Friday, September 28, 2007

Australia's demand for nurses, skilled workers up

Ayon kay Raul V. Hernandez, honorary consul to Melbourne Ang job market sa Australia para Filipino nurses at skilled workers ay mabilis na lumalaki ang demand.

Mag-ingat sa ! Fake certificates of employment na nabibili sa mga sindikato sa Saudi Arabia, laluna sa mga runaway and overstaying OFWs,

Senate : nais ng i- ratify ang JPEPA

Ayon kay Senate Minority Leader Aquilino I –ra-ratify na ng Senate ang controversial na Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) kung ang Tokyo ay committed not to export toxic wastes and it would respect the Philippine laws on environment,

Hindi na dapat pang patagalin ang issue sa JPEPA, kung susundin lahat ng Japan ang mga kasunduan, laluna kung totoong na hindi na nga i-export ang mga toxic waste ng japan sa pilipinas.

Pilipinas pag-aaralan 'special' forex rate para sa OFWs

Bukas naman ang Malacañang na pag-aralan ang petition ng mga overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) na i- peg ang peso at 10-percent premium above the market’s peso-dollar exchange rate, or at a flat rate of P50:$1 for “legitimate" OFWs.

“We will ask our economic team to look into it," said Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita in a news briefing at the Palace.

“Let us find out from the economic team, especially the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) and the DoF (Department of Finance), but I have no specific reaction coming from our authorities as to how this will affect the economy because that’s one sector, the OFWs, are asking for,"

Huwag tanggapin ang trabaho sa Saudi gamit ang visit visas

Nagbabala ang Philippine diplomatic officials sa Saudi Arabia huwag tumanggap ng job offers using visit visas sa Middle Eastern kingdom.

“Unless you are looking for trouble, don’t attempt to come to work in Saudi Arabia without a work visa," said Consul General Pendosina N. Lomondot after learning of the plight of seven OFWs who were hired to work in a chain of supermarkets on visit visas and later abandoned at the airport without exit visas when they demanded to be sent home.

US stepping up immigration efforts, raising fines on illegals

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration plans to step up immigration enforcement by raising fines on employers who hire undocumented workers, overhauling temporary worker programs and speeding up deployment of border agents, according to a summary of the plans.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez planned to announce broad immigration changes at a news conference Friday.

Some of the initiatives are similar to proposals contained in recent immigration legislation, although they are not nearly as sweeping as the bill that failed to pass the Senate. Other measures are already under way.

An outline of the announcement, obtained by The Associated Press from a congressional aide, said the administration plans to expand the list of international gangs whose members are automatically denied admission to the U.S., reduce processing times for immigrant background checks and install by the end of the year an exit system so the departure of foreigners from the country can be recorded at airports and seaports.

In addition, employers will face possible criminal sanctions if they don't fire employees unable to clear up problems with their Social Security numbers.

Also, the Homeland Security Department will ask states to voluntarily share their driver's license photos and records with the agency for use in an employment verification system. The sharing is meant to help employers detect fraudulent licenses, according to the summary.

A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department declined to comment because the announcement had not been made. The Commerce Department press office also declined comment.

Chertoff alluded to the new enforcement tactics in a speech in Boston on Wednesday, calling to it "tool sharpening."

"We shouldn't have a patchwork of laws. We should be doing a comprehensive federal solution, but we haven't got that thing done," Chertoff said. "What I can tell you is we will certainly use every enforcement tool that we have, and every resource that we have available, to tackle the problem."

President Bush suffered a major political defeat when Senate immigration legislation failed to pass this year.

The legislation was opposed by many conservatives who complained that Americans don't trust the government to start new immigration programs because existing immigration laws are not being enforced.

The Senate bill would have allowed millions of illegal immigrants to obtain legal status and eventually apply for legal residency. It also would have created a guest worker program and stepped up border security.Some members have kept up efforts to tighten the border. Last month, the Senate added $3 billion to a Homeland Security bill to be used for U.S.-Mexico border security. - AP

1 of 6 OFWs 'trafficked' to Iraq located, says VP De Castro

One of the six Filipinos reported to have returned to the country from Iraq has been located, Vice said on Thursday.

De Castro, concurrently presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), said Johnny Baviera has been found to be residing in Pasay City and whose testimony would be a key to the reported trafficking of Filipino laborers to Iraq.

He said Baviera was repatriated to Manila after he suffered a heart attack in Iraq.

The residence of another OFW, Marciano Cabacaba, had also been found but his relatives in Paranaque said he is still in the Middle East, De Castro said. Cabacaba is among the five OFWs earlier reported still in Iraq.

“Ang sabi nasa Iraq pa raw. Pero baka ayaw lang ipaalam ang kinalalagyan n’ya ng mga kamag-anak. Pero sana ‘yung mga na-recruit mag-file sila ng kaso para lumakas ang kaso natin," the Vice President said.

The six Filipinos being located are among 11 OFWs that First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting Company has admitted to hiring in March 2006 to work at the construction of the US Embassy in central Baghdad, even as the Kuwait-based firm denied the report ‘smuggling’ 51 Filipinos to Iraq.

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion earlier reported that six of the 11 Filipinos have returned to the country and five are still in Iraq. On Monday, he said none of the six have been located.

If indeed the Filipinos were illegally recruited to Iraq despite the deployment ban, De Castro advised them to sue the recruitment agencies that sent them to the conflict-stricken Middle East country.

“Humihingi ng tulong si Baviera dahil nga sa kondisyon n’ya ngayon. At the same time, kung okay naman ang kalagayan n’ya kukumbinsihin natin siya na mag-file ng kaso at maging witness natin laban doon sa recruiters," De Castro said.

De Castro said the two recruitment agencies who have sent OFWs to Iraq through First Kuwaiti were Great Provider Services Exporters Inc., aka, Great Provider Placement Philippines Inc. and MGM Worldwide Manpower and General Services.

He said the two firms belong to the seven recruitment agencies serving as the local counterparts of First Kuwaiti.

“Based on the report submitted to me, these two agencies allegedly connived with the First Kuwaiti Company to illegally deploy Filipinos to where a travel ban has been issued by the government,’ De Castro said.

The Vice President said he has tasked the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Foreign Affairs to track down the two firms to face investigation and possible charges.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that six of the 11 OFWs have already left Iraq.

The five OFWs still in Iraq are Samson Grande, Randy Ponce Santiago, Renato Campo Pangilinan, Marciano Cabacaba and Melchor Solis.

The six who have returned to the country are Baviera, Rixon Banaban, Alfred Carbonel, Ernesto Cortez, Andy Lamberte Pagpaguitan, and Marino Irlandez.

De Castro urged the OFWs to come forward and cooperate with the government in the investigation.

The Philippines banned the deployment of workers to Iraq in 2004 following the abduction of truck driver Angelo dela Cruz. - Fidel Jimenez, GMANews.TV

RP worries few OFWs seek amnesty in Dubai

Nag-alalala ang Pilipinas dahil sa halos kalahating buwan na ay bago ang amnesty period for "illegals" na matapso (lapses,) kakaunti pa lamang ang pinoy na nag-a-apply ng amnesty program,

Ayon sa POLO-OWWA administrative staff Teresa Pablo Karamihan sa pinoy ay ayaw mag-apply dahil sa proseso na kanilang pagdadaanan.

“Once they learn that they would have to go through a set of procedures in order to obtain their outpass, they get discouraged," she said.

“We are concerned that if they do not take advantage of the amnesty, they might get themselves into deeper problems later on," she said.

To further encourage Filipinos to seek amnesty, the Philippine missions in Dubai and the Northern Emirates have earlier waived the Dh120 (P1,482) application fee for travel documents.

An intensified campaign has also been launched in cooperation with the Filipino community leaders to help disseminate information about the UAE government’ s amnesty scheme.

RP-trained nurses hired as domestic helpers in Canada

May mga ilan Filipino domestic helpers sa Canada ay mga dating nurses ang napilitan na iwanan ang pilipinas para sa isang mgandang kinabukasan pero ang iba ay hindi naging maganda ang kinahantungan sa naturang bansa.

Ayon kay “said Joane Vasquez, of the Filipino Nurses Support Group-Quebec (FSNG-Quebec) and chair of the Philippine Women’s Center of Quebec.
“There has been a majority of domestic helpers going to Canada who are nurses, about 96 percent of domestic helpers in Canada are Filipinos, and most of them are nurses from the Philippines.”

