Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pinoy waiter charged in Dubai for selling liquor to relative

A Filipino waiter is facing charges in a Dubai court for selling two bottles of liquor to a relative at Dubai airport’s business and first class lounge.

The waiter, identified only as 26-year-old A.S., has pleaded guilty to misappropriating three bottles of whisky to a relative when arraigned on Saturday before the Dubai Court of First Instance, Gulf News reported Monday.

He sought leniency from the court, arguing that he paid for the liquor. He said he saw his relative at the business lounge and offered to sell him the whisky at a price cheaper than the Duty Free rates. He sold two bottles for $40 and gave away an extra bottle as a gift.

The whisky bottles were found inside a Duty Free bag the relative’s possession.The waiter’s Filipina boss said A.S. “does not have the right to sell, give away or possess the food and beverages that are catered at the lounge."

“He did something wrong when his duty was to serve the passengers," she said.

A.S. has been allowed to post bail. His verdict would be out next month. - GMANews.TV

Aussie, Kiwi employers arriving to interview jobseekers

Representatives of Australian and New Zealand companies are soon traveling to Manila to interview job applicants who have passed initial screening by a local recruitment agency.

Cherry Cleary, president of Jerphi Overseas and Trading Corp, said in a statement that her company has successfully secured hundreds of job orders from reputable manpower staffing companies and trade organizations in Australia and New Zealand during a month-long marketing mission there.

She said Filipino jobseekers stand to benefit from the booming construction industry particularly in the cities of Perth and Brisbane. Among the job opportunities available for qualified and English speaking Filipinos are in manufacturing and construction, particularly for positions like sheet metal fabricators, machinists, aluminum window fabricators, carpenters, welders, plumbers, painters, building electricians and experienced hotel chefs.

Chevron – Australia, formerly known as Caltex, has placed an order with Jerphi for oil and gas engineers, drilling engineers, geologists and Autocad specialists, Cleary said.She advised applicants to prepare complete curriculum vitae, specifying the type of work and brief description of his occupation here.

The applicant should be able to read, write and speak English and would have to take the International Language English Training Seminar to improve his conversational English.

Processing of applicants is on-going for those who have applied via email. Other applicants are encouraged to apply in person at Jerphi offices at unit 219, Aurora Plaza Bldg. 2 located at Arquiza cor. J. Bocobo St. Ermita, Manila. Applicants should bring their passports, four passport size colored pictures, NBI clearance, job certifications, PRC card or they can email their complete resumes to admin@jerphi.com. - Fidel Jimenez, GMANews.TV

Pinoy crew in Japanese tanker seized off Somalia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Pirates have seized a Japanese chemical tanker and its 23 crew in the Gulf of Eden off the coast of Somalia - the second hijacking case in two weeks, a global maritime watchdog said Monday.

Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, said the center immediately notified Western naval ships patrolling the area after picking up a distress signal from the tanker late Sunday, but it was too late.'

'The vessel and its 23 crew members comprising Koreans, Filipinos and Myanmar nationals have been confirmed hijacked by pirates. The vessel has entered Somali territorial waters,'' he told The Associated Press.

No other details were immediately available, he said.

This was the second hijacking since Oct. 17 after pirates opened fire and seized a general cargo ship flying under a Comoros Island flag and operated by a Dubai-based company, Choong said.

In addition, there have been at least five attempted attacks in the past two weeks in which pirates opened fire on vessels but later abandoned their pursuits, he said. Not counting these recent cases, Somalia has had 26 reported attacks this year, according to IMB data.

''It is worrying. The pirates are getting more aggressive and going further from the coast,'' Choong said. ''We call upon the coalition warships and Somali authorities to beef up patrol and take more serious action to stop the pirates.''

Ships are urged to stay more than 200 nautical miles from the Somali coast, he added.

Somalia lies close to crucial shipping routes connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean, where valuable cargo and carriers must pass.

After 16 years of violence and anarchy, Somalia is now led by a UN-backed transitional government battling to establish authority and challenged by an Islamic insurgency. Its coasts are virtually unpoliced. - AP

Coop sending 50 trained Pinoys for construction job in Japan

BACOLOD - A Japanese cooperative, Multi-Contractor Cooperative (MCC), is now training 140 Negrenses and 10 others from Cagayan de Oro for six months for a sure construction job in Japan.

Multi-Contractor Cooperative is servicing 60 construction firms all over Japan and has already sent some 350 job trainees from Negros to Japan.

This Japanese cooperative represented by Kunimori Saito has set up an office here in Bacolod whose corporate name is Philippine-Japan Technical Skills Development Association, Inc. (PJTSDA).

Together with Saito are Japanese trainer Yoshitaka Kukuminato, Filipino trainer Henry Baltazar, and 14 other Japanese trainers for carpentry, masonry, and steel breaking.

"We have accepted 150 now but only 50 will qualify for Japan as trainees. We don't call them contract workers because there are none in Japan. While being trained, all the 150 earn allowances," he said.

"We have to raise our standards, however, because of the expectations of our client-members in Japan. While being trained in Bacolod, each trainee receives allowances," Saito further said.

The Bacolod-based PJTSDA partners with the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (MBCCI) in looking for qualified trainees.

MBCCI Executive Director Jose Maria Zayco explained that PJTSDA was founded by former senator Vicente Paterno in partnership with MCC.

Zayco stressed that MCC, PJTSDA, and MBCCI are not recruiters but trainers.

"PJTSDA and MBCCI are partners in processing applicants' papers. Except for their medical examination, which is conducted by the Riverside Medical Center, everything else is free. Transport fare, visa processing, lodging in Japan, and training allowance while in Bacolod,"
Zayco said.

"All qualified trainees are given a three-year contract in Japan, P30,000 in monthly remuneration, and P100,000 completion bonus depending on the Yen-Peso exchange rate," Zayco added.

Sun.Star Bacolod was witness to the granting of the P100,000 completion bonus to 10 trainees who had successfully completed their contract in Japan.MBCCI president Roberto Montelibano was invited to hand the amount. He then gave an inspiration message.

All trainees, after completing their contract, were given certificates recognized by all Japanese construction companies all over the world.- Sun-Star Bacolod


Pinoy seamen stranded in Iraq back home soon

A kind-hearted Filipino has agreed to provide for the Dubai-Manila plane tickets and pocket money for the two Filipino seamen stranded since July in the port city of Umm Qasr, Iraq.

The Filipino, who simply wanted to be identified as a “concerned Pinoy from Umm Qasr," also works at the port. He showed compassion for Rodolfo Limjap and Abril Ricablanca after learning of their plight from Renee Dominguiano.

Dominguiano, assistant port manager of Inchcape Shipping Services that provides logistics support for the British forces in Iraq, has been looking after Limjap and Ricablanca particularly after their employer abandoned them without money and food two months ago.

The benefactor hosted dinner on Sunday and gave $500 each to Limjap and Ricablanca for their plane ticket, which would each cost roughly $300, and the rest for their pocket money.

Dominguiano brought the two seamen to their benefactor on Sunday afternoon.

The two had been issued visa by the Philippine consulate in Dubai, and Dominguiano has been trying to arrange for their flight to Manila on November 1 via Qatar Airways.

“If all goes well, they will be on the ferryboat to Dubai tomorrow (Tuesday)," said Ellene Sana, executive director of the Manila-based Center for Migrants Advocacy, who has been tirelessly working even on a weekend to coordinate efforts for the repatriation of the two seamen.

Limjap and Ricablanca are set to travel by ferry from Umm Qasr on Tuesday afternoon. They are expected to arrive at Port Rashid in Dubai early Thursday. If they can be booked for a flight to Manila on Thursday, the two may be expected at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport late Thursday or early Friday.

Penniless and hungry

The two seamen have been stranded in Iraq since July and abandoned by their employer in September after their cargo ship got embroiled in a court case. They were left without being paid their salaries for eight months and without food and water provision.

“The two are now begging for food and water to drink. They have no money as they have not received their salaries in the last 10 months," said Dominguiano last week when he brought the plight of the two to the attention of GMANews.TV.

The Center for Migrants Advocacy promptly contacted concerned government officials and its network partners in the Middle East for help.Limjap, 33, from Rosario, Cavite has a son who is turning three years old on Nov. 17 while Ricablanca, 35, from Iloilo City, has five children aged between three to 10.

Dominguiano has been assisting in securing the required documents and waiver of visa fees with the Umm Qasr Port Authority to enable them to get out of Iraq to Dubai.

Dominguiano also arranged for a doctor to check on the health condition of Limjap on Saturday. He said Limjap was spitting blood. His feces also had blood traces. He has been given antibiotics.

The two are among the crew of MV Pishgam, registered at St. Kitts & Nevis, but its real owner is an Iranian who had abandoned the ship, Dominguiano said.

MV Pishgam is under the management of Aries Shipping management, a United Arab Emirate (UAE) shipping company, and chartered by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines to take Dubai, Iran and Kuwait routes.

The ship arrived in Umm Qasr on July 21 and a few days later, an Iraqi judge ordered a hold departure order for the vessel, stemming from a court case a consignee had filed in an Iraq court.

Quick response

Philippine officials and agencies promptly responded to appeals for help through CMA executive director Ellene Sana who has been coordinating the efforts from early morning until late into the night.

“I talked already to Limjap and his Indian captain. Iraqi court may lift travel restrictions on Monday but (the ship) captain needs guarantees that ferry fares of two Filipino seamen are refunded and entry visas to Dubai arranged," said Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Ricardo Endaya. “I sent already a report to DFA for immediate action."

Endaya used to serve as charge d’affaires in Iraq before his transfer to Kuwait months ago.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Marianito Roque also quickly responded to the request of CMA for assistance through the OWWA representatives in Dubai, which has agreed to shoulder the ferry fares of Limjap and Ricablanca from Umm Qasr to Dubai.

Foreign Undersecretary Rafael Seguis; Crescente Relacion, executive director of DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA); charge d’affaires Wilfredo R. Cuyugan in Amman, Jordan; and Philippine consulate and labor officials in the United Arab Emirates have been helping process the repatriation of the two stranded seamen to Manila.

