Friday, July 1, 2011

A Repost From Jerome Aning of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Saudi ban to affect 250,000 Filipinos

0 share2 2

More than a quarter of a million Filipino domestic helpers currently in Saudi Arabia may be affected by a domestic deployment halt imposed by Saudi Arabia starting today (Saturday), according to recruiters.

Emmanuel Geslani, a consultant for several Manila-based recruitment agencies, said between 250,000 and 300,000 Filipino domestics currently in Saudi Arabia may no longer be rehired after negotiations between Riyadh and the Aquino government on a proposed $400 minimum wage for domestics reported ended in deadlock.

Riyadh also objects to a requirement of the country’s new Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of a certification from the Philippine embassy that domestic workers’ rights are protected.

The Department of Foreign Affairs reportedly submitted a report to labor officials stating that Saudi Arabia had a poor record of protecting domestic labor rights.

Geslani said between 30,000 and 50,000 Filipino domestics come home every year after finishing their contracts to take a vacation and await the renewal of their contracts. These contracts, he said may no longer be renewed.

Geslani also dismissed Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda’s statement that there were other countries who may accept Filipino domestics displaced from Saudi Arabia.

“It’s another figment of the imagination of the Aquino administration, which failed to anticipate the serious repercussions of the hard-ball stance of the labor department and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency during negotiations for deployment terms,” he said.

The issues between Manila and Riyadh have been unresolved for the past three months, during which the deployment of about 3,000 domestics per month was suspended by the Saudis, he said.

In separate interview with reporters, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon said the government would be intensifying its “Balik-Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay!” project to “transform the domestics into entrepreneurs.”

According to Baldoz, the government will present displaced Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with a “ready-to-go roll-out self-employment package of services, consisting of short-gestation training, start-up kits, business counseling, and technical and marketing assistance” for such services as massage, cosmetology and production of soap and slippers, among others. They could borrow a maximum of P10,000, the National Reintegration Program for OFWs, she said.

Some Filipino maids report good to tolerable working conditions in the Middle East. But there are also many stories of domestic slavery coming out of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region. Many domestics are reportedly made to work seven days a week with little food or rest. Some are locked up in rooms and not allowed to go out. They are forced to work for years until their contracts expire. Some have complained of physical and sexual abuse.

Philippine government personnel have been criticized by migrant organizations for failing to do enough to protect overseas Filipinos from domestic slavery.

Reposted From Jerome Aning of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Repost From Philip C. Tubeza of Philippine Daily Inquirer

2 Filipina tourists decry ‘welcome’ at Bali airport

21 Share187

If you are a Filipino woman hoping to have a nice vacation in Bali, be careful.

Two Filipino tourists, one of them a blogger, suffered “rude and unfair” treatment “akin to racial profiling” at the hands of immigration officers in Bali, Indonesia, recently, a nonprofit organization said yesterday.

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, which assists distressed overseas Filipinos workers, sought the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in “obtaining justice” for the two Filipino women who were interrogated and bodily searched at the Bali airport.

“The Philippines and Indonesia share a deep and warm friendship. The unprofessional and unethical behavior of a few immigration agents in Bali towards Filipino tourists must immediately be corrected because it smacks of racial or ethnic profiling, something that is unexpected of a true friend like Indonesia,” said former Labor Undersecretary Susan Ople, head of the Ople Center.

Ople said the two women, who preferred to remain anonymous, went to Bali as tourists. But in the immigration line, they were singled out and ushered into the immigration office where they were subjected to a bag and body search “without justification.”

“Meet my Filipina friend. She was caught hiding packs of heroin in her luggage,” one of three immigration officers reportedly told the two women while pointing to pictures of arrested drug traffickers inside the immigration holding room.

Ople said the two women were offered something to drink but they refused and then another immigration officer started asking questions.

“Do you know her? Do you take drugs? Do you have drugs hidden in your body?” the second officer asked them.

When the Filipino blogger vehemently denied knowing the woman in the picture or having drugs in her luggage, the immigration officer proceeded to check her bag, Ople said.

“The officer searched my things thoroughly. I was just looking at him. He checked every compartment of my luggage too,” Ople quoted the tourist as saying.

