Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Report ‘premature’ termination cases to embassy, Saudi OFWs advised

Amid persistent reports of "premature" terminations in Saudi Arabia, Philippine officials there advised overseas Filipino workers in the Kingdom to report terminations "without valid cause" to the Philippine Embassy.

The Embassy particularly urged OFWs who receive questionable termination notices to get in touch with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) nearest their place of work (Riyadh, Jeddah and al-Khobar).

"Amid persistent reports on the termination of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia, Filipino workers who receive termination notices from their employers or who have been terminated without valid cause are advised to get in touch with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) nearest their place of work (Riyadh, Jeddah and al-Khobar). POLO officers will provide the necessary assistance to the complainants," the Embassy said in an advisory posted on its website.

The embassy also urged the Filipino community to regularly visit the Philippine Embassy website for updates on the implementation of the Nitaqat or the Saudization system.

Militant migrant advocacy group Migrante Middle East welcomed the move by the embassy but reiterated its call to the government to ready safety nets for OFWs.

“Outlining what constitute illegal termination is good, but there is a gray area here since the host govt. is now in the process of categorizing companies into coded colors that lead these companies to adopt a self-imposed reduction of their labors and/or staff in their bid to attain the ‘Green’ code to be exempted and not penalized under the Nitaqat scheme," group coordinator John Monterona said.

The embassy noted the Nitaqat system honors existing work contracts, with the sanction for non-complying companies being the non-renewal of work permits of foreign workers, and not their illegal termination.

It said this is why the work permits of foreign workers in red-coded companies will not be renewed, and that the work permits of foreign workers in yellow-coded companies will be limited to six years.

Even then, it said companies that fail to comply with the Saudization targets (red-coded or yellow-coded companies) are given grace periods of six and nine months respectively from June 11, to improve their situation.

On the other hand, the Embassy cited reports identifying the Nitaqat system as the reason for the recent incidents of termination of Filipino workers.

Saudi labor law

The Embassy said the Saudi Labor Law allows an employer to terminate the work contract in the following cases:

1. The worker assaults the employer or any of his superiors
2. The worker fails to perform his essential obligations or obey legitimate orders from his superiors
3. It is established that the worker committed a misconduct or act of dishonesty
4. If the worker deliberately commits any act or default with the intent to cause material loss to the employer
5. If the worker resorts to forgery to obtain his job
6. If the worker is under probationary period
7. If the worker is absent without valid reason
8. If the worker unlawfully takes advantage of his position for personal gain
9. If the worker divulges work-related industrial or commercial secrets of the employer.

"Affected workers are given the chance to refute the ground(s) for their termination. They can also file a complaint with the Saudi Labor Office for illegal termination," the embassy said. – KBK, GMA News

PHL Embassy: Pinoys not affected by Iraq's deportation of illegals

JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO, OFW Journalism Consortium


An OFW Journalism Consortium news flash exclusive

MANILA—THE Philippine embassy in Baghdad said Filipino workers are not affected by the plan of the Iraqi government to deport illegal foreign workers.

This is even if 2009 stock estimates on overseas Filipinos by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas show that there an estimated 2,800 irregular Filipino workers in Iraq.

Filipino volunteers in Baghdad told the embassy that the ruling to deport illegal foreign workers does not include Filipino workers in American military facilities there.

Attache Donnie Fetalino told the OFW Journalism Consortium that the overseas Filipino workers in Iraq are “in their duty stations carry badges with them which is respected by Iraqi authorities".

“This is the reason why OFWs were not included in the news," Fetalino said.

News about the deportation of illegal foreign workers in Iraq was reported in the Himalayan Times newspaper of Nepal, which said the Iraqi parliament passed a law banning the hiring of foreign workers.

“We are developing deporting mechanisms for illegal foreign workers," Iraqi director general of labour office at Labour and Social Welfare Ministry Aziz Ibrahim was quoted as saying by Iraqi newspapers.

According to Aziz, thousands of illegal workers from Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and African countries will be forcefully deported after the mechanism is developed.

On the part of the Philippines, labor migration government agencies have issued a ban to deploy migrant workers in Iraq since 2004 (the last year that records of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed numbers of Filipinos deployed to Iraq).

But even previous years of reports by the OFW Journalism Consortium have documented reports of Filipinos going to Iraq through nearby Middle East countries, or are hired through labor brokers in those countries.

There are also 45 permanent migrants and 3,370 temporary migrant workers in Iraq apart from the 2,800 estimated irregular Filipino workers, according to CFO’s stock estimates as of 2009.

Reuters reported that thousands of foreign workers came to Iraq after the 2003 US invasion, hired as employees for foreign companies contracted by US forces. They are mostly working inside US military bases.

After the year 2007, private Iraqi employment agencies imported thousands more foreign workers.

But Iraqi officials are concerned over the 15 percent unemployment rate and 28 percent underemployment rate, and are now prioritizing giving employment to Iraqi citizens.

