Wednesday, August 31, 2016

24 more retrenched OFWs on their way home from Saudi Arabia

Consul General Imelda Panolong, Labor Attache Jun Rasul, and a team from OWWA giving advice to the 24 OFWs before they board their flight home to the Philippines. Photo by Ronaldo Concha
JEDDAH — Twenty-four OFWs who lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia due to the slump in oil prices are finally on their way home after they received their unpaid salaries from their former employer.
The 24 OFWs, who used to work for Saudi Binladen Group, one of the companies affected by the oil crisis, left Saudi Arabia on Sunday night via a Kuwait Airways flight, according to Philippine Consul General Imelda Panolong.
The OFWs were accompanied to the King Abdul Aziz International Airport by officials from the Philippine Consulate and Philippine Overseas Labor Office to ensure their hassle-free departure.
Panolong said the 24 were among the first recipients of the financial assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Office (OWWA) given to Filipino workers affected by the massive retrenchments in Saudi Arabia triggered by the oil situation.
She said they urged the OFWs to file a complaint with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) or the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in order for them to claim the other benefits due them, particularly their standby allowance.
"Pinayuhan namin sila na maaari silang maghain ng reklamo sa POEA at NLRC para sa iba pa nilang mga claims na kinukuha," Panolong said.
Panolong said more retrenched OFWs will be coming home soon.
There is an estimated 9,000 to 11,000 OFWs retrenched OFWs in Saudi Arabia.  —Ronaldo Concha/KBK, GMA News

Emergency fund: Six reasons every OFW needs to know

As an OFW, when was the last time you had an emergency? I mean you had an extreme situation that demanded extra money for emergency cases.  Unfortunately, you might have failed to prepare for these worst-case scenarios.

  • Your  65-year-old father was diagnosed with liver cancer and needed an immediate medical attention.
  • Because of typhoon Yolanda, you were obliged to send 50,000 pesos for house repair.
  • Your husband, who is a seaman, has to go back home temporarily due to a serious accident.
  • The employer informed you that you have to extend your visa this time at your own expense.
  • You were one of hundreds of Filipinos to be repatriated from the Middle East due to political unrest or civil war in the region.
  • You've got a call from your loved ones in the Philippines. They're practically asking you to send 60,000 pesos immediately because your eight year-old-son is in the hospital.
How did you picture yourself? Worried? Depressed? Nowhere to go? You don't know where to borrow money? So sad, right?
This doesn't' have to be your story. If you have ever experienced any of these cases as an OFW, then you  would know how important it is to have an emergency fund. The good news is we can learn financial lessons from the mistakes of other OFWs.
But what is the purpose of emergency fund? As the word suggests, the ultimate purpose is to prepare for unforeseen emergencies.  These are 6 reasons what every OFW  needs to know about emergency fund:
1. Emergency fund will reduce your stress
Imagine how stressful it is to be repatriated from Syria due to political unrest? But it would be even more stressful if you don't have enough fund to sustain your personal financial obligation back in the Philippines. By having an emergency fund, you reduce anxiety and stress. Having an emergency fund also means that you do have room to breathe and stay calm despite the situation.
2. It encourages you to practice good budgeting
Setting aside even a small amount of money regularly for emergency fund develops your skill in budgeting. It can make you more financially-responsible.  As a result, you will have opportunity to curb your spending habits, especially on buying luxury items that are not important. It makes you practice living withing your means, which is very important to become financially-independent.  If you want to make your fund readily accessible during emergencies, start building your emergency fund today.
3. You avoid going into debt
It is logical that when unforeseen event strikes, like accident or job loss, and you are not financially ready, chances are you are going to borrow money, right? But what if nobody is willing to lend you money without an interest? That means taking a risk on paying interest on top of the principal that you are borrowing? And this is where debt can start to haunt you.
So to avoid huge amounts of debt in the future, it is necessary that you develop a habit of savings for emergency fund.
4. Remember to keep your money as liquid as possible
Many financial gurus suggest to make your emergency fund readily available when you need them. You can keep them in the bank so you can withdraw the money anytime with no minimum holding period unlike mutual funds or other investment vehicles.
5. Reasonable amount of emergency fund
How much money you should set aside for emergency fund? In a nutshell, emergency fund must be about three to six  months of your monthly expenses.  For instance, if your monthly expense is 30,000 pesos you should have at least 90,000-180,000 pesos. Having an emergency fund will allow you to continue your current lifestyle without going into debt.
6. You don’t know what will happen in the future
God wanted to bless his children spiritually and financially. However, even the children of God are not free from unforeseen event  such as illness, accidents, disaster, and natural calamity. They definitely affect our lifestyle. As a steward of material blessings, God is not happy to see his children sufferings due to negligence or poor handling of our finances. Therefore, you have to be ready financially in case emergency occurs.
"A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.  The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences."  Proverbs 27:12, NLT
Lastly, never forget to seek God and pray because he cares for you. 
 