“After he messed with all my things and found nothing, I asked the officer what was wrong and why he was checking us. He just answered, ‘because the two of you are beautiful girls,’” the blogger added.

In a cubicle in the office, a woman immigration officer told the blogger’s companion to undress.

Ople said the woman officer poked the Filipino woman’s abdomen to check if she had ingested illegal drugs.

“We firmly believe there must be zero tolerance for any act no matter how isolated involving the racial profiling of Filipinos,” Ople said in a letter to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

“In the case of (the two women), they are young, upright professionals who managed to save up for a visit to Bali,” she said.

She said the two Filipinos were finally allowed to leave the airport after one and a half hours of questioning and examination.

“Extremely tired and traumatized, the two were grateful and surprised to see the hotel driver still waiting for them,” Ople said.

“We met the hotel driver who’d been waiting for us since 11:40 p.m. We finally left the airport at 1:30 a.m. I thanked the driver for waiting for us. He wasn’t surprised that we were the last to get out. He told us that in the case of Filipinos, they are thoroughly examined,” Ople quoted the blogger as saying.

Reposted From Philip C. Tubeza of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Repost From AP (Associated Press)

Filipino sailor dead in ship attacked by pirates

The Philippines says a Filipino seafarer has been found dead on a ship that was attacked by pirates at anchor in the West African nation of Benin.

The Philippine foreign affairs department says it's not clear how Christopher Cortez Ceprado died or if the pirates were responsible.

It says he was found dead last Wednesday, four days after pirates robbed the chemical tanker MT Sea King and its 17 Filipino crewmen in the port of Benin's main city, Cotonou. The other crewmen were not harmed.

The department said Tuesday the Philippine Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, is coordinating with Benin authorities in investigating the death.

Filipino sailors make up a third of the world's 1.2 million merchant seafarers.

Reposted From AP (Associated Press)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reposted From Dennis Carcamo of

Jailed OFWs in KSA hit Phl embassy over slow action on release

MANILA, Philippines - Jailed overseas Filipinos workers in Saudi Arabia have expressed dismay over the snail-paced action by the Philippine embassy on their release and repatriation in connection with the royal pardon issued last February.

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Monterona said they have been receiving texts messages and calls from these OFWs, saying they have already served their sentences but embassy officials have not started processing their release.

"Gusto na ho naming lumaya. Hirap na ho kami dito at saka hirap na din ang aming pamilya sa Pilipinas. Nakakasama ho ng loob dahil mga ibang lahi, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India at iba pa, maraming na-basamat (clearance) na sa kanila, bakit ho kami hanggang ngayon walang pang katiyakan ang paglaya?" Monterona said quoting one of the text messages he got from a jailed OFW.

Monterona said there are over 200 OFWs at the Malaz central jail, while an undisclosed numbers of OFWs are detained at the Al-Hair jail.

"I could well understand the feeling of disappointment among these OFW inmates who have claimed they have already completed their respective jail term. Even without the granting of royal pardon, they should be released and repatriated based on the facts that they have successfully completed their jail term," he said.

Monterona added that the granting of royal pardon raises hopes among the OFW inmates that they will be freed and be re-united with their families in the Philippines. - By Dennis Carcamo (Philstar News Service,

Reposted From Dennis Carcamo of

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Repost From SPOT

Banco Filipino depositor allegedly commits suicide over closed bank's financial woes

( Banco Filipino depositor Carmino Mangubat Jr. allegedly committed suicide yesterday and left a supposed suicide note blaming the recent closure of the bank, reports GMA News Online.

The police found Mangubat with the letter and a nine-millimeter handgun inside an abandoned house in Las PiƱas, reports ABS-CBN News. The note reportedly said, "Nasira ang buhay ko dahil sa away ng BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) at BF. Pagod na ako, 'di makakain at 'di makatulog. Paalam at patawad po." ("The conflict between the BSP and Banco Filipino ruined my life. I'm tired; I can neither eat nor sleep. Goodbye. I'm sorry.")

