Friday, December 15, 2017

Bello on critics of new OFW ID: Mga sumasakay lang

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Thursday shrugged off criticisms on the newly issued OFW ID that has President Rodrigo Duterte's face on it, saying  they did not come from migrant workers.
In an interview, Bello said the OFWs' response to the new ID is "favorable" and that they are even thankful for it.
"Puro favorable. Nagpapasalamat nga sila. May lumalabas na negative reaction pero hindi naman OFW. Ito yung mga sumasakay lang at gustong sirain ang project na ito," he said.
Among the critics of the ID is Bishop Ruperto Santos, who chairs the Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
According to Santos, instead of Duterte's face, the ID should instead bear only the picture of its owner as putting the president's picture on it could lead to politicking.
To this Bello said, "Ang CBCP raw ay may negative reaction sa profile ng ating Pangulo. Ano bang gusto nilang ilagay, si Pope Francis?"
Labor Undersecretary Bernard Olalia said Duterte's photo was placed facing the picture of the ID bearer to signify the president's respect toward the OFWs.
"Itong salute position, nag-manifest 'yung pagkilala ng ating pangulo sa tunay na pagiging bayani ng ating OFWs," he said.
When informed that Duterte did not approve of the design, Olalia said OFW feedback will determine the final design of the ID.
Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say said they will continue to distribute the OFW ID to OFWs, but noted that they will continue to review the "aesthetics" of the card.
"The ID will continue to evolve, yung kanyang itsura," he said
"Kinikilala nila. Kung meron mang nag-complain, 'wag kayong maniwala kasi ilan lang ang lumabas [na ID]," Olalia said. "Yung mga binigyan namin ng ID na umuwi, hindi pa naman sila umaalis, so hindi pa nila nagagamit ito." —KBK, GMA News

EU Delegation to PHL commemorates Human Rights Month by honoring OFWs

The European Union Delegation to the Philippines commemorated Human Rights Month this year by honoring overseas Filipino workers.

A special screening of "Sunday Beauty Queen," a film that follows the lives of five OFWs in Hong Kong, was held at the Alliance Francaise de Manille on Wednesday as part of the commemoration.
DFA Undersecretary Lou Arriola discusses migrant workers and efforts to protect their rights with Carmelita Nuqui, President of Philippine Migrants Rights Watch, and Mattias Lentz, Chargé d'affaires of the EU Delegation. EU photo
"Working overseas is not easy, " Mattias Lentz, Chargé d'affaires of the EU Delegation, said in his welcoming remarks. "Work conditions can be difficult and immigrants might not enjoy the same rights as back home."
He said women migrants, especially those employed in low-paying jobs, largely bear the brunt of abuse and exploitation.
"This is something that the EU is very much concerned about," Lentz said.
Among those who attended the screening were Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Lou Arriola, the film's director Baby Ruth Villamara, Human Rights Commissioner Gwen Gana, Carmelita Nuqui of Philippine Migrants Watch, and social activist Mae Paner.
Lentz said to address the "vulnerability of migrants," inter-governmental and inter-regional cooperation should be strengthened.
Since 2005, the EU has funded 17 projects worth P1 billion to address human trafficking, illegal recruitment and strengthening of migration systems and institutions.
A recent initiative is the newly-launched regional programme called "Safe and Fair: Realizing women migrant workers' rights and opportunities in the ASEAN region," which aims to make labor migration safe and fair especially for all women migrants in Southeast Asia.
It is estimated that there are 10 million Filipinos living abroad. The remittances they send back every year to their families in the Philippines constitute a substantial part of the GDP of the Philippines. —KBK, GMA News

