Friday, March 31, 2017

Reshuffle looms over POEA after discovery of 'anomaly' involving direct hires

Personnel of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) may be reshuffled soon following the discovery of an "anomaly" involving the deployment of directly hired OFWs, a report on "24 Oras" said Thursday.
The report, by GMA News' JP Soriano, said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has tightened its rules on the issuance of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) to OFWs as a result of the discovery.
Citing DOLE, the report said some 50 to 100 OFWs directly hired by employers are deployed every day despite the ban on direct hires.
Section 123 of POEA rules and regulations states that "No employer shall directly hire an overseas Filipino worker for overseas employment." This rule, however, does not cover highly-skilled workers like doctors and nurses.
Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say blamed "fixers" within the POEA for the deployment of direct hires who are not covered by the exemptions.
"Marami ang hindi qualified sa exemption na pinadadala sa 'min ng POEA, meaning ina-approve nila. And then we are left with the dirty job of disapproving," Say said in the report.
"Nadikubre ko na totoo na may anomaly," he added. "May mga fixers doon na nagde-demand ng pera from applicants."
Under Section 124, those allowed to directly hire OFWs are members of the diplomatic corps, international organizations, heads of states and government officials with the rank of at least deputy minister, and other employers as may be allowed by the DOLE Secretary.
The POEA has yet to comment on the issue, the report said. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Duterte says OFWs among his inspirations in war vs. drugs

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday acknowledged the sacrifices of OFWs, saying it is one of the reasons why he has been pursuing an intensified campaign against illegal drugs even during his stint as mayor of Davao City.
In his speech during the oath-taking of government officials in Malaca├▒ang, Duterte said during his visits to other countries, he has heard "sad stories" about OFWs, including Filipinas who were raped or sexually abused and domestic helpers who were forced to serve numerous employers.
"I have been to many places. I have been to the Middle East. You know, the husband is working in one place, the wife in another country. The so many sad stories I hear about our women being raped, abused sexually," Duterte said.
About Filipino domestic helpers, he said: "Pagka empleyado ka ng isang pamilya, at yung kapatid ng asawa [ng employer] wala silang helper, magtrabaho ka pa rin dun. Kapag sa compound, nandun yung son-in-law [ng employer], magta-trabaho ka pa rin dun. So matatapos sila [sa trabaho], sunrise na."
Like slaves from Africa
Duterte said this makes OFWs "no different from slaves bought from Africa."
"Kaya 'yung iba, out of sheer desperation, nagpapakamatay, lumulukso sa bintana," Duterte said.
The President said it breaks his heart that some hardworking OFWs would come home only to find out that their children have turned to illegal drugs.
"Diyan ako umiinit talaga... Talagang umiinit ako," he said.
"That is why nung mayor ako, nakita ko 'yung impact, I made no bones about my hatred. I said, 'If you do drugs in my city, if you destroy our daughters and sons, I'll just have to kill you.' I repeated the same warning nung nag-presidente ako, ang rightly so," he added.
Duterte has been widely criticized for his violent anti-drug campaign, which local and international human rights groups have linked to thousands of drug-related killings.
Police figures show that legitimate police operations have led to the deaths of more than 2,600 drug personalities since July 1, 2016 when its war on drugs started under the Duterte administration.
Its statistics also point to more than 6,000 deaths under investigation—including those involving drug suspects—for the same period. —KBK, GMA News

Pinoy gets six years in Malaysia for stealing cellphones

An unemployed Filipino man was sentenced to six years in prison for stealing cellphones from two women at a shopping complex in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, a report on Daily Express said.
Mohd Shi Ben received three years in jail for stealing a phone from Sabturiah Tei Teck Sen at the first floor of the Centre Point Sabah complex at 8:30 pm on March 11.
Ben was handed another three years for snatching another phone from a Syarfa Md Hassan at 9 p.m. in the same mall on the same day.
Prosecuting officer Insp. James Paran told the court that a security guard witnessed Ben take Sabturiah's phone from her trouser pocket while she was on her way home. The guard reportedly chased and caught the fleeing suspect.
Magistrate Cindy Mc Juce Balitus declared Ben guilty on March 22.
The Filipino, a IMM13 visa holder, will be referred to the Immigration Department after serving his sentence.
An IMM13 visa is awarded to Filipino refugees to allow them to move, stay, study, and work in Sabah. It was introduced in 1999 to solve the problem of illegal immigrants moving to the island, which is relatively close to southern Philippines.
They have been the subject of controversy as of late due to fake ones allegedly being made and issued in Sabah. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Asian community rattled by Trump immigration policies