Jun Amparo is an OFW currently working as a school counselor in an international school in Thailand. He is the founder of Richly Blessed Today, a blog about personal finance and investment. Please visit www.richlyblessedtoday.com to read more of his blogs and articles. This article has been posted with permission.

Pinoys in Singapore urged to take precautions vs. Zika

The Philippine Embassy in Singapore has urged Filipinos there to take all precautionary measures after thet Singapore government confirmed 41 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection.
Most of the affected individuals were foreign workers at a condominium construction project in the eastern Aljunied Crescent district, according to an Agence France-Presse report.
In its advisory, the embassy said Filipino nationals in Singapore should take the following steps in order to minimize the risk of being infected with the virus:
  • Those living in the affected areas especially pregnant women, should monitor their health. They should seek medical attention if they are unwell, especially with symptoms of fever and rash. Pregnant women should adopt strict mosquito precaution if travelling to affected areas;
  • Sexual partners of pregnant women should practice safe sex or consider abstinence throughout the women’s pregnancy;
  • To cooperate with the efforts of the National Environment Agency, especially in the conduct of inspections fogging and public education outreach; and
  • To regularly check the Singapore government’s webpage on Zika (www.moh.gov.sg/zika) for latest health advisories.
In addition, Filipinos were urged to observe the following general preventive
measures:
  • Use insect repellants, windows and door screens;
  • Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants;
  • Read up on the symptoms of Zika. Once you exhibit symptoms, go to
  • the nearest hospital to have yourself voluntarily checked;
  • Health workers are encouraged to strictly comply with infection; and
  • control protocols in their work place
Those who tested positive for Zika are encouraged to inform the Philippine Embassy
immediately through the numbers 6737-3977 or 9072-2797 so that it can render appropriate assistance.
Zika,which is  carried by some mosquitoes, causes only mild symptoms for most people, such as fever and a rash, and has been detected in 58 countries particularly Brazil.
But in pregnant women, it can cause microcephaly, a deformation in which babies are born with abnormally small brains and heads. —KBK, GMA News

DFA suspends issuance of hajj passports amid probe on 177 Indonesians

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay suspended the issuance of hajj passports to Filipino pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia pending the results of an internal probe into the case of the 177 Indonesians arrested for using fake Philippine passports.
During the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) budget briefing at the House of Representatives Tuesday, Yasay said he is inclined to end the issuance of hajj passports for good, especially since there are proposals in Congress to extend the validity of passports from five years to 10 years.
“I have issued an order for the immediate suspension of the issuance of these hajj passports pending the otucome of the investigation. I am predisposed at this point to make the suspension on a permanent basis by making representations with Congress as they deliberate on the law that will extend the term of the passports from five years to 10 years to have this hajj passport withdraw completely,” he said.
On August 19, immigration authorities arrested 177 Indonesian nationals disguised as Filipinos as they attempted to leave the Philippines to participate in the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
The Indonesians were about to board an early morning flight bound for Madinah, Saudi Arabia when Immigration personnel stopped them, along with five Filipinos, who were supposed to accompany them in their trip, according to Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang.
Seized from the Indonesians were fake Philippine passports allegedly provided by their Filipino escorts who organized the pilgrimage for $6,000 to $10,000 each person.
Yasay said their investigation showed that the bulk of the fake passports were issued at the DFA’s Aseana office in Metro Manila.
He said the passports were issued based on certifications from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, whose requirements for proof of identification were “quite lax.”
“There was no person to person contact with the actual applicant for the purpose of our contact officials at the DFA to interview them to really determine their identity and proof that they are Filipinos,” Yasay said.
The Cabinet official said he also received information that the Indonesians had a contact within the DFA for the facilitation of the fake Philippine passports.
He said the DFA employee has been relieved of his functions and the agency is now moving toward placing him under preventive suspension.
Yasay said the 177 apprehended Indonesians, initially detained in Bicutan, have already been released to the custody of the Indonesian ambassador to the Philippines.
The BI confirmed this development.
"They were released on recognizance last Friday (August 26) to the Indonesian Embassy upon the request of the Ambassador subject to certain conditions," Mangrobang told GMA News Online.
She did not say what the conditions are although the BI had said the Indonesians were asked to cooperate in the investigation on the passport racket. 
Sixteen prosecutors from the Department of Justice have been assigned to get statements from the Indonesians, who the BI said would be deported soon. 
At present, Yasay said the Philippines is the only country which issues hajj passports for pilgrims to Mecca.
However, he said the issuance of such a passport has been abused since it has “reduced to the barest minimum” the requirements on the applicants’ proof of identification and Philippine citizenship. —with Virgil Lopez/ALG/VVP/KBK, GMA News