Reverend Stephen Miller of the Mission to Seafarers (MTS) in Dubai also responded positively to CMA’s urgent call for help. MTS, a foreign partner of CMA in attending to the needs of distressed seafarers, is also assisting in the repatriation of the Indian crew.

CMA’s partner in the Middle East, the Jeddah-based V-Team Advocacy and Community Service, was also on hand to help coordinate the efforts.

The Philippine consulate general in Dubai has agreed to shoulder the costs of Limjap’s and Ricablanca’s UAE visas, drawing from its Assistance to Nationals fund.

Sana said OWWA Dubai has been locating the employer of the seamen to try to recover their unpaid salaries.

Family’s appeal

Limjap’s wife, Dizza dela Rosa, said their son Rodolfo Jr. has been praying to have his dad home when he turns three years old on Nov. 17.

“Talaga pong pinanghihinaan na ako ng loob kasi hindi ko na po alam kung ano ang gagawin ko kasi nagwo-worry na po ako sa asawa ko na nagkasakit na po. ‘Yung dumi n’ya po may dugo daw. Hindi naman daw po pwedeng dalhin sa hospital gawa ng delikado kaya dun lang daw po sila sa port," Dela Rosa said.

“Kahit po undocumented at ‘di nagdaan sa POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) ang asawa ko pinatos n’ya ang offer na direct hire kasi gusto n’ya po makaipon dahil gusto n’ya po ipagamot ang anak n’ya kasi ang baby po namin pag umiyak or nasasaktan biglang na ngingitim at hindi na nakakahinga," she explained.

“At ang isa pa po n’ya na reason ay gusto n’ya hanapin ang tatay n’ya kasi 29 years na po silang hindi nagkikita. Hindi n’ya po alam kung nasaan po. Sabi n’ya pag may ipon na s’ya madali n’ya magagawa ‘yun, kaso paano n’ya pa po magagawa ‘yun gayung kahit s’ya nasa delikadong sitwasyon," Dela Rosa said.

“Kaya din po n’ya tinanggap ‘yung trabaho na ‘yun kasi ang dami n’ya na po inaplayan dito wala po tumanggap sa kanya kasi wala po s’yang US visa kasi lahat po ng seaman na tinatangap ngayon ay ‘yung may mga US visa na daw po. Sabi n’ya kung hindi n’ya daw po tatanggapin ‘yun paano n’ya pa raw po maipapagamot ang anak n’ya at paano n’ya pa rin daw po mahahanap ang tatay n’ya," Limjap’s wife added.

“Sana matulungan n’yo na makauwi ang asawa ko na may sakit. Hindi bale na po na hindi niya makuha ang sweldo niya ng eight months basta makauwi na lang po sila," she appealed.

Ricablanca's sister, Melinda Valenzuela, said from Iloilo City that Ricablanca accepted the job in the Middle East out of desperation to earn a living for his family.

She said he did not have a regular job before leaving for abroad. “Nag-e-extra lang sa construction. Ang asawa wala ring trabaho."

“We know they have been stranded but we do not know what to do. We don’t know where to go. We have no money," she said.

She said Ricablanca is the 10th in a brood of 11.

Lost at sea

According to Dominguiano, MV Pishgam left Port Rashid in Dubai on July 7, heading for Umm Qasr, Iraq. When the ship turned after channeling one island between the UAE and Iraq, it tilted 25 degrees portside, snapping the lashings on the containers.

As the ship maneuvered to safety, 34 containers fell into the sea. The consignee of the containers filed a claim in a Dubai court and another case in Iraq. The consignee demanded $1.5 million compensation for the lost cargo. But the ship owner and its insurer simply shied away from the case, noting that the declared value of the entire ship is only $300,000.

Since September 1, the ship owner has cut off food and water supply for the crew, Dominguiano said. He said that the rest of the crew, who were Indians, have already received assistance from their government and are ready for repatriation. Only the Filipinos are left without money and food supplies.

The court has already ordered the release of all the crew but the two Filipinos do not have money to buy plane tickets, not even for food, he added.On tourist visas“Limjap and Ricablanca arrived in Dubai in January on tourist visas. They were directly hired by MV Pishgam management through the recommendation of Capt. Alex Calaguas, a friend of the two, the former captain of the ship.

Calaguas resigned from Aries Shipping shortly before MV Pishgam set sail for Iraq.

“The two are asking monetary assistance from us to finance for their ferry and plane tickets back home. I will also try to contact the Philippine embassy for what help they can extend," Dominguiano said. “The families of Limjap and Ricablanca are really worried about their situation. I advised them [families] to visit the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila. But they complain that they don’t have money even for transportation," he said.

– GMANews.TV

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bilateral labor ties with OFW host countries urged

migrant workers’ group wants the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to focus on negotiations for bilateral labor agreements with countries hosting Filipino workers. Kanlungan Center, a group assisting distressed OFWs, is urging the POEA to do its responsibilities now that it has regained a broad mandate over the local migration industry under RA 9422, the law that strengthens its regulatory functions.

“RA 9422 has strengthened POEA’s role in protecting the rights of OFWs. One way to lessen abuses against our workers is to send them to countries that have labor agreements with the Philippines," said Rosemary Trajano, executive director of Kanlungan Center.

“The new law is a huge success for OFWs, and POEA must not fail them," Trajano said in an interview in a radio program hosted by Ma. Fe Nicodemus of Kakammpi, an organization of migrant workers and their families. According to Trajano, the Philippines has bilateral labor agreements with only 13 out of the 197 countries hosting OFWs. Twelve of those are labor-receiving countries and one (Indonesia) a labor sending country.

These countries are Norway, United Kingdom, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Taiwan, Switzerland, Libya, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Indonesia.

Trajano praised the POEA for its efforts in helping OFWs. In fact, she said, the Philippines has most advanced policies and laws on migration among Asian countries. On April 10, 2007, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Republic Act 9422, repealing Sections 29 and 30 of RA 8042, also known as Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.RA 8042 mandated the secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment to phase out the regulatory functions of the POEA within five years from June 7, 1995.

Migrant workers’ rights advocates had lobbied for the repeal of Sections 29 and 30 that allowed private sectors to participate in the recruitment and deployment of migrant workers in an unregulated atmosphere. “The POEA shall continue to exercise its power to regulate private sector participation in the recruitment and overseas placement of workers by setting up a licensing and registration system," Administrator Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said in a statement after the signing of the new law.

“In order to ensure that the rights and welfare of the migrant workers will not be sacrificed in foreign lands, the POEA shall deploy only trained and competent Filipino workers to countries where the Philippines has concluded bilateral labor arrangements," she said. - Luis Gorgonio, GMANews.TV

41% of 1.2M PhilHealth-member OFWs are inactive

About 500,000 of the 1.2 million members of the overseas workers program (OWP) of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation are inactive, an official of PhilHealth has said.

“In my initial review of the OWP database, I discovered that about 500,000 (41.6 percent) of our members are inactive. But I still have to crosscheck the figures," said Greg Rulloda, PhilHealth’s vice president.

“Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) tend to forget their monthly dues. The database system automatically reports as inactive expired membership," Rulloda told radio host Ma. Fe Nicodemus of Kakammpi, an organization of migrant workers and their families.

“PhilHealth is asking members to update their membership to avoid problems over claims later," Rulloda added.

He said that the OWP is doing everything to make registration and payment processes easy.He also noted that the program would adopt electronic-registration and electronic-payment system early in 2008 to help members do transactions with PhilHealth anytime, anywhere.

In August this year, PhilHealth introduced its expanded and enhanced outpatient benefit (OPB) package. It set aside P6 million for the initial implementation of OPB services from July to December 2007.

These services are consultations, diagnostic services, preventive and promotive health services and other tests.

Diagnostic services cover complete blood count, routine urinalysis, fecalysis, fasting blood sugar, blood typing, hemoglobin/hematocrit, electrocardiogram and hepatitis B screening test.

Examinations that fall under the promotive and/or preventive health services are periodic digital rectal exam, visual acetic acid screening for cervical cancer, periodic clinical breast exam and nutrition or dietary counseling. Visual acuity exam, psychological evaluation and debriefing, auditory evaluation and treatment for urinary tract infection, upper respiratory tract infection and acute gastro-enteritis are also part of the OWP package. As earlier announced, these services were supposed to be available at all Department of Health accredited hospitals in various parts of the country beginning October 2007.

- GMANews.TV

Epekto ng mga pagsabog sa halaga ng piso

Kadalasan, bumababa ang halaga ng piso kapag may nangyayaring kaguluhan gaya ng mga pagsabog o pambobomba:

Glorietta explosion
May 17, 2000
  • 13 sugatan
  • Bahagyang humina ang halaga ng piso sa mismong araw ng pagsabog at sa sumunod na araw
SM Megamall bombing
May 21, 2000
  • 1 patay
  • Linggo nangyari ang pambobomba; walang trading
  • Bumaba ang halaga ng piso noong sumunod na araw, nang magbukas ang trading; mula 41-level, mabilis itong bumulusok ng 42- hanggang 43-level sa loob lamang ng ilang araw
  • Nangyari ang pambobomba ilang araw lang matapos ang pagsabog sa Glorietta
Rizal Day Bombings / LRT bombing
December 30, 2000
  • 22 ang patay at humigit-kumulang 100 ang sugatan sa magkakahiwalay na insidente ng pambobomba sa Kamaynilaan. Kabilang sa mga binomba ang LRT
  • Bumaba ang halaga ng piso by almost one peso matapos ang pambobomba. Nasa 50-level lang ito nung Biyernes bago ang insidente; nang mag-resume ang trading after the weekend bombing, nag-51-level na ang halaga ng piso
  • Hindi na nakabawi pa ang halaga ng piso sa mga sumunod na linggo dahil na rin sa patuloy na impeachment trial laban kay Pangulong Estrada. Nagsimula na lang itong tumaas muli matapos ang EDSA II.

