Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Countries compliant with OFW protection law

Almost all of the close to 200 countries in the world have been deemed compliant with the provision of Republic Act 10022 or the Migrant Workers or Overseas Filipino Act that protects overseas Filipino workers by the Philippine government.

The inclusion of the 192 countries to the list were contained in separate resolutions by the POEA Governing Board issued since 2011.

Section 3 of RA 10022 states that “the government recognizes any of the following guarantee on the part of the receiving country for the protection of right of migrant workers:

– It has an existing labor laws and social laws protecting the rights of workers, including migrant workers;

– It is a signatory to and/or ratifier of multilateral conventions, declarations or resolutions relating to the protection of workers, including migrant workers and

– It has concluded a bilateral agreement or arrangement on the protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers. —KBK, GMA News

Young Fil-Am’s short film nominated in HBO docu series

A young US-based Filipino's short film project has been nominated for Most Unique Short Film in an HBO documentary series about a digital film competition.

The nearly three-minute-long inspirational film "Listen" was Joshua Ortiz's entry to  "Project Greenlight," a documentary series on HBO that will follow the winner of a digital film competition to the making of his prize, which is a feature film.

"Listen," which was written and directed by the 25-year-old Ortiz, will be competing with five other short films and is the only Asian entry in the competition.

The winner will determined by the most "thumbs up" on YouTube. Voting will be until April 1, 2015. [Vote here.]

"Listen" is about the importance of perseverance and hard work despite talent and failure. —KBK, GMA News

Filipino killed in Libya attack –DFA

A Filipino man was killed during an attack in Zawiya, Libya, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

“Our embassy in Tripoli confirmed that one Filipino died in the bombing in Zawiya,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in a text message.

Jose did not provide further details, saying an embassy report “did not indicate his work or other details.”

Three other Filipino oil workers were wounded in Sunday's attack on Zawiya, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Tripoli, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported as it cited a Libyan security source.
The four Filipinos were riding in a car when the attack took place, the source said, adding that a Sudanese man and a Libyan man who were driving separate cars were also wounded.

Libya is in a state of civil war and eight Filipinos have been captured by militants in separate kidnappings in the last two months. Their whereabouts are still unknown.

Manila has declared Libya unsafe for Filipino travelers and called on all remaining 4,000 Philippine nationals there to leave and join the mandatory evacuation being offered by the DFA.

Earlier this year, a Filipino woman was injured in a terrorist attack on an upscale hotel in capital Tripoli.
In July last year, a Filipino construction worker was beheaded by militants while a Filipina nurse was kidnapped and gang-raped by a group of Libyan youth.

Despite repeated appeals from the Philippine government to leave, many Filipinos continued to hold on to their jobs in Libya amid the violence, citing lack of economic opportunities back home
The DFA has repeatedly said it will continue to enforce mandatory evacuation and even called on the relatives of those Filipinos who are in Libya to convince their loved ones to return to the Philippines as the violence and armed conflict showed no sign of easing.

Libya is currently divided with factions allied to two governments — the internationally recognized one in the east and the rival administration in Tripoli — vying for control of territory and oil facilities.

Both governments rely on former rebels who teamed up in 2011 to topple Muammar Gaddafi and now fight each other. They call themselves armies but are in fact a loose alliance of factions united mainly by common enemies.

The conflict is part of a complex struggle involving tribes, regions and Islamist and more secular factions backed by different regional powers. —with Reuters and Agence France Presse/KBK/ELR, GMA News

Pinoy manager traumatized by East Village explosion

It was around 3 p.m. of March 26, and Jordan Cezar, shift manager at Pommes Frites, was about to take his lunch at one corner of the restaurant when he experienced a really loud explosion.

He felt the room shake, and the poster décors on the walls and the kitchen pans and bottled dips on the shelves came falling down.

“It was so strong it felt like we were raised, parang umangat yung floor,” he recalled when interviewed by The FilAm.

The lights went out, smoke was coming into the restaurant, and people were screaming “Everyone get out, everyone get out.” Pommes Frites’ three Filipino employees, including Jordan, 31, rushed out of the restaurant and dashed into the cold weather wearing only summer shorts and T-shirts.

That explosion in the East Village resulted in injuries to 25 people, according to news reports. Two remain missing.

