Thursday, February 25, 2016

Embassy urges Pinoys in Saudi Arabia to stay calm

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh has advised Filipinos in Saudi Arabia to remain calm amid reports of worsening conflict between the Kingdom and Syria.
In a short statement on Wednesday, the embassy said there is "currently no reason to be concerned about the safety and security of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia."
"The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh advises the Filipino community to remain calm," it said as it vowed to "provide regular updates on the situation in Saudi Arabia as the need arises."
The embassy issued the statement after several pro-OFW groups appealed to the government to prepare in case the security situation in the Middle East worsens due to the Saudi Arabia-Syria conflict.
There are an estimated 2.1 million OFWs in the Middle East; more than a million are in Saudi Arabia. —KBK, GMA News

Pinoy dies after fall on ship's deck in Malaysia

A 22-year-old Filipino died after falling onto a ship's deck while exiting the vessel's engine room on Monday, Malaysian news site The Star reported on Tuesday.
The report, quoting Manjung OCPD Asst Comm Tengku Mohd Zailan Tengku Ahmad, said the Filipino fell on the deck of MV Necklace at around 2:45 p.m.
The incident happened eight nautical miles northeast of Pulau Pangkor, it added.
The report said that the Filipino, who has yet to be identified, died from severe spinal fracture and internal bleeding in the brain due to the fall.
The report said the vessel was travelling from Singapore to Lumut, Malaysia when the incident happened. Rie Takumi/ALG, GMA News

Fil-Am general who probed Abu Ghraib abuses among 2016 Asian Hall of Famers

Filipino-American Antonio Taguba, a retired Major General in the US Army, is among the honorees to the 2016 Asian Hall of Fame given by the Robert Chinn Foundation.
Aside from Taguba, those who will be inducted on May 14 at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle are television journalist Connie Chung, martial artist Bruce Lee, and Olympic Gold Medalist in figure skating Kristi Yamaguchi.
The Asian Hall of Fame is a national recognition event for Asian Pacific Americans, celebrating culture and achievement during Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in May. Honoree Bruce Lee will be represented by the Bruce Lee Foundation, which will accept his posthumous award.
Taguba, who served 34 years with the Army, retired in 2007. He led a 2004 team that investigated reports of human rights violations of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The now-famous Taguba Report confirmed the torture and abuse of prisoners and denounced the Bush administration for “committing war crimes.”
Born in Manila, Philippines, he immigrated to the United States in July 1961. Commissioned as an Armor Officer from Idaho State University in 1972, he served in numerous command and staff positions with service assignments in the continental United States, South Korea, Germany, and deployments to Kuwait and Iraq.
During Operations Iraqi Freedom, he served as Deputy Commanding General for Support, Coalition Forces Land Component Command(CFLCC)/Army Central Command/Third U.S. Army forward deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. He was responsible for overseeing logistical and support services to U.S. and Coalition forces totaling over 150,000 troops conducting combat operations. His duty also included the coordination of host nation support from the Government of Kuwait, and security cooperation and training requirements with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Qatar.
Upon his return from deployment, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Pentagon. In his final assignment on active duty, he served as Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command.
His military awards include the Army Distinguished Service Medal (2 awards), Legion of Merit (4 awards), Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (6 awards), Secretary of Defense Identification Badge, and Army Staff Identification Badge.
Taguba served as Vice President for Army Account, SERCO Inc., a global services company from 2007 to 2008. He is the President of TDLS Consulting LLC, a business consulting services company for corporate and nonprofit organizations. He is also involved in a great deal of charitable work, from assisting Veterans with their benefits and health care needs, raising funds for college scholarships, and as a volunteer at the United Service Organizations (USO). He is the Chairman of Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM), the Chairman of the Filipino Veterans Education and Recognition Project (FILVETREP), a Member of the Board of Directors for the armed Forces Insurance Company, and a Community Ambassador for AARP.
He is married to Debra Ann Taguba. They have two adult children- Lindsay Taguba Keys and Captain Sean Taguba, and twin granddaughters, Ibby and Lily.  —The FilAm

