Friday, August 18, 2017

Pinoys in Barcelona advised to be vigilant after deadly van attack


Filipinos in Barcelona are advised to remain vigilant after a van plowed into crowds killing at least 13 people and injuring over a hundred others, an official of the Philippine Embassy in Madrid, Spain said Friday.
"We have advised our kababayans na mag-ingat, 'wag masyadong maglalabas kung unnecessary...Of course hindi pa natin alam kung how normal things will be," Philippine Embassy in Madrid Consul General Dr. Emmanuel Fernandez said in an interview on radio dzBB.
He added that over 20,000 Filipinos are residing in Barcelona and nearby areas who are mostly working in domestic services or in restaurants.
Meanwhile, Filipinos can direct their concerns and seek assistance in the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Barcelona.
"Marami tayong Filipino diyan especially sa Barcelona mismo and nearby areas ng Barcelona...Meron tayong tinatawag na honorary consulate diyan sa Barcelona, ito'y isang opisina na pwedeng tumugon sa ano mang needs ng ating mga kababayan diyan and we are in a very close coordination with the honorary consul sa Barcelona," he said.
The injured Filipinos were a father and his five-year-old child. The father has sustained minor injuries, while the child was described as seriously injured and may require surgery.
Fernandez said that the family were Irish of Filipino descent visiting the popular tourist spot at the time of the incident.

2 Filipinos hurt in Barcelona van attack — PHL official


At least two Filipinos were hurt when a van crashed into a crowd in Las Ramblas District in Barcelona on Thursday, according to an official of the Philippine Embassy in Madrid, Spain.

In an interview over radio dzBB, Consul General Dr. Emmanuel Fernandez corrected the earlier figure of three Filipinos injured, saying there were only two.
Fernandez said the injured Filipinos were a father and his five-year-old child. The father has minor injuries, while the child was seriously injured and needs surgery.
In a later interview on News To Go on Friday, Fernandez said the five-year-old needs to have knee surgery, while the father only had minor injuries when he was hit on the side.
Fernandez added that the father, son, mother, and another child were visiting the popular tourist spot at the time of the incident. They were Irish citizens who came from Ireland but hail from Cebu.
"May isang pamilyang Pilipino na turista na kasama sa biktima ng naturang terrorist attack," he was quoted as saying.
The Department of Foreign Affairs did not release the names of the injured but said the Philippine Honorary Consulate went to the hospital to check on them.
The DFA said Honorary Consul Jordi Puig Roches reported that the mother and her daughter have been released from the hospital but that the father and his son are still under observation and are being assisted by the Irish Honorary Consul there.
Serious incident
Fernandez added that the incident, which officials are considering as a terrorist attack, is one of the most serious incidents in Spain.
He also said the police in Spain were swift in containing the situation.
"Ang immediate reaction nung nangyari 'yung insidente, nagsarahan 'yung mga business establishments along Las Ramblas atsaka 'yung mga neighboring areas. Kinordon off 'yung ibang streets, ibang alleys," Fernandez said in an interview on News To Go.
He clarified, though, that the situation is in control.
"Wala silang ine-expect na second attack although they continue to look for the driver of the van kasi unfortunately nakatakas 'yung driver ng van. Meron silang nahuling dalawang suspects but they were not the drivers," Fernandez said.
The consul general added that with prior terror attacks in Europe, such as in Paris, Belgium, and Germany, "more or less alam na rin ng Spain na nasa listahan na rin [sila]."
Security has thus been tightened. 
"Makikita mo when you go to Spain, ang security ay very tight. Madaming pulis na naka-deploy... In terms of preparation, actually preparado ang Spain," he said.
"Unfortunately, ang mga terrorists kasi napaka-creative nila eh. No matter how much you prepare, meron silang maiisip na ibang paraan para gawin 'yung kanilang gustong gawin. Although they did it in Nice, this time, ginawa nila ulit. They used a van, they rammed through a street, and killed a lot of people," Fernandez added.
PHL condemns attack
The Philippines joined the international community in condemning the terrorist attack.
"The Philippines condemns in the strongest terms this disturbing act of terror perpetrated by extremists against innocent men, women and children in Barcelona," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement.
MalacaƱang on Friday condoled with the victims.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the innocent victims who perished and those who got injured in Barcelona," presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was quoted in a Reuters report that he was in contact with authorities, and the priority was to attend to the injured.
The incident took place at the height of the tourist season in Barcelona, which is one of Europe's top travel destinations with at least 11 million visitors a year. — BAP/KG, GMA News

