Friday, November 28, 2014

Runaway expats in Saudi Arabia may be allowed to go home without jail – report

Expatriate workers who run away from their employers in Saudi Arabia may soon be allowed to return home without being jailed, a Saudi news site reported Thursday.
But the expatriates must have no criminal cases pending, settle outstanding fines, and pay for their tickets, Arab News reported.
They must also have an undertaking from their consulates assuring they will leave in 72 hours, the report said.
Arab News said it got a copy of the circular dated Nov. 18 containing such conditions, from Pakistan Consul General Aftab Khokher. The circular was sent to all consulates by Muhammad Abdulwahab Nugali, representative of the Foreign Ministry, it added.
Khokher said the concession had been proposed by the Pakistani mission due to the large number of distressed workers from there.
Under the same circular,  workers who want to go home must be taken by their consulates to the Shumaisi center for fingerprinting and they should have passports issued by their consulates.
Before this, an expatriate declared a runaway had to return to his or her sponsor and police to sort things out.
On the other hand, many expatriates including those from Southeast Asian countries, had complained they were declared absconders by unscrupulous sponsors who merely wanted to settle scores or obstruct lawsuits.
An expatriate declared an absconder could not go home through regular procedures, as the Saudi police had to arrest and detain them at the local deportation center.  Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News

P2-M blood money needed to bring OFW in Saudi home

The family of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was saved from the death penalty in Saudi Arabia has appealed for help in bringing their loved one home hopefully before Christmas.

A report on GMA News TV's “QRT” on Thursday said the family of Jonard Langamin is appealing for help in raising the P2 million blood money needed for him to get home.

Langamin was sentenced to death for killing fellow Filipino Robertson Mendoza in 2008.

Due to the tanazul or affidavit of forgiveness signed by Mendoza's family and released last November 3, which saved Langamin from the death penalty, he only needs to pay the blood money in order to be allowed to return home, the report said.

Under Saudi law, the private aspect of the case is more important than the public aspect. The private aspect involves the victim's next of kin granting forgiveness to the family of the accused.

No deadline was set for Langamin to raise the needed money, the report said.

The Department of Foreign could not say if Langamin could be released in December. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoys make mark in Milan fashion scene

Filipino producer Evelyn Amorin has earned herself a spot in European fashion history when she spearheaded the first ever Filipino-produced fashion show in Milan, Italy.

A report on "24 Oras" Thursday night said Amorin's fashion show featured over 40 models, including 14-year-old Filipino-Italian stunner Simone Pani.

The event, held in October, showcased designs by fellow Filipino Roger Esteron, who is also known as Korn Taylor, the report added.

Filipinos have been making splashes in the fashion industry abroad, with Filipino designers opening boutiques and showcasing fashion collections in the United States.

Their presence in high-profile fashion events are also widely noted, as their designs had been tagged as "hip, young, vibrant, wearable, and cool" at the LA Fashion Week and as emerging trend in the Boston Fashion WeekRie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoys among awarded foreign workers in NY

For their achievements in medicine, education, and other fields, 13 foreign workers — including Filipinos — were recently awarded in New York.

The 13 were recognized for their contribution in nation-building both in the United States and their countries of origin by the Team United Maharlika Foundation during its third anniversary celebration last November 16 at Astoria World Manor in Queens.

Leading the list of awardees was Sen. Gustavo Rivera, the Puerto Rican-born state senator of New York who helped introduce the Bronx CAN Health Initiative in 2011, giving school children free health screenings in various health centers.

Monsignor Oscar Aquino, a Pangasinense, was also recognized for aiding numerous Filipino-Americans bond through informal breakfast gatherings.

Other awardees include:

– Dr. Richard Holsman;
– Engineer Levi Tejada;
– Teacher Ronnie Mataquel, president of the United Filipino Teachers of America;
– Nurse Maritess Pabalan;
– Chef Rosalie Palma, who served former President Bill Clinton and President Barrack Obama at the White House;
– Retired Nurse Carmen Marquez;
– Esther Faith Batino, recipient of Ambassador for Peace from Universal Peace Federation;
– Joseph and Maricel Cheng, entrepreneurs;
– Miguel Braganza, stage actor and director;
– Elton Lugay, reporter for The FilAm and Philippine Daily Inquirer; and
– Dr. Ben Sales, late president of the Philippine Medical Association in the US

Team United president Rene Ballenas said more foreign workers will be honored in the future.