Filipina helper working in Brazil ate dog's food to keep from starving

A Filipina hired as a domestic worker in an upscale Sao Paulo neighborhood in Brazil shared with BBC News her experience of being overworked and starved to the point that she ate food meant for her employer's dog
Maria, not her real name, is a 40-year-old mother who sent almost all her wages to her mother and three daughters back in the Philippines, two of whom needed medicine to treat their cardiac disease.
Maria had a long list of tasks to perform daily and would often not have enough to eat. She thought about ending her life as she went on a second day without any food. 
Still, she persisted and, hours later, she found a meal for herself. She cooked the meat meant for the family's dog and took half for herself. 
"I didn't have [any other] choice to survive," she told Hugo Bachega of BBC.
Maria was a nanny to three school-aged boys and a baby. In addition to this, she was tasked to clean a house that the BBC report described as having a "large dining room, a living room and four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom." She also had to walk the dog.
The report detailed that Maria's employer, unsatisfied with her work, would make her redo them for hours. When she confronted her employer about the harsh treatment, the employer had "said disdainfully that she had never liked Maria."
Maria, after finding out that her employers lock her inside the apartment when they leave, made a successful attempt to escape early in the morning one day. She says she considers herself lucky. 
BBC noted that Maria's case is far from unique and that it occurs it different parts of the world, as millions of people from the Philippines work abroad.
Authorities in the Brazil are currently looking into the situation of 180 other foreign domestic workers, and some labor law violations have already been found in the first cases. — Margaret Claire Layug / AT, GMA News

Monday, December 11, 2017

DOLE Lifts Deployment Ban on New OFWs, Ends OEC Suspension

Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is a very important document to first-time overseas Filipino workers as they land to a new job abroad.  However, it has been suspended for 15 days for investigations had been conducted by POEA for allegedly involvement of some of its employees to illegal activities, particularly human trafficking within the agency.
The suspension had affected an estimated 75,000 workers with about 1,200 OFWs bound for Hong Kong.
Finally, the suspension had ended last December 1 and had been officially announced by Department of Labor and Employment’s Secretary Silvestre Bello III, clarifying there will be no extensions thereafter.
Apparently, rumors had spread on social media that the suspension will be extended as the advisory coming from DOLE had been delayed and was only made last December 4, 3 days after the suspension ended. But then, Sec. Bello’s announcement had ended all speculations as Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre released the advisory.
Labatt dela Torre also said that they have no intentions of extending the suspension because they have been receiving a lot of complaints from employers.
In fact, with OEC’s suspension, Hong Kong government had extended the contract of their workers expiring on December 31 for two weeks to give enough time for the new OFWs coming in.  The number of OFWs arriving in Hong Kong on a daily basis since the suspension of OEC had been lifted will then depend on how fast POEA would be able to work on their backlog.
Meanwhile, a Hong Kong government spokesperson said they would like to ask exemption on the suspension of OEC from the Philippine government so OFWs bound to their country will arrive as scheduled.

President Duterte Recognizes Sacrifices and Efforts of OFWs, Rewards Returning OFWs with Cash and Gifts

On Thursday, His Excellency President Rodrigo Duterte recognized the efforts and the sacrifices of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) for their unparalleled contribution to keeping the country’s gross domestic product.  The President thanked them for their help in adding up to the country’s income claiming it all came from their sweat and “blood”.

To show the government’s appreciation to the OFWs sacrifices, President Duterte offered assistance to returning OFWs who seek to start a business in the country thru the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (OWWA) “Pamaskong Salubong Para sa OFW” program held at the Clark International Airport.

He then assured that the government will help in marketing the business of those who are just about to start.

Meanwhile, President Duterte announced that the country will be needing more construction workers for several pipeline projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program of the government.  However, he shared that they need professional and experienced plumbers and electricians for projects in Davao but sadly, the expert workers had flew out of the country to work abroad.

On the other hand, the President also shared that the Department of Trade and Industry is also helping small and medium scale businesses in marketing their products.

Out of the 200 returning overseas workers, 39 among them who came from Qatar were pre-selected as recipients of cash and surprise gifts from OWWA.

David Dionisio, Mellie Ramirez, Rodylyn Morada and Carlo Redoble were the recipients of I-DOLE.
Jerson Villamero Zamora, Felix Sbrigo Bambilla, Carlo Dalaguit Redoble, Alan Javalde Gonzaga, Ronald Panahon Ballicud, Judith Soto Gonzaga, Fatima Venancio Bibangon and Wellnor Gonzaga Zamora had received P 50,000 cash each.
Appliances worth P10 Thousand each were rewarded to Grace Lyn Jimenez Colot, Marlondino Olarte Bambilla, Diosdado Gonzaga Laylay Jr., Joy Pinero Militante, Allan Manliquez Militante, Jocelyn Militante Labajo, Joy Manliquez Dalagon, and Prisco Villamero Zamora Jr.
P3,000 worth of appliances were given to 5 OFWs who had repatriated namely Gerlie Gonzaga Laylay, Lowelyn Militante Gonzaga, William Sabado, Manolo Mediavillo and Rey Chua Jr.
Julie Rose Mediavillo, Eller Ocampo, Eric Bacolod Delos Reyes, Nelson Dumantay and Fely Dumantay had received special gifts.
The President concluded the event with an invitation for a dialogue with the repatriated OFWs in a simple gathering in Malacañang  Palace to discuss matters pertaining to programs that will help them as they’ve decided to stay in the country for good.