Outside, Jordan and his two workers, Joey Vedoral and Joseph Sumpay, watched the commotion — firefighters hosing down the buildings and New Yorkers not knowing which way to go — from a block away. They witnessed how the ball of fire has totally destroyed their place of work, their ‘home.’

Pommes Frites, an East Village favorite among tourists and locals, has an all-Filipino staff. It specializes in Belgian fries served in a variety of dipping sauces. Owners Suzanne Levinson and Omer Shorshi, who introduced the specialty eatery to New York about 20 years ago, like Filipinos “because they said we are hardworking and easy to get along with, and they look at us a family,” manager Ivan Roque said in a 2011 interview with The FilAm.

Jordan Cezar: ‘What if it was us? We work with cooking oil.’ The FilAm photo
Jordan said, “I was crying, parang hysterical. It could have been us. What if it was us? We work with cooking oil, all of us could have been burned. It was traumatizing.”

The responsibility to make sure everyone was unhurt fell on Jordan’s shoulders, being the shift manager. The manager, Ivan Roque, had left for the day, and 3 p.m. was the start of Jordan’s shift. A restaurant trainee – an Indonesian man – had also left before the explosion occurred.

“I made sure everyone got out, my workers, the 10 or so customers,” said the Caloocan-born Jordan, who has been working with the restaurant for about seven years.

Pommes Frites took a massive blow. The explosion, according to reports, was traced to a gas leak in the sushi restaurant next door.

Said Jordan: “We’re Building 123, the sushi restaurant next to us is Building 121.”

“For a minute, I spaced out ako. Parang natulala ko. I was watching the whole world turn around me,” Jordan recalled.

He promptly called the restaurant owners who arrived in about 15 minutes, bringing them coats and thicker shirts. Then he called his father in Maryland and a sister, also working in New York, to assure them he was fine. A bit shaken but otherwise OK.

And then he realized his back pack, containing his ID cards, credits cards and other important documents, was eaten up in flames.

“Basta walang nasaktan, OK lang,” he said. —The FilAm

2 more added to list of countries compliant with OFW protection law

Two more countries have been certified by the Philippine government as compliant with the provision of Republic Act 10022 or the Migrant Workers or Overseas Filipino Act that protects overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said Monday.

The addition of Nepal and Uzbekistan to the list has brought the total number of RA 10022-compliant countries to 192, the POEA said.

It said these countries have vowed to protect the rights of OFWs employed in them as provided under Section 3 of RA 10022.

Nepal and Uzbekistan's inclusion to the list is formalized through POEA Governing Board Resolution No. 2.

“Whereas, in its official communication dated 11 December 2014, the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) has further certified Nepal and Uzbekistan as compliant with the guarantees under the aforesaid law,” the resolution said.

The order also allows the continued deployment of workers in said nations.

“Now, wherefore, the POEA Governing Board, in a meeting duly convened, resolves as it is hereby resolved, to include Nepal and Uzbekistan in the list of compliant countries where the continued deployment of OFWs shall be allowed,” the POEA said.

Section 3 of RA 10022 states that “the government recognizes any of the following guarantee on the part of the receiving country for the protection of right of migrant workers:

– It has an existing labor laws and social laws protecting the rights of workers, including migrant workers;
– It is a signatory to and/or ratifier of multilateral conventions, declarations or resolutions relating to the protection of workers, including migrant workers and
– It has concluded a bilateral agreement or arrangement on the protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers.

Among the other countries that conform to the law are the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Taiwan. —KBK, GMA News

Sandiganbayan wants pardon for 73-year-old ex-envoy

The Sandiganbayan has recommended executive clemency for former Philippine Ambassador to Nigeria Masaranga Umpa, who was was found guilty of malversation.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Rodolfo Ponferrada, the court said that Umpa, 73, should be pardoned, citing that while Umpa was found guilty of malversation, his crime was committed out of negligence.

“The Court, while it is obliged to apply the penalty provided for the offense charged, believes that it is too harsh and excessive under the circumstances, hence, pursuant to Art 5 par 2 of the RPC hereby recommends to the Chief Executive, through the DOJ,  for the commutation of the penalty, if not pardon of the accused, in these cases,” part of the decision said.

Umpa’s case stemmed from the misuse of funds sent to the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria in 2007, during the time when 25 Filipinos were abducted by rebels there.

In February 2007, the Department of Foreign Affairs released $174,000, or roughly P7.48 million, in Assistance to National (ATN) Standby funds for the safe release of 25 Filipino migrant workers abducted in Nigeria.

