Monday, March 2, 2015

Pinoys reminded vs. bringing ‘threatening’ items to HK

Filipinos were reminded last week against bringing "threatening" items such as stun guns, bullets and knives to Hong Kong.

The Department of Labor and Employment's reminder last Tuesday stemmed from a request from the Hong Kong airport police relayed via the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Citing information from the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong, the DOLE said the items considered as “arms” under the Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance of Hong Kong include:

- stun guns
- tear gas
- bullets
- extendible batons
- flick knives
- knuckle dusters

“Their unlicensed possession is, upon conviction, punishable by a fine of HK$100,000 and/or a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment,” the DOLE said, citing a report from the DFA.

It added DFA Undersecretary Jesus Yabes indicated the Hong Kong Police-Airport District's request is for Filipinos, especially seafarers, not to bring such stunning devices when traveling to or through Hong Kong’s ports, or to remove such prohibited items before entering or transiting through the territory.

Avoiding carrying such prohibited items will help avoid legal sanctions and unnecessary delay in their journey, it added.

“The Hong Kong authorities are particularly strict with the enforcement of said ordinance. All hand-carried and checked luggage of passengers are subjected to security screening in the terminals,” the DOLE quoted the DFA report as saying.

For her part, DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz urged OFWs to abide by the laws of their respective host countries or territories.

She said they should "know the rules, respect the laws and culture, and be always mindful of the updates and other information from your respective Philippine embassies or Philippine Overseas Labor Offices."

"Take to heart the learning and the awareness you have acquired during the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminars. It is a requisite to all OFWs leaving the Philippines and our government’s institutional response to protect you,” she added.   Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

Pinoys traveling to Turkey reminded of passport-visa requirements

Filipinos traveling to Turkey were reminded to make sure their passports or travel documents have an expiration date at least 60 days beyond that of their visas.

The Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong said this policy by Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been in effect since Jan. 1.

"(E)ffective 1 January 2015, foreigners which includes Filipinos who wish to enter Turkey must carry a passport or travel document with an expiration date of at least 60 days beyond the expiration date of their visa, visa exemption certificate or residence permit," it said in a Feb. 15 advisory.

It said Filipinos should "take note of this requirement when traveling to Turkey."

Citing an example, the Consulate General said those with visas or residence permits that expire June 12 must make sure their passports are valid until at least Aug. 11.  — Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

BSP facility lets OFWs repatriated from Libya exchange dinars

Overseas Filipino workers repatriated from Libya can avail of a facility from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to exchange their dinars for pesos.
 
Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the OFWs can avail of the reopened Libyan Dinar Currency Exchange Facility until July 29.
 
"We are very conscious about the hurried manner by which our OFWs have left Libya. They might have forgotten to exchange their Libyan money for acceptable currency, such as US dollars. Thus, we made this representation with the BSP to revive its special foreign exchange facility for the conversion of Libyan dinars into pesos as this will certainly help our OFW repatriates,” Baldoz said on the DOLE website.
 
Under the arrangement, OFWs repatriated from Libya can exchange their dinars to pesos to up to an equivalent of P20,000.
 
A similar arrangement went into effect from Aug. 7 to Dec. 9 last year and in 2011.

The DOLE said OFWs who want to avail of the exchange facility need:
 
- original passport or original travel document issued by the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli
- exit stamp by Libyan authorities and/or authorities from other countries that served as exit points for repatriation
- certified true copy of such travel document if the original copy is required to be surrendered to another Philippine government agency. The certified true copy must be signed by an authorized official of the government agency concerned.
 
"Exchange may also be done by the OFW’s legal spouse, child, parent, brother/sister, or any authorized representative in case of physical incapacity due to illness, or disability, or death, of the eligible OFW," the DOLE said.
 
The conversion facility may be availed of at BSP headquarters in Manila and regional branches in La Union, Cebu, and Davao; and smaller branches in San Fernando, Pampanga; Batac, Ilocos Norte; Tuguegarao, Cagayan; Dagupan, Pangasinan; Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija; Lucena City, Quezon; Naga, Camarines Sur; and Legaspi, Albay.  Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News

Mass, prayers to mark 40th day of SAF 44

Filipinos in the United States will mark the 40th day since 44 Special Action Force troopers were killed in a clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25 with prayers on March 6.
 
"Mass will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, 6 March 2015 at the Romulo Hall of the Philippine Embassy," the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. said.
 
