Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Household workers still cannot be deployed to Iraq, POEA clarifies

Even though the Philippines has already lifted the six-year deployment ban to Iraq, household service workers still cannot be deployed there, the Philippine overseas Employment Administration (POEA) clarified on Wednesday.

POEA head Hans Leo Cacdac said the board resolution that allows overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to apply and work in Iraq in certain places does not cover HSWs.

"(Regarding the) lifting of Iraq OFW ban: household service workers still cannot be deployed to Iraq," Cacdac said in a post on his Twitter account.

UNTV enrolls 500 poor families to PhilHealth

The UNTV, "Your Public Service Channel", will enroll an initial 500 poor families with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) for a six-month period under its Sponsored Program. Beneficiary families will come from UNTV’s partner communities in different regions of the country.
"On behalf of our President Mr. Daniel Razon and the whole UNTV family, we would like to thank PhilHealth for this partnership. This is one of our President's ideas on how to extend more help to poor families who need medical interventions" UNTV’s Vice President for Administration Mr. Gerardo A. Panghulan said.
For his part, PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Alexander A. Padilla said that "we are honored to sign up with UNTV who has been a good partner for the past several years, and thanks to Ka Daniel also. It’s really an honor and privilege to partner with UNTV in this endeavor, for which I know, will continue for many more years."

PhilHealth turns over proceeds of Tacloban leg of running event to local beneficiary

PALO, Leyte – PhilHealth Regional Office 8 formally turned over the proceeds of the first PhilHealth-DOH Run conducted last February 2013 to its local beneficiary, the Regional Haven of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The turnover was done at the Regional Haven Multi-purpose Center in Palo, Leyte last June 26, 2013. RVP Bacareza handed-over a P465,000 check to the Regional Haven head Ms. Luz Davis and DSWD Assistant Regional Director Virginia Edano. The same amount was also given to the run’s national beneficiary, the Philippine Childrens’ Medical Center. A representative of one of the major sponsors of the PhilHealth-DOH Run, Sister Gertrude Batan of the Divine Word Hospital, was on hand to witness the turnover.
In her acceptance speech, DSWD Assistant Regional Director Ms. Virginia Edano expressed her heartfelt gratitude to PhilHealth for the much needed support. According to her, the funds will be used to purchase medical equipment such as portable oxygen tank and glocumeter. They will also hire the services of an Ob-Gyne to regularly check on the health of their pregnant wards. A portion of the funds will also be used to pay for the PhilHealth premium of their residents without PhilHealth coverage.
It may be recalled that the PhilHealth DOH-Run was a nationwide activity held simultaneously in 18 cities, to commemorate PhilHealth’s 18th anniversary. It was one of the biggest running events ever held in Tacloban. Almost 6,000 runners from the different parts of the region participated. It also garnered the support of the City Government of Tacloban, other local government units, private establishments, government agencies, PhilHealth-accredited facilities, schools and the Philippine Azkals who sent five of their players to join the run in Tacloban.
According to RVP Bacareza, "it was more than just a running event but more of a statement, that PhilHealth is indeed determined to achieve universal health care in Eastern Visayas with the support of all stakeholders." Bacareza further said that "women and children were chosen as beneficiaries as their welfare is close to our heart as we raced towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that also championed their welfare."
The Regional Haven is a temporary shelter for abused women and orphaned/abandoned/abused children and is under the management of the DSWD. Currently, they have 18 women and 11 children in their care.

SSS Property for Sale at Bonifacio Global City



SSS Property for Sale at Bonifacio Global City 

        The Social Security System (SSS) has announced the sale through competitive bidding of its 8,300 square meter prime property located at the heart of Bonifacio Global City (BGC).
        The vacant lot in BGC or commonly known as Block 56 is located along McKinley Parkway, between the 10th and 11th Avenues and near commercial areas such as the newly-opened SM Aura, Market! Market! and the Bonifacio High Street.
       View Invitation to Bid here.
       View Terms of Reference here.

SSS suspends implementation of guidelines on voluntary contributions beyond age 65

The Social Security System (SSS) suspended the implementation of its guidelines on voluntary contributions for members age 65 and over, who lack the required monthly contributions fo retirement pension.
       SSS Vice-President Agnes San Jose explained that the intention of the guidelines was to protect the fund of the System and to ensure appropriate payment of benefits to the members. "However, we are not insensitive to the issues being raised, and the Commission together with Management agreed to revisit the guidelines, which the System issued last April 2013."
       The SSS will re-evaluate the current process and institute procedural controls to ensure the exercise of diligence and prudence in benefit payments.



SSS-PNB agreement on UMID Card ATM Project 

        Social Security System (SSS) President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr. (center) and Philippine National Bank (PNB) Chairman Florencia Tarriela (2nd from left) shake hands after the two institutions formalized their partnership under the "SSS Unified Multipurpose Identification System (UMID) Card ATM Project" during ceremonies at the Executive Lounge of the SSS Corporate Headquarters in Diliman, Quezon City on July 30.
        Under the agreement, SSS members with SSS-issued UMID cards can go to a PNB branch office to enable their cards to be used as an ATM card, if they opt to directly withdraw funds from their SSS loans and benefits using their UMID cards. SSS expects to offer this new UMID service to SSS members before the end of 2013. Also present at the signing were (from left) PNB Senior Vice President Elisa Cua, SSS Special Assistant to the PCEO Ma. Lourdes Mendoza and SSS Vice President Gamelin Oczon.