But the DFA alleged that Umpa fabricated documents so that $95,856 will be paid to "non-existing or highly irregular transactions."

In its complaint, the DFA said that spurious documents made it apepar that the Philippine government paid Wellington Hotel Limited in Nigeria to cover the cost of six hotel rooms and meals of 11 police escorts.

The department also noted that there was a $1,565, or roughly P67,295, transaction that supposedly covered the breakfast and lunch expenses of the OFWs at the hotel.

However, the DFA found this questionable because Nigerian hotel accountant Adeleke Osinuga attested that the documents to support the payment were forged as the hotel did not issue such documents.

The Sandiganbayan found Umpa guilty early in March.

In its decision, the anti-graft court’s First Division cited Umpa’s long service in government and old age as grounds for his pardon.

It noted that Umpa “did not fall short in his duties to our country especially under such a high risk and life-threatening operation that involved the rescue and repatriation of our 25 countrymen who were held captives in that rebel-infested area in Nigeria.”

The Sandiganbayan also directed that a copy of the decision be furnished to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima. —KBK, GMA News

VP Binay to Pinay death row convict’s parents: PHL to exhaust all legal means to spare her life

Vice President Jejomar Binay has assured the parents of Filipino death convict Mary Jane Veloso that the government will exhaust all “legal remedies and options” to spare the life of their child.
Celia and Cesar Veloso, parents of the Filipino woman currently on death row in Indonesia, met Binay, presidential adviser on OFW concerns, at the Makati City Hall Sunday and discussed the Philippine government’s next move to save their daughter from the death penalty.
Binay called up Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Minda Calaguian-Cruz during the meeting and the latter assured the Vice President that the government will be filing a second petition for judicial review.
Veloso, 30, was sentenced to die by firing squad after she was apprehended at Java’s Yogyakarta Airport in April 2010 for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage.
The Philippines has earlier asked Indonesia's Supreme Court to review the case of Veloso, saying the latter was not provided a capable translator in the course of her trial. The appeal, however, was rejected.
Jakarta has previously said it will wait for any outstanding legal appeals to conclude before executing all 10 drug convicts—including Veloso—at the same time.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that they are now in consultation with a lawyer for the second appeal and exploring other options including an appeal to Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo. 
During the meeting with Binay, Veloso's mother denied that the heroin seized from her daughter were hers. She said the illegal drugs were allegedly secretly put there by a certain Christine, who she added was the wife of her daughter’s godbrother.
“Hindi nga po alam ng anak ko. Wala po talagang kaalam-alam,” Celia told Binay.
“Bag lang pong maliit ‘yong dala ng anak ko. Dalawang piraso lang po. Kaya lang po, matalino ‘yong (si Christine) talaga. Binilhan po ng maraming damit. Noon pong aalis na raw po [papunta] sa Indonesia, may nakita raw siyang papasukan do’n, inabot po ‘yong maleta,” she added.
Binay recently renewed his appeal to Widodo to commute the death sentence of Veloso.
The Vice President also wrote Widodo earlier this month to “convey to (Widodo) the (Filipinos’) hope and prayer that the the Supreme Court of Indonesia will look kindly and with compassion on the circumstances surrounding the case of (Veloso).” Amita Legaspi/KG, GMA News

Pinoys in Yemen have only one repatriation option left —PHL Embassy

Filipinos who want to leave strife-torn Yemen were advised Sunday to contact the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh soonest, as government-assisted repatriation is now the only means of travel out of there.
The embassy in Riyadh, which has consular jurisdiction over Yemen, said all commercial flights in Yemen have already been suspended.
"(A)ll commercial flights have been suspended, and the only means of travel is through government-assisted repatriation that must be arranged in advance," it said.
It added there will now be "limited opportunities" for repatriation.
Because of this, it urged all Filipinos to "decide and act immediately," and bring their original passports to the embassy team at the Movenpick Hotel in Sanaa.
They may contact the embassy team in Sanaa at 730187540, 737426292, 730194165 and 733844958 for assistance.
On the other hand, it urged Filipinos who said their employers had guaranteed their repatriation in times of emergency to "immediately ask their employer(s) to implement their repatriation plans."
"Otherwise, those concerned should contact the embassy team for appropriate contact with the employer and concerned authorities," it added. Joel Locsin/KG, GMA News

Monday, March 30, 2015

After 2 years, OFW who figured Dubai accident finally home

After nearly two years, an overseas Filipino worker who spent almost two years in a United Arab Emirates hospital after being paralyzed in a traffic accident finally returned home to Cebu.