FitMart bombing
April 21, 2002
  • 15 patay
  • Inako ng Abu Sayyaf ang pambobomba
  • Linggo nangyari ang pambobomba; walang trading
    bahagya lamang na bumaba ang halaga ng piso kinabukasan; matapos nito, nakabawi agad ang halaga ng piso
  • Davao Airport bombingMarch 4, 2003
  • 21 ang patay sa pambobombang nangyari malapit sa arrival area ng Davao International Airport sa Davao City, Davao del Sur. Inako ng Abu Sayyaf ang pambobomba.
  • Bahagyang bumaba ang halaga ng piso sa mga sumunod na araw matapos ang insidente

Valentine's Day Bombings
February 14, 2005
  • 8 ang patay sa magkakahiwalay na pambobomba sa General Santos City, Makati at Davao City.
    tapos na ang trading nang maganap ang pambobomba
  • Kung titingnan ang trend ilang araw bago ang mga pambobomba, palakas ang halaga ng piso; pero matapos nito, bahagyang humina ang piso sa loob ng ilang araw
  • Halos isang buwan din ang inabot bago nakabawi ang piso (bumalik sa range nung halaga nito before the blast)
M/V Doña Ramona explosion
August 28, 2005
  • 29 sugatan
  • Mula 55-level, umabot ng 56-level ang halaga ng piso matapos ang pagsabog
  • Matatantong kasagsagan noon ng impeachment complaints laban kay Pangulong Arroyo
Palace explosion
February 20, 2006 (Monday)
  • Niyanig ng pagsabog ang Malacañang. Lacquer thinner na itinapon sa basurahan ang itinuturong dahilan ng pagsabog.
  • Bahagyang bumaba ang halaga ng piso matapos ang pagsabog, pero kinabukasan lang ay agad na nakabawi ito. Bumaba na lang ito ulit nang mag-anunsyo si Pangulong Arroyo ng state of national emergency noong linggo ding iyon
  • Ayon sa Philippine Stock Exchange, ang pagsabog sa Palasyo ay isa rin sa mga naging dahilan kung bakit humina ang stock market sa buwan ng Pebrero 2006

pre-ASEAN bombings
January 10, 2007
  • Mula 48-level, umapak ng 49-level ang halaga ng piso
Glorietta explosion
October 19, 2007
  • 11 ang namatay at mahigit 100 ang sugatan sa pagsabog sa Glorietta 2 sa Makati noong October 19.
  • Bumaba ang halaga ng piso nang mangyari ang pagsabog sa Glorietta 2; mula P44.05=$1 noong October 18, bumaba ito sa P44.24=$1 noong October 19.
  • Tapos na ang trading sa stock exchange nang mangyari ang pagsabog; pero nang sumunod na Lunes, bumaba nga ang Philippine stocks, maging ang stocks ng Ayala Land Inc., ang may-ari at operator ng Glorietta.
  • Makalipas ang weekend, tila bahagya nang nakabawi ang halaga ng piso; nagsara ito sa P44.115=$1 noong October 22.
Bagamat madalas na bumababa ang halaga ng piso kapag may pagsabog o pambobomba, may mga pagkakataon ring hindi ito naapektuhan ng kaguluhan. Kapansin-pansing ang mga insidenteng ito ay nangyari sa labas ng Kamaynilaan:

  • Sasa Wharf Bombing (April 2, 2003) -16 patay
  • pagsabog sa Parang, Maguindanao (January 4, 2004) - 22 patay
  • sunog sa SuperFerry 14 (February 27, 2004) - 94 patay; ayon sa Abu Sayyaf, sila ang may kagagawan sa insidente
  • pagsabog sa palengke sa General Santos City (December 12, 2004 at September 7, 2006)- mahigit 10 ang patay sa dalawang magkaibang insidente
  • magkahiwalay na pagsabog sa Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat at Makilala, North Cotabato (October 10, 2006) - 14 patay


Philippines to reduce foreign borrowings in 2008

The Philippines will be borrowing less from foreign sources next year and more from local creditors in order to tame the peso's rise against the US dollar, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said Wednesday.

In an interview with reporters Teves said the government plans to trim foreign borrowings by P20 billion to P21 billion next year, which it will instead borrow from domestic sources.

“That simply means that given our borrowing program next year, we will be adding P20 billion to P21 billion out of domestic borrowing and reducing the same amount from external borrowings," Teves said.

This, Teves said, translates to a borrowing mix of 70 percent from domestic sources and 30 percent from foreign creditors versus the original program of 64 percent from domestic and 36 percent from foreign sources.

The Finance Secretary said these changes take into consideration the proposal of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to source more funds domestically to help cushion the impact of the strong peso on the earnings of exporters and overseas Filipino workers.

“We are looking at a situation where we would like to help the export sector but would also like to see that this is neutral to advantageous to the government. We are trying to balance between interest cost and our support for the exporters and the overseas Filipino workers," Teves said.

The government through the Development Budget Coordination Committee has pegged the foreign exchange assumption this year and next year at P46 to P48 versus $1.

However, statistics from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that the peso averaged P45.063 to $1 as of September. The peso has appreciated by 11 percent so far this year.

The Philippines intends to borrow P346.18 billion from both foreign and domestic creditors next year, P47.83 billion lower than the programmed borrowing of 394.01 billion this year. - GMANews.TV

Pinoys warned of tough laws vs shabu in Bahrain

Philippine authorities in Bahrain warned Filipinos against bringing methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) there, lest they face stiffer penalties in that Middle East country.

In a statement posted on the Department of Foreign Affairs website, Philippine Ambassador to Manama Eduardo Pablo Maglaya said the Kingdom had announced tougher penalties on users and dealers of shabu.

Maglaya said the Bahrain government amended last Aug. 16 its list of high category dangerous drugs to include shabu.

"Anyone caught with the illegal drug could face prohibitive fines and sentences of up to life in prison," he said.

He noted Southeast Asians were identified as those who smuggled the illegal drug into Bahrain some five years ago.

Over the past few years, several Filipinos were caught for shabu trafficking, he said, adding that only recently, a Filipino national was arrested for selling shabu in a sting operation.

"Filipinos entering Bahrain are advised to be wary of packages that are sent through them as these may contain illegal drugs," he added. - GMANews.TV

DOLE sets meet to help OFWs hit by strong peso

The Labor Department has scheduled a multi-sectoral meeting to help overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the strengthening of the peso in recent weeks.

In a statement posted on the Labor Department website, Labor Secretary Arturo Brion said the meeting will be held early November.

Brion said they hope to come up with a package of assistance to OFWs adversely affected by the strong peso.

He said this is in line with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's directive to concerned agencies to draw up measures that the government could adopt to assist OFWs and their families.

Brion said the salaries of OFWs onsite remain the same but their equivalent earnings in peso are affected particularly if their earnings overseas are directly in US dollars.

"From more than P52 to the dollar at the start of 2007, the exchange rate is down to the P44 level to the dollar. While the peso's appreciation benefits the economy by enabling the country to pay off its debts at lower cost, it reduces the value of the dollar remittances being sent to the OFWs' families back home," he said.

"In the light of strengthening of the peso, the DOLE would consult with stakeholders on how the affected OFWs could be assisted to mitigate the negative impact of the strong peso and sustain their economic contributions to their families and the country in general," he said.

Brion issued DOLE Administrative Order No. 328, providing for the creation of the DOLE inter-agency committee which would handle the preparation and conduct of the conference.

Heading the committee is Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Administrator Marianito Roque.

Committee members include Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Rosalinda Baldoz, DOLE assistant secretary Rebecca Calzado, director Jalio dela Torre of the Bureau of Local Employment, director Teresita Manzala of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs, and deputy executive director Eustacio Enriquez of the Maritime Office.

Undersecretary Luzviminda Padilla will oversee the implementation of the committee's activities. - GMANews.TV

OFWs call: Don't send money home on Nov 1-2

For more than a week now, overseas Filipino workers have been spreading through electronic mail a call to stop sending remittances to the Philippines on Nov. 1 and 2 to dramatize their appeal to the government to address their concerns over the adverse effect of the strong peso on the value of their remittances.

“Gawin natin itong sakripisyo para na rin sa ating kapakanan," said Dick Orense from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The call said that if they cannot avoid sending money home on these two days, they could do so through door-to-door remittance services.

The OFWs believe that avoiding to use the banking channels to remit part of their earnings to their families in the Philippines would substantially affect the dollar inflow into the country’s reserves and hopefully put pressure on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to promptly address their concerns over the strength of the peso against foreign currencies.

“Why are prices of commodities rising when salaries are not? Whose life is improving? Those who are in Congress, Malacanang, Customs, Immigration, or the pitiful OFWs?" Orense asked.

“Isa lang ang alam ko, nang bumagsak ang dolyar, kasamang bumagsak ang buhay ng isa sa mga kapatid ko dahil nagsara ang kumpanyang pinagtatrabahuhan niya," said Angel Samaniego, a Filipino accountant in Abu Dhabi.

In an email thread on the campaign, John Charles suggested that OFWs open a bank account in their workplace and remit only an amount that is just enough for their families back home. “Huwag magpadala ng sobra. You can always send more in case of emergency," he said.

“Subukan nating mapababa ang pumapasok na dolyar sa bansa sa panahong ito upang mabigyang pansin at magawan ng paraan ng mga nakapwesto na hindi naman yata tama na ang dolyar ay kinita natin sa 46 pagkatapos papalitan lang sa atin ng 45," Charles said. The OFWs urged recipients of the email thread to spread it to other Filipinos around the world.

“Mga kababayan, para sa atin ito. Kahit ba naman sa huling sandali at patak ng inyong pawis na marahil minsan ay may bahid na ng dugo ay ‘di pa tayo magising. Isulong ang mungkahing ito at panukala. Sobra-sobra daw ang ipinadadala nating dolyar kaya bumababa ang piso at lumalabas at malinaw na tayo pa ang may kasalanan sa devaluation ng peso to dollar. Bawasan natin ang ating remittance,"said Reg Cucal from Saudi Arabia.

“Huwag tayong magpadala sa mga exchange centers tulad ng Al Ansari, UAE Exchange, Thomas Cook, etc. Magpadala tayo sa mga kilalang door-to-door companies tulad ng Sky Freight at GP Express," said another email sender.

“Ipadama natin sa gobyerno ang ating pagkadismaya sa artificial na paglakas ng piso," the OFW said.“Kung tunay na lumalakas ang peso bakit patuloy sa pagtaas ang presyo ng mga bilihin sa Pilipinas?" asked another.