Ayon pa sa balita ang mga pinoy nurses ay nagtatrabaho ng domestic worker ay inaabuso laluna sa usapin sweldo nakakatangap lang ng c$ 8 per hour.

Samantalang ang mga professional nurses ay nakakatanggap ng C$25 per hour.habang ang iba namang pinoy nurses,nag- avail of the caregiver program where they are said to be “de-skilled."

ayon pa sa report:

“They have been studying for four years as nurses and they will just work as domestic helpers in Canada," said Vasquez.

Aside from this, even if Filipino nurses pass the board exam, under their working contract, they cannot practice the profession.

Domestic helpers there need to complete 24 months of domestic work under one employer. They also have to stay at home with the same employer over the same period.

Video Links

Abstaining from Reality: US Restrictions on HIV Prevention - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpabeOOJeoQ

Filmed in Kenya and Uganda, this short documentary provides a snapshot of the Bush administration's abstinence-only approach to HIV prevention as part of its global HIV/AIDS assistance. But according to many studies, including two recent reports from the General Accounting Office and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, we know that abstinence-only programs do not work.

STAND UP Against Poverty (17 October 2007) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A24E2j5x7AQ - Promotional video of this year's STAND UP SPEAK OUT campaign.
Bunnies STAND UP - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUh83xBas1E

STAND UP SPEAK OUT video by Micah Challenge in the UK - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAxGZkR6-eU

Six Billion Voices - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11ZunhoRSLo - Michael Douglas pitches for the MDGs

We Believe - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eday9AT92eg - Alyssa Milano speaks out for the MDGs. Music: "We Believe", by Good Charlotte.

Cultural heritage may explain RP economic malaise--study

MANILA -- Poor Philippine economic performance may be due to a Latin cultural heritage giving rise to powerful political families pursuing their own rather than the state's interests, a new study has said.

Some 330 years of Spanish rule had influenced the Philippines greatly, an impact that survived nearly 50 years of later colonial occupation by the US, the study by Robert Nelson of the University of Maryland said.

This Spanish Catholic influence, in contrast to the US Protestant model, had led to a "dominant political role" by large landholding families in the Philippines just like in Latin America, Nelson said.

A weak government and powerful political oligarchies combined to put the state in the service of private interests, he added.

"If culture is now to be considered an important economic influence, it may be that this common Spanish Catholic heritage is a main contributing factor in the economic histories of the Philippines and most of Latin America," the study said.

These cultural attitudes "now stand in the way of freer markets and a more successful political democracy," said Nelson, who undertook the study as a visiting fellow at the University of the Philippines School of Economics.

In the 1950s, according to a World Bank study at the time, the Philippines was destined to become the region's second Japan.

But it missed out almost completely on the foreign investment-fuelled Asian boom of the 1970s to the 1990s, and by 2000 Filipino per capita income exceeded only Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, North Korea and Myanmar.

Particular problems like large fiscal deficits, inflation or corruption might be cited as reasons why the Philippines had failed to attract high levels of foreign investment, he said. But that failed to explain the policy failures behind those problems in the first place, he argued.

Coercion of victim key in human trafficking - US gov’t report

ISAGANI DE LA PAZ and PATRICIA MARCELO / 09/26/2007 08:40 PM
MANILA—Ruby, 17, felt her heart bob with the ferry boat taking her and three other girls to Manila as she overheard their male escort described how “fresh and young" they were to another male passenger.

Then there were also the cursory glances toward her body –not my face, nor my eyes, she told herself as odd. She hugged herself tightly to bolster a belief her decision to work as a household help would raise her family from poverty in General Santos City.

From that southern Philippine city, thousands of kilometers from the capital of Manila, Ruby would have been sold –like others before and after her trip, she suspects– like merchandise in a trade profiting from human bondage and sexual slavery.

And according to a United States Department of Justice report, the movement or migration of people is non-essential to the debate.

It’s the context of that movement or migration that is at the heart of the criminal sale of young women and children like Ruby.

“The force, fraud, or coercion exercised on that person to perform or remain in service to another is the defining element of human trafficking in the modern usage. The person who is trapped in compelled service after initially migrating voluntarily or taking a job willingly is considered a trafficking victim," the 240-page report, released in June, said.

The report comes before nonprofit and anti-trafficking groups helping Filipinos like Ruby, like the nonprofit Visayan Forum Foundation Inc., International Justice Mission, and Philippines Against Child Trafficking, take action against a formidable challenge in these times of free movements of people and commodities.

“Movement is not necessary," the report continued adding that “Movement to the new location is incidental."

“Any person who is recruited, harbored, provided, or obtained through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjecting that person to involuntary servitude, forced labor, or commercial sex qualifies as a trafficking victim," the report noted.

The report cited as an example a boy “forced to beg on the streets of Cairo or New York is as much a victim of trafficking in persons" as the foreign worker brought to the US “on a legal seasonal farm work visa and then forced to work in conditions not described in the original contract, with the threat of being deported without pay if he fails to comply with the ‘new rules’.

"Hence, some of the nearly 3,000 Filipinos leaving for work abroad everyday could be considered potential or actual victims of trafficking, based on this view.

Labyrinth

But the US government report scored countries like the Philippines on the trafficking of migrant workers, citing that the responsibility for their protection lies in the source governments.

The past trafficking in persons reports “focused attention on the conditions faced by many migrant workers legally contracted to perform low-skilled work in developed countries but who were later subjected to fraudulent misrepresentation of work conditions, debt bondage, or forced labor conditions at the hands of employers in destination countries."

The latest report noted that while the attention “focused largely on the responsibilities of destination countries,…research is showing that source countries permit or encourage some exploitative practices that either place migrant workers in involuntary servitude before they leave for work abroad, or place them in unfair debts that are precursors to involuntary servitude in the destination country."

“Governments of major source countries of migrant workers have obligations too –obligations to protect these workers’ interests by limiting pre-departure fees and ‘commissions’ to reasonable levels that do not contribute to situations of debt bondage."

Of the 151 countries that the US 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report categorized, 27 were named as destination countries where migrant workers are subjected to trafficking or near-trafficking conditions like involuntary domestic servitude through the use of force or coercion, such as physical (including sexual) or emotional abuse.

Notable among these countries are Brunei, Iraq and the Solomon Islands, cited by the report as “special cases".

Brunei is one because as a destination country for men and women who migrate legally from the Philippines and four other Asian countries for domestic or low-skilled labor, “the lack of reliable data makes it unclear whether there is a significant number of victims in the country."

Iraq is another because despite an official ban prohibiting Filipinos from working there, workers “are increasingly coerced into positions in Iraq with threats of abandonment in Kuwait or Jordan, starvation, or force".

The third is Solomon Islands where the report said there is “anecdotal evidence that young women from Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, the People’s Republic of China, the Philippines, and Malaysia are trafficked …for the purpose of sexual exploitation on foreign ships and in logging camps."

Government and NGO estimates on the number of women trafficked range from 300,000 to 400,000 and the number of children trafficked range from 60,000 to 100,000.

According to the US government reports, the number of child victims in the Philippines range from 20,000 to 100,000, with foreign tourists, particularly other Asians, as perpetrators.

Escape

Ruby narrated to the OFW Journalism Consortium she and the other recruits dropped the case against the recruiter who promised them a monthly salary of P1,000 as salesladies.

“They could harm our families in the province," Ruby said citing that she submitted a bio-data to the recruiter who posted job ads in a public market in General Santos City.

“They have information on me. I applied because I thought they were a legitimate job placement agency," she explained.

The other three girls aged 15, 18 and 20, shared the same process as well as fears.

Social worker Marichel Escalante, 26, who works in a safe house managed by the Visayan Forum, said 30 percent of the victims they’ve helped were being prepped for prostitution in Japan.

Since 2001, the foundation was able to assist 5,482 Filipinos tagged as victims of human trafficking.

These, according to Escalante, were those brought to halfway houses they have established in four major ports in the country in partnership with the Philippine Ports Authority. The ports include Manila North Harbor, Batangas, Matnog in Sorsogon and Sasa in Davao City.

Visayan Forum president Ma. Cecilla Oebanda said the number of victims or potential victims of human trafficking may be higher if only all the major ports in the country are being monitored well.