Evacuation plan for Pinoys in Guam still in place –consul general


The evacuation plan for Filipinos in Guam remains in place despite North Korea's decision to hold off its planned nuclear missile strike on the island, a report on QRT said Thursday.
"Mamanmanan natin, magmo-monitor tayo ng situation. Ayaw naman nating magkaroon sila ng problema just in case meron tayong evacuation na hindi naman coordinated," said Consul General Marciano de Borja.
The report said in case of an attack, Filipinos will be evacuated by plane.
"Nasa contingency ng ating pamahalaan na magpadala ng commercial flights o military aircraft para po meron naman tayong magamit para sa paglikas ng ating mga kababayan," De Borja said.
An official news agency in North Korea earlier reported that leader Kim Jong Un received a report from his military on its plans to fire missiles towards Guam and said he will watch the actions of the United States for a while before making a decision.
North Korea issued the threat after US President Donald Trump pronounced that Pyongyang will be met with "fire and fury" if it continues to threaten the United States.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has placed Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands under Alert Level 1 amid North Korea's nuclear missile threat.
Under Alert Level 1 (precautionary phase), Filipinos in Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota are urged to be aware of unfolding events and to continue monitoring reports from reliable media outlets and official advisories. —KBK, GMA News

No Pinoys hurt in Sierra Leone mudslides –DFA

No Filipinos were hurt in the massive mudslides that struck Sierra Leone on 

No Filipinos were hurt in the massive mudslides that struck Sierra Leone on Monday, leaving hundreds dead, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday.Monday, leaving hundreds dead, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday.
The DFA, citing Philippine Ambassador to Abuja Shirley Ho-Vicario, said the embassy has not received any report that any of the 115 Filipinos in Sierra Leone were affected by the mudslides that engulfed houses in Regent town.
"We are closely monitoring the situation to make sure that all our kababayans in Sierra Leone are safe and accounted for," Ho-Vicario said.
A mountainside collapsed on Monday morning in Regent, burying dozens of homes as people slept and killing at least 400. Women and children were hit the hardest in what is one of Africa's deadliest mudslides in decades.
Rescue workers have uncovered about 400 bodies so far, but that number is likely to surpass 500 as the search persists, Freetown's chief coroner Seneh Dumbuya said.
DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano expressed the Philippines' condolences to the families of those who perished in the tragedy.
"We extend our sympathy and prayers to Sierra Leone and its people who lost loved ones in the mudslides in Freetown," he said in a statement.
The mudslides left some 3,000 people homeless while another 600 are missing, according to the Red Cross. —KBK/KVD, GMA News

Contingency plans in place in case of Korean conflict – PHL envoy



Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Raul Hernandez said on Tuesday that contingency plans for the repatriation of Filipinos were in place in case fighting broke out on the peninsula.
"The plan involves several exit points in the south where our kababayans will be picked up for repatriation to our country," Hernandez explained.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) estimated that there were more than 65,000 Filipinos in South Korea.
"We constantly update the plan which entails coordination with our area coordinators and Filipino community leaders," the envoy added.
Tensions in the Korean peninsula rose after North Korea tested a ballistic missile and US President Donald Trump responded with threats of "fire and fury."
Nevertheless, Hernandez said it was "business as usual in [South] Korea."
"Filipinos here are monitoring the situation and are constantly in touch with the Embassy for new developments," the ambassador added.
On Tuesday, Filipinos and government officials living in Guam expressed relief, while remaining alert, after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would wait and see before firing any missiles.
Hernandez had spoken with DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano over the phone on Sunday to iron out coordination matters should missiles be launched from North Korea.
Cayetano had likewise spoken with Consul General Marciano de Borja in Guam.
The Philippine Consulate in Guam had planned to use chartered planes to fly Filipinos back to the Philippines. They also planned to open the consulate to shelter some of the 34,000 Filipinos on the island in the event of a missile strike. — Margaret Claire Layug/DVM, GMA News