Two weeks ago, BSP deputy governor Diwa Gunigundo predicted that the uptrend in the value of the peso against the dollar will continue for the rest of the year despite jitters from rising oil prices. The dollar was traded at 56 pesos at its peak in early 2006 but gradually slipped until it reached 44.24 on Monday. There have been bold forecasts that it would reach P40 by the end of 2007.OFWs have been complaining that their remittances had practically been reduced by 20 to 25 percent since the peso gained strength against the dollar while prices of commodities and services keep rising.

BSP has projected that remittances from overseas Filipinos through the banking channels would increase to $14.6 billion by the end of the year, from $12.8 billion in 2006.As of the end of August, remittances reached $9.3 billion. The August remittances alone hit $1.2 billion, which was 10 percent more than the previous month’s $1.1 billion. - GMANews.TV

RP is 4th largest recipient of OFW remittances in Asia

The Philippines ranked as fourth top recipient of overseas remittances in Asia, receiving $14.65 billion in 2006, a United Nations report showed.

The report, released in time for the Oct 19 opening of the International Forum on Remittances in Washington DC, said the $14.65 billion remittances sent to the Philippines was based on "a conservative estimate."

The amount includes the $12.8 billion remittances coursed through the banks, as reported by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, plus OFW earnings sent through informal channels such as door-to-door delivery.

The report titled, "Sending money home: Worldwide remittances to developing countries" by the United Nations' International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) listed India on top of the list, receiving $24.5 billion, followed by Mexico with $24.2 billion and China with $21 billion. Russia, with $13.7 billion, ranked next to the Philippines.

Lower remittance chargesThe report prompted Sen. Loren Legarda, chairman of the Senate committee on economic affairs, urged the government to “quickly draw up and execute a roadmap toward purposely driving down excessive remittances charges."

"We have to consciously bring down burdensome remittance fees. This is the single most efficient way for us to truly make full economic use of remittance inflows," Legarda said.

The senator lamented that migrant workers spend a staggering total of up to $1.72 billion every year to pay for remittance fees, or 13.5 percent of the $12.8 billion that they sent home through banks in 2006.

Legarda said her estimate was based on a study by the International Monetary Fund, which pegged at 13.5 percent the average transaction cost of remittances to the Philippines, with OFWs paying anywhere from $15 to $26 in transfer fees for a typical $200-remittance.

"If we reduce by half the amount spent by OFWs to pay for remittance charges, this would easily translate into an additional $860-million worth of inflows every year. This is a lot of extra money coursed through the pockets of their families here and the economy," she said.Remittances, the bulk of which go to poor families in the rural areas, could contribute to prosperity in the countryside, according to the IFAD report.

The IFAD is a special UN international financial institution dedicated to fighting poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. - GMANews.TV

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NBI's ATM-like smart card for distressed seamen

"Renewing NBI clearance," from OFW HELPLINE with a Q and A format.

Q: I am a seaman who spends eight months abroad and four months with my family in Mindoro. Every year, before meeting my ship in Yokohama, Japan, I have to renew my NBI clearance and this takes much time because I have one namesake with an estafa case and another who has a criminal record. Each time, before I can get my NBI clearance, I must secure from the NBI-Carriedo office a certification that I am not either of the two namesakes with derogatory records. Is there a way that I don't have to do this every year?

A: The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) now offers a smart card that works like a bank ATM card. Next time, you go to the NBI-Carriedo office (for our readers, the complete address is Carriedo Plaza, Carriedo corner Estero Segado St., Sta. Cruz, Manila), ask for the smart card, which will have your photo and your thumb print plus NBI data showing that you are not your namesake with an estafa case or with a criminal record.

You can show this in any NBI branch in the malls and you can get your NBI clearance within 20 minutes. As a seaman, the cost to you is still Php115. The card is for life. This means you don't have to renew the card like a driver's license.

However, this also means that the NBI information inside your card is only good up to the time that you received it. If another namesake is, say, sent to jail for rape after you received your smart card, this information is not included in your smart card. True, you will have to be back to Carriedo or, in your case, to your nearest regional computerized NBI office in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro or in Batangas City to get a certification that you are not the rapist.

But, at least, the NBI will no longer check your name against the estafa case or the criminal record. Since the NBI has less namesakes to check, you will probably get your NBI clearance within the same day.

Getting the smart card is easy so you don't need to deal with a fixer. Oh yes, if you intend to have any form of plastic surgery such as having your nose fixed, do this before you have your picture taken for the smart card. The smart card will accept up to 70 per cent accuracy as far as your face is concerned.

Here's some more good news. The NBI will put up ATM-like machines called automated clearing machines or ACMs in malls next year. You can insert your smart card like an ATM and pay your Php115 fee like a vending machine or PLDT pay phone and your NBI clearance will come out in seconds.

As a final reminder, check your NBI clearance when you get it. If it's the real thing, it has a bar code, just like the ones you see when you buy something from the supermarket or the drugstore and it has an NBI dry seal at the lower left portion of the certificate.

If you have any complaints, you can write directly to NBI director Nestor Mantaring, NBI compound, Taft Ave. Ermita 1000, Manila or you can email edph@nbi.gov.ph. You can also call the NBI head office at 523-8231 local 5523.


DFA urges OFWs in Nigeria to avail of repatriation program

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday called anew on overseas Filipino workers in Nigeria to avail of the government's repatriation program to avoid kidnapping incident similar to a Filipino chief electrician in the west African country.

"The DFA has voluntary repatriation program wherein we allot standby fund for those OFWs from Nigeria who would like to be repatriated to the Philippines. We would repatriate them at government's expense and that is ongoing until now," said Crescente Relacion, executive director of the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs.

He stressed that the government just wants to protect the safety of the Filipino workers as the abduction cases are reportedly growing in Nigeria, and that the latest kidnapping is the ninth incident involving a Filipino worker since last year.

Relacion also said that Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo has directed Philippine Ambassador to Abuja, Nigeria Masaranga Umpa to spread the word to all OFWs about the repatriation program.

At present, Relacion said that there are remaining 2,745 OFWs in Nigeria, mostly professionals and working in oil companies with substantial amount of salary.

This year, a total of 75 Filipino workers have been repatriated following the series of kidnappings of OFWs in the oil-rich state.

Bacani, who was released by his Nigerian captors in Port Harcourt, River State, Nigeria on Wednesday, is expected to arrive in Manila on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 8:45 a.m. via Kuala Lumpur.

He was seized by Nigerian armed group along with Colombian and Nigerian workers during an attack at Saipem's petrochemical complex in southern Niger Delta last Sept. 27.

Romulo also extended Manila's "profound gratitude" to the Nigerian government, Saipem and the Philippine embassy in Abuja for Bacani's eventual release.


Roxas warns jobseekers against bogus job offers to Nigeria

Senator Mar Roxas warned jobseekers against accepting job offers to Nigeria in light of a series of abductions of foreign workers by different rebel groups in the said country.

Roxas issued the warning as he welcomed the safe return of OFW Albert Bacani Sr. who arrived in Manila today after being released by his Nigerian abductors.

Bacani and his Columbian co-worker were recovered by Nigerian authorities on a bridge in Port Harcourt around 5 a.m. Manila time (10 p.m., 9 October in Nigeria). The two were abducted on 27 September from their workplace at SAIPEM's petrochemical complex in Port Harcourt, River State, Nigeria.

Roxas said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has suspended the processing of job contracts for Nigeria until the peace and order situation in the said African country improves.

The senator also underscored the need for workers' vigilance against bogus online recruitment scams that continue to proliferate in the Internet.

He noted that as far back as 2004, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has been issuing warnings about bogus job offers for Nigeria-based companies.

Even the Philippine Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria had earlier warned all Filipinos due to fake job offers sent by Nigeria-based syndicates through e-mails.

The online recruitment scam even used the Philippine Mission's letterhead to dupe Filipinos into paying processing fees for non-existent jobs.

The POEA has stopped the processing of job contracts for Nigeria. Abductions of foreign workers have been a continuing concern of the Nigerian government. More than 200 foreigners were abducted by rebel groups and kidnap syndicates since 2005.

"I urge all jobseekers to always check with the POEA and even the DFA on whether conditions in a desired place of work overseas are safe and secure," Roxas added.

Meanwhile, Roxas backed the request of the DFA for additional funds to help distressed overseas Filipino workers.

"The embassy in Nigeria, for example, is seriously undermanned though it has around 4,000 Filipino workers under its jurisdiction. During the budget process, we really need to review the ratio of DFA personnel to overseas Filipinos which now stands at only 1:2,975 or 1,606 DFA personnel in 87 Foreign Service posts nationwide," Roxas said.

The senator said he will look into the allocated budget for the Assistance to Nationals Fund which the DFA uses to finance the repatriation, medical expenses, and payment of immigration and visa fees of distressed workers.Roxas noted that based on DFA records, the ATN Fund for 2006 allotted merely P6.41 per overseas Filipino.

"Considering the sheer number of OFWs in distressful situations particularly in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and even Africa, this amount is sinfully low. Calling them 'modern-day heroes' is not enough. Government actions and budgetary support must match our rhetoric," Roxas stressed.


15 - OFW remittances increase by 15 percent

With the number of highly skilled overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) deployed continue to grow, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is projecting their remittances to reach to nearly US$ 15 billion or US$ 14.7 billion by end of December.

This, after remittances course through banks culled by the BSP showed an increase of 15.3 percent level or reaching US$ 9.3 billion in the first eight months of 2007.

In a statement, the BSP said that for the month of August alone, remittances already reached US$ 1.2 billion.

"This marked the sixteenth straight month that inflows were above US$ 1 billion.The cumulative remittance level grew by 15.3 percent compared to the level posted in the comparable period a year ago," the BSP statement said.

BSP attributed the growth in the remittances of OFWs to the "demographic trends in advanced economies, geographical and skill diversification of Filipinos abroad, and the efforts of banks and remittance agents to provide OFWs, including their beneficiaries, enhanced money transfer services and easier access to financial products through the expansion in the number of remittance centers abroad and tie-ups with foreign financial institutions."

Moreover, the Central Bank noted that banks continue to facilitate faster, cheaper and more efficient fund transfer services as well as plans to convert remittance centers into banks offering expanded services next year.