Teresita Castro arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport past 4 p.m. Thursday – after her townmates in Asturias raised funds to get her home, GMA Cebu reported Friday.

Castro, who lost the ability to move or speak, was transported to the town's infirmary clinic from the airport via an ambulance.

"May fracture siya sa pelvis pero na-operahan naman. Tapos, may severe injury siya sa brain," said nurse Crystal Balatayo.

An investigation showed Castro started work in Dubai as a domestic helper in March 2013 to support her six children.

But she figured in an accident and spent nearly two years at Rashid Hospital.

Her town-mates in Asturias banded together to raise funds to bring her home.

"Gumawa kami ng grupong makaka-raise ng funds para matulongan siya at kanyang pamilya rito. Tapos, may mga volunteer din na nakabase sa Dubai na siya ring nag-process ng kanyang documents upang makauwi siya," said Jehann Aguanta, one of those who raised funds for Castro's return.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

Palace: Govt doing everything to spare Pinay from Indonesia death row

Malacañang on Saturday reassured the kin of Mary Jane Veloso – the Filipina facing execution in Indonesia over an attempt to smuggle 2.6 kilos of heroin – that the Philippine government continues to do everything possible to save her from death row.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippine government is moving within Indonesia's legal framework to save Veloso.

"Ginagawa ng ating pamahalaan ang ating magagawa within the legal framework of Indonesia. (Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario) said the Philippines will continue to push other legal avenues to help her case," she said on government-run dzRB radio, amid appeals from Veloso's mother for compassion.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, in a statement on Friday, said an initial appeal for judicial review of Veloso's case was denied by the Indonesian Supreme Court.

But del Rosario reiterated the government "will continue to exhaust all possible diplomatic and legal means to save Mary Jane’s life."

Last March 24, del Rosario made a humanitarian visit to Veloso at the Yogyakarta Penitentiary to check on her condition and to personally offer comfort.

He also reassured her of the Philippine government’s continued support for her.

"We wish to assure her family that the Philippine government is giving its full attention to this case and that it stands ready to provide them with all the assistance they may require," he added.

Veloso was arrested in April 2010. The government has since hired a private lawyer to help Veloso pursue a legal review of her case.

The DFA also arranged for Veloso’s family to visit her in prison from February 19 to 21. The DFA remains in close contact with Veloso’s family.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

POEA cancels recruiter’s license over concealed visas

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has canceled the license of a recruitment agency for its attempt to deploy two Filipinos abroad with concealed visas.

Chanceteam International Services Inc. tried to deploy the two to Dubai as household service workers, POEA head Hans Leo Cacdac said.

“This is a clear case of reprocessing that constitutes misrepresentation to circumvent the POEA rules on recruitment and placement of household service workers,” Cacdac said.

Investigation showed the Bureau of Immigration barred the two Filipinas from boarding their Dubai-bound plane after they presented two sets of visas for different positions but with the same permit numbers.

Both workers' declared visas showed they were processed at the POEA as cashier and hairdresser but their hidden visas showed they would work as housemaid and babysitter.

Cacdac said this meant Chanceteam "used other non-domestic worker job orders for UAE to facilitate their deployment and ultimately evade responsibility to protect Filipino domestic workers."

The POEA also found the recruitment firm liable for altering the two sets of visas, which have the same permit numbers.

With the cancellation of the license - a penalty for three misrepresentation offenses - the agency's officers and directors at the time the offenses were committed are disqualified from recruitment and placement of overseas Filipino workers.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pinoys who still refuse to leave war-torn Yemen asked to text waiver

Filipinos who still refuse to leave strife-torn Yemen despite repeated warnings from the Philippine government have been asked to send the Philippine Embassy a waiver through a text message.

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh – which has consular jurisdiction over Yemen –  asked Filipinos who want to stay there to do so by supplying the needed personal information as indicated in the waiver template.

"Sa mga Pilipinong desididong hindi umuwi, paki-text ang sumusunod: Ako si (Full Name), at desidido akong HUWAG UMALIS ng Yemen sa kabila ng abiso ng DFA," it said.