The debate surrounding US President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown has focused almost entirely on the Latino community, leaving other groups affected – notably Asians – largely out of the discourse, experts say.
Of the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, some 80 percent are from Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America. But the second largest group -- 1.5 million -- are from Asia, according to government figures and researchers.
The majority hail from China, India, the Philippines and South Korea, representing the fastest-growing segments of unauthorized immigrants in the United States since 2000, according to the Pew Research Center and the Migration Policy Institute.
The number of unauthorized immigrants from India, for example, grew by about 130,000 from 2009 to 2014, to an estimated half a million, according to Pew.
And yet Asians have often been overlooked in the current debate over illegal immigration, which has mainly been cast by the Trump administration as a Mexican issue that can be tackled by building a wall along the US-Mexico border.
"Asians in the United States have not received the same sort of focus as people from Mexico and Latin America," said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration lawyer and professor at Cornell Law School. 
"It may be more sociological than anything else but they are certainly concerned, as everyone else, about the new enforcement policies."
Joon Bang, executive director of the Korean American Coalition in Los Angeles, said that since Trump's election in November he has witnessed mounting fear within the Korean community over the president's immigration policies.
"To give you an idea... we normally get about 60 calls a month regarding immigration issues and since Trump was elected we've had an average of about 150 calls per month," Bang said.
"It's all fear-related, from people with or without status, to those with a visa or in the process of applying for citizenship."
He said the anxiety is such that in one instance a Korean woman in Los Angeles who was domestically abused refused to go to the police for fear she and her family would be deported.
Wait it out 
While most of the Latino undocumented immigrants cross into the United States by slipping through the US-Mexico border, those from Asian countries typically arrive on tourist or student visas and then overstay their allotted time.
And unlike immigrants from Mexico or Central America, they usually don't come from a poor background and have immigration petitions in the pipeline.
Bang said that many undocumented Asians, especially Koreans, have taken advantage of Obama-era executive policies on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).
These defer deportation for unauthorized immigrants who grew up in the United States and for parents of American citizens or legal residents.
"There is a demographic among the Asian community that wants to take advantage of this, so that they can be seen... and come out of the shadow," Bang said.
The concern now, however, is that these programs face an uncertain future under the Trump administration.
Yale-Loehr said he has counseled in recent months a number of undocumented students at Cornell who fear for their future and are unsure where to turn.
"Some of them have come in for a formal immigration consultation to determine whether they have other avenues to become legal, such as political asylum or marrying a US citizen for love," he said. 
"Sometimes they just want to vent, talk about how hard it is, and worry whether they will be able to continue their studies at Cornell."
He said given the current uncertainty on immigration, his advice is often to just lay low and wait it out.
"Many times they have no immigration options and it's very frustrating because we don't have a solution for them," Yale-Loehr said. "But there is nothing we can do right now." — Agence France-Presse

Pinay caregiver in California nabbed for stealing from patients

A Filipina caregiver in Palos Verdes Estates in Los Angeles County has been arrested for allegedly stealing from her patients.
In a post on Facebook, the Palos Verdes Estates Police urges victims of Ma "Rose" Licuanan to come forward and help them in their investigation on the suspect.

According to the post, Licuanan is currently being held without bail for stealing credit cards from elderly victims while in their service.
Detectives found probable cause to believe that the 49-year-old resident of Torrance, California, took a credit card from the elderly victim who filed a police report against her.
She is believed to have copied other credit card numbers and used them to make fraudulent transactions online.
Police recovered stolen property and credit cards belonging to different victims when they served a search warrant for Licuanan's  residence and vehicles on March 21.
The LA County District Attorney's office filed four felony counts and two misdemeanor counts against Licuanan whose aliases include Rosario Licuanan, Marosario Mendoza Licuanan, Maria Licuanan, and Rose Licuanan.
Victims of Licuanan or persons with information on the caregiver were encouraged to contact Detective Sergeant Luke Hellinga at (310) 378-4211. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Thursday, March 30, 2017