"These developments are expected to further encourage remittance flows into the banking system and support high levels of remittances in the medium term," it added.

The bulk of remittances were recorded in the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Citing the records of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the BSP said that despite the drop in the deployment of OFWs, remittance sent home by OFWs continue to rise.

Deployment of Filipino workers from January to August 2007 declined by 3.7 percent to 726,620 relative to the level in the same period a year ago.


Two OFWs sue Aussie employer for discrimination

Two displaced Filipino guest workers Queensland, Australia sued their former employers over alleged discrimination over race and union membership.

Sydney Morning Herald reported in its online issue on Monday that Roy Yabut and Jun Ramirez lodged the case before the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.

Yabut and Ramirez claimed they and another colleague were terminated in October last year by Dartbridge Welding based in Brisbane after they joined a workers’ union and complained about work conditions.

They said Dartbridge offered 40 Filipinos individual contracts that provided hourly pay below the market rate and left them without access to overtime pay, penalties and holiday pay.

But Dartbridge manager Wayne Harrison, representing himself in the tribunal, questioned Yabut about salary rates and conditions.

Under questioning, Yabut admitted the workers were paid $21.26 an hour , or well above the award rate of $15.72. He also accepted that the $175 a week rental charge included transport between work and home.

Also, they claimed they were forced to pay inflated rent for accommodation, with eight people sharing a four-bedroom house.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) said the workers were brought to Australia on 457 visas. It said the Filipinos were threatened with deportation when they complained about their work conditions.

"All of these occurred because they were Filipinos," AMWU national secretary David Oliver said in a statement issued outside the tribunal. - GMANews.TV

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Despite the travel ban, Filipinos have kept arriving in Lebanon in groups, sneaking in from various entry points, an officer of the Afro-Asian Migrant Center (AAMC) in Lebanon said Sunday.

Sister Amelia Torres of the Daughters of Charity, administrator for the AAMC, who is in the Philippines for a family visit, said that at least a dozen Filipinos come to Lebanon almost everyday.

In a radio interview with Kakammpi, an organization serving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families, Sr. Torres appealed to the Philippine government to enforce the travel ban to war-torn Lebanon because thousands of Filipinos, especially domestic helpers, need protection from abuses.

She said there are around 25,000 Filipinos in Lebanon and 95 percent of them are women because most of the employers there hire only household workers. “Lebanese employers normally lock up household helpers in the house. They confiscate the cell phones and prohibit helpers from talking to friends and to anyone in the neighborhood," Sr. Torres said.

“Most of those who have managed to call the AAMC office for help were gravely abused. The saddest thing is that we don’t have an idea where to find more than half of the 25,000 Filipinos in Lebanon because they are undocumented," she added.

Sr. Torres also noted that some recruitment agencies conspire with employers in “victimizing" especially those new recruits, who have no idea about the employment situation in the Lebanon.

Recruitment agents confiscate passports of new hires upon entering Lebanon, and that new hires often have no idea where they will work, Sr. Torres said. Recruiters also skirt around immigration laws. They “tour around" the new recruits to Germany, France, Amsterdam and neighboring countries before finally entering Lebanon.

Sr. Torres also said that even Philippine foreign officials in Lebanon are requesting Manila to enforce strictly the ban because cases of abuses against OFWs, especially the new comers, are common. Abuses range from rape, nonpayment of salaries, severe beating, starving, locking up in houses among others. - GMANews.TV

2 of 10 overseas DH uninformed on repro diseases - NGO

A migrant workers’ group raised fears on Friday that sexually transmitted infection (STI) and reproductive track infection (RTI) could be a growing health concern among overseas Filipino domestic helpers due to lack of knowledge about these diseases.

Ma. Fe Nicodemus, executive director of Kakammpi (Kapisanan ng mga Kamag-anak ng mga Migranteng Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc.) said that 23 (7.3 percent) of the 302 overseas domestic helpers surveyed in 2005 had no idea about STI and RTI. The group has been observing increasing cases of the ailments among its members.

In simple terms, it means two out of 10 domestic workers did not have sufficient knowledge about diseases affecting their reproductive health.

“Among our members, we have recorded STI cases resulting from induced abortion. The problem alarms us especially that same survey shows that 23 of the respondents indicated pregnancy while working abroad as one of their problems," she said.

“We assisted a domestic helper who got serious RTI because she used a hanger to hook the fetus out of her uterus," she said.

The Action for Health Initiatives, Inc. (Achieve), a health group helping women migrant workers, conducted in 2005 a study entitled, “A Survey of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Status and Needs of Filipino Female Overseas Domestic Workers" in the National Capital Region, Davao City, Cebu City and La Union. A total of 302 respondents were interviewed in the survey aimed to generate baseline data on the current reproductive health situation and needs of overseas Filipino women working as domestic helpers.

The respondents were between the ages of 24 - 44 and majority of them were married. Almost half of the respondents went to college while 33 finished secondary education. Reproductive health concerns identified in the survey include becoming pregnant, 7.3 percent (23), while working abroad. Other ailments include hysterectomy, myoma, breast cyst, irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, painful urination, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and induced abortion.

The health group said some overseas domestic helpers are prone to reproductive health problems because of lack of knowledge on reproductive health. Twenty-three of the respondents did not know anything about STI/RTI.

“The findings of the survey are significant because Philippine migration has assumed a woman’s face, with seven out of 10 overseas Filipino workers leaving the country being women," Nicodemus said. - Luis Gorgonio, GMANews.TV

Koreans resort to the Net, mobile phones to buy sex

SEOUL, South Korea - South Koreans are increasingly turning to the Internet and mobile phones to buy sex following a tougher anti-prostitution law in 2004 targeting brothels.

Major red-light districts throughout South Korea dropped 42 percent since 2004 to 992 this year, according to National Police Agency records released by a legislative office.

But the number of alternative locations where sex can be bought — karaoke bars, barber shops and massage parlors — increased 26 percent to 139,273 during that period, the records showed.

In a news release, the office of Ahn Myoung-ock, a member of the National Assembly's health and welfare committee, said the Internet and mobile phones are emerging as key conduits for prostitution.

The office cited data by the state-run Korea Internet Safety Commission showing it received reports that 11,724 Web sites and mobile phone content operators were arranging prostitution as of this past June, more than quadruple the 2,680 in 2005 (The commission didn't provide figures for prior years).

The office said sex Web sites are posting prices and services along with photographs.

"In particular, female university students are looking for easy, convenient part-time jobs through these sites, but the oversight over these sites has been insufficient," the office said in a statement.

Prostitution is illegal in South Korea, and the 2004 law imposed tougher punishment on human traffickers, pimps and others involved in prostitution. - AP


Migrants' groups seek justice for slain OFW in Canada

Migrante International, an alliance of overseas Filipinos and their families, vowed on Wednesday to help obtain justice for 28-year-old Jocelyn Dulnuan, a Filipina housekeeper slain in Ontario, Canada.

Maita Santiago, secretary general of Migrante International, said its member organizations in Canada, Hong Kong and Baguio City have been working together to ensure that Dulnuan’s death won’t be meaningless.

"Jocelyn's case highlights yet again how the Arroyo administration exacerbates the injustices suffered by overseas Filipino workers. It is incumbent upon the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to cover the costs of repatriating Jocelyn's remains. Further, it must also ensure that Jocelyn's killer(s) are brought to justice" Santiago said.

Soon after learning of Dulnuan's murder, Migrante International's member organizations Migrante-Ontario, Migrante-Metro Baguio and groups under the UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK have been in close contact with the victim's family, Santiago said. She said Siklab-Ontario has formed a Jocelyn Dulnuan Support Committee (JDSC) with her relatives and friends last week. It includes Asosacion Negrense, AWARE/Gabay, Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ), Ifugao Association, Migrante-Ontario, DAMAYAN Migrant Resource and Education Centre, SIKLAB, Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada-Toronto (UKPCTO), United Filipinos for Nationalism and Democracy (UfiND), Philippine Independence Day Council (PIDC) and Philippine Press Club of Ontario (PPCO).

"Jocelyn and countless other migrant workers like her prop up the ailing Philippine economy by infusing more than US$12 billion annually into the country's dollar reserves. The DFA reportedly has a repatriation fund of P45 million and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration fund, to which Jocelyn contributed to before going to Hong Kong, stands at around P8 billion" Santiago said.

Earlier reports said OWWA refused to provide assistance to Dulnuan because she was an unregistered worker. OWWA said she stopped paying her membership dues when she moved from Hong Kong to Canada in 2006.

Quoting data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (SBP), Santiago said remittances from Filipinos in Canada in 2006 amounted to US$591 million.

"Attempts to off-load the responsibility for Jocelyn from one government agency to another or onto the Filipino community is simply unacceptable," she said. “We also demand that the DFA make public what concrete steps it is taking to ensure that a thorough investigation is undertaken by Canadian authorities so that Jocelyn's death does not become another statistic in a 'mysterious death' file," Santiago said.

The Migrante officer said she was hoping that Dulnuan’s death would not just be an addition to the growing number of unsolved murders committed against overseas Filipino workers around the world.

Filipinos in Canada are estimated at 240,000, with 6, 468 deployed in 2006. - GMANews.TV

POEA warns recruiters vs exorbitant placement fees

Recruiters charging excessive placement fees, beware!Rosalinda Baldoz, chief of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, said the agency has shut down 15 recruitment agencies collecting exorbitant placement fees on job applicants in the first nine months of the year.

"About 78 per cent of cases pending before the POEA involve collection of excessive placement fees," she said, without giving the actual number of cases brought before the agency.

"We have canceled the licenses of 15 agencies either for charging placement more than the amount allowed by Philippine laws or collecting fees for countries which prohibits such an act," Baldoz said.

Citing the Migrant Workers Act and the POEA rules, Baldoz said recruitment companies are only allowed to collect an equivalent of one month salary of the OFW.

This means that if the worker is given a salary of $500 per month, the agency can only collect or charge this amount one time and should not exceed that amount otherwise they [recruitment companies] would face cancellation of their licenses and permits to operate.

Baldoz noted that there are countries like Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom and the Netherlands that do not collect placement fees because it is shouldered by the employers or principals.