An initial response at the start of the year 2011 was Iraq’s halting of issuing visas for foreign workers.

Fetalino also shared a Feb. 20 communication between the Philippine and the US embassies in Baghdad showing that Iraq’s Ministry of Interior directed “a complete halt to all visa and residency visa issuances for an indeterminate period".

“This applies to all foreigners, not just those involved in US government contracts Exit visas are still available," Michael Dunkley Sr. of the US Embassy told Fetalino in an email correspondence. - OFW Journalism Consortium

DFA asks Saudi OFWs to report unjust terminations

Filipino migrant workers in Saudi Arabia who get terminated from their jobs without a valid cause should get in touch with the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

In a statement amid “persistent" reports on the termination of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia, the DFA said OFWs may ask for the embassy’s assistance through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) that is closest to their place of work.

Located in Riyadh, Jeddah, and al-Khobar, POLO offices will assist affected OFWs, the DFA said.

The agency also advised OFWs in the Kingdom to regularly visit the Philippine Embassy website for updates on the Nitaqat or “Saudization" system, which prioritizes the employment of Saudi nationals over foreign workers in Saudi-owned firms.

The Saudi government is scheduled to begin implementing the Nitaqat system next Sept. 11, and companies that fail to comply with the Saudization targets will get a grace period of six to nine months.

“It is noted that the Nitaqat system honors existing work contracts. The sanction for non-complying companies will be the non-renewal of work permits of foreign workers, and not their illegal termination," the DFA said.

Last week, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) administrator Carlos Cao said Saudization is making no impact yet on the deployment of OFWs to Saudi.

Earlier, a recruitment expert projected a downsizing of jobs for Filipinos in Saudi due to the new labor policy. — With Paterno Esmaquel II/VS, GMA News

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pinoys in Europe can send money via Ericsson mobile phones

WILLIAM ALZONA, OFW Journalism Consortium


Technology giant Ericsson is testing its money service facility after it included the Philippines in the countries that can receive funds from seven countries in Europe.

Adam Kerr, Ericsson Mobile Money representative, said the company has partnered with Globe Telecom Inc. and Smart Communications Inc. to allow overseas Filipinos in seven European countries to send money back home.

Globe will use its GCash service, while Smart will utilize its Smart Money platform.
The said launch was made late last week in time for the Barrio Fiesta sa London event over the weekend.

“It will be a person to person money service," Kerr said in a telephone interview.
Since the service was relatively new, Kerr said that it only allows Filipinos in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and Sweden to send money to the Philippines. The service, however, does not allow sending money from the Philippines to these seven countries, Kerr said.

United Kingdom has visible numbers of Filipino nurses, while Italy and Spain are major European destination countries for domestic workers. Germany has many Filipinos who have married Germans, while France is the number one European destination country for irregular Filipino workers.

There are an estimated 722,427 overseas Filipinos in the entire Europe as of 2009, says data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. Of the figure, 312,361 were permanent migrants, 309,914 were temporary migrants, and 100,152 were irregular migrants.

Ericsson plans to add more countries before the year ends.
As well, Ericsson will target overseas workers, those consumers who are used to transacting only with cash, and those with limited access to the formal banking system.

Senders from the seven countries will need to register with the Ericsson money website, which can also be accessed using a Smart phone. Using the service requires a mobile phone number from the sending countries but most of its transactions can be done over the Internet.

Ericsson’s system has a limit of sending 1,600 pounds a year (or about P110,960) for restricted account, but GCash can only hold up to P40,000. To upgrade an account, Ericsson will ask the sender for additional financial documents, which is part of the global anti-money laundering initiatives.

The company has yet to publish details for the Smart Money receiving limits.
For those countries in Europe, only those who have an Ericsson Money account can accept funds.

The company did not provide details on fees as it differs from country to country.
There is no fee to set up an Ericsson Money Services wallet, but there is an application fee of €5, or equivalent local currency, for the Ericsson Money Card.

At launch for a limited period of time, there will be no commission fee for sending money to other recipients or its partners, but the company will eventually charge its customers for sending money.

Paolo Baltao, president of GXchange Inc. (the mobile commerce subsidiary of Globe), said the new service could bring down the cost of sending money by about 40 percent compared with those remittance centers or through banks.

“Mobile payments and person-to-person money transfers are forecasted to become some of the most-used mobile applications in many countries in the next two or three years," Ericsson said in its previous statement. - OFW Journalism Consortium

ILO on track to pass treaty on social insurance by 2012

The International Labor Organization (ILO) is on track to pass next year a treaty that will allow nearly 100 million workers around the world to enjoy social insurance programs, Social Watch Philippines said Friday.

In a statement, Social Watch quoted the United Nations’ ILO as saying 80 percent of workers all over the world have no access to social security — a social insurance program that provides protection against poverty, old age, disability, and unemployment, among others.

“I believe [social insurance programs] are building blocks for social justice… I invite you all to mobilize around. Your support is invaluable," ILO director-general Juan Somavia told participants of the ongoing 5th Social Watch Global Assembly in Manila.