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Philippine Madrigal Singers bag top prize at Int’l Choral Competition

The Philippine Madrigal Singers took home the grand prize at the 64th International Choral Competition at Arezzo, Italy.
The group bagged the first prize in three of the four categories (Compulsory Program, Musica Sacra, Monographic Music), and second prize in Secular Music.
Aside from this, they also won Best Performance of a Renaissance Piece. They were Listening Committee's Choice for both Folk Song and Pop Song/Colours categories.
They were also Public's Choice in the latter.
The said win qualifies the group to compete with five other choirs in the European Grand Prix in 2017, to be held in Tolosa, Spain.

The group is the first choir in the world to win the European Grand Prix twice, in 1997 and 2007.  Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/BM, GMA News

Monday, August 29, 2016

Trump to give speech on illegal immigration on Wednesday

WASHINGTON - US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday night that he would make a major speech on illegal immigration in Arizona on Wednesday.
The announcement came a day after Trump said he would crack down on illegal immigrants who overstay their visas, as he sought to clarify his views on how to overhaul the US immigration system. Last week, Trump had said he was "softening" on his plan to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants.
That stance had aroused criticism from conservatives who wanted him to stand fast after he won the Republican presidential nomination in large part with a hard-line position that called for building a wall along the US border with Mexico.
"I will be making a major speech on ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION on Wednesday in the GREAT State of Arizona. Big crowds, looking for a larger venue," Trump, who had postponed an immigration speech originally planned for last Thursday in Denver, said in his tweet on Sunday.
In another tweet on Sunday night, Trump said both he and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival for the Nov. 8 election, should release detailed medical records. "I have no problem in doing so! Hillary?"
In his speech on Saturday in Iowa, Trump said he would seek to institute a tracking system to ensure illegal immigrants who overstay their visas are quickly removed, and would propose an e-verify system to prevent undocumented residents from gaining access to welfare and other benefits.
"If we don't enforce visa expiration dates, then we have an open border—it's as simple as that," he said.
Trump said his first priority on taking office next January would be the immediate deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrants who remain in the United States despite having committed crimes.
"These international gangs and cartels will be a thing of the past," he said. "Their reign of terror will be over. In this task, we will always err on the side of protecting the American people—we will use immigration law to prevent crimes, and will not wait until some innocent American has been harmed or killed before taking action."
Trump did not explain how his plan would affect undocumented residents who have been in the United States for decades and obeyed US laws. Reuters

Recruitment agency could face stiff penalties over OFW death – POEA

A recruitment agency faces severe penalties if it is proven that the agency failed to meet its obligations to a Filipina domestic helper who died in hospital in Saudi Arabia, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) said on Saturday.
“Nalulungkot kami sa nangyari, outrageous! This should never happened to any of our kababayan, any of our women, any of our OFWs,” said POEA Administrator Hans Cacdac. “Rest assured we will investigate and come on hard dito sa recruitment agencies na nakita nating nagkasala. We will impose suspensions as we investigate this case and we will most likely come out with our resolution within 20 to 30 days time."
The employment firm, the Philippine Recruitment Agency, is under investigation for allegedly failing to monitor the Filipina domestic's status while in the hospital. It also supposedly failed to apprise the POEA of her situation, and gave incomplete information when prompted for a report.
Cacdac added that the agency must also pay two years' worth of salary and other benefits to the deceased's family.
According to the POEA, recruitment agencies are mandated to monitor their workers and to immediately report changes in their status such as illnesses or death. Recruitment agencies must also have Facebook pages to allow their recruits to address them and report incidents at any time.
The Filipina domestic suffered a heart attack after seeing her employer who raped her. She then fell into a coma and eventually passed away.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Cacdac, and other government officials were able to visit the Filipina a few days before she died.  Rie Takumi/DVM, GMA News

