Friday, November 29, 2013

New rules make sponsoring visas for parents in UAE tougher

New rules have made it tougher for Filipinos and other foreign expatriates wanting to bring their families there on residence visas, a UAE news site reported Thursday.

Gulf News cited a UAE federal government source who said new rules no longer allow dependents such as parents and children over 18 to get visas automatically.

The Gulf News report quoted the government source as saying the tightened measures stemmed from "violations and abuse" of the previous visa system.

"Henceforth, such visas will be issued on humanitarian grounds or emergent reasons, said the source who did not want to be named," it said.

But the Gulf News report added the rules for expatriates sponsoring wives and children under 18 remain unchanged.

It added expats earning a minimum of Dh5,000 (P59,455) a month with suitable housing allowance can bring spouses and children under 18 to the UAE on residence visas.

In recent days, several expats applying for permanent visas for their parents - including those earning above Dh20,000 (P237,822) - have been turned away, the report said.

Another affected resident, a Filipino, said his application for sponsoring his widowed mother-in-law was rejected.

“I had documents showing my monthly salary, two bedroom tenancy contract and proof of my mother-in-law’s widowhood,” he said.

This has presented a problem for many residents who said there is no one to take care of their parents back home.

According to the residents, bringing parents to the UAE on visit visas is expensive and not feasible.

Violations

The Gulf News report quoted its source as saying the Ministry of Interior learned of cases where residents violated humanitarian exemption guidelines for parents.

“In some cases, the expats were not even qualified to sponsor their families,” it quoted the source as saying.

Also the report said all visa applications will be now reviewed by a special committee set up by the Ministry of Interior.

Residents who earn less than Dh20,000 will not be able to sponsor these visas.

Expatriates with investor visas who want to bring their parents or children above 18 years as permanent residents in the UAE must be in business there for at least six months.

They must also provide documents from financial institutions showing their net worth. — LBG, GMA News

New rules make sponsoring visas for parents in UAE tougher

New rules have made it tougher for Filipinos and other foreign expatriates wanting to bring their families there on residence visas, a UAE news site reported Thursday.

Gulf News cited a UAE federal government source who said new rules no longer allow dependents such as parents and children over 18 to get visas automatically.

The Gulf News report quoted the government source as saying the tightened measures stemmed from "violations and abuse" of the previous visa system.

"Henceforth, such visas will be issued on humanitarian grounds or emergent reasons, said the source who did not want to be named," it said.

But the Gulf News report added the rules for expatriates sponsoring wives and children under 18 remain unchanged.

It added expats earning a minimum of Dh5,000 (P59,455) a month with suitable housing allowance can bring spouses and children under 18 to the UAE on residence visas.

In recent days, several expats applying for permanent visas for their parents - including those earning above Dh20,000 (P237,822) - have been turned away, the report said.

Another affected resident, a Filipino, said his application for sponsoring his widowed mother-in-law was rejected.

“I had documents showing my monthly salary, two bedroom tenancy contract and proof of my mother-in-law’s widowhood,” he said.

This has presented a problem for many residents who said there is no one to take care of their parents back home.

According to the residents, bringing parents to the UAE on visit visas is expensive and not feasible.

Violations

The Gulf News report quoted its source as saying the Ministry of Interior learned of cases where residents violated humanitarian exemption guidelines for parents.

“In some cases, the expats were not even qualified to sponsor their families,” it quoted the source as saying.

Also the report said all visa applications will be now reviewed by a special committee set up by the Ministry of Interior.

Residents who earn less than Dh20,000 will not be able to sponsor these visas.

Expatriates with investor visas who want to bring their parents or children above 18 years as permanent residents in the UAE must be in business there for at least six months.

They must also provide documents from financial institutions showing their net worth. — LBG, GMA News

DOLE: 2 recruitment firms to help 500 Yolanda survivors find work abroad

Two labor recruitment agencies will help at least 500 victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) find work abroad free of charge, the Department of Labor and Employment on Thursday said.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration head Hans Leo Cacdac said International Skills Development (ISD) can recruit more than 300 workers in Samar and Leyte.

DOLE news release quoted Cacdac as saying ISD "pledged to hire over 300 workers for ABV Rock Group, one of its principal clients in the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia]."

He added ISD President Levi de Mesa wrote to inform him that ISD recruitment personnel "will be in Cebu City to coordinate worker recruitment from Samar and Leyte."

"We will need more than 300 workers," the DOLE quoted De Mesa as saying in his letter.

De Mesa said ABV Rock Group's manpower requirements include a worker for each of the following positions:

electrical supervisor
tiling foreman
civil engineering supervisor
finishing supervisor
assistant civil engineer
civil engineer
mechanical engineer
finishing marble works foreman
finishing for doors, gypsum and ceiling foreman
assistant supervisor, finishing group assistant supervisor
finishing supervisor
general foreman
technician
welder.

The company also needs to hire:

electrical foremen
mason block works and plastering foremen
masons, block works and plastering workers
tiling and finishing masons
marble fixers/installer masons
finishing carpenters for doors, gypsum and ceiling
shuttering carpenters
painters
steel fixers
scaffolders
scaffolding foremen
steel fixers.