Of the assisted victims, she said 47 percent of them were women ages 18 to 22, the rest were younger men and girls.

Oebanda added some of these women were asked to stay for six months to one year in the country so that they could train first before they were supposed to be deployed abroad.

The region where most of the victims came from was Region 11 or the Davao Region, according to the foundation’s records.

It revealed nearly 20 cases on behalf of 57 trafficked persons were filed in courts since February last year.

The modus operandi of traffickers is to recruit young women, including minors, from the provinces and promise them work in Manila or abroad, Oebanda said.

She added that the recruiter will usually pay for all the travel and food expenses of the potential victims, further sweetening the promises.

There was a 15-year-old from Bacolod City whose handlers slapped her face, burned her with lit cigarettes, or locked her in a room every time she refused to entertain a customer of the recruiter’s nightclub.

Escalante said most of the victims are transported via boats or passenger ships and always en route to Manila.

Before leaving the port of origin, the victims, especially minors, are told to lie about their age, she added.

Steps

In the recent launch of the Philippine Alliance against Child Trafficking, leader Amihan Abueva said they expect no change in the intensity of trafficking cases this year.

Citing government records of last year, Abueva said that more than a thousand cases were lodged, half of which were from adult women victimized in the country.

It’s the same trend we’re seeing this year, Abueva, who is also executive director of nonprofit group Ecpat International Inc., told reporters.

“Two-thirds of reported cases are children. But the figures are not a good gauge of the magnitude of the problem because many cases, we believe, are not reported and victims and those who escape do not receive assistance," she added.

Escalante of Visayan Forum advises that women, in particular, should acquire tons of data on those enticing them with work in Manila or abroad.

“They should inform their parents or the elderly, get complete details on the recruiter, know the kind of work being offered, the complete address of the place where they would be brought, and memorize key contact numbers," Escalante said.

In addition, she said recruits should also share these pieces of information with their families.She said as soon the recruits arrived in their destination, they should contact their family and give them the complete address of where they are.

Likewise, if escape at the port is possible, they advise potential victims to go to halfway houses that the government is building.

Aside from the Batangas City port, the Philippine government announced plans to construct new halfway houses in Zamboanga Port, Iloilo Port, and Lipata Port in Surigao del Norte.

Still, despite these efforts, the US Department of State placed the Philippine government under Tier 2 for not fully complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

The report recommends that source countries like the Philippines should “negotiate agreements with destination countries to obtain formal guarantees of their citizen’s rights while working abroad."

The report also noted greater focus on the illegal confiscation of travel documents –passports, identity cards and airline tickets– since this practice is used “as a means of gaining and exercising control over a victim."

“Without these vital documents, migrants are vulnerable to arrest, punishment, and/or deportation," the report said.

“Foreign governments are encouraged to criminalize the confiscation or withholding of travel documents of migrants as a means to confine the migrant or keep him or her in a form of work or service," it added. - OFW Journalism Consortium

Pimentel takes up cudgels for abandoned Japinoys

Minamadali ni Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr. ang negosasyon sa pagitan ng Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) at ang Pamahalaan ng Japan para sa bilateral agreement ang karapatan ng mga batang pilipino na inabandona ng kanilang mga hapones na ama.

ipinaliwanag ni Pimentel na ang kinabukusan ng may 200,000 na kabataang inabandona ng kanilang mga hapon na magulang- na kilala rin sa katawagang Japinoys ay hindi malinaw hanggat hindi nakikilala ang kanilang mga tunay na ama upang suportahan ang kanilang mga pangangailangan.

"It is better to immediately raise this issue as a concern of the government of the Philippines by directly talking with the foreign office of Japan and suggesting that we should have some agreement to help these children of Japanese parents in the Philippines," sinabi ni Pimentel sa isang pagtitipon ng mga japinoy sa Traders hotel Ballroom sa Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City.Fidel Jimenez, GMANews.TV

OFW remittances spent mostly on food in 3rd qtr

Ang mga pamilya na nakakatanggap ng remittance mula sa kanilang pamilya sa abroad ay naglalaan ng mas malaking halaga sa pagkain at iba pang kailangang pambahay kesa sa pangangailangan para sa sasakyan nitong third quarter ng taon kumpara sa nakaraang quarter.

Ang third quarter consumer expectations survey ng bangko sentral ng pilipinas ay nagpapakita ng 94.1 porsyento ng 5,093 na kabahayan( 2,558 sa metro manila at 2,535 sa labas ng NCR.) ay karaniwang gumagastos para sa pagkain at iba pang pangangailangan mula sa 91.8 porsyento noong second quarter.

OFWs leaving families is top OWWA problem in R7

Sinabi ng Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Region7 noong martes na ang pagaabandona ng mga pamilya ng mga overseas filipino workers ang pangunahing problema ng naturang rehiyon.

Ayon sa tala ng OWWA7, may apatnapu't anim na kaso ng pagaabandona ang naitala sa taong kasalukuyan.

Dadag pa sa report, ang mga pamilyang inabandona ay kadalasang humuhingi ng tulong sa OWWA at kadalasan sa mga nangiiwan ay mga kalalakihan.Ang ilang mga guidance councilor sa University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR) sa Cebu City ay sinasabi na ang mga OFW na may problema sa kanilang kasal bago mangibang bansa ay madalas iniiwan ang kanilang pamiya.

Karamihan sa mga private colleges at universities sa Cebu ay mayroong counseling unit para sa mga anak ng mga OFW.- GMANews.TV

OFWs leaving families is top OWWA problem in R7

Sinabi ng Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Region7 noong martes na ang pagaabandona ng mga pamilya ng mga overseas filipino workers ang pangunahing problema ng naturang rehiyon.

Ayon sa tala ng OWWA7, may apatnapu't anim na kaso ng pagaabandona ang naitala sa taong kasalukuyan.

Dadag pa sa report, ang mga pamilyang inabandona ay kadalasang humuhingi ng tulong sa OWWA at kadalasan sa mga nangiiwan ay mga kalalakihan.Ang ilang mga guidance councilor sa University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR) sa Cebu City ay sinasabi na ang mga OFW na may problema sa kanilang kasal bago mangibang bansa ay madalas iniiwan ang kanilang pamiya.

Karamihan sa mga private colleges at universities sa Cebu ay mayroong counseling unit para sa mga anak ng mga OFW.- GMANews.TV

OFW Unidentified

Ang balitang ito ay tungkol sa isang pilipino na namatay dalawang buwan na ang nakakaraan sa Hai Al-Jamaea Hospital sa Jamea District ng Jeddah.

Ayon kay Rico Silva, officer ng Assistance to National Section (ANS), kinilala ng ilang mga naroroon ang namatay na si Fernando Bohol pero hindi pa ito lubos na napatutunayan.

Ang kapalaran ng lalaki ay ipinabatid sa kaalaman ng konsulada noong Hulyo ni Dr. Mohammed Rashed, director ng Hai Al-Jamaea Hospital.

Sa isang sulat sinabi ni Rashe na ang lalaki ay walang malay nang dinala sa ospital noong July 6 ng isang pilipina na nagpakilala lamang sa pangalan na Iluminada.

Dagdag pa niya, walang dokumento ang lalaki na magpapakita ng pagkakakilanlan nito at ang babae ay nagiwan ng contact number at address na napagalamang hindi totoo. Ang lalaki ay nasa singkwenta anyos at namatay dahil sa "cardiopulmonary arrest due to markedly elevated blood pressure and possible brain hemorrhage".
Para sa impormasyon tungkol sa bangkay, maaring tawagan sina Elsa Masa o Norma Laut-Mamainte ng ANS sa Jeddah at telephone numbers (02)667-0925, 660-0348 or 663-0354. - GMANews.TV

16 OFWs in Saudi reported missing

May labing anim na (16) overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) napagalaman na nawawala sa western region ng Saudi Arabia, ayon kay Philippine Consulate General sa Jeddah.Ayon pa sa balita ng Online news site Arab News,
Samanatala ayon kay Consul General Pendosina Lomondot , humingi ang labinganim na pamilya ng ofws na hanapin ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay.pinangalanan naman ang mga nawawalang ofws na sina: Armando Petros, Jovencia Terol, Marites Ciocson, Hernando Evilla, Zubaina Baganian, Dioscoro Yacap, Lea G. Saladaga, Riza Ulanday, Arnold O. Bangoy, Elvie Dignadice, Elena Mansia, Christopher G. Samaniego, Aniceta Velarde, Hazzle M. Hora, Alfonso L. Fallera Jr., and Raymond Hernandez.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

KAKAMMPI Radio --Launched!!!