“This event is very important since we celebrate the excellence of Filipino and our capacity to lead beyond our own community,” said Consul General Mario de Leon during the event.

“We are now the 2nd largest Asia ethnic group in the US, and with our visibility comes our responsibility to the greater community,” he added. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Photo from Philippine Consulate General in New York

Upgraded contracts seen to end exploitation of PHL maids in MidEast

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Thursday hailed the decision of labor ministers in the Gulf to improve the contracts of foreign domestic workers, saying this could “end soon the days of abuse” of Filipino maids in the Middle East.

“This is a boost to our efforts to ensure increased protection for the well-being, safety, and welfare for our Filipino domestic workers,” she said in a statement.

“It will, I hope, end soon the days of abuse and exploitation suffered by many domestic workers who, because of the nature of their work, are extremely vulnerable.”

Baldoz said the new minimum terms on contracts to be imposed by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will help the Philippines with its efforts to protect its domestic helpers.

Among the improvements in the contracts are the provision of annual leaves, eight-hour work shifts, weekly dayoffs, and a right to live outside the employer's house.

Employers will also be barred from confiscating their employee's passports, and ordered to pay the domestic helper's end-of-service indemnity and overtime pay.

The GCC is composed of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

Baldoz said these provisions were in line with the International Labor Organization's (ILO) Convention 189, ratified by the Philippine Senate in 2012 for its goal of providing decent work to domestic workers.

“These principles became universal after ILO Convention 189 had entered into force, and I am very happy that the GCC has stepped-in with the times and with the rest of the world in affording decent and productive work for domestic workers,” she said.

Baldoz also said the Philippines, as a leading voice in the promotion of domestic workers’ welfare and protection, should take advantage of this new agreement to ensure that its strong regulatory regime in the deployment of domestic workers will result to the drastic reduction, if not elimination, of abuse and exploitation.

“Uncaring recruiters, opportunistic middlemen, and abusive employers who do not treat our HSWs with respect and dignity as workers and as human beings with universal right should be penalized and banned from participating in overseas employment," she said. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

PHL envoy elected chairman of int'l mobile satellite assembly session

The Philippines has been elected to chair the session of an international body handling public satellite safety and security communication services, the Philippine embassy to the United Kingdom said Wednesday.

Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Enrique Manalo was elected chairman of the 23rd Session of the International Mobile Satellite Organization Assembly in London.

Nominating Manalo was Monaco representative Armelle Roudaut-Lafon, who cited his diplomatic experience in chairing international meetings.

China, Malaysia, Spain, the Marshall Islands, Poland, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Republic of Korea, Oman, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Liberia and Argentina seconded his nomination.

"Ambassador Manalo chairs the 99-member state Assembly which meets biennially. The Assembly will elect the new IMSO Director General who will take over from Director General Esteban Pacha-Vicente of Spain," the embassy said.

As the largest nationality of seafarers, the Philippines benefits greatly from these mobile satellite communication systems, the embassy added.

The International Maritime Organization is hosting the 23rd Session of the IMSO Assembly from November 25 to 28.

IMSO, established in 1979, is an intergovernmental organization that oversees certain public satellite safety and security communication services.

These include the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and the Long-Range Identification and Tracking of Ships (LRIT) system.

"GMDSS ensures timely response of search-and-rescue teams to ships in distress while the LRIT system allows the identification and tracking of merchant ships in addressing security concerns," the embassy said.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

No OFW infected with Ebola so far, says DOH

Health authorities have not yet monitored any overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who has been infected with the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed over 5,000 in West Africa.

“As of this time, no Filipino has been infected by Ebola,” said Dr. Lyndon See Suy, spokesperson for the Department of Health (DOH), in a press conference Thursday.

Still, he said the government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), is sending a rapid assessment team to Ebola-hit nations in West Africa where some OFWs work as health professionals.

Lee Suy said Filipino heath workers in areas with recorded Ebola cases are not working on the frontline against the infectious disease, but are instead hired by private companies to supervise the health of its workers in a specific area.