Citing Mangubat's relatives, Senior Superintendent Romulo Sapitula told radio dzBB that Mangubat had around P200,000 deposited in Banco Filipino. "Pero karaniwang tao lang ito kaya malaki ito para sa kanya (But it is a huge amount for an ordinary person like him)," GMA News Online quoted him as saying.

The police are also looking into foul play as the cause of Mangubat's death despite initial findings showing it was a suicide case, Sapitula told radio dzBB.

Last month, the BSP closed Banco Filipino, saying its liabilities topped its assets by P8.4 billion, which the latter denied, according to GMA News Online.

Reposted From SPOT

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Repost From Manila Bulletin

Saudi stops hiring domestics; strict labor requirements cited

MANILA, Philippines - The Saudi Arabian government has stopped hiring Filipino domestic helpers, citing the strict requirements imposed by the Philippine labor office.

''For one is the requirement asked by the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in Saudi Arabia requiring employers to submit a detailed sketch of their house address before a job order could be approved, the aim of which is to pinpoint exactly whose household our OFW (overseas Filipino workers) is working for and that she could easily be traced and rescued in case she has been a victim of abuse and maltreatment,'' Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said in a statement issued Monday.

The Saudi government recently issued a ''Note Verbale'' to the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh saying ''processing and verification of household service workers have been stopped until further notice.''

According to Monterona, prospective Saudi employers convey their opposition to the Saudi National Recruitment Committee (Sanarcom), an organization of recruitment agents, on the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) requirement sometime on January.

''In fact, the Sanarcom had written the Philippine embassy and POLO in Riyadh expressing their opposition to this policy and threatened to stop hiring OFW-DH (OFW-domestic helpers) if this will be made as a requirement as it violates Saudi employers rights to privacy as stated on the host government's local laws,'' the OFW leader pointed out.

A report by the House of Representatives baring supposed abuses by Saudi nationals was also cited as a reason for the ban.

As this developed, Monterona is urging the Philippine government through the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to consider sending a high-level labor diplomatic team to discuss with its counterpart the ban imposed by the host government and negotiate taking into account the OFWs well being, rights, and welfare.

Last month, the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA), chaired by Rep. Walden Bello, recommended to the Philippine government the immediate decertification of Saudi Arabia as it noted that the country is unfit to receive Filipino domestic workers.

According to Bello, continuing to send Filipino domestic workers to Saudi Arabia is like ''selling them to virtual slavery in households where rape, sexual abuse, and physical attacks are rampant.''

Bello pointed out that until such time that the Saudi government accepts the responsibility of policing their nationals and protecting the rights, and ensuring the welfare of household service workers, ''it is incumbent upon the government to suspend the deployment of Filipinas to Saudi Arabia.''

Monterona said the move by the Saudi government to stop the hiring of overseas Filipino domestic workers exposes the dilemma of the Philippine government's ''lucrative business of peddling its cheap human labor sans protection of their well-being, rights, and welfare.'' (Roy C. Mabasa)

Reposted From Manila Bulletin

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Repost From Leslie Ann G. Aquino and Ellson A. Quismorio of Manila Bulletin

Doomed Filipinos meet families for the last time

MANILA, Philippines - Three Filipinos scheduled to be executed Wednesday, March 30, 2011, after they were sentenced to death for drug trafficking will have the chance to meet their respective families for the last time on the day of their execution.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the families of Sally Ordinario Villanueva and Ramon Credo arrived in Beijing Sunday while the relatives of Elizabeth Batain are expected to be there Tuesday.

Reports said Villanueva's relatives carried with them a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, which they hope to personally deliver, appealing for clemency in behalf of the three Filipinos.

DFA Spokesman Ed Malaya said that based on the advice they received, the sentence will be carried out early Wednesday.

''If China will announce a lastminute change of heart, it will likely do so through our embassy in Beijing. That is the speediest way,'' Malaya said in a radio interview.

Credo and Villanueva will be executed in Xiamen. On the other hand, Batain's execution will be carried out in Shenzhen.

The Supreme People's Court of China affirmed the death sentences of the three Filipinos last February 11 for drug trafficking. The executions were originally scheduled last Feb. 20 and 21, but it was put on hold following Vice President Jejomar Binay's humanitarian mission to Beijing.