Immigration guide Shorter waiting period expected for US family category visa starting Aug. 1


Each month, the United States Department of State (DOS) publishes a Visa Bulletin listing the cut-off priority date for each of the various family and employment-based immigration categories.

The most recently issued Visa Bulletin, effective Aug. 1, 2013, sheds great hope to many struggling to legalize their status in the United States and/or be reunited with long separated family members.  
The cut-off priority date listed on the Aug. 2013 Visa Bulletin for the F2A family-based category is “C,” or Current. 

Therefore, starting Aug. 1, there will be absolutely no waiting list for the F2A category.  Relative petitions are classified under the F2A category when the petitioner is a green card holder and the beneficiary is a spouse or unmarried child under age 21.  
For those outside the U.S., this means that the Embassy can proceed with the processing of the immigrant visa for those in the F2A category immediately upon approval of the I-130 Relative Petition.  This will reduce the processing time for issuance of the immigrant visa significantly.
For those already in the U.S., it will allow certain individuals eligible for F2A classification to file for adjustment of status, along with a work permit and advance parole travel document. 

Eligible individuals will be those who are still in valid lawful status, such as a B-2 tourist, F-1 student, H-1B work, or other nonimmigrant visa.  Other eligible individuals will be those grandfathered under INA §245(i).
To be grandfathered under INA §245(i), an individual must have been a primary or derivative beneficiary of a family or employment-based petition filed on or before April 30, 2001, and the primary beneficiary must have been physically present in the U.S. on Dec. 21, 2000. 

If the family or employment-based petition was filed on or before Jan. 14, 1998, however, then the physical presence requirement does not apply.  
The DOS predicts that the F2A category will remain current for “several months” only.  It will, in all likelihood, retrogress at some point so that there will once again be some type of waiting list. 

Once this occurs, the ability to immediately file for adjustment of status, work permit, and advance parole will no longer be available.  Individuals must therefore ensure that they capitalize on this rare opportunity. Philippine News
For further information, please schedule an appointment with Atty. Allison Aquino or Atty. Richard M. Loew of Aquino and Loew, A Professional Law Corporation; Tel: (888) 797-1140 or (626) 799-3089; Email:; 625 Fair Oaks Avenue, #101, South Pasadena, CA 91030.  Please also visit Aquino & Loew at  Aquino & Loew also handles family law and criminal matters.  