GenSan fisherman back home after 58-day sea ordeal

MANILA, Philippines - A young fisherman flew home to the Philippines on Wednesday after being given up for dead at sea, battling hunger, thirst and despair for nearly two months on a tiny boat that drifted all the way to Papua New Guinea.
Rolando Omongos, 21, recounted an astonishing tale of survival as he arrived from his first-ever plane ride at Manila airport, three weeks after his rescue by a Japanese fishing vessel.
"I cried non-stop when I was finally rescued. I was too weak to stand up and they had to carry me," the diminutive fisherman told reporters.
He said he survived on rainwater and moss growing at the hull of his 2.5-metre (8-foot)long boat, finding respite from the heat of the tropical sun by diving into the water frequently.
His 31-year-old uncle Reniel Omongos, who was on a second small boat, died after a month. The nephew believes hunger and exposure killed the older man.
The nephew lashed the body onto his boat for a few days but later let it sink into the water when it began to smell.
"God, please take care of my uncle. I have to stay alive so somebody would bring the news (to our kin)," he said he prayed.
The men had set off on December 21 with other fishermen aboard a purse seiner from General Santos, a southern Philippine port facing the Celebes Sea.
The port lies more than 3,200 kilometers (nearly 2,000 miles) northwest of the PNG island of New Britain, where the rescuers later dropped the survivor off.
A storm separated Omongos and his uncle from their mother boat on January 10, and they ran out of fuel five days later.
They later tossed their small boat engines overboard so they would float higher and avoid being swamped by huge waves.
"No fewer than four vessels would pass us by each day. I would wave at them but they would not stop for us," the nephew said.
He said the ships and fishing boats apparently failed to see their tiny vessels bobbing about 3-5 kilometers away.
"I never lost hope. I was always praying," he added.
"I told myself, at least one of us had to get back home."
When the Japanese fishing vessel Wakaba Maru found him, Omongos said he was very weak and emaciated, having been reduced to eating moss once every few days.
He was down to just over 20 kilograms (more than 44 pounds), from his original weight of 61 kilograms.
The fisherman, who quit school after sixth grade, said he planned to rest after flying home to General Santos on Thursday, but vowed never to set foot on a boat again.
"Maybe I will go back to school instead," he added. — Agence France-Presse

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Police fear foul play in case of missing Pinay in Atlanta

Atlanta police have yet to locate a Filipina who has been missing since October last year despite help from the Filipino-American community, and are starting to consider foul play in the case.
report on Fox 5 Atlanta said members of Chamblee's Filipino community passed out fliers for Cecilia Bustamante, 42, on Tuesday, seven months after she was last seen on October 28.
Pia Valeriano of the Filipino American Association, told Fox 5 that as Bustamante's "kababayan," it was their duty to reach out to find the mother whose safety they prayed for in front of her Meadow Wood Lane home on Tuesday.
Willie Blanco, another member of the Filipino American Association, said authorities "are following up several leads that may lead to something else."
The Filipino American Association even hired a new private investigator named Eric Echols to help Chamberlee police in their search for Bustamante.
While they initially ruled Bustamante's disappearance as voluntary as she had "no money, no credit cards, and no passport," police now fear that there is foul play involved.
Bustamante's husband and seven-year-old son were not in attendance during the candlelight vigil.
WTOC report described the Filipina as 5'3" in height and weighing 120 lbs. It also said Bustamante was last seen leaving work "frantically."
The WTOC report also quoted Bustamante's husband as telling authorities that he and the Filipina have already parted ways prior to her disappearance. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

British lord joins call to save Jennifer Dalquez from death row

A member of United Kingdom's House of Lords or upper parliament has called on the government of the United Arab Emirates to grant Filipina domestic helper Jennifer Dalquez clemency to save her from death row.
"It is clear from the evidence that her action was not pre-meditated, but a desperate response to an unprovoked sexual attack," Inderjit Singh, Lord of Wimbledon CBE, said in a letter addressed to UAE Ambassador Sulaiman Hamid Almazroui.
"I am writing to you to use your good offices to remove the threat of the death penalty and for the authorities to show due clemency," added Singh, a former BBC journalist, engineer, and champion of interfaith relations.
An excerpt of the letter was posted on the website of Network of Sikh Organizations, the British-registered charity that Singh chairs.
The same post contains a statement from the pro-migrant worker group Justice For Domestic Workers (J4DW), which described Dalquez, 30, as another "victim of gross inhumane abuse and injustice faced by migrants in the Gulf states."
"Her plea in mitigation of self defense as she resisted and fought off her assailant when he attempted to rape her at knife point has been disregarded," J4DW Coordinator Marissa Begonia said.
Dalquez was sentenced to death for killing her employer on May 20, 2015. She insisted it was self defense as her employer, armed with a knife, allegedly tried to rape her.
Dalquez could be saved from execution if the victim's two children will opt for the payment of blood money. —KBK, GMA News

Job mismatch still a problem for some OFWs despite 15,000 vacancies

Job mismatch turned out to be a problem for some OFWs who went to Tuesday's government-sponsored job fair in Quezon City meant for Filipino workers who lost their jobs in the Middle East due to recession.
A report on Balita Pilipinas said many of the 15,000 vacancies were only for engineers and machine operators, which did not match the work experience of some of those who went to the job fair.

