Tuesday, January 27, 2015

OFWs urged not to take out loans in UAE

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued a reminder to Filipino workers based in the United Arab Emirates against taking out loans and using credit cards.

"This advisory is being issued in view of the alarming increase in the number of Filipinos detained due to unpaid loans," the DFA said.
According to the DFA, low interest rates lure OFWs to apply for loans for various reasons without paying much attention to the other charges which appear in the fine print, and the prospect of taking as much as 18 months of one’s salary. Usually, banks require only a certificate of employment to approve a loan application.
"Debt-related cases are extraordinarily difficult to handle especially if the lenders, both banks and individuals, have filed criminal or civil cases against the borrowers," the DFA explained.
It added, "Once a civil case has been filed against a delinquent borrower, a travel ban is automatically imposed against the borrower and he or she would be unable to leave the country".
Likewise, issuing a bounced check is a criminal offense in the UAE. Lenders usually require borrowers to affix his or her signature on a blank check as a security measure. When the borrower defaults on his or her obligation, the check will bounce and criminal charges would ensue. If the signature on the check is proven original and authentic, the case against the borrower is upheld in court. These cases also apply to co-makers and guarantors of the borrower.
"For instance, two Filipinos had difficulty in leaving Dubai due to unpaid loans. One was stuck in Dubai for 14 years after he defaulted on his bank loan worth AED80,000 or US$21,700, while another was stuck in Dubai for several years after the lender, an Indian national, filed a case against her for non-payment of a personal loan," the DFA cited.
Loans are considered as private matter between the lender and the borrower and Philippine diplomatic missions cannot intervene in these cases, the DFA clarified.
This situation also occurs in other Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and to a lesser degree in Saudi Arabia.
"The OFWs are encouraged to be wise in spending and saving their hard-earned money to avoid incurring loans from banks and private individuals," the DFA said.

2 Pinays charged for 'sex in public’ in Dubai

DUBAI - A Filipino women’s group advised their compatriots in the United Arab Emirates to strictly follow the laws of their host country particularly on morality and public decency following two separate cases involving Filipinas who had sex at Dubai’s public beach recently.

In a report published in UAE’s major dailies, a Filipina housemaid was sentenced to one year in prison by the Dubai Court of Misdemeanors on Tuesday after her Emirati employer reported to the police that she had become pregnant during her several late night trysts with her Pakistani lover at the Jumeirah Open Beach. 
 
The 26-year-old Filipina admitted in court she had consensual sex with her 25-year-old Pakistani boyfriend who works as an accountant. Presiding Judge Mohammad Ahmad Shoaib said the couple will be deported following the completion of their jail terms. 
 
In another report, the Dubai Court of Misdemeanors heard in the same week another illegal sex-on-the-beach case involving another Filipina and her Lebanese boyfriend who were “caught red-handed by the police kissing and having sex at a secluded spot on Umm Suqiem’s public beach” last July 5.
 
According to police records, the 30-year-old Filipina salesgirl and her 21-year-old Lebanese waiter boyfriend admitted to their act.
 
"We were at the beachside having a walk along with my two friends. I took her to a poorly lit spot near the rocks. When we finished and were getting dressed, the police arrived,” the Lebanese said.
 
The court charged the two with having "sex out of wedlock and public indecency" but the pair did not attend the hearing and the next trial was moved on August 18.
 
Gabriela-UAE Coordinator Jhasmin Cipriano said Filipinos should strictly follow UAE rules.
 
“Nananawagan ang Gabriela-UAE sa lahat ng ating mga kababayan –  babae man o lalaki –  na mag-ingat at sikaping gawin ang lahat para maitaguyod ang dangal ng ating lahi,” Cipriano said.
 
Chona Nocido, who works as personal assistant in one of the multinational companies based in Dubai’s business district, shares the same view.
 
“Bukod sa hindi sila kasal, bawal talaga iyon. Sana matuto na sila,” Nocido said.
 
Gay Mendoza, finance administrator at Westin Mina Seyahi, said she was scandalized after hearing the news.
 
“Are they idiots or are just plain dumb? This is a Muslim country and they should know better. Nakakahiya. At any rate, regardless of what country and nationality, I believe stuff like that should be done in a private place,” Mendoza said. 
 