Daughter of Pinay murdered in US copes, graduates from high school with honors

ONTARIO, Calif. – There were 18 of everything. Eighteen roses, 18 candles, 18 treasures, and 18 years of birthdays marked, with only one thing missing – her mother.
Cheryl Rose Tolentino, only daughter of Charito Tolentino, celebrated her 18th birthday and high school graduation without her beloved mother.
While mourning her mother’s death with her father as prime suspect on January 11, Tolentino has found the strength to carry on, nurtured by a loving family and relatives from far and near.
She graduated with principal’s honors from Troy High School in Fullerton, Calif., on June 13. She said she will attend the American University in Washington, D.C., where her mother’s brother Veo Tolentino and his wife reside.
A week later, she celebrated her 18th birthday on June 22, with a grand debutante’s ball at the Grove Ballroom, Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Ontario, Calif. Every out-of-town relative was accounted for, even ‘Kuya’ Jun Tolentino from Canada. The ballroom lit up, exploding with the artistry of close friend Ed Rame.
 “And it’s just the way my mom and I had planned it a year ago, when I was only 17,''
the saddened teen told Philippine News, “but I know she’s happy watching as we celebrate tonight. Our family friend Dolly Robinson, helped during the first stages of planning this event.”
The pride of the Tolentino family, Cheryl Rose earned the pet name ‘Precious,’ according to Christine ‘Xtine’ Macalalad, because her aunt Charito had three miscarriages and “Cheryl Rose is her mom’s precious gift.”
Always an achiever, Tolentino graduated valedictorian in grade school. At age eight, she appeared on stage at a Hollywood theater for a two-week run of the Filipino American play ‘Stateside Girls.’
“Her teacher said that Cheryl Rose has the potential to be the next president of the United States,” stated Macalalad, “but at her high school graduation, she was promoted, and instead of being the next president, she was awarded Most Likely to be the Next Oprah.”
Writing and dancing Polynesian are Tolentino’s passions. She served as Public Relations editor of Troy High School’s yearbook ‘Ilium,’ and won the Business Marketing award at the 2012 Yearbook West Camp on July 30 last year.  She interned at the Orange County Register for a year, writing about fashion, surfing, beach safety tips, and beach bonfire basics – what to bring, what to make, where to get a spot.
She was president of three clubs: the Ohana Club, a musical group that she founded which serves the community with fundraisers while entertaining seniors; the Polynesian dance group and the Live Poets Society. She was a member of the Pinoys Sharing Smiles Together (PSST); the Youth Leadership America, and the National Student Leadership Conference. She was a volunteer at the West Covina Library for four years, coordinating events and working with the annual Summer Reading Program.
“Tonight we celebrate the rite of passage of Cheryl Rose Tolentino,” announced emcee Bernardo Bernardo,” followed by the entrance of the debutante in a pristine white gown with escort Wesley Chaing. Her niece led the court as the flower girl. “She’s the baby of the family,” added Bernardo, “Hailey Jaidenne Macalalad, daughter of Cheryl’s cousins PJ and Sheila Macalalad.” Eight pairs of close friends from school completed her ‘court of honor.’
The invocation was delivered by ‘Ate Christine,’ an active member of St. John Eudes Music Ministry in Chatsworth, Calif., who is considered the most influential person in Cheryl Rose’s life. During dinner, there were video clips, a flashback of the celebrant’s life, growing up in the company of her mom, relatives and school chums.
What followed next were the 18 treasures ceremony, the welcome by Uncle and legal guardian Rudy Santuray and a hearty toast to debutante Cheryl Rose. And if guests were expecting Vienna Waltz for the Cotillion de Honor, they were delightfully surprised to see them dance to the music of Harry Potter Waltz. Bryan Naguit, the celebrant’s junior year prom date, choreographed the cotillion.
Participants of the 18 treasures rite were former classmates and friends of the celebrant while in the 18 candles ceremony, they were chosen women close to the debutante who expressed their greetings signifying roles they played in the life of Cheryl Rose. The ‘guiding light’ in the life of the celebrant included Auntie Delia Santuray, her legal guardian, whom the celebrant called ‘Kikik.’ “It was because when Cheryl was a baby,” said Macaladlad, “Aunt Del played with her and greeted her with arikikikikik and it stuck, so now everyone calls her Kikik.”
Aunt Letts, the oldest sister of Charito, was the only one among family members and guests who made reference to “the darkest moment” in her niece’s life and to her “strength” in coping with the tragedy. She’s her niece's favorite for her ‘bulanglang and ribs’ dishes.
Others who expressed best wishes for the debutante were Tita Mament, wife of Uncle Boying from Los Feliz;  Daryl Ann Santuray, daughter of Delia, who grew up with Cheryl Rose’s mom; Aizell Tolentino, who is Cheryl Rose’s fashion inspiration; Pilar Ponce, a co-worker from Saint Vincent, a confidante and very good friend of Charito; Marilyn Avengoza, a close family friend, who spoke for her daughter Lara Avengoza, Cheryl Rose’s godmother in confirmation; Chrystal Ngo, closest friend since grade school; and ‘Ate Christine,’ among others.
The 18 roses received came from relatives and close friends, who also danced with the celebrant, including Tito Peter who bought her a dog during the second day of their vacation in the Philippines; Kuya Jun Tolentino from Canada; Kuya PJ Macalalad who used to baby sit her; Rodell Santuray, “my role model,” said Tolentino, “like an older brother”; and writer friend Raymond Lo, to name a few.  
After sharing her birthday cake with her guests, the honoree thanked her family and friends for their love and support and for giving her the strength to carry on. Philippine News

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pinay siblings caught with 14 kg of drugs at HK airport

Hong Kong Customs authorities arrested two Filipina siblings at the Hong Kong International Airport Sunday after finding 14 kilos of methamphetamine or "ice" in their luggage.

report on Radio Television Hong Kong Monday evening described the two women as aged 27 and 31, and bound for the Philippines.

The report said the drugs were hidden inside false compartments of three suitcases.

Quoting Hong Kong Customs officers, the RTHK report said the drugs could have a street value of around HK$11 million (P61.438 million).

But they said the drugs could have fetched double the amount if it were sold in the Philippines.

The seizure was the biggest in Hong Kong since 2011, the report added.

The seizure came less than a month after a Filipina drug courier was executed in China. — DVM, GMA News

Monday, July 29, 2013

Uphold Patient's Rights, End Onerous Policies of Hospitals!

To: The Philippine Senate Committee on Health; The Philippine House Committee on Health, and the Secretary of the Dept. of Health

End Onerous Hospital policy of disallowing in-patients from purchasing medicines and supplies outside the hospital pharmacy which are much cheaper but of the same quality. 

Pinoys in Guam ready to welcome PHL warship BRP Alcaraz Saturday

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the Philippine Navy's second warship, is to arrive in Guam on Saturday, the Philippine Embassy in Washington said Friday.
On its Twitter account, the Philippine Consulate General in Agana said the vessel's crew is due for a warm welcome from the Filipino community in Guam.
"(The) Philippine Consulate General in Agana says the Filipino Community (is) ready to welcome BRP Ramon Alcaraz which will arrive in Guam on Saturday," the consulate said.
It added Philippine Consul General Bayani Mangibin will lead the welcoming party in Guam.
Guam is the last stop in the BRP Ramon Alcaraz's voyage to the Philippines, the embassy said.
Earlier, the Philippine Navy said it is preparing a grand welcome for the BRP Ramon Alcaraz at Subic on August 4.
President Benigno Aquino III is expected to take part in the welcome for the Philippine Navy's newest vessel at Subic.
Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the vessel was scheduled to reach the Philippines on August 3.
BRP Ramon Alcaraz is named after Filipino naval hero Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, who gained distinction in World War II by shooting down three Japanese Zero fighters who tried to attack his ship. 
It is the second Hamilton-class cutter acquired by the Philippines under the Excess Defense Article and Military Assistance Program, after the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF15). 
The Philippine Embassy said the 378-foot-long BRP Ramon Alcaraz was originally commissioned in 1968 and served in the US Coast Guard as the USCGC Dallas.  — ELR, GMA News