Social Watch is a network of citizens’ organizations struggling to eradicate poverty and causes of poverty, and to ensure an equitable distribution of wealth and realization of human rights.

Decent work for domestic workers

Somavia also lauded Social Watch for its “outstanding" job of reminding governments to help ensure the ratification and implementation of Convention 189, a landmark measure concerning decent work for domestic workers.

“You have persistently reminded governments as well as international organizations, business groups, and non-governmental organizations of the need to act on their commitments," Somavia told Social Watch.

He said domestic workers have long wanted to get the protection and the respect that they are entitled to have. “Now we must ensure that Convention 189 is ratified and implemented."

According to Social Watch, the passage of Convention 189 last June 16 was celebrated by workers around the world as they expect the landmark measure to change the lives of at least 100 million workers globally.

According to Convention 189, domestic workers who care for families and households must have the same basic labor rights as those available to other workers:


•reasonable hours of work,


•weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours,


•limit on in-kind payment,


•clear information on terms and conditions of employment, and


•respect for fundamental principles and rights at work (freedom of association and right to collective bargaining).

— JE, GMA News

PHL Embassy: Pinoys not affected by Iraq's deportation of illegals

JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO, OFW Journalism Consortium


An OFW Journalism Consortium news flash exclusive

MANILA—THE Philippine embassy in Baghdad said Filipino workers are not affected by the plan of the Iraqi government to deport illegal foreign workers.

This is even if 2009 stock estimates on overseas Filipinos by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas show that there an estimated 2,800 irregular Filipino workers in Iraq.

Filipino volunteers in Baghdad told the embassy that the ruling to deport illegal foreign workers does not include Filipino workers in American military facilities there.

Attache Donnie Fetalino told the OFW Journalism Consortium that the overseas Filipino workers in Iraq are “in their duty stations carry badges with them which is respected by Iraqi authorities".

“This is the reason why OFWs were not included in the news," Fetalino said.

News about the deportation of illegal foreign workers in Iraq was reported in the Himalayan Times newspaper of Nepal, which said the Iraqi parliament passed a law banning the hiring of foreign workers.

“We are developing deporting mechanisms for illegal foreign workers," Iraqi director general of labour office at Labour and Social Welfare Ministry Aziz Ibrahim was quoted as saying by Iraqi newspapers.

According to Aziz, thousands of illegal workers from Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and African countries will be forcefully deported after the mechanism is developed.

On the part of the Philippines, labor migration government agencies have issued a ban to deploy migrant workers in Iraq since 2004 (the last year that records of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed numbers of Filipinos deployed to Iraq).

But even previous years of reports by the OFW Journalism Consortium have documented reports of Filipinos going to Iraq through nearby Middle East countries, or are hired through labor brokers in those countries.

There are also 45 permanent migrants and 3,370 temporary migrant workers in Iraq apart from the 2,800 estimated irregular Filipino workers, according to CFO’s stock estimates as of 2009.

Reuters reported that thousands of foreign workers came to Iraq after the 2003 US invasion, hired as employees for foreign companies contracted by US forces. They are mostly working inside US military bases.

After the year 2007, private Iraqi employment agencies imported thousands more foreign workers.

But Iraqi officials are concerned over the 15 percent unemployment rate and 28 percent underemployment rate, and are now prioritizing giving employment to Iraqi citizens.

An initial response at the start of the year 2011 was Iraq’s halting of issuing visas for foreign workers.

Fetalino also shared a Feb. 20 communication between the Philippine and the US embassies in Baghdad showing that Iraq’s Ministry of Interior directed “a complete halt to all visa and residency visa issuances for an indeterminate period".

“This applies to all foreigners, not just those involved in US government contracts Exit visas are still available," Michael Dunkley Sr. of the US Embassy told Fetalino in an email correspondence. - OFW Journalism Consortium

PHL Embassy assists Pinay 'raped' by 3 men in Dammam

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is assisting and providing legal assistance to the pregnant Filipina who was allegedly raped by three Saudi men in Dammam.

In a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Embassy said its representatives went to the Genobiya Police to assist the Filipina and check on her condition.

The Filipina, who hails from Bulacan, was reportedly walking on her way back to her residence from a check-up at the General Case Hospital in Dammam on July 7 when a car stopped and the driver asked if she works for a certain company.

Thinking that it was her car service, she rode the car but was surprised to see that there was another man seated at the back.

The driver reportedly brought her to an isolated area where she was raped. The Filipina was also robbed of her mobile phone and money, the embassy reported.

After being raped, the Filipina was dropped near the Carrefour Mall where she asked other Filipinos for help.

The Embassy received a report that the perpetrators were all arrested.

The Filipina, who delivered her baby on Wednesday, decided to pursue the case against her attackers.

As soon as she is "medically" ready, she will identify the suspects in a police line-up and the prosecution of the case will then start, the DFA said.