Aside from the 44 SAF members, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and several civilians were killed in the fighting.

Many Filipinos hold a memorial service on the 40th day since a loved one's death. 
 Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News

Filipino-Vietnamese teen receives $200k college scholarship for leadership skills

US-based Filipino-Vietnamese teen April Rose Nguyen received a $200,000 university scholarship for what her history teacher described as her "selfless, courageous" attitude and "ability to lead without self-interests."

Kent Reporter reported Thursday that the 17-year-old was one of the 35 students in the Puget Sound region of Washington to receive the Act Six urban leader scholarship.

Nguyen is also one of the four scholars headed for Pacific Lutheran University.

Only 35 students were picked out of the 450 who applied for the highly competitive program, the report said.

The Filipino-Vietnamese, who plans to take up either business or political science, attributed her success to her parents Robi Rose and Tyler.

She told Kent Reporter that her Filipina mother was a "real caring person" who always told her to share what she have even if she "can't provide for somebody."

During her time at school, Nguyen helped launch an anti-bullying task force, petitioned for safe sidewalks at a City Council meeting, and volunteered for Kent Parks and the Kent School District.

Nguyen, a Kent-Meridian student president, also managed to maintain a 3.75 GPA in the International Baccalaureate program and memorize Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter, to the 210th decimal point.

Nguyen, credited with a photographic memory, is also known for personally checking in with her school's staff members and service crew, influencing her fellow students to mingle with persons they often ignore.

She told Kent Reporter that it was important to make people feel included in order to lead efficiently.

The young Fil-Viet added that leadership should be about serving instead of enforcing the status quo and could only be achieved through effective delegation and communication. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoy seaman nearly loses leg in Australia ship accident

A Filipino seafarer nearly lost his leg Monday when he and a companion figured in an accident while their ship was docked in Australia, reports said.

report on The West Australian said one of the Filipino's legs suffered compound fractures after being trapped under equipment that he and his Portugese co-worker were moving.

The Filipino's 55-year-old co-worker, meanwhile, suffered more serious injuries, as one of his legs had to be amputated.

separate report on G Captain said the incident happened aboard the Netherlands-registered MV Happy Buccaneer at approximately 9 a.m. last Monday.

Both men were trapped under a load spreader estimated to weigh 1.5 tons after the steel pad tipped off a stack being transferred by a crane into the cargo hold of the ship.

Perth Now report said said wharf owner Roy Hill sent a shore rescue team to assist the men before they were transferred to Hedland Health Campus.

It also quoted the company's statement where it explained that the ship's master had the sole authority and jurisdiction “for activities undertaken at the ship during the time of the incident.”

The reports did not identify the Filipino. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

HK woman jailed for six years for abusing Indonesian maid

HONG KONG - A Hong Kong mother of two who punched her maids, beat them with mops and threatened to kill their relatives was jailed for six years on Friday in a case that triggered outrage and exposed the plight of millions of domestic helpers across Asia.

Former beautician Law Wan-tung, 44, looked stunned as the sentence was passed after being found guilty of 18 of 20 abuse charges. She was also ordered to pay a fine of HK$15,000 ($1,934).

The charges included inflicting grievous bodily harm and criminal intimidation against Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and another maid, also from Indonesia.

Law looked emotionless as she was led out of court. She had pleaded not guilty to the 20 charges but had admitted one of not buying insurance cover for her maid.

Judge Amanda Woodcock read out her verdict saying "damning evidence" revealed "how little care and kindness the defendant showed" for Erwiana, who had told media she would forgive her former boss and her family.

The brutality meted out to Erwiana has sparked calls for Hong Kong to revise its policies on migrant workers. Around 30 supporters of Erwiana protested outside the court.

Erwiana, who arrived in Hong Kong in 2013, returned to Indonesia in January last year where doctors said burns on her body were caused by boiling water.

Photographs of a battered Erwiana posted online sparked outrage and Indonesia's then president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, described her treatment as torture.

Hong Kong has about 330,000 foreign domestic helpers, most of them from the Philippines and Indonesia and nearly all women, who can earn more in Hong Kong to send back to their families than they can at home.

They earn a small fraction of the minimum wage and are forced to live with their employers, often in tiny apartments. Human rights groups say they often suffer physical and emotional abuse, including sexual assault. —Reuters

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