Comelec mulls ballot receipts for overseas voters

The Commission on Elections is considering issuing ballot receipts to overseas absentee voters, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said on Wednesday.
The poll body, however, remains firm in doing away with the ballot receipt for local voters due to time constraints.
"Isa sa pinag-usapan namin ay 'yung posibilidad na magkaroon ng resibo for overseas voters. Bakit? Dahil 30 days ang kanilang pagboto, at mas kaunti ang boboto," Bautista old reporters.
More than 1.1 million Filipinos abroad will take part in overseas absentee voting, which will last for a month, starting April 9.
Bautista acknowledged that the receipt will be good in aid of transparency, but it will be difficult to accommodate in a one-day synchronized national and local elections.
In an earlier interview, Bautista said issuing receipts would mean an additional five to seven hours in the election process.
Bautista also reiterated concerns over how the receipts could be used for vote-buying or even vote-selling.
"'Yung  dito sa eleksyon sa Pilipinas, sa 54.3 million voters, talagang masyadong masalimuot kung magpi-print ng resibo, talagang hindi kakayanin," Bautista said.
"We also have to take into account itong vote-buying is parang unique in the Philippine setting," he added.
He added: "Kunwari mas marami tayong oras, why not, 'di ba? [But] the disadvantages outweigh the advantages."
Asked why not keep the 2013 voting schedule, which lasted from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Bautista said, "Kahit gawin 'yan, hindi pa rin kakayanin."
"Hindi kami tutol sa resibo per se, but voting conditions [are] not conducive para dito," he added.
The voter verification paper audit trail (VVPAT) is one of the four security features mandated by law.
The VVPAT lets voters review how the vote counting machine appreciated their markings on their ballots. Among its forms is a printed receipt.
Comelec has announced the machines will not be issuing receipts, while it is still deliberating on whether to enable the onscreen verification feature.
Election watchdogs, as well some lawmakers, have asked the poll body to reconsider its decision.
On Monday, former Senator Richard Gordon—author of the automated election law who's seeking another term at Senate—asked the Supreme Court to compel Comelec to issue the receipt.
Sought for comment, the poll body said that matter is up to the high court. -NB, GMA News

Pinay found dead in Dubai with stab wounds

A 26-year-old Filipina from Negros Occidental was found dead in her home in Dubai on Feb. 18, a report on Unang Balita on Wednesday said.She was identified as Maria Lenlie Oliverio.
The victim was found with many stab wounds in her body.
Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes said police in Dubai are still investigating the incident. 
Authorities are still trying to determine who may have killed the victim and what the motive was.
Meanwhile, Oliverio's Facebook account revealed she has a boyfriend who is an Indian national and who allegedly is a jealous lover.
Meanwhile, the Consulate said it is ready to provide assistance so the victim's remains can be brought back to the Philippines. —KG, GMA News

NBI entrapment nets 2 illegal recruiters at NAIA

An alleged illegal recruiter and his accomplice were arrested Tuesday in an entrapment operation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2, a report by John Consulta on "24 Oras" said.
Daniyala Radcala, a visa checker at the airport, and his accomplice Melba Portugal were arrested by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents upon receiving the marked money from the victims, the report said.
Citing the NBI, the report said the suspects would let the victims pass the airport's screening section using fake documents.
According to the victim, he applied for a job as a driver in Saudi Arabia, but the Overseas Employment Certificate given to him by the suspects listed his occupation as electrician.
The suspects, meanwhile, denied the accusation.
"Hindi totoo 'yan. Visa check lang ako. Chini-check ko lang 'yung mga visa. Wala kaming tinatanggap na pera," said Radcala.
Portugal, on the other hand, said she was just asked to accompany the victims to the airport. "Napag-utusan lang ho ako," she said.
However, a check on the text messages on the suspects' cellphones revealed that they've been conducting their illegal scheme for a while already.
The report said the victim had to avail of loans just to apply for an overseas job.
Radcala and Portugal are facing charges of illegal recruitment and human trafficking, the report said. —KBK, GMA News