She said it would appear that many job applicants are willing to pay excessive placement fees just to be able to get work abroad due to lack of job opportunities in the country.

It was gathered that in Israel, recruiters charge between P200,000 and P300,000 on applicants as caregivers. South Korea-bound workers are said to be charged P120,000 while those going to Taiwan were forced to pay P80,000 in placement fees. Job placement to Korea has been done on a government-to-government arrangement through the Employment Permit System (EPS), a scheme that eliminates private recruitment. - Marie Neri, GMANews.TV

Filipino jetski champion vies for world title in Arizona

A Filipino is trying to make waves in the high-adrenaline water sport of jet ski as he competes in the International Jet Sports Boating Association (IJSBA) World Finals. Carlo Baltao is among the 140 participants in the IJSBA Finals in Lake Havasu City , Arizona from October 6 to 14.

In an interview that appeared in Asian Journal on Tuesday, Carlo said that he is aiming to make a splash on the record books as the very first Filipino to become a world champion in the said water sport.

“I am focusing all my energies on the World Finals this week. I will try my very best to be the first Filipino to be a world champion in jet ski," Carlo said adding that he really needs the prayers and support of the Filipino community.

The 26-year-old jet ski rider has received numerous awards in the sport back in the Philippines prior to his entry into the much-anticipated international competition.

For more than a decade, Carlo raced through the waters and quickly carved a name for himself in the exhilarating water sport.

It was in 1996 that then 15-year-old athlete from Antipolo first tried to ride a jet ski."My parents bought shares in the Subic Yacht Club and while there, I rode a jet ski. Some people who saw me invited me to join a jet ski race organized by the Jet Sport Association of the Philippines," Carlo said in the Asian Journal interview.

He later won second place in the race, which was not a simple feat considering that he was riding the waters with more experienced competitors. The following year, Carlo was egged by his parents to participate in other competitions. There was no stopping him since then.Carlo won three novice championship awards in 1997, recognized as “Rookie of the Year" in a national jet ski competition in 1998, and emerged champion in the expert division races in 1999 and 2000.In 2001, he was given the “Jet Ski Rider of the Year" before competing in his first IJSBA World Finals in Arizona.

However, it was there that Carlo recalled his first disappointment when he met an accident during the course of the race.

“I was so excited to compete in the World Finals. Actually, I believe I could have made it to the top 3. But the Thai finalist crashed into my jet ski. I fell out of the water," he narrated. "The water was so cold! I managed to ride my jet ski again and drove after the others. I still made it to the 10th place but I know if I didn’t fall I would have made it to the top," Carlo said in regret.

Not willing to be bowed down by that unfortunate incident, Carlo went on to represent the country in an invitational race which was ironically held in Thailand. He made it to the top 10.

But at the age of 23, Carlo took a rest from joining competitions. He said that the cost of his participation in various contests took its toll on his family.

“I stopped joining competitions after 2004 because it was very expensive. My family was spending for all my expenses – training, registration fees, transportation and accommodation. We tried to get the support of the government and many sports organizations in the Philippines but they all said they have no budget," Carlo said.

According to the Asian Journal, a single jet ski would go for about P1 million without the needed modifications. But perhaps, Carlo’s passion for the sport has influenced his family, too as they have also shown interest in jet ski. His mother, Onie, has participated in several races while his brother, James, duplicated his feat as the Jet Ski Rookie of the Year in 2000.

It was no surprise that when he decided to try out for the World Finals again this year, his whole family was backing him. Carlo flew to California with his manager, Mike Martinez in mid-August to start training for the competition. Carlo is participating in the Expert class of the IJSBA World Finals where he must succeed in three rounds: qualifying, MOTO 1 and MOTO 2.

For now, he is keeping his eye on competing in several US regional races.

“The regional races in California, Florida, Texas and other States start January. So, after the World Finals, I’ll stay in California and train for those regional events," Carlo said. - Mark J. Ubalde, GMANews.TV

Pinoy jailed 37 months in Brunei for stealing from hotel guests

A 33-year-old Filipino storekeeper in Brunei has been sentenced to 37 months in jail after he pleaded guilty to theft last Saturday before the Bandar Magistrate’s Court.

Rolly Pineda confessed to stealing jewelry and other belongings from guests of the Empire Hotel and Country Club where he worked, according to a report in Borneo Bulletin.

Among the items he allegedly stole were a while gold diamond ring, a gold ring, a white gold diamond bracelet and a gold brooch sometime between Sept. 4 and 7.

On Sept. 11, he again admitted to stealing 600 euro, two Sony PlayStation 2, two pieces of iPod, a Motorola mobile phone and a Blackberry mobile phone.Reports said Pineda used the hotel’s master key to enter the guest rooms. - GMANews.TV

US army's 'Soldier of the Year' is a Filipino

A Filipino emerged as the “Soldier of the Year" after he slugged it out in a grueling five-day competition to prove who’s the toughest, smartest and most skilled in the US Army.

Spc. Heyz T. Seeker, of the 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia, was hailed as this year’s top soldier in the Army’s Best Warrior Competition.

Seeker participated in the 13 two-man team competition in Fort Lee, Virginia and endured a series of rigorous activities that tested the skills, qualities and abilities of the soldiers in the ranks of private through sergeant first class who have attained best warrior status at 13 major Army commands or regions over the past year . The 35-year-old soldier owes much of his motivation to his victory to his five-year-old daughter.

"My daughter was born in 2002, and I felt I had to protect her and I joined the fight against terrorism," Seeker said in an interview that appeared in Richmond Times-Dispatch.

According to the report, Seeker had been in the US Army for a decade and has been deployed in war-torn Middle East countries of Afghanistan and Iraq. After rejoining the Army in 2004, his wife gave birth to a son.

For now, Seeker, who’s the only one in his family to become an Army Ranger, is determined to be elevated as the first Filipino sergeant major, the Army's top enlisted rank, according to the US army's website.

The report did not say where in the Philippines Seeker came from.All the participants went through a battery of tests which includes: physical fitness tests, a two-mile run, a written examination on general military topics, a graded essay on an assigned topic, qualification on M4 rifles, qualification on day and night orientation courses and evaluation on a number of critical tasks and drills, plus a mystery event. - Mark J. Ubalde, GMANews.TV

Pinoy pleads innocence in knifepoint robbery case in Sabah - report

A Filipino charged with robbery for storming a jewelry shop in Kingfisher in Malaysia pleaded "not guilty" before a Sabah court Tuesday.

Online news site New Sabah Times (www.newsabahtimes.com.my) reported Wednesday night that Charlie Ajid Jandilon (a.k.a. Kibok, Hussin), 38, allegedly used a kitchen knife to rob Wong Kui Fatt, 45, and his two daughters.

Jandilon was accused of being in cahoots with one Jaubin Abdullah (a.k.a. Olan), 22, last February 11 at about 5 a.m. in a house on Lorong Palas 7A, Taman Jindo, Luyang.

He faces a jail term of up to 14 years if found guilty.Jaubin had earlier been sentenced to 15 months in prison by the Magistrate’s Court last Aug. 16.

On the other hand, Jandiulon was also accused of raping a 15-year-old girl on the same day and at the same time and place. If found guilty, he faces a jail term of up to 20 years and whipping.

Prosecuting officer Sabrina Jinius told the court she could call 22 witnesses to testify, and objected to bail being given to the accused pending his trial. - GMANews.TV

RP wants justice for OFW found dead in Toronto

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo on Friday ordered the Philippine Consulate in Toronto to exhaust all efforts and cooperation with the host country's law enforcers in tracking down the suspected killer of 27-year-old Filipina overseas worker, who was found dead last October 1.

The victim, identified as Jocelyn Dulnuan, from Ifugao was reportedly found dead around 5 a.m. at the basement of her employer's residence in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

"Sec. Romulo has instructed Philippine Consul General in Toronto to provide full cooperation for bringing anyone responsible for the crime to justice as well as full assistance to victim's next of kin especially in repatriation of remains to Philippines," DFA spokesman Asst. Sec. Claro Cristobal said in a text message.

He said the mother of the victim who is an OFW in Hong Kong has been informed of the incident and that the police investigation on suspected murder case is ongoing.(PNA)

Labor group sees US$ 1 to P40 by year's end ...

Labor group sees US$ 1 to P40 by year's end, renews call for OFWs to shun US currency & stash savings in pesos.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has repeated its call for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to dump their US dollars and hoard their savings in pesos, warning that the greenback would likely fall to as low as P40 by year's end, should US interest rates drop some more.

"We are strongly urging our OFWs and their families here to protect the value of their savings by investing in pesos and avoiding the dollar, in view of the increased probability that lower US interest rates will soon trigger a bigger flight out of the (US) currency," TUCP spokesperson Alex Aguilar said.

The US Federal Reserve cut its key rate by half a percentage point last month from 5.25 percent to 4.75 percent, in order to ease liquidity amid a worsening credit crunch that threatens to plunge the US economy into a recession.

The rate cut spurred a sell off in the US currency that saw the peso swiftly climbing to almost 44 to a dollar, from 47. The peso closed at 44.75 to a dollar on Friday.

"Our projection of a US$ 1 to P40 rate is based on the assumption that the US Federal Reserve will cut its key rate by another half a percentage point before the year ends," Aguilar pointed out.

The US Federal Reserve will meet Oct. 30-31 to decide what to do with its key rate.Lower US interest rates tend to drive investors to sell their dollars and dollar-denominated instruments in search of higher yields.

But even without any further US rate cuts, Aguilar said the US dollar remains "basically weak" and is bound to further decline against the peso and other foreign currencies in the months ahead.

The dollar's steady decline has been attributed to the growing US debt and the widening US current account deficit.

"Again, we must stress that we are simply looking out for our OFWs and their families, who clearly risk losing a lot of value for their money if they continue keeping their savings in dollars," Aguilar said.

The European banking giant Banque Nationale de Paris-Paribas earlier predicted that the peso would surge to 43 to a dollar by year's end, 37 to a dollar by next year and 30 to a dollar by the end of 2009.The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp., meanwhile, sees the peso firming up at 43 to dollar by year's end, 41 a dollar by next year and 40 to a dollar by the end of 2009.