Pinoy guard in UAE charged for stealing nearly P1M worth of gadgets

A Filipino security guard was charged before a United Arab Emirates court over allegations he stole gadgets worth Dh81,000 (P954,692) from an electronics shop where he worked.
The Filipino guard, 30, was charged with workplace theft in the Court of First Instance, UAE news siteKhaleej Times reported Saturday.
While inventories as early as May showed that electronic items including mobile phones and tablets had been missing, it was not until July 2 that the guard was "clearly" caught by surveillance cameras, the report said.
According to the Khaleej Times report, the guard admitted during police and prosecution interrogation that he stole the goods during his night duty at the shopping mall.
The trader's electronics shop is located in a mall in Bur Dubai area. The thefts are believed to have started in May and lasted until July 2.
During prosecution investigation, the company owner, a 43-year-old Indian trader, said the inventory for May had indicated some goods were missing from the shop's warehouse.
He said initial footage from the surveillance cameras showed a man moving suspiciously in the place but his face was not clear.
Last July 2, cameras caught the guard arriving at the warehouse, pushing the electronics from behind the metallic net, then picking them up.
The police, promptly alerted, proceeded to arrest the guard.
The investigation showed the guard cut the lower part of the warehouse’s metallic net so he could pick up the gadgets. - VVP, GMA News

Pinoys, other workers forced to spend nights in ‘burning rooms’ in UAE

Filipinos are among hundreds of Asian workers now suffering from the summer heat at a camp in Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates, a UAE news site reported.

A district cooling malfunction had kept the workers from getting some sleep in their quarters amid the heat, Gulf News reported last Thursday.

“Sleep has become a luxury for us. The temperature in my room is unbearable, I wake up sweating,” said Alan, 36, a Filipino pipe-fitter.

He said he has had problems focusing on his job because of this.

Alan is one of the workers of Gulf Marine Maintenance and Offshore Service Co (GMMOS), a Jebel Ali-based firm.

The Gulf News report said an inspection report dated June 18 showed up to 40 rooms in the camp, which the company leased in January, had insufficient cooling or the air-conditioner is only on fan mode.

“Lack of sleep is a welfare issue, but it is also a safety issue,” added Albino Allado, the company’s health, safety and environment manager.

He said the company was now looking for another accommodation, but added this was easier said than done.

Imtyaz Mohammad Petkar, 53, the camp's manager, added: “Our camp is burning, our people are unable to sleep.”

“Our people here are suffering. They work hard under the hot sun during the day. We have been complaining to the landlord’s representative, and he keeps promising they will fix it. I’m very upset about the whole situation,” he added.

Pails next to beds

The report said some workers in one of the rooms kept pails of water next to their beds in hopes it could cool the air around them.

Others sprayed water on themselves before lying on a mat on the floor, while many set the ceiling fan at high speed.

Some sleep in the camp’s mess hall, but have to wake up early as the catering staff would deliver breakfast at 4 a.m.

The workers are transported by bus to an open-air metal fabrication shop, where work starts at 6 a.m.

The Gulf News report said the landlord, company managers and the district cooling provider, Emicool, had been passing the blame.

It quoted Malik, the landlord’s representative, as saying the problem actually affected 80 rooms at the far end of Emicool’s district cooling network.

Emicool faced a water shortage due to a burst water distribution pipe that had caused flooding near Ibn Battuta Mall.

“We’ve had this situation since May,” said Soujan, a quality control engineer who stays on the fourth floor of the building.

On the other hand, Dino, 27, an Indian nurse, said the air-conditioning technicians blamed them for opening the windows. — LBG, GMA News

POEA urges recruiters of household workers to Kuwait to follow minimum salary of US$400

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) warned recruitment agencies deploying household workers to Kuwait and other Middle East countries to adhere strictly to the minimum salary of US$400 to avoid their licenses from being cancelled.
Speaking before the first General Membership meeting of Philippine Licensed Agencies to Kuwait (PHILAAK), POEA chief Hans Cacdac said, “The POEA will not hesitate to cancel or suspend licenses for erring agencies. At least 60 licenses have been cancelled and 130  have been suspended since 2012 for violation the POEA Rules and Regulations.”

OFWs deployed to Kuwait reached over 75,000 workers in 2012, more half were HSWs, he noted.
PHILAAK members should adhere to the 2007 HSW reform package to  insure the success of the market, Cacdac said.

Meanwhile, the POEA also welcomed the setting-up of an onsite welfare center for HSWs by PHILAAK and their counterparts to  prevent incidents of runaways and alleged abuses.  
Kuwait hosts to more than 30,000 household workers, surpassing Saudi Arabia, which imposed a deployment ban on HSWs from 2011-2012 and Hong Kong. - VVP, GMA News

DFA: No Pinoy casualties in Spain train crash so far

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said there have been no reports yet of Filipinos being hurt in the train crash in Spain that killed 78 people.