"This is a magnanimous and timely offer of employment assistance," DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said of the ISD pledge.

Baldoz said a second company, Skills International Co. Inc., claimed it can initially "help 200 affected families by sending a family member to work abroad free of charge."

"We would like to work in partnership with the DOLE in any project to help the Filipinos," the DOLE quoted Skills International president Marivic Daas as telling Baldoz during a visit to the DOLE office.

Baldoz thanked the two companies for the gesture of support.

Last week, Baldoz directed all DOLE regional offices and employment service offices to help Yolanda victims with work, livelihood, and training assistance.

Premier recruitment agencies

The DOLE said ISD, founded in 1981, is “one of the premiere and top recruitment companies of the Philippines” and had received POEA’s Hall of Fame Award and the Presidential Award.

It added ABV Rock Group of Sweden is a global construction industry leader employing many highly skilled Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia.

ABV is noted for its sustained quality reliability, both as a principal and specialist contractor in interlinked sectors of the Saudi economy covering buildings and civil works, construction of highways and pipelines, airports, hospitals, industrial plants, dams, bridges, and underground storage and tunneling, DOLE added.

Meanwhile, Cacdac said the POEA will visit Ormoc City from Dec. 13 to 14 to conduct a relief and medical mission and profile candidates for a January 2014 job fair.

"Aside from the relief and medical mission, we will already profile prospective OFWs, see to it that they have basic documents, such as birth certificates and clearances, and alert them of the overseas job fair. In that way, we will already know their basic skills and inclination and so tailor the job fair vacancies that our partners will bring," said Cacdac. — LBG, GMA News

Thursday, November 28, 2013

31 OFWs arrive home safely from Syria

Around 31 overseas Filipino workers returned from civil war-torn Syria Tuesday afternoon, after availing of the Philippine government's repatriation program.

The OFWs arrived at 5:05 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1, aboard an Emirates Airways flight, state-run Philippines News Agency reported.

The OFWs encountered problems while working in Syria and had to spend time at a Philippine embassy-provided shelter while their exit papers were being processed.

Philippine foreign affairs and labor officials continue to urge OFWs to avail of repatriation, and asked their relatives to update government of the OFWs' whereabouts.

The government has also offered assistance packages to the OFWs, which includes livelihood training, or new work abroad. — DVM, GMA News

2 Pinoys plead innocent in UAE drug case

Two Filipinos on Monday pleaded innocent before a United Arab Emirates court on charges that they were trying to sell 0.26 gram of amphetamine.

Both Filipinos, aged 33 and 29, were accused by prosecutors of trying to sell the drug for Dh800,UAE news site Gulf News reported late Tuesday.

However, the two Filipinos, who were not identified in the report, admitted before the Dubai Court of First Instance that they were taking amphetamine and methamphetamine.

Presiding Judge Wajdi Al Menyawi adjourned the case to hear prosecution witnesses on December 19.

Prosecutors charged the two with possessing a banned substance for trading purposes and taking amphetamine and methamphetamine. They asked the court to implement a life sentence of 25 years and a maximum fine of Dh200,000.

During the court proceeding, an Emirati anti-narcotics police major testified an informant had tipped them off to the two Filipinos. He claimed the two were looking for someone to buy amphetamine for Dh800, prompting police to arrange a sting operation.

Following the sting operation, police found the police money in the pocket of one of the Filipinos, who were not identified in the report.

Police also seized in their possession a small weighing scale “used by drug peddlers to weigh drugs,” the major added.

But a search of the Filipinos' house did not yield more drugs.

The Gulf News report said an Emirati lieutenant has claimed that the two defendants tested positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine. — KBK, GMA News

Anti-human trafficking task force to be created in typhoon-wrecked Eastern Visayas


Cash-for-Work program attracts work force in Tacloban
'Cash-for-Work' program attracts work force in Tacloban. Residents of typhoon-devastated municipalities hitch a ride on a jeepney bound for Tacloban City on Tuesday, November 26, to find work in the government's Cash-for-Work Program for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. Carlo Mateo
(Updated 6 p.m.) A government task force against human trafficking will be created in typhoon-hit Eastern Visayas to prevent the recruitment of residents whose desperation for jobs and livelihood has made them fair game for illegal recruiters.

Lawyer Jonathan Lledo, chief of the National Inter-Agency Taskforce Against Trafficking (NIATFAT), on Wednesday said the region needs its own task force to conduct an investigation similar to the one undertaken in Davao Oriental after Typhoon Pablo devastated the region in 2012.

“Any typhoon or calamity-stricken areas is a fair game for the recruitment of people, who will take advantage of their vulnerabilities,” Lledo told GMA News Online at the sidelines of a workshop being conducted by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights in Makati City.

Eastern Visayas is the hardest hit region by Typhoon Yolanda, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded. It generated freak storm surges that swallowed up entire towns, killing over 5,000 and uprooting countless families from their homes.

Exacerbating the catastrophe is that the worst-hit areas, the eastern islands of Leyte and Samar, are among the poorest in the Philippines, with most of the four million people there enduring near subsistence farming or fishing lifestyles.

Cases in quake-hit Bohol

Lledo pointed out that Bohol, which was hit by a magnitude-7.2 earthquake last month, had reported cases of trafficking.