The report said 21 overseas and 18 local companies participated in the job fair organized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
Applicants also tried their luck with the 1,500 postings within the country that were present in the job fair.
More than 10,000 Filipinos lost their jobs in the Middle East due to the sudden drop in world oil prices that resulted in companies laying off many workers.  Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Singaporean couple jailed for starving Philippine maid

A Singaporean couple who starved their Philippine maid until she weighed just 29 kilograms (64 pounds) were jailed Monday, in a case described as "shocking" by prosecutors who are appealing for stiffer sentences.
Trader Lim Choon Hong, 48, was sentenced to three weeks in jail and fined Sg$10,000 ($7,200), while his wife Chong Sui Foon, also 48, was jailed three months, the couple's lawyer told AFP.
Both were convicted last year of violating employment laws for failing to provide enough food for their maid, Thelma Oyasan Gawidan, over a 15-month period in 2013 and 2014 at the couple's condominium in the posh Orchard Road area.
State prosecutors, who have described the systematic starvation as "downright shocking in its extremity and severity" are appealing the sentences and pushing for the pair to be jailed for the maximum 12 months. 
Gawidan, who is in her 40s, lost almost 20kg during her time working for the couple, who only allowed her to eat two meals a day, usually a few slices of white bread and small portions of instant noodles prepared by Chong.
She had no access to her mobile phone, was not allowed to go out on her own to buy food, and only allowed to shower twice a week.
Gawidan ran away in April 2014 and called a compatriot for help. 
She was taken to a migrant workers' shelter which helped her file a complaint with the manpower ministry. 
The couple's lawyer Raymond Lye told AFP they will remain out on bail pending the prosecution's appeal, adding that they were "remorseful and sincere in expressing their regret."
Many Singapore households depend on foreign domestic help. In 2016, there were 239,700 foreign maids working in the affluent city-state, mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines.  — Agence France-Presse

UAE court postpones decision on Jennifer Dalquez

The Court of Appeals in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, has deferred its decision on the case of Jennifer Dalquez, the Filipina domestic helper facing execution for killing her employer in 2015.
According to Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the court postponed its decision after one of the victim's children skipped the trial on Monday.
"According to our Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the UAE Court of Appeals postponed its decision on the case of OFW Jennifer Dalquez to April 12 because one of the victim's children did not appear in court today," Jose said.
The Al Ain court in February deferred the execution of Dalquez, 30, pending the decision of the victim's children whether to affirm the execution or opt for blood money.
Dalquez may escape the death sentence if the victim's two children refuse to swear in court and ask for blood money instead.
Dalquez was sentenced to death for killing her employer on May 20, 2015. She insisted it was self defense as her employer was allegedly trying to rape her and was armed with a knife.
In an interview on QRT, Jose said the Philippine government has submitted new evidence in an effort to convince the appellate court to reverse the death sentence on Dalquez.
"Sa apila po natin, may mga bago tayong evidence na sinubmit, yun pong expert witnesses sa crime scene. So hopefully makatutulong po ito na ma-reverse po yung desisyon ng Court of First Instance," Jose said.
"Pero ang crucial po rito ay yung ibibigay na pahayag ng dalawang anak ng biktima," he added. 
He also said the government extended all kinds of assistance to Dalquez.
"Binibigay po natin lahat ng posibleng tulong sa kanya. Isa na rito yung legal assistance. Nag-hire po tayo ng isang pribadong lawyer para sa kanyang defense at mula noong Day 1 ng kanyang judicial process ay nandun na po yung abogado," Jose said.
"Binigyan din po siya ng consular assistance, regular din po siyang binibisita ng ating embassy sa Abu Dhabi, at lahat po ng kanyang court hearings ay dinaluhan ng ating embassy representatives. Nag-facilitate din ang ating embassy sa pagbisita ng kanyang magulang noong November last year." —KBK, GMA News