Friday, December 8, 2017

From Poles to Filipinos? UK food industry needs post-Brexit workers

MILTON KEYNES, England - Britons who voted for Brexit in the hope of slashing immigration seem set for disappointment. In the farming and food industries at least, any exodus of Polish and Romanian workers may simply be followed by arrivals of Ukrainians and Filipinos.
From dairy farms to abattoirs, employers say not enough Britons have an appetite for milking cows before dawn or disemboweling pig carcasses - jobs often performed by workers from the poorer, eastern member states of the European Union.
With unemployment at a four-decade low of 4.3 percent, even Brexit supporters acknowledge the industries will need some migrant workers after Britain leaves the EU in 2019, ending the automatic right of the bloc's citizens to work in the country.
Employers praise eastern European staff for their skills and work ethic. "They are a massively valuable part of our workforce and a massively valuable part of the food industry overall," said Adam Couch, chief executive of Cranswick plc, a meat processing group founded by pig farmers.
Food and drink is the largest UK manufacturing sector, with a turnover of 110 billion pounds ($147 billion) in 2015, government figures show. Much of it depends heavily on staff from elsewhere in the EU, mainly the post-communist east.
For example, the British Meat Processors Association says 63 percent of workers in the sector come from other EU countries and in some plants it can be as high as 80 percent.
The proportion has risen partly due to increased demand for more labor intensive products such as boneless meat. Association members have found it impossible to recruit the additional employees needed from Britain, the BMPA says.
Pro-Brexit campaigners say Britain needs to reduce its reliance on EU workers. "Our sights should be firmly set on raising the skill level of our own domestic workers, employing domestic whenever we possibly can and automating," said Owen Paterson, a member of parliament for the ruling Conservatives.
But Paterson, who as a former Environment Secretary was responsible for UK agricultural policy from 2012-14, added: "Where there is a clear shortage and no technological solution, by all means bring in labor but the good news is we wouldn't be limited to the EU. We will have the whole world to choose from."
On the meat production line, Romanian Dumidru Voicu explained the attractions of working at Cranswick's plant in Milton Keynes, a town northwest of London.
"I just want to do something with my life, save some money and make my own business. The money for a week here is the money for a month in Romania," said Voicu, who arrived in the country about the time that Britons voted to leave the EU in June last year.
An estimated 27,000 permanent staff from elsewhere in the EU worked in British agriculture last year, House of Commons staff noted in a briefing paper for members of parliament. This figure is swollen at times by around 75,000 seasonal workers.
A further 116,000 EU citizens worked in food manufacturing. The Food and Drink Federation predicts the sector, which employs about 400,000 people, needs to recruit another 140,000 by 2024.
The government, which wants to reduce immigration sharply, has yet to announce its post-Brexit policy but farm minister George Eustice has recognized employers' concerns. "Leaving the EU and establishing controlled migration does not mean closing off all immigration," he told parliament in earlier this year.
However, a government document leaked in September showed that restrictions for all but the highest-skilled EU workers were under consideration.
Such a possibility alarms farm employers. "Without EU labor there will be no British pig industry as we know it," said Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association.
British farmers have relied on foreign labor for a long time, at least around harvest time. A Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme was introduced shortly after World War Two.
The government ended it in 2013 before Romanians and Bulgarians won the automatic right to work in Britain, arguing that there were now enough EU workers to fill farm vacancies.
With EU citizens to lose that right on Brexit, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) wants the scheme - or something similar - reinstated. This may mean going back to the time when people from beyond eastern Europe filled farm jobs.
Michael Oakes, chairman of the dairy board at the NFU, says older colleagues remember when people from countries such as the Philippines worked on British farms.
"There are other countries in the world that would help to solve the problem but at the moment because they are not within the EU they are not necessarily able to come in and work."
Filipinos already work on New Zealand farms but such an idea could prove politically difficult in Britain as the pro-Brexit side fought the referendum on promises to curb immigration.
Many of the 17 million Britons who voted to leave are likely to be unhappy if they find eastern Europeans simply replaced by non-EU workers such as Filipinos or Ukrainians.
"Perhaps we need to broaden out the opportunities but a lot of people voted for Brexit because of immigration reasons, so it is a tricky one for the government," said Oakes.
Any new seasonal scheme could still recruit in the EU, but might be forced to widen its scope to get the required numbers.
Net migration to the UK fell to 230,000 in the year to June, far from the government's ambition of arrivals "in the tens of thousands". Still, EU citizens accounted for three quarters of the 106,000 drop, the Office for National Statistics reported.
The figures present a mixed picture, with a net 20,000 Poles leaving the country in 2016 but 50,000 Romanians arriving.
But some eastern Europeans say they feel less welcome since the referendum and resent the negative attitude of some Britons.
"I was quite upset. Why do you have a problem with me if I am coming to take a job you don't want and I am paying tax?" said Zoltan Peter, who came to England in 2009 to work on a dairy farm in western England, initially leaving his wife and baby daughter at home in Romania.
Peter now works as a regional manager for LKL, a firm which recruits workers to the dairy industry, but says the early years were not easy. "I didn't catch my daughter starting to talk, but you sometimes you make sacrifices and eastern European people are making sacrifices," he told Reuters.
A drop in sterling since the referendum has also made Britain less attractive for farm workers who earn at least 7.20 pounds an hour. That was worth 41 Polish zlotys before the vote but now it buys only 34.
Part of the answer may lie in a drive to recruit and train more British workers, despite Peter's doubts.
Oakes said he needed people prepared to work long, unsocial hours often in cold, wet conditions. Milking on his farm starts at 4.30 am and the day does not end until 8 pm. "It is an early start or a late finish, and occasionally on bad days you might have to do both," he said. ($1 = 0.7492 pounds)  Reuters