“The Department is pleased to know that the three suspects were already arrested and remains to be in police custody," DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos said.

“The Department, through our Embassy in Riyadh, is providing all appropriate legal and consular assistance to the Filipina as she has decided to pursue the case. A lawyer has been hired to assist her and the Department will not stop in assisting her until justice is served," he added. - VVP, GMA News

PHL Embassy in Brunei to move to new location August 2

The Philippine Embassy in Brunei will move to a new location on August 2: Simpang 336, Diplomatic Enclave Kampung Kianggeh, Jalan Kebangsaan, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.

“Service establishments such as photocopy shops and restaurants are not accessible from the new chancery," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a news release on its website.

The DFA advised applicants prepare a complete set of their requirements including all needed photocopies, to facilitate the processing of employment, consular and other Embassy documents and to avoid any inconvenience.

A checklist of required documents and corresponding number of photocopies is posted at:

•www.pinoybrunei.com

•www.philippineembassybrunei.net

•www.polobrunei.net

Filipinos in the Kuala Belait/Seria District (KB) may get a checklist and forms from FAB District Coordinator Wilfredo Tabion with mobile number 7138902 and e-mail address wil_tabion@yahoo.com.

Household service workers (amah) who work at the KB District may get their checklist and forms from Jamilah Binti Abdullah with mobile number 8833654.

The Embassy may be reached at telephone numbers 224-1465, 224-1466, 223-8845; fax number 223-7707, or e-mail address brunei.pe@dfa.gov.ph and bruneipe

Pinay DH, pumanaw sa araw na makababalik na sana siya sa ‘Pinas

Naging mapagbiro ang tadhana sa isang distressed Pinay domestic helper sa Riyadh, Saudi Arabia dahil binawian siya ng buhay sa araw kung kailan sasakay na siya ng eroplano na maghahatid sana sa kanya pauwi ng Pilipinas.

Sa impormasyong nakalap mula sa grupong Patnubay, ang pumanaw na OFW ay kinilalang si Lilia Prestado, 44-anyos, mula sa bayan ng Taytay, at mahigit isang taon nang TNT o tago ng tago mula nang tumakas sa kanyang amo.

Ang Patnubay ay isang advocacy group sa Gitnang Silangan na tumutulong sa mga nagigipit na OFW.

Napag-alaman na nitong Pebrero ay inindorso ng Patnubay si Prestado sa Bahay Kalinga. Ito ay lugar na pinangangasiwaan ng pamahalaan, at kinukopkop ang mga nagigipit na OFWs.

Sinasabing may sakit sa puso at goiter si Prestado, bukod pa sa kanyang asthma, at iba pang komplikasyon sa kalusugan.

Ayon sa Patnubay, walong buwan lamang nagtrabaho si Prestado sa kanyang amo at pagkaraan nito ay tumakas na. Hindi malinaw kung ano ang dahilan kung bakit iniwan ni Prestado ang kanyang amo.

Batay sa kanyang medical report, lumitaw naman na ipinagamot si Prestado ng kanyang amo, kuwento ng Patnubay.

Mula nang tumakas sa amo, muling nagtrabaho si Prestado at maaari umanong napabayaan nito ang kalusugan kaya lumalala ang mga karamdaman hanggang sa iendorso na sa Bahay Kalinga.

Ikinagulat umano ng mga tao sa Bahay Kalinga ang biglang pagpanaw ni Prestado dakong 10:30 a.m. nitong Sabado dahil nakita pa nila itong masaya habang nag-eempake ng kanyang mga gamit. Nakakuha rin siya ng medical certificate na nagsasaad na puwede siyang bumiyahe.

Nais naman ng Patnubay na malinawan kung bakit inabot ng tatlong buwan si Prestado sa Bahay Kalinga bago makauwi sa Pilipinas samantalang may malubha itong karamdaman. Dapat din umanong maging malinaw kung sino ang dapat humawak ng mga kasong katulad kay Prestado na may malalang sakit.

Bukod kay Prestado, may isa pang OFW sa Bahay Kalinga ang namatay dahil sa sakit nitong Mayo 15, ayon sa Patnubay.

Sa panayam sa telepono kay Vice Consul Roussel Reyes, ng Assistance to National ng Philippine Embassy sa Riyadh, ipinaliwanag niya na naindorso sa kanila si Prestado nito lamang Marso. Kaagad daw nila itong dinala sa ospital para maipagamot habang inaayos ang mga dokumento sa kanyang pagpapauwi.

Ikinalungkot ng opisyal ang nangyari kay Prestado dahil pumanaw ito kung kailan nakatakda na siyang umuwi sa Pilipinas.

Ipinaliwanag ni Reyes na pinagtutulungan ng Assistance to National (ANS) at Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), ang pag-asikaso sa mga uuwing OFW na may sakit, lalo na kung TNT. Mas mahirap umanong maipasok sa ospital ang mga TNT at wala ring medical facilities ang Bahay Kalinga.