CA issues TRO vs. Mary Jane Veloso's deposition in Indonesia

Death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso would not be able to testify soon against the people who allegedly tricked her into transporting illegal drugs in Indonesia in 2010, resulting in her conviction.
In a resolution dated March 24, the Court of Appeals (CA) Eleventh Division issued a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) against the deposition of Veloso that was scheduled on April 27 in Yogyakarta prison.
The resolution came after the accused, Maria Cristina Sergio and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, questioned the order handed down by Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes of the Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 88 on February 13 allowing the deposition.
The CA also granted the request of the Office of Solicitor General, which represents the judge in the case, to comment on the petition until April 11.
The OSG was also directed to give its position on the plea of the accused for a preliminary injunction, which aims to extend the life of the TRO for an indefinite period of time.
Veloso would have answered written questions during her deposition at the Yogyakarta prison with Judge Castillo-Reyes as observer, lawyers from the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), state prosecutors from the Department of Justice, representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the defense counsels of Veloso's recruiters.
Veloso's lawyers expressed disappointment at the appellate court's move.
"It is with utter disappointment and unfathomable frustration to learn that the Philippine Court of Appeals, upon the instance of the recruiter's defense, just recently issued an order restraining the long overdue deposition of convicted migrant worker Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia," said Veloso's counsel, Edre Olalia, NUPL president.
Olalia said they would not stop from availing "all fair legal means in combination with decisive political action to ensure that she (Veloso) is allowed to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
"A victim of injustice several times over, distressed migrant workers like Mary Jane expect from her compatriots not only to uphold fairness, reason and justice but also to demonstrate empathy and conscience at the very least," he added.
Veloso was sentenced to die by firing squad in April 2015 but Indonesian authorities agreed to hold off the execution so she could testify in the case against her recruiters in the Philippines.
The Public Attorney's Office (PAO), which represents the accused, had called the prosecution of Sergio and Lacalinao as "erroneous" and that the two were "being used as sacrificial lambs to save a convicted drug mule."
The PAO has been opposing the deposition, saying it is against the constitutional right of the accused.
The PAO cited Section 14 paragraph 2 of the Bill of Rights, which gives, among others, an accused the right to a speedy, impartial, and public trial and meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence. —KBK, GMA News

Dalquez hubby, kids renew appeal as they wait for news from UAE

While awaiting information on her fate, the husband and children of Jennifer Dalquez, the OFW facing execution in the United Arab Emirates, joined a rally in General Santos City on Monday to appeal for government help for her and other distressed Filipino workers abroad.
Carrying tarpaulins with the words "Save the Life of Jennifer Dalquez" and "Justice for Jennifer," Dalquez's husband Norkie and their two children joined members of Migrante and Kadamay in a rally outside the City Social Welfare and Development Office.
The rallyists urged the government to come up with livelihood and employment programs that would stop Filipino workers from seeking overseas employment.
The UAE Court of Appeals is set to rule late Monday afternoon (Manila time) on the execution of Dalquez, a 30-year-old domestic helper who was convicted for killing her male employer in 2015.
Last month, a court in Al Ain deferred her execution pending the decision of the victim's children on whether they would make the decision final or opt for blood money.
Dalquez's parents are now in the UAE together with representatives from Migrante and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to witness the trial.


Dalquez, who has been working in the UAE since 2011, was sentenced to death for killing her employer on May 20, 2015. She insisted it was self defense as her employer, who was then allegedly armed with a knife, was trying to rape her. —KBK, GMA News

Undocumented OFWs in Jeddah register for amnesty

Undocumented Filipinos have started flocking to the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah to register for the amnesty program being offered by the Saudi Arabia government.
Under the program, foreigners staying illegally in the Kingdom have 90 days starting March 29  to leave the country without paying penalties or to correct their status.
Those who will leave Saudi Arabia will also be allowed to return and work there.
Most of those who registered have expressed intention to come home to see their families, as some haven't been home in over 20 years.
"Iniwan ko ang anak ko tatlong buwan pa lang at ngayon magga-graduate na siya ng kolehiyo kaya uuwi na ako," said Tina Muksin, who left the Philippines for Saudi Arabia in 1997.
"Paminsan rin may tampo ang anak ko sa akin dahil sa hindi ko pag-uwi pero mabuti na rin ito keysa nandoon nga ako pero wala ka naman maibigay. Mas mabuti na nandito ka na lang," she added.
Muksin said she has been illegally staying in Saudi Arabia for years already.
Juan Jocson, who hasn't been to the Philippines in six years, is also availing of the amnesty to finally go home.
"Masaya po at makakauwi na rin kami ng Pilipinas. Matagal na rin naming inintay ito. Magsi-six years na rin ako at gusto ko na makita ang pamilya ko," he told GMA News.
The report quoted the Consulate as saying that it expects more undocumented OFWs to register in the coming days.