New ambassadors to UK,

A former political envoy and a businessman have been nominated by President Rodrigo Duterte to serve as the country's new ambassadors to the United Kingdom and Brunei, replacing career diplomats whose tours of duty haven't ended in those countries, it was learned Friday.
Antonio Lagdameo, who previously served as ambassador to Spain and the UK under then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, will be returning as Manila's envoy to London while businessman James Lao has been recommended for Brunei.
Their appointments have already been submitted for confirmation to the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA), a legislative body that approves assignments and promotions of the military, government and career officials, and political appointees. It was received by the CA on Aug. 23, according to the commission's website.
The posts given to Lagdameo and Lao, however, are currently occupied by career diplomats - Evan Garcia in London and Meynard Montealegre in Brunei, whose tours of duty have not ran out, government sources pointed out.
Garcia, former Foreign Undersecretary for Policy, has barely warmed his seat as envoy to London, having been assigned there during former President Benigno Aquino III's time last May. Montealegre, on the other hand, still has one more year to go before he is recalled to the Home Office in Manila.
Removing them from their posts prematurely is considered by some diplomats as impractical and costly since they would have to be relocated to new posts, the sources said.
Garcia was removed from the post in favor of Lagdameo since he has not yet presented his credentials to Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace in London, sources said.
According to diplomatic protocol, ambassadors can not be officially recognized as their country's representative until their credentials have been formally presented in person and accepted by the host government.
It remains unclear where Garcia and Montealegre would be assigned.
"That's the question," the sources said. "There are no new assignments for them yet."
Philippine presidents have the privilege to assign diplomatic posts to non-career personalities as long as the designations will not exceed the number of appointees mandated by law or outnumber career Foreign Service diplomats.
Republic Act No. 7157 or the Philippine Foreign Service Act allots 51 percent of diplomatic positions to career officers and 49 percent to political envoys. — RSJ, GMA News

Manhunt on for four recruiters who duped over 200 OFWs

A manhunt operation has been launched against owners and staff of two travel agencies that allegedly victimized over 200 Filipino workers seeking jobs abroad between March and May this year.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) identified the suspects as Osmando Habilag and Veraflor de los Reyes, owner and agent of Bantayog Travel and Tours, respectively; and Alejandro Navarro Jr. and Alex Ramos, owner and agent of PADS Travel and Tours, respectively.
The four are facing large-scale/syndicated illegal recruitment and estafa charges, according to POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.


Cacdac said De los Reyes used social media and agents to recruit victims from Davao City, Davao del Norte, Pangasinan, Cebu, Cavite, Compostela Valley, Iloilo, Tarlac, Misamis Oriental, Leyte, and Caloocan City.
In her posts, De los Reyes allegedly promised "Work Abroad, short time process big salary, hassle free, renewable visa, (and) free accommodation in Japan Australia, Germany and Canada."
Victims, through De los Reyes' travel consultancy Visa Assist Fortune Diamond Reyes, were then referred to Bantayog and PADS.
"The victims were promised jobs as butchers in Australia and New Zealand; nurses in Germany; and teachers, caregivers, butchers and meat processing workers, welders and hotel/service crew in Japan, with a salary that ranges from P120,000 to P180,000 excluding for nurses in Germany where the promised salary was P350,000," the case brief read.

Though victims knew Bantayog and PADS were not licensed recruitment agencies, Cacdac said they were enticed by the incentives and were rushed into agreement by the suspects.
"They were fully aware of the rules, na kailangan lisensyado, etc. But they were lured somehow with, kasi ang illegal recruiter una magaling 'yan magsalita, tamis ng kanilang dila," he said.
Cacdac added, "At pangalawa, yung style nila na ilalagay nila sa sitwasyon yung mga biktima nila na hindi na sila makakatanggi. Magaling manghikayat at yung talagang ipe-pressure nila na sige na, ibigay niyo na yung pera mo at ipo-proseso."
Victims were promised free accommodation and transportation abroad and in Manila while they trained at Phil-Asia Technical Consultant and General Services and Mandaluyong City Public Market.
Almost all of them were asked to pay De los Reyes and Habilag a fee of P70,000 to P90,000 to cover reservation fees and processing fees. The fees were allegedly remitted to Navarro.
Habilag required the victims to return to Manila on August 10 to supposedly appear before the POEA and allowed them to stay at a transient house managed by a certain Josephine Bopera.
When he did not appear at POEA on August 12, and when Bopera disappeared from the house, four of them immediately reported the crime to POEA.
The victims were then referred to the Anti-Transnational Crime Unit - Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (ATCU-CIDG), which began a manhunt for the suspects with the POEA after ironing out the details of the incident.
CIDG OIC Baltazar Beran asked victims to include everyone involved in the scheme, even people who were not involved in monetary transactions, in their complaints.
"Kahit yung nag-refer, even when there is no money involved, their referring is tantamount to recruiting," Beran said. "So isama niyo sila para masama warrant of arrest just in case na labasan sila ng warrant of arrest."
Meanwhile, Cacdac said POEA will coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs to assist victims who lost their passports and other travel documents to the travel agencies.
"We will work with the DFA in this regard. Binaba na ho natin operatives natin, yung travel (agencies), pero mukhang mailap sila at wala na doon. But rest assured we can help through the DFA," he said.
He also affirmed the agency's campaign intensified efforts against illegal recruitment.
"For me, it will never get to a point where we can say there is no illegal recruitment and therefore there is no need to intensify our operations and campaign," Cacdac said.
Darla, one of the victims recruited for Japan, said she and other victims have yet to disclose their status to their families to avoid  humiliation.