Nevertheless, Filipino health workers from West Africa will still have to undergo a 21-day quarantine period once they arrive in the Philippines.

In the same press briefing, Dr. Mari Rose Delos Reyes of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Disease (PSMID) said that Filipinos with low exposure to the virus may be exempted from the quarantine.

“We don't need to quarantine everybody coming in from these areas,” she said, referring to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Mali, the countries with high number of Ebola cases.

She said people with low risk of getting Ebola are those who had no direct contact with body fluids from an Ebola patient and those who had traveled on an aircraft with a person manifesting Ebola symptoms.

Still, Lee Suy said the DOH has made quarantine mandatory for all OFWs returning from West Africa because they cannot immediately determine if an OFW is a low risk or high risk case.

For his part, Ludovico Jurao Jr., PSMID's president, reminded OFWs that it is their “social responsibility” to call DOH if they are showing symptoms of the infectious disease.

“Meron kang responsiblidad sa pamilya mo at sa community mo, if ever meron kang sintomas,” he said. —KBK, GMA News

PCIJ founder, ‘Let It Go’ composer among nominees for 2014 Presidential Awards

Eight outstanding overseas Filipinos have been nominated for the 2014 President Awards following deliberations by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), the Philippine Consulate General in New York said Thursday.

The nominees included an artist, a musician, a composer, an entrepreneur, doctors, and a noted journalist, all of whom nominated for “exemplifying the talent and industry of the Filipino,” the consulate general said in a news release.

The nominees are:

Sheila Coronel, a Magsaysay awardee and one of the founders of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism;

Robert Lopez, a songwriter known for penning the songs featured in the Disney Animation feature film Frozen.

Katherine Luzuriaga,  a Filipino-American pediatric immunologist who led a team that cured HIV in an infant in Mississippi, USA.

Sheila Lirio-Marcelo, a Filipino-American entrepreneur and founder and CEO of;

Lolita Savage, a noted Filipino–American artist who lives in New York City and Florence, Italy;

Paolo Antonio Silva, a Filipino ophthalmologist who was among the recipients of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines award in 2013;

Cecile Licad,  a world-renowned Filipina classical pianist;

Lea Carmen Salonga, a Filipina singer and actress who starred in the lead role of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon; and

“The Presidential awardees from the US Northeast successfully asserted their leadership roles in the community and the greater US society,” said Consul General Mario L. de Leon, Jr. of the US. “They inspire all of us to achieve excellence in whatever field or profession we are in.”

The eight will receive the Pamana ng Pilipino Award on December 5 at the MalacaƱang Palace

The award is conferred to Filipinos overseas “who, in exemplifying the talent and industry of the Filipino, have brought the country honor and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work and profession,” the consulate general said.

Nominees from the US Northeast comprised 17 percent of the 157 total nominations from 29 countries endorsed by 40 Philippine foreign services posts.

The eight awardees were picked out of 23 individuals and four organizations endorsed by the Philippine Consulate General. They will be among the 33 total Presidential awardees this year. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoy couple in UAE seeks Dh50k to save daughter

A Filipino couple in the United Arab Emirates needs to raise Dh50,000 (P611,897) for surgery to save their prematurely born daughter.

Baby Samira Alegra was born a month early – on Oct. 19 – at GMC Hospital in Ajman, UAE news site Gulf News reported.

Weighing only 1.6 kilos, she has Patent Ductus Arteriosus or an unclosed hole in her aorta, and needs surgery.

Her mother Analiza Sales, 39, said Samira was born with a congenital heart disease and is currently at a neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU).

"Doctors at GMC Hospital in Ajman say she has a hole in her heart and needs an operation as soon as she’s fit for it,” she said.

She also has to pay for school expenses of eight-year-old Raul, husband Anthony Jasper's son.

“We are running out of options and we need your compassion and kindness to get us through these difficult times. We love our daughter so much and we are desperate to save our daughter’s life,” added Anthony, who now works as a salesman in a music store.

Sales said that as of Nov. 15, hospital bills had gone up to Dh47,000 "and the expenses keep stacking."

Yet, she said she earns only Dh4,000 as a supervisor at a photo studio while Anthony Jasper, 37, lost his Dh5,000 job at a preschool in February.