Great News!

KAKAMMPI ONLINE LIVE can now be heard in full streaming audio, via StreamerP2P.

Visit our website and go to KAKAMMPI Radio, then click "Listen Now".

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

12 - 2007 OFW deployment, remittances seen to ...

12 - 2007 OFW deployment, remittances seen to hit above target - DoLEGlobal deployment and total remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are seen to hit above target for the rest of 2007 with strong employment opportunities abroad, the Department of Labor and Employment expressed.

Labor and Employment Secretary Arturo D. Brion said deployment of OFWs is expected to reach and breach the 1-million mark, while total OFW remittances are expected to approach the US$ 14 billion level by December this year.As of mid-2007, OFW deployment had already breached the 0.5 million mark in more than 190 destinations worldwide, records said.He expressed confidence that at this growth rate, total deployment figures will reach if not surmount the one million level worldwide this year.

He said that based on the latest report of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), global OFW deployment had reached 725,999 as of August 31, 2007, representing more than two-thirds (72.6 percent) of the total 1-million global OFW deployment goal in 2007.

Brion earlier indicated that from January to July this year, the deployment of OFWs in the new hire category increased in several host destinations including Canada , Italy , Cyprus , New Zealand , and New Caledonia due to the demand for Filipino skilled workers in their industries. According to him, the percentage of Filipino professional and technical workers went up by two percentage points to 14.4 percent in the first half of 2007 from 12.4 percent in the same period in 2006, with high end skills accounting for more than two-thirds (73 percent) of the total new hires.

Meanwhile, the rehires increased by 2.5 percent to 361,655 from January 1 to August 31, 2007, compared to 352,908 in the same period last year. In addition, the total contracts per worker processed by the POEA for overseas Filipino seafarers have expanded by 15.9 percent to 279,922 from 241,522 during the same period.

In the meantime, the Labor Secretary cited a report of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that global OFW remittances have reached a record $ 7 billion in the first six months of 2007, which is 18.1 percent above the level recorded in the same period last year.

Brion said that as the trend sustains, total global OFW remittances may well approach and breach $ 14 billion in 2007, noting the BSP's report that the $ 1.1 billion remitted in June this year "marks the 14th straight month that OFW remittances have sustained at more than $ 1 billion monthly."

Amidst the development, he bared that major banks in the Philippines have now joined hands to develop a distinct and more affordable global remittance system benefiting the OFWs in linkage with the Department of Labor and Employment, particularly its newly established National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO)."I laud BSP for ensuring global remittance services, in effect making it more convenient and efficient for OFWs to remit their earnings," Brion said, adding that the synergy between the NRCO and banking institutions will boost reintegration of the country's modern day heroes to the economic mainstream on their return. (PNA)

15 - DOLE assures supply of quality Pinoy ship officers,

15 - DOLE assures supply of quality Pinoy ship officers, seafarersThe Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Saturday bared several vital undertakings being pushed to reinforce and sustain the Philippines' position as the number 1 maritime manpower source of the world, and ensure the unfaltering supply of quality, highly skilled seafarers and maritime officers for the global shipping industry.

Labor and Employment Secretary Arturo D. Brion bared that the thrusts will be pushed through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), which is the agency responsible for assessing and certifying Filipino maritime workers.

"Our thrusts to ensure quality training for seafarers are geared at strengthening the Philippines' leadership as the world's most preferred maritime manpower source through our consistent adherence to the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW)," he said.

He added that the global choice for overseas Filipino seafarers still continues with the total sea-based contracts processed per worker by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration expected to approach the 300,000 mark this year, after increasing by 15.9 percent (+38,400) from 241,522 in the same period in 2006, to 279,922 from January 1 to August 31, 2007.

Brion earlier noted a preliminary report that the TESDA had assisted in the country's maritime thrusts by assessing and successfully certifying a total of 15,136 maritime workers from January to March this year, on top of 78,477 last year.

Speaking in behalf of TESDA Director General Augusto Boboy Syjuco, TESDA Deputy Director General for Field Operations Rogelio Peyuan said that the TESDA thrusts include the review and enhancement of maritime training, assessment and certification procedures, continuous improvement of the quality assurance system, and computerization.

Peyuan stressed that to maintain the country's dominance in the market, "it is TESDA's responsibility to maintain the credibility and integrity of the maritime training, assessment, and certification system," adding that the agency had recently undergone audit by the DOLE-led Maritime Training Council.

In order to safeguard the authenticity and integrity of certified overseas Filipino seafarers, he said that TESDA will computerize the assessment and certification to allow online verification of documents and establish "a 100 percent reliable database."He said that the TESDA Board chaired by Secretary Brion, had already approved an e-TESDA portal for this purpose to ensure transparency and accountability in the country's maritime training related systems, data, and information.

"We will continuously partner with our stakeholders to enhance the system, and safeguard the integrity of our pool of accredited competency assessors in the maritime sector, which will empower private sector-led assessment and certification," Peyuan said.He added that the TESDA, in linkage with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), has now developed a specific "ladderized educational curriculum" for the maritime sector in order to address the officer shortage in the global maritime industry.

Peyuan said that the ladderized education system, in general, will work to close the gaps in the educational system of the country by allowing tech-voc trainees to gain academic credits and pursue college education.In the maritime sector, specifically, "this means a greater number of highly trained, productive, and quality Filipino ship officers lessening the shortage in the world's high seas," he said.

To facilitate this, he said that PGMA Scholarships and student loans will be provided even more aggressively by TESDA to allow those taking tech-voc ratings courses to move up triumphantly towards officers' qualifications by means of the Bachelors' Degree programs of CHED."The new, ladderized educational order of the country will assure world class Filipino workers who are the Pinoy-WOW," an acronym in reference to the country's thrust to produce the much sought-after "Pinoy Workers of the World," he said.

15 - [WARNING] POEA warns caregivers going to Canada

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has warned overseas Filipino workers who are working in countries like Hong Kong, Singapore and Israel and are planning to work as caregivers to Canada.

POEA Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz advised the OFWs to have their employment contracts verified at the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices or POLO at the Philippine embassies in their respective worksites to ensure that they really have legal employers in Canada.

"We are advising the overseas Filipino workers in other countries who are going to work as caregivers in Canada to have their employment contracts verified at the labor offices in the country they are now working in," she said.

Baldoz said the POLO in Canada has reported cases of two Filipina caregivers from Dubai and Hong Kong who arrived in Canada without genuine employers.

She added that according to the report, one worker was facing deportation and the other was reportedly abused by her employer but could not formally complain for fear of being deported because the present employer was different from the one specified in her work permit.

The POEA chief warned that some unscrupulous foreign recruitment agencies and employers use third countries as jump off points to hire Filipinos, including caregivers to Canada.

16 - DOLE to put up 4 new labor offices abroad

The government will strengthen the protection of OFWs by establishing four additional Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) in strategic areas of the globe where there are great concentrations of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Labor and Employment Secretary Arturo D. Brion said the DOLE plans to put up four additional POLOs to cover the OFWs in Australia and New Zealand, western Canada, Ireland, and central China.Brion, in a recent budget hearing conducted by the House of Representatives Appropriation Committee chaired by Rep. Edcel Lagman, said that the POLOs worldwide are indispensable, considering that global OFW deployment now reaches one million annually, and that we have a stock of about 8.0 million Filipinos, both temporary and permanent migrants, overseas.

There are 34 POLOs currently providing necessary protection and other pertinent services to OFWs in strategic areas with productive OFW presence, including Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Brussels, Dubai, Geneva, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Jeddah, Jordan, Kaohsiung, Korea, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Macau, Madrid, Milan, Oman, Qatar, Riyadh, Rome, Saipan, Singapore, Taichung, Taipei, Tokyo, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.Brion indicated the additional four new POLOs are crucial, considering the vast areas where the OFWs are working, with a few or no POLOs in those locations.

"For instance," he said, "Canada is so large, and the demand [for OFWs] in western Canada is so big, [that] we need an additional labor attache there."China, he added, is also so vast that another POLO must be established to cover the central area together with the two existing posts in Hong Kong and Macau.