In a text message to GMA News Online on Saturday,  DFA Spokesman Raul Hernandez said, "
“Ambassador Carlos Salinas of our Philippine Embassy in Madrid informed DFA yesterday that based on information from local authorities, so far there are no reported Filipino casualties in the train accident in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.”

On Wednesday, at least 78 people were killed while another 131 were injured after a train was derailed from its track in Santiago de Compostela.

He added that, “The embassy continues to check with Spanish authorities to determine if there is any Filipino involved in the accident.”

Hernandez said the DFA has been getting information directly from the Philippine post in Madrid.

There are 51,960 overseas Filipinos in Spain based on the 2011 Stock Estimate of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.


Spanish police were investigating on Friday if the driver of a train that crashed in Santiago de Compostela killing dozens had been driving at reckless speed when he took a tight curve, Reuters news agency said.

Spain's worst train accident in decades on Wednesday evening killed at least 78, with three bodies still unidentified and 81 people in hospital, raising questions about the experienced railwayman's actions.

The driver, Francisco Garzon, 52, was under arrest at a hospital in Santiago, the capital of the northwestern region of Galicia. He had been due to give a statement to police but local media reported he had declined to do so.

Garzon was being investigated for criminal behaviour in causing the accident and "recklessness", regional police chief Jaime Iglesias said.

A spokeswoman for Galicia's Supreme Court said Garzon had not yet been charged and evidence including from the train's "black box" data recorded was being assembled.

Renfe, the Spanish state train company, said Garzon was a 30-year company veteran who had been driving for a decade. He was highly qualified and had been driving on the line where the accident took place for about a year. The train was running on time when the crash occurred.

On the morning of the tragedy, he had driven a train on the same line, which connects the coastal city of La Coruna with Madrid, and a Renfe spokesman said he knew every twist and turn of the route.

Sharp curve

Spanish media have widely reported that Garzon took the sharp curve with an 80 km/h (50 mph) speed limit at more than twice that speed. The driver was not available for comment and Reuters was not able to locate his family or his lawyer.

The head of the state track operator ADIF said on TV news that there was a sign warning drivers to slow 4 kilometers before the curve, which follows a section of high speed track.

However, another train driver on the line told Cadena Ser radio that the blame should not be put on his colleague.

"There is no safety warning for the speed, it's pure human factor, you have to slow down manually and you have no assistance in the cabin," said Manuel Mato. "When you exit the high-speed section you start slowing down ... you have like 4 km to the curve," he added. A high-speed train would cover that distance in less than a minute.

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Princess Letizia visited the injured in hospital on Friday as well as volunteers who helped in the aftermath of the tragedy.

The crash happened on the eve of the festival of St James, one of Jesus's 12 disciples, whose remains are said to rest in a Santiago shrine that draws huge numbers of pilgrims every year. Thousands of people were in town for the annual event, which was cancelled when officials declared a week of mourning.

Four foreigners were among the dead, from the United States, Italy, Mexico and Algeria.

Two safety systems

The train involved, made by Bombardier and Talgo, was a series 730 that Renfe uses for its Alvia service, which is faster than conventional trains but slower than AVE trains that criss-cross Spain at even higher speeds.

The train was built in 2007-2009, but remodelled in 2012.

The train is designed to operate on conventional and high-speed tracks that make use of two different types of safety systems that are meant to regulate excessive speed.

On high-speed lines, trains use the European Train Control System, or ETCS, which automatically slows down a train that is going too fast.

On slower lines, trains operate under an older system called ASFA, a Spanish acronym for Signal Announcement and Automatic Braking, which warns the driver if a train is moving too fast but does not automatically slow it down. - with a report from Reuters, VVP, GMA News

Thursday, July 25, 2013

'Be prudent in posting OFW requests for help on social media'

Posted at 07/23/2013 2:58 PM | Updated as of 07/23/2013 2:58 PM

MANILA - Filipinos using the power of social media to disseminate information, especially requests for assistance, are urged to be cautious of what they post online.
"The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh requests the public to be prudent about various postings on social media requesting for assistance for Filipinos. Some of the postings are old and recycled. Others use telephone numbers not belonging to person," the embassy advisory stated.
The post likewise urged community members from taking action on their own without the knowledge or assistance of local authorities.
"In all cases, and if prior verification was possible, the best recourse is to send an email with the information and details so that the Embassy could verify the required assistance. Sharing such postings on the Internet and social medial may not reach the Embassy or POLO," it stated.
The embassy said it received an email regarding OFW Gina Madamba Pastor whose picture, contact number and request for assistance had been posted on a social network site for several months.
"On 25 May 2013, the embassy called the contact number of OFW Gina Pastor in Qatif and was able to talk to the wife of employer who conveyed to the Embassy that Ms. Pastor has obtained a final exit visa and would leave the Kingdom on 29 May 2013," said the embassy.
Another email of the same post was again received by the embassy on July 6 and 21. The embassy reconfirmed with Madame Ali that Pastor left the Kingdom months ago.
"The Embassy requests all those who post or send the Embassy emails with such postings to verify the status of the individuals prior to sharing or sending the email," the embassy said.

