Friday, January 30, 2015

OFW groups join forces vs. terminal fee integration



At a press conference at the CBCP on Friday, January 30, leaders of 'Coalition No to 550' voiced out their opposition to the integration of airport terminal fee to airline tickets, the implementation of which will start on February 1. The coalition said the integration violates the grant of exemption to overseas Filipino workers from paying airport terminal fees as mandated by the Migrant Workers Act of 1995.

Wounded Pinoy in Libya hotel attack to be airlifted to Turkey



2 Filipinos among 9 killed in Tripoli hotel attack
2 Filipinos among 9 killed in Tripoli hotel attack. Libyan security men are seen near the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli on Tuesday, January 27, where nine people—including two Filipinos and three other foreigners—were killed by armed men before blowing themselves up. The attack claimed by the Islamic State group, underlined the fragile security situation in the Libyan capital, which is controlled by a patchwork of militias allied with one of two governments claiming to rule the country.Reuters/Ismail Zitouny
The Filipino engineer who was injured in Tuesday's terrorist attack in a Libyan hotel will be airlifted to Turkey for better treatment, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Thursday.

In a statement, Baldoz identified the victim as Engr. Veron Pesigan Matoto, who sustained two gunshot wounds in the chest, one in the arm, one in the knee, and one in the leg during the incident.

Matoto will be airlifted from a hospital in Tripoli to a facility with better equipment in Turkey while awaiting repatriation, Baldoz said.

“Once she is repatriated, her family and she will receive proper assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration even if she is not an active member,” said added.

OWWA will also help Magtoto undergo psycho-social counseling, stress debriefing, and transport assistance to her home province.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) will assist Matoto in receiving her salaries and benefits from her employer. She is an employee of APR Energy Libya Company, but POEA records show she was deployed as employee to Kentz Engineers and Constructors.

Matoto and several others were hurt when gunmen stormed Corinthia Hotel, which is  popular with diplomats and officials, on Tuesday in an attack before blowing themselves up.

Nine people were killed, although the Philippine government denied reports that two of them were Filipinos.

The latest attack highlights the danger faced by hundreds of Philippine nationals working in the country, which has been plagued by several months of civil unrest.

Due to the volatile security situation in Libya, the Philippine government placed the North African state under crisis level 4. Under this phase, all Filipinos are encouraged to avail of evacuation being offered by the Philippine government.

According to Department of Labor and Employment, at least 4,333 Filipino workers have been repatriated from the country as of November last year. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Isabela LGU to subsidize farmers' SSS contributions


The provincial government of Isabela (PLGU-Isabela) has inked an agreement with the Social Security System (SSS) for the subsidy of SSS contributions of about 10,000 farmers in the province.

Under the memorandum of agreement (MOA) that was signed on January 30, the PLGU-Isabela will appropriate P18 million to subsidize half of the contributions of farmers with one-fourth to one hectare of tillage.

The subsidies will be based on P3,000 monthly salary credit that is equivalent to a contribution of P330 per month. Eligible farmers will be covered as self-employed members under the SSS program.

This means a farmer will only have to set aside P165 of his earnings per month and this amount will be collected and remitted together with the corresponding share of the provincial government to the SSS based on our regular payment schedule,” De Quiros said.

He added that farmers can also increase their monthly contribution to a higher bracket, subject to existing SSS rules and procedures.

The PLGU-Isabela will remit the farmers' contributions monthly to the SSS through its designated collecting agents as well as submit the collection lists for validation. SSS Cauayan Branch will monitor PLGU-Isabela's compliance with the signed MOA.

In the spirit of transparency, the provincial government of Isabela should maintain and post copies of the collection lists that we validated in conspicuous places on its premises so the farmers and the general public would see and be assured that we successfully received their contributions, “De Quiros said.

This subsidized contribution payment scheme for farmers came following the approval of the “Social Security Subsidy by the National Government for the Working Poor” by the Social Security Commission under its Resolution No. 575.s.2012 on July 11, 2012. The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Isabela province has also passed an ordinance in 2012 to institutionalize the subsidy for their farmers's contributions.

In 2014, the number of registered farmers with the SSS rose by around 21 percent to 22,207 from 18,401 in 2013. To date, the SSS has covered more than 492,000 farmers as self-employed members.


