Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Repost From Dennis Carcamo of

8 Filipino women with sick children detained in Saudi

MANILA, Philippines – At least eight Filipino women detained at a police station in Saudi Arabia after a raid last month in Al Khobar are asking Philippine embassy officials to assist them with their sick children, according to a migrant workers' rights group.

“We endorsed their request for assistance to the Philippine embassy for its prompt action since its a serious concerns especially that the children of these arrested run away OFWs are sick,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

“My baby has been unconscious during the raid due to sickness,” Monterona quoted one of the mothers as saying.

He said his group has already conveyed to the Phl Embassy-Assistance to the National Section (ANS) that the runaway overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been locked up inside a small room of the police station along with their children.

“They claimed that no assistance so far has been given to them by any PHL embassy staff aside from getting their names and the required 'papers' to transfer them at Saudi's Social welfare agency (SWA) in Dammam,” Monterona said in his letter to the embassy officials. - By Dennis Carcamo (Philstar News Service,

Reposted From Dennis Carcamo of

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Repost From ABS-CBN News

'Referee a profound idiot for not stopping Pacquiao match'

'Referee a profound idiot for not stopping Pacquiao match'

…but Pacquiao, nevertheless, is a ‘phenomenon, not human’

MANILA, Philippines - Much has been said about Manny Pacquiao’s brilliant performance against Mexican foe, Antonio Margarito. Both showed courage and endurance—enough reason for some quarters to say both were winners.

For boxing analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz, there was one clear loser: referee Laurence Cole.

In an interview with Mornings @ ANC, the Sri Lanka-born analyst said: “He’s a profound idiot. God only knows why he did not stop the game…Maybe he just did not like Pacquiao.”

He said Cole refereed for Pacquiao’s controversial fight against Marco Antonio Barrera in November 2003. During that fight, Pacquiao slipped but it was deemed a knockout by Cole. "When Pacquiao knocked-out Barrera, he called it a slip,” he said.

Pacquiao snatched his 8th title through a unanimous decision on Saturday night (Sunday in Manila) in Dallas, Texas. He has won other world titles at 112, 122, 126, 130, 135, 140 pounds.

While Pacquiao did fail to knock out Margarito, Nathanielsz and other analysts say the game was already over around the 9th round.

Margarito’s eyes were nearly swollen shut, and there was no chance he could get a turnaround, they said.

“I kept predicting that the fight would be over around the 7th round. The cuts came up so badly, the referee should have stopped the fight. I was wrong because of the idiot,” Nathanielsz said.

Dangerous cuts

The analyst said Margarito could have gone blind if he received more punches to the wound.

The end-result may have also badly hurt Pacquiao, he added. “Pacquiao will suffer psychologically from the stigma,” he said.

In an interview with boxing website, Cole explained he was close to stopping the fight after seeing Margarito’s swollen face.

He said: “In those rounds [10th and 11th], I started to sneak in closer so that I could work a lot closer and wait to see how Margarito was responding. I wanted a reason to stop it…I guess that Tony kind of knew that I was getting close and that I wanted to stop it, because Tony kept firing back and he kept fighting. Every time that I got close, and he'd eat two or three punches, he would fire back.”

Pacquiao actually got a beating in the 6th round when a glove got tangled in the ring, allowing Margarito to give him a good shot.

Nathanielsz said his courage got him through. “By the 10th round, he had his mouth open, you knew he was having a hard time breathing…but he’s a phenomenon…I don’t think he’s human actually,” he said.

Strange animal

Nathanielsz even called Pacquiao a “strange animal…He’s the only boxer I know who shows mercy towards his opponents.”

Once Pacquiao got his groove back from the punch in the 6th round, the game went clearly his way thereafter.

Even Coach Freddie Roach admitted his boxer was not as aggressive enough compared to the early rounds, considering the damage already done to Margarito.

This “compassion” could have probably saved Margarito from going blind.

Pacquiao admitted after the game he could not fight again with the same intensity. He called it his toughest fight yet.

Nonetheless, Nathanielsz sees another match in the future.

He could only dream of a Pacquiao match against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. “Maybe he can get Mayweather, even in prison,” he said.

If that does not work out, he would want a third one against Juan Manuel Marquez. The latter had complained he had been cheated in the last match.

“Let’s shut his mouth once and for all,” Nathanielsz said.