Noting the need for a POLO amidst the long term growth in the emerging documented OFW markets of Australia and New Zealand, Brion also emphasized the need to put up another post for the first time in Ireland where OFWs, specially overseas Filipino medical personnel, have attained "a very strong presence."DOLE figures indicate that Ireland hosted a total of 5,439 documented OFWs last year, at the same time that the deployment of OFWs in Canada grew by 78.2 percent (+2,839) to 6,468 from 3,629, and in Australia by 295.5 percent (+1,732) to 2,318 in 2006, from 586 in 2005. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong special administrative region in China hosted 96,929 OFWs last year.

"These are our emerging labor markets that will sustain deployment in the years to come," the Labor Chief said.Brion said the presence of POLOs onsite ensures OFWs with protection, such as facilitating onsite services that include welfare, and providing complaints assistance against abusive employers, visitation, humanitarian help, among others.

But, the Labor Chief emphasized that while the OFWs continue to be globally preferred and in continuous demand worldwide, the main policy of the country is not marketing, but the protection of Filipinos who have opted to pursue the work opportunities abroad. (PNA)

18 - Retail chain holds "new bags for old" sale to benefit OFWs

A travel accessories retail firm has decided to mix business with social responsibility to benefit overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Travel Club launched last Friday at the Marriott Hotel Cebu City a three-day trade-in sale that allows store clients to obtain new bags at a discounted price when they turn in their old but functional luggage.

Travel Club will turnover the used luggage to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), which will distribute the items to qualified OFWs.Only Citibank credit card holders, though, are qualified to participate in the trade-in sale.

Raquel Serrano, Travel Club channel manager, said this is the third trade-in organized by the retail firm in the country but the first one in Cebu.While the program diminishes the store's income, Serrano said the trade-in has received good feedback from customers. Travel Club, a member of Primer International Holdings Management Inc., plans to hold a similar event in Davao.Besides, Serrano said Travel Club expects the Cebu market to grow further with the province being considered the country's "second business capital," and the projected increase in domestic and international travelers.

She said the firm is looking forward to the opening of more international flights to Cebu, particularly from Shanghai, China.Citibank merchant business head for Visayas and Mindanao Susie Sy Corro, for her part, said the trade-in program is part of the bank's corporate social responsibility.

It is also a sort of incentive to Citibank credit card holder who make up majority of Travel Club's clients, Serrano said.

18 - OFW exodus blocks expansion of RP businesses

Filipino business leaders blame the lack of skilled workers in the country as a major factor that hinders corporate expansion, according to a study released by accounting, tax and business advisory firm Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A).

The survey, conducted by Grant Thornton International, showed that 43 percent of Filipino businessmen consider the prevailing brain drain caused by the high number of Filipino professionals and skilled workers who leave the country for overseas employment as a major roadblock to their expansion plans.

The figure was a significant jump from the 15 percent in 2006, thus landing the Philippines above the global average of 38 percent from respondents all over the world who worried about manpower shortage, said a press statement from P&A, a member of Grant Thornton International.

"The results this year clearly reflect the problem that employers across the industries are experiencing, which is the draining of our local talent pool," said P&A chief executive officer and managing partner Greg Navarro in a statement.

The Grant Thornton International Business Report covers the opinions of 7,200 privately owned businesses from 32 countries.Along with those in the Philippines, 60 percent of firms in New Zealand, 59 percent in Australia, and 58 percent in Africa also considered the lack of accessibility to skilled labor as the primary reason that held them back from expanding.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration revealed that from 1998 to 2001, newly hired overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) belonging to the professional, medical, and technical industries steadily grew in number, which peaked at 97,448 accounting for 38 percent of all newly hired OFWs.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported in 2005 that remittances from OFWs showed that in the last five years, majority of Filipinos working abroad are higher-paid service and professional workers.

"Even in the accounting practice, we are struggling to compete with foreign firms that see the Philippines as a good source for highly-trained, English speaking certified public accountants," Navarro said.Auditing firm, SyCip Gores Velayo & Co. (SGV) senior partner and head for branches in Visayas and Mindanao, Protacio Tacandong said like the other sectors, the auditing service industry in the country is also affected by the worsening brain drain problem as most of its top accountants are now being hired by foreign countries like Australia, United States, Canada and even the Middle East.

The International Business Report also stated that bureaucratic regulations or red tape has been tagged as the top business constraint globally in the last five years, with Brazilian business executives most affected by it 60 percent.

"In the Philippines, however, only 26 percent of respondents consider regulations/red tape a major constraint to their business expansion," the report said.

"This is the fourth year in a row that few local business leaders have reported being hampered by regulations/red tape. In 2004, 44 percent of local respondents said red tape was their biggest frustration. That figure dropped to 40 percent the following year, and to 34 percent in 2006," the report said.

Tacandong said SGV has to consider other ways to take in the country's best accountants and lawyers before they are tempted to work abroad since "opportunities for accountants are now very wide."SGV is now tapping the academe and extending support to potential accounting students, which the company may hire for work after graduation, he said. (PNA)

What are we getting for our OWWA & PhilHealth payments?

To fellow Overseas Filipino Workers and concerned Filipino citizens all over the world:

It is so sad to know that when we need to seek "financial benefits" from our government, paid from own pocket, we have to go through like hell, and at the end we get nothing.

I may not have directly experienced this but I have been seeing it with my own eyes, hearing it directly from the affected people over and over again every time I am at POEA OWWA-PhilHealth Section.

One OFW who went to POEA main office caught my attention - an OFW beneficiary whose parent was hospitalized. The OWWA office in their provincial branch asked him (the OFW himself) to bring other documents until he got irritated as they kept on asking him to come back, asking for so many papers. It was as if they were begging for something the OFW had already paid!

The OFW stopped going back and forth as they had spent so much in transportation fare as though they would be reimbursed for it and the time spent. As we all know transportation fare is not cheap anymore. You also stand in the long queue and some government employees are not really accommodating when asked all these things...

Let's pray for our fellow OFW, ROBERT PANGANIBAN, who was once a philanthropist for fellow Filipinos who were in dire need of help, doe him to overcome the challenges of lung cancer. It is tough to be in his situation as a cancer patient but it is also tough to accept and know that OWWA will not cover his status as we thought before, though we are still hoping that our government will heed his needs and his right to the monetary benefits he has paid for being an OWWA and PhilHealth member.

Of P2,175.00 (P1275 + 900) per OFW VALID FOR ONE YEAR ONLY and it is a MUST to pay again for our travel exit clearance requirement....Bato bato sa langit, ang aming dalangin na huwag po sana tayo bilang OFW magkasakit including your beneficiaries while an active OFW
ISABEL SAGUINSIN II, Concerned OFWAbu Dhabi, U.A.E.

***

Isa rin po akong OFW na nagtrabaho sa Maritime Industrial Services sa Sharjah, United Arab Emirates at last July 31, 2007 y umuwi po ako ng Pilipinas dahilan sa karandaman. Sa St. Luke Medical Center ay napag-alaman na ako po ay may Lung Cancer at ito ay nasa 4th Stage at hindi na puede ang anp mang operasyon. Tanging combined Chemotherapy at Radiation Therapy na lamang po ang lunas at ang disability ko po ay nalagay sa Total Permanent.
Bilang isang aktibong miyembro at contributor sa OWWA at alang-alang na rin sa tiwala at paniniwala ko sa magaganda nilang mga programa tulad ng Insurance and Health-Care Program Benefits sa bawat miyembro ng bawat OFW, ay nagsadya po kami ng maybahay ko sa mismong opisina ng OWWA upang mag file ng aplikasyon para sa anumang tulong na kanilang maipagkakaloob.

Subalit nadismaya po ako at ang aking maybahay dahil sinabi po sa amin na hindi ako qualified dahil ang disability ko na Total Permanent ay resulta ng karandaman at ang sinasagot lamang at tinutulungan ay iyong mga OFW na miyembro ng OWWA na nagkaroon ng disability dahilan sa AKSIDENTE. Kaya naisip ko tuloy, lumalagay na balewala o walang kuwenta ang binabayaran ko na OWWA MEMBERSHIP sa tuwing aalis ako pagkatapos ng aking bakasyon bawat taon.