SSS Media Affairs Department
7th floor, SSS Building, East Ave., Diliman, Quezon City
9206401 loc. 5052-5055, 5058 

Pinoy among drug convicts to be executed in Indonesia


Posted at 01/29/2015 9:59 AM | Updated as of 01/29/2015 12:29 PM
MANILA - Indonesia's Attorney General tells Parliament at least one Filipino is among those scheduled to be executed under the country's strict drug laws.
Muhammad Prasetyo did not reveal the names of the prisoners on death row or how many Filipinos are involved.
Two members of the so-called Bali nine, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, both Australians, are also scheduled for execution.
There are also others from France, Ghana and Brazil. - ANC

32 Filipinos arrive from Syria


Posted at 01/29/2015 2:58 PM
MANILA – Thirty-two Filipinos who availed of the mandatory repatriation program of the Philippine government is set to arrive on Friday afternoon from Syria.
The repatriates, on board Emirates Airlines flight number EK-332, will arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at 4 p.m.
The group's arrival will bring the number of Filipinos repatriated from Syria to 5,578. Of this number, 2,535 were repatriated through Lebanon, with the support of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut. Their tickets were shouldered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Damascus.
The 32 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) traveled by land from Damascus to Beirut on January 28. They were assisted by the embassy personnel in Beirut during their transit at the Lebanese Masna’a border.
The repatriates also underwent departure briefing and medical check-up prior to their travel to Manila.
Meanwhile, the embassy in Damascus continuously coordinates with the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates for the issuance of exit visas for OFWs who are currently sheltered at the halfway quarters.
With the mandatory repatriation still in place, the embassy is calling on the next-of-kin of Filipino workers who are still in Syria to get in touch with them at the following contact details: 00963-11-6132626, 00963-949155557, 00963-934957926, email:pe.damascus@gmail.com and to provide information of their family member’s whereabouts so that immediate assistance can be extended to them.

Recruiter using 'double visa' scheme suspended


Posted at 01/29/2015 2:58 PM
MANILA – The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has suspended the license of a recruiter for deploying household service workers to Dubai, United Arab Emirates with the use of visas different from their actual work.
POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said Zareiko Productions Inc. committed acts of misrepresentation when it submitted documents of five household service workers for POEA processing as accounts assistant, cashier, cleaner, driver, and secretary.
"OFWs deployed through misrepresentation or deceit are more vulnerable to abuse and maltreatment," Cacdac said.
He urged OFWs not to accept job offers which require them to use another visa.
The complainants against Zareiko Productions, Inc. were among the many household service workers who escaped from their respective employers and took shelter at the welfare center in Dubai. They all complained of overwork, inadequate food and low salary.
According to Cacdac, dishonest recruiters use this modus operandi to circumvent the POEA’s strict requirements in the recruitment and deployment of HSWs especially those who are bound for countries in the Middle East.

Heroes in Metal Caskets


Villamor Airbase was in a somber mood as relatives quietly wait for the remains of the forty-two members of the Philippines National Police- Special Action Forces killed during a bloody encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front at Barangay Tukanalipao, Mansasapo, Maguindanao last Sunday.
Government leaders headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Department of Interior and Local Govenrment Secretary Mar Roxas, Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, PNP OIC Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina attended the arrival honors with other government leaders to pay respect to the slain police officers and condole with the relatives who lost their loved-one during the clash.  Colleagues from the police force also got emotional as the metal caskets are unloaded from the C130s that ferried the bodies of their fallen comrades from Cotabato.
View this slideshow in Desktop site

The Philippine Airforce C130 carrying the remains of 42 slain SAF officers  from Cotabato arrives at the Villamor Airbase Thursday. Photo by Jonathan  Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com

PNoy, wala sa arrival honors ng nasawing 42 PNP-SAF nang dumating sa Villamor Air Base




VP Binay condoles with kin of slain PNP-SAF men
VP Binay condoles with kin of slain PNP-SAF men. At Villamor Air Base on Thursday, January 29, Vice President Jejomar Binay condoles with the bereaved family of one of the 44 PNP Special Action Force commandos who died in an encounter with members of the MILF and BIFF in Mamasapano, Maguidanao on January 25. President Benigno Aquino III did not show up during the arrival honors. Danny Pata
Dumating nitong Huwebes ng umaga sa Villamor Air Base sa Pasay City ang mga labi ng 42 pulis na miyembro ng Special Action Force ng Philippine National Police na nasawi sa engkuwentro sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Gayunman, naging kapansin-pansin na wala si Pangulong Benigno Aquino III sa paliparan para salubungin ang mga nasawing pulis na tinawag niyang mga bayani sa kaniyang talumpati nitong Miyerkules.