“I was the only one working regularly these past few months till Anthony got a job three weeks back. It has been months of struggle for my family all this while and it’s just got far worse,” she said. Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pinay brings Paskong Pinoy spirit to Paris with puto bumbong

Spending Christmas away from home can make the hearts of overseas Filipino workers cold. After all, nothing beats the spirit of the world's longest-running holiday season.

In Paris, an enterprising Filipina has tought of a remedy to homesickness.

Jayleen Villanueva is celebrating Paskong Pinoy in France by selling the Simbang Gabi staple puto bumbong and other Filipino ricecakes to her kababayans in the the land of cheese and wine.

There are now a lot of modern ways to make puto bumbong, but Villanueva is doing it old-school — still using the traditional bumbong or bamboo tubes to cook the Filipino delicacy.

To keep it even more authentic, she uses banana leaves to wrap the ricecakes before selling them on the street, according to a report on GMA News' "Saksi" Tuesday.

As the sole puto bumbong- and ricecake-maker in Paris, Villanueva earns €300 or a whopping P17,000.

But aside from additional income, Villanueva's efforts also helped her fellow Filipinos there to get a taste of Paskong Pinoy. —Trisha Macas/KBK, GMA News

After Jan 21, ‘no fingerprint, no iqama’ in Saudi

Filipinos living or working in Saudi Arabia may have until Jan. 21, 2015 to register their fingerprints if they want to be issued new or renewed iqamas or residency permits, a Saudi news site reported.

The Kingdom's passport department said it will not issue new or renew residence permits unless foreign workers and dependents over 15 have registered their fingerprints, Arab News reported.

“We have carried out this assignment systematically and gradually, by aligning the issue of iqamas for newcomers at the airports with the registration of their fingerprints,” Arab News quoted Maj. Ahmad Fahd Al-Luhaidan, spokesman of the department, as saying.

He said those who fail to comply by Jan. 21 risk having access to online passport and other services cut off.

Also, he said the department introduced the measures gradually over the past three years to avoid disrupting citizens and expatriates' lives.

Al-Luhaidan said the department has set up passport offices in major cities and towns as well as deployed mobile units.

The report also noted the fingerprinting of female employees was first introduced on March 31, 2012.

He said residents can check if they have registered their fingerprints on

Last Sunday, Al-Luhaidan said the department linked fingerprint registration with three services including the issue of re-entry visas, change of profession, and information transfers.

On Tuesday, the department sent text messages to citizens reminding them on what they need to do. Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News

Pinoys in Canada gather funds for kin of OFWs killed in Alberta car crash

Filipinos in Canada have pooled their resources together to help the families left behind by the four Filipinos killed in a road accident in Alberta over the weekend, a report on GMA News TV's "Balitanghali said Wednesday.

The report also said the Philippine Honorary Consul in Edmonton has already contacted the Filipino victims' employers to seek assistance in repatriating their remains.

The four Filipinos — two nannies and two fry cooks — were killed Saturday morning (Canada time) when their sedan hit an icy patch on a highway near Leduc, swerved into the opposite lane, and slammed into a tractor trailer.

All four were killed on the spot, while the driver of the tractor was unhurt.

Reports said the housemates of the victims had warned them against going out due to the bad weather, but the four pushed through with their plans.

Forty-one-year-old Eva Janette Caperina, one of the victims, had lost her Philippine-based husband to a motorcycle accident in 2013. They have two kids, a male and female teenager, both in the Philippines.

Caperina moved to Alberta two years ago to provide for her family. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Gulf countries to upgrade contracts for domestic workers

Foreign domestic helpers, including Filipinos, in the Middle East can now expect improved working conditions soon to include annual leaves and eight-hour workdays.

This was after labor ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreed on minimum terms in the contracts of domestic staff, reports said Wednesday.

Aside from annual leave and eight-hour work shifts, foreign domestic workers will be entitled to weekly dayoff and the right to live outside their employer's house, according to a report on Khaleej Times.

Employers have also been barred from confiscating their employee's passports, the report added. Under the contract, domestic helpers are also entitled to end-of-service indemnity and overtime pay for extra work for a maximum of two hours daily,

separate report on Arab News said the contracts for foreign domestic workers were upgraded to “improve the widely criticized working conditions of over 2.4 million foreign maids” in the Middle East.