Tayong OFW na sinasabi nila na mga Bagong Bayani ang nagpapasok ng malaking halaga ng dolyar sa ating bansa. Tayo ang direktang nalalagay sa mga panganib, sa mga hindi maayos na kapaligiran na kung saan ay ipinagkakaroon natin ng karamdaman. Tapos ngayon, kapag lalapit tayo sa OWWA upang humingi ng tulong ay sasabihin nila na HINDI PUEDE KAPAG ANG DISABILITY AY RESULTA NG KARAMDAMAN...
Mga kasama at kapwa kong OFW, sa palagay n'yo kaya ay tama at katanggap tanggap ang nasabing aksiyon ng OWWA?
Naging karanasan ko na po last Friday (Sept. 7, 2007) kaya naipasya ko po na ipaabot sa inyo - na mga kapwa ko OFW.
Ang karandaman ay maaaring dumating sa kahit na sinong OFW kaya hindi man ako matulungan, sana - kayo na naririyan pa ay magtulong-tulong at magkaisa na hilingin sa Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) na huwag lamang ang NAAKSIDENTE o NAMATAY na OFW ang nararapat na tulungan.

Dapat sana, basta OFW - bilang Bagong Bayani ng ating bansa na nangangailangan ng tulong o benepisyo ay nararapat lamang na tumanggap ng karampatang tulong.
Kapag pupuwedi, ipaabot o ipaki-forward kay Mrs. Letty Castillo "letty" at sa mga kapwa natin OFW na pupuedeng abutin ng e-mail kong ito upang magkaroon po sila ng kabatiran tungkol sa ilang Programa ng OWWA. Ninahangad ko rin na sana'y dinggin ako o tayo ni asalukuyang OWWA Administrator - si Hon. Marianito D. Roque.

Every year or every time we're going back to our home country, it is a must for us to pay our OWWA Membership and PhilHealth of P2,175.00 (P1275+900) per OFW, as a Requirement for travel exit clearance upon exiting the Philippines to go back to the country where we are deployed for work. Being an OFW, it is our "OFW MEDICAL PROTECTION" while working away from our home country.

Ang inyong kasama at kapwa OFW, Roberto E. Panganiban Forwarded by Isabel Saguinsin

***

Thank you so much for forwarding to ME these testimonies from our OFW-OWWA brothers.
W H Y can't we do something to stop this anomalies/improper treatment of the GOV'T to the OFW-OWWA. What is their saying "BAYANI NG BAYAN"? They are very much aware that OFW-OWWA has the biggest contribution/remittances back home.

Who has the guts to question the government to find out where are the contributions to the OFW-OWWA? We claim that we are all educated. WHY can we not do something to protect OFW-OWWA and their families back home? Why we are all tongue-tied? Are we all blind to what is happening to us? Kung tutuusin, we can elect our own president, build our own hospital, pay our own doctors, build our own schools/ universities where our children can study. How many OFWs are there in the world?

I hope you don't mind of my own pananaw; our life being that of a family of OFW-OWWA. Of course, you have to go back home to retire. How do you find yourself in those years? Nasaan ang pinaghirapan mo?

***

Dear All,
Different story but same conclusion – I met an accident as an OFW and went home with the aid of wheel chair. My employer shouldered all expenses during my deportation. When I regained my physical fitness, I went to OWWA to file for medical support but the officer just told me that I get nothing from OWWA since my company already paid everything!

Another type of milking cow from OFW is the Philhealth which also happened to me. I paid a premium every year and you have to pay it once for one-year validity but all your contribution are USELESS once your premium for the next month is missed and unfortunately it is the time that you are going to use it as your loved ones got sick and confined in the hospital.

Where are my contributions for several years?

Best medical benefit is in Taiwan - everyday you are in the hospital or you underwent an operation, you just pay a registration fee of NT$50, then ALL expenses including medicines (or minimum of 95%) are shouldered by the Taiwan Medicare.

In the Philippines, only 15% is shouldered by the Medicare, excluding medicines, which are very costly in the Philippines! We hope that everything will become better.
Ed V. Francisco edvfrancisco@yahoo.com

***

I have the same experience when I recently came home for my annual vacation. My wife got sick and unfortunately it coincided with the expiration of my annual membership. We went to the office of Philhealth Insurance to pay my annual dues but was refused unless I show them a new contract. How on earth does this agency associate itself with the word INSURANCE?
Our predicament never happens with any immediate family member of government officials simply because everything favorable is accessible to them in terms of healthcare; so how on earth will they ever feel the agony when an OFW gets into a tight corner brought by sudden illness?
Our health insurance was done in the Philippines and not on foreign soil. Their existence and prevailing insensitive policies in dealing with OFW's who are out of the country during the effectivity of the insurance strengthens the evidence that our government officials, particularly those who are given the responsibility of looking after our welfare as OFW's (POEA and OWWA), are playing deaf and blind simply because of the huge amount of benefits and goodies they receive from a "benevolent" PhilHealth Insurance and similar agencies.
You don't have to be a super mathematician to figure out how much P 2,175.00 per OFW per year will sum up when you talk about 1,000.0 OFW's renew their policy each day for just ten days! And all these amounts simply vanish into thin air just after 365 days in the hands of an agency whose top positions are manned by the country's best minds?
Some people are so sensitive they cannot stand the sound of the word s-h-a-m-e. Our government officials on the other hand would regain the trust, appreciation and love of people they are supposed to lead when they kneel, pray and ask God the almighty to help them live each day with compassion to those who leave their family behind by force of circumstance, not by choice, in order to earn a living.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

RP faces a better future says VP Noli

Despite the political bickerings, Vice President Noli "Kabayan" De Castro gave hope to Filipinos, saying the Philippines is facing a better future.

Speaking during the Centro Escolar University (CEU) Centennial Quality Awards in Mendiola, Manila yesterday, De Castro said he sees better days ahead for the country owing to the kind of education that the youth is getting from schools today.

De Castro particularly cited the educational institutions that can be found in the University Belt in Manila such as the CEU and the University of the East (UE) where he graduated.Proof to this, he said, is the growing number of Filipinos who are being employed in foreign lands because of their competitive will in almost any field."Our educational system continues to produce quality graduates who can make it abroad," De Castro, who is also the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), said.

The Vice President cited the benefits of having more OFWs among which is that fact that Filipinos now live in a global economy where opportunities are open to all and because the country benefits greatly from the remittances of the OFWs.

However, De Castro presented an alternative view of the Philippines which many of the Filipinos are now thinking of leaving behind.If the Philippines maintains its present course, De Castro said Filipinos are headed towards becoming the new success story of Asia."There is a future in our country and it is one that we will build together," he said before members of the CEU's academe.

Thus, he challenged the youth to serve their own country and to use their talents for the land."I challenge you to see the opportunities in the horizon. And maybe, you yourselves will come up with the conclusion that, indeed, we have a bright future ahead," he added. (PNA)

Banks to develop special remittance system for OFWs

The country's largest banking institutions have joined hands to develop a special and more affordable remittance system for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as part of their efforts to support the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) in ensuring the effective reintegration of OFWs from the time they decide to leave for abroad until their eventual return to the Philippines.

Labor and Employment Secretary Arturo D. Brion said that nine major cooperating banks have jointly expressed their support and commitment to collaborate with the NRCO to actively engage in delivering programs, services, and projects or activities aimed at reintegrating returning OFWs to the social and economic mainstream.

Brion said the cooperating banks issued a joined statement of support to the NRCO during the recent stakeholders' workshop held at the Blas P. Ople Development Center Bldg., which houses the NRCO in Intramuros, Manila.The banks, which were represented at the stakeholders' workshops, are the Development Bank of the Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines, Philippine National Bank, Metro Bank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, United Coconut Planters Bank, Asia United Bank, and Banco de Oro.The labor chief said the banks specifically committed, among others, to develop and offer an easier, faster, and affordable special remittance and financing schemes for OFWs to motivate them to transfer funds to the country using formal channels, particularly in the area of savings, loans, and investments.

The banks, he said, also committed to assist the NRCO in promoting savings consciousness and sound investments among OFWs in line with the NRCO's efforts to help OFWs and their families mobilize their earnings in productive and income-generating projects.Brion said that savings mobilization is an essential part of the NRCOs' reintegration program for OFWs, adding that all center activities for OFWs shall include cooperating banks conducting seminars on financial literacy, financial planning, wealth management, and investments.

