Monday, June 30, 2014

NAIA advises passengers: UK ban on khat plant in effect

Passengers arriving or leaving through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport may have to think twice before bringing the khat plant, as a United Kingdom ban on it is now in effect.

In a post on its social media accounts, the Manila International Airport Authority said the British Embassy had stressed the ban became effective last Tuesday.

The MIAA posted on its Facebook page last Monday a June 18 memo ordering the dissemination of the advisory for the information of the riding public.

It also posted a copy of a June 13 letter from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the MIAA, informing it of the ban that will take effect 7 a.m. PHL time.

"From that time, UK law enforcement will have the power to seize and destroy all forms of khat (fresh, dried, frozen or otherwise processed) or products containing khat and will likely prosecute individuals and businesses or others breaking this law. Criminal penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine will apply," it said.

A report of the British Broadcasting Co. said khat "acts as a stimulant when chewed," and is considered a banned class C drug in the UK.

"Users chew the bitter leaves of this natural stimulant. It is supposed to make them more alert and raise energy levels, which is why supporters of khat say it is as harmless as coffee or tea," it said.

However, it added khat has two main stimulants that speed up the user's mind and body, making people "happy and talkative but can cause insomnia and temporary confusion."

It added khat could "make pre-existing mental health problems worse and it can provoke feelings of anxiety and aggression."

"It can also inflame the mouth and damage teeth, and there are concerns about the long-term risk of mouth cancers," it added.  Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

UAE cops warn borrowers vs. issuing blank checks

Filipinos who borrow money in the United Arab Emirates may have to think several times over before they issue blank checks as a guarantee of payment.

Dubai police said such a practice is one of the major reasons people are jailed, according to a report on UAE-based news site Gulf News.

“We want to change people’s and companies’ mentality about checks. Checks should be used to fulfill monetary transactions and not as a guarantee that a certain amount will be paid,” it quoted Col. Abdullah Khadim Surour, Director of Al Barsha Police Station, as saying.

People caught and jailed for bounced checks can regain their freedom only after they repay their debts, the Gulf News report said.

Brig. Mohammad Nasser Al Razouqi, deputy director of the Department of Criminal Investigation (CID), said police first try to contact the person who issued the check after receiving a complaint and give them a month's grace period to settle their debt.

“If they refuse or they cannot, then the case goes to public prosecution.” he said.

Dubai police had mounted campaign to drum up attention against bounced checks and checks issued in "bad faith."

Citing police records, the Gulf News report said bounced checks issued in Dubai from 2011 to 2013 amounted to Dh36.2 billion.

The checks amounted to Dh14.6 billion in 2011, but fell to Dh12.2 billion in 2012 and to Dh9.4 billion in 2013.

For the first three months of 2014, the bounced checks were worth Dh2.23 billion.

Meanwhile, Al Razouqi advised banks against issuing checkbooks to people with cases of bounced checks, or giving loans to people who are not creditworthy.  Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

OFWs in Yemen told to stay indoors, avoid public places

Amid recent violent incidents in Yemen, the Crisis Alert Level there remains at "2," the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) said over the weekend.

"In view of the current political and security situation in Yemen, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh stresses to all Filipinos in Yemen that Yemen remains to be under Alert Level 2 (Restriction Phase). All Filipinos are therefore advised to restrict non-essential movements and avoid public places," it said in a June 27 advisory.

It said that under Crisis Alert Level 2, Filipinos with existing labor contracts may return to Yemen but the deployment of newly-hired overseas Filipino workers will remain suspended.

Meanwhile, the embassy urged Filipinos in Yemen to update their registration with the embassy. It also said they can contact the Philippine Consulate in Sana’a via honorary consul Mohammed Saleh Al Jamal, and via these contact details:

  • Telephone: +967 1 416751
  • Fax: +967 1 418254
  • Mobile: +967 777 2 555 11
  • Email:

Earlier this week, reported armed fighters attacked Yemen's Seiyun airport, briefly seizing the facility before clashing with the military.