It quoted Director-general Jamal Al Dossari of Kuwait's Public Manpower Authority as saying that some countries insist that “they have laws that are better for workers,” but the labor ministers agreed that minimum terms must be granted to workers.

The Khaleej Times report said the new terms will take effect after approval by GCC labor ministers.

The GCC is composed of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

The Philippines is considered one of the biggest suppliers of domestic helpers in the Middle East, most of them in Saudi Arabia. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

What Obama started, Congress must finish –Fil-Am groups

While President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration was well received by the Filipino community, many of its leaders continue to urge Congress to pass a law that would provide a more permanent solution to the broken immigration system.

“This is undoubtedly big news for our community,” said Romeo Ymalay, Co-Chair of Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress. “Many Filipino Americans experience first-hand the tremendous difficulties caused by our current system. But President Obama’s action is only the first step. Much more needs to be done to finally fix our broken and unjust immigration system.”

Kaya is calling on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform law that will, among other provisions, provide a clear path to citizenship, and recognize the importance of keeping families together by addressing the current backlog in family visas.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) estimates there are 270,000 undocumented Filipino immigrants in the U.S. today.

The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) National Chairman JT Mallonga, called Obama’s executive action a “bold decision” and a “step forward” in alleviating the plight of millions of undocumented immigrants.

“We wholeheartedly support President Obama’s executive action that provides immigration relief to undocumented immigrants who have made significant contributions to this country, and yet have been denied access to the same opportunities that Americans enjoy,” Mallonga said.

He added, however, that “Congress must finish the job and work with the President in passing a comprehensive, bipartisan bill. The U.S. Senate passed one more than a year ago, with 68 senators from both parties voting for it. It’s up to the House leadership to do the right thing, now.”

The Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) calls the presidential overreach “historical and transformative”

“President Obama has reaffirmed once more that this nation is a nation of immigrants that our immigration system should be about family, unity, economic opportunity, fairness and equality,” said MHC Executive Director Arnedo Valera.

“His executive action should not be seen as an ‘all cure’ to our defective immigration system but an immediate and practical immigration relief to millions of undocumented immigrants.”

MHC believes that Filipinos, especially the highly skilled, will benefit from the executive action.

“The expanded exercise of prosecutorial discretion also lays down the foundation of the granting of deferred action to thousands of Filipino teachers who lost their immigration status to no fault of their own and as well as undocumented Filipinos who are no longer in lawful immigration status,” Valera continued.

The Philippine Forum in New York said Obama’s executive order is a significant development, but the “roots of being undocumented immigrants are still not being addressed.”

“We must also remember and still be cognizant of the fact that most immigrants come to the United States because they were driven away from their countries of origin due to poverty, political persecution, government corruption, trafficking and other factors that force them to migrate,” the Philippine Forum said in a statement. “In the Philippines alone, more than 4,800 Filipinos leave the country on a daily basis to look for greener pasture elsewhere, with U.S. as the main destination. —The FilAm Metro DC

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

PHL Embassy in Washington closed Nov. 27-28

The Philippine Embassy in Washington will be closed on Nov. 27 and 28 in observance of Thanksgiving, a holiday in the United States.

In a post on its website, the embassy said it will resume its regular office hours on Monday, Dec. 1. Nov. 29 and 30 fall on a Saturday and Sunday.

"In observance of Thanksgiving, the Embassy will be closed on Thursday and Friday, 27 to 28 November. Regular office hours will resume on Monday, 1 December," it said.

The Smithsonian said the first Thanksgiving service known to be held by Europeans in North America occurred on May 27, 1578 in Newfoundland.

In present times, it said Thanksgiving is a time when many families come together, and many churches are open for special services.   Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

Pinoy seafarer rescued after suffering a heart attack while at sea

Malaysian authorities recently rescued a Filipino seafarer who suffered a heart attack while at sea, Malaysian news agency Bernama reported.

Faro Navciso Crus, a 52-year-old second engineer on the Japan-registered MV Frontier Voyager, was rushed to the Seri Majung Hospital after his ship was pulled from the Straits of Melaka last November 17, the report said.

