Friday, April 21, 2017

150 distressed OFWs in Saudi Arabia turn up for amnesty

OFWs applying for exit visa in Jeddah. --Ronaldo Concha
Philippine foreign officials in Saudi Arabia early on Thursday morning accompanied some 150 undocumented OFWs to the deportation center (shumaysi) in Jeddah to get their exit visa as they take advantage of the Kingdom's amnesty program for runaway foreign workers.
Sources from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Jeddah told GMA News Online that the OFWs, together with POLO and OWWA officials, left the consulate on four buses at past 6 a.m. 
Aling Leny, wife of a runaway (huroob) OFW who was deported in November last year, told GMA News that she is taking her chances of getting an exit visa to correct her record under the 90-day amnesty program.
She said that the amnesty program was her only hope to return to the Philippines with a clean record from the Saudi government.
“Binigyan ng release ang mister ko pero hindi na delete ang huroob status niya (runaway) niya. Kaya nung nadakip sya ay nadeport sya, Nagpunta po kami sa consulate ng ma-deport ang mister ko pero sinabihan kami na hold muna dahil may minor kaya naghintay kami hanggang sa maabutan na kami ng amnesty,” Neny said.
Many OFWs who have applied for exit visa have huroob status, she said. 
One of the qualifications to avail of the amnesty program is the huroob status.
Last year, over 11,000 OFWs in the kingdom alone were rendered jobless due to the oil slump and the Saudization program in the oil-producing country. They had gone broke and had to scavenge and beg for food for months to survive.
The Department of Labor and Employment has reported that as of mid-April 2017, some 19,000 stranded and undocumented OFWs have been repatriated from the whole of Middle East since July 2016.
In a news release on April 19, the DOLE said that 19,201 OFWs were repatriated through OWWA's Relief Assistance Program (RAP).
Most of the repatriated workers were from Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar, all in Saudi Arabia, the country hardest hit by the oil crisis that rocked the Middle East last year. —LBG, GMA News

New York museum to aid green-card holders in US citizenship quest

NEW YORK - With the Trump administration trying to ban travelers from several Muslim-majority countries from the United States, the New-York Historical Society and museum is launching a new initiative to help green-card holders become American citizens.
The program will include free workshops and classes, paired with displays and a scavenger hunt at the museum on Manhattan's Upper West Side, all linked to questions on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization test—the final hurdle to citizenship.
"As far as we are aware, we are the first institution to develop a higher program of on-site workshops using our object collection with the exclusive purpose of promoting citizenship for as many legal immigrants as possible," said Louise Mirrer, the society's president and chief executive.
About 13.1 million people across the United States were green-card holders on Jan. 1, 2013, and 8.8 million of them were eligible for naturalization, according to the most recent figures from the US Department of Homeland Security.
The New-York Historical Society, founded in 1804, teamed up with the City University of New York to launch the initiative this summer, aiming to help the 1 million green-card holders in the metropolitan area.
Green-card holders have the right to live and work in the United States. But they were originally included in President Donald Trump's January executive order banning refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming to the United States.
That executive order, which initially prompted chaos and confusion, and a revised version that removed green-card holders and Iraq off the banned list were blocked by US judges . But concern has remained high among immigrant communities, with a chief executive whose presidential campaign focused on cracking down on illegal immigration.
"We decided the time (for the program) was now," Mirrer explained in a phone interview. "The demand for help in becoming a citizen on the part of green-card holders has ramped up hugely."
To become citizens, green-card holders must pass an English literacy test and an oral government and history exam by correctly answering six of 10 questions from a total pool of 100.
Questions range from "What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?" to "What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?"
"These are things that Americans should know but most Americans do not," said Mirrer. (For a practice version of the civics test, please see:
The society's initiative will include a new gallery with interactive displays designed around the 100 questions. It is a model that other historical societies and museums could follow to help green-card holders and educate Americans.
"In an environment in which many legal immigrants are feeling concerned, we want to help them," Mirrer said. "We deeply believe that immigration has been the bedrock of this country from the start." Reuters

Thursday, April 20, 2017

DOLE offers livelihood package to repatriated OFWs

duterte ofw saudi
President Rodrigo Duterte hands P5000 cash assistance from OWWA to the repatriated OFWs from Saudi Arabia. He was assisted by Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello and Social Welfare Sec. Jusy Taguiwalo. Photo by Nikko Dizon
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Monday offered a package of services from the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) WELL program to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) repatriated under the Saudi amnesty program.
WELL stands for Welfare, Employment, Livelihood, and Legal Assistance which will give OFWs a chance to work and sustain their families.
In a statement, DOLE said that the agency’s team headed by Bello and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) team extended airport assistance to returning OFWs, such as the travel document processing, use of a special immigration lane, and baggage assistance.
President Rodrigo Duterte, together with Bello and other cabinet members welcomed 139 Filipinos granted exit visas under Saudi Arabia’s “Nation without Violations” amnesty program on Monday.
The 90-day Saudi Arabian amnesty program was launched last March 29.
“On the same day, I deployed a ‘Rapid Response Team’ composed of DOLE Undersecretary Dominador S. Say, Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac, OWWA, Deputy Administrator Brigido J. Dulay, OWWA lawyer Cesar L. Chavez, Jr., OWWA and POEA lawyer Anna Patricia P. Jacobo to assess the situation of the OFWs availing of the amnesty program,” Bello said.
He said that due to the goodwill generated by Duterte’s visit, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia chartered a plane to fly the OFWs back to Philippines and shouldered the expenses.
Meanwhile, OWWA provided post-repatriation services to its members which include temporary shelter at the OWWA Halfway Home, psychosocial counseling and stress debriefing, as well as transport services.
Each worker, whether an active or inactive OWWA member, received P5,000 cash assistance from the Office of the President as well as an additional P5,000 from DOLE and OWWA.
OWWA members can also avail a non-cash livelihood package worth P10,000 consisting of a starter kit and techno-skills training, called the “Balik-Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay Program.”