Gov’t lifts OEC suspension for new applicants

The suspension in the processing of Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC) for new applicants has been lifted, 15 working days after it was implemented as an anti-corruption measure by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
The suspension was in effect from November 13 to December 1, putting on hold the departure of an estimated 75,000 would-be OFWs.
A report by GMA News' Tina Panganiban-Perez on 24 Oras on Thursday said the processing of OEC resumed on December 4. In just two days, more than 1,400 applications were processed.
The application of Salvacion dela Cruz, who is set to work as a production manager in a garment factory in Myanmar, was one of those affected by the postponement.
"Pumunta ako kay Secretary Silvestre Bello. Sabi niya sa akin may mga illegal recruiters daw na ang ano 'yung mga direct hire. So paiimbestigahan daw niya. Ang sabi niya sa akin, bumalik ako after three weeks," Dela Cruz said.
"Masaya na po. At least hindi na po naabutan ng expiry date 'yung visa ko. Tsaka kailangan na po kasi ako ng employer," she added.
Excluded from the suspension are those hired by international organizations, diplomatic corps, sea-based recruitment agencies, balik-manggagawa or workers on leave, and those whose OECs have already been signed or are in Labor Undersecretary Bernard Olalia and Bello's office.
"Sa mga agency-hired workers natin who are seeking for work, it will be the agency who will process your deployment papers. 'Yung mga direct hires po natin, this involves 'yung mga professional and highly-skilled na directly na nagapply abroad, sila po talaga ang magpa-process nung kanilang deployment papers," Olalia said in the 24 Oras report.
Olalia, meanwhile, said investigation is still ongoing on the alleged illegal recruitment within the POEA. "'Yung ating reshuffle and revamp is still ongoing. 'Yung mga persons involved were removed from those positions and were transferred to less significant positions," he said. —Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK, GMA News

San Fernando Valley Fil-Ams ready to flee homes amid wildfire

Filipinos in San Fernando Valley are prepared for possible evacuation amid the wildfire that is ravaging parts of California, a report on 24 Oras said Thursday.
"Pag emergency kelangan mga unan, blanket at tubig, delata na madaling buksan, kailangan nakahanda na, nakalagay na ho sa likod ng sasakyan," said a Filipina identified only as Lerma.
There is an estimated 100,000 Filipino-Americans living in San Fernando Valley, where the wildfire had already razed some 100 houses.
"We just have to close the window," said Iah Teves, another Filipino in California. "Avoid opening the doors because it's so windy and dusty."
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has advised Filipinos living along the path of the wildfire to evacuate if necessary.
California Governor Jerry Brown had declared a state of emergencyy due to the wildfire, dubbed as The Thomas Fire, which has gutted at least 45,000 acres or more than 18,210 hectares of land area and had forced thousands to flee.
The DFA said it is closely monitoring the wildfires. —KBK, GMA News