In one case, the Philippine Office of Employment Administration (POEA) alerted NIATFAT of a European man who recruited two Filipinas from the area, Lledo recalled.

Lledo said officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport were allerted on the three to prevent their flight to Poland via Malaysia. The three, however, did not show up at the airport. Lledo believes they had been tipped off.

Among the programs that the task force in Eastern Visayas will undertake is an awareness campaign that will explain to the residents the dire consequences of human trafficking.

Lledo said it is important for the residents to know the distinction between given consent and consent given under duress. Protection of all trafficked persons, he said, will also be a priority.

The two-day ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights workshop aims to develop the care of trafficking victims and to encourage continued cooperation between all member nations. 

To protect trafficked persons, harsher penalties will be dealt to offenders, Lledo said. “The first offense for the use of trafficked persons... we have increased the penalty from a mere community service to imprisonment and higher fines.”

Workshop

Such concerns were the topic of the AICHR workshop, which aims to develop the care of trafficking victims and to encourage continued cooperation between all member nations, even if they have not ratified the Palermo protocols.

The Palermo protocols refer to the three system of rules adopted by the United Nations' General Assembly in 2000 at Palermo, Italy. Formally known as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the protocols “target specific areas and manifestations of organized crime.”

The protocol most concerned with human trafficking is the Protocol to Prevent, Supress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.

Ambassador Rosario G. Manalo, the Philippine representative to the AICHR, said areas of commonalities allowed for cooperation between ASEAN countries. True cooperation, she said, stems from the trust these countries built with each other from respecting the laws that govern their states.

“ASEAN partners talk to one another,” said Manalo, adding that, despite not having the massive resources of other international groups, the trust they've formed meant their support is a constant.

When asked of opinions on the necessity of intervention, she said intervention should not even be an option. Non-interventionism meant states were in-control of their own countries by use of their self-made laws. When the capacity or authority of each country is respected, common problems—like human trafficking—can actually be acted upon. — with AFP/KBK, GMA News


POEA resumes serving OFWs in Yolanda-hit Tacloban

Good news for overseas Filipino workers who are from Tacloban City, one of the areas hit hardest by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)—the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has reopened its office there.

POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac on Wednesday said the POEA office in Tacloban managed to process four OFWs on Tuesday, the first time since Yolanda devastated the city last Nov. 8.



POEA's Tacloban City office was forced to stop operations since Nov. 8, when Yolanda battered the Eastern Visayas and Southern Luzon, leaving over 5,500 people dead and thousands more displaced.

While the POEA office in Tacloban City was closed, OFWs in Eastern Visayas were asked to have their documents processed in at least seven of the agency's other offices, including in Legazpi, Cebu, or Metro Manila.

Disaster officials had earlier said businesses have normalized in Tacloban city, noting that 12 banks have resumed operations and public-utility vehicles have started plying their routes. Five radio stations have also resumed operations. — KBK, GMA News

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Nearly 40,000 illegal OFWs can still return to Saudi

MANILA, Philippines - The 38,939 undocumented Filipino workers who returned home from Saudi Arabia because of the kingdom’s crackdown on illegal migrants can now seek reemployment in the Middle East country.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said these undocumented Filipino workers “who left during the seven-month correction period can return to the kingdom if they wish to do so.”
Among the workers who left during the correction period were those who ended their employment contracts.
Those with derogatory records, however, can no longer return to Saudi Arabia even if they left during the correction period, Baldoz said.
Currently, 157,494 undocumented Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia have regularized their status and can continue working there.
According to Baldoz, undocumented workers who were unable to regularize their status during the grace period may still do so but they have to pay fines and other penalties.
She also said that the Philippine government will provide legal assistance to illegal Filipino migrants who are undergoing deportation procedures in the kingdom.
Until this time, Baldoz said the Philippine government has not received any report of undocumented Filipinos being arrested because of Saudi’s crackdown against illegal migrants.
She also expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on illegal migrants would have minimal impact to the Philippines’ employment rate because many illegal Filipino migrants were able to regularize their status and thousands were also able to leave during the grace period.
“The Saudi government and the Philippines have good relations, so we are not expecting problems with the crackdown,” Baldoz added.

UAE healthcare provider to hire more Pinoy nurses

ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA, Philippines - One of the largest healthcare providers in the United Arab Emirates is keen on hiring hundreds of Filipino nurses, according to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
In a statement, Baldoz said she recently met with representatives of NMC Healthcare, who assured her they will hire highly-qualified nurses in the last quarter of the year.
Paolo Martel, Managing Director of Ikon Solutions in Manila, has accompanied NMC Healthcare Vice President for Human Resources Raveendra Rai to my office where in my presence the NMC Healthcare official was presented a certificate of appreciation by Ikon Solutions for the company's dedication and commitment in hiring Filipino nurses and other hospital staff," said Baldoz.
Martel told Baldoz the company has conducted a three-day recuitment campaign in Ikon Solutions’ Cebu and Manila offices where over 160 candidates were selected.
He added the company is investing $200 million to expand in the Middle East. It is opening open two new hospitals by 2016.
"These new hospitals are expected to generate hundreds of new jobs, a significant number of which will be open for Filipino nurses," Rai said. "With our growing demand in highly-skilled and highly-qualified nurses, we intend to continue hiring Filipinos because of their compassionate service attitude and professionalism."
Ikon Solutions is the exclusive recruitment partner in the Philippines of NMC Healthcare.
Rai said applicants should build enough experience in a specific specialty area or department, as this is a licensing requirement. Filipino nurses who want to work in Abu Dhabi also need to pass the Pearson Vue exam required by the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi.