A report on Gulf News last week said Prince Mohammad, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, ordered all concerned agencies and departments to ease the departure of all foreigners who wished to leave the Kingdom. —Ronaldo Concha/KBK, GMA News

Monday, March 27, 2017

Pulitzer Prize-winning Fil-Am journalist Alex Tizon dies at 58

Filipino-American investigative journalist Alex Tizon died in Oregon on Thursday (Friday in Manila). He was 58.
An online report by The Oregonian said that Tizon died in his sleepo of natural causes, quoting University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication Dean Juan-Carlos Molleda.
The Daily Emerald also reported Tizon's passing, quoting an email by the University of Oregon's journalism director Scott Maier.
“His death is a tragic loss not only to his family but to the entire SOJC (School of Journalism and Communication) community,” Maier said in his email to students.
Tizon, who was born in Manila, taught at the University of Oregon since 2011.
The Oregonian reported that Tizon had just returned from the Philippines, where he attended the Knight International Journalism Fellowship.
The Filipino-American investigative journalist was a reporter for The Seattle Times for 17 years. He won a Pulitzer Prizer in 1997 for his coverage of a federal housing program for Native Americans.
He published a memoir titled, "Big Little Man: In Search of my Asian Self," which focuses on his experiences as an immigrant. —ALG, GMA News

61 countries Pinoys can visit without applying for a visa


Filipino travelers can visit 61 countries without applying for a visa, according to immigration and citizenship firm Henley & Partners, which placed the country on the 75th spot in its 2017 Visa Restrictions Index released last month.
Listed above are the 61 countries that Pinoys can visit without a visa, based on information from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) through its Timatic application as of December 2015. Jannielyn Ann Bigtas/JST, GMA News

Friday, March 24, 2017

Regional Studies Reveal Why Filipino Millennials Engage in Early Sex

 The word “complicated” nowadays is associated with relationship status as popularized in Facebook. Such word, however, can also describe the factors associated with the sexual behaviors of the young adults of this generation. The various regional studies undertaken by the Commission on Population through the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and Demographic Research and Development Foundation (DRDF) using the data from the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study revealed that millennials engage in early sex for variety of reasons. Access to internet and social media and new information technologies are among the most prominent factors that facilitates early sexual engagement among young people. For example, the regional study for Metro Manila revealed that most of urban boys in the region are exposed to pornographic materials and have already engaged in sexual activities. Likewise, adolescents in Central Luzon who were exposed to internet early were also more likely to initiate sex. Mass media is also the main source of information on sex among millennials in CALABARZON. Interestingly, the home remains the most popular place for sexual initiation among teenagers in Central Visayas. Some regional further studies also showed the significance of education to the sexual and non-sexual behaviors of the young adults. In Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), young women with low education start childbearing much earlier than the rest of their counterparts. Same finding can be observed in Ilocos Region wherein the proportion of young people who had early sexual initiation is higher among those with low education. Relatively, those who are in school are more likely to smoke in Western Visayas, while in MIMAROPA, higher levels of schooling positively associated with more accurate and complete knowledge on HIV/AIDS. Apparently, there is a very high rate of early school leaving among the youth in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Moreover, various factors that influence the behaviors of this young adolescents were also identified. In Eastern Visayas, the parental living arrangement, primary raiser’s strictness, having same-sex friends with PMS experience, poverty, and perception of community acceptance of cohabitation, among others, were significantly related to their experience with early marriage. Likewise, personal, peer, and community-level factors are more strongly associated than family factors with the youth’s use of ICTs for sex-related purposes in Northern Mindanao. In Bicol, transitioning from being single to married occurred more quickly from age 15 onward for young females than for young males, while half of Caraga women 15 to 24 years old have already experienced being pregnant. Relative to this, young females in Cagayan Valley, regardless of whether they had teenage fertility, experienced complications during their first pregnancy. Majority of females’ sexual debut in Zamboanga Peninsula were unplanned, with a notable proportion forced into sexual intercourse. Further, only four in ten youth in the SOCCSKASARGEN region engaged in physical exercise at least twice a week. In Davao, suicide ideation was a significant determinant of the level of self-esteem, happiness, and life satisfaction, while suicide attempt was a significant determinant of the level of happiness. POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio A. Perez III emphasized the importance of the regional studies based on YAFS. “The YAFS 4 and the 17 regional papers present the current picture of the condition of today’s young adults. These studies helps program managers and the public to understand the sexual and non-sexual behaviors of the millennials. With this evidence, we can have more responsive interventions for young people. ” Dr. Perez said. “The results of the studies are very alarming especially on the increased incidence of unprotected sex among our youth. The risks of teenage pregnancy and STIs are relatively high. These figures support our call to lift the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Supreme Court in the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law. We should not deprive our youth of reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality and education that would help them become healthy, happy and empowered adolescents.” Perez stressed. YAFS 4 was completed in 2013. It is co-funded by the Australian Government, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD). The Commission on Population (POPCOM) together with the Demographic Research and Development Foundation (DRDF) Inc. and the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) will launch the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS4) Book and Regional Further Studies on March 23, 2017 at the Bulwagan ng Dangal, University of the Philippines, Quezon City. ### Information Management and Communications Division – Commission on Population Tel.: (02) 531-6978, (02) 531-6897 Email: imcdcentral@gmail.com Website: www.popcom.gov.ph

Regional Studies Reveal Why Filipino Millennials Engage in Early Sex

 The word “complicated” nowadays is associated with relationship status as popularized in Facebook. Such word, however, can also describe the factors associated with the sexual behaviors of the young adults of this generation.