It said the coordinated attack on Seiyun airport in Hadramawt started as a civilian airliner was landing early on Thursday morning.

The army retook the airport and six gunmen were killed while four others were captured.  Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News

32 OFWs repatriated from Libya

Thirty-two Overseas Filipino Workers were expected to return from Libya on Saturday afternoon, a "News TV Live" report said.

According to the report, the 32 workers of the Tripoli Carpet Factory were sent home, with their employer covering their repatriation.

Officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration will meet the returning OFWs at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the report said.

According to the report, 270 OFWs have come home from Libya, where the DFA has raised Crisis Level 3 due to security concerns. Under Crisis Level 3, repatriation is still on a voluntary basis. — JDS, GMA News

The sacrifice my Filipino maid makes

For the past 2 years I’ve had the honour and luxury of having a wonderful Filipino maid. I won’t say her name her but let's call her Geraldine.

Geraldine first started working with my wife and I two years ago. I remember her first few days with us. She was very shy and quiet. Sometimes I couldn’t help but feel that she might even be afraid of us but I guess having to live for the first time under a stranger’s roof far far away from home can make anyone scared.

In the first few weeks I often found her in her room looking out the window. When she looked at me I could see the tears in her eyes that would immediately prompt me to ask her what’s wrong. But she always just brushed it off and said nothing.

We thought that perhaps to add to the anxiety of being away from home alone, she probably missed her family too. So my wife and I arranged for her to call home as often as we could. She would give me a phone number with a +63 prefix on it written on a small torn piece of paper with pen.

When I dialed the number I could see her eagerly waiting… sometimes nobody would pick up the phone on the other side. Then I would see her turn away disappointed.

At the times when someone did pick-up though, I left her with the privacy of my room to talk and I could always hear her excitedly talking to her family in Tagalog. I never knew what she said but I could sense nothing but happiness in her tone. It was like the only thing she looked forward to each day.

Two years passed and things changed.

- We got to know more about Geraldine. How she had 5 kids back in Philippines. The eldest being 17 and the youngest being 4 years old.

- She had gotten a lot more comfortable with us so she talked and joked more with us. She smiled a lot more too and I never saw her again with teary eyes.

- She had discovered other things to look forward to. After dinner she would watch American Idol or The Voice on Astro. Or sometimes she would watch some Filipino drama on TV.

- She had become family… so much that I almost don’t like referring to her as our maid. I prefer the word “babysitter” since she now helps take care of my newborn son.

Then as the two years came to an end, she had a decision to make. She could either go home for good with whatever money she earned, or she could extend her stay with us. She decided to extend her stay… but to go back to the Philippines for a month before she returned to continue work for another two years.

Geraldine returned from her month off yesterday with a new hairstyle and looking happy. I don’t know if it was happy to see my son FIghter or happy to see us again but she was happy nevertheless. I asked her loads of questions. Like what she did at home during her month off (she said she spent most of it doing housework, washing clothes and doing laundry for her family… we joked that even at home she had to work).

One of the stories she told me got me a little teary. When she left the Philippines to work in Malaysia, her youngest daughter was 2 years old. By the time she returned, her daughter was 4.

Geraldine’s daughter didn’t recognize her as her mom but spent a month to get to know her. She would bring her daughter around and her daughter would often call out to her “Hoi hoi… buy me candy”.

Finally the month came to an end and it was time for Geraldine to head back to Malaysia. As she said bye, her 4-year-old daughter asked her not to go.

Geraldine said to her 4-year-old “I need to go so I can earn money and buy you more candy”.

Her daughter disappeared for a few minutes and then came back with something in her fist. She announced “I have money. Don’t go…”.

Then she opened her fist to reveal a few coins.

Geraldine smiled.

This story made me remember the sacrifice that Overseas Filipino Workers (or workers from any country for that matter) make day in and day out. The cost isn’t just being away from their country. It’s being away and not being able to see their kids grow up. Geraldine would never know what her 4 year old daughter was like when she was 3…. and there are many many more overseas workers just like her.