OFWs provide crucial lifeline in post-Yolanda PHL

TACLOBAN, Leyte — The Philippines' giant band of overseas workers, already regarded as national heroes for toiling in foreign lands, are coming to the rescue again as they dig deep to send more cash back to their typhoon-hit homeland.

With relief workers overwhelmed by the magnitude of this month's disaster and unable to provide adequate support to the millions of survivors living in flattened towns, Filipinos abroad are proving a crucial, direct lifeline.

In the ruined city of Tacloban, farmer Teudolfo Barmisa queued up at a money transfer outlet on Tuesday and withdrew the equivalent of $600 sent by his daughter who works as a maid in Hong Kong.

“The money will go to buying food first, then other supplies to help us rebuild our home, like plywood and cement,” Barmisa told AFP.

Barmisa was among hundreds of people withdrawing cash from financial outlets in Tacloban, many of which had just re-opened more than a fortnight after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) killed at least 5,240 people and destroyed or damaged one million homes.

Barmisa's daughter and the other 10 million Filipinos working abroad are commonly referred to at home as "mga bagong bayani", or "new heroes" because of their sacrifices in leaving their families to work abroad.

The number overseas is roughly 10 percent of the population—with many of them working as domestic helpers, laborers, sailors or in other low-paid professions—and they often send much of their savings back home to relatives.

They are forced overseas because, despite impressive economic growth rates in recent years, the Philippines remains in large part a desperately poor country, and their remittances have long been an important plank for the nation's economy.

The overseas foreign workforce last year sent home $21.39 billion via bank transfers and other official channels, equivalent to nearly 10 percent of the Philippines' gross domestic product. Even more money arrives unofficially.

Overseas heroes give more

And when a major disaster strikes in the Philippines, the amount of cash coming home spikes.

Remittances jumped an average of 13-14 percent over the nine months that followed the country's previous 10 deadliest typhoons, Patrick Ella, a Manila-based economist at the Philippines' Security Bank, told AFP.

A 14-percent increase over three quarters would equate to about $2.3 billion, based on last year's remittances.

“But Typhoon Haiyan was definitely an outlier, so the gains will probably be more than usual because of the extent of the damage and the well-publicized problems in the distribution of relief supplies,” he said.

Yolanda was one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded and generated freak storm surges that swallowed up entire towns.

The confirmed number of fatalities has made Yolanda one of the deadliest storms ever in the Philippines, and it could turn out to be the most destructive on record if, as expected, the death toll continues to rise.

Exacerbating the catastrophe is that the worst-hit areas, the eastern islands of Leyte and Samar, are among the poorest in the Philippines, with most of the four million people there enduring near subsistence farming or fishing lifestyles.

Barmisa, the farmer, said his family had managed to buy a vehicle, a small home and little shop on the outskirts of Tacloban using the money sent home by his daughter over the six years she had worked in Hong Kong.

All of that was destroyed in the storm surges.

“Hopefully, when she returns home we will have a house again,” he said, as he left the money transfer outlet with his daughter's money.

Overseas workers return home

Some overseas foreign workers have also left their jobs overseas to return home directly with money and emotional support.

Among them is Lourdes Distrajo, a 27-year-old single mother of two, who lost a son and 12 members of her extended family in the disaster.

She had only recently started working in Kuwait as a maid, and had hoped her $700-a-month salary would pay for her children's schooling, renovations to her wooden home and sister's medical bills.

Instead she had to quickly return to help with the family tragedy.

“My employer was kind enough to allow me to leave, packing supplies and giving me extra cash and a return ticket,” she said.

Distrajo said all the money she had brought home would be left with the family, barely enough to be able to buy some wood to help rebuild their home and stock up on some supplies.

Distrajo has yet to start dealing properly with the grief of losing her four-year-old son.

“I didn't even see his body. He was buried in a mass grave along with many others... I keep asking myself, was it worth it to work abroad? Maybe I could have saved my son,” she said.

But she has no choice but to soon return to Kuwait, so that she can once again start sending money back home. — Agence France-Presse

31 OFWs arrive home safely from Syria

Around 31 overseas Filipino workers returned from civil war-torn Syria Tuesday afternoon, after availing of the Philippine government's repatriation program.

The OFWs arrived at 5:05 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1, aboard an Emirates Airways flight, state-run Philippines News Agency reported.

The OFWs encountered problems while working in Syria and had to spend time at a Philippine embassy-provided shelter while their exit papers were being processed.

Philippine foreign affairs and labor officials continue to urge OFWs to avail of repatriation, and asked their relatives to update government of the OFWs' whereabouts.