Also, it said Filipinos in Yemen can send the message to 730187540, 737426292, 733844958 or 730194165.

The same numbers can be reached to register with the embassy. The embassy can also be reached via email at cmt-sanaa@riyadhpe.com.

In the meantime, the embassy said it continues to contact Filipinos in Yemen and urge them to avail of repatriation service.

Philippine officials had placed Yemen under Alert Level 4, meaning mandatory repatriation for Filipinos there. Alert Level 4 had been raised there since February.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

Indonesia court rejects death row Filipina’s appeal

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Indonesia's Supreme Court has rejected an application by a Filipina on death row for a judicial review of her case, taking her a step closer to being executed along with several other foreign drug convicts. 
As well as the Filipina, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, two high-profile Australian inmates and convicts from France, Brazil, Ghana and Nigeria are set to face the firing squad after they recently had requests for presidential clemency rejected.
In her application for a judicial review, Veloso's lawyers had reportedly argued that she was not provided with a capable translator during her first trial. 
But the Supreme Court's website said that judges on Wednesday rejected Veloso's application for a review of her sentence. It did not provide details about the ruling and a court spokesman could not immediately be contacted for comment.
Veloso was caught at Yogyakarta airport, on the main island of Java, carrying 2.6 kilograms (5.73 pounds) of heroin on a flight from Malaysia.
Jakarta plans to execute all 10 of the convicts—nine foreigners and one Indonesian—at the same time, but has said it will wait for any outstanding legal appeals to conclude.
Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, leaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" drug-smuggling gang, as well as Frenchman Serge Atlaoui, currently have appeals that are working their way through the courts. 
Chan and Sukumaran have lost two previous attempts to get judicial reviews of their cases, but their legal teams have lodged a further, rare appeal. 
Indonesia has some of the toughest anti-drugs laws in the world, and President Joko Widodo has vowed there will be no clemency for traffickers on death row, as the country is facing an "emergency" due to rising narcotics use.
Jakarta put to death six drug convicts, including five foreigners, in January, sparking a diplomatic storm. —Agence France-Presse

Pinay artist’s paintings to be featured in 2 California exhibits

Two watercolor paintings of artist Lynda A. N. Reyes will be featured in two California exhibits in Brea, Orange County and San Francisco.

“An Afternoon Stroll at Venice Beach,” a transparent watercolor painting done on a full size 300 lb. Arches paper was juried into the 30th Annual Made in California Juried Exhibition of the City of Brea Art Gallery located at 1 Civic Center Circle, Plaza Level in Orange Country.
The artist: Moving on closer to mainstream American art. The FilAm photo
The exhibit will be on view starting March 28th until May 8th, 2015. The exhibit will celebrate the proud tradition of displaying works from artists all over California selected from over 1,000 statewide entries.

This multi-disciplinary survey of art features artists working in all mediums and highlights established artists in their quest for new creative movements in the California art scene.

A three-person panel of experts from the Orange County area selected 69 artists to display their works in the 6,500 square foot exhibition space of the City of Brea Art Gallery. The show marks the third national exhibit for this painting of a typical California summer afternoon on the beach walk.

“An Afternoon Stroll at Venice Beach” was first exhibited in the Aqueous 2013 of the Kentucky Watercolor Society and in 2014, it was chosen for the MTWS Water Media Exhibit at the Bigfork Museum in Montana.

Lynda will participate in another juried exhibit at the Arc Gallery on 1246 Folsom Street in San Francisco from May 2nd until June 20th, 2015. Her watercolor painting titled “California Mom” will make its debut in this themed exhibit titled “Fusion” at the ARC Gallery.

The statement about the painting reveals why the painting vividly supports the theme of the show:

“Forever connected.
Boundaries do not exist in the fusion of 2 living bodies.
A mother and child ready to trek yonder.
Someplace farther to further connect…”

The juror of the ARC exhibit is Olivia Ongpin of Luna Rienne Gallery in San Francisco. Arc Gallery & Studios occupies the former location of New Langton Arts Foundation, which closed in 2009. The partners of Arc Gallery are pleased to carry on the tradition of the space as an arts venue contributing to the vitality of the diverse South of the Market (SOMA) neighborhood of San Francisco.