Embassy urged to open hotline for jittery OFWs in Saudi Arabia

A migrants' rights advocate on Tuesday called on Philippine officials in Saudi Arabia to open a hotline for Filipino workers worried about the supposed World War III breaking in the region given the rising tensions in Syria.
In a statement, Susan Ople said her group, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, has been receiving queries from OFWs concerned about their safety in case war breaks out between the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and Syria.
"All eyes are now on the Middle East, specifically on joint efforts by both the United States and Russia to defuse tensions in Syria so that military soldiers from Gulf countries no longer need to set foot in that war-torn country," Ople said.
"It can’t be helped that some of our OFWs are looking at such developments and are trying to decipher what the immediate future holds for their families," she added.
Ople is a former labor undersecretary and a senatorial candidate in the May elections. Her group is a non-profit organization that assists distressed OFWs.
In her statement, Ople urged the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment to embark on a continuous monitoring and joint assessment of the security situation in the Middle East.
"We owe it to our OFWs in the Gulf region to make sure that our own foreign policy and security experts are keeping tabs on what is going on, and what steps are needed to ensure the safety of our modern-day heroes," she said.
There are an estimated 2.1 million OFWs in the Middle East; more than a million are in Saudi Arabia.
Ople advised the OFWs and their families to stay calm, focus on their daily routines, and pray for peace in the Middle East.

" Every effort is being taken to reduce tensions in the region because no one really has an appetite for a costly and bloody war," she said. —KBK, GMA News

Comelec asked to hold presidential debates overseas

BAGUIO CITY— A migrant workers’ rights advocate urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Tuesday to consider holding a fourth presidential debate abroad for the benefit of an estimated 1.4 million absentee voters.
Senatorial candidate Susan Ople said the Comelec could hold another round of the PiliPinas 2016 presidential debates in either Hong Kong or Saudi Arabia, the two countries that have large populations of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“The [overseas] presidential debates will be for the benefit of our OFWs. There are 1.4 million potential votes via absentee voting mechanism [that could be tapped],” she said in a press conference here.
As of 2015, the Comelec said some 300,000 OFWs in the Middle East have signed up for overseas absentee voting, while 105,000 registered to vote in Hong Kong.
Acknowledging the power of OFW votes, Ople, who is running for senator in the May elections, said migrant workers could also influence the way their family members in the Philippines would pick candidates.
“OFWs wield a great deal of influence among their family members. The reality is that the next administration will be faced a lot of challenges on the OFW front, especially with the conflict in the Middle East,” she said.
The first round of PiliPinas 2016 presidential debates was held last Sunday at Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City. GMA Network, Inc. and the Philippine Daily Inquirer presented the event in partnership with the Comelec.
Two more debates for presidential aspirants have been scheduled in March and April in Cebu and Pangasinan, respectively.
A debate for vice presidential bets, meanwhile, will be held on April 10 in Metro Manila.  —KBK, GMA News

OFW finally home after 20 years in Kuwaiti jail

Joseph Urbiztondo, the Filipino instructor in Kuwait who was jailed for 20 years for a crime he said he did not commit, is finally home, a radio report said Tuesday.
A report by Mao del Cruz on dzBB radio said Urbiztondo arrived in the country past 8 a.m. on board a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight and was greeted by his family and relatives at the airport.

The report said Urbiztondo thanked all the people and organizations who helped him pay the $26,000-dollar blood money needed for his release.
Urbiztondo, 45, was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 1996 for killing a Bangladeshi co-worker. He was released January 2016 after paying the blood money and securing a letter of forgiveness from the victim's son.
Even today, Urbiztondo maintained his innocence, saying he was forced to admit to the crime after he was tortured by authorities.
The dzBB report said Urbiztondo, who is from Cavite province, intends to visit the tombs of his parents first, adding both died while he was incarcerated in Kuwait.
The blood money was raised through the help of Filipino organizations in Kuwait. —KBK, GMA News

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Pinays in HK join call to end violence against women

HONG KONG — Dozens of Filipino domestic helpers here joined the over 1,000 participants who marched Sunday to call for an end to all forms of violence against women.
The march was part of the "One Billion Rising" movement was led by Filipino theater actress Monique Wilson and "Vagina Monologues" playwright Eve Ensler, who swung to the city to join the event.
The participants, wearing purple shirt, marched in Central and chanted that they want immediate "system change, social inclusion" and an "end to poverty."
The group said One Billion Rising or OBR is the biggest mass action to against violence against women in human history.
In the past two years in Hong Kong, Asian women migrant workers and supporters highlighted the issue of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih to call for justice and an end to violence against women domestic workers in the territory.
Sulistyaningsih is the former Indonesian domestic worker who was abused and maltreated by her employer in Hong Kong. Her female employer has been sentenced to a jail term over the abuse.
The statement from the group said that "migrant workers and local women will join together to advance various issues showing the continued exploitation, oppression and violence women from different walks of life experience in Hong Kong."
"These include poverty, unemployment, discrimination, social exclusion and modern-day slavery," it said. —KBK, GMA News