His condition was tipped to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Putrajaya at 3:30 a.m. the same day, prompting it to deploy the maritime vessel Nyalau, which has 11 crewmembers.

Maritime Captain Abdul Razak Johan said in a statement that MV Frontier Voyager was en route to Mundra in India when Crus suffered a heart attack. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Icy Alberta highway proved deadly for 4 Pinoys

Four Filipino workers in Canada died after their car slammed into a truck on a highway in Alberta last Saturday morning (Canada time), reports said.

Eva Janette Caperina, a 41-year-old nanny, a female and two male companions were killed as their Saturn Ion sedan hit an icy patch on the road near Leduc, swerved into the opposite lane, and smashed into a tractor trailer, a report on CBC News Edmonton said.

The report said the victims died on the spot. The driver of the tractor, however, was unhurt.

CBC News also reported that Caperina's husband was killed in a motorcycle crash last year in the Philippines, leaving her with two kids, both teenagers.

Hilda Doniego, Caperina's cousin, meanwhile told Calgary Herald that the victims' housemates had warned them against going out due to the bad weather, but they allegedly pushed through with their plan with a promise to return in the afternoon.

Doniego said Caperina, who previously worked in Taiwan for eight years, was in Canada to "try her luck." She moved to Alberta two years ago to work as a nanny.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is still trying to contact the families of the other victims, preventing the release of their names to the public.

In a text message to GMA News Online, Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose said they have yet to confirm the deaths with the Philippine Embassy in Canada. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Films about OFWs featured in HK film festival

Films about overseas Filipino workers, including the critically-acclaimed “Anak,” were featured in the recently held 5th Philippine Film Festival in Hong Kong.

“Anak,” which was released in 2000 and stars now Batangas governor Vilma Santos, was the centerpiece of the well attended opening night on November 14, a news release from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

The movie told the story of OFW Josie, who worked in Hong Kong for years only to come home to her resentful children.

Other films that were featured were “Milan,” “Caregiver,” “Balikbayan Box” and “Purok 7.”

The festival, held from November 16 to 23, is an annual activity by the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong and organized with the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

Filipino films have been known to highlight film festivals around the world.

Recently, the documentary "TNT" was featured in the International Film Festival Manhattan 2014while the crowd-funded "Singkil" made its debut in the Frameline Film Festival last June. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Alleged notorious illegal recruiter Isidro Rodriguez gets 11 years

A Manila court has sentenced an illegal recruiter to 11 years in jail after finding him guilty of duping a Filipina he promised a teaching job in the United States, the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC said Tuesday.

The embassy welcomed the conviction of Isidro Rodriguez by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 25 for illegal recruitment and estafa.

It said Rodriguez, who allegedly failed to deploy a teacher who paid him $5,000, has been sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and a P300,000 fine.

The court also sentenced Rodriguez to another four years and two months to 20 years for estafa.

It likewise ordered Rodriguez to indemnify a teacher with P250,000 in damages.

The embassy said Rodriguez tops the Philippine list of illegal recruiters and traffickers and is a subject of a manhunt. He also faces 20 other cases involving 73 complainants pending before various courts and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Victimized 1k teachers

Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr. had pushed for Rodriguez's arrest, for allegedly victimizing almost 1,000 Filipino teachers he promised non-existent jobs in the US.

The embassy said it has been working with non-government organizations led by Migrant Heritage Commission since 2006 to give assistance to Rodriguez's victims.

Last October, the embassy assured Filipino teachers there they are going after Rodriguez.

Militant group Gabriela USA described Rodriguez as a recruitment agency owner and suspected human trafficker. It claimed Rodriguez had "illegally recruited and trafficked" to the US several batches of teachers since 2003.

It said case complaints have been reported to Philippine embassy officials in the past as well as to the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA).

"However, the response from the Philippine government has been inadequate and unsatisfactory," it said.

Released last May

Gabriela USA said it received information that Rodriguez was released last May 8 "due to the settlement of some teachers from the first batch, but this disregards a significantly larger number of teachers pursuing cases against him."

Meanwhile, Cuisia urged other Filipino trafficking victims in the US to step forward as he assured them of embassy assistance. —Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News
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