The government has also offered assistance packages to the OFWs, which includes livelihood training, or new work abroad. — DVM, GMA News

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

UAE healthcare provider to hire more Pinoy nurses


Posted at 11/25/2013 10:26 AM | Updated as of 11/26/2013 9:34 AM
MANILA, Philippines - One of the largest healthcare providers in the United Arab Emirates is keen on hiring hundreds of Filipino nurses, according to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
In a statement, Baldoz said she recently met with representatives of NMC Healthcare, who assured her they will hire highly-qualified nurses in the last quarter of the year.
Paolo Martel, Managing Director of Ikon Solutions in Manila, has accompanied NMC Healthcare Vice President for Human Resources Raveendra Rai to my office where in my presence the NMC Healthcare official was presented a certificate of appreciation by Ikon Solutions for the company's dedication and commitment in hiring Filipino nurses and other hospital staff," said Baldoz.
Martel told Baldoz the company has conducted a three-day recuitment campaign in Ikon Solutions’ Cebu and Manila offices where over 160 candidates were selected.
He added the company is investing $200 million to expand in the Middle East. It is opening open two new hospitals by 2016.
"These new hospitals are expected to generate hundreds of new jobs, a significant number of which will be open for Filipino nurses," Rai said. "With our growing demand in highly-skilled and highly-qualified nurses, we intend to continue hiring Filipinos because of their compassionate service attitude and professionalism."
Ikon Solutions is the exclusive recruitment partner in the Philippines of NMC Healthcare.
Rai said applicants should build enough experience in a specific specialty area or department, as this is a licensing requirement. Filipino nurses who want to work in Abu Dhabi also need to pass the Pearson Vue exam required by the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi.

Nearly 40,000 illegal OFWs can still return to Saudi

By Mayen Jaymalin, The Philippine Star


MANILA, Philippines - The 38,939 undocumented Filipino workers who returned home from Saudi Arabia because of the kingdom’s crackdown on illegal migrants can now seek reemployment in the Middle East country.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said these undocumented Filipino workers “who left during the seven-month correction period can return to the kingdom if they wish to do so.”

Among the workers who left during the correction period were those who ended their employment contracts.
Those with derogatory records, however, can no longer return to Saudi Arabia even if they left during the correction period, Baldoz said.

Currently, 157,494 undocumented Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia have regularized their status and can continue working there.

According to Baldoz, undocumented workers who were unable to regularize their status during the grace period may still do so but they have to pay fines and other penalties.

She also said that the Philippine government will provide legal assistance to illegal Filipino migrants who are undergoing deportation procedures in the kingdom.

Until this time, Baldoz said the Philippine government has not received any report of undocumented Filipinos being arrested because of Saudi’s crackdown against illegal migrants.

She also expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on illegal migrants would have minimal impact to the Philippines’ employment rate because many illegal Filipino migrants were able to regularize their status and thousands were also able to leave during the grace period.

“The Saudi government and the Philippines have good relations, so we are not expecting problems with the crackdown,” Baldoz added.

Pinoys in UAE 'sing' for Yolanda victims


AL AIN, United Arab Emirates—Together with the group Filipino Community, Al Ain (FilCom, Al Ain), overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) here did their share in helping the countless victims of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.
 
Boxes of donations were gathered in the UAE from OFWs following a two-day concert for Yolanda victims. Photo by Lucky Mae Quilao
The OFWs were encouraged to donate clothes, blankets, slippers, towels, beddings, canned food, noodles, toiletries, and medicines to those affected by the super typhoon, which lashed most of the Visayas and several areas in Southern Luzon on November 8.

In exchange, a two-day concert entitled “We Sing for Philippines: Charity-for-a-Cause” was held last week, with performances by the FilCom Band, FilCom Dance Group, Workshop Camp Glee Club, Nayla’s Crib, Marita Taylor, Jojo Broqueza, Romina Natividad, Rommel Perico, Van Wendell, and Julius Regis.

“Sa ngayon, meron na akong naiipon na mga 30 boxes [of relief goods]. We’re expecting 15 to 20 boxes pa,” said Nelson Nico, executive chairman of FilCom, Al Ain.

The event, prepared in less than a week, was thought of by the members of the different Filipino organizations here themselves.

“Sila nga yung nagsabi sa amin na magkaroon ng concert kasi mas malaki ang market at hindi lang mga Pilipino ang magpa-participate. May mga other nationalities din na nag-pledge ng tulong,” Nico said.

“We Sing for Philippines: Charity-for-a-cause” was held at Nojoom Square, Al Ain Mall Extension. The mall's management did not charge them for the space.

The performers did not ask for talent fees, too.

The event was also sponsored by the Ayla Hotel, Tawam Hospital, NMC, Al Ain Hospital, Al Noor Hospital, Ideal Medical Center, LBC Cargo, Creative Style Quality, Oasis Living, Al Ain Zoo, Digerati, F/5.6 Photographer Circle, Filipino Association for Computer Excellence (FACE) Al Ain chapter, Balingastagnon In UAE, and APO-Al Ain Directorate. — Lucky Mae Quilao/KBK, GMA News

Kuwaiti woman gets death sentence for murdering Filipina maid

KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait's supreme court upheld Monday a death sentence against a woman for murdering her Filipina maid after torturing her, and confirmed a 10-year sentence on her disabled husband.