No Pinoys hurt in Fiji storm –consul

No Filipinos were hurt when a powerful storm ripped through Fiji late Saturday, flattening remote villages and cutting off communications.
According to Honorary Consul General Dr. Virgilio de Asa, tropical cyclone Winston did not pass through Suva and other urban areas where there are Filipino communities.
He said the small islands were the areas severely affected by the storm, and that the worse they experienced was heavy rain with strong winds that toppled electric posts.
There are an estimated 300 Filipinos in Fiji working as doctors, civil engineers and technicians.
The storm, which left 17 people dead as of Monday, was regarded as one of the most powerful recorded in the southern hemisphere.
A Reuters report said almost 8,000 people remained hunkered down in hundreds of evacuation centers across Fiji where they had headed before tropical cyclone Winston hit late on Saturday with winds of up to 325 kph (200 mph). —KBK, GMA News

Aquino admin urged to prepare for Middle East conflict

Filipinos in the Middle East have asked President Benigno Aquino III to reactivate the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Committee (PMEPC) in case the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Syria worsens.
OFW leader John Monterona issued the appeal amid reports that the coalition backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia is preparing to penetrate Syria — a development that, he said, "may trigger World War III scenario" especially since Russia has vowed to help Syria.
"We can't simply dismiss and undermine the impact of the Midde East conflict—that is when the US-Saudi-led coalition started penetrating Syria amid pronouncement by Russia that it will help Syria against any foreign attack," said Monterona, who is based in Saudi Arabia.
"Many believe it may trigger World War III scenario that nations of the world would not want to happen," he added.
The PMEPC was created pursuant to Executive Order (EO) No. 6 dated September 2, 2010 and was headed then by Special Envoy Roy A. Cimatu. Its operation was extended until June 30, 2011 by virtue of Aquino's EO No. 20.
PEMPC was tasked to primarily provide continuing assistance to the Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as other government agencies concerned with OFW safety, security, and protection, and in the formulation of policies, plans, and modes of coordination in areas where there are significant presence of OFWs.
Monterona said once reactivated, the PMEPC that will be based in the Midde East will provide good insights to the DFA especially that DFA chief Albert del Rosario is retiring by March 2016.
"We want the DFA to talk about the threat of the Midde East conflict, dissimenate necessary information so that we, the OFWs based in the Middle East, will be fully informed and act according to the preparedness plan by the government," he said.
There are an estimated 2.1 million OFWs in the Middle East; more than a million are in Saudi Arabia. —KBK, GMA News

Monday, February 22, 2016

Prosthesis package expanded

BARELY five (5) years after introducing its first special benefits for persons with disability (PWDs), the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is expanding the Z MORPH Package or the Z Benefits for Mobility, Orthosis, Rehabilitation, Prosthesis Help to provide its members with better financial risk protection.
At its 21st Anniversary celebration held at Chardonnay by Astoria in Pasig City, PhilHealth formally announced the Expanded Z MORPH which is a special benefit for the fitting of upper limb prostheses, orthoses and orthoprostheses.
“Based on our assessment of the Z MORPH package and on a series of consultative meetings and dialogues with our stakeholders, our current coverage of P15,000.00 per lower limb is enough. However, there are still some services that need to be included such as physical therapy, other levels of amputation, and orthoses, thus we are expanding the package now,” said PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Alexander A. Padilla.
The move to expand the package inclusions is in support of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Rights of the Child wherein 21 countries, including the Philippines, are signatories to the APEC Global Friends of Disability.  The collaboration envisions persons with disabilities as active participants in and contributors to their respective economies through education, inclusion and participation.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people with disabilities have the same general health care needs as others, but they are twice as likely to find health care providers’ skills and facilities inadequate. They are also three times as likely to be denied health care as the general population, and twice as likely to suffer catastrophic health expenditures.  “We recognize the full and equal enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities, hence PhilHealth shall ensure protection of their inherent dignity through prosthetic, orthotic and orthoprosthetic devices that are safe, available and of the right quality,” Padilla said
The expanded Z MORPH package rate for above knee / knee disarticulation prostheses is P95,000.00, while coverage for hip disarticulation prostheses is P180,000.00.  Coverage for below elbow and above elbow prostheses are P60,000.00 and P80,000.00, respectively.
On the other hand, coverage for Van Ness rotationplasty is P85,000.00 while coverage for ankle-foot orthoprostheses is P35,000.00.
PhilHealth will also pay P70,000.00 for knee-ankle-foot orthoses, and P104,400.00 for hip-knee-ankle-foot orthoses.
Coverage for spinal orthoses is set at P40,000.00 for thoracolumbosacral; P25,000.00 for lumbosacral; and P30,000.00 for cervicothoracic orthoses.
PhilHealth members may soon avail themselves of the expanded Z MORPH package in contracted hospitals such as the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERMMMC), University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City; and Zamboanga Medical Center. (END)