Japan court rescinds deportation of overstaying Pinoy

Posted at 07/19/2013 6:24 PM | Updated as of 07/19/2013 6:24 PM

NAGOYA - The Nagoya District Court ruled Thursday that a Filipino man who overstayed in Japan can remain in the country, nullifying the local immigration bureau's decision that he be deported.

The Nagoya immigration office issued a statement saying that it will "review the ruling carefully and decide future steps in consultation with the Justice Ministry."

According to the ruling, the 34-year-old man came to Japan in March 2006 on a short-term visa, which he overstayed. In March 2010, he married a Philippine citizen who was previously married to a Japanese national, living with her and her children from the previous marriage.

The man turned himself in to the Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau in June that year and sought special permission to stay, but his request was turned down. He received a deportation order in December 2011.

Presiding Judge Akiyo Fukui said the immigration bureau chief's rejection "made light of his matrimonial relationship with the legally staying wife with a permanent residence permit, as well as the family situation in which he was supporting her children from the previous marriage."

Why Germany is opening market to Filipino nurses

By Sarah Marsh, Reuters

Posted at 07/22/2013 1:36 AM | Updated as of 07/22/2013 12:47 PM
  • Germany needs immigrants due to ageing population, labour shortages
  • Berlin reduces red tape and boasts liberal immigration laws
  • Starting to tackle discrimination, hostility to immigrants
  • Migrants have growing share of vote, courted by parties
BERLIN - Ata Ucertas, a doctor from Istanbul with a moustache that curls up his cheeks, was welcomed with open arms when he came to Germany this year, evidence of a shift in German attitudes as its population shrinks and labour becomes scarce.

Helped by a shortage of doctors in Germany, the 25-year-old Ucertas was issued with a visa to come learn German within two months of applying. "The immigration officials were really nice to me," he said.

After decades of tending to depict the millions of residents of Turkish origin in Germany as a drag on society, policymakers are now courting foreigners and learning to be more inclusive.

A fifth of residents and a third of school children have a migrant background, making up a growing share of the electorate.
With elections approaching in September, the changing attitudes are reflected in the rhetoric of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

A decade ago when unemployment was high and immigration laws strict, Merkel's party campaigned on slogans like "Kinder statt Inder" (Children instead of Indians). Now they are calling for a "welcome culture" towards migrants.

"Germany is making a lot of effort to promote immigration because of the very severe demographic situation which will affect it more than virtually any other OECD country," said OECD migration expert Thomas Liebig.

"The discussion about a welcome culture is part of the whole process of becoming a country for which migration is normal."
With joblessness near its lowest level since the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990, the country faces a shortage of 5.4 million skilled workers by 2025, despite attempts to mobilise women and older people.

Nearly 300,000 people, mainly from the European Union, migrated on a long-term basis to Germany in 2011, OECD data shows, around a third more than in 2010. Most came from the eastern states that joined the EU in 2004, such as Poland.

Germany has long been notorious for its bureaucratic hurdles and an offputting attitude towards economic migration.
The hundreds of thousands of "guest workers" recruited from Italy, Greece, Turkey and other southern states in the 1960s to help it rebuild from the rubble of World War Two were not encouraged to integrate and learn the language, though many did.
Fearing unemployment in the 1970s oil crisis, Germany shut its doors and tried to repatriate the no longer welcome guests.

Influxes of asylum seekers and ethnic Germans from the ex-Soviet Union in the 1990s and the challenges of reunification made Germany even more reluctant to open up. Limits on migration from new EU members in the 2000s lasted longer than elsewhere in the bloc.

"For decades we turned our authorities into a firewall; we told them to keep these people at bay, they only want to get into our social systems," said Peter Clever, a leader of the BDA employers' union. "They were asked not to be that friendly."
But as Germany's job market improved in the 2000s, shortages occurred, and stop-gap measures such as deals to recruit healthcare workers from China and the Philippines were not enough to make up the shortfalls.

Germany has been unwinding its recruitment ban, starting with highly qualified workers and slashing the minimum salary and investment that workers and entrepreneurs needed to immigrate.

This month it jettisoned 40 percent of its immigration rules, lowering barriers for medium-skilled workers in sectors with chronic shortages such as train drivers and electricians.

"This little revolution has gone by largely unnoticed," said the OECD's Liebig. For highly skilled workers Germany now has some of the most liberal immigration laws of the 34 OECD states.

It is tackling the language barrier by setting up new courses abroad and helping people get their qualifications recognised so doctors do not have to work as taxi drivers.

It is recruiting foreigners to study at its universities and for its highly regarded apprenticeships, with a current focus on areas of southern Europe with soaring youth unemployment.

The southern town of Mindelheim, which has a jobless rate of 2.2 percent, effectively full employment, recruited 20-year-old Spaniard Jan Sabater ViƱals for a hotel apprenticeship.

"I clearly have a lot more opportunities in Germany than in Spain," he said. "I want to stay three years, maybe more."