Kinumpirma rin ni Reyes na sakit din ang dahilan ng pagkamatay ng isa pang OFW na si Lokaya Talebombong noong Mayo. Pero hindi umano niya alam ang detalye nito dahil sa hindi siya ang may hawak ng kaso.

Dahil sa pagpanaw ni Prestado, sinabi ni Reyes na panibagong pag-aayos sa mga dokumento ang kanilang gagawin bago maiuwi sa Pilipinas ang kanyang mga labi.

Noong una ay na-wave daw ang lahat ng penalties ni Prestado. Pero dahil sa kanyang pagpanaw, kailangang kumuha ng panibagong exit visa para sa pumanaw na OFW at dapat bayaran na rin ang penalties nito.

Payo ni Reyes sa mga OFW na may karamdaman, makabubuting bumalik na sa bansa habang malakas pa ang katawan at huwag hintayin na lumalala ang sakit. -- Ronaldo Z. Concha/ FRJ, GMA

DFA: 25 distressed OFWs repatriated from Jordan

A total of 25 distressed female overseas Filipino workers were repatriated from Jordan over the weekend, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

The DFA said the OFWs, who arrived from Amman last July 15, left their employers for reasons ranging from maltreatment to non-payment of overtime services.

"The repatriated OFWs, all women, left their employers for alleged abuse and maltreatment and non-payment of their overtime services. They stayed at the Filipino Workers Resource Center where they were provided shelter, food and proper assistance while waiting for their exit visas to be processed," the DFA said in a news release posted on its website.

Welcoming them at the airport were DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA)Special Assistant Enrico Fos and legal officer Emily Villanueva, and with representatives from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

The DFA said the Philippine Embassy made representations with the Jordanian government for the early resolution of the OFWs' cases.

It also made arrangements for the immediate processing of the distressed OFWs' exit visas.

The DFA also shouldered the costs of plane tickets of the repatriated OFWs. — RSJ, GMA News

Report ‘premature’ termination cases to embassy, Saudi OFWs advised

Amid persistent reports of "premature" terminations in Saudi Arabia, Philippine officials there advised overseas Filipino workers in the Kingdom to report terminations "without valid cause" to the Philippine Embassy.

The Embassy particularly urged OFWs who receive questionable termination notices to get in touch with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) nearest their place of work (Riyadh, Jeddah and al-Khobar).

"Amid persistent reports on the termination of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia, Filipino workers who receive termination notices from their employers or who have been terminated without valid cause are advised to get in touch with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) nearest their place of work (Riyadh, Jeddah and al-Khobar). POLO officers will provide the necessary assistance to the complainants," the Embassy said in an advisory posted on its website.

The embassy also urged the Filipino community to regularly visit the Philippine Embassy website for updates on the implementation of the Nitaqat or the Saudization system.

Militant migrant advocacy group Migrante Middle East welcomed the move by the embassy but reiterated its call to the government to ready safety nets for OFWs.

“Outlining what constitute illegal termination is good, but there is a gray area here since the host govt. is now in the process of categorizing companies into coded colors that lead these companies to adopt a self-imposed reduction of their labors and/or staff in their bid to attain the ‘Green’ code to be exempted and not penalized under the Nitaqat scheme," group coordinator John Monterona said.

The embassy noted the Nitaqat system honors existing work contracts, with the sanction for non-complying companies being the non-renewal of work permits of foreign workers, and not their illegal termination.

It said this is why the work permits of foreign workers in red-coded companies will not be renewed, and that the work permits of foreign workers in yellow-coded companies will be limited to six years.

Even then, it said companies that fail to comply with the Saudization targets (red-coded or yellow-coded companies) are given grace periods of six and nine months respectively from June 11, to improve their situation.

On the other hand, the Embassy cited reports identifying the Nitaqat system as the reason for the recent incidents of termination of Filipino workers.

Saudi labor law

The Embassy said the Saudi Labor Law allows an employer to terminate the work contract in the following cases:

1. The worker assaults the employer or any of his superiors
2. The worker fails to perform his essential obligations or obey legitimate orders from his superiors
3. It is established that the worker committed a misconduct or act of dishonesty
4. If the worker deliberately commits any act or default with the intent to cause material loss to the employer
5. If the worker resorts to forgery to obtain his job
6. If the worker is under probationary period
7. If the worker is absent without valid reason
8. If the worker unlawfully takes advantage of his position for personal gain
9. If the worker divulges work-related industrial or commercial secrets of the employer.

"Affected workers are given the chance to refute the ground(s) for their termination. They can also file a complaint with the Saudi Labor Office for illegal termination," the embassy said. – KBK, GMA News

Pangambang sibakan sa mga OFW sa KSA dahil sa ‘Saudization,’ pinawi ni Sec Baldoz

SURIGAO CITY – Pinawi ni Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis Baldoz ang mga pangamba na nanganganib mawalan ng trabaho ang tinatayang 1.5 milyong overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) sa Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) dahil sa ipatutupad na “Saudization" system sa kaharian.