Reference:  Dr. Israel Francis A. Pargas
                    OIC-Vice President, Corp. Affairs Group

Fil-Am Episcopalian pastor feeds body, mind and spirit

DALY CITY, Calif. - Every Sunday and Monday, people stream in and out of Holy Child and St. Martin Episcopal Church feeling full and flush with optimism.

That’s the day the congregation led by Reverend Leonard Oakes partakes of the bread distribution compliments of a national bakery chain.  That’s also the time when they may shake a leg at the exercise classes to stay in shape or relieve aches and pains.  Or when they may have their blood pressure checked and pick up a few health tips along the way.
Children join Rev. Leonard Oakes and Daly City officials at rites marking the future site of an elevator to give access to all Holy Child & St. Martin parishioners.
For free.  Regardless of address.  Not just for the 251 registered members of the church but for anyone who wishes to engage with the community nurtured by a pastor who happens to be a professional health practitioner.

“We have seven registered nurses, four LVNs, five CNAs, 2 senior health administrators, and two medical doctors volunteering to move the clinic forward for our common cause,” Oakes, a licensed vocational nurse, counted his pool of clinicians who have embraced his endeavor.  Their number spikes toward the end of the year when the church holds its annual Health & Wellness Fair.

Last November, the volunteers led an army of kindred spirits from other provider organizations that assisted over 200 adults and children representing a cross-section of the neighborhood and surrounding areas.


The event was the fifth the church coordinates every autumn, but last year was a milestone. 

Daly City officials and Episcopalian leaders each took a shovel on Nov. 14, breaking ground on the future site of an elevator that would give equal access to the elderly and physically challenged. 

Around the coming Thanksgiving Day, Oakes sees the same officials cutting a ribbon and giving the community an all-encompassing welcome to its sixth fair. 

“This church was built 1956 when there was no ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirement,” Oakes explained the project.  “We have a ramp leading to the elevator on the side and the seven steps of stairs at the entrance” that is little help to the frail or wheelchair-bound, especially on a rainy day.
Rev. Leonard Oakes and wife Haidee (center) with the volunteers and clinicians at recent HCSM health and wellness fair.
Five years ago, the Daly City mission’s efforts had gained attention and encouragement in the form of generous funding from the bigger church.

“Our work in giving free blood pressure check-up, lungs and weight monitoring, as well as giving health education to the community was noticed by Episcopal Charities,” Oakes said.  “In 2012 we received a $30,000 grant for a three-year program to improve our clinic and services.”

As the care program prospered, support flourished.

“We were able to get a grant of $37,500 for the lift through the United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church with the endorsement of Bishop Marc Andrus,” Oakes exulted the success of his campaign to promote health.

Oakes’ earliest career plan leaned less on the physical, however.

Spiritual calling

Twenty-three years ago, Leonard Oakes was a fresh graduate of St. Andrew's Theological Seminary in Quezon City.  He had attended the University of Baguio in the Philippines’ mountain region but continued his education at Trinity College, also in the capitol city. 

The last century was coming to an end just as the Kalinga-born Oakes’ future was coming into view.

The ‘90s marked a new beginning when the Episcopalian deacon was ordained priest.  That same year, 1997, he and his wife Haidee uprooted from the homeland and settled in Northern California.

The new priest gained local experience as music director for a small but tight church on Southgate Avenue in Daly City.  The post was ideal for Oakes, who loves to sing, filling in for pastoral duties as needed.  His place was at the pulpit rather than behind the keyboard, ensuing events showed.

The newcomer found time to explore his diverse interests.

He worked as a gate agent at the United Airlines terminal in the San Francisco International Airport.  When the 911 terrorist attacks halted air travel, causing layoffs in related industries, Oakes pursued radiology at Canada College. 