Pero nandoon sina dating Pangulong Fidel Ramos, Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay, at ilang opisyal ng militar at pulisya para magbigay ng respeto sa mga nasawing elite policemen.

Paglilinaw naman ni deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, hindi sadyang hindi makadalo si Aquino sa arrival honors.



"The President did not skip the arrival honors today, it presupposes he was originally scheduled to attend it, which was not the case," anang opisyal.

Sinabi ni Valte na pangungunahan ni Aquino ang necrological services sa Biyernes ng umaga sa Camp Bagong Diwa sa Taguig City.

Sa mga aktibidad ni Aquino nitong Huwebes ang pagtungo sa Laguna para sa inagurasyon ng Mitsubishi Motors Corporation Plant, at pagpunta sa burol ng mga nasawing pulis sa Biyernes.

Dalawa sa mga miyembro ng SAF na kasamang nasawi sa Mamasapano ay nailibing na sa Mindanao bilang pagsunod sa tradisyon ng mga Muslim.

‘Pinuna'

Pinuna naman ng netizens at ilang mambabatas ang hindi pagpunta ni Aquino sa arrival honors, gayung dumalo sa pagpapasinaya sa planta ng mga sasakyan sa Laguna.
 
Sa isang pahayag, sinabi ni Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, na hindi sapat na nagbigay lang ng talumpati si Aquino noong Miyerkules ng gabi tungkol sa nangyaring insidente sa Mamasapano.

“Aquino's absence in the arrival honor ceremony for the fallen SAF men speaks volumes of the president's lack of basic respect for his servicemen," ani Ridon.

Dagdag pa nito, "It is truly despicable, especially for the commander-in-chief.”

Puna naman ng ilang netizens, ang hindi pagdalo ni Aquino sa arrival honors, tila hindi sinsero at hindi nakikisimpatiya ang pangulo sa mga sinapit ng mga pulis. -- FRJ, GMA News

Alert Pinay saleslady catches Nigerian circulating fake $100 bills in UAE

An alert Filipina saleslady helped authorities in the United Arab Emirates catch a Nigerian man paying for various items with fake $100 bills last year.

The Nigerian, 25, confessed buying cheap items using fake $100 bills so he can get change in dirhams, news site Khaleej Times reported Friday.

He was sentenced to six months in jail by the Court of First Instance, which also ordered him to pay a fine of Dh2,000 and to be deported after completing his jail term.

An investigation showed the Nigerian bought a box of color pens and a gadget, and got Dh308 in change from the saleswoman at a shopping center at Al Rafaa.

But when the Filipina went to convert the $100 bill at an exchange outlet, she said she was told the bill was fake.

Police also tracked the Nigerian following complaints from many shops in Bur Dubai that an African national bought items and paid with fake $100 bills.

They eventually tracked him down using surveillance footage of the shop, and authorities arrested him when he went to Al Rafaa police station to recover his passport last July 24.

The Nigerian also faces a separate criminal case where he is accused of buying a 

Pinoy wins 5kg gold in Dubai, to use it to help sick dad in PHL

A Filipino worker has won 5kg gold worth Dh741,250 at a raffle in a Dubai mall and is planning to use it to save the life of his cancer-stricken father in the Philippines.

John Francis Angel won the gold after joining a raffle during the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) following his purchase of a pair of earrings as a gift for his mother from Joyalukkas, a leading gold retailer in Dubai, according to a report on Gulf News.

The promo offers customers a chance to win 1kg of gold and a one-carat diamond every day of the month-long festival. A weekly draw offers people 5kg gold for every purchase of gold and jewellery worth Dh500.

It was the first time Angel joined a raffle, the report said. His mother works as a midwife in Leyte, which has been devastated by super typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.

The report added that the first person who came to Angel's mind after winning the gold was his father, a retired lawyer in the Philippines who was diagnosed with colon cancer late last year.

“He is suffering quietly, but now that I have won, it will go a long way in getting my father the treatment he needs,” the report quoted Angel as saying.

According to the report, Angel's father has refused conventional medication because he did not want to burden the family with prohibitive costs.