Immigration is rising so much that Germany's population grew in 2011 for the first time in nearly a decade. But relative to its population it still attracts only a tenth as many foreign workers as countries like Canada that have traditionally welcomed immigration.
And many of the guest worker generation and their families still feel unwelcome, particularly the non-Europeans.
Baris Yesildag, 26, selling baklava pastries on the Berlin Turkish street market, says he was born in Germany to Turkish parents but had never been accepted as a German: "I did voluntary military service here, but an officer told me I was only doing it for the money and not for Germany."

While the far-right is politically weak, xenophobic views still make it into the mainstream debate in Germany.
A 2010 book by ex-Bundesbanker Thilo Sarrazin slamming Muslims as welfare spongers became a best-seller, emboldening some conservatives to attack migrants for failing to fit in.

Experts say hostility has been fuelled by the low status of the guest workers who struggled to rise up the socio-economic ladder. Many Germans blamed this on their unwillingness to integrate. In reality, a school system that streams pupils from a young age and only teaches for half the day doesn't help guest workers' children learn good German and means may are later stuck in low-skilled jobs.
The United Nations says Germany has been sluggish to tackle discrimination in areas like housing, which have led to migrants living in ghettoised communities. Immigrants are also still underrepresented in public office, the police and media.
Crucially, however, the latest wave of immigrants face fewer obstacles to social inclusion, not least because they are mostly highly educated Europeans who have had language help.


Former Social Democrat Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder started the drive for a more inclusive society with the reform of a bloodline-based citizenship law dating back to 1913 to enable immigrants to get nationality. He also brought in courses to familiarise newcomers with the culture and language.

Merkel has to work harder to win over her conservatives, who are traditionally tougher on immigrants, but her efforts are having a trickle-down effect. A 2006 "Diversity Charter" signed by four private companies now has more than 1,500 signatories.

In a ceremony in Berlin, men and women from as far afield as Nigeria and China, sporting attire from headscarves to African prints, beam as they receive their new citizenship papers.

Among them was Karolina Krolicka, a 22 year old Polish-born law student with a slight accent. She arrived in Germany with her family years ago and wants to stay.

Krolicka swore her allegiance to the German constitution during the ceremony, which culminated in Germany's new citizens rising to sing the national anthem.

"I'm going to celebrate now," she said

Filipina cries discrimination vs airline

07/25/2013 1:48 AMMuntik nang hindi matuloy ang pagbiyahe ng isang katutubong Pinay sa World Youth Day sa Brazil. Ito'y matapos kuwestiyunin ng tauhan ng isang airline company ang kanyang kakayahang bumiyahe. Magba-Bandila si Rod Bolivar. Bandila, Huly 24, 2013, Miyerkules

Pag-IBIG expands services to Pinoys in Oman

Posted at 07/24/2013 12:45 PM | Updated as of 07/24/2013 12:45 PM

MANILA – The Pag-IBIG Fund opened an Information Desk in the Sultanate of Oman to provide services to about 50,000 Filipinos in the country.

"The OFW membership is one of Pag-IBIG’s fastest growing segments. The number of OFW members has grown by 60% annually since 2010. Today, we have about 3 million members working abroad. That’s 24% of our total membership of 12.5 million,” said Pag-IBIG Chairman Vice President Jejomar Binay.

The information desk, located inside the Philippine Embassy in Muscat, is part of the Fund’s thrust to make its services more accessible and responsive to the members’ needs. Pag-IBIG Fund operates 19 overseas posts around the globe.
"We want to be where our members are. And we want them to know that we are at their service. I met a member in Oman who invested P1.02 Million in our Modified Pag-IBIG II Savings Program (MP2). I felt very much honored of the fact that he chose to invest his hard-earned money in Pag-IBIG Fund,” said Pag-IBIG President Darlene Berberabe.

The MP2 Program is a voluntary savings program for Pag-IBIG members where their minimum savings of P500 a month for a fixed period of five years shall earn higher annual dividends compared to the mandatory savings program of Pag-IBIG.
"With our wide array of services, I want to inform our members that they can rely on Pag-IBIG for their every need,” Berberabe said.

The agency recently doubled the housing loan amount from P3 million to P6 million and reduced the interest rates. A separate socialized housing program with a 4.5% interest rate fixed for 10 years was also launched to help minimum wage earners own a home.

Lanuza victim's family finally signs court decision

Posted at 07/25/2013 3:59 PM | Updated as of 07/25/2013 4:42 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino worker Rodelio "Dondon" Lanuza may soon be freed, after the family of his victim has reportedly signed the court decision needed for his release.

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said he received a report from Ambassador Ezzedin Tago that the victim's family already signed the printed copy of the court decision that has an updated notation that the family has accepted the blood money and is no longer pursuing its earlier demand for qizas or beheading.

"I learned from Ambassador Tago that Lanuza’s case file will no longer be sent to the Court of Appeals and will be forwarded to the Emir’s office once the judge in charge signs the endorsement," he said.

Binay quoted Tago as saying Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Sayyari, Head of the Dammam Grand Court, has instructed the administrative supervisor to prepare the endorsement so it could be signed and sent immediately.