"Malaki nga po yung sahod, yun yung nagpa-entice sa amin na para mag-apply po, sabihin po ito sa aming mga kaibigan. Ngunit ngayon po, ang naganap po ay lahat po ay kahihiyan," she said.
"Hindi pa po alam ng aking pamilya na ako po ay na-illegal recruit po dito sa Maynila ngayon. Kahit po yung iba kong mga kasamahan, hindi pa sinabi sa kanilang pamilya," she added.
Darla pleaded with the suspects on behalf of the 200 complainants to surrender and for other victims to surface and file complaints.
"Sana sumuko ka na, 'wag ka nang magtago. At sa lahat ng sangkot sa illegal na recruitment na ito, lumabas na kayo. At sa lahat ng mga na-illegal recruit pa, lumabas rin kayo, mag-file kayo ng case against them upang mailantad ang mga kabalbalan na mga ginawa nila," she said.
Susan Ople of the pro-OFW group Blas F. Ople Policy Center said she was alarmed by the increase of individuals who sought their help against illegal recruitment and suspects who use the names of government offices to entice victims.
"Nakakadurog ng puso kasi mga taga-Davao City, kung nasaan si Pangulo tapos yung iba, taga-Pangasinan pa. All over the country yung pinagmulan," Ople said.
"And ginamit talaga yung social media- ginamit pa yung POEA. In fact, yung may isang, yung sinasabi niyang appearance, sila-sila nandito sa baba ng POEA," she added.
According to a release by the Blas Ople Center, the POEA scored 31 convictions out of more than 700 cases it filed with the Department of Justice in the last five years.
Cacdac said the POEA endorsed 670 cases to the DOJ for the past four years and scored 31 convictions in the courts of law. —KBK, GMA News

Hillary Clinton to woo Fil-Ams, other Asians in 3 states

NEW YORK - Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is focusing an effort to win over Asian American voters on three states where it believes the small but rapidly growing group could make the difference in her race against Republican Donald Trump.
The push in closely fought Nevada, Virginia and Pennsylvania follows a broader national effort by Clinton's campaign to court minorities who are critical to her chances of winning the White House in the Nov. 8 election.
Asians make up less than 3.5 percent of the U.S. population, but are the fastest-growing racial group in the country, according to the U.S. Census, due largely to net migration, making them more important than ever in an election.
"Secretary Clinton understands the importance of the AAPI community and has launched a program that reflects that, reaching AAPI voters in unprecedented ways," said Jason Tengco, the Clinton campaign's outreach director for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
The three states were targeted because Asian voters could swing the outcome in the tight races between Trump and Clinton there.
The effort will include print, digital and broadcast advertising in a handful of Asian languages and more coordination among volunteer groups representing ethnic communities within the Asian American and Pacific Islander group, according to the campaign.
Among the recent hires for the effort was Philip Kim, a Los Angeles native who previously worked with Senator Tim Kaine, Clinton's running mate, as outreach director for Asian American and Pacific Islander voters in Nevada.
The campaign did not say how much the three-state push would cost.
While small, the Asian population could eclipse the margin of victory in each of the states Clinton is targeting. Asians make up some 2.1 percent of eligible voters in Pennsylvania, 5 percent in Virginia and 9 percent in Nevada, according to APIAVote, a nonpartisan group.
Polling from Reuters/Ipsos shows Clinton with a mere 1 point lead over Trump in Pennsylvania, a 6 point lead in Virginia, and a 2 point lead in Nevada.
GETTING ASIANS TO THE POLLS
The challenge will be to get Asian Americans to the polls.
Asian American voters have tended to lean Democrat in the past but register to vote much less frequently than whites and blacks. Asian registration was about 56.3 percent in 2012, according to the Census, versus 73.1 percent for black voters and 71.9 percent for white voters.
"A big part of what we're doing is voter registration," said Xochitl Hinojosa, a Clinton spokeswoman.
Clinton's campaign has already done significant Asian outreach. It launched the "AAPI for Hillary" campaign to engage Asian voters in January and has done phone calling in a range of languages for months.
But the campaign said the latest push was the first with state-specific programs. The Clinton campaign is considering advertisements in Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Chinese.
A spokesperson for Trump's campaign did not respond to requests for comment about its Asian outreach.
The Trump campaign has, however, recently made some efforts to appeal to black and Latino voters to undercut Clinton, including a meeting on Thursday with Latino and black Republicans in New York.
Trump has had problems with minorities in the past and has angered some with his hardline anti-immigration rhetoric. He has accused Mexico of sending rapists and drug dealers over the border, vowed to build a wall to stop them and called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to shore up U.S. national security.
Clinton leads Trump by 12 percentage points nationally among likely voters, bolstered by minority support, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.  Reuters