Angel moved to the United Arab Emirates last year, the Gulf News report said. He works as an administrative staff in Dubai. —KBK, GMA News

Wounded Pinoy in Libya hotel attack to be airlifted to Turkey

The Filipino engineer who was injured in Tuesday's terrorist attack in a Libyan hotel will be airlifted to Turkey for better treatment, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Thursday.

In a statement, Baldoz identified the victim as Engr. Veron Pesigan Matoto, who sustained two gunshot wounds in the chest, one in the arm, one in the knee, and one in the leg during the incident.

Matoto will be airlifted from a hospital in Tripoli to a facility with better equipment in Turkey while awaiting repatriation, Baldoz said.

“Once she is repatriated, her family and she will receive proper assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration even if she is not an active member,” said added.

OWWA will also help Magtoto undergo psycho-social counseling, stress debriefing, and transport assistance to her home province.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) will assist Matoto in receiving her salaries and benefits from her employer. She is an employee of APR Energy Libya Company, but POEA records show she was deployed as employee to Kentz Engineers and Constructors.

Matoto and several others were hurt when gunmen stormed Corinthia Hotel, which is  popular with diplomats and officials, on Tuesday in an attack before blowing themselves up.

Nine people were killed, although the Philippine government denied reports that two of them were Filipinos.

The latest attack highlights the danger faced by hundreds of Philippine nationals working in the country, which has been plagued by several months of civil unrest.

Due to the volatile security situation in Libya, the Philippine government placed the North African state under crisis level 4. Under this phase, all Filipinos are encouraged to avail of evacuation being offered by the Philippine government.

According to Department of Labor and Employment, at least 4,333 Filipino workers have been repatriated from the country as of November last year. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoy repatriates continue to trickle in from strife-torn Syria

Thirty-two Filipinos are scheduled to return home from strife-torn Syria on Thursday afternoon, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in an advisory.

The 32, who availed of the government's mandatory repatriation program set in place due to Syria's Alert Level 4 status, are scheduled to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 4 p.m., the DFA said.

The alert level also bans the deployment of Filipino workers to Syria, which has been under severe political turmoil for months.

Personnel from the Philippine Embassy in Beirut assisted the Filipinos in crossing the Lebanese Masna'a border and undergoing medical checkups before their flight aboard Emirates Airlines flight EK-332.

With their arrival, the total number of Filipinos repatriated from Syria increased to 5,578, with 2,535 repatriated through Lebanon.

Citizens with family members in Syria may contact the Philippine Embassy through the following contact details:

00963-11-6132626
00963-949155557
00963-934957926
pe.damascus@gmail.com

Syria was bombarded by renewed airstrikes from Israel on Wednesday, just 10 days after an earlier attack killed an Iranian general and several Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas.

On Tuesday, two rockets from Syria hitting the Golan Heights forced Israel to briefly evacuate its Mt. Hermon ski resort. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

PHL seeks judicial review on case of Pinay drug mule facing execution in Indonesia

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday confirmed that a Filipino woman is facing execution in Indonesia for smuggling large amounts of prohibited drugs in 2010.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippine government “is aware of the case” and has already sought judicial review.

Jose said the woman, who flew in from Malaysia to Indonesia, was arrested by authorities on April 25, 2010 for alleged trafficking of 2.6 kilograms of heroin at the Yogyakarta airport.

In many countries, such as Indonesia and China, smuggling of large quantities of prohibited drugs is punishable by death.

Jose said the government is making “all the appropriate representations” with the Indonesian government at all levels on its intention to file a request for judicial review.

In coordination with her defense lawyer, Jose said the formal application for judicial review was filed on Jan 19, 2015 at the District Court of Justice of Sleman, Yogyakarta.

“We continue to provide the Filipino all necessary and possible assistance at all stages of the judicial process,” he said.

The family of the Filipino is also being provided regular updates on the case, Jose added.

Since 2011, five Filipinos – all drug couriers – were put to death in China.

Unfazed by the executions, many Filipinos continue to engage in drug trafficking, refocusing attention to the government's futile efforts to deal with criminal syndicates exploiting vulnerable Filipino workers, who are used to ferry drugs for money or by trickery.

As of September 2014, the DFA recorded a total of 805 Filipinos who are detained abroad for drug-related offenses.