The cooperating banks will also assist the NRCO and other stakeholders and service providers in formulating and implementing other beneficial projects for the OFW community. (PNA)

DOLE starts issuing certificates to successful

DOLE starts issuing certificates to successful nursing exams retakersThe Department of Labor and Employment on Monday started issuing Certificates to successful examinees who took the June 11, 2007 nursing licensure retake examination.

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion said his office started issuing Certificates upon presentation of the examinee's PRC license from 9 a.m. and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.The DOLE set up a schedule for the successful examinees to follow for the release of individual certificates.

Brion said those residing outside of Metro Manila who wish to claim their Certificates via the DOLE Regional Offices are advised to register with the Regional Office nearest their place of residence/work.Proxy claimants or representatives are required to present an authorization letter and a photocopy of the examinee's PRC License.

The original license must be presented, it said.The schedule for the issuance of certificates is as follows:
September 3, 2007 AALA - ANGELES
September 4, 2007 ANGELO - BARCELON
September 5, 2007 BARCELONA - BUMIDANG
September 6, 2007 BUNAGAN - CASTILLO
September 7, 2007 CASTILLON - CUARTEROS
September 10, 2007 CUASAY - DIMAANO
September 11, 2007 DIMACALE - FABROS
September 12, 2007 FACTO - GIDOC
September 13, 2007 GIL - JIMENEZ
September 14, 2007 JIMERA - LLENA
September 17, 2007 LLENES - MARCELO
September 18, 2007 MARCIA - NAVARRIS
September 19, 2007 NAVARRO - PACHO
September 20, 2007 PANDAN - RACELIS
September 21, 2007 RACHO - SABLES
September 24, 2007 SABUD - SOMEJO
September 25, 2007 SOMOROSTRO - TOMAS
September 26, 2007 TOMBOC - VILLEGAS
September 27, 2007 VILLENA - ZUÑIGA
A total of 9,198 or 68.96 percent of the 13,338 nursing graduates who took the June 11, 2007 nursing licensure retake examination passed.
The rest, 4,140 failed to meet the passing grade of at least 75 percent in both Tests III and V of the DOLE-initiated voluntary retake examination of Tests III and V of the June 2006 Nursing Licensure Examination.
Results of the voluntary retake examination, however, will not affect their status as licensed nurses.
Those who failed will simply not qualify for US VisaScreen Certificate.In 2006, the nursing exams were marred by allegations that answers to some of the test questions were leaked by some review centers.
On June 1, 2007, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez ordered the filing of criminal charges against two members of the Board of Nursing for last year’s nursing examination leakage.

The DOLE initiated the voluntary retake examination of Tests III and V of the June 2006 Nursing Licensure Examination to qualify licensed nurses for the US VisaScreen certificate. (PNA)

Turkish court clears 5 Pinoys drug case

A Turkish court acquitted this week a Filipino ship captain and four of his crew of charges of smuggling marijuana into Turkey last May.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported Friday night that the 14th criminal court in Istanbul found no evidence to substantiate the charges against the accused.

Philippine Ambassador to Turkey Bahnarim Guinomla said those cleared were Captain Reynaldo Derige, Second Officer Julio Cagampan, Chief Engineer Othoniel Bungalso, Chief Officer Alberto Jose and Bosun Franciscio Pontillas.Guinomla said he has asked Mrs. Ana Maria Cristina Oben-Nazareno, Vice President of Wallem Maritime Services, Inc., to help coordinate the early repatriation of Capt. Derge and his crew with the shipping agent in Istanbul.

The case against Derige and his crew stemmed from the discovery of marijuana inside metal containers and attached to the bottom of the ship “Federal Fuji" that they were manning.Court records showed that the marijuana was discovered when the ship docked in Turkey last May 11, and was raised in a shipyard for routine maintenance.It was then that Captain Derige saw the metal container and called the attention of authorities.

The court gave weight to Derige’s gesture in acquitting him and the other seafarers.Guinomla sent Attaché Douveylito Tangcay to Istanbul to coordinate with the lawyers of Capt. Derige, the representatives of the shipping agencies and immigration authorities to render consular assistance might be required. - GMANews.TV

Pinoy seaman dies, 9 rescued off South African coast

A Filipino seafarer died while nine others were rescued off Port Alfred in South Africa when their ship, MV Douala Tide capsized on Aug. 23.Philippine ambassador to South Africa Virgilo Reyes reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday that the 37-foot anchor handling tug was sailing from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Douala, Cameroon when it ran into six to eight-meter swells with 20 to 25-knot winds around 25 nautical miles offshore from the Fish River Lighthouse in Port Alfred.The DFA is withholding the identity of the lone fatality pending notification of his immediate family.The nine Filipinos who survived the sinking are: 1. C/Engr. Genovevo Albarracin2. 2/Engr. Fidel Mascardo, Jr.3. 2/Mate Exserio Olasiman4. Bosun Jessie Villanueva5. Jose Feliciano, Jr.6. Ronelo Supot7. Octavio Omaguing, Jr.8. Nilven Dieron, and9. Warren Erlano.The ship’s Honduran captain was also rescued.The South African National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) reported that Maritime Radio Services had intercepted a radio distress message from the vessel that was listing and sinking at around 2:50 p.m. on Aug. 23.The South African National Ports Authority, Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre, NSRI Port Elizabeth, NSRI Port Alfred and the South African Air Force were then alerted. According to the NSRI, the motor yacht Octopus, which was in the vicinity, rescued seven survivors while an Air Force helicopter and NSRI swimmer rescued and secured three others, including the ship captain. Some of the Filipinos were admitted to hospital but all are reported to be in a stable and satisfactory condition. Ambassador Reyes said he immediately dispatched Consul General Renato L. Villapando and Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) Officer Earl D. Alonzo to Port Elizabeth to assist the Filipino survivors as well as to facilitate the documentation so that the body of the lone Filipino fatality may be repatriated immediately to the Philippines. - GMANews.TV

Added course for seamen is unjustified - Pimentel

Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. on Thursday called for a Senate probe on the move of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to require seafarers to take additional management-level course (MLC).

Pimentel said he found no justifiable reason for the additional subject requirement, which will cost each seaman P42,000 for marine deck course and P52,000 for engine course.The PRC junked the appeal of seafarers’ groups to scrap the MLC as a requirement for the issuance of certificate of competency that seafarers need for employment."The mandatory MLC, besides being an additional cost to seafarers, is allegedly a repetition since most of the topics in the course are already part of four to five-year marine deck and marine engineering courses," Pimentel said.The Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping Convention (STCW) does not require the MLC. Moreover, foreign employers do not also require the course as a condition for employment, the senator said.He said a source told him that the shortage of maritime officers ready for deployment abroad as an offshoot of the imposition of the course by the PRC through its board for marine officers.The groups that have called for the scrapping of the additional training course include the Crewing Managers Association of the Philippines, United Filipino Seafarers, Philippine Maritime Institute Alumni Association, Inc. and the Integrated Marine Deck and Engine Officers Association.Pimentel said there is a point in the suggestion that MLC be optional if some of its subjects duplicate basic maritime courses.The Senate probe will look into the claim of the seafarers and other stakeholders that there was a strong lobby exerted by training centers with the PRC board of marine officers for the adoption of the MLC, Pimentel said.The complainants alleged that training centers "obviously stand to gain at the expense of our seafarers in making the management level course mandatory with the PRC becoming a willing tool." - Luis Gorgonio, GMANews.