Boycott on Qatar adds to woes of Pinoy, other migrant workers



DOHA - An Arab embargo on Qatar is inflicting pain on foreign migrant workers struggling amid an oil slump and disruption of deliveries for large construction projects linked to the 2022 soccer World Cup.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) imposed sanctions on fellow US ally Qatar in June and cut all transport links with the country, accusing it of supporting terrorism, a charge Doha denies.
To get around the boycott Qatar has flown in food from Turkey and Iran and chartered ships via Oman to bring in construction materials needed for World Cup projects.
But the feud is making life harder for some foreign workers in Qatar, already faced by layoffs caused by low oil prices and a work-sponsorship system that restricts their movement.
Fresh vegetables usually trucked across Qatar's land border with Saudi Arabia, a route now blocked, have increased in price.
That is indebting some workers from places like India and Nepal who typically earn 800 rial ($219.78) a month and who make up about 90 percent of Qatar's 2.7 million population.
South Asian workers have been left stranded on Qatari farms in Saudi Arabia without food after their Qatari employers fled to Doha in June, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
Last week dozens of Indian and African workers at hotels in Doha were told to take extended unpaid leave and return to their countries because of a drop in occupancy caused by the embargo.
"Our rooms were filled with Saudis on weekends but they don't come to Qatar any more. We can't have workers cleaning empty rooms," said a Doha hotel manager, declining to give his or his company's name.
Salaries delayed
Qatar has denied reports of lower hotel occupancy rates and said its preparations for the World Cup have not been affected.
The tiny Gulf state's economy, buoyed by vast natural gas reserves, can weather years of sanctions, officials say.
But any pause in the flow of construction materials could delay projects and leave migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation, said Gulf labor researcher Mustafa Qadri. "The impact could reverberate to South Asia, the Philippines and East Africa where migrants' families depend heavily on remittances."
At an Indian restaurant near Doha's airport on Monday, Japesh Afsal, a waiter serving fish curry to laborers, said rising prices had hurt business. "Fish prices are up. If we raise our prices this will be hard for customers," he said.
Raji, a Bangladeshi crane-operator, said his manager told him that his pay could be delayed next month because the company was running out of steel, previously imported from the UAE.
A work-sponsorship system widely enforced in the Gulf and known in Qatar as "kafala" requires foreign workers to get their employer's consent to change jobs or leave the country. Qatar says it has ended kafala but some migrants still work without proper access to water or shelter from sun, rights groups say.
The crisis may bring change. On Wednesday, Qatar announced a plan to allow Indians and dozens of other nationalities to enter Qatar on arrival without a visa.
Qatar's emir in a rare public address last month thanked the country's foreign residents for their contributions.
"Foreigners built this country. Qatar knows it cannot survive without them," said Marie Trichia, a barista at Doha's Gate Mall.  Reuters

Pinoy residents in Guam relieved after NoKor holds off attack


Filipino residents and government officials living in Guam expressed relief that North Korea held off its plan to fire missiles towards the area.
In a QRT interview on Tuesday, Philippine Consul General Marciano de Borja, however, said authorities remained alert amid the threats.
"Actually itong umaga nga napakaganda ng sinag ng araw, inaasahan nga natin na magkakaroon ng resolusyon itong nangyayaring tensyon at lumabas nga 'yung balita na nagbabago na nga 'yung isip ng pamunuan ng North Korea at maaaring umatras na rin," de Borja said.
"Nabuhayan kaagad ng loob 'yung mga tao gayunpaman kami bilang konsulado dito, minarapat namin na kunin muna ang pahayag ng government of Guam. Wala pa ring pagbabago 'yung sinasabi nila dahil hanggang sa ngayon, di pa rin naman malinaw na ma-confirm 'yung sinasabing nag-back down daw ang North Korea," de Borja added.
An official news agency in North Korea earlier reported that leader Kim Jong Un received a report from his military on its plans to fire missiles towards Guam and said he will watch the actions of the United States for a while before making a decision.
North Korea issued the threat after US President Donald Trump pronounced that Pyongyang will be met with "fire and fury" if it continues to threaten the United States.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has placed Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands under Alert Level 1 amid North Korea's nuclear missile threat.
Under Alert Level 1 (precautionary phase), Filipinos in Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota are urged to be aware of unfolding events and to continue monitoring reports from reliable media outlets and official advisories.
De Borja called on Filipino residents in Guam to remain vigilant and monitor the situation within their area.
"Panatiliin po muna natin 'yung alert level 1, ito naman po ay precautionary. Pinapakiusapan po natin ang ating mga kababayan dito sa Guam saka sa Northern Marianas na pagpatuloy po 'yung pagmasid natin, pagmonitor ng balita, 'yung ating grab bag, mga pasaporte," he said.
He also mentioned that despite threats, tourists still push through with visiting Guam.
"Normal ang pamumuhay dito, di naman po nagkakaroon ng pagbabawas sa hotel reservations, tour packages. Mas maraming pumupunta kaysa umaalis. Talaga pong normal ang pamumuhay at mapayapa ang kapaligiran dito," de Borja said.  Anna Felicia Bajo/MDM, GMA News