Ang pahayag ay ginawa ni Baldoz sa mga dumalo sa 68th Caraga Regional Development Council Meeting na ginawa sa Surigao City nitong Biyernes.

“Huwag po kayong maniwala na maapektahan kaagad ang ating 1.5 milyong manggagawa sa Saudi Arabia, there is no truth on that because Saudi Arabia will not be as it is now without migrant Filipino skilled workers they need us," bahagi ng talumpati ni Baldoz.

Idinagdag ng kalihim na nagbigay ng katiyakan ang labor secretary ng KSA nang magkita sila sa isang pulong sa Geneva noong Hunyo, na hindi maaapektuhan ng ipatutupad na bagong sistema sa kaharian ang mga manggagawang Pinoy dahil karamihan naman sa kanila ay mga highly skilled workers.

Idinagdag pa umano ng opisyal ng KSA na patuloy nilang kakailanganin ang mga migranteng manggagawa dahil sa mga ipatatayong mega cities na magsisimula sa 2014.

“So ‘wag ho kayong maniniwala doon na magsisiuwian na ang mga 1.5 milyong OFWs dito sa bansa natin," pagpapakalma ni Baldoz.

Ipinaliwanag din ng kalihim na ang gagawing pagbibigay prayoridad ng KSA na bigyan ng trabaho sa kanilang mga kababayan ay bunga na rin ng mga nagaganap na protesta sa ilang bansa sa Middle East.

Ilan sa mga bansa sa ME na nagkakaroon ng protesta ay ang Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, at Bahrain. Kabilang sa panawagan ng mga nagpoprotesta sa kanilang pamahalaan ay dagdag na hanap-buhay.

Sakali namang magdesisyon ang mga OFW na umuwi na sa Pilipinas, sinabi ni Baldoz na may nakahandang programa sa kanila ang pamahalaan tulad ng pagtatayo ng kanilang sariling negosyo.

“That’s why I admire Surigao del Norte officials in initiating first livelihood summit to answer returning OFWs need but also local residents to start their livelihood projects that will not necessary for them to look for jobs abroad but look for local opportunities and have their skills and talents be used not by other countries" ayon kay Baldoz. - GMA News

DOLE chief: Saudization no effect yet on 1.5M OFWs

SURIGAO CITY — Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz belied claims that 1.5 million overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia will be affected by the host country's move to prioritize Saudi nationals in employment or the "Saudization" policy.



Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz at the 68th Caraga Regional Development Council meeting held in Surigao City last Friday. Ben Serrano
“Huwag po kayong maniwala na maapektahan kaagad ang ating 1.5 milyong manggagawa sa Saudi Arabia, there is no truth on that because Saudi Arabia will not be as it is now without migrant Filipino skilled workers – they need us," Secretary Baldoz said in her speech at the 68th Caraga Regional Development Council meeting held in the city last Friday.

Baldoz claimed that her counterpart, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Labor Secretary promised her that the 1.5 million OFWS in the kingdom will not be affected because Filipino workers there are mostly highly skilled.

Baldoz said the KSA Labor Secretary told her last June in Geneva that the kingdom will continue to hire migrant workers as constructions of mega-cities that will start in 2014 needs thousands if not millions of migrant workers.

Baldoz added the reason why Saudi Arabia opted for nationalization of their workforce (Saudization) is to avoid social unrest now being experienced by some Middle East countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Bahrain.

“Kaya inunahan na po ng gobyerno ng Saudi Arabia na mag plano ng nationalization of workforce to give priority of their nationals in hiring workers," Baldoz said.

According to her, private and big firms in Saudi Arabia are focusing more on productivity, and highly skilled workers are needed.

“Highly skilled OFWs fit in Saudi Arabia's development goals... such as the construction of mega-cities that will start in 2014" Baldoz said.

On the other hand, she said that if some OFWs there decide to return home, the Philippine Government is ready to help them by providing livelihood opportunities through provision of seed capital for entrepreneurship.

“That’s why I admire Surigao del Norte officials in initiating first livelihood summit to answer returning OFWs need but also local residents to start their livelihood projects that will not necessary for them to look for jobs abroad but look for local opportunities and have their skills and talents be used not by other countries" Baldoz said. — Ben Serrano/LBG, GMA News

A Time of Pain and Grace

(Fr. Shay's columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
http://www.preda.org/main/archives/2011/r11071301.html
The Philippine Bishop's pastoral letter of apology this past week to the people and the nation titled "A Time of Pain, A Time of Grace" admits that seven Bishops accepted monetary gifts of as much as 8.258 million from the government gambling agency - Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) at the behest of the former President even though the Church condemns gambling. Besides, it is illegal because the Constitution forbids any government funds or property be given to any Church or representative thereof. "Government funds cannot be used for the promotion of a specific religion".