Friday, August 26, 2016

Mga buntis, may agarang benepisyo sa PhilHealth

Mga buntis, may agarang benepisyo sa PhilHealth
 
Isang espesyal na pribilehiyo ang ipinagkakaloob ng Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) sa mga buntis para mapangalagaan ang kanilang sarili at ang sanggol sa kanilang sinapupunan.

Dahil mandato ng PhilHealth ang  pagbibigay ng financial risk protection sa mga miyembro nito, maging sa mga nagdadalang-tao, pinapayuhan ang lahat ng mga buntis na kaagad na magparehistro sa National Health Insurance Program o NHIP upang maging eligible at makagamit ng kinakailangang benepisyo mula sa nasabing ahensya. 

Ang mga buntis ay maaaring magsadya sa tanggapan ng PhilHealth at magsumite ng PhilHealth Member Registration Form (PMRF) at anumang katibayan na sila ay buntis gaya ng medical certificate mula sa doktor o kumadrona, ultrasound result o kopya ng kanilang admission book at magbayad ng isang taong prima na P2,400.  

Maging ang mga menor de edad na nagdadalang-tao ay pinapayuhan ding magparehistro bilang primary member upang masigurong may social health insurance ang kanilang magiging anak. 
Pinaaalalahanan din ang mga buntis na naka-enrol sa programa ngunit hindi aktibo ang membership na mag-update ng kanilang prima upang maka-avail ng benepisyo.

Ang mga paketeng maaaring makamit ng mga buntis ay ang Maternity Care Package (MCP) o Normal Spontaneous Delivery (NSD) Package. 

Sakop ng MCP ang mga health services habang nasa antenatal period, normal delivery at postpartum period, kasama ang follow-up visits sa loob ng 72 oras hanggang isang linggo pagkapanganak.  Ito ay nagkakahalaga ng P6,500 kung ia-avail sa ospital, at P8,000 naman kung ia-avail sa mga accredited na lying-in clinics, birthing homes, maternity clinics, infirmaries o dispensaries.

Binibigyang diin din ng PhilHealth ang kahalagahan ng maagang pagpapakonsulta kung kaya apat na pre-natal visits ang kailangan sa panahon ng pagbubuntis para makagamit ng benepisyo.  Ito ay para matukoy ang anumang kumplikasyon at maiwasan ang mas malalang pangyayari o kamatayan. 
  
Limang libong piso naman ang NSD kung sa accredited na ospital manganganak at P6,500 naman kung sa lying-in clinics, birthing homes, maternity clinics, infirmaries o dispensaries.  Kasama sa NSD Package ang essential health services para sa normal, low-risk vaginal deliveries at post-partum period.

Kasama din sa binabayaran ng PhilHealth ang panganganak sa pamamagitan ng Caesarean section, maging ang kumplikadong panganganak ng normal kagaya ng breech extraction sa accredited na ospital.