Fil-Am teacher arraigned for punching neo-Nazi in 2016



A Filipino-American middle school teacher has been arraigned in court for punching a neo-Nazi, among other actions, The Daily Californian reported Monday.
Yvette Felarca, founding member of activist group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), was formally arraigned in Sacramento on one count of assault, one count of participating in an illegal riot, and one count of causing a riot.
In 2016, the group held a counter-protest against the Traditionalist Worker Party, which  California TV station ABC10 describes as "a front for neo-Nazi sympathizers."
The protests led to a full-fledged riot that the Los Angeles Times reported had lasted for 20 minutes and ended with seven protesters stabbed. Felarca sustained a bloody blow to the head during the riot.
According to CBS San Francisco, Felarca's arraignment caused a protest outside the court in support of the teacher, who insists the charges should be dropped as she believes standing up to fascism is not a crime.
Felarca told The Guardian that one of the reasons behind her arrest was to try to "demoralize and scare" her from opposing "[US President Donald] Trump and his neo-Nazi supporters."
Felarca, a teacher at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, said, "I’m certainly not going to stop organizing and speaking out.”
Her lawyer Shanta Driver argued that police stepped in too late and failed to keep the peace, driving Felarca to punch the man in self-defense.
Driver added that a video of the incident was "partial and incomplete."
Far right and white supremacist groups in the US have gained international attention after holding a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last week. One of the attendees of the "Unite The Right" rally drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one Rie Takumi/BM, GMA News

CSO Statement to the ASEAN High Level Conference on Social Protection


August 15, 2017

In 2013, the ASEAN Heads of State adopted the “ASEAN Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection” with a vision “to uplift the quality of life of ASEAN People by 2025”. As described in the declaration “social protection covers, but is not limited to, social welfare and development, social safety-nets, social insurance, social assistance, social services, in ASEAN Member States”.  This was a historic act being the first time that the ASEAN formally recognized in a document that Social Protection is a Right that should be enjoyed by the people in the region and which the States have a duty to fulfill.
While there is a Regional Framework and Action Plan adopted in 2015, there is virtually no mechanism for CSO engagement in the crafting of social protection measures responsive to the realities of ordinary men and women and vulnerable groups. CSOs and trade unions lack information on the progress of the framework and action plan as participation in the ASEAN has been traditionally confined to the business sector. Furthermore, no country-level consultations have been undertaken to follow through on the framework and action plan.
The ASEAN Declaration on Social Protection deserves to be implemented and budgeted.  There are no clear accountabilities, resource allocations and participatory mechanisms that would ensure each ASEAN state undertakes or improves social protection measures. Due to the ASEAN principle of non-interference, each government is effectively left on its own to operationalize ASEAN’s declared social protection aspirations.
Furthermore, an examination of government spending by ASEAN countries show highly inadequate support for social protection.  A 2015 study by International Labor Organization reveals that seven (7) out of nine (9) ASEAN countries spent less than 3% of their GDP for social protection, which is not even half of the 6% of GDP spending recommended by the ILO.
The continued low priority given to social protection is distressing considering that the ASEAN integration process and the development path pursued by ASEAN governments have given rise to greater inequality and the further social and economic marginalization of many.
Market liberalization, deregulation and privatization have led to the loss of traditional livelihoods and means of survival, and further exploitation of workers.  These have also led to diminished public access to affordable essential services, such as electricity, water, healthcare and education in most ASEAN member countries.
Furthermore, while some Southeast Asian States have registered impressive economic growth,  majority of the people continue to experience social insecurity, increasing poverty and vulnerability, widening inequality, and life-threatening impacts of severe environmental degradation.
Of growing concern is the increasing informalization of formal labor and precariousness of work. Nearly sixty per cent (60%) of the workforce in Asia are in the informal economy, enduring precarious working and living conditions.  Most of these workers are female who are compelled into this work due to discrimination in the formal economy. On the other hand, workers in the formal sector receive measly wages under unacceptable working environments while being deprived of labor rights such as security of tenure and the right to organize. Discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, age, race, among others, are still rampant. Migrant workers suffer these same sordid realities with the added burden of being unable to access even the limited social protection programs available both in their countries of origin and destination. 
The harsh impact of climate change on people’s livelihoods, food and shelter worsen the situation.  According to Global Risk Insights, Southeast Asia is most vulnerable to the worst effects of global warming.
Failure to address the root causes of systemic problems such as poverty, inequality, discrimination, disasters due to climate change, terrorism and conflicts make peoples more exposed to contingencies, risks and shocks.
As officials meet from August 15 to 17 for the ASEAN High Level Conference on Social Protection, we, representatives of civil society, trade unions and people’s organizations in Southeast Asia, call on ASEAN leaders to take action on the following demands:
1.    Expand ASEAN framework on social protection to ensure the progressive realization of a life of dignity for all and which embraces the principles of human rights and social justice. Social protection must move from being targeted  to the most vulnerable in the form of a social safety net to being ultimately universal, covering each individual, as a matter of human right to a life of dignity.