9 Pinoys rescued off S. African coast coming home Monday

The nine Filipino seafarers rescued off Port Alfred in South Africa when their ship capsized and sank on Aug. 23 are due to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport shortly before noon Monday.
Claro Cristobal, spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said the survivors from MV Douala Tide will be planing in via Cathay Pacific flight CX 901 from Hong Kong at 11:15 am.It was not known if the remains of the lone Filipino fatality would also be arriving on the same flight.
Philippine ambassador to South Africa Virgilo Reyes reported to the DFA last Thursday that the 37-foot anchor handling tug was sailing from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Douala, Cameroon when it ran into six to eight-meter swells with 20 to 25-knot winds around 25 nautical miles offshore from the Fish River Lighthouse in Port Alfred.
The nine Filipinos who survived the sinking are:1. C/Engr. Genovevo Albarracin2. 2/Engr. Fidel Mascardo, Jr.3. 2/Mate Exserio Olasiman4. Bosun Jessie Villanueva5. Jose Feliciano, Jr.6. Ronelo Supot7. Octavio Omaguing, Jr.8. Nilven Dieron, and9. Warren Erlano.
The ship’s Honduran captain was also rescued.
The South African National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) reported that Maritime Radio Services had intercepted a radio distress message from the vessel that was listing and sinking at around 2:50 p.m. on Aug. 23.The South African National Ports Authority, Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre, NSRI Port Elizabeth, NSRI Port Alfred and the South African Air Force were then alerted.
According to the NSRI, the motor yacht Octopus, which was in the vicinity, rescued seven survivors while an Air Force helicopter and NSRI swimmer rescued and secured three others, including the ship captain.Some of the Filipinos were admitted to hospital but all were reported to be in stable and satisfactory condition.
Ambassador Reyes said he immediately dispatched Consul General Renato L. Villapando and Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) Officer Earl D. Alonzo to Port Elizabeth to assist the Filipino survivors as well as to facilitate the documentation so that the body of the lone Filipino fatality may be repatriated immediately to the Philippines. - GMANews.TV

Manpower firms want improved PhilHealth coverage for OFWs

Manpower agencies sending Filipino workers to Saudi Arabia have urged the Department of Health to widen the coverage of health insurance for dependents of OFWs.

The Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. lamented that the program as limited in time, funding and coverage, according to online news site Arab News (www.arabnews.com) Sunday.

“You cannot expect to achieve something significant with a pittance of funding considering the big number of Overseas Filipino Workers and their dependents," said PASEI president Victor Fernandez Jr.

Fernandez also said PhilHealth has to be more vigilant to prevent fraudulent claims, which were reported to have deprived the agency of at least P1 billion the past few years.

Under the current arrangement, vacationing OFWs and their legal dependents would get enhanced medical benefits under a “zero co-pay system" or free medical services with accredited hospitals until December.

Acting PhilHealth president Lorna Fajardo said there will be no out-of-pocket expenses for OFWs and dependents availing themselves of the services rendered by DOH hospitals.

Fajardo said PhilHealth is now in the process of making consultations “with different entities interested in the plight of overseas workers."

The new package currently applies to Metro Manila. From October onward, the package will also be available in other DOH hospitals in various parts of the country.

But under the current system, many OFWs are not covered because payment of premium for PhilHealth is no longer done in Philippine overseas missions.

Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) used to collect such premium payments under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s Medicare program.

As a result, the PhilHealth memberships of many OFWs who have two-year contracts or more are not renewed until they return home.

Some OFWs also complained that PhilHealth denies service to dependents within the first three months of a worker’s departure from the Philippines.OFW dependents could avail themselves of benefits only when they are hospitalized.

Last July 24, Fernandez wrote PhilHealth and asked it to widen the scope and coverage of the expanded package. He also proposed that OFWs’ yearly contribution of P900 be raised to P1,200 each to cover their beneficiaries’ medical needs.

“Under our proposal, this P300 per year additional contribution must be used exclusively for the out-patient benefit coverage and primary care consultations and medical needs," he said.

He expressed confidence that OFWs would not object to contributing and additional $6.50 to their yearly PhilHealth premium if the purpose is explained to them. - GMANews.TV

Arroyo wants mandatory SSS coverage of OFWs

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo instructed the Social Security System on Monday to expand its membership base by covering all overseas Filipino workers.
Currently, OFWs are covered by the SSS on a voluntary basis. Documented workers overseas are estimated at more than eight million.
In a speech marking the pension agency’s 50th founding anniversary, the President said OFWs should be included in its roster of more than 27 million members by making their coverage mandatory.
SSS members regularly paying their monthly contributions may be entitled to benefits such as death, disability, maternity (for females), retirement, sickness, funeral, medical care, 13th month pension and dependent’s pension.
Members can also apply for loans for salary, educational, calamity, housing, stock investment, privatization, livelihood lending and other business loans.
During the anniversary rites at the agency’s main office in East Avenue in Quezon City, Mrs Arroyo also directed the SSS executives to extend its housing loan condonation program by another six months as part of what she called as social payback of government reform programs.
The condonation scheme, the President said, has already benefited 6,000 SSS members.
In the past several years, the SSS, together with other government revenue agencies, has implemented various reforms that resulted in higher collections, with the SSS providing more benefits and making sound investments.
Some six years ago, the President said the SSS was facing financial collapse with its actuarial life forecast at 2015.
The President said SSS assets now have ballooned to P248 billion and its investment income in the last six months alone has already reached P15.58 billion.
“New revenues, including increases in contributions for SSS, better collection and a crackdown on remittance cheats along with fiscal discipline has put the SSS and the Philippines on a path to permanent, sustainable economic growth and stability," she cited.
Also as part of its anniversary present to the Filipino worker, the President said SSS has increased the members' pensions twice in the last 12 months -- 10 percent in September last year and another 10 percent last month.
The President thanked the SSS for recently providing the P1 billion special window for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which, she said, are the biggest job generators in the country.
"Thanks to the SSS and other outstanding institutions, the rate of poverty is down, employment is up and our education and healthcare services to the poor vastly improved," she said. - GMANews.TV

Noli to endorse OFW petition for special forex rate - report

Vice President Manuel "Noli" De Castro Jr. will endorse to President Arroyo a petition by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to establish a preferential foreign exchange fund for them.
Online news site Arab News (arabnews.com) reported Tuesday that De Castro agreed to endorse the letter seeking a fixed P50:$1 rate instead of the varying daily market price.
The website of De Castro posted a press release regarding the matter, which said that, "For his part, De Castro explained to the (OFW) group that he would endorse their letter to the President and will monitor the progress of their request."
"De Castro said that the government should reciprocate OFWs sacrifices with more incentives and protection," De Castro's website said.It said the petitioners Center for Migrants Advocacy (CMA) and the V-Team – Advocacy and Community Service sought "a fixed 10% premium above the exchange rate prevailing in the market or a flat rate" of P50 pesos to a dollar to be given to "legitimate OFWs."Arab News quoted De Castro as saying that he would look into the possibility of the group's proposal for a government agreement with financial institutions.
The viability of the proposal depends on the volume of the transactions and the ability of OFWs to organize themselves, he said.De Castro said that as early as last year, he has been pushing for plans to alleviate the plight of OFWs by urging the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to lower bank charges on OFW remittances.Primary signatories in the letter were Riyadh-based Ronnie Abeto and former overseas financial analyst Miguel Bolos. The two said 15,000 OFWs worldwide also signed the petition.The petition was also circulated in the Internet for maximum exposure.Abeto said his group is proposing that the Philippine government put up a stabilization fund to address the peso-dollar exchange rate fluctuation.It added that the government should also enter into a collective "Forward Contract or Currency Options" with financial institutions to peg the peso-dollar exchange rate at 50:1.
However, Bangko Sentral Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr thumbed down the proposal as "costly and impossible to implement.""That proposal is fraught with difficult questions and issues," he said, explaining that such a program would require huge amounts of public funds because the difference between the market-determined foreign exchange rate and the fixed exchange rate would have to be subsidized."Who would bear the cost of that subsidy?" Tetangco asked, adding that if the current exchange rate of P45.7 to the dollar is offered to OFWs at P50:$1, someone will have to shoulder the difference of P4."If you offer such a facility to one sector, why not open it to all the other sectors that also contribute to the economy and are just as affected by the appreciation of the peso," he added.
With OFW remittances expected to reach at least $14 billion this year, such a program would cost over P60 billion annually, assuming a market rate of P45.7 to the dollar and the fixed rate of P50:$1.The amount would be over 85 percent of the total national government budget deficit for 2007 alone.Tetangco also said access to such a program would be administratively impossible to implement.
The OFWs had earlier failed to secure an audience with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Malacanang which prompted the Jeddah-based group to turn to de Castro for help.- GMANews.TV

KAKAMMPI Online --- on its BETA stage

Hello all.

As everyone has been using the Web as their medium of communication, KAKAMMPI has launched its website and other online materials to continue reach to more and more OFWs and OFW migrants all over the world.

KAKAMMPI.org a.k.a. "KAKAMMPI Online" will be hosting various medias such as OFW Radio Drama, Weekly OFW News (via YouTube) and hopefully, Peercast OFW Radiostation.

Please check back our site always for new updates.
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