Of this figure, 341 are detained in Asia and the Pacific, 244 in Middle East and Africa, 116 in the United States and the Americas, and 104 in Europe. —KBK, GMA News

Pinoy honored in Australia for short film about poor children

A Filipino scholar in South Korea had won an award in the first Mirvac Film Competition in Australia for his two-minute film about poor Filipino children.

Nash Ang, a scholar of Korea's Ministry of Culture, won the adult's under 5 minutes category of the Western Australian competition for his “My Reason for Existence,” a film about children living in a dumpsite in the Philippines.

Interviewed via email, Ang told GMA News Online that his decision to feature urban poor Filipino children was inspired by Jose Rizal and his belief in the youth.


"Like what Jose Rizal and my film is saying... I want to say that we need to educate the youth because we need them in order for our nation to progress," he said.

The filmmaker is furthering his education at the Korea National University of the Arts after a four-year stint at Polytechnic University of the Philippines for a degree in broadcasting.

“I was encouraged to continue my studies in Seoul when I met one of the the staff of the university [in] 2010 in the DMZ Film Festival, where my first full-lenghth docu 'Water Ghetto' was one of the official selection,” he said.

The theme of the competition was "My Place, My Story." Out of 400 submissions from all over the world, there were only three selected finalists per category screened at the Mirvac WA Short Film Festival 2015.

The winners were announced last January 15 at Meadow Springs Open Air Cinema, Mirvac Australia.

Mirvac was not Ang's first win in an international film competition.

In 2010, Ang won the SEADocs Southeast Asian Student Documentary Awards and the ASEAN Korea multimedia competition. The following year, he won the Ani ng Dangal.

An actor on the side, Ang will premiere his next full-length documentary film "Paraiso" at the Singkwentro International Film Festival on February 21 in Manila. —KBK, GMA News

PHL team in top half of prestigious Pastry World Cup in France

LYON, France – The Philippines, participating for the first time in the prestigious Pastry World Cup (Coupe du Monde de Pâtisserie), ranked in the top half of 21 participating countries and bested veteran competitors like Argentina, China, Mexico and Morocco.

The “Igorot Hunter” carved in ice by Vicente Cahatol also earned the “Best Artistic Creation made of Sculpted Ice.”

“This is a magical moment,” chorused Buddy Trinidad and James Antolin, pillars of the Philippine Pastry Alliance (PAP), who pushed for, motivated and organized the Philippine participation to this illustrious competition created in 1989 by French master pastry chef Gabriel Paillasson.
 
The Philippine team: (L-R) Manas, Dimayuga, Cahatol and Trinidad.
The team is composed of sugarcraft master Rizalino Mañas,  pastry chef Bryan Dimayuga for chocolate and kitchen artist Cahatol for ice and chocolate sculptures. Trinidad is Team President, who also acted as member of the international jury.

The country also won over the two other newcomers, Guatemala and Algeria, who placed 19th and 20th in the ranking of a pastry marathon that lasted for 10 hours. The team had to prepare a chocolate cake, an ice cream cake, 12 similar plated desserts, an artistic creation in ice, sugar and a block of chocolate.

This year’s champions are Italy (World Champion), followed by Japan (Silver) and USA (Bronze). Belgium, Spain and Australia backed out from the competition.

The Philippines ranked number 12, which was a surprise for a country who didn’t have a reputation nor the tradition of French pâtisserie but has now been revealed “as a country of artists,” according to French chocolatier Edouard Hersinger.

Talented Pinoys

“Your talents are extraordinaire,” said 2013 World Champion Quentin Bailly, this year’s president of the jury. “You have the competence, the skills, and the technique. It is essential that you show this to the world and your presence allows us to learn from your team.”

Bailly joins the majority of the judges, world renowned chefs, who were positively amazed at the performance of the Philippine team.

Cahatol generated a fan club among the judges, who gave him the highest points for his ice carving and whose scaly iguana in chocolate reaped a bouquet of compliments.

“I just love his work. He is great," said American chef and judge Gilles Renusson, who lingered at the lucky Kitchen Number 7.

The team chose the theme “Siklo” or cycle expressed in hunting. The chocolate cake, made of a pecan sponge, coffee crème brûlée, and lemon had one of the most original decorations — a frog watching a “mobile” dragonfly posed in a way that it looked like it was suspended in mid-air.
 