2.    Implement transformative social protection programs to address power imbalances by empowering people, expanding and institutionalizing peoples’ participation, and tackling structural causes of poverty, inequality, and roots of vulnerability.
3.    Ensure that social protection is comprehensive, institutionalized through legislations with clear financing, monitoring and implementation mechanisms, and integrated in a country’s national development strategy.
4.    ASEAN governments must heed the demands of the people and comply with their obligations consistent with internationally-accepted human rights and labor rights standards.
The following are specific recommendations that require urgent action:
1.    Ensuring Availability and Accessibility of Social Protection by addressing issues of coverage, eligibility, affordability, participation and physical access.

·         Social protection should be made available for all people throughout their life cycle and independent of labor market status.

·         Social protection should be inclusive and universal as well as tailored to address the specific needs and contexts of marginalized people such as persons with disabilities, indigenous groups, LGBTQI, the elderly, women, migrant workers, workers in the informal economy, farmers and fisherfolk.

·         Legislate measures or mechanisms for people participation in the planning, design, implementation, and monitoring of Social Protection programs.
·         Create an independent monitoring and complaints body with CSO and trade unions participation that will ensure compliance, enforcement, and implementation of universal and comprehensive Social Protection.

·         Guarantee a universal and comprehensive social protection system through sustainable and solidarity-based financing, just taxes and compensation from accountable developed countries for the impact of climate change.  Specifically, allocate sufficient amount of resources, not going below the 6% of GDP-ILO recommended expenditure for social protection and keep increasing this percentage until it fulfills the rights of people. Also, expand fiscal space by increasing public budget and instituting effective tax and fiscal reforms, and creating a regional social protection fund.

2.    Ensuring Universal and Comprehensive Social Protection Programs
·         Implement a comprehensive social protection system that covers decent work for all including informal sector workers; solidarity-based and sustainable livelihoods; right to land and other productive resources; right to food including food security, sovereignty and safety; access to essential services (healthcare, water, education, housing, energy, and transportation); and social pension for older people and adequate income support for children, persons with disability, and calamity survivors or climate refugees.
·         Ensure direct assistance to all, especially the most vulnerable.
·         Realize a universal healthcare system across ASEAN.
·         Increase knowledge and capacity of all stakeholders regarding Social Protection.
·         Give recognition to the most vulnerable groups to ensure non-discrimination on any basis (e.g. adopt SOGIE)
·         Adopt a living wage across ASEAN. Appropriate mechanisms should be adopted to avoid people’s incomes falling below the poverty level.
·         Adopt the decent work programme of the ILO, as well as the core labor standards comprising more particularly of the right to organize and the right to collective bargaining, social dialogue, non-discrimination, banning of child labor and of forced labor.
·         Eliminate existing gender inequality in employment, the gender pay gap, inadequate maternity protections, unpaid care work and discrimination against female workers due to their family responsibilities. Implement concrete measures to enable the social and economic empowerment of women and LGBTQI. These include providing opportunities for skills development and vocational training as well as support for women entrepreneurs and women in leadership roles.