Cipriano, however, warned others not to make sweeping generalization and pass quick judgment on Filipino women’s morality.
 
“Hindi nakapagtataka na sa isang patriyarkal na lipunan na may relihiyong Muslim man o Kristiyano, na lagi na lang babae ang mas naituturing o lumalabas na masama sa paningin ng nakararami lalo't patungkol sa usaping katulad nito,” added Cipriano, who works as a Social Science teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Dubai.
 
“Totoo na hindi akma lalo na't sa publikong lugar nila ito ginawa, hindi pa rin maipagkakaila na ang mga bagay na katulad nito ay gabutil lamang kumpara sa mas malaking suliranin ng mga kababaihan tulad ng talamak na human trafficking, prostitusyon at sinasapit ng mga kasambahay na pagmamalupit sa kamay ng kanilang mga employer. Ito ang mga suliraning kailangang mas tugunan ng pansin ng mga nasa otoridad lalo na ng ating Embahada at Konsulado dito sa UAE,” Cipriano concluded.

Model OFW Family of the Year

The family of Bartolome C. Cadavero of Puerto Princesa was the winner for the sea-based category. Captain Cadavero worked for 33 years overseas, and after his retirement, he acquired farm lands, real estate properties, and set up a plantation of exotic, high value trees like rubber and gmelina.

The family of Fe S. Lao of Bansalan was the winner for the land-based category. Her savings from abroad were used by her husband to set up a multi-million integrated, organic farm enterprise with supplemental by-products.

As grand prize winners, Cadavero and Lao received trophies, cash prize of P500,000 and appliances.


Special awards were also handed out. The family of Engr. Isidro M. Cabantac of Region 1 received Best in Community Projects award for their agricultural projects.

The family of Capt. Juan M. Cope of Region V also received the Best in Entrepreneurship award for their school and hospital.
The special awards winners were given plaques of recognition and P100,000 each.

MOFYA is an annual, nationwide search conducted by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to recognize outstanding families of Filipino migrant workers who have shown family solidarity, financial stewardship, civic/community involvement, and entrepreneurship.

Allegations of Sen. Trillanes baseless

Pag-IBIG Fund does not award projects or deal with contractors, the agency’s President said today as agency officials appealed to Senator Antonio Trillanes not to sully the name of the agency with his baseless allegations aimed at Vice President Jejomar C. Binay who is Chairman of the Pag-IBIG Board of Trustees.

 “We work hard to earn the trust of our 14.6 million members. Please do not sully the good name of Pag-IBIG Fund with baseless allegations of an anomaly,” Pag-IBIG Fund President and Chief Executive Officer Atty. Darlene Marie Berberabe said.

Berberabe vehemently denied statements made by Senator Trillanes that Pag-IBIG Fund is involved in an anomaly that allegedly favors contractors whom he claimed were identified with the Vice President. “In the strongest terms, I deny that Pag-IBIG Fund favors any stakeholder. On the contrary, we pride ourselves with having leveled the playing field when the new management and the new Board assumed office in 2010,” Atty. Berberabe stated. “To say that we favor contractors in awarding housing projects is simply false because we do not award projects, nor do we deal with contractors.

It is unfortunate that an allegation which discredits the integrity of Pag-IBIG Fund is made, but the basis is not provided. When you do your work professionally, and regard principles of fairness and integrity with the highest standard, it is most disheartening to be dragged into an alleged anomaly that has no basis,” Berberabe said. The Pag-IBIG President regrets that Pag-IBIG Fund is being pulled into the political controversy. “We have endeavored to institute reforms since 2010 to ensure that there will not be another Globe Asiatique.

Even if such reforms were not popular, we made them happen because we were focused on doing what is right for the Fund that is owned by our members.” In 2010, Pag-IBIG Fund filed a syndicated estafa case against GA President Delfin Lee and cohorts, which led to the prosecution of several GA officers and a Pag-IBIG employee. According to Atty. Berberabe, after the GA issue, Pag-IBIG introduced reforms that some developers initially found very stringent.

These reforms involved the lifting of the authority previously granted to developers to approve home loans, and the strict implementation now of the procedure where the Fund personally validates the identity and capacity to pay of each of its housing loan borrowers, which initially slowed down the takeout process. She said that after they explained the changes in the Pag-IBIG processes, the developers understood that the reforms were intended for the best interest of all Pag-IBIG Fund stakeholders, particularly its members. “Since we implemented these reforms, we have significantly improved the integrity of our portfolio.