The money was given for the prelates to buy vehicles and they did - expensive sport utility vehicles which they said were being used for charitable purposes. One bought a low cost second-hand four wheel drive. They have already started to return the vehicles. So it is a time of Pain for the Church Hierarchy as a whole as the pastoral letter of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) says even if only seven bishops accepted the money out of a total of 133 Bishops. Retired outspoken anti-gambling Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said it is the "Worst Wound", self-inflicted as may be, suffered by the Church since he was made a Bishop in 1976.

The problem lies deeper since the gifts are from the former President Gloria Arroyo-Macapagal, (now a congresswoman), to the Bishops to allegedly win their influence and support when she was in danger of being impeached for election fraud. The Bishop’s letter said that the donations were received with the pure desire of the bishops to help the poor, however, "they failed to consider the pitfalls to which these grants could possibly lead them".

This is especially embarrassing for the bishops coming at a time when former President Arroyo-Macapagal is being charged with plunder for looting this so-called charity fund. Evidence has been presented to the investigative committees of both the House and the Senate alleging that former president Arroyo-Macapagal approved the use of even greater amounts of the charity funds, Php 325 million pesos for the election campaign of 2010 that is now being called plunder, graft, and malversation in the case before the Ombudsman.

It’s also the Time of Grace to return to the roots of Christian faith and for the hierarchy to dedicate itself to the struggle of the poor and the oppressed against those who plunder the national wealth. No decent person should ever take donations from a corrupt oligarchy and ruling elite that crush the hungry and the poor. It is the Time of Grace to look on the crucified Christ and realize that he was criticized, vilified, tortured and given the death penalty for opposing the corrupt practices of the authorities in his time and not collaborating with them.

There is nothing wrong with collecting donations to help the poor, even Jesus and his apostolic band of brothers and sisters had a collection purse. The only mistake they made was to entrust it to Judas, the betrayer. Money can corrupt and corrupts most of the time. We can become attached to possessions, wealth and security in this world and what it can buy us - prestige, privilege, entitlements, power and position and we can forget it can bring misery and harm.

Will great wealth give us true respect, love, spiritual happiness and peace of mind and heart? Not unless we are using it for the well-being of others in need such as the hungry, the victims of abuse and human rights violations, famine relief, educating the poor, and working for justice and the dignity of deprived and exploited people. This is the heart of the Gospel and the social teaching of the Church. We would do well to heed it. The Bishops may realize this already. During a Senate inquiry, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of the Archdiocese of Cotabato said: “We will examine our vocation and commit a long journey to personal and social transformation. “What a blessing that will be, let’s hope it will not be a journey without end, but over sooner than later.

We must do all we can to use the resources of goodness and honest work to help those poor robbed of a life of decency and dignity. END

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ka Romy Castillo, Released The campaign for Malaysian 6 continues

Written by Partido Lakas ng Masa
Thursday, 07 July 2011 16:30

Romy Castillo, deputy general secretary of Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), was finally released by Malaysian authorities yesterday morning. He came home via Air Asia flight at Clark airport at around 12 noon and was met by a delegation from PLM.
A victory party will be held at the PLM office on Friday, July 8, at 3:00 pm. There will also be a meeting to discuss the continuing campaign to free the remaining six Malaysian pro-democracy leaders of Parti Sosialis Malaysia.
Sonny Melencio, chairperson of PLM, said that the release of Ka Romy was only a “partial victory since six of the previous 30 Malaysian jailed socialists are still languishing in jails.”
Melencio also thanked all those who called for Ka Romy’s release, including various human rights groups and Philippine authorities such as the Philippine Commission on Human Rights and the Philippine Embassy officials in Kuala Lumpur.
A day before Ka Romy’s release, more than 100 PLM members marched to the Malaysian Embassy in Makati City to protest Ka Romy’s detention and the 30 jailed Malaysian activists. The PLM declared Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines, Ibrahim Saad, as persona non grata for refusing to meet with the PLM delegation a number of times and for doing nothing to assist in the release of Ka Romy.
After the picket at the Malaysian Embassy, the PLM rallyists went to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila to appeal to Secretary Albert del Rosario to prioritize Ka Romy’s release. The DFA was having its anniversary party with President Ninoy Aquino as guest when the PLM rallyists arrived.

Report: PHL Embassy lodges complaint over OFW 'torture' in KSA

Philippine officials in Saudi Arabia have lodged a complaint with Saudi authorities over the alleged torture of a Filipino working as a family driver there.

According to a report of Arab News, the Philippine Embassy sent a complaint to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the alleged beating of Edgar Maligaya, 38, at the Olaya police station in Riyadh.

Maligaya was tagged in the death of a fellow Filipino driver, Andy Miclat Dimacali, in July last year.

Saudi authorities found Maligaya's text message on Dimacali's mobile phone on the day he was found dead, Arab News said.

“However, the text message was the usual communication between friends. There was nothing to indicate a threat, or similar to it, on the part of Maligaya," Arab News quoted militant group Migrante Middle East coordinator John Monterona as saying.