The year 2015 continues to be a most promising year for Lynda. She has participated in five museum exhibits and her paintings have been featured in different national and international shows in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Montana, Kentucky, Maryland, Wisconsin, Colorado, New York, California (Berkeley, Salinas, Orange County, Monrovia, Bergamot Station in Santa Monica) and in Canada. It seems that Lynda has an exhibit every month and that her watercolor or oil paintings continue to capture the attention of both jurors and viewers in different parts of the U.S.

In a span of more than six years, Lynda has truly been moving on and on into the mainstream of American art. She resides and maintains her studio and gallery in Glendale, California. —The FilAm SF

Pinoy helpers in UAE face vacation trip delay over exit clearance

Filipina household helpers in the United Arab Emirates who want to go home for the Holy Week and summer (dry season) may face long delays in getting clearances at the Philippine embassy in Abu Dhabi, a UAE news site reported Thursday.

Employers of the Filipino housemaids are complaining about the long waiting period for the exit clearance or overseas workers travel permit, Gulf News reported.

“My maid had to visit the embassy twice last week but could not get a form. The queue was that big,” said an Emirati sponsor.

He said his helper had to wait "more than three hours for her turn.”

Some domestic helpers had to line up outside the embassy premises as early as 6 a.m., the report added.

Another sponsor said his helper waited from 7 a.m. until noon to get the travel clearance.

The clearance is a requirement for OFWs to return to the UAE after vacationing in the Philippines.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

Two Pinoys to graduate in US Coast Guard Academy Class of 2015 in May

Two Filipinos will be among the cadets graduating from the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut this May, the Philippine Coast Guard said on Wednesday.
In a post on its website, the PCG said it sponsored the two cadets—Niño Jhanus Aniban from Bantayan, Cebu and Sean Jayner Cabral from Calaca, Batangas—and sent them as international cadets to join  USCGA Class of 2015.
Aniban and Cabral underwent training at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) under the PCG Cadetship Program in June 2010.
The Coast Guard said Aniban and Cabral qualified for the international cadet program - a four-year academic and professional training program. They will be commissioned into the PCG with the rank of Ensign upon graduation from the USCG Academy and are required to render at least eight years of continuous active service.
The PCG Cadetship Program was designed to establish the PCG's first Cadet Corps as a precursor to the establishment of the Philippine Coast Guard Academy.   Joel Locsin/ELR, GMA News

South Korea opens door to 4,600 more OFWs

Close to 5,000 Filipino workers are allowed to work in South Korea’s manufacturing sector this year under the Employment Permit System (EPS), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Wednesday.

This was after South Korea's Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) raised the ceiling for new Filipino workers in the manufacturing sector from 4,400 to 4,600 for 2015.

Labor Attaché Felicitas Bay of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) said there was an increase in the demand for OFWs in the manufacturing sector after the country captured 13.98 percent of the alloted quota for new entrants.

“If we go by the total number, there was an increase in demand for OFWs. Last year, the quota for the Philippines was at 12.71 percent. In 2013, out of the 42,600 quota, we were given a total of 4,400 slots, or at 9.86 percent of the workforce allowed in the manufacturing industry,” she said.

DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Philippines' good standing in the EPS was partly due to the decrease in the number of undocumented Filipin workers in South Korea.

The number of undocumented workers went down by seven percent in 2014, lowering the number of illegal migrants from 6,548 to 6,005 since 2013.

Meanwhile, the total of Filipino workers under the EPS system rose from 20,632 in 2013 to 23,948 last year.

South Korea set this year's overall foreign workers quota in the manufacturing sector at 42,000. Of this number, 32,890 are apportioned for new entrants, while 9,510 are allocated for returning foreign workers. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

16 rescued trafficking victims taken from NGO safehouse

Sixteen victims of illegal recruitment who were already in government custody were believed to have been taken again by the recruiter through people posing as their relatives, a report on “24 Oras” said Wednesday.

The report said people identifying themselves as relatives of the 27 victims—all women from Mindanao, three of them minors—started harassing the non-government organization tasked to take custody of the women Tuesday last week.

“Tuesday pa lang, mayroon nang nangha-harass. May pumunta doon [sa safehouse] na namimilit na gusto nilang kunin yung kanilang kamag-anak kasi kinukulong daw namin,” said Cecilia Obeando,  president of Visayan Forum, the NGO tasked to take care of the victims as the Department of Social Welfare and Development prepares the case against the recruiter.

“Nung Linggo, mas marami na po silang pumunta. Tapos pinukpok daw po nila yung gate namin tapos pinagbabato hanggang sa magiba,” she added.

