expelled Ambassador Renato Villa, leading to Duterte's calling for a permanent ban on sending workers to the Gulf state.

Data from the POEA shows that more than 100,000 Filipinos are presently working in Kuwait.
The agency said that local recruitment firms must have a full grasp of the provisions in the MOU so they can implement it thoroughly.
"Napakaimportanteng makausap at maipaliwanag natin nang mabuti sa mga participating local licensed recruitment agencies dito sa Philippines, 'yung new provisions ng labor agreement dahil sila po ang kasama nating magiimplement nito," said POEA administrator Bernard Olalia.
Some 3,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) whose scheduled deployment to Kuwait was halted by the deployment suspension in January will be the first batch of workers who will be allowed to go back.
Some agencies ensured that there are enough jobs for Filipinos who want to try their luck and work in Kuwait.
"Kahit noong ban maraming nag-a-apply sa Kuwait, mga agency lang ang tumatanggi kasi nga may ban, bawal 'yun sa amin," said Estrelita Hizon, president of the United Placeman Philippines Inc.
"Talagang number one nilang gusto, actually status symbol din nila pag Pilipino 'yung kanilang housemate ibig sabihin meron silang sinasabi dahil pinakamataas ang sweldo ng mga Pilipino doong katulong," added Amanda Lalic-Araneta, former president of the Philippine Licensed Agencies Accredited to Kuwait.
The Philippine government ordered a total deployment ban on Filipino workers, particularly domestic workers, to Kuwait in February, shortly after the discovery of Demafelis' body. — Anna Felicia Bajo/BM, GMA News

Record-breaking no. of overseas voters bared


THE Department of Foreign Affairs said that the number of overseas voters for the 2019 national elections has reached an all-time high of 1,600,746.
This has surpassed the previous record of 1,376,067 for the 2016 Presidential Elections according to the DFA-Overseas Voting Secretariat (DFA-OVS).
At the current rate of the Overseas Voters registration, the DFA-OVS said it is confident that by the end of registration period on September 30, 2018, there will be around 1.9 million overseas voters for the 2019 national elections.
“This is once again evidence of the hard-work and dedication of the men and women of our Foreign Service who are encouraging more overseas Filipinos to exercise their right to suffrage and civic duty in this on-going electoral exercise,” Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said.
“Our media partners, bloggers and other Overseas Voter stakeholders are also playing an important role in creating awareness among our kababayans abroad,” he added.
“Sa mga kababayan natin abroad, huwag nyo pong kalimutang magparehistro para sa overseas voting. Pantay-pantay ang karapatan natin: lahat tayo ay may isang boto at tayo ang pumipili ng mga namumuno,” Cayetano said, as he again encouraged qualified Filipinos abroad to register.
The DFA-OVS said all Filipino citizens, at least 18 years old on May 13, 2019, and who expect to be abroad from April 13 to May 13, 2019 during the overseas voting period for the 2019 Elections, and not otherwise disqualified by law, may register as an overseas voter, at the nearest Philippine Foreign Service Posts abroad including the three Manila Economic and Cultural Offices (MECO) in Taiwan.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Duterte orders total lifting of OFW deployment ban to Kuwait



President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night lifted the total deployment ban to Kuwait, days after the Philippines and the Arab nation inked a deal on the protection of Filipino migrant workers there.
"Upon recommendation of Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah Mama-o, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte tonight instructed [Labor] Secretary Silvestre Bello to totally lift the ban on deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
The Philippine government's action came a day after it announced the lifting of deployment ban to cover skilled and semi-skilled workers.
Duterte imposed in February a deployment ban on newly hired OFWs to Kuwait, caused by cases of abuses, among them the killing of Joanna Demafelis whose body was found inside a freezer in an apartment previously occupied by her employers.
Negotiations for the deal followed, which nearly fell through following the controversial rescue of distressed OFWs by the Philippine embassy staff last month.
Videos of the rescue of Filipinos by Philippine diplomatic staff from their Kuwaiti employers circulated in the media, angering the Kuwaiti government which viewed the act as a violation of its sovereignty and decried what it called as “inappropriate behavior” by the diplomatic staff.
Kuwait also expelled Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa and recalled its envoy in Manila.
Duterte then sent some of his officials last week to thresh out issues with Kuwait, which culminated in the signing of a labor pact advancing the protection and welfare of OFWs.
Some 260,000 Filipinos live and work in Kuwait, mostly household service workers, according to government estimates. —NB/BAP, GMA News

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Labor group welcomes partial lifting of deployment ban to Kuwait but...


While it finds the partial lifting of deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait laudable, the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) on Tuesday said a policy that will make overseas employment a choice will be better.
In a statement, ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said stressed that "there is an equivalent unquantifiable social cost to Filipino families" when parents must go abroad to ensure their family's survival.
Though the need to go overseas is understandable, he said ALU-TUCP is hoping that government policy will improve to the point that Filipinos will no longer need to migrate to secure their livelihoods.
"While it is also good to have OFWs remittance contribute money positively to our domestic economy, it is our hope that someday soon government policy will no longer encourage Filipinos to work anywhere abroad to sustain their families to live in dignified and decent lives," Tanjusay said.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said reforms must be instated before the ban could be fully lifted to cover newly hired domestic workers.
The ban came after the discovery of the body of Joanna Demafelis, a Filipino domestic worker allegedly killed by her employers and hidden in a freezer in an apartment unit previously occupied by the suspects.
Negotiations for the MOU nearly fell through following the rescue of distressed OFWs by the Philippine Embassy staff — an operation that angered Kuwaiti officials, prompting them to expel Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa and recall their envoy in Manila. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News
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