The various regional studies undertaken by the Commission on Population through the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and Demographic Research and Development Foundation (DRDF) using the data from the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study revealed that millennials engage in early sex for variety of reasons.

 Access to internet and social media and new information technologies are among the most prominent factors that facilitates early sexual engagement among young people. For example, the regional study for Metro Manila revealed that most of urban boys in the region are exposed to pornographic materials and have already engaged in sexual activities.

Likewise, adolescents in Central Luzon who were exposed to internet early were also more likely to initiate sex. Mass media is also the main source of information on sex among millennials in CALABARZON. Interestingly, the home remains the most popular place for sexual initiation among teenagers in Central Visayas. Some regional further studies also showed the significance of education to the sexual and non-sexual behaviors of the young adults.

 In Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), young women with low education start childbearing much earlier than the rest of their counterparts. Same finding can be observed in Ilocos Region wherein the proportion of young people who had early sexual initiation is higher among those with low education. Relatively, those who are in school are more likely to smoke in Western Visayas, while in MIMAROPA, higher levels of schooling positively associated with more accurate and complete knowledge on HIV/AIDS. Apparently, there is a very high rate of early school leaving among the youth in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Moreover, various factors that influence the behaviors of this young adolescents were also identified. In Eastern Visayas, the parental living arrangement, primary raiser’s strictness, having same-sex friends with PMS experience, poverty, and perception of community acceptance of cohabitation, among others, were significantly related to their experience with early marriage.

 Likewise, personal, peer, and community-level factors are more strongly associated than family factors with the youth’s use of ICTs for sex-related purposes in Northern Mindanao. In Bicol, transitioning from being single to married occurred more quickly from age 15 onward for young females than for young males, while half of Caraga women 15 to 24 years old have already experienced being pregnant. Relative to this, young females in Cagayan Valley, regardless of whether they had teenage fertility, experienced complications during their first pregnancy.

Majority of females’ sexual debut in Zamboanga Peninsula were unplanned, with a notable proportion forced into sexual intercourse. Further, only four in ten youth in the SOCCSKASARGEN region engaged in physical exercise at least twice a week. In Davao, suicide ideation was a significant determinant of the level of self-esteem, happiness, and life satisfaction, while suicide attempt was a significant determinant of the level of happiness.

 POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio A. Perez III emphasized the importance of the regional studies based on YAFS. “The YAFS 4 and the 17 regional papers present the current picture of the condition of today’s young adults.

These studies helps program managers and the public to understand the sexual and non-sexual behaviors of the millennials. With this evidence, we can have more responsive interventions for young people. ” Dr. Perez said. “The results of the studies are very alarming especially on the increased incidence of unprotected sex among our youth. The risks of teenage pregnancy and STIs are relatively high.

These figures support our call to lift the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Supreme Court in the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law. We should not deprive our youth of reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality and education that would help them become healthy, happy and empowered adolescents.” Perez stressed. YAFS 4 was completed in 2013.

 It is co-funded by the Australian Government, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD). The Commission on Population (POPCOM) together with the Demographic Research and Development Foundation (DRDF) Inc. and the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) will launch the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS4) Book and Regional Further Studies on March 23, 2017 at the Bulwagan ng Dangal, University of the Philippines, Quezon City.



 ### Information Management and Communications Division – Commission on Population Tel.: (02) 531-6978, (02) 531-6897 Email: imcdcentral@gmail.com Website: www.popcom.gov.ph

OWWA subsidy available for marine deck and engine officers' MLCs

Marine deck and engine officers in need of Updating Management Level Courses (MLCs) from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) may avail of a P7,500 financial subsidy that would render their training free.
The financial subsidy will benefit sea-based workers who are active OWWA members who were not able to comply with the 2010 Standards of Training and Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Convention.
“We hope to enroll  as many non-compliant active members as we can as support to the plight of our  member-seafarers, who because of their failure to take the MLCs prohibited them to progress to the next step,” OWWA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac said in a statement Thursday.
Interested parties must submit two copies of accomplished application form; two 2x2 photos; seafarer's Identification and Record Book (SIRB) and passport; enrollment confirmation; and endorsement from Principal/Manning Agency that they have not yet availed of similar scholarship grant.
They must also be active OWWA members who have made at least three contributions and have yet to avail any OWWA program covering their contributions.
Seafarers may file for MLCs within 90 days from their arrival in the Philippines and must apply for the subsidy before June 30, one day before the full implementation of the STCW Convention.
Deck officers may apply for the following courses: Navigation at the Management Level, Controlling the Operation of the Ship and Care for Persons on Board at the Management Level, and for Marine Engineer; Marine Engineering at the Management Level, Electrical and Electronic Control Engineering at the Management Level, Maintenance and Repair at the Management Level, Controlling the Operation of the Ship and Care for Persons on Board at the Management Level.
The OWWA Board of Trustees approved Board Resolution No. 14, which allocated P50 million to the financial subsidies. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