We often talk about how hard we work. The long hours, the stress we face. But compare it to the sacrifice Geraldine and workers like her make and it’s really nothing. Suddenly the fact that I could see my son every day after work was a luxury beyond anything else I could ever ask for.

Society has us admire people who work hard and become successful businessmen or artists or actors or any of these things. But what can be harder than having to leave your kids for two years at a time and miss watching them grow up?

The worst part is that we sometimes forget. Heck we sometimes even forget that our maids or helpers are mothers to some kids some thousands of miles away. So my hope of this article is that whoever reads this is reminded of the people our maids are and the monumental sacrifice they make. And that they are mothers to kids back home who really really miss them.

Foreigners in Saudi Arabia warned vs. drinking, smoking in public during Ramadan

Non-Muslim foreigners in Saudi Arabia should not drink, eat, or smoke in public during Ramadan, if they wish to remain in the country.

Violators could face deportation or risk losing their jobs, the International Business Times (IBT) reported Thursday, quoting Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry orders.

"They are not excused for being non-Muslim... anyone living in this country should follow the laws of the Kingdom, including respecting religious sentiments," the IBT report added.

Companies were instructed to relay these instructions to their employees to ensure complete compliance.

Ramadan, Islam's holy month of fasting, will begin on Sunday in Saudi Arabia, the state-run Al-Ekhbariya television reported on Friday.

Other Gulf monarchies, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also said Ramadan will start in their countries on Sunday.

Algeria will also mark the start of the holy month on the same day.

Yemen's religious authorities said in a statement that fasting would begin on Saturday.

According to "i24 News," Saudi Arabia is host to at least nine million foreigners and applies a stricter version of Sharia, or Islamic laws.  — Rei Takumi /LBG, GMA News

Dragon boat event highlights PHL Independence Day in Singapore

Filipinos in Singapore marked Philippine Independence Day with a dragon boat rowing competition at the Kallang River there last June 22, the Philippine embassy there said Tuesday.

The embassy said this year's “Isang Bangkang Malaya” was a success as it attracted an "even bigger number of contestants" from the Filipino community.

"The Philippine Embassy in Singapore is fully supportive of the event as it not only helps promote unity and camaraderie but it also brings into consciousness the value of physical sports in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle among Filipino nationals in Singapore," the embassy said.

It noted the yearly competition is organized by the Filipino Dragons Singapore (FDS) to commemorate the proclamation of Philippine independence.

For this year's competition, Team “Isang Sagwan ng Ina Mo Rin” won the championship.

Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Antonio Morales attended the event, along with Glenn Peñaranda of the Philippine Trade and Investment Center and Assistant Labor Attaché Melissa Mendizabal and other embassy officials.  Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

PHL Embassy in Washington D.C. closed July 4

The Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. will be closed on July 4 in observance of US Independence Day.

In a post on its website, the embassy said it will resume regular working hours on July 7, the Monday after the holiday.

"In observance of US Independence Day, the Philippine Embassy will be closed on 4 July 2014. Regular working hours will resume on 7 July 2014," it said.

July 4 is a federal holiday in the US, marking the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

Pinoy workers bound abroad may now register in PHL for the 2016 polls

Filipino workers bound abroad for work can now register as overseas voters for the 2016 Presidential elections.

A press statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs said the first Overseas Voter Registration Center (OVRC) in the Philippines opened Friday at the DFA's Office of Consular Affairs at the ASEANA Business Park along Macapagal Avenue.

Voters who register there may also have their passports renewed without waiting in line at the Passport Division's Courtesy Lane, it added.

All Filipinos abroad during the 30 day overseas voting period (from April 9 to May 9, 2016) may register at all Philippine Foreign Service Posts.

Other OVRCs may soon be opened at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO), and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

On the other hand, Passport Satellite Offices in Metro Manila and Regional Consular Offices in Cebu and Davao may also host OVRCs in the future.

The DFA recently registered a “record breaking” number of voters during the first month of theoverseas voter registration for the 2016 elections.

Based on records from the DFA's Overseas Voting Secretariat (DFA-OVS), 18,631 new voters were processed by various Philippine posts around the world last May.