 We improved our underwriting thereby resulting in better performing loans ratio. We also outsourced the collection of our non-performing loans. As a result, we converted almost 50% of our non-performing loans back to performing loans, a huge feat in the housing industry,” Atty. Berberabe emphasized. “Pag-IBIG’s performance and accomplishments in the last four years speak for themselves. In the third quarter of 2014, Pag-IBIG’s net income already reached P13.09 billion, comparable to the net income of the country’s biggest banks for the same period,” Atty. Berberabe stated. “Pag-IBIG would not have been able to achieve and maintain its robust financial standing and credit P10.1 billion worth of dividends to its members in 2013, the highest in the Fund’s history, if the allegations of shady deals are true,” she added.

The COA, which is the principal agency that checks the integrity of the Fund’s processes and financials, has issued an “Unqualified Opinion” in both 2012 and 2013 for Pag-IBIG Fund. An Unqualified Opinion is the best finding that an auditor can issue. This is a testament to the fact that Pag-IBIG is not only focused on performing and exceeding targets in its housing and savings mandates, but also in good corporate housekeeping and thus good governance. Atty. Berberabe also emphasized that Pag-IBIG enjoys the trust of developer groups and maintains a good working relationship with them.

During the NCR Developers’ Forum held last October 2014, Paul Tanchi, Chairman of the Board of the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association, Inc. (SHDA) described the leadership of Pag-IBIG as embodied by competence and character. In the same event, Engr. Jefferson S. Bongat, Chairman of the Board of the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP) also praised Pag-IBIG, comparing its professionalism and efficiency to that of a well run, top private company or bank. “If we are favoring just a few, we will not earn the trust of our housing partners and Pag-IBIG members,” Atty. Berberabe said even as she welcomed any investigation, which she is confident will clear Pag-IBIG Fund in thPag-IBIG processes, the developers understood that the reforms were intended for the best interest of all Pag-IBIG Fund stakeholders, particularly its members. “Since we implemented these reforms, we have significantly improved the integrity of our portfolio. We improved our underwriting thereby resulting in better performing loans ratio. We also outsourced the collection of our non-performing loans.

As a result, we converted almost 50% of our non-performing loans back to performing loans, a huge feat in the housing industry,” Atty. Berberabe emphasized. “Pag-IBIG’s performance and accomplishments in the last four years speak for themselves. In the third quarter of 2014, Pag-IBIG’s net income already reached P13.09 billion, comparable to the net income of the country’s biggest banks for the same period,” Atty. Berberabe stated. “Pag-IBIG would not have been able to achieve and maintain its robust financial standing and credit P10.1 billion worth of dividends to its members in 2013, the highest in the Fund’s history, if the allegations of shady deals are true,” she added. The COA, which is the principal agency that checks the integrity of the Fund’s processes and financials, has issued an “Unqualified Opinion” in both 2012 and 2013 for Pag-IBIG Fund.

 An Unqualified Opinion is the best finding that an auditor can issue. This is a testament to the fact that Pag-IBIG is not only focused on performing and exceeding targets in its housing and savings mandates, but also in good corporate housekeeping and thus good governance. Atty. Berberabe also emphasized that Pag-IBIG enjoys the trust of developer groups and maintains a good working relationship with them. During the NCR Developers’ Forum held last October 2014, Paul Tanchi, Chairman of the Board of the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association, Inc. (SHDA) described the leadership of Pag-IBIG as embodied by competence and character.

In the same event, Engr. Jefferson S. Bongat, Chairman of the Board of the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP) also praised Pag-IBIG, comparing its professionalism and efficiency to that of a well run, top private company or bank. “If we are favoring just a few, we will not earn the trust of our housing partners and Pag-IBIG members,” Atty. Berberabe said even as she welcomed any investigation, which she is confident will clear Pag-IBIG Fund in the end.

‘Black market’ for Pinay maids emerging in UAE – report


A black market is emerging for Filipina household helpers in the United Arab Emirates with prospective employers being made to pay up to $4,600 (Dh17,000) for a helper, a UAE news site reported over the weekend.
 