The report added that the death notification issued by the Saudi Ministry of Health said Dimacali “died outside the hospital with wounds in the head, cracked ribs and was bleeding from the nose."

“We at Migrante-Middle East believe that there was foul play" but that Maligaya was innocent, Monterona said.

The Arab News said Dimacali's family is still waiting for the repatriation of his remains. - VVP, GMA News

OWWA shortlists six OFW advocates as trustees

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration had shortlisted six people, including an outgoing OWWA board member, as candidates for new board members of the agency.

The 2010 Model OFW of the Year winner for the land-based sector Ermie Garon topped OWWA’s list of three recommended people as OWWA board representative for the land-based sector.

Meanwhile, executive director Estrella AƱonuevo of the migrant NGO Atikha Overseas Workers Communities Initiative, is the top candidate to represent the women sector.

Garon is a native of Hacienda Luista, Tarlac, as her husband June works in Elk Grove, California.

AƱonuevo has been running the NGO Atikha since the mid-1990s, the group being a community-based non-profit initiating economic and social programs for overseas Filipinos and their families. Atikha’s work is visible in San Pablo City, Laguna and Mabini in Batangas.

For land-based sector representative, the second-ranked candidate is Elizardo Narag of the Alyansa ng Makabagong Bayaning Manggagawa while ranked third is outgoing OWWA board member Jose Jouelito Sapio.

Meanwhile, Josephine T. Cajada of Hong Kong-based Worldwide Kayumanggi Radio, and Loretta G. Brunio, also an OFW, were ranked second and third, respectively, as candidates for women’s sector representative.

Section 32 of Republic Act 10022, or the amendment to the 1995 Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act (Republic Act 8042), had mandated OWWA and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to select representatives from the overseas Filipino workers sector — whether an OFW or an advocate for migrant workers — as board members.

The names of the six candidates, said OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon in a paid advertisement, “will be endorsed to the Office of the President for action".

Civil society leaders for migrant workers groups lament that there is limited participation by OFWs in the boards of POEA and OWWA prior to RA 10022.

OWWA is the world’s largest welfare fund for migrant workers. Its total assets in 2009 reached P13.191 billion as the agency also earned a gross income of P2.224 billion the same year, mostly from the US$25 OWWA membership fees that departing OFWs — on a per-contract basis — pay.

OWWA’s net income in 2009 stood at P1.098 billion, higher than the P0.924 billion in 2008. — Jeremaiah Opiniano/OFW Journalism Consortium

OFWs in Dubai now required to be Pag-IBIG members

Overseas Filipino workers working in Dubai are now required to be members of the Pag-IBIG Fund, according to a report on the news site The Gulf Today.

The report said membership with Pag-IBIG is a new requirement for obtaining an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) beginning July 1.

The Gulf Today quoted Pag-IBIG as saying that “linking the issuance of the OEC through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration will make it easier for all agency-hired, direct-hired and “balik-manggagawa" (or repeat OFWs) to become members."

A minimum contribution of 10 dirhams a month is required, according to the report.

It added that OFWs in the Middle East may also apply for their mutual fund membership at various Philippine Overseas Labor Offices located in Dubai and other Middle East countries. — OFW Journalism Consortium

Report: Pinoy cleaner falls to death from 9th Floor in UAE

A Filipino cleaning staff fell several stories to his death from the ninth floor of a building in the United Arab Emirates late Sunday.

The Filipino, initially identified only as Raymond, 23, was working for a cleaning company based in Al Qouz, news site Khaleej Times reported Tuesday.

Citing sketchy initial reports, Khaleej Times said the incident occurred at the Bur Dubai area around midnight on Sunday.

An initial investigation showed the Filipino was standing on a rope ladder hung from atop and held by another worker and cleaning the front glass panels of the tower.

"Due to the lack of coordination, the worker standing on the rooftop released the rope and the victim fell to death," the report said.

The police sent the body to the General Department of Forensic Medicine for autopsy. The co-worker, an Asian, was taken into custody for interrogation. — RSJ, GMA News

Indian faces UAE court for molesting Pinay co-worker

A 33-year-old Indian stood trial in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday over allegations that he molested his 35-year-old Filipina co-worker.

According to a report of Khaleej Times, the Filipina, an accountant, alleged that the Indian, a finance manager, molested her at her doorstep in May last year.

Khaleej Times said the Filipina's two-year-old son rushed to answer the door. When the Filipina ran after her son, she was surprised that her co-worker was the one who was at the door.

The report said the Indian fondled the Filipina and ran after she screamed.

The Filipina said the Indian had also fondled her earlier at their workplace and asked her to have sex with him but she rejected his offer, the report said.

The Khaleej Times report said the building’s watchman confirmed seeing the woman’s husband running after the defendant that day.

The accused reportedly apologized several times and was seen driving away in his car.

A Jordanian manager at the same company said the Filipina had approached him earlier crying and complaining about being sexually harassed by the Indian, the report said. - VVP, GMA News
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