This was a 111-percent increase from the 8,819 recorded for the 2013 elections, 64-percent increase from the 11,397 recorded for the 2010 elections, and over 630-percent increase for the 2,543 recorded for the 2007 elections. — Rie Takumi /LBG, GMA News

Pinay dies in Australia due to electrocution involving a cheap USB-style charger

SYDNEY - Australian authorities issued a warning about cheap, non-compliant USB-style chargers Friday after a young woman died from apparent electrocution while using a laptop and possibly a smartphone.
The 28-year-old was found wearing headphones and with her computer in her lap with burns on her chest and ears at a home in Gosford, north of Sydney, in April.
Police are still investigating the circumstances of the death but the Department of Fair Trading, which has assisted with the case, suggested a sub-standard mobile phone charger could be to blame.
The woman, whom reports said was from the Philippines but had recently become an Australian citizen, had headphones plugged into her laptop, which was connected to a power socket to charge.
"The phone was also plugged into a USB-style charger. That charger had failed," Lynelle Collins from the New South Wales Department of Fair Trading told AFP.
"Somehow power from that charger has connected to her body. Whether she had it (the phone) to her ear or was holding it in her hand, we don't know."
Collins said ideally people should avoid using their mobile phones while the devices were charging, but in any case they should avoid non-approved chargers.
"We are trying to alert people to the concern that sometimes when you buy really cheap chargers, they aren't compliant with... (safety) standards," she said.
Fair Trading said it had removed a number of unapproved and non-compliant USB-style chargers, travel adaptors and power boards from sale in Sydney after the death.
They said the devices did not meet essential safety requirements and were often made of inferior plastics and other insulation materials.
"These devices pose a serious risk of electrocution or fire," Fair Trading commissioner Rod Stowe said in a statement.
Maximum penalties for selling devices that fail Australian standards are Aus$87,500 (US$82,500) and/or two years imprisonment for an individual and a Aus$875,000 fine for a corporation.
The woman's death is the only known fatality in Australia potentially linked with the chargers, but a report from China in 2013 suggested a woman was electrocuted while making a call on a phone that was charging. —Agence France-Presse

DOLE probes unlicensed recruiter promising deployment to Australia

The Department of Labor and Employment is now investigating an unlicensed recruiter allegedly promising to send prospective overseas Filipino workers to Australia.

DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz ordered the probe following a complaint from the father of a female OFW planning to work in Australia as a nurse.

She said the OFW's father claimed the company, identified as Philippine Management, Inc., is "enticing Filipino registered nurses to apply for nursing positions in Australia, with a promise of P2.5 million in annual earnings and financial assistance for those who will apply.”

Baldoz referred the complaint to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration's Legal Assistance Division for investigation.

On the other hand, the DOLE said Philippine Management Inc. is not on the list of overseas recruitment agencies licensed with the POEA.

Yet, the DOLE noted there is a website,, claiming to be formerly "Armstrong Canada."

The site claimed the company is a "consultancy and advisory firm providing service on various areas relative to Philippine Transaction or business matters of foreign entities. Phil. Management's experience consists of clients from Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Australia & New Zealand." The site was still live as of Friday noon.


The DOLE is verifying the would-be OFW's father's claims that Philippine Management, Inc. was formerly Canadian Consultancy, Inc., with offices at the Philippine Stock Exchange Building in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

Quoting the complainant, a DOLE news release said the recruitment firm was allegedly distributing flyers claiming 14,000 registered nurses are needed in Australia.

But Baldoz stressed there are presently no job orders from the Australian labor market for Filipino nurses.

She advised Filipino nurses to be wary of rackets or scams claiming to recruit nurses to work there.