Chinese Embassy Spokesman Ethan Sun told the Manila Bulletin earlier that discussions are already undergoing for the remains of Credo, Villanueva, and Batain to be brought home after the death sentences have been carried out.

''The release of the remains of (the executed) foreign nationals is usually doable,'' Sun said. ''I think that the detailed arrangements would be consulted among the Philippine diplomatic missions and the related Chinese authorities.''

Based on the Criminal Procedure Law of China Article 212, the judicial officer directing the execution shall verify the identity of the criminal, ask him if he has any last words or letters, and then deliver him to the executioner for the execution of the death sentence.

Execution of the death sentences shall be announced but shall not be held in public. After a death sentence is executed, the People's Court that caused the death sentence to be executed shall notify the family members of the criminal.

After the carrying out of the sentence, the next of kin have two options for the disposition of the remains of the individual - the cremation of the remains, and its return or repatriation to the habitual place of residence, particularly if a foreign national.

If the criminal is a foreign national, the shipment may take weeks after the carrying out of the sentence.

In some areas of China, there is no specific execution ground.

A scout team chooses a place in advance to serve as the execution ground.

In such case, the execution ground normally will have three perimeters: the innermost 50 meters is the responsibility of the execution team; the 200 meter radius from the center is the responsibility of the People's Armed Police; and the 2-kilometer alert line is the responsibility of the local police.

The public is generally not allowed to view the execution.

Meanwhile, a high ranking DFA official downplayed the claims made by Jason, the brother of Villanueva, that he was advised by another DFA official for him to penetrate the drug syndicate ring in the hopes of proving the innocence of his sister.

''No one in his right mind, much less an official of the DFA, would give such an advice,'' the DFA source told Manila Bulletin.

Slim chance

Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay reckoned that the affidavit executed by Sally naming her recruiter as the source of the drugs she carried to China shows that she was merely used by a drug syndicate and therefore does not deserve the death penalty.

''We hope and pray that her affidavit would be considered. We do not condone drug trafficking, but in Sally's case, her recruiter clearly took advantage of her trusting nature,'' Binay said Monday.

The Vice President noted that under Chinese law, the severest form of penalty is given to leaders of drug syndicates, and allows leniency for those in lower positions.

''This is the basis for our appeal to China. These drug syndicates took advantage of the economic difficulties of our kababayan (countrymen),'' added Binay, who is the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers' (OFW) concerns.

In an affidavit from Xiamen, Villanueva, 32, said one Mapet Cortez alias ''Tita Cacayan,'' whom she originally met in Macau, befriended her and offered her a job of carrying mobile phones from China to be sold in the Philippines. Jobless at that time and trusting her friend, Villanueva accepted the offer and processed her documents with a travel agency.

On December 22, 2008, Cortez called Villanueva telling the latter that her flight to China was ready. Villanueva was to fly to Xiamen from Manila via China Southern Airlines flight CZ378 after two days.

Cortez provided Villanueva with a seemingly empty silver-grey suitcase that the latter used for her travel. Cortez gave her $500 pocket money and the name and phone number of the person she needed to contact in China. Cortez also told her that she would earn P25,000 monthly if she would be able to get in touch with the said contact person.

Upon arrival in Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport, Villanueva was arrested by Chinese Customs agents after they discovered two bags of white powder weighing 4,110 stuffed inside the silver-grey suitcase from Cortez.

Prayer vigil

The Catholic Church will hold a prayer vigil Tuesday for the three overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) set for execution in China.

The prayer vigil, which will start with a mass at 6 p.m. at the Nuestra Senora de Guia Parish Shrine in Ermita, Manila, will be spearheaded by Fr. Edwin Corros, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and the Archdiocese of Manila's Ministry for Migrants.

After the mass, there will be a recitation of the rosary until 8 p.m.

Over the weekend, Jesus is Lord (JIL) leader Bro. Eddie Villanueva also called on all Christian churches to pray for the granting of clemency to the three Filipinos. (With reports from Leslie Ann G. Aquino and Ellson A. Quismorio)

Reposted From Leslie Ann G. Aquino and Ellson A. Quismorio of Manila Bulletin