She said the supposed relatives' were in expensive vehicles when they fetched the 16 victims, leading them to believe that they were agents of the illegal recruiter.

“In the first place, saan sila kukuhan ng resources?” Oebando asked. “They have expensive vehicles.”

The report said the remaining women were transferred to another safehouse while the police investigate the case.

The report said the victims were promised jobs in Saudi Arabia but were instead locked in a basement. They were rescued last March 10 after one of them managed to escape and seek assistance from Parañaque City officials.

The report said the 16 women who left the safehouse may have grown impatient with the supposed slow progress of their case. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

USCIS updates L-1B adjudications policy, seeks public feedback

The United States government on Tuesday announced the release of an updated policy memorandum on the L-1B nonimmigrant visa classification for workers with specialized knowledge.

“This policy memorandum, once it goes into effect, will help companies in the United States better use the skills of talented employees in the global marketplace,” US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director León Rodríguez said in a statement.

The policy memorandum clarifies for USCIS officers how L-1B petitioners may demonstrate that an employee has specialized knowledge. It will undergo a 45-day public feedback period and will go into effect on Aug. 31, 2015.

According to the memorandum, USCIS personnel must evaluate potential applicants based on several evidence, including documentation of work experience, contracts, and evidence of the impact of their transfer to the US operation.

L-1B beneficiaries must also be employed abroad by their petitioners "on a full-time basis for one continuous year within the three years preceding the filing of the petition... in a managerial or executive capacity, or a capacity involving specialized knowledge."

The memorandum was released as part of US President Barack Obama's sweeping immigration reform, designed to "modernize, improve and clarify visa programs to grow the U.S. economy and create jobs." Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fil-Am doctor in need of bone marrow donor in Maine

A Filipino-American doctor diagnosed with blood cancer is looking for bone marrow donors after repeated searches failed to turn out suitable matches for a transplant.

report on the Chilicothe Gazette said Dr. Tracy Jalbuena's mixed ethnicity made the search difficult, as donors of mixed ethnicity make up fewer than 4 percent of donors on the bone marrow registry, with Filipino-Americans at less than 1 percent.

Moreover, her unique Irish-German-Filipino blood and unknown status of her lone potential donor made her case a lot more urgent.

The website Be The Match, operated by the National Donor Marrow Program, explained that having the same racial or ethnic background makes donor matching easier.

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) types used in matching are inherited, meaning some racial groups have higher chances of having certain combination than others.

In order for Jalbuena, 43, to receive a transplant, most of her donor's HLA tissue markers must match her own. If the initial cheek swab matches the patient at a basic level, additional cheek swabs and blood tests are carried out.

Jalbuena and her family launched multiple donation drives and Internet campaigns—including a blog—in an effort to spread awareness amongst Filipino-Americans and others who could help her fight multiple myeloma.

Interested donors may have a free test kit mailed to them by Be The Match or contact the Jalbuenas through jalapeno1@roadrunner.com or 772-6723. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

More from: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/458786/pinoyabroad/news/fil-am-doctor-in-need-of-bone-marrow-donor-in-maine

US grandma appeals to keep name of PHL street

GLENDORA, Calif. – Pilar Mencias Kierulf will turn 90 in October, and she hopes to celebrate the milestone with a victory for her family.

Kierulf recent wrote a letter the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the mayors and council members of the cities of San Juan and Mandaluyong, to preserve the name of the street where she grew up and the legacy of the heroes it honors: revolutionary icon Gen. Antonio Luna and Dr. Bonifacio Lopez Mencias, her father.

Luna Mencias, the street between the cities of San Juan and Mandaluyong, is where the Pangasinan-born Dr. Mencias built a home for his wife, Barbara Sacro, a nurse, and their six children, in the 1930s.

Dr. Mencias lived and died for his country. The graduate of Colegio de San Juan de Letran was an epidemiologist was dean of the College of Medicine of the University of Santo Tomas from 1938 until he was captured by Japanese while tending to guerrillas in World War II.   

That mission to save lives led to his capture by the invaders. He was never seen nor heard from again. His children later learned that he was executed—beheaded—for abetting the underground resistance.

For his ultimate sacrifice, grateful town authorities attached his name to that of General Luna.


But the honor is threatened by efforts to rename the national road by the family of another departed resident, former Congress member Rufino D. Antonio.  