“Would-be nurses and other workers must check first with the POEA on job orders for Australia, or risk falling victims to illegal recruiters and human traffickers,” she said.  Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

New York City to allow ID cards for illegal immigrants

NEW YORK -  The New York City Council on Thursday voted to create the nation's largest municipal identification card program to include illegal immigrants.
The plan, approved in a 43-3 vote with two abstentions, will allow some 500,000 illegal immigrants in the city to open bank accounts, sign apartment leases and access other services where a photo ID is required.
Supporters of the bill, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, said the ID cards will reduce obstacles for senior citizens, homeless individuals and illegal immigrants.
"Every New Yorker deserves an official identification that allows them to prove who they are and access core services, de Blasio said in a statement after the vote.
"The municipal ID is more than just a card - it provides New Yorkers who are currently living in the shadows with dignity and peace of mind," de Blasio said.
The legislation puts New York on a list of other U.S. cities with large immigrant populations - Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Haven, Connecticut - that have instituted municipal ID programs.
The ID program will be the nation's largest and is expected to be rolled out in 2015. The card will include the holder's photo, name, date of birth and address. It will also have an expiration date.
Applicants can obtain a card using a foreign birth certificate, driver's license or proof of residence such as a utility bill. There will also be an option to include self-designated gender.
Voting against the measure were the three Republican members of the city council, who said its $8 million price tag might be better spent on other priorities, including the hiring of firefighters and police officers.
Steve Matteo, a council member from the borough of Staten Island, also voiced concern the cards could allow non-residents to access city services for which they are not eligible.
The ID card vote in New York City comes amid a national debate over how to address the millions of undocumented and illegal immigrants living in the United States, and a surge in unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, who have been trying to cross the U.S. border.
New York's staunchly liberal City Council on Thursday also earmarked nearly $5 million of the city budget to expand a pilot program that provides free legal representation for detained immigrants facing deportation.   Reuters

Syrian gets 3 years for allowing his friends to rape his Pinay wife in UAE

A criminal court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has sentenced a Syrian national to three-year imprisonment for allowing his friends to rape his Filipina wife.

A report on The Filipino Times said the sentence was handed down by Presiding Judge Hassan Al Bu Rogha and Judges Hamad Abdul Karim and Hani Bassam of the Ras Al Khaimah Criminal Court.

separate report on Gulf News said the incident happened in May after a night of drinking.

The reports did not identify both the husband and the wife, but the Filipino Times described him as 29 years old and her 20 years old and a mother.

Citing court records, Gulf News said the woman’s husband and his friends had been drinking alcohol at the couple’s home in Ras Al Khaimah.

It said the Syrian got angry at his wife after she refused to have sex with him because her son was asleep in their bed.

The Gulf News report said the infuriated husband then ordered his friends to rape his wife in their living room.

The case was filed by the woman's sister.

Medical forensics were able to confirm that the Filipina was indeed raped. —KBK, GMA News

Baldoz wants airport assistance for repatriated OFWs simplified

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz this week ordered agencies assisting repatriated distressed overseas Filipino workers to further simplify their procedures at the airport.

Baldoz issued the directive after being shown the step-by-step process of assistance to distressed OFWs who arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“We need to simplify more some of the processes to shorten the time of OFWs' stay at the airport for them to go home to their families. They only want to be with their loved ones as fast as possible," Baldoz said in a statement Thursday.

She directed her instructions to:

- Undersecretary Reydeluz Conferido
- Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Hans Leo Cacdac
- Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Rebecca Calzado
- National Reintegration Center for OFWs Director Violeta Munoz

Step by step

OWWA Repatriation Assistance Division (RAD) head Yolanda Peñaranda had briefed Baldoz, Conferido, Cacdac, Calzado, and Muñoz on the step-by-step process of assistance to repatriated OFWs.

Peñaranda said the airport assistance process starts when her unit receives from the Philippine foreign post a notice of the arrival of repatriated OFWs. The next step is for the OWWA to requests airport authorities for passes for assistance and support teams to enter the arrival area.

A third step is the identification of the repatriated OFWs near the tube where passengers disembark, and the fourth is assistance in the immigration procedure.

During this stage, RAD personnel ask the OFWs if their final destination is in the provinces, or if someone is fetching them from the airport, or if they would like to stay at the OWWA Halfway Home.

OWWA also provides medical and pyscho-social care to OFWs who may need it, and legal assistance to those with money claims.