The ruling is final and cannot be challenged but could be commuted to a life term by the ruler of the Gulf emirate. Executions in Kuwait are carried out by hanging.

The Kuwaiti woman was convicted of premeditated murder based on evidence that she had regularly tortured her maid before driving over her in a remote desert area.

The husband was handed the jail term for "assisting her," according to a copy of the ruling.

The couple were both sentenced to death by the lower court in February last year. Three months later, the appeals court upheld the death penalty against the woman but commuted the sentence against her husband to 10 years in jail.

According to the ruling, the woman beat her maid for several days until her health deteriorated.

The couple then took the maid "unconscious" to a remote area in the desert where they threw her from the back seat of the car and then drove over her until she died.

More than 100,000 Filipinos, many of them women working as maids, live in Kuwait, where some 600,000 domestic helpers, mostly Asians, are employed. — AFP

Heckled on immigration, Obama says he won't act unilaterally

SAN FRANCISCO - A speech by President Barack Obama aimed at putting pressure on the Congress to pass immigration reform was interrupted on Monday by a heckler unhappy with the deportation of undocumented people in the United States.
 
As Obama neared the end of the speech on immigration reform at the Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center, a young man standing on the riser behind the president began to shout over him.
 
"Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in this country right now," the man said, as people next to him turned to look.
 
Obama tried to continue, but the man kept going.
 
"You have the power to stop deportation for all of them," he yelled.
 
"Actually, no, I don't," the president said, turning to address him, as several others joined in, chanting, "Stop deportation now."
 
While the president is sometimes heckled by audience members at speeches, it is unusual for the interruption to come from one of the people allowed to stand as a backdrop for him while he speaks.
 
As event organizers sought to remove the young man from the stand, Obama waved them off.
 
"I respect the passion of these young people," he said. "If in fact I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so."
 
"The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws," he said. "And what I'm proposing is taking the harder path and using our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve."
 
The president held out hope in his speech that immigration reform legislation that has passed the Senate but is stuck in the Republican-led House of Representatives has a chance of being signed into law.
 
Obama pointed to a remark by House Speaker John Boehner that some progress on immigration reform is possible.
 
"That is good news," the president said. "I believe the speaker is sincere. I think he genuinely wants to get it done."
 
However, for many of Obama's supporters, the possibility that immigration reform could wither on the vine is hard to take, and for one person listening to the president on Monday, that feeling boiled over.
 
"I've not seen my family, " he said. "I need your help."
 
Obama said: "That's—that's exactly what we're talking about here." —Reuters 

Monday, November 25, 2013

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE AFTERMATH OF TYPHOON YOLANDA


BY FR. SHAY CULLEN

I flew into Cebu City, an hours flight from Manila and drove with two Preda staff starting 3 am to visit the northern towns of Cebu Island on Tuesday, 19 November. The goal was to reach Daanbantayan, Bogo,and Bantayan Island  to assess the storm damage, visit their communities and understand the situation so as to know what the needs are and to deliver aid donations directly  to the people in need. The other equally important goal is to spread awareness about the need to protect orphaned children from would-be abductors and traffickers posing as relatives.

After two hours driving, we entered the disaster zone and the glimmer of lights in the houses disappeared and we drove in total darkness brought on by the typhoon Haiyan. It is a total blackout and power lines are down everywhere.  The moon gave an eerie sense of isolation. The remains of houses stood silhouetted and gave the appearance of a war-torn, bombed-out battle field. These were once home to over a thousand families and are now a scene of desolation and ruin. As the dawn light touched the horizon, the specter of devastation became all the more apparent and I began to realize that I was witnessing storm destruction and personal loss to millions of people. Recovery will take many years.

As the sun rose, I saw a bleak landscape of toppled power poles, once proud towering Acacia trees stripped naked of branches and leaves shamefully naked in dark outline against the dawn sky. Hundreds of tough coconut trees snapped off mid section, a rare sight of these typhoon hardened trees yet cut in half by a wind that reached unprecedented gusts of 240 kilometers an hour. Mango trees were toppled, their roots upturned to the sky, totally vanquished the remaining leaves dead. I was appalled at the extent of the destruction; only the strongest houses of the rich were left standing. I felt awe that all this could be done in the space of two to three hours as the ferocious wind and rain storm swept over the land alike a scythe in a field of barley cutting down all before it.

I have been through ferocious typhoons during my 44 years in the Philippines but have never seen or experienced anything like this for the sheer savagery of this destructive force of nature. The gigantic force of the wind churned and turned everything it could to flying debris, smashing and tearing at everything, ripping roofs apart and carrying the metal sheets, rafters and roofs into the sky with such force that even cinder block walls collapsed before the onslaught.

Then we arrived at Daanbantayan and were surrounded by wreckage. We met people, listened to the survivors with compassion and were awed as they recounted their terrible ordeal fearing it was the end of the world and were in the jaws of a devouring monster.

The survivors told me that the coconuts were ripped from the palm tops and fired like cannon balls smashing into roofs and walls. Their children were frightened and cried as the wind screamed and howled about them and the noise of debris smashing into the trees and roofs was terrifying there; food supplies were destroyed, and the water wells contaminated.