As shopping season peaks, OFWs reminded to save for the future

Amid the holiday shopping season, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families are encouraged to have sound financial plans for the future before splurging on material things, as big-paying overseas jobs could come and go.
Though government financial and livelihood assistance is assured to displaced OFWs, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said OFWs are encouraged to prepare for eventualities like retrenchments.
"Hindi forever 'yung pagiging OFW [kaya] dapat prepared ka sa eventual na pagbabalik mo dito sa Pilipinas," said Zandro Almendrala, head of OWWA's Reintegration Unit in the National Capital Region, in a report by GMA News' Ivan Mayrina on 24 Oras on Thursday.
He said the same advice is also given to the family of OFWs.
"'Yung mga kabataan, mga anak ng OFW, dapat mas na-appreciate nila 'yung pinagpaguran ng kanilang magulang, na ito dugo't pawis ng kanilang magulang," Almendrala said.
A displaced OFW can receive P20,000 livelihood fund from OWWA. Aside from financial help, the agency also teaches OFWs financial literacy to make them knowledgeable in savings, investment and income protection.
Almendrala said the assistance aims to lessen the affected OFW's burden and also to help him start a livelihood in the country. —KBK, GMA News

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Magna Carta of Seafarers bill to reach Senate plenary in January

A Senate panel is pushing for the passage of a bill that aims to institute mechanisms to protect the rights of the country's seafarers and to ensure their compulsary benefits.
The proposed Magna Carta of Seafarers Act also aims to enforce standards set by international laws.
"Napapanahon po na ipasa ang panukalang batas na ito upang kilalanin ang kontribusyon ng ating dakilang Filipino seafarers sa buong mundo," said Senator Joel Villanueva, co-author of the Magna Carta of Seafarers bill.
Villanueva chairs the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, which discussed the bill in a hearing on Wednesday.
The Magna Carta of Seafarers bill aims to fill in the gaps in legislation, particularly the Overseas Filipinos and Migrant Workers' Act of 1996 (RA 8042), which Villanueva said neither completely address concerns of the Filipino seafarers nor abide by the existing standards set by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
In a data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, it showed that sea-based Filipino workers remitted more than $1.9 billion from January to April 2015, a 5.6 percent increase from $1.8 billion during the same period in 2014.
Villanueva acknowledged the importance of passing the said proposal as the Philippines is considered as the manning capital of the world. In fact, 30 percent out of more than 1.2 million mariners in the world are Filipinos.
Moreover, there are 100 maritime academies in the Philippines, which produce some 40,000 seafarers each year, according to a 2011 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) report.
"Nais natin siguruhin na mabibigyang proteksiyon ang ating seafarers before, during and after their employment," Villanueva said. "Hindi po natatapos sa pagsampa nila sa barko ang ating pag-alalay sa ating mga mandaragat."
The Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers bill is set to be brought in the plenary during the Senate's resumption of session in January 2018 for further deliberations. —KBK, GMA News

De Lima vows to continue supporting OFWs through Senate bills

Despite her detention, Senator Leila de Lima vows to continue filing bills in the Senate that will protect overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families.
"As a Senator, I will continue to push for legislative measures that will protect the welfare of our overseas workers, and institute reforms in the Philippines to ensure a just and more inclusive future for our countrymen," she said in a short message read to Filipinos in Washington last December 2.
De Lima also thanked OFWs and Filipino-Americans for their tireless work to support their families in the Philippines and their charitable projects in their host countries.
“Sa inyong sipag, determinasyon at pagpupunyagi para itaguyod ang inyong pamilya, kasamang umaangat ang ekonomiya ng bansa, na nagpapataas din sa kakayahan ng gobyernong magkaloob ng serbisyo-publiko,” she said. 
The former justice secretary added that she and her fellow lawmakers must also push for legal measures that will lead to job creation and turn migration into a choice and not a requirement for survival.
“It is also my dream for Filipinos to leave the country not because they are forced to given the lack of opportunities, but because they willingly want to enrich their careers,” De Lima said.
She also filed Senate Resolution 452 in August to investigate the implementation of the OFW ID or iDOLE meant to replace the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), which many OFWs want scrapped.
De Lima is currently detained in Camp Crame over drug-related charges which she claimed are politically motivated.  The neophyte senator is staunch critic of the Duterte administration. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