No placement fee collection for Japan Household Workers Jobs – POEA

FILIPINO household service workers (HSWs) bound for Japan must not be asked to pay for their placement fee.
This was the stern reminder of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), saying it is not allowed under their newly-released guidelines for the HSW hiring in Japan.
“Collection of placement fees from the housekeepers by Employment Agencies, Sending and Specified Organizations for placement of housekeepers is prohibited,” said POEA Governing Board Resolution 08-2016.
Similarly, the guidelines indicate that other administrative fees, whether indirectly or indirectly, as well as deduction from their salaries are not allowed.

Housekeepers shall only be required to pay for their passports, barangay and NBI clearance, preliminary medical examination, PhilHealth membership, and Pag-Ibig Membership.
The reminder comes after the POEA said Filipino HSWs will already be allowed to be deployed in Japan by the private sector but will only be pilot-tested in the Kanagawa Prefecture, including the City of Yokohama.
The POEA said qualified to apply as HSWs are those at least 23 years old, with minimum one year work experience in housekeeping services, and has Tesda National Certificate II (NC II).
There are no specific skills and language training required from the housekeeper in general but can be asked by their respective Japanese employers, who will then shoulder the cost of additional skills and language competency training they shall require.
Once hired, they will be employed on a full-time basis, at a minimum of five days per week or 35 hours per week, with salaries equivalent to those being received by Japanese housekeepers.
Housekeepers are then expected to clean households; care and protect children, including picking up and dropping off; perform acts necessary for daily life at home, such as sewing, packing, receiving packages and mails, prepare beddings, gardening, and repair services; and assisting and accompanying senior citizens, except providing physical nursing care services.
Prior to allowing HSWs, Japan only has a hiring program for Filipino nurses and caregivers under the Japan–Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.

GOOD NEWS: Japan in Need Of 800,000 Caregivers This Year

Japanese businessmen went to the Philippines to announce some great news to all aspiring individuals wanting to work as caregivers of housekeepers in Japan.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello and Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco, met with these businessmen and talked about their plans in establishing training facilities in the country for Filipinos wanting to work as caregivers and housekeepers in Japan.
Japanese companies are prioritizing Pinoy caregivers because Filipinos possess extraordinary care when it comes to health and wellness.
Suggested locations for these training facilities are in Davao, Cebu, Bohol, and Laguna. All expenses will be shouldered by the Japanese businessmen.
The training is free of charge and no placement fee will be paid by applicants. Their expected salary is Php70, 000 and up every month.
These facilities is very important so as to enhance the knowledge of aspiring OFWs when it comes to working in Japan as caregivers or housekeepers.
Japan in currently in need of 800,000 caregivers this year.

Good News : Visa no more! Filipinos can go to Korea without a visa

K pop culture has become more and more popular among Filipino teenagers. It is very clear that Filipinos are into Korean movies and telenovelas as well. Not only that, Korea itself is also a fascinating place to visit and explore. Who wouldn’t want to go to Jeju Island?
Recently, majority of Filipinos consider it difficult and exhausting to process for a visa, thus making it roughly difficult to travel. However, the Philippines have has been added b the Korean government in its plans on issuing electronic visas. Filipinos will be allowed to stay in mainland Korea lasting for 5 days, via Incheon or Gimhae Airports, going to Jeju Island. This is according to Philippine Ambassador to Korea Raul Hernandez, in order to increase influx of tourists.
As per Jakarta post “In opposition of last year’s joint decision by the Korea-US alliance to station the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system here, China has been curbing Chinese tours to Korea. This includes the reported order by Beijing to ban its tourism agencies from selling Korea-related programs.”
Majority of tourists in Korea recorded last year were Chinese nationals, based on statistics, 8 million were Chinese out of 17 million totals of tourists.
There was an increase in Southeast Asian tourists last year that amounted to 200,000 in total.
What are you waiting for?! Korea is now within your reach, with its issuance of the electronic visas. Not only Filipinos but also to Southeast Asian visitors.

OFW Found Dead In A Hotel Room In Malaysia,Pakistani Boyfriend reported the incident Overseas Filipino Worker found dead inside her hotel room. She was working as a caregiver in Malaysia.

A certain Julie Abilla was found lifeless in her hotel room and speculations suggests that her Pakistani boyfriend allegedly killed her. No supporting evidence confirms these allegations but her boyfriend was the first one to report the incident to the authorities.
According to Abilla’s friend, the OFW is suffering from asthma but there are no confirmations pointing it as her cause of death.

The Pakistani boyfriend is undocumented, the reason why he remained unknown.
The incident was also reported in Facebook and it became viral instantly. Netizens poured their condolences to the victim and to her family as well.
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