Once the judge in charge signs the endorsement, Lanuza's case file will be sent to the Emir's office. The Emir’s office will then issue an order on the settlement of the case and the complete case file will be sent to the Ministry of Interior for clearance.

After the ministry issued the clearance, the Emarah will direct the concerned police authorities including jail authorities to begin deportation procedures.

Lanuza was on death row for allegedly killing a Saudi national. Saudi's highest court affirmed his death penalty in 2001 but he was pardoned after the family asked for blood money.

The Philippine government together with private individuals and non-government organizations raised 700,000 riyals (P7.6 million) for Lanuza’s blood money. The Saudi king meanwhile shouldered the balance of 2.3 million riyals needed for his release.

Why OFWs are disappointed with PNoy's SONA

By Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau

Posted at 07/24/2013 4:03 PM | Updated as of 07/24/2013 7:35 PM

KUWAIT CITY - Overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East joined other Filipinos across the globe on Monday in watching the fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III.
The SONA that lasted for almost two hours outlined the achievements of the administration and the current state of the country and the Filipinos.
Most of the OFWs in the Middle East turned to The Filipino Channel for the live coverage of the SONA while others who were at work watched the free live-streaming on their computers as they waited patiently from President Aquino to say something that would benefit over 10 million OFWs in various parts of the world.
But, to their great dismay, the president only lauded Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and said nothing more about the millions of Filipinos abroad.
“Bakit naman ganun? Pang-apat na SONA na ni Pangulong Aquino ito pero ganun pa rin nakalimutan pa rin niya tayong mga OFWs. Hindi ba niya iniisip ang ating malaking contribution sa ekonomiya ng bansa,” said Dorie Antiporda who has been working as a master cutter for 13 years now in Kuwait. She has been planning to go home for good but after watching the SONA, she decided to stay.
“Wala pa rin akong nakikitang pagbabago. Bilang isang OFW, hindi ko pa rin nararamadaman ang sinasabi ng Pangulo na pagbabago,” pointed out Raymond Hubahib, a staff in one of the biggest haute couture shops in Kuwait.
The remittances from the OFWs have kept the Philippine economy afloat despite the global economic crisis. According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, land-based workers sent $6.7 billion, while seafarers contributed $2.1 billion as of May this year. Personal remittances from Filipinos abroad reached $23.8 billion in 2012, an all-time high.
"I watched SONA. I am impressed! Sorry sa mga ako sa dami ng accomplishments...1 hour & 45 minutes in Tagalog...ok lang din! It's more fun to invest in the Philippines now. Why not? True naman sa taas ng GDP growth rate of 6.5% in 2012 to 7.8% in 1st Quarter 2013...Gross National Income of 5.7% to 6.1%...wala munang kokontra...Invest na...ang saya-saya na,” pointed out Necie de Asis, a CPA and former President of PICPA-EP-KSA in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
Most OFWs in Saudi Arabia share the same dissatisfaction on the President’s SONA especially among Filipino Community leaders who have been helping distressed OFWs.
"Medyo dismayado lang ako sa SONA ni PNoy dahil apat na taon po akong nag-aabang na kung anong plano o programa ng pamahalaang Aquino para sa mga OFW at bilang volunteer ng PEBA ay marami kaming nakikita ng problema lalung-lalo na dito sa tent city sa Saudi Arabia at minamaltrato sa Kuwait, Kahit hindi man nya na-mention ang OFW nitong mga nakaraang SONA at sa pinakabagong SONA sana po may magagawa rin po siya para sa mga OFW,” said Jebee Solis of Pinoy Expats/Blog Awards in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
“Sana man lang binigyan ng Pangulong Aquino ng pansin kaming mga OFWs lalung-lalo na ang mga undocumented at distressed OFWS dito sa Saudi Arabia na umaasa ng tulong nya. Kami rin ay may malaking naiambag sa ekonomiya ng ating bansa," said Bong Retuya of Rama Modern in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
On the other hand, some gave the President a passing mark as they lauded him for eradicating corruption and instituting various reforms in government offices.
“Nakita ko po talagang buong puso ang kanyang pagsalita at nakikita naman na marami siyang nagawa at nakikita naman sa kanyang pananalita na gagawin at gagawin talaga niya nang buong puso ang lahat para maayos ang ating bansa. Lalung-lalo na ang mga corrupt na wawalisin niya,” Marshall Caballero who has been working as a foreman in Doha, Qatar, for 21 years now.
“I am proud to be Filipino with all my heart because we have a leader like him. I hope everyone realizes that he needs our help by supporting him as well criticizing his government to be better. Never felt so proud to be Filipino till today and can't wait for the time that we can all go home and work and be well in our own country,” said Gian Carlo Pacheco, an IT executive in Kuwait.
“Marami rin namang nagawang kabutihan si President Aquino. Di naman pwede baguhin ang sistema ng isang kisap-mata lang. Ginagawa naman niya ang lahat ng kanyang makakaya. At least sa administration niya, nakakabili pa ng mga eroplano at barko para sa military pero nong nakaraang administrasyon, sila pa ang nagbebenta ng overpriced na mga lumang helicopter. Magtulungan na lang tayo,” said Rey Santos, a research analyst in one of the food companies in Kuwait.
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