This, in the face of a virtual ban by the Philippine government on the deployment of Filipina workers to the UAE, news site Gulf News reported.
 
Despite the ban, some employers bite the offer for Filipina helpers, who were recruited in the Philippines as salesladies, clerks or salon staff.
 
Gulf News said the Filipinas are made to apply for such work but become nannies once they reach the UAE, in a procedure dubbed processing-reprocessing.
 
Vic Fernandez, leader of the Philippine Association of Service Exporters, said this "is a form of misrepresentation and is, of course, illegal under Philippine law."
 
"The risk far outweighs the rewards,” he said.
 
On June 1 last year, the UAE interior ministry introduced a new standard contract for housemaids to protect the rights of both housemaids and their employers.
 
It then issued a circular stopping embassies of labor-sending countries from verifying or ratifying contracts of domestic workers.
 
But Philippine law requires overseas labor offices to verify details of the employer before a housemaid applicant is allowed to fly and work for them.
 
The Gulf News report said employers give the Filipina workers a "servant" visa once they land in the UAE.
 
The Gulf News report quoted the head of what was once a leading Dubai housemaid recruitment agency as saying the demand for nannies remains high, but the supply is “dry.”
 
“We used to deploy 50 to 80 per month from the Philippines as per the law. There’s no doubt demand is there. But now, we’re down to zero deployment. For the last seven months (since June), we’ve been struggling. We’re at the end of our rope,” she said.
 
She said nanny agents are still waiting for clarification on the issue, with many nanny agents in the UAE “quietly suffering.”  

OFWs in UAE cautioned on taking out loans, issuing bouncing checks


The Department of Foreign Affairs on Friday warned overseas Filipino workers in the United Arab Emirates against availing loans through their credit cards that they can't afford to pay.

The advisory was issued following the "alarming" increase in the number of Filipinos detained there due to unpaid loans.

According to the DFA, many OFWs are tempted to apply for loans in the UAE due to low interest rates.

"They (OFWs) are lured by low interest rates, without paying much attention to the other charges which appear in the fine print, and the prospect of taking as much as 18 months of one’s salary," the DFA said.

"Usually, banks require only a certificate of employment to approve a loan application," it added.

Meanwhile, the DFA also reminded the OFWs that issuing a bounced check is a criminal offense in the UAE.

"Lenders usually require borrowers to affix his or her signature on a blank check as a security measure. When the borrower defaults on his or her obligation, the check will bounce and criminal charges would ensue," it said.

It added that if the signature on the check is proven original and authentic, the case against the borrower is upheld in court.

"These cases also apply to co-makers and guarantors of the borrower," the DFA said.

The DFA also said that debt-related cases in the UAE become complicated to handle once the lender files a case against the borrower.

If a civil case is filed against an OFW who has an unpaid loan, a travel ban automatically ensues where the borrower is prohibited from leaving the country.

The DFA noted that in these cases, Philippine diplomatic missions cannot help OFWs since banks and private individuals in the UAE consider loans as a private matter.

"This situation also occurs in other Arab Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and to a lesser degree in Saudi Arabia," the DFA pointed out.

The DFA urged OFWs to be wise in spending and saving their money to avoid having to avail of loans there. —Andrei Medina

DFA chief to go to Saudi Arabia to relay condolences on King’s death



Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario will go to Saudi Arabia to personally convey President Benigno Aquino III's condolences on the death of King Abdullah.

The DFA disclosed this Sunday in a post on its spokesman Charles Jose's Twitter account.

It did not immediately say when del Rosario is to head for the Kingdom.

On Friday, the DFA issued a statement mourning the passing of King Abdullah.

It said the Philippines expresses its "deepest condolences and sympathies" to the Saudi government and people.

"The Philippines stands in solidarity with the government and the people of Saudi Arabia during this time of national mourning," it said.

King Abdullah passed away Friday morning. Succeeding him was his brother King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

"The late King was a courageous, generous, and visionary leader who introduced policy changes in education and infrastructure. He was a champion in fighting extremism," the DFA said.

Under King Abdullah, the DFA added Saudi Arabia strengthened its contributions as a positive force in the global economy.

It said King Abdullah's passing "is not only a profound loss for the Kingdom and the Islamic world, but also for the community of responsible nations."

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