DFA: 25,000 Pinoys living in areas along path of California wildfires

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday told thousands of Filipinos living along the path of a wildfire ravaging California to evacuate if necessary.
The DFA said in a statement that at least 25,800 Filipinos are living in areas, which may be reached by "three fast-moving wildfires" particularly in Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
California Governor Jerry Brown had declared a state of emergency in Ventura County due to the wildfire, dubbed as The thomas Fire, which has gutted at least 45,000 acres or more than 18,210 hectares of land area and had forced thousands to flee.
The DFA said it is closely monitoring the wildfires.
"We join our kababayans in the Philippines and in the United States in praying for the members of the Filipino Community and their neighbors in Ventura and Los Angeles counties that they will be spared from the raging infernos that are threatening their lives and their homes," DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.
Cayetano urged Filipinos in the affected areas to "be ready to evacuate if necessary" and contact the Philippine Consulate General through phone numbers + and +1.213.587.0758.
He said the  Filipino community in the two counties should contact the Philippine Consulate GTeneral in Los Angeles for assistance.
The DFA said that according to a report by Consul General Adel Angelito Cruz, 27,000 people have been evacuated in Ventura County, where 150 buildings and houses have been gutted by the wildfire.
Cruz also reported that the two wildfires in Los Angeles County have ravaged 11,500 acres or 4,653 hectares of land. The consul general also reported that the two wildfires in the county "remain out of control." —ALG, GMA News

Taiwan in need of factory workers, Saudi Arabia of nurses

Taiwan is in need of about 100 factory workers while Saudi Arabia is in need of 50 nurses to work for its Ministry of Health, GMA News' Susan Enriquez reported on 24 Oras on Monday, citing the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Germany, meanwhile, is hiring 350 nurses, the report added.
According to the POEA, it will be a government-to-government hiring so applicants need not shell out a big amount of money.
"Ang gagastusin lang nila ay mga personal. Dapat mayroon na silang passport, medical at visa. 'Yun lang, 'yung mga documentary requirements lang. Other than that wala nang gagastusin," said POEA Deputy Administrator Joyce Turla-Sanchez.
The POEA warned applicants against groups or individuals who claim they can expedite the application process.
It said it has discovered a website of a group based in Germany that recruits nurses and asks for several fees. Upon investigation, it was found out that the group is not registered with the German government.
Interested applicants are urged to register on the POEA website. If applying through an agency, they are encouraged to ensure that the agency has the necessary permits to operate.
"Huwag kayong maniniwala sa mga lumalapit sa inyo. Kung ito ay government-to-government, dapat ay sa POEA lang sila mag-aaply. Kung may lalapit sa inyo na mga tao at magsasabi na sila ay taga-POEA, huwag kayo maniwala kasi ang transaksyon dapat sa opisina ng POEA lamang," said Sanchez. —KBK, GMA News

OFWs in Hong Kong, Macau urged to invest in PHL

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has urged Filipinos working in Hong Kong and Macau to learn how to invest their remittances to secure their family's future.
Cayetano, in separate townhall meetings with members of the Filipino community on Sunday, also advised OFWs to use some of their earnings to improve their skills so that they may seek better-paying jobs in their host country or even back home.
“I encourage you to attend regular skills enhancement and language trainings here in Hong Kong or Macau and even back in the Philippines as this will surely open better employment opportunities for you,” he said.
The secretary said he expects OFWs to take advantage of the Philippines 6.9 percent economic growth in the third quarter of 2017 to start investing their savings in the Philippines.
Cayetano added that the extension of passport validity from five to 10 years will lead to more efficient processing of multi-year work contracts for overseas workers in the long run.
“This is one of reforms that responds to your needs as overseas workers and I assure you that the Duterte Administration will strive hard to ensure that all your rights and interests are protected,” he said.
Before meeting with the Filipino community, Cayetano also inspected the repairs and renovations at the Philippine Consulate General in Macau, which sustained severe damage when Typhoon Hato struck the region in August. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Friday, December 1, 2017

