Friday, May 22, 2015

Boy smuggled into Spain in suitcase allowed to stay

MADRID - An African boy found hidden in a suitcase that was smuggled across the border into Spain has been granted temporary permission to stay so he can be reunited with his mother, officials said Thursday.
Police found eight-year-old Adou Ouattara on May 7 curled up and covered by blankets inside a suitcase without air vents at a border checkpoint in Ceuta, one of two Spanish enclaves in North Africa.
The suitcase was being taken through a pedestrian border crossing by a 19-year-old woman, whose identity has not been released, when a border security scanner detected the boy inside.
A picture of the boy curled up in the suitcase served as a shocking reminder of the lengths migrants take to try to seek a better life in Europe.
Several hours after the youngster was detected, his father, Ali Ouattara, was arrested at the same border crossing on charges of human rights abuse, for trying to have the boy smuggled into the country.
The man, who is from the Ivory Coast, lives legally with the boy's mother and sister on Spain's Canary Islands, but his son lacked permission to join them there because the family's income was deemed too low.
Immigration authorities have now granted the boy authorization to live in Spain for one year "for extraordinary reasons" allowed for under the law, a spokesman for the central government representative in Ceuta said.
The boy has been staying at a center for underage migrants in Ceuta and he can now be turned over to his mother once DNA tests ordered by a judge prove that they are biologically related.
At the same time a Spanish court ruled that the boy's father will remain in custody while the case is investigated because of the possible risk that he may flee.
Ali Ouattara's lawyer Juan Isidro Fernandez Diaz has said his client did not know the boy would be smuggled in a suitcase, believing that he would cross the border with his Ivory Coast passport and that a visa would be bought.
Thousands of migrants each year risk their lives trying to enter Ceuta and another Spanish territory bordering Morocco, Melilla, in search of a better life in Europe.
Many Africans try to scramble over the seven-meter (23-foot) fences that separate the Spanish cities from Morocco.
Others smuggle themselves over the border hidden in vehicles and cargoes or try to swim or sail from shores on the Moroccan side. —Agence France-Presse

De Lima, Veloso camp hopeful Sergio’s statement will save Mary Jane from death row

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and the lawyer of Mary Jane Veloso's family have welcomed the statement of Ma. Cristina Sergio clearing Veloso of drug smuggling in Indonesia.

In an interview Thursday, De Lima said Sergio's statement, as contained in her counter-affidavit, was an “indication that we are on the right direction and right track” toward finally saving Veloso from the death sentence in Indonesia.

“Tama na ipinagpaliban muna ang implementasyon ng death sentence para mahalungkat muna lahat iyan, para malaman ang katotohanan. We're talking here about one precious life,” said De Lima.

Veloso, 39, was sentenced to die via firing squad in Indonesia for drug smuggling. Her execution, however, was stopped on the last minute last April 29 following appeals from the Philippine government, which said Veloso needs to testify against her alleged recruiter in the Philippines.

In a sworn statement submitted to the Department of Justice, which is conducting a preliminary probe on her and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, Sergio insisted that Veloso was not aware she would be transporting illegal drugs from Malaysia to Indonesia.

Sergio said Veloso was promised a job by two "African-looking" men who they had met at a restaurant across the hotel they were staying in while in Malaysia.

Sergio said Veloso went to Malaysia with her in April 2010 to look for a job as a domestic helper.

Lawyer Edre Olalia, who represents Veloso's family in the criminal complaints lodged agianst Sergio and Lacanilao, also branded as a “positive development” Sergio's “unequivocal and categorical” admission in her affidavit.

“This is the ultimate fact... that we have been waiting for the longest time,” said Olalia.

He, however, said they will belie portions of Sergio's affidavit that were “self-serving.”

The claims that Sergio made included a denial of her involvement in any criminal group, and another claim that the Velosos had threatened her following Veloso's arrest and death sentence in Indonesia.

“We shall contest the inexplicable vilification she made against Mary Jane's family,” Olalia said.

Both De Lima and Olalia said the next step after Sergio's admission was to relay it to their Indonesian counterpart to bolster hopes that the reprieve extended to Veloso by Indonesian President Joko Widodo becomes permanent.

“All we have to do is bring all of this to the Indonesian authorities for their own appreciation. Marami pa siguro tayong makukuhang facts,” De Lima said.

“We shall continue to closely coordinate and update in real time our Indonesian counterparts in order for them to initiate the appropriate and expedient steps from their end as are warranted by the situation and developments,” said Olalia for his part. —KBK, GMA News

Ma. Cristina Sergio, the alleged recruiter who tricked Mary Jane Veloso into carrying a suitcase with heroin to Indonesia, swears during the filing of her counter-affidavit at the Department of Justice in Manila on Wednesday, May 20. Her live-in partner and co-accused, Julius Lacanilao, also filed his counter-affidavit. Lia Manalac-Del Castillo

2 Pinoys killed in Qatar road accident –report

Four people including two Filipinos were killed Wednesday when a trailer truck smashed into a van in Qatar, a report on Gulf Times said Thursday.

The Philippine Embassy in Doha identified the Filipino fatalities as  Ysrael Villamarin Cenine, 36, and Reynel Anonceivo Manalo, 22, both employees of Imco Engineering & Contracting Companies.

The two other fatalities were Nepalese, also employees of Imco Engineering, the Gulf Times report said.

Two other Filipinos were injured in the accident, namely Bernard Nacasukit Teuis and Christopher Coliatano Cleofe, the report said. Both were brought to the Wakra Hospital and have already been discharged.