3.    Strengthening ASEAN Instruments and Mechanisms

·         Trade unions, civil society organizations, and academia should be able to engage  through institutionalized participatory mechanisms in established ASEAN processes, including the ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting (ALMM), the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the ASEAN Commission on Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), the Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers (ACMW), and other ASEAN-level committee created to formulate and implement the various social declarations. This may be institutionalized through a Terms of Reference between CSOs and ASEAN.

·         Adopt the ASEAN Instrument on the Promotion and Protection of the Right of Migrant Workers to implement the Cebu Declaration on Migrant Workers.

·         Develop a mechanism that would increase coverage and allow portability of social protection for migrant workers, particularly for women migrant workers.

·         Benchmark the 16 Social Protection Recommendations of the 9th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor in Vientianne, Laos, in October 2016.
·         Endorse to ASEAN member-States the ratification of the ILO Convention 102 (Social Security) Minimum Standards 1952.

The full and effective realization of the measures embodied in this statement contributes in the attainment of a life of dignity for all ASEAN people. The adoption and implementation of the above recommendations place primacy on the rights and interests of people and their communities over markets and profits. We put forward these recommendations in pursuit of the full development of human potential based on equality, solidarity and sustainability, and through democratic and participatory processes.

Endorsed by:
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus
Buhay na may Dignidad para sa Lahat (DIGNIDAD)
Cambodian Grassroots Cross-Sector Network (CG-CSN)
Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA)
Civika Asian Development Academy
Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE)
Confederation of Indonesia People Movement (KPRI)
Farmers for Farmers Network (FFF-Cambodia)
Galang Philippines
Independent Farmers Association for Community Development (IFACD-Cambodia)
Inkrispena (Indonesia)
Helpage International
HomeNet Southeast Asia (HNSEA)
Konfederasi Serikat Nasional/National Union Confederation (KSN)-Indonesia
Network for Transformative Social Protection (NSTP)
SENTRO (Philippines)
Social Action for Change (Cambodia)
Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers (TFAW)
ASEAN Watch, Thailand
Think Centre (Singapore)
Tuong Lai Centre for Health Education and Community Development (Tuong Lai Centre-Vietnam)
Women and Gender Institute-Miriam College (WAGI-MC)
Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau
ASEAN Services Employees Trade Union Council (ASETUC)
Associated Labor Union (Philippines)
Migrant Forum in Asia
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
PhilRights
RUPEL
-- 
Interim Secretariat
ACSC/APF 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Guam residents remain calm amid North Korea's missile threat



Residents of Guam have remained calm and are on a business-as-usual mode despite North Korea's threat to attack the Pacific Island state, a Filipino resident said Tuesday.
"Ang mga tao dito ay sanay na sanay na sa threat na 'yan kaya kalmadong kalmado. Business as usual, parang nagbabakasyon lang lahat, so hindi iniinda ng mga ordinary residente itong threat ni Kim. Kung tutuusin, wala lang, kalma lang," Gina Tabonares, a freelance journalist, said in an interview on radio dzBB.
Tabonares said that Guam residents are likewise used to threats of earthquake and storms which have strengthened their resiliency.
"Unang-una kasi sanay po kami sa threat ng lindol, sa threat ng bagyo. 'Yung resiliency nabubuo na kahit 'yung mga bata hindi sila nagpa-panic. Kasi ang Guam nasa ilalim ng maraming bulkan na palagi kaming natre-tremor pero hindi kami nayayanig. Guam is Catholic-dominated so 'yung state ng Guam ay strong and at the same time, 'yung state namin sa military ay very strong too," she said.
North Korea issued the threat after US President Donald Trump said that Pyongyang will be met with "fire and fury" if it continues to threaten the United States.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has placed Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands under Alert Level 1 amid North Korea's nuclear missile threat.
Under Alert Level 1 (precautionary phase), Filipinos in Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota are urged to be aware of unfolding events and to continue monitoring reports from reliable media outlets and official advisories.
The DFA also assured that contingency plans are in place for 65,000 Filipinos in South Korea and 42, 835 in Guam.
Meanwhile, Tabonares said that Guam's Homeland Security has disseminated fliers and has dispatched its officials to take care of each sector.
"Halimbawa, education committee, 'yung head ng committee on education will take care of the schools and 'yung mga teachers kung paano idi-drill 'yung mga bata in the event na magkaroon nga ng ganitong crisis," she said.
"And at the same time, kung nasa ospital ka naman, kung health committee ka, you'll take care of the facilities and you will ready all the facilities in the event na magkaroon ng kaguluhan. So kanya-kanyang readiness plans. Palibhasa nga palagi kaming may bagyo, sanay ang mga tao sa mga ganitong readiness," she added. —Marlly Rome Bondoc/KG, GMA News