Ang sanggol naman ay makaa-avail ng Newborn Care Package (NCP), kung saan kasama ang Newborn Screening Test, Newborn Hearing Screening Test at essential newborn care.  Ito ay nagkakahalaga naman ng PhP 1,750.00

Ipinaalala rin ng PhilHealth na isang beses lamang maaaring magamit ang pribilehiyong ito. (END)

Reference:  Dr. Israel Francis A. Pargas
                   OIC-Vice President, Corporate Affairs Group
                   0915-6450808

Would-be OFWs warned vs. exiting through Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi

The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday warned Filipino jobseekers that overseas job offers where they are asked to exit through Western Mindanao are usually scams perpetrated by illegal recruiters.
The embassy issued the warning after several Filipinos were recently arrested in Sabah, among them a Filipina who was offered a job as a domestic helper in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates by an employee of a Manila-based company.
"Being made to exit via Zamboanga or Tawi-Tawi is a sure tell-tale sign of illegal trafficking and should ring alarm bells to job-seekers," the embassy said. "Otherwise, they risk apprehension by Sabah authorities for unauthorized entry or fall victim to sex and other traffickers along the way."
The embassy said with the implementation of stricter anti-trafficking measures at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and other airports, "illegal recruitment syndicates have sent those wishing to work overseas to Zamboanga or Tawi-Tawi and to cross-over to Sabah for their onward destinations in Dubai or elsewhere."
It said just last month, Sabah authorities arrested and detained 15 Filipinas who were allegedly recruited to work as household service workers through Facebook by a certain Flordeliza Flores Eborde.
One of the Filipinas said Eborde referred them to a Ms. Venus, who could only be contacted through mobile phone.
Ms. Venus allegedly instructed the women to go to Palawan, then Tawi-Tawi, where they were transferred to a speedboat headed for Sabah with a guide known as Mr. Jomar or Dumar Kasim.
"We have seen all too often these sad cases of job seekers who end in a foreign jail or in the hands of sex traffickers. These are risks not worth taking,” the embassy said
It reminded prospective OFWs that employment visas issued by the embassy of their destination and work permits processed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency are needed before they can exit the country for work. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

At least 40 Pinoys in evacuation center after Italy quake

Dozens of Filipinos spent the night in an evacuation center following the magnitude-6.2 earthquake that shook central Italy on Wednesday, leaving at least 159 people dead and 368 others injured.
In an interview on "Balitanghali" on Thursday, welfare officer Hector Cruz said at least 40 Filipinos were in an evacuation center in Norcia, a historic tourist town in southeastern Umbria, as of Thursday morning.
"Sila po ay nasa magandang kalagayan, wala pong reported na nasaktan o nasugatan or may namatay, at sila po ay all accounted [for]," Cruz said.
Cruz said they got the information from the Filipinos themselves as they do not have the exact number of Filipinos living and working in Norcia and in Amatice, another area hit by the earthquake.
"Wala pa po tayong naitatala na Pilipinong naapektuhan or nasugatan or casualties dito po sa mga lugar na ating binisita, lalo na po dito sa lugar na masyadong nasalanta, ito pong Amatice tsaka ito pong Norcia," he said, citing initial information.
He said staff from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office will continue to scour hospitals around the quake-hit areas to see if there are injured Filipinos.
"Sa pagsikat po ng araw mamaya siguro pupuntahan po namin mamaya yung L'Aquila kung saan meron po ding mga ospital dun. Yun po ang aming concentration ngayon," Cruz said
Relatives of Filipinos based in Italy who cannot reach their family members are encouraged to contact the Department of Foreign Affairs, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Department of Labor and Employment for assistance.
"Magpunta sila sa ating Department of Foreign Affairs, o kaya sa OWWA, o sa Labor para maibigay nila yung eksaktong lugar o yung contact numbers ng kanilang mga kaanak habang kami po ay nandito, habang kami ay bumabiyahe, ay patuloy din naman po kaming nagtatawag doon sa kanilang mga kaanak," Cruz said.
All access points to Amatrice—the worst-hit area of the earthquake—were shut down by the Italian government while rescue operations are underway. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

No Pinoys hurt in Italy quake –DFA

No Filipinos were injured in the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Italy early Wednesday, according to Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose.
"So far we have not received report of any Filipinos affected by the earthquake in Italy. Our Embassy in Rome continues to monitor the situation of Filipinos there," Jose said in a text message.
Civil protection officers cited by the ANSA news agency said 10 bodies were recovered in Pescara, Arquata del Tronto; six were found at Amatrice; and two were seen at Accumoli.
According to the DFA, there are about 170,000 Filipinos currently residing and working in Italy. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

P50,000 bounty offered for arrest of illegal recruiters

A P50,000 reward awaits any citizen who can share information that could lead to the arrest of illegal recruiters.
"Illegal recruitment has to stop and its perpetrators jailed," Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Wednesday. "Sinuman na magbibigay ng impormasyon which leads to the arrest of illegal recruiters, bibigyan ng P50,000 na reward."
Bello, in a statement, said he is hoping the bounty, which will be sourced from an association of private recruitment agencies, would motivate citizens to report the activities of illegal recruiters to authorities.
"Hindi manggagaling ito sa gobyerno. Ito ay mula sa private sector," he said of the cash reward.