The exact cause of the incident, which happened near Al Kharara on the Mesaieed-Salwa road, has yet to be determined.

Witnesses were quoted as saying in the report that the collision was so "severe" that the van carrying the vicitms was thrown across the road, killing four people on the spot.

Both the Philippine and Nepali embassies have provided assistance to their nationals, with an official from the Philippines Overseas Labor Office (POLO) visiting the injured at Wakra Hospital. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoy nurses, caregivers, factory workers warned vs. job offers in Japan, Korea

Filipino nurses, caregivers and factory workers eyeing overseas employment were warned Thursday against recruiters who claim there are millions of jobs available for them in Japan and South Korea.

In a statement, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Hans Leo Cacdac said applicants can only get jobs legally as nurses and caregivers in Japan, and factory workers in South Korea, through an duly registered agency.

"Please ignore such private persons and entities, especially when they say there are millions of jobs available for nurses and caregivers in Japan, and factory workers in South Korea," said Cacdac.

He explained that the governments of Japan and South Korea have signed separate agreements with the Philippine government through the Department of Labor and Employment that allow the POEA to facilitate the recruitment and deployment of Filipino nurses and caregivers and factory workers to the two countries, respectively.

“We have government-to-government arrangements with the two countries, which means there is no other way that nurses and careworkers can legally enter Japan, and factory workers can be admitted into South Korea, without submitting to the recruitment and deployment procedure being implemented by the POEA, in collaboration with JICWELS or Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services and South Korea’s Ministry of Labor,” Cacdac said.
Interested applicants were advised to often the POEA website for announcements on hiring of nurses and caregivers for Japan and factory workers for South Korea.

“I advise job applicants to always be wary of illegal recruiters and other employment scams and make sure they are dealing only with recruiters that were authorized by the POEA,” Cacdac said.

Meanwhile, Cacdac also warned Filipinos against accepting an invitation to apply to Valley Chandelier Recruitment Agency and General Trading, a Kuwait-based recruitment agency, which he said is unauthorized to recruit and deploy workers abroad.

According to Cacdac, there were reports that the agency has been collecting fees from applicants and some OFWs in Kuwait have already return to the Philippines to prepare for the supposed interview at the US Embassy in Manila.

The firm is allegedly offering jobs for 5,000 cleaners in the United States.

"The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait and Washington D.C. are currently investigating the agency for its alleged illegal activities," Cacdac said. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

2 Pinoy cadets graduate from US Coast Guard Academy

Two Filipinos did the Philippines proud as they graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) in Connecticut, the Philippine Coast Guard said Thursday.

Niño Jhanus Aniban from Bantayan, Cebu, and Jayner Cabral from Calaca, Batangas, were sponsored by the Philippine Coast Guard and were appointed as international cadets to the USCGA.

"Cabral and Aniban were two of the six chosen international cadets who joined the class. Aside from them, other foreign cadets were from Antigua, Tunisia and the Republic of Georgia," the Philippine Coast Guard said in a Facebook post.

It noted US President Barack Obama graced the USCGA commencement exercise.

Following their graduation, the two will be commissioned in the Philippine Coast Guard with the rank of Ensign. They will also render at least eight years' continuous active service.

The PCG said its cadetship program is a part of a vision to establish the PCG's first Cadet Corps, as a precursor to the establishment of the Philippine Coast Guard Academy.


Cabral and Aniban underwent training at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy in Zambales under the PCG Cadetship Program in June 2010.

They were then admitted as swab members (seven-week military training program) out of the 291 cadets who entered the academy on June 27, 2011.

PCG Commandant Admiral Rodolfo Isorena lauded the two cadets for finishing the rigid four-year course and thanked them for bringing pride to the PCG.

Oath of allegiance

Commodore Aaron Reconquista, commander of the Coast Guard Education and Training Command, represented the PCG in the graduation.

He administered to the two the oath of allegiance to the Philippine flag after the graduation ceremony.

Reconquista himself is a graduate of the USCGA Class of 1986. Other USCGA alumni from the PCG include former PCG Commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo (Class 1979) and former Commander of Maritime Safety Services Command, Commodore Gilbert Rueras (Class 1982). Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News

Thursday, May 21, 2015

PhilHealth forges ties with PRA for the Enrolment of Foreign Nationals

OWWA, LBP Approved P865.12M Reintegration Fund for 1,257 OFW-Entrepreneurs as of end of 2014

May 15, 2015
OWWA, LBP Approved P865.12M Reintegration Fund for 1,257 OFW-Entrepreneurs as of end of 2014
Since its launch in June 2011 up to December 2014, the business projects of 1,257 members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) were approved under the 2-Billion OFW Reintegration Program, a joint undertaking of the Land Bank of the Philippines and of OWWA. The total amount of loan extended to the proponents reached P865,118,529.80.
The approved business projects are a mix of agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises. Non-agricultural business projects are slightly higher than agricultural projects comprising 59% of all the project grantees during the period. Among these are groceries, apartment construction and rental, general merchandise stores, UV Express, hardware, water-refilling stations, internet café, restaurant, auto and motor parts, ready-to-wear, pharmacy and gas station.
Agricultural projects are mostly linked to the food chain. These are grains, fruits and vegetables farming, grains trading, livestock- and poultry-raising, fishery, post-harvest activities like milling, and bakery.
Most of the approved business projects of OFW availees came from Region 3 followed by Regions 4-A, 6, 12, 5, NCR and 2, 11, 7, 1, CAR, 4-B, 10, 9, ARMM, 8 and CARAGA.


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