HK seeks PHL's input on policy involving OFWs

The Hong Kong government has sought the Philippine government's input regarding its labor policy affecting migrant workers, according to Consul General Bernardita L. Catalla.
Catalla paid a courtesy call on Hong Kong Secretary for Labour and Welfare Stephen Sui Wai-keung last March 15 during which she expressed her appreciation for the close coordination and open relationship between the Philippine Consulate General and the Hong Kong Labour and Welfare Bureau.
In particular, Catalla highlighted the Technical Working Group between the Consulate and the HK Labour and Immigration Departments, which has allowed the Philippine government to input into the policy-making processes of the Hong Kong government and provided a venue to exchange information on issues involving Filipino workers in Hong Kong.
Sui, for his part, ensured Catalla that his bureau is continuously working on initiatives for foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, including Filipino domestic workers, who he said are vital in allowing mothers and family caregivers to enter the workforce.
He also fully agreed that close relations between their offices allowed policies and regulations which improved the working conditions of Filipino workers in Hong Kong.
Sui and Catalla also discussed issues affecting OFWs in Hong Kong, including exorbitant placement fees collected by recruitment agencies, live-out arrangements and fixed work hours, and the 14-day rule for terminated Filipino domestic workers.
Both offices agreed to form a stronger partnership and continue to work closely together on labor-related matters. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Saudi Arabia offers 90-day amnesty to illegal expats

The Saudi Arabia government has given foreigners staying illegally in the Kingdom 90 days to leave the country without penalties or correct their status.
Media reports from Saudi Arabia said the amnesty period will be effective starting March 29 and is part of the Saudi government's "Nation Free of Violators" campaign, which seeks to help undocumented expatriates.
report on Gulf News said Prince Mohammad, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, ordered all concerned agencies and departments  to ease the departure of all foreigners who wished to leave.
Following this development, undocumented Filipinos in Saudi Arabia who wish to return home have started flocking to the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah to seek assistance.
"Nandito ako ngayon sa Philippine Consulate para mag-avail pauwi ng Pilipinas," said an OFW who identified herself only as Gracia. "Kasi nang malaman ko na may amnesty, sobrang tuwa ako dahil makakauwi na ako ng walang kaproble-problema."
Another OFW, Luwenog, who is from Cotabato, said, "Sobrang saya po namin dahil matagal na naming inaantay ang amnesty, gustong gusto na naming makauwi. Pagkakataon na naming makauwi ng legal."
Luwenog said he has been waiting for an amnesty for two years after he fled her abusive employer.
Philippine Consulate Consul General Imelda Panolong, for her part, encouraged the concerned Filipino workers there to avail of the amnesty.
"Sa mga kababayan nating nasa Jeddah at sa buong Western Region ng Saudi Arabia, nagpapasalamat po tayo dahil magkakaroon na tayo ng three-month amnesty na magsisimula sa March 29 until June," she said.
"Samantalahin po natin ito. Kasama po sa amnesty ay mga overstayers ng Umrah, Hajj at visit visa, mga expired ang iqama o mga hindi nagkaroon ng iqama," Panolong added. —Ronaldo Z. Concha/KBK, GMA News

Filipinos in UK asked by PHL Embassy to be vigilant


The Philippine Embassy in the UK has advised Filipinos in London to "remain vigilant and monitor UK security advisories."
The advisory was issued in connection with the terrorist incident near the Parliament wherein a policeman was stabbed and at least five persons were reported killed. About 40 people were injured.
UK authorities are conducting an investigation into the said incident.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones whose lives have been affected by the Westminster attack," the Philippine Embassy in London said in a statement.
The Embassy has not received any reports of Filipinos affected by the incident.
UK authorities are conducting an investigation into the said incident.
Filipinos in need of assistance are advised to contact the Philippine Embassy in London through their Emergency Hotline +44 7802 790695. — Marlly Rome Bondoc/BAP/KG, GMA News

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