We then drove to the ferry and took a one hour sea crossing to Bantayan island. There, we landed at Santa Fe, and witnessed more damage and destruction of homes and businesses. The churches had roof damage, yet the greatest damage was in the main town of Bantayan and the coastal area. We took a tricycle and went there. Along the way, we could see more damaged homes and buildings. The poultry industry was wiped out.

We met the Mayor and were impressed with the fast clean up, order and discipline in the town. "We saved many lives", he said, “we ordered a forced evacuation of the fishing villages, the fisher folk were unwilling at first but then they agreed and were saved”. We have had only 16 dead but many were injured, they lost their fishing boats".

The following day back in Cebu, we witnessed the resilience, courage and bravery of the many Filipinos that are rising above the tragedy. We met Anna and Jose in an evacuation center in Cebu. Jose is positive, hopeful and holding his new born baby that arrived during the evacuation flight. But Anna was sad and forlorn thinking of her missing father lost in Tacloban and likely dead. They put on a brave smile but underneath there was deep sadness. We discussed with officials the need to seek out unattached or orphaned children and document and register all especially orphaned children. We will send Preda social workers there to continue this work in all the evacuation centers.

The relief work goes on.  Preda has donated rice and other goods to the victims and is working with the University of San Carlos, Cebu to deliver relief aid to the many victims. We thank the donors who are contributing to this work. Preda is also building awareness to protect orphaned children at risk. Every help is welcome. See photos on www.preda.org gallery, Email: shaycullen@preda.org.

Donations: via paypal (donate@preda.orgpredainfo@gmail.com) or in pesos to Metro Bank Rizal Ave., Olongapo city with acct. no. 144-3-14452916-3 or euro donations to Preda Ireland in any Permanent TSB Branch, account number  87930352, sorting code  990604, swift code IBPSIE2D,  IBAN  IE251PBS99060487930352

Parliamentarians’ key role in achieving triple zero in HIV/AIDS



If the Asia-Pacific region wants to achieve zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths by 2015, parliamentarians need to be fully involved as stakeholders in all efforts.
 
That’s the view of leading parliamentarian advocacy group, the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, as 5000 delegates arrive in Bangkok to work to eliminate HIV/AIDS deaths and prejudice while promoting prevention.

“In this region, there are an estimated 4.9 million people living with HIV, but no-one should be dying from AIDS anymore – zero deaths by 2015 is achievable,”
 said AFPPD Deputy Director John Hyde.
 
“We have the medicine and we have the skill to enable all people in our region to live healthy lives, with or without HIV/AIDS.

“What we lack is equity of access to resources to keep people living healthy lives.

“Parliamentarians need to be engaged in eliminating the discrimination that keeps at-risk people from accessing available HIV/AIDS services free from discrimination.

“Parliamentarians need to be exercising their leadership role to ensure that financial resources and capacity are provided by governments and international agencies so as those most vulnerable can obtain the equal quality treatment that medicine and money can readily provide.


“Parliamentarians need to be at the forefront of strengthening the political commitment for the comprehensive sexuality education for young people that leads to HIV/AIDS prevention.”

 
From November 18-22, parliamentarians will join around 5000 health care professionals, public policy leaders, community advocates, activists, researchers, journalists and people living with HIV (PLHIV) from 22 countries in the region as well as Africa, America and Europe at the 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP11), the world’s second largest forum on HIV/AIDS.
 
AFPPD and the UNAIDS will mobilise champion parliamentarians from across the region at ICAAP11 in a parliamentarian session on “Parliamentarian Best Policy Practices on Achievement of Universal Access to Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS Health Care for People Left Behind in the Asia and the Pacific” to strengthen their leadership role in a  human rights-based policy approach to triple zero.
 
Fiji President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, a former AFPPD executive member, will launch the parliamentarians’ ICAAP campaign at a media conference on November 19 at 11am at the AFPPD/IPPF booth at ICAAP.
 
Further information: John Hyde at AFPPD on +66 898723362john@afppd.org

Civil Society Statement in conjunction with the Bali Democracy Forum V


Bali, Indonesia, 6 November 2012

We, 21 Asian civil society organizations who attended the Civil Society Conference on “Advancing Substantive Democracy in Asia: The Roles of Civil Society and Democratic Governance”, held on 5-6 November 2012, parallel to the Bali Democracy Forum V,

Appreciating the initiative and continued commitment of the Indonesian government in organizing the Bali Democracy ForumAcknowledging the importance of the Bali Democracy Forum in promoting the development of democracy in the regionWelcoming the invitation extended to Asian civil society representatives to the Opening Session of the Bali Democracy Forum for the first time this yearReaffirming our commitment to democratization in Asia based on people’s participation, pluralism, rule of law, international human rights law and standards,

Call on governments at the Bali Democracy Forum V to take into serious consideration with the aim of acting substantively on the following issues of concerns:

1.       Enhancing the Inclusiveness of the Bali Democracy Forum

The Bali Democracy Forum, as an important international forum for discussions on issues related to democracy, should take progressive steps to enhance the participation of all relevant stakeholders including civil society. As a forum that promotes the development of democracy, the Bali Democracy Forum should uphold the democratic principles of people’s participation and inclusiveness. The inclusion of all stakeholders other than governments, including civil society, would enrich the process of knowledge-sharing, exchange of ideas, and cooperation that the Bali Democracy Forum is premised on.