Intensify repatriation, reintegration assistance

Baldoz instructed Calzado to intensify the provision of repatriation and reintegration assistance and services to OFWs including those from Libya and Iraq.

“The OWWA, in coordination with the POEA, the licensed recruitment agencies, and their insurance carriers, should now focus more on ensuring that OFW affected by instability and political upheavals should be brought home fast, safe, and sound,” she said. Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News

Pal honors retiring Fil-Am US Marine with limo service, renovated home

When Msgt. Jacinto Bernardo, a retiring Filipino-American US Marine, returned to California from Japan last week, he was surprised to be fetched from the airport by a limo and brought to a home that hardly looked like the one he left behind.

It turned out that his fix-upper house was renovated and improved without his knowledge using money that his fellow Marine Jeremy Epperson raised in order to honor him for his heroism as a soldier.

According to an article on The Blaze, Epperson raised roughly $70,000 for the renovation of Bernardo's house through a program he called “Homecoming Heroes.”

Screengrab from ABC7 News

Epperson was quoted in the article as saying that no retiring US Marine should have to return to a home that is a “fix-upper,” a real-estate slang word for a property that requires maintenance work.

The article said Bernardo, an Iraq war veteran, got emotional while talking to a local news station about the surprise his friend gave him.

“We are proud of our service,” said Bernardo, who spent 21 years in the military service. [See video

“Those guys that didn’t make it back and those guys that didn’t make it in one piece, they deserve this, not me,” he added.

Bernardo's LinkedIn page said he graduated high school  in Colegio de San Juan de Letran in the Philippines in 1990 at attended the University of Maryland University College from 2009 to 2014. —KBK, GMA News

PHL officials in Kuwait prepare for possible spillover of Iraq conflict

Officials from the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait on Thursday inspected the Iraq-Kuwait border to conduct a first-hand assessment of the security situation there following a series of rebel attacks in Iraq.

Consul General Ramon Dado led the delegation, according to a report on GMA News' "Balitanghali," adding the group found that the border was operating normally.

The report quoted Dado as saying that it is the embassy's priority to remain on top of the situation in case the violence in Iraq spills over to Kuwait, home to at least 180,000 Filipinos.

Dado said the embassy is prepared to assist Filipinos in evacuating from Kuwait should the country become embroiled in conflict.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has raised Crisis Alert Level 4, the highest alert level on troubled states, in Iraq due to the ongoing armed conflict there blamed on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), reportedly an al Qaeda breakaway faction.

There are at least 900 Filipino workers in Iraq, though most are based in the Kurdistan region, which is under Crisis Alert Level 2.

Filipinos in the region, mostly construction and oil rig workers, are advised to restrict non-essential movements, avoid public places, and take extra precautions. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Jury selection starts for trial of suspect in Pinay nurse's murder

POMONA, Calif.  – Jury selection began June 10 at the Superior Court here for the trial of Tomas Infante, 62, of West Covina.

Infante is accused of killing his wife Charito Vega Tolentino on Jan. 11, 2013. Deputies found her body at the back of her abandoned red Toyota RAV4 at the Hawaiian Gardens Casino parking lot in Hawaiian Gardens on Jan. 13, 2013.

Infante was charged with one count of murder by the District Attorney’s Office, Pomona Branch (Case No. KA100655). He remains in custody at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles on $1 million bail. If convicted as charged, Infante faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.


Infante was arrested by the West Covina Police and the Sheriff’s homicide investigators on Jan. 14, after serving a search warrant at the couple’s residence on Hollenbeck Street in West Covina.  

The couple had a 17-year-old daughter living at their home at the time.  

Lt. John Corina of the Homicide Bureau, L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. said Tolentino  appeared to have died from blunt force trauma and “stabbing-type wounds.”  

He also said they found evidence implicating the suspect to the murder but could not reveal what the evidence was, only that “it appears from the evidence that the suspect killed the victim at their home and then transported her body in a car, which he parked and abandoned in the parking lot of the Hawaiian Gardens Casino.”

Investigators believe Infante’s wife was killed on Jan. 11.