Having a registered nurse for a wife fanned his interest in the health field.  Oakes shifted to nursing, completing his prerequisites at the College of San Mateo before culminating studies with Nursing Care Providers in South San Francisco.

Both Oakeses work at Kaiser Medical Center in South San Francisco, with Leonard  also doing part-time work as a visiting nurse with a home health care agency.

His vocation blossomed with his profession.

“When the HCSM priest moved to Vallejo, I was elected to be the next full-time vicar of this Church by the members of the Bishop Committee,” Oakes related his elevation. “The appointment was recommended to the Bishop of California and I was installed in November 2008 on the Feast of All Saints Day.”

Fate literally knocked on the door and opened up bigger opportunities for Oakes to serve.

Birthing a clinic

Retired Episcopalian priest Rev. Dr. Lynn Bowdish presented herself one day, offering to join the church.

“She introduced me to the community advisory board of Seton Medical Center where she and community leader Alice Bulos were members,” Oakes related.

Seton Medical Center until recently was owned by the Daughters of Charity Health System and was the first hospital to rise in Daly City. 

Oakes accepted the board’s invitation to sign on, serving for over two years before the reorganization and eventual sale of the DOCHS to a New York-based corporation.  The new owners established Verity Foundation, a nonprofit, to operate the hospital, which has the only emergency department open to all patients between San Francisco and Burlingame.  (Kaiser Permanente in South San Francisco is a membership managed care organization.)

Oakes is among the first community leaders Verity invited in its initial outreach.  Years earlier he had forged a partnership with the hospital to participate in a health fair brewing in his head that he shared with his former nursing instructor, Persephone Gee, RN, and her husband Dr. Jeff Gee, who had joined the church around the same time. 

“Our expertise and connections in the medical field and our commitment to the poor and low income people in the community” began materializing, Oakes said.

“Through the help of the Bishop of California and the staff, the approval of the Bishop Committee of this church and the collaboration of our volunteers and partners in community health system, the Health Clinic was born,” Oakes, who has a son and a daughter, said of his new baby.

Caregiving comes naturally to Oakes, one of the eight children of Benedicto Oakes Sr. of Apayao, and the former Teresa Barantes of Tacloban.

The Oakes family, whose surname was given to a forebear by an “English missionary who could not pronounce the brilliant Igorot’s original name,” were all baptized in the Episcopalian faith.


Oakes likes to see more similarities than differences with the Roman Catholic religion from which his church had branched following the Reformation.  The seat of the faith is Scotland, he said, where the church established itself and ordained its first bishop.

“We have a very similar liturgy, we believe in the Holy Trinity and the saints, we say the rosary," he said.  Differences emerge in doctrines.  Episcopalian priests may marry or divorce but the latter, he emphasized, “is not encouraged.”

What the Episcopalian church does encourage is women leaders.  Besides Reverend Bowdish, HCSM has Rev. Rebecca Goldberg as Associate and Deacon Tricia Rosso who head the church alongside Fr. Jureck Fernandez as Intern.

Oakes cited the Philippine Independent Church, also known as the Aglipayan Church after its founder Gregorio Aglipay, as “in corcordance” with Episcopalians.  “Their members are also our members.”

Oakes kept in touch with his fellow people of the cloth as a board member of the Peninsula Clergy Network from 2012-2013. Later he was appointed Grand Chaplain of the Masons in California, which opened further avenues to socio-civic groups like the Lion's Club and the Knights of Columbus, who have become collaborators of the Holy Child & St. Martin Church clinic.

The church also shares the goodies donated by Panera Bread to a nearby shelter every third Sunday and third Monday of the month.  Friday evenings are devoted to music lessons.

HCSM holds two Sunday services. For more information call 650-991-1560 or visit —Philippine News

Pinay arrested in Macau for dumping baby in waste bin

A Filipina domestic helper was arrested in Macau for allegedly dumping her newborn baby in a waste bin in an apartment building in Taipa.

report on Macau News on Friday said the 23-year-old Filipina, identified only as Literato, admitted to throwing her baby to the waste bin inside their communal utility room because she thought it was dead.
She said the baby did not cry when she gave birth to it.
The report said a cleaner stumbled upon the infant inside a bin in the utility room on the 17th floor of the Lei Yip Building on Tuesday morning. 
According to the report, Literato arrived in Macau with her employer and her employer's two children and mother on February 4. They have been renting a unit on the floor where the newborn was found.
The report said a DNA test confirmed that Literato was the mother of the infant.