2.       Securitization, state-centred discourse on national security and threats to regional peace

Many Asian governments are increasingly using national security laws in the name of peace and security to deny and suppress the fundamental freedoms of its peoplesThese laws impose overbroad and disproportionate restrictions on fundamental freedoms, often on vaguely defined grounds, such as to protect “national security”, to combat “terrorism”. There are also increasing securitization concerns using the pretext of ethno-religious conflict, defending the monarchy and all other authorities which are in direct contradiction with international human rights standards. This appears to reflect the precedence of the interests of governments over the rights of the people.

The rise of state-centred discourse of national security has also resulted in the continued employment of violence by the state with impunity, including torture, enforced disappearances, detention without trial and extra-judicial killings in the region, both within the countries and across borders.

In the context of the increase in violations of fundamental freedoms in the name of national security, an independent and effective judiciary plays a pivotal role in ensuring that fundamental rights of the people are safeguarded. However, serious concerns with regard to the independence and integrity of the judiciary remain in many Asian countries. Appointment of judges and prosecutors are often influenced by politics, nepotism and patronage, which has posed serious threats to the independence of the judiciary, and consequently, the proper functioning of democracies. Judges in many countries have also continuously failed to demonstrate their appreciation and understanding of international human rights law.

Furthermore, other remaining redress mechanisms have also largely failed to safeguard the rights of the people. This includes the general trend of the eroding independence of national human rights institutions in countries where they exist in the region, in many case as a result of deliberate efforts of governments. As a consequence, many national human rights institutions have been ineffective in protecting and promoting the fundamental rights of the people in the context of the increasing state-centred discourse and practice of national security.

There is also an escalating arms race in the region and disproportionate increase in defense budgets of many Asian governments in recent years. This has been fueled by increasing incidences of territorial conflicts and military exercises in the region which is a threat to peace. The increase in defense budgets has largely been at the expense of state spending on social protection and other essential services, exacerbating the vulnerability of marginalized individuals and groups.

3.       Economic Development

In many Asian countries, there is an increasing trend of imposed development without consultation of and, free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from affected communities. This includes land grabbing, forced evictions and centralization of resources which impact groups ranging from urban communities to indigenous peoples. Often, a corollary of such policies is the degradation of the environment to the extent that some countries become effectively toxic colonies of others; coupled with, inadequate or no compensation to the affected communities, the absence of relocation policies and even the criminalization of those who exercise their fundamental rights.

The current economic model which stresses deregulation of markets, increasing power of multinational corporations, trade liberalisation and privatization of social services has also created a situation of increasing poverty and inequality, while spending on social security and access to essential services are inadequate. Imbalances in national budget allocation have to be corrected to address poverty. In today’s economic landscape, workers’ rights to association and to form trade unions for collective bargaining; and advocating for better conditions and fair wages are also suppressed. Precarious forms of labor, especially in the informal sector, which is dominant in the region has seen reduction of labour costs and wages, resulting in a deterioration of protection and standards for workers in Asia.

Corporate impunity in the forms of cronyism and favoritism in awarding business contracts must also be combated. While we are not against the market economy, modernization of the economy and attracting investment, resource-related extraction activities and economic land concessions for commercial development must not override the concerns and rights of ordinary people.

We make the following recommendations to all governments at the Bali Democracy Forum V:

General Recommendations:

                     i.            to institutionalize full and meaningful participation of civil society in the Bali Democracy Forum;
                   ii.            to respect and protect the exercise of fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly, in light of increasing trends of the misuse of the Law and Judiciary to silence and oppress human rights defenders and marginalized communities;
                  iii.            to establish and strengthen independent and effective human rights protection mechanisms, both national and regional, with the capacity to receive and address complaints, and provide avenues for redress and remedies. National human rights institutions should comply with the Paris Principles;

Peace and Security:

                 iv.            restrictions of human rights in the name of peace and security should not be invoked without legitimate basis under international human rights law and standards. In addition there are certain fundamental rights to human dignity that can be never be derogated from under any circumstances;
                   v.            to ensure that the rule of law is respected at all times. Law enforcement officers should undertake human rights training and education to ensure these outcomes;
                 vi.            to ensure that victims and survivors of human rights violations are guaranteed the right to truth, justice and reparations;
                vii.            to undertake to formulate and implement policies towards the elimination of the threat of conflict among and between peoples and the renunciation of the use of force and peaceful settlement of disputes to bring peace in the region;

Economic Development:

              viii.            to democratize economic decisions to ensure accountability and transparency in development aid and bi/multi-lateral trade agreements. This would ensure that the rights of affected communities, especially marginalized groups like indigenous peoples, and interests of local businesses and small/medium enterprises are not compromised. Participation must include FPIC to ensure equitable growth and redistribution of wealth;
                 ix.            economic and social justice for work must go beyond rules and regulations for waged labour and include all work outside of the market, balance the inequalities between women and men, care work and industrial work, and protect local communities and migrants' rights.

There was an error in this gadget
There was an error in this gadget