Should BNP Paribas' projection materialize, P100,000 in savings now (or US$ 2,234 converted to pesos at P44.75 to US$ 1), could be switched back to US$ 3,333 in about 24 months. In dollar terms, this translates a gain of US$ 1,099 or almost 50 percent.


Recruitment firm stops sending Filipino nurses abroad

A human resource deployment agency has temporarily stopped sending Filipino nurses abroad despite a strong demand for them to prevent the shortage of healthcare professionals in the country from worsening.

Randy Rively, Manpower Philippines sales and marketing manager, said Philippine hospitals will run out of nurses in 10 years if more nurses leave the country.

There are about eight million Filipinos working overseas and many of them belong to the healthcare profession.

During the 44th Personnel Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) conference, Rively said Filipinos are globally competitive because they are educated and hardworking.

He said Manpower's clients prefer to hire Filipinos because they are well trained and their skills are "amazing."

He said the competence of Filipino professionals is the result of good training and education provided by vocational, public or private schools in the country.

Rively said the company is doing well because of the high demand for Filipino professionals overseas, particularly welders and pipe-fitters.He also revealed that Manpower is considering opening an office in Cebu, saying that Cebu is a potentially good market because of the presence of several call centers and a huge pool of human resources talents.

He said the company will consider the expansion in the lat quarter of next year or the first quarter of 2009.

The 18-billion-dollar company offers employers a range of services for the entire employment and business cycle including permanent, temporary and contract recruitment, employee assessment and selection, training, outplacement, outsourcing and consulting.

Manpower has a worldwide network of 4,400 offices in 73 countries and territories. It has 400,000 clients every year, the company said in a statement.

Manpower has already sent 5,000 Filipinos in 28 countries without charging the candidates placement fees since revenues are generated directly by its international client companies.


Pangilinan wants better benefits for OFWs

Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan on Monday filed a proposed measure seeking to provide better benefits for overseas Filipino workers as he urged the government to map out long-term programs that would lure the migrant workers to invest and stay in the Philippines.

"Given a choice, I don't think anyone would want to be separated from his/her loved ones. We are therefore pushing for incentives and benefits for our overseas Filipinos, to make it more viable for them to invest and engage in business here in the Philippines and make their savings work for them and their loved ones," he said.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1254 or the Overseas Filipino Investment Bill, Pangilinan intends to encourage the OFWs to save, invest and engage in business here in the country.

Pangilinan also predicted that his bill, if becomes law, would help strengthen the Philippine economy.

"With an estimated $ 8 billion worth of remittances every year from OFWs, there's a market that can be tapped to ensure that Filipinos abroad will have the chance to be reunited with their families," he explained.

Under the bill, the OFWs may apply for certification from the Philippine Overseas and Employment Agency, the Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration (OWWA) or the Department of Foreign Affairs, to avail of savings and risk-free investment facilities, enjoy preferential benefits and privileges in availing funds from government financial institutions (such as the Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, etc.), apply for tax exemptions, and tap Local Government Units for assistance, among others.As Pangilinan filed the proposed measure, he has also called on the DFA to swiftly intervene in the case's resolution of the 27-year-old Filipina who was found dead recently at the basement of her employer's house in Canada.

"It is disheartening, not to say sickening, how not a few hardworking Filipinos overseas meet this kind of fate, and that Philippine officials can only step in for them when, evidently, it is too late," he said.

Police found the lifeless body of Jocelyn Dunluan last October 1, apparently murdered at the Doulton Place mansion, a posh home in Mississauga City.

"The government should stop encouraging Filipinos to find work abroad. Instead, the government should think of long-term solutions such as creating more jobs and providing investment opportunities," Pangilinan said.


Thousands of jobs for Filipinos in Australia and New

Thousands of job opportunities for Filipinos continue to pour in from Australia and New Zealand.

Cherry Cleary, president of Jerphi Overseas and Trading Corp., a private recruitment agency, signed up with a well-known manpower supply company, Winner Executive Recruitment Services of Victoria, Australia.

Cleary said a construction boom has fueled the demand of thousands of job positions like the following: sheet metal fabricators, floor finishers (carpet & vinyl), machinists (fitter/turner), aluminum window fabricators or blazers, boiler makers, welders, carpenters, plumbers, painters, building electricians and all sorts of construction workers.

Meanwhile, ICON a renowned recruitment company in New Zealand, also signed a manpower agreement with Jerpi for the supply of professionals and highly-skilled personnel for current oil exploration and production projects for Caltex in New Zealand.

The job order calls for the recruitment of highly-skilled personnel in oil and exploration such as petroleum, inspection, mechanical piping, operations, drilling engineers, geologists and autocad specialists.Those interested can apply in person at Jerphi offices at Unit 219, Aurora Plaza, Bocobo cor. Arquiza Sts. Ermita, Manila with their passports, four passport size colored pictures, NBI clearance, job certifications, PRC card, or email their resumes to admin@jerphi.com.


OFW kidnapped in Nigeria released

The Filipino overseas worker seized last month was safely released by the Nigerian abductors, the Department of Foreign Affairs reported Wednesday.

DFA spokesman Claro Cristobal said Albert Bacani Sr. and his Columbian co-worker were found by the Nigerian authorities on a bridge in Port Harcourt around 5 a.m. Wednesday, Manila time (10 pm, October 9 in Nigeria).

"They are in good condition and now in the custody of their Saipem employers and undergoing full medical evaluation. The two were abducted last September 27," Cristobal said in a text message.

He said DFA Sec. Alberto Romulo has already instructed Philippine Ambassador to Nigeria Masaranga Umpa to facilitate the repatriation of Bacani and immediately relayed the positive development to the victim's family. Bacani works as an electrician for Saipem, an Italian petrochemical firm. During the September 27 attack, one Colombian was killed.


Friday, October 5, 2007

Rape Against Indonesian Worker: Malaysia to be Reported to UN

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: Migrant Care, a non-governmental organization (NGO) for migrant workers, will report the Malaysian government to the United Nations Human Rights Board. The report was related to the rape suffered by an Indonesian worker, EW, by a group of the Malaysian People's Volunteeer Union (Rela) members.

"We will report this to the UN Human Rights Council as soon as possible. So far there isn't any action from the Indonesian government," the Migrant Care policy's analyst, Wahyu Susilo told Tempo yesterday (1/10).

In addition, said Wahyu, the Rela members will be reported to the UN special envoy for migrants' human rights. A similar measure can be made directly by EW. "The party that should file the lawsuit is the Indonesian government. This is because the rape perpetrators are members of Rela, which was officially established by Malaysian government."

According to the National Police HQ Senior Liaison Officer at the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur Setyo Wasisto, a member of the low-rank Malaysian Police (PDRM) was the mastermind of the brutal action that involved 12 people. The police have also assaulted Mujib, EW's husband, and robbed the victim of his belongings and passport. "The perpetrator has been arrested along with nine other persons," he said.

On September 7, Mujib and EW were approached by two uniformed men introducing themselves as Selangor police officers. Reasoning that EW did not have a work permit, EW was then brought to Muar--150 kilometers from Selangor.

EW was then brought to Hotel R in Muar, and under a gun, she was raped by several persons. On September 8, EW was brought out of the hotel and sold to two Malayans for 400 Ringgit. ." She was raped again by the two persons," said Setyo.

Currently EW is under the protection of the Indonesian Consulate General in Johor Baru. According to Setyo, EW's psychological condition is very frail. "Moreover now EW is two and a half months pregnant."

The RI Consulate in Johor, according to Setyo, will charge the perpetrators according to criminal or civil claim.


Minister urges S Arabia to mete out heavy punishment to guilty employers

Tangerang (ANTARA News) - The government of Indonesia through its foreign ministry has reportedly urged legal enforcers in Saudi Arabia to mete out heavy punishment against employers proven by the court for their involvement in torturing two Indonesian female domestic helpers to death.

"We have sent this message through our consul in Riyard to Saudi Arabian law enforcers to heed our call for the enforcement of justice against the quilty," Director of the Indonesian Workers Protection at the Foreign Ministry Teguh Wardoyo told Antara here on Saturday.

According to him, the torture which ended with the death of the female house helpers was never justified by the law as it was against the principles of human rights and also religious tenets.

He made the statement at a waiting gallary of the Soehartno Hatta`s Terminal II on the sideline of a return of two dead bodies - Siti Tarwiyah and Susmiyati- from Riyard by a Saudi Air passenger plane.

Siti Tarwiyah had worked at the house of her employer identified as Yahya Madhid Al Syagatsrah in Al Mamlukah region about 350 km from Riyard since October 2006.

Nine months since her employement with Yahya`s family, the communication with her family in Indonesia ran well and in fact, she had ever sent about Rp5.7 million to her family in Indonesia.

In the past three months, the communication never happened. But on August 8, her family in Indonesia received a report on Siti`s death. In the meantime, Susmiyati worked at the family of Mubarak Hamad Al Syagain and started as a domestic helper since January 2007.

Susmiyati was reported to get a similar torture from her employer which ended with death. Then, Mubarak`s family was trying to persuade the death body`s family especially her husband, Daryoto (32) in order to avoid from "qisos" law.

The dead body of Susmiyati will be flown to her home village in Bongkol, Pati District, Central Java from Soekarno-Hatta airport on a Garuda passenger plane GA-244 to Semarang before proceeding to Pati by an ambulance car.(*)

Wahyu Susilo
Head of Advocacy and Networking Division
International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID)Jl.
Mampang Prapatan XI/23
Jakarta 12790
Phone: 62-21-79196721/22
Fax: 62-21-7941577
e-mail: wahyu@infid.org
website: www.infid.org , www.infid.be

Putting people first on the migration agenda:

Members of the Socialist International active in the SI Committee on Migrations, together with representatives from a broad range of international, regional and non-governmental organisations working on migration, discussed key issues at the centre of the global debate on this subject at a meeting of the Committee on 21-22 September. The meeting was specially convened in Manila, the capital of a country with one of the largest number of migrant workers abroad.

Continuing the Committee's discussions on migration from different regional perspectives, in preparation for a report to be presented to the next SI Congress, participants examined from the view of the Asia-Pacific region an agenda which focused on Migration and Development, The Impact of Female Migration, Irregular Labour Migration in a Globalised Economy, and Migration Issues on the International Agenda.