The suspect has been transferred to the Public Prosecution Office. She may be charged with child abandonment and penalized with up to five years imprisonment.
The police said Literato is unmarried but has a five-year-old son in the Philippines. She initially denied the baby was hers.
Meanwhile, the infant's condition has already improved since she was found. She will be put under the care of the Social Welfare Bureau. Trisha Macas/KBK, GMA News

Ballots for overseas voting nearly complete –Comelec

The printing of the official ballots that will be used for overseas absentee voting was almost complete as of early Friday night, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
In a phone interview with GMA News Online, lawyer Genevieve Guevarra, head of the poll body's printing committee, said at least 972,000 official ballots had been printed as of 7 p.m., 12 hours since printing began around 5 p.m. Thursday.
She added that they are looking to finish the ballots for 1,189,350 registered overseas absentee voters who will be voting through the automated system.
Guevarra said printing has been running smoothly, as well as work at the ballot verification station where each ballot passes through a vote-counting machine to make sure it can be read.
"Wala pa naman po[ng problema], as reported," she added. "Hopefully po matapos namin tonight."
In a separate interview aired on 24 Oras, Guevarra e said the VCMs have not rejected any ballot so far.
"'Yung mga na-experience nu'ng 2013, like 'yung mga nare-reject, sana ma-minimize, if not totally eradicated this 2016 elections," she said.
After ballots for overseas absentee voting, the poll body -- along with the National Printing Office -- will then produce ballots for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Guevarra told GMA News Online that ballot faces for the ARMM are already at the NPO headquarters.
Comelec is scheduled to start sending out ballots for overseas voting on April 5. The month-long voting period for registered absentee voters begins on April 9.
Nearly 25 million ballots for the May polls need to be printed by April 25.
Earlier, Comelec chair Andres Bautista said he is confident that they will meet the deadline given that the ballots for local polls -- which make up for majority of what needs to be printed -- are shorter compared to previous elections.
Aside from the ballots the 56.7 million ballots for automated polls, the Comelec will print 223,611 pieces for manual elections, to be used by local absentee voters and select areas abroad.
Some 700 workers are divided into two 12-hour shifts at NPO, where operations run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. —KBK, GMA News

US deports alleged Pinoy human rights violator

Immigration authorities in the United States has deported a Filipino who admitted to doing surveillance for a law enforcement task force in the Philippines linked to the disappearance of several opposition politicians.
Regor Cadag Aguilar, 42, was arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel in Union City in January last year for overstaying, the agency said in a news release.
Prior to his deportation on Wednesday last week, Aguilar said he had worked as a surveillance agent for a law enforcement task force in the Philippines targeting rival political figures from 1998 to 2001.
During removal proceedings initiated by the ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), he said his superiors told him that the task force used the information he shared to "abduct and murder" a politician in 2000.
Aguilar also said he heard superiors order other task force members to torture abductees "on at least two occasions."
He further claimed he knew that one of his surveillance targets "disappeared and was presumed dead" as early as 1998.
Despite this, the Filipino insisted that he didn't know the extent of the task force's illegal activities during his employment.
ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale said the removal had been in the making "for more than a decade" as Aguilar's visa expired 15 years ago.
Aguilar petitioned a review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' decision on his and his wife's petition for asylum in 2015.
The court denied the appeal on the grounds that he failed to "demonstrate that it is more likely than not he will be tortured upon return" and that he "participated in persecution" of the task force's victims.
The PAOCTF is implicated in the unsolved murder of publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito, who were allegedly abducted, strangled, and burned to death by members of the task force in 2000. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoys in LA laud admin gains in meeting with PNoy