DOLE seeks add’l budget for possible repatriation of OFWs in MidEast

The Department of Labor and Employment is asking Congress for an additional budget of about P1.1 billion for 2018 to fund the expenses in bringing home OFWs that may be affected by tensions in Qatar, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III attended the bicameral conference committee meeting at the House of Representatives on Thursday for the proposed 2018 General Appropriations Act, representing the agency as it requests for additional budgetary allocation.
"You are aware of the situation in Qatar in relation with their diplomatic relations with the Middle East countries and also in the case of Lebanon and in Saudi [Arabia]. Our labor attache there  needs some contingency plans which may have to be implemented in case the situation worsens," Bello told reporters.
"Pero right now, hindi pa naman critical kundi meron lang cause to prepare for this plan," he added.
According to Bello, no less than 240,000 documented OFWs are currently in Qatar.
He said they are asking Congress to give them P850 million for possible repatriation expenses and another P200 to P300 million for reintegration.
"If you bring them back, we cannot afford to leave them unassisted. So we will have to provide them with initial financial assistance and then also livelihood," he said.
If the situation worsens, Bello said they may have to repatriate all OFWs.
"Kung hindi naman, kagaya ng our experience sa Saudi, marami sa kanila opted to stay notwithstanding the situation. Pero we have to prepare for that eventuality," Bello said.
Bello said Senate and House leaders seem to be open to the idea. "Hindi sila umo-oo, pero hindi rin naman sila himi-hindi. So may pag-asa," he said.
If their request is not granted, Bello said they will have to rely on their own resources or seek assistance from the Office of the President. —KBK, GMA News

Pinoy LGBTs join Pride March in Hong Kong

About 400 participants, including members of LGBT organizations of foreign workers in Hong Kong, and supporters for local groups and other migrant organizations marched from Edinburgh Place to the Alexandra House on Chater Road in Central.
Chanting "hey, ho, hey, ho. Homophobia's gotta go" organizers said they were calling against discrimination and violence against foreign domestic workers in general, and LGBT migrants - lesbian migrants - in particular.
They said the march aimed to highlight labor and social concerns of LGBT foreign domestic workers that they said perpetuate discrimination, exclusion and even violence against LGBT migrants.
"We are divested of our integrity not only as migrants, but even more as lesbian migrants. We are victims of sexual abuses, exploitation and discrimination existing on our domestic environment compounded with racism," said Nick Delfin, march organizer from the Filipino Lesbian Organization (FILO).
"We are denied of our humanity on deprivation of our democratic rights and be recognized as workers."
Delfin said various Hong Kong government policies put  foreign domestic workers in a condition vulnerable to abuses and exploitation.
"This vulnerability is doubled among LGBT migrants as we face discrimination and stereotypes that impact on our work and living conditions," he said. —KBK, GMA News


Rumors are not true. This is the clarification of Ministry of Labor (MOL) and Social Development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding the news circulating in some websites and social media that expatriate over 40 years of age will be deported.

In social media and other online sites, there is news circulating that Saudi Arabian government will no longer issue new work visa for expatriate workers above 40-years of age.

Also, expatriate workers who are above 40-years old can no longer renew their iqama and government is planning to deport them.

MOL has denied this rumors.

The ministry said this is a false news story and the government has no plans to take these kinds of the measure at all.

Professor of criminal psychology and head of academic studies at King Fahd Security College Dr. Nasser Ali Arifi said that the main motive behind spreading rumors is to destabilize the economy, spread chaos and harm the relationship between citizens and expatriates.

“Enemies of the country tend to create false rumors and others spread these without cross-checking the veracity of such news. Spreading rumors with the intention to harm society is punishable by law not only in the Kingdom but all around the world,” Arifi said.

He said that the ministry issues rules and directives through official websites and any citizen or expatriate can obtain information directly from official news sources or from the Saudi Press Agency.

OFW Who Died In Saudi Arabia; Possible Victim Of Maltreatment?

An OFW died in Saudi Arabia due to stroke but her family is skeptical about it . The reason— the bruises all over her body.
The remains of Ana Fe Velasco Bania ,38, who died on September 29 arrived  to the Philippines from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last Thursday.
Bania left to work in Saudi Arabia last year. Her contract is supposed to end this coming December and she was determined to come back stay in the country for good.
The cause of death stated on her death certificate was stroke or acute cerebrovascular accident but her family is doubtful on the real cause of her demise.