Chaired by Amalia Garcia, Governor of the state of Zacatecas, Mexico, (PRD), and Chair of the Committee, the meeting was opened by the SI Secretary General Luis Ayala with a presentation of the work of the International on this important question, followed by an address by the Chair on the issues on the agenda and by opening remarks on behalf of the hosts by Norberto Gonzales, Leader of the PDSP and Secretary for National Security, and by Loretta Rosales from the leadership of the Akbayan Party.

Taking part in the debates alongside the SI members, were representatives from the International Organisation for Migration, IOM; the International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific, ITUC-AP; the Migrant Forum in Asia ; the Asian Migrant Centre ; the Center for Migrant Advocacy ; the Athika Overseas Workers and Communities Initiative ; the Development for Women Network, DAWN ; the Scalabrini Migration Centre ; the Kanlungan Centre Foundation – Centre for Migrant Workers ; the Philippine Migration Research Network, PMRN ; the Filipino Domestic Workers' Union, FDWU ; the KAKAMMPI Association of overseas Filipino workers and their families, and the organisation Unlad Kabayan. (List of Participants)

Recognising that migration is one of the key features of today’s global, political, social and economic life, the Committee discussed first of all, the relationship between migration and development, noting that if properly managed migration can contribute to the development of both countries of origin and of destination. On this theme, great emphasis was placed in the debates on the need to strengthen the rights of migrants and of including these rights in the development agenda, and a number of recommendations were agreed. The impact of female migration received particular attention during the discussions and a series of proposals and initiatives were put forward. Irregular migration and the need for policy responses that properly address its root causes were examined, together with related legislation, procedures and criteria to deal with this issue. Human rights and the rights of migrants were placed at the centre of a ‘people first’ approach to migration and the responsibilities of states were highlighted, as was the need for cooperation among all stakeholders in migration, among them, governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, civil society and the migrants themselves. The results of the meeting are included in the Manila Declaration which summarises the debates and details a series of proposals and initiatives agreed by the Committee.

The next meeting of the Committee will be held in early 2008 in the United States of America.
Images of the meeting

For updates on all Socialist International news and activities, keep in touch with our website http://www.socialistinternational.org/

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Families of slain workers want justice

Relatives of two migrant workers killed in Saudi Arabia and of two others seriously injured have demanded justice for the Saudi family allegedly involved in the torture and killings.

While waiting for the arrival of the bodies of Susmiyati binti Mat, 26, and Siti Tarwiyah, 31, at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Saturday, the women's families said they would not pardon the alleged killers.

No pardon for the killers. For the sake \n of justice, the Saudi Arabian court should punish them as harshly as possible," Siti's husband, Hamid said as he wiped tears from his eyes.

Under Saudi law, convicted killers sentenced to death can escape execution if they are pardoned by the family of the victim.

Susmiyati's younger brother, Supomo, said \n the family had received an official pardon request from the killers, "but we have decided not to give it. Justice must be upheld in the case".

The two bodies arrived in Indonesia Saturday afternoon aboard a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight.

The bodies had been kept for 58 days in a Riyadh hospital, for autopsies and during the police investigation.

Siti's body was flown from Soekarno-Hatta airport to Surakarta, Central Java, aboard a Garuda Airlines flight. It was then transported overland to her hometown of Ngawi, East Java.

Susmiyati body was flown to Semarang before being transported overland to Pati, Central Java.

Families of Susmiyati and Siti received compensation of Rp 65 million (US$7,100) each from an insurance company that provides coverage for migrant workers, and Rp 10 million each from the labor export company that sent them to Saudi Arabia.

The two died in August after they, along \n with two other Indonesian migrant workers, Rumini and Tari, were tortured by seven members of the family employing them in Alfaj, a village south of Riyadh.

The Indonesians had been accused of practicing black magic on their employer's sick son.

Rumini and Tari, who are still recovering from their injuries, are still in Riyadh providing testimony for the lower court hearing the case.

Tari's husband, Deden, and Rumini's older brother, Ahmad, called on the government to expedite the return of the two women to Indonesia.

Director General for the Protection of Indonesian Citizens at the Foreign Ministry, Teguh Wardoyo, who was at Soekarno-Hatta airport on Saturday, said Tari and Rumini were being held as witnesses at Malaz Prison in Riyadh, and would return home as soon as they finished testifying.

Migrant Care executive director Anis Hidayah called on the government to reach a bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia to ensure the protection of Indonesians working in the country.
"This case is no longer an individual case because numerous Indonesian workers have been abused, raped and killed in the Middle East," she said.

"The government should also revise labor export procedures to ensure that only trained workers are sent abroad. Many workers sent overseas are not educated or trained in language and job competence."

Wahyu Susilo
Head of Advocacy and Networking Division
International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID)Jl.
Mampang Prapatan XI/23
Jakarta 12790

POEA issues guidelines on Canada work permit applications

Processing of temporary work permit applications of Filipinos jobseekers in Canada will be done on a first come, first served basis to ensure fairness, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has said in an advisory.

Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz said that the POEA issued the guidelines to facilitate the processing of applications and to ensure that both workers and employers comply with Canada’s immigration regulations.

She noted that efforts to shorten processing time have been done because the growing number of applicants has resulted in backlogs.

The Canadian Embassy in Manila is currently processing applications that were submitted 18 weeks ago, she said.

To facilitate processing of applications, the Canadian Embassy has encouraged applicants to prepare all the requirements, the advisory said.

Visa applicants must provide as much information as possible on the mode of their recruitment – whether the worker was recruited through a recruitment agency or through relatives or contacts.

Information on the mode of selection is also required - whether they were selected through an interview, written examination, or any other procedures;Further, the embassy needs information on the applicant's competencies (education, experience) and command of the English language.

Basic requirements include a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance and immigration medical examination certificate issued by designated clinic or medical practitioner.

Applicants should also provide evidence that they will return to the Philippines after the temporary work permit lapses. Applicants who have been unemployed for several years, single and who have close relatives in Canada might be a cause for concern. However, a relative in Canada certainly would not bar acceptance of an application.

Work permit application costs CDN$150 (roughly P 6, 768), and that the Embassy prefers payment in Canadian dollars. The amount is not refundable in case of visa denial. Both Filipino and Canadian workers get same wages for same jobs, otherwise employers could be charged for violating Canadian human rights legislation.

Processing of the labor market opinion (LMO) by the Human Resources and Social Development in Canada and of the Work Permit by the Canadian Embassy in Manila can be done at the same time for applicants with skills level A, B, or O (high-skilled areas). The advisory stressed that only the Canadian Embassy issues work permit and only after receipt of the LMO. An application maybe refused if the Embassy does not receive the LMO within 90 days.

It added that workers applying under the Temporary Foreign Workers in Occupations Under Pressure Program will only be allowed to work for two years in Canada.

According the advisory, the Canadian Embassy encourages Canadian employers to consider applicants’ education and English or French language facility as among the criteria for the selection process. The Philippine High School Level has only the equivalent of 10 years high school in Canada. In order to have the equivalent of Canadian High School, completion of an additional two years of studies is necessary.

Applicants must speak English or French enough to perform the job required and to function in Canadian society.

If the applicant fails on language, or education and/or experience criteria, the employer must submit a letter stating the reasons why the worker is essential for the employer’s business operations.

The employer shoulders the worker’s travel cost, which should not be recovered from the worker. Employers must ensure that there are no recruitment fees paid by the worker to any recruitment agencies. - Luis Gorgonio, GMANews.TV

DBP's P4-B lending program available to returning OFWs

The Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has set aside P4 billion for projects that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) can avail themselves of should they opt to stay in the country for good.

Corazon Conde, DBP’s senior vice-president for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) said an agreement had been signed with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) under the “One Town, One Product" program that would provide loan access to returning OFWs interested in putting up livelihood or small businesses.

“We have just launched this project- the One Town, One Product program -- and [this] will cover returning OFWs, migrants and their families to avail of the financing," Conde told newsmen.

She said P2 billion has been allotted to OTOP and the other P2 billion will be for Roll-on Roll-off truckers and logistics providers 2GO with whom the bank forged a partnership agreement on Friday.

Under the DTI partnership, Conde said OFWs wanting to avail themselves of the program would have to seek DTI’s endorsement to qualify for the financial assistance.

“DTI really is the one handling this [project] and once they secured the endorsement, they will forward this to us because DTI is the one determining how much fund should be allocated per region," the DBP official explained.

For the 2GO-RoRo truckers loan program, two former OFWs have already availed themselves of an assistance amounting to P164 million.

The DBP loan program provides RoRo truckers the loan that can cover 90 percent of the truck purchase cost with a fixed interest rate of 8.5 percent yearly to be paid within five years.

“Partnering with Aboitiz-2GO, we are hitting two birds in one stone," Conde said.

Caelp Paredes, owner of Caelp Trucking Services and one of the three beneficiaries of the DBP loan package, said he started his trucking business in 2005 with an initial capital of P600,000.

Paredes said that with the DBP loan guaranteed by 2GO, he was able to secure a P30 million loan from DBP which he used to purchase 30 new trucks.

Paredes worked as operations manager of a company in Riyadh Saudi Arabia for 23 years and was earning $1,500 monthly.

“The money I earned from abroad was the money I used to put up this business since I have knowledge in the transport industry," he said.

Like Paredes, seaman Marvin Malabanan, another beneficiary of the DBP loan program, said he started with two trucks and an initial investment of P500,000 in 2004.

From two trucks, Malabanan, owner of Mardy Marketing Trucking Services (MMTS), now has a total of 140 trucks, with P83 million funds obtained from DBP loans.

Mariz Murallos, business development supervisor of 2GO, said the RoRo industry is growing by 20 percent in terms of volume annually and expected to grow further by 10 percent in 2008. At present, 2GO has 22 trucker affiliates.

The firm 2Go is a subsidiary of Aboitiz Transport System [ATS] Corp. It is in the process of arranging the second batch of truckers to avail of the loan and hopes that another 200 trucks will be added to the RoRo fleet. - Marie Neri, GMANews.TV
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