Filipino community groups in Los Angeles and southwestern United States met with President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday to personally express their appreciation for his administration's reforms.
Jose Bañas, vice president of umbrella organization Kalayaan Inc., said he was specifically struck by the progress in the field of education, particularly the implementation of the K-to-12 program.
"The big step of moving education from a K-10 structure to K-12 is a huge initiative that the government has taken in the last two years," said Bañas, an assistant principal in Rosemead High School.
"That makes Filipinos more globally competitive," he added.
The meeting took place at the Ballroom of Hilton LAX on February 17 and marked the conclusion of Aquino's working visit to the US for the ASEAN-US Summit.
More than 800 members of Filipino community groups attended the event, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. and Consul General to Los Angeles Leo Herrera-Lim were also present.
Aquino, whose term will end in June, told the audience that major reforms in education, health, and local governance have ushered in a period of steady economic growth and social transformation in the Philippines.
Elito Santarina, mayor pro tem of the City of Carson in California, said such developments gave Filipinos in the US "sentiments of awe, sentiments of appreciation, feeling of accomplishment and feelings of relief."
Cusia said they hope the reform agenda would be continued by future administrations.
"Most of us are hopeful that the next Administration would preserve and build on the gains of the past five and a half years," he said.
He added that Filipinos in the US "continue to exhort the Government to safeguard the welfare and well-being of overseas Filipino workers, more specifically those who are victims of illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons."
In closing, Aquino called on the Filipino communities to foster greater camaraderie and unity in pursuit of common goals.
The DFA said the Filipino population in the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and in southern Nevada and southern California numbers at around 1.13. million, most of them professionals in the fields of healthcare, accounting and law enforcement. —KBK, GMA News

Pinay in Scarborough pleads guilty in '5-6' loan racket case

A Filipina who has pleaded guilty to illegal lending in Scarbrough, North Yorkshire, in England has received a suspended prison sentence.
report on Scarborough News said the York Crown Court gave Adelaida Thompson, 65, two eight-month sentences, suspended for two years, and ordered her to do 150 hours of unpaid work.
She was also given a curfew of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for three months for illegally receiving over £140,000 in repayments in a "5-6" scheme involving Filipino health professionals in Scarbrough.
The report said Thompson lent more than £113,000 and received more than £142,000 in repayments in 167 transactions to 29 different borrowers "over a period of more than four years."
Simon Mortimer, solicitor for the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said this may only cover a small part of Thompson's transactions with close friends, all of whom were Filipino healthcare workers or nurses at Scarborough Hospital.
Thompson told The Scarborough News that she lent money at a 5-6 rate, a lending scheme using high interest rates popular in the Philippines and India. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

UP-PGH is now a contracted facility for Z benefits

THE country’s oldest government teaching hospital is now ready to provide the special benefits package for members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) who are diagnosed with colon and rectum cancers.

Through a memorandum of agreement signed with PhilHealth this morning in Pasig City, the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) has formalized its commitment to be the first contracted provider of the Z Benefits for colorectal cancer.

The signing ceremony took place at the Chardonnay by Astoria on the occasion of PhilHealth’s 21st Anniversary.  Signatories to the MoA were PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Alexander A. Padilla and UP-PGH Director for Fiscal Services Dr. Margarita Luna.

Under the agreement, the UP-PGH shall make available the benefit packages for colon cancer Stage I to II (low risk) worth P150,000 up to Stage II (high risk)-III worth P300,000 to PhilHealth members who pass the selections criteria.  The Z benefit rate for the entire course of treatment for rectum cancer Stages I to III is P150,000 to P400,000.

At the same time, it shall implement the No Balance Billing (NBB) Policy to members under the Sponsored and Indigent programs as well as to kasambahay and iGroup members.  The NBB, which enforces that no other amount shall be collected from the member beyond what PhilHealth provides for, shall also be applied to members who are not covered due to lack of qualifying contributions, and to non-members who were assessed and classified as belonging to Class C-3 or D and enrolled under the  Point-of-Care program.

The UP-PGH also agreed to implement the ceiling amount of P230,000.00 as maximum co-payment for colon cancer, and P300,000 for rectum cancer for PhilHealth members and their dependents who are classified as charity patients Classes 1 and 2, as well as to members with income of less than P50,000 per household per year.
“PhilHealth is committed to provide accessible health care services to our members that is why we are thankful to UP-PGH for this partnership, being our first contracted hospital for the Z Benefits for colon and rectum cancers. I would also like to thank our partner-health care providers for helping us achieve our mandate. Indeed, we can say that our government is doing its job in providing quality care to all Filipinos,” said Padilla.

The UP-PGH is likewise contracted to provide four (4) other Z Benefits packages, namely, Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG), Surgery for Total Correction of Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), patch repair of Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) and the Z MORPH (Mobility, Orthosis, Rehabilitation, Prosthesis Help). (END)
Reference:  Dr. Israel Francis A. Pargas
                     OIC-Vice President, Corporate Affairs Group