Ngunit duda ang pamilya ni Bania sa dahilan ng pagkamatay niya.
Her husband, Ferdinand received a video on October 4 from Bania’s friend where the OFW was crying and asking for help. In the said video, Bania said that she was sick and her employer was hurting her.
Francia Velasco, the dead OFW’s mother  also said that there is a possibility that Bania was being maltreated as they found bruises in her body, particularly on her knees and sides of her torso when they saw her remains at the mortuary.
Velasco narrates that her original employer was good to her, until September 23, her employer’s friend “borrowed” to work for him/her  only for 3 days but six days has passed but the OFW hasn’t returned yet. Her original employer looked for her until they found her at the hospital—dead.
The family of the OFW count on OWWA and other concerned government agencies to find justice for the death of their loved one.
Source: ABS-CBN News

Corruption Purge In Saudi Arabia, Saudi Princes and Top Officials Sacked

The world has been shocked with the sudden arrest of over about dozen royalties and top government officials only hours after the establishment of the anti-corruption body.
A new anti-corruption body, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, detained 11 princes, four sitting ministers and dozens of ex-ministers.
Among them is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire with investments in Twitter and Apple.
The new anti-corruption committee has the power to issue arrest warrants and travel bans. King Salaman also replaced the national guards and security chiefs.
Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said the status of the detainees would not influence “the firm and fair application of justice”, AFP news agency reports.
Three ousted ministers were replaced with Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Ayyaf Al Muqren for National Guard minister, Mohammed bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri for the Economy and Planning Minister, and Vice Admiral Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghifaili for Naval Forces Commander.
The committee, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has the authority to investigate, arrest, issue travel bans and freeze the assets of those it finds corrupt. He recently said the return of “moderate Islam” was key to his plans to modernize Saudi Arabia . The young Prince vowed to “eradicate the remnants of extremism very soon”.

330,000+ Expat in Saudi, Still Working Beyond 60 Years Old!

They said a worker should retire at the age of 60 or maybe 65 and live the rest of his life living a good life and taking good care of his grandchildren.  But this is not always the happening especially for Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs. Initially, if an OFW works abroad, everyone has a plan on how long he would work in other countries to provide the needs of the family.  No OFWs wants to work abroad for the rest of their lives living away from their family.
They said a worker should retire at the age of 60 or maybe 65 and live the rest of his life living a good life and taking good care of his grandchildren.  But this is not always the happening especially for Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs. Initially, if an OFW works abroad, everyone has a plan on how long he would work in other countries to provide the needs of the family.  No OFWs wants to work abroad for the rest of their lives living away from their family.

They said a worker should retire at the age of 60 or maybe 65 and live the rest of his life living a good life and taking good care of his grandchildren.

But this is not always the happening especially for Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs. Initially, if an OFW works abroad, everyone has a plan on how long he would work in other countries to provide the needs of the family.

No OFWs wants to work abroad for the rest of their lives living away from their family.

In Arab News report, it stated that more than 330,000 expatriate workers including Filipinos are working in the Kingdom are over the age of 60-years old.

The data is based on the statistics of workers in the first half of 2017.

OFW ID Distribution to Start Next Week - DOLE

The long wait is over for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who have been waiting for so long for their identification card (ID).  Starting next week, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will release the IDs to OFW to fast-track their government transaction.  IDs will be available for OFWs but only after they applied for it.

The long wait is over for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who have been waiting for so long for their identification card (ID).

Starting next week, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will release the IDs to OFW to fast-track their government transaction.

IDs will be available for OFWs but only after they applied for it.

Labor undersecretary Bernard Olalia, officer-in-charge administrator of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) confirmed the news that OFW ID will be rolled out in the first week of December.

Currently, memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the implementation of integrated DOLE system or iDOLE is being finalized.

Olalia said all agencies have already signed MOA for iDOLE except for DFA.

Sponsored Links

Through iDOLE system, OFW ID users can access their data in POEA, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Olalia added that after the DFA signs the MOA and data-sharing agreement, guidelines for OFW ID will be released. Issuance and application process for the OFW ID will be discussed in the guidelines.

Olalia said they are targeting to start the printing and distribution of the OFW ID either on Dec. 5 or 6 in time for the surge in the arrival of OFW for the Christmas holidays.

OFW lunched the OFW ID last July but guidelines were delayed due to concerns about some of the feature of the ID, however, DOLE said, the problem is already addressed.
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