Pinoys in Guam confident US can thwart NoKor missile attack



Amid North Korea's threat to send nuclear missiles to the waters off Guam, Filipinos in the US territory are staying put, noting the US military's capability to thwart such an attack.
"My family and I would not leave Guam. I'm confident with the US military's capabilities," said 48-year-old Nette Trinidad, an accounts payable specialist in a Tamuning-based private office, in an interview online.
The threat came in reaction to US President Donald Trump's warning to North Korea that it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States.
Guam is home to two large US military bases.
Under this alert leve, Filipinos in Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota are urged to be aware of unfolding events and to continue monitoring reports from reliable media outlets and official advisories.
Like Trinidad,  Charlemagne Parial, a 32-year-old computer support specialist in Guam Seventh-Day Adventist Clinic, is not going to let his fear affect his life as an OFW in Guam.
"Mas iniisip ko yung responsibilities ko dito, for my family, and with my employer. We have bills to pay so hindi kami puwedeng basta umalis dito," he said.
"Ayoko rin mag-panic kasi magpa-panic din misis ko. I trust the Lord more than any threats na dumating," Parial added.
Parial said he doesn't believe that the North Korea would fulfill its threat. "Personally, bluff lang ang NK. Wala silang pera to waste a test missile dito," he said.
"Sigurado na pupulbusin sila ng US for revenge if ever that happens," he added.
Manuel Felipe, 47, IT specialist at the Philippine National Bank-Guam Branch, will not leave unless advised, too.
“The Government of Guam has not escalated the emergency situation as yet. No plans to vacate Guam at this time unless there is eminent danger, at which case I might reconsider my options,” he said during the online interview.

“Like most residents, I am very concerned that Guam is getting the brunt of the aggression between the United States and Korea. However, being afraid will not help anyone. I remain optimistic that Guam will have the full protection of the US and the support of its allies," Felipe added. —KBK, GMA News

Pinoys in Guam urged to take precautions amid NoKor missile threat



Filipinos in Guam have been urged to take precautions amid North Korea's threat to launch four ballistic missiles near Guam's waters as the Philippines pushes for diplomacy in resolving the threat.
In her report on Balitanghali, Sandra Aguinaldo said that according to Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano the Philippines is urging all sides to be open to dialogue to prevent the further escalation of hostilities between North Korea and the US.
He added that diplomats, whether they are professional, retired, or in defense establishments worldwide are rushing to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.
Cayetano also called on Filipinos in Guam to get in touch with the Philippine Consulate and to continue with their regular routines.
"Walang natutulog sa region natin and around the world maghanap ng diplomatic solution dito, but preparation helps a lot. Worrying does nothing," Cayetano said.
Jiggy Manicad got hold of a copy of a pamphlet that was distributed to Guam residents advising them what to do in the event of a missile threat, that he included in his report on News To Go on Monday:

AMID NOKOR MISSILE THREAT PHL contingency plan involves chartered planes evacuating Pinoys from Guam



The Philippine Consulate in Guam has submitted to the Philippine government a contingency plan amid North Korea's missile launch threat against the US.
A News TV Live report said the 30-page plan, submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs, details the evacuation of Filipinos in the US island territory in the Pacific Ocean using chartered planes.
The plan also reports the current situation of the Filipinos in Guam.
The report also said that the Philippine Consulate has prepared an alternative office for its officials that comes with a generator, a big yard, and a living area.
This will also serve as an evacuation center for Filipinos, the report added.
There are currently 34,000 Filipino passport holders in Guam, according to Philippine Consul General Marciano de Borja.
Earlier this week, North Korea said it was considering plans for a missile strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam.
The Department of National Defense has said that it is on alert for any untoward incident that may affect the Philippines in case of a missile strike by North Korea.  Anna Felicia Bajo/MDM/ALG, GMA News