The team during the awarding ceremonies when they received the special prize for the ice sculpture. (L-R) Buddy Trinidad, Team President and President of the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines; Rizalino Manas, Vincent Cahatol, and Bryan Dimayuga.
Then came the ice cream cake, multi-layers of flavors (vanilla, passion fruit, mango, raspberry, litchis and mandarine). Both cakes encountered temperature problems, meaning they were served too cold , a debutant’s error according to some judges but Trinidad reckoned that it was a lack of  technical know-how of the blast freezer.

Accidents, logistical woes

“These things happen,” said world champion Bailly. “And its understandable for a new team. You learn and you have to train so you are better next time.”

Accidents do happen even with the most experienced team. Italy’s chocolate sculpture fell on their plated desserts two minutes before they were paraded for tasting. Algeria’sugar piece fell as they carried it on the buffet presentation table.

Everything went smoothly for the Philippine team. The plated dessert came in a shape of an egg filled with a mixture of tropical flavors: calamansi cremeux, coconut ganache, pineapple jam and passion jelly.
 
In three hours, Cahatol finished the two meter carving from two blocks of ice, each weighing more than 100 kilos. He was tired, wet and his legs were numbed from the pool of ice water that has filled the plastic catcher even if floor assistants used a water vacuum. The Igorot carrying a deer on his shoulders displayed a variety of textures, starting with the curly hair down to the muscled legs.

Cahatol, whose toolbox were never found by their airline, had a minimal set of tools – a newly-bought chainsaw, some borrowed chisels, and ice clamp while his neighbors had the latest power tools.

“With very little budget, minimal training and a huge number of logistical problems, we were still able to show that we can actually compete with the world’s best,” said Antolin, vice-president of PAP. “What would it be if we have the same facilities, equipment, and support like Italy.”

“You have a place here”

Paillasson congratulated the newcomers, saying “there are no more big nor small countries for pastries.”

“Each one deserves his place in this competition. Since we created the world cup, we wanted any country in the world to have the possibility to join,” he said.

“You have your place here,” said British chef Martin Chiffers, who declared his admiration for Asian hardwork and dedication.

The Philippine team’s biggest advantage was the group’s solidarity, teamwork, and ingenuity. Mañas, Cahatol and Dimayuga all worked at the Makati Shangri-la. They have no airs, no superiority complex, no diva attitude. They knew they had a job to do and have to do it well.

The team’s performance was impressive. They were on time, organized and objectives were met. This ranking has earned for the Philippines its place among the world’s esteemed pastry chefs.

“This will create a momentum in our industry, a consciousness for young pastry chefs, a recognition of our skills for high-level employment, and a source of national pride,” said Trinidad, in a voice that cracked with emotion. —KBK, GMA News

DFA reiterates call for Pinoys in Yemen to return home

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday reiterated its call to Filipinos in Yemen to return to the Philippines as soon as possible for their safety.

?The government made the renewed call following the resignations of high officials of the Yemeni government, including President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and after the Houthi occupation of the presidential palace.

"All Filipinos in Yemen are urged to leave the country as soon as possible. The Republic of Yemen continues to be under Alert Level 3 (Voluntary Repatriation) with all new deployments of Filipino workers or their return from vacation banned," the DFA said.

It said all Filipinos who wish to avail of voluntary repatriation must immediately coordinate with the Crisis Management Team (CMT) based in Sana’a for assistance.

The DFA further urged Filipinos "to avoid unnecessary travel outside their homes which should also be fortified against stray bullets." It also cautioned them against participating in mass demonstrations.

"If necessary, they are advised to leave their places of residence which are in or near areas of conflict," the DFA said.

For Filipinos needing assistance, they may contact CMT through the following details:

Movenpick Hotel Sana’a
Berlin St., Sana’a, Yemen
Mobile: +967.73.384.4958

Honorary Consul Mohammad Saleh Al Jamal may be contacted through the following details:

Philippine Consulate in Sana’a
UPS, Damascus St., Hadda Area, Sana’a
+967.1.416.751/+967.1.418.254/+967.777.255.511
honconsanaa@philembassy-riyadh.org

Shi'ite Muslim Houthi rebels occupied the presidential palace in Sanaa, where they kept President Hadi as a virtual prisoner.

Hadi's resignation further strained relations between the Houthi and the primarily Sunni Yemen, further shutting down the capital city of Sana'a and intensifying conflict in Yemen's complex tribal allegiances.