Citizens could report illegal recruitment activities to the soon-to-be-activated hotline of the Department of Labor and Employment.
Bello said the reports will still be validated by the concerned DOLE offices.
"May validation pa rin na mangyayari," he said. "We also have to take precaution dahil baka naman ma-false alarm kami."
A government crackdown on illegal recruiters preying on Filipino workers looking for overseas jobs was one of President Rodrigo Duterte's promises during his first State of the Nation Address in July.

There are about 10 million OFWs working around the world at present, sending about P1 trillion in remittances.  —KBK, GMA News

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Brussels police hold Filipina after bus stabbing

BRUSSELS - Belgian police identified a woman who stabbed and wounded three people on a Brussels bus on Monday as a 52-year-old originally from the Philippines whom they do not believe acted from political motives.
The woman, accused of attempted murder, had yet to be questioned by prosecutors as she was receiving medical attention after being shot by police during the incident on a busy shopping street, spokesman Xavier Dellicour said on Tuesday.
"No motive is being ruled out at this stage but terrorism is not the most likely case," said Dellicour, whose office is not the one which normally handles terrorism cases in Belgium.
The three people wounded were all released from hospital on Monday. Local media quoted witnesses as saying an argument broke out on the No. 38 bus and the woman pulled out a knife. Police shot her twice after she got off but refused to cooperate.
The woman's name has not been released.
The Belgian capital has been on high alert since local Islamic State militants carried out the attacks in Paris last November and suicide bombings in Brussels itself in March.
Since a man killed 85 people in Nice last month by driving a truck into Bastille Day crowds, a string of less violent incidents elsewhere on the continent has kept Europeans on edge.  Reuters

OFWs support Duterte's war on drugs but bothered by killings

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte's war against illegal drugs, but many have expressed apprehension over how it is being carried out on the ground, noting the increasing body count of drug suspects.
"I stand side by side with Duterte in his stand against drugs. Drugs can ruin lives, families, careers, morals, sanity, and almost everything that you have," noted Alijan Tatel, a radiographer in United Arab Emirates.
He added: "Duterte's straightforward stand on drugs may shock people, but there has to be someone to do this otherwise we will never solve problems in drugs ever."
Christopher Tevar, a sales manager in Singapore, echoed the same sentiment, saying the ongoing campaign shows "our government now is doing it for the benefit of the many Filipinos under his (Duterte's) care."
"This is for the future of the young generation of today and the future of our country Philippines," Tevar added.
"Over the past 15 presidents na natin, ngayon lang naging seryoso sa [paglaban sa] droga," opined Bobby Gabad, a 38-year-old engineer in the UAE.
Rule of law must still prevail
But even though they favored an intensified campaign against illegal drugs, some OFWs interviewed by GMA News Online said the killings of drug suspects seem to be getting out of hand.
"We cannot build nations by killing citizens without legal process and basis," said Roldan Beltran, 28, a massage therapist in Qatar. "We believe in the rule of law, in due process, and in international human rights."
As of Monday, August 22, almost 2,000 drug suspects have been killed since Duterte took over, most of them by unidentified men. Of this number, over 700 were killed in legitimate police operations.
Drug deaths
Gabad said the summary killings show that drug syndicates "are cleaning their backyards."
"Drug syndicates themselves are cleaning their backyards now bago pa umabot sa pinakamataas nila. Kaya palagay ako na sila rin ang nagpapatayan," he said.
Bill Salazar, who is also anengineer in the UAE, meanwhile, appealed to the police to be careful in their operations to prevent "collateral damage."
"The police must just be careful in their operations to prevent any collateral damage. Because it's unfortunate and not acceptable if the lives of others would be lost due to wrong identification or allegations," he said.
Strengthen family values
Aside from going after drug users and pushers, Tatel suggested that the government also include in its anti-illegal drug efforts the strengthening of the core family values in order to dissuade the youth from using illegal substances.
"I also would add one more important thing: strengthening core family values because individual character starts in the family where one belongs," he said.
On the other hand, Raquel Pasamba Hsieh, a manufacturer of control panel wafers in Taiwan, noted the role of family members in the campaign.
"First sa family, dapat open communication. Suportahan at bantayan ang bawat member ng pamilya financially and emotionally para maiwasan gumawa ng masama," she said. —KBK, GMA News

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