According to the autopsy report, Tolentino suffered “stab wounds, head lacerations and multiple bruises.”

Infante reported his wife missing to the West Covina Police on Jan. 12, and told them she worked till Friday morning, Jan. 11, but didn’t come home. She worked as a nurse at the St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles.

It was Tolentino’s sister who found her car in the casino parking lot, according to a family friend, in the 11000 block of Carson Street, and called the Sheriff’s Dept. about 9 a.m. Jan. 13.


Deputy District Attorney Manuel Garcia, in charge of the Victim Impact Program (VIP) in Pomona, filed the case against Infante.

The District Attorney’s Office established the VIP to ensure that the victims of “highly traumatic crimes” or “life-devastating crimes” which include family violence are given the best possible treatment. The program places specially trained prosecutors in Branch and Area offices throughout the county to specifically deal with these types of cases. This bolters the offices’ ‘vertical prosecution efforts,’ ensuring that one prosecutor handles these types of cases from start to finish. —Philippine News

PHL Embassy in Singapore charging fee for NBI clearance procedure

Starting July 1, the Philippine Embassy in Singapore will charge a standard consular fee of SGD42.50 (nearly P1,500) for acknowledging the fingerprinting of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance.

In a statement on its website, the embassy said the fee is in line with the Department of Foreign Affairs’ regular schedule of fees for services rendered by the embassy's consular officers.

"Applicants for NBI clearance will still need to set an online appointment for this service, and to follow all steps, as enumerated in our guidelines for NBI fingerprinting, in our website," it said.

In a separate web page, the embassy said that while the NBI form is not a consular document, the Philippine Embassy assists Filipinos applying for NBI clearance in terms of fingerprinting on the card form.

"Upon completion of the requirements below, the applicant sends the form, together with a special power of attorney, to his/her authorized representative in the Philippines, who will process the clearance with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on your behalf," it said.

Applicants are required to make appointments for the procedure, and are advised to send an email to with the subject “NBI Fingerprinting Appointment."

NBI fingerprinting slots are open Monday to Friday, from 4 to 5 p.m. only. —Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News

Attack on Pinoy limo driver in NY ‘not along racial lines’ –PHL consul

A $2,000 reward is being offered by the family of limo driver Robert Martirez, 56, who died June 24 or two days after he was attacked blocks away from his Elmhurst home.

Some members of the Filipino-American community also contributed to the reward fund.

This was disclosed by Consul Felipe Carino, who told The FilAm the family has also requested for privacy.

“His family has requested for privacy, according to the hospital, but we left contact details in case they would need any assistance,” said Carino who is in charge of the Philippine Consulate’s Assistance to Nationals (ATN) unit.

Carino disputed reports about racial slurs allegedly coming from the suspect. Published reports state that the unidentified attacker asked Martires “Are you Filipino?” before punching him in the face around midnight of June 22.

“It’s not along racial lines, according to investigation provided to us,” Carino said. “No conclusion at this time, but we hope the investigation is fair.”

Martirez died the afternoon of June 24 from the severity of the assault.

Carino also disputed reports the consulate has not been heard of in connection with the case. He said an ATN officer was immediately dispatched to the Elmhurst General Hospital from day one and remains in touch with police authorities and hospital.

The “unprovoked” assault on Martirez was reported by some local media as possibly a bias crime.

“The consulate immediately sent an ATN officer to check on his medical condition, we just learned that he passed away. He expired in the afternoon,” he said.

Carino said the consulate is “exploring” possible humanitarian efforts in case the family decided to reach out with any request for help.

“Any effort to assist, such as transporting the remains, we will support, we will explore that and do everything we can for the family,” he said.

Meantime, the Filipino-American community is keeping a close watch on the case, with some members calling for more proactive response.

“There should be a strong rally on this,” said advocate for the Filipino elderly Consuelo Almonte of New York.

The media describes Martirez as a church-going family man. He was reportedly wearing a yellow Manny Pacquiao shirt when he was beaten up by a man described in published reports as Hispanic-looking. —The FilAm
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