Last week, thousands of Houthi supporters crowded around Sana'a bearing placards calling for "Death to America, Death to Israel." Prior to resignation, Hadi was a key ally of the US counter-terrorism operations in Yemen. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Miss PHL-Canada visits Cagayan for nature awareness program

Hailed as the personification of Filipino beauty in Canada in 2014, Miss Philippines Canada Krisgelle Maramot joined Lal-lo residents in Cagayan in planting trees as part of her prizes.

Maramot planted a Lubeg or Philippine Cherry tree during a ceremony with the Lal-lo residents to help promote solutions to environmental problems, climate change, hunger and malnutrition.

Lubeg cherries are used in making wine, candies, jam, and other products by women's groups in Lal-lo and has been adopted as the official municipal tree.


Under the Lal-lo official One Town One Product (OTOP) Program, income from Lubeg by-products are donated to projects by the municipal nutrition committee.

The Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation, the organization behind Miss Philippines Canada, invited Filipinos in the North American country to join their projects in 2015.

Filipino workers and immigrants in Canada can enter as either Miss Philippines Canada, Little Miss Philippines Canada, or Mrs Philippines Canada.

Potential candidates may visit the PCCF website or inquire at the following e-mails:

www.philippinecanadianfoundation.com
pageantsphilippines@gmail.com
pinoyfiestatoronto@gmail.com

Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

OFWs warned vs. agencies using illegal means to send maids to UAE

Despite the virtual ban on sending Filipino household helpers to the United Arab Emirates, local recruiters have found ways to skirt this, a TV report said Wednesday.

Citing the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), the report on GMA News TV's “Balitanghali” said such agencies lie to the OFW regarding his or her real job or occupancy, or reprocess them and issue two different working visas.

Some licensed recruiters also disguise themselves as referral agencies for unlicensed firms and create fake certifications from POEA and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to further confound the system.

The report said around 20 agencies had been shut down since June 2014 while 10 others had been suspended for these infractions.

“Pagka may pinarusahan tayong Philippine recruiter, sabay nun yung UAE counterpart ay pinagbabawal na rin nating mag-recruit ng manggagawang Pilipino," said POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac in the report.

He added the continued use of fake certificates means part of the fees paid by foreign employers were pocketed by unscrupulous individuals.

Cacdac clarified that while the Philippines had decreased the deployment of domestic helpers to the UAE due to its unified contract that is not favorable to Filipino workers, there was no ban on the deployment.

“Walang ban... Sabihin na nating ang unified contract na ito ay hindi tugma sa mga Philippine standards of protection. In other words, maraming kulang dun sa unified contract," he said.

Last January 23, reports surfaced of a black market for Filipino household helpers emerging in the UAE due to the country's standard contract for housemaids.

The contract and its subsequent circular stopping embassies from verifying contracts conflict with Philippine laws, creating a virtual ban on deployment to the UAE. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoy fatalities in Libya hotel attack not yet confirmed –DFA

The Philippine government is still verifying reports that two Filipinos were among the fatalities in the terrorist attack on an upscale hotel in Libya, but confirmed that a Filipino woman was among those injured in the assault.

A report by Agence France-Presse earlier said two Filipinos where among the five foreigners killed when gunmen, who later blew themselves up, stormed a luxury hotel in Tripoli popular with diplomats and officials Tuesday in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the Filipino victim sustained five gunshot wounds and was declared out of danger after undergoing surgery.

“She is in stable condition,” Jose told a press briefing.

Jose said he cannot disclose the identity of the Filipina without her family’s consent, but revealed that she works for an energy company in Libya.

The victim’s husband and brother told embassy officials that they intend to avail of the Philippine government’s mandatory evacuation program as soon as the doctors declare her fit to travel, Jose said.

The latest attack involving a Filipino in Libya highlights the danger faced by hundreds of Philippine nationals working in the country, which has been plagued by several months of civil unrest.

Embassy officials, Jose added, have contacted different major hospitals and coordinated with relevant authorities in Libya to check if there are other casualties form the hotel attack, but no other Filipino – injured or dead – have been reported.

Due to the volatile security situation in Libya, the Philippine government placed the North African state under crisis level 4. Under this phase, all Filipinos are encouraged to avail of evacuation being offered by the Philippine government.

“We appeal to all our nationals there to take extra precaution and avail of repatriation,” Jose said.  —KBK, GMA News
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