The move prompted street resident Mariel Kierulf Asiddao, 28, to alert her grandmother and relatives in Manila, Northern and Southern California, Chicago, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Antwerp, Belgium, to appeal the name change.

"At the start, my motivation was merely pride, that the name of the street where I live honors my greatgrandfather," said Asiddao, a marketing executive at an IT and consumer electronics multinational company while pursuing her MBA as a senior at UP Diliman.

"In my short research, I found out details of a man’s life that awe-inspired me—I could not believe that his accomplishments exceed what we alI knew. I realized it was up to me and my family to defend his memory. Lolo may not hold a prominent place in history books, but in this corner of the city where he bought the land and built his home and brought up his family, he enjoys well-deserved recognition."

She and her mother, Marian K. Asiddao, embarked on a campaign to illuminate city officials on their ancestor's gift to Philippine history.

"This appeal is to ensure that he and his great deeds are not to be forgotten," said Asiddao.

She produced flyers heralding her Lolo's accomplishments, which she distributed at the February 24 hearing of the San Juan City Tourism and Cultural Affairs Committee.

Similar case

Mariel Asiddao also discovered a similar case last year in Lucena, where local officials had renamed part of a street originally named after the city's first Catholic priest, Fr. Mariano Granja, after Felix Y. Manalo, founder of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC). The INC has a church on the street in contention.

A resident protested the renaming and brought the matter before the commission.

NHCP chief Maria Serena Diokno in a letter to Council Member Benito Brizuela, head of Lucena's committee on tourism and cultural affairs and main proponent of the renaming, objected to the change.

Such renaming "would tend to disrupt the continuity of the street name,” Diokno said in a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Besides noting the impracticality of the change, Diokno questioned the propriety of renaming part of a street that "has been sanctified by usage and therefore has attained a degree of historical association and importance in the community."

In the case of Luna Mencias, the heirs of Dr. Bonifacio Mencias hope that the NHCP will adhere to its responsibility to conserve and preserve the country's historical legacies by objecting to the renaming of the entire street that begins at P. Guevara Street in San Juan City and ends at Shaw Boulevard.

Nine families since the early 1930s have continuously resided in the Mencias clan compound, including Margarita Mencias Castaneda, one of the two surviving daughters of Dr. Mencias.

"Our father's name was attached to that of revolutionary hero Antonio Luna as testimony of how our neighborhood had recognized his important contribution to our community, country and history," Mencias -Castaneda said in her letter to authorities.  "Changing this street's name erases his legacy of hard word, perseverance, love of country and achievement."

Castaneda's eldest son, Bernardino M. Castaneda, Jr., is a "Kagawad" or member of the barangay council. Like his grandfather, he has chosen a life in public service. Many of his siblings and cousins also chose the same path as their patriarch in the fields of medicine, education, journalism and humanitarianism.  One of them received the 2006 Philippine Presidential Award for Overseas Filipino Organizations and Individuals for service to Filipinos in the United States.

"While we can understand the Antonio family's wish to honor their ancestor, we appeal to you to prevent them from doing so at the expense of the memory and legacy of our grandfather who died so that others may live," the Mencias grandchildren said in a joint letter to the NHCP head, San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez and Mandaluyong Mayor Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr, councilors and the Addition Hills barangay captain.

"Our grandfather never met us but he lives in us. Some of us have transplanted ourselves in other countries, but we remain rooted in our home country, the heart of which is Luna Mencias," they emphasized. —Philippine News

Philippine News executive editor Cherie M. Querol Moreno is daughter of Rosario Mencias Querol, eldest of Dr. Bonifacio Mencias' six children.

No Pinoy aboard crashed Germanwings plane

No Filipino was aboard the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

DFA spokesman Charles Jose disclosed this Wednesday, radio dzBB's Mao dela Cruz reported.

Earlier reports said the crash of the 4U 9525 left no survivors.The British Broadcasting Co. said France's interior minister said the black box flight recorder had been found.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

PHL Embassy in Washington closed April 2, 3, 9

The Philippine Embassy in Washington will be closed on April 2, 3, and 9.

In an announcement on its website, the embassy noted these dates are Philippine holidays.

April 2 is Maundy Thursday, April 3 is Good Friday, while April 9 is Araw ng Kagitingan.

Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) is a non-working day as Filipinos mark the greatness of Filipino fighters during World War II.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News
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