Monday, November 24, 2014

POEA: No placement fees for domestic workers, caregivers, seafarers

No placement fees for Filipinos working abroad as domestic workers, caregivers and seafarers.
 
This was the reminder of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to prospective overseas Filipino workers.
 
In a post on his Twitter account, POEA head Hans Leo Cacdac also said there will be no payment of placement fees for OFWs bound for the United States (using H2B visa), Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands.
 
On the other hand, placement fees are allowed for employment in other countries or territories, provided the fees are only for one month's salary, are payable only after an employment contract is signed, and an appropriate official receipt specifying the purpose of the payment is issued
 
Cacdac reminded OFWs to "deal only with a POEA-licensed recruiter (or) with a POEA-registered foreign employer."  Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News

Pinoys in Bahrain raise funds for sick baby

Filipinos in Bahrain are rallying around a one-month-old baby girl born there who was found to be suffering from a congenital heart defect.
 
On Nov. 14, the Filipino community in Bahrain raised BD800 (P95,327) for Cathness Margaret de Guzman, Bahrain news site Gulf Daily News reported.
 
Cathness was born in Bahrain with a condition that "causes deoxygenated blood to bypass her lungs," the report said.
 
She underwent emergency surgery at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City last week. She is now in stable condition. Her parents, who have already spent more than BD5,000 (P595,794) for her treatment, now need more funds for her aftercare and medication.
 
'Pinoy Fiesta Bahrain'
 
Last week, a "Pinoy Fiesta Bahrain" was held for Cathness at the Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park. The event helped raise more than BD800.
 
One of the organizers, Annette Avila, said that of the amount, BD500 (P59,579) had been sent to Cathness’ parents Allen and Rechel Magalong de Guzman.
 
Avila said the remaining BD311 (P37,058) raised will go to buying Christmas gifts for Filipinos sheltered at the Philippine Embassy. Most of them are former domestic workers who were abused by their employers.  Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News

Pinoys in Saudi Arabia reminded of procedures for bringing in ‘narcotics’

Filipinos in Saudi Arabia were reminded over the weekend to comply with the Kingdom's requirements on bringing in or out medicines with narcotic properties.

The Philippine embassy in Riyadh urged Filipinos bringing such medicines in and out of the Kingdom to "carefully read, understand and comply with the requirements."

"The Embassy requests all Filipinos who may be bringing into the Kingdom their medicines to carefully read, understand and comply with the requirements, in order not to be inconvenienced or questioned during entry into the Kingdom," it said.

Among the conditions are:

- a detailed medical report from the institution or hospital that treated the patient. Its date shall not exceed six months.

- doctor's prescription, date of which shall not exceed six months from date of issuance. The patient must also assure he/she will limit his/her use of medicines for medicinal purposes only.

"The amount of medicine for approval and release should be sufficient for a period of 30 days or for the duration of the patient’s stay in the Kingdom, whichever is lesser," the embassy said.

In case the medicine is already consumed, the patient should visit a hospital/ medical specialist to ensure the continuation of his medication.

If a physician has confirmed the need for the patient to continue similar medication, the hospital shall require the patient to fill out an application form prior to the issuance of a prescription on an appropriate medicine from a local pharmacy/market.

The patient is required to continue visiting the hospital for his therapeutic treatment, as may be required by his medical condition.

Patients leaving the Kingdom shall abide with the same procedures as those patients arriving.

"If the patient’s medicines are not in his possession but in the possession of one of his relatives (parents, children, brothers and husband), the patient’s identity card is required. However, if the medicines are in the possession of his representative, an Affidavit of Consent of the patient to bring the medicines is required, including a copy of his identity card," the embassy said.

Hajj

If the medicines containing narcotic substances are in the possession of Hajj Missions or concerned government authorities arriving in the Kingdom, and will be used by patients accompanying the Mission, the medicines will be subject to the following procedures:

- The Mission should submit a Request for Release of such medicines to the General Authority for Food and Drugs Administration’s Branch at the customs port area, which will receive the medicines.

- Specify the name of the Head of Mission as well as the name of the pharmacist or pharmaceutical technician accompanying the Mission who is responsible for the custody of the narcotic substances and, if there is no Head of Mission, the name of the doctor accompanying the Mission, is sufficient.

- Limit the number of personnel of the Mission.

- When the Mission leaves the Kingdom, they are required to submit a copy of the list of medicines that were used/consumed, damaged, and unused.

 Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

Starbucks US releases limited edition mug with image of Fil-Am toddler

Fil-Am Esther Asuncion poses with a mug bearing her drawing of her son Flynn. Photo courtesy of Starbucks.com
A Fil-Am Starbucks employee has immortalized the likeness of her son in the most recent release of limited edition mugs by the coffee giant.

The mug, which features a drawing of a little boy holding on to a big, green Starbucks balloon, was designed by Esther Asuncion, a visual communications designer for the Seattle-based company.

“When I showed the mug to my son he knew instantly ‘that’s me, that’s Flynn,’” said Asuncion in arelease from the company. “It means so much to me that I was able to contribute to this collection.”

The design was included in the Starbucks Dot Collection, in which "designers used a modern interpretation of the company’s iconic Siren logo as their inspiration."

Asuncion, who was raised in Guam before transferring to mainland US to pursue fine arts and studio arts education, worked her way up in the company, starting as a barista in 2001. Six years later, she was hired to be part of the company's visual representation team, helping the "marketing and merchandise groups communicate to partners [employees] how coffee and seasonal products should be displayed in stores throughout the US and Canada."