Anger over calls to limit air-con for Hong Kong maids



HONG KONG, China - Calls to restrict air conditioning for Hong Kong's domestic maids amid sweltering summer temperatures were dubbed inhumane by rights groups Friday, after a politician suggested helpers should get "used to the hot weather".
The southern Chinese city is home to over 340,000 migrant domestic workers mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, but concerns have grown over their welfare after several high-profile abuse cases.
The maids are required by law to live with their employers which rights campaigners say makes it hard for them to escape mistreatment.
One employer's Facebook post went viral this week after she expressed outrage that her helper had switched on the air conditioning in her room at night without permission, as temperatures topped 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) with high humidity.
"I'm very angry," the woman -- identified only as Wong -- said, according to a screenshot of the now deleted post on a closed group for Hong Kong employers of foreign helpers, published by Apple Daily newspaper.
Wong described her maid to be "audacious to the extreme", and said that she would remove the air conditioning switch.
While she was widely criticized by some residents, others supported her.
Politician Michael Lee, who heads a group for employers of maids, said in a radio interview that helpers should be accustomed to the weather as they came from "hot, hot" countries and called on employers to establish firm house rules.
"If they come from the hot country, they should get used to the hot weather," Lee later told AFP.
He conceded that the temperatures of recent weeks could mean helpers should be allowed air-con at night, but only so they can continue in their household duties.
"Otherwise she can't sleep, then she can't work," said Lee, a district councilor and spokesman for the pro-business Liberal Party's Taskforce on Foreign Helper's Problems, which speaks for the employers of maids.
"I recommend all employers in Hong Kong set up house rules saying what they can and cannot do," added Lee. 
Campaigners for helpers' rights said limiting air conditioning was "ridiculous, unfair and inhumane".
"To regulate the foreign domestic helpers in using air conditioning is inhumane and will cause deterioration to their health," said former domestic helper Eni Lestari, spokeswoman for the Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body.
Hong Kong made international headlines after an employer was jailed for six years in 2015 for the horrific abuse of her former helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih.
Rights groups have also criticized exploitative city recruitment agencies that extract exorbitant fees from migrants.
Campaigners have long sought reforms, including ending the "two-week rule" where domestic workers must leave the city 14 days after they quit a job, unless they can find other employment within that time.
They have also called for the abolition of the "live-in" rule.
But so far the government has shown no indication it will relax the regulations. — Agence France-Presse

NOKOR THREAT Pinoys in Guam see no reason to panic, evacuate –consul general



Filipinos in Guam see no reason to evacuate despite the missile threat from North Korea, according to Philippine Consul General Marciano de Borja.
In an interview on QRT on Friday, De Borja said this was the general sentiment of Filipinos during his dialogue with Filipino businessmen and leaders of Filipino communities on the island.
"Sa mga pakikipag-usap ko sa mga Pilipinong namumuno ng mga organization dito at 'yung mga may negosyo at mga professionals, 'di naman sila gaanong nangangamba," De Borja said.
He said it was not the first time North Korea threatened to send a missile to Guam, which is a US territory, and that the government of Guam has repeatedly assured them that the situation is under control.
"Actually noong 2013 nagsimula yung kanilang pagsasabi na mayroon silang capability na they can launch ballistic missiles to US territories, including Guam. Kaya noon pa lang nagkaroon na ng paghahanda," De Borja said.
"Kaya naman yung ating mga kababayan dito hindi naman nagpa-panic o wala naman silang indication na gusto nilang lumikas," he added.
De Borja pointed out that many Filipinos in Guam are already well established, thus making it difficult for them to leave the island on a whim.
He also said Filipinos in Guam are confident that Guam, being home to two big US military bases, can thwart any missile attack from North Korea.
"We are not worried"
Meanwhile, at least three Filipinos based in Guam said in a 24 Oras report by GMA News Sandra Aguinaldo that they are not worried about the situation, though they understand if their families in the Philippines are worried about them.
"Hindi naman ako nababahala pero siyempre world news na siya so yung mga kapatid ko text sila ng text na umuwi na daw ako," one Filipino said.
"I'm very confident na kayang depensahan ng US military ang Guam since we have a US air force here tsaka US naval base," another said
"Hindi po ako nababahala kasi kahit nasaan ka pa, kung talagang panahon mo na, wala kang magagawa," a third Filipino said.
The 24 Oras report said there are 163,000 people residing in Guam, of which 42,800 are either Filipino workers or Filipino-Americans. —KBK, GMA News
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