Asuncion and son Flynn. Photo courtesy of Starbucks.com
"She sketched a green balloon to represent the Starbucks logo and then explored people jumping in the air with the balloon or holding its string being pulled or lifted in the air," the release added. "It made the most sense to her to have a child with the balloon. The child who inspires Asuncion the most has dark hair, a huge smile, and sparkling eyes – her son Flynn. The three-year-old in perpetual motion became a natural model for her design."

The mugs, tumblers and cups were released as part of Starbucks' holiday edition, and are being sold under $20. Renee Fopalan/BM, GMA News

6,483 Pinoys deported from Malaysia since January

Some 6,483 Filipinos were among the foreigners deported from Malaysia since Jan. 21, Malaysian news agency Bernama reported Friday.

The Filipinos were among 59,765 foreigners who were deported for offenses or who have completed their prison terms, according to the Bernama report posted on The Star Online.

Citing information from Immigration Department director-general Datuk Mustafa Ibrahim, the report said Indonesians made up the biggest foreign group with 24,614 people.

Bangladeshis were the second biggest with 6,834, while Filipinos were third with 6,483.

The immigration office said foreigners convicted of a crime in the country would be blacklisted and prevented from re-entering for life or for a specific time.

He said foreigners who committed offenses under the Immigration Act 1959/63 would be referred to the deputy public prosecutor for further action.  Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

PHL Embassy: No Pinoy among casualties in oil platform blast in Gulf of Mexico

No Filipino was among those killed or injured in a recent explosion at an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, the Philippine Embassy in Washington said Saturday (PHL time).

The Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. said it and the Consulate General in Chicago had verified if Filipinos were among the lone fatality and three injured.

"There are no Filipinos among dead or injured in the latest Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion," it said.

Earlier, it said it was "checking if (the) lone fatality and three injured included Filipinos."

Another tweet referred to a blog post that provided more details about the explosion at an offshore oil platform.

Initial information showed one worker was killed while three others were injured in the incident Thursday (US time).

Houston-based Fieldwood Energy said contractors with Turnkey Cleaning Services were cleaning a heater treater at the time of the incident. Heater treaters separate oil from water and other materials.

Fieldwood Energy stressed that the incident was “an isolated pressure event that occurred inside the heater treater and did not result in a fire on the platform.”

It added there was no oil spill or pollution from this incident "and it was contained immediately after it occurred with no damage to the environment, the platform or the platform’s wells.”

Fieldwood said three workers were injured, including one with visible injuries and two with ringing ears.  Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

Friday, November 21, 2014

Obama says his immigration plan is lawful

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama planned on Thursday to impose the most sweeping immigration reform in a generation, easing the threat of deportation for about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants and setting up a clash with outraged Republicans.
 
In excerpts ahead of his 8 p.m. (0100 GMT Friday) speech, Obama rejected Republican critics who say his actions are tantamount to amnesty for illegal immigrants and urged them to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
 
The real amnesty, he said, was "leaving this broken system the way it is."
 
"Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I'm describing is accountability, a common-sense, middle-ground approach," he said.
 
Republicans pounced quickly, charging Obama had overstepped his constitutional power a year after declaring he did not have the authority to act on his own.
 
In a video released before Obama's televised speech, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said: The president has said before that 'he's not king' and he's 'not an emperor,' but he sure is acting like one."
 
With 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, Obama's plan would let some 4.4 million who are parents of US citizens and legal permanent residents remain in the United States temporarily, without the threat of deportation.
 
Those undocumented residents could apply legally for jobs and join American society, but not vote or qualify for insurance under the president's signature healthcare law. The measure would apply to those who have been in the United States for at last five years.
 
An additional 270,000 people would be eligible for relief under the expansion of a 2012 move by Obama to stop deporting people brought illegally to the United States as children by their parents.
 
'Pass a bill'
 
Drawing a line of defense against expected Republican challenges, Obama argued his actions were not only lawful but the kinds of steps taken by presidents for the past half century, both Republican and Democratic.
 
"And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill," he said.
 
Obama's Democratic allies rallied behind him. "We've got his back," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
 
Senior administration officials said Obama would shift law enforcement resources from the interior of the country to the US border and that recent border crossers would be sent back. Deportation efforts would focus largely on gang members and violent criminals, instead of families.
 
"If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law," Obama said. "If you're a criminal, you'll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up."
 
Administration officials described Obama's actions as the biggest shift in immigration policy since 1986 changes by President Ronald Reagan.
 
Some Democratic lawmakers were dismayed, preferring Obama to wait and work with Congress on immigration legislation.
 
"I have to be honest, how this is coming about makes me uncomfortable," said Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.
 
Legal authority?
 
Legal experts were divided on whether Obama was overstepping his authority.
 
University of California law professor John Yoo, who worked in the administration of former President George W. Bush, said: "That is an exercise of executive power that even the most stalwart defenders of an energetic executive, not to mention the (US Constitution's) framers, cannot support."
 
Kari Hong, a professor at Boston College Law School, countered, saying: "Legally, Obama is on exceedingly strong footing in terms of the legal and constitutional authority and past practices."
 
Obama will travel to Las Vegas on Friday to showcase the plan in a state with the highest proportion of undocumented residents in the country.
 
Republican governors meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, said they would discuss the possibility of suing Obama to stop his actions. Potential presidential candidates Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Perry of Texas have both expressed support for legal action.
 
Even with a more muscular Republican Party next year that will control both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it was unclear how it would try to undo Obama's initiative or if it would have the clout.
 
Republicans have discussed using some must-pass spending bills to hamstring Obama, but they have been running into political and technical roadblocks with many of their ideas.
 
The result could be two years of sniping at Obama's initiative without actually changing it, similar to the past four years of Republican attempts to repeal the healthcare law, known as Obamacare, that became law in 2010.  Reuters

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