Reposted From ABS-CBN News

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Repost From GMA News.TV

Pinay nurse’s death in California jail highlights safety issues

The recent death of a Filipina nurse detailed to a California jail has raised concerns over the “disturbing trend of violence" faced by medical care professionals in potentially violent workplaces. On Oct. 28, registered nurse Cynthia Palomata, 55, succumbed to the head injuries she sustained after she was attacked by an inmate at the Martinez county jail, where she had been assigned since 2005. A report by the Asian Journal, a US-based news website for the Filipino community, identified the suspect as Aaron Nygaard, in jail for burglary. According to the report, Nygaard faked a seizure attack to get out of the waiting room, then, without provocation, he hit Palomata on the head with a table lamp. The nurse was brought to John Muir Medical Center, where she underwent surgery for swelling in the brain due to blood clot. On Oct. 28, however, Palomata was taken off life support and declared dead. The suspect will be charged with murder, the report said. Palomata, a native of Nabas town in Aklan, had been working for the Contra Costa Health Services in California for over 20 years. She left behind a husband and a grown son. "The suddenness of the incident left us, her family, in shock. She was unaware that when she left home that day, she would never see her family again. We miss her terribly," Palomata’s brother Cyril Barraca Jr. was quoted as saying in the Asian Journal report. Dr. William Walker, director of Contra Costa Health Services, said in a statement that they will continue to evaluate safety procedures in coordination with the Sheriff’s Office. ‘Disturbing trend of violence’ Following Palomata’s death, the California Nurses’ Association (CNA) raised concerns about the safety of nurses assigned to potentially dangerous facilities. In a statement, the CNA called for policy reforms to curb what it called a “disturbing trend of violence" in facilities where medical care is provided. “Workplace violence is a major public health concern that has grown substantially in the past decade," the CNA said. It cited data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that the healthcare industry registered the highest incidence of workplace violence among all industrial sectors, being responsible for 45 percent of the two million incidents of workplace violence incidents that have occurred annually in the US between 1993 and 1999.

An Emergency Nurses Association survey released in 2009 also showed that more than 50 percent of emergency room nurses had experienced violence from patients and more than one-fourth had experienced 20 or more violent incidents in the past three years. Citing research, the CNA also said that factors such as long wait times, a shortage of nurses, drug and alcohol use by patients, and treatment of psychiatric patients all contributed to violence in the ER. “We can no longer tolerate inadequate security measures which threaten not only RNs and other staff, but also put families and other patients at risk," said CNA president emeritus Kay McVay. “Violence takes a significant toll. Prevention is essential to creating a safe and therapeutic environment for patients and a safer workplace for healthcare workers," she said. She also said that preventive measures were needed to reduce the loss of experienced staff members, who leave because of assaults and threats of violence. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration define workplace violence as any physical assault, threatening behavior, or verbal abuse occurring in the workplace. Part of the job In a separate interview, Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) president Dr. Teresita Barcelo said the violence that nurses face, even in the Philippines, is “real" — and this is why preventive mechanisms need to be instituted even as early as when prospective nurses are still studying for their college degrees. “Violence is one of our job hazards. We know that. That’s why kami na ang nag-iingat, because these people (patients in potentially violent worksites) cannot be relied upon," Barcelo said. Barcelo said the nursing curriculum includes a course on psychiatric nursing, where students are taught how to develop a “therapeutic relationship" with their patients. Barcelo admitted that certain incidents of violence — such as that experienced by Palomata — cannot be expected and are difficult to prevent. Even so, she added, developing this kind of relationship with patients may significantly reduce the occurrence of violent acts. But even outside these facilities, nurses, particularly in the Philippines and in some countries in the Middle East, become the subject of crimes, according to Barcelo. She cited the case of Florence (not her real name), a volunteer nurse in South Upi town in Maguindanao who was reportedly gang-raped on September 27. (See: Report: Maguindanao gang-raped nurse undergoes surgery) “It is important that part of the orientation in the hospitals and other facilities should be to inform medical professionals of the possible dangers of working there. This should be part of the protocol of hospitals," Barcelo explained. Nursing: popular because lucrative? In the last five years, some 82,000 nurses have indicated their desire to work in the US by taking the National Council Licensure Examination, the licensure exam for nurses in the US. The Department of Health said a big surge of nurses working overseas started in 1994, when some 100,000 nurses left the country. From 2000 to 2009, about 120,000 more were deployed abroad. In light of increased opportunities for overseas work, nursing remains a popular course for college students, with over 600,000 students taking it in 400 nursing schools in 2007, according to the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines. Records from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration meanwhile show 13,000 newly hired Filipino nurses were deployed overseas in 2009, making it a top occupational category for OFWs, second only to household service work.—DM/JV, GMANews.TV

Reposted From GMA News.TV

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Repost From Edith Regalado Of

Raped nurse suffers from memory loss

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Attending physicians said the 21-year-old volunteer nurse, who was gang-raped in Maguindanao recently, has suffered from memory loss as a result of the physical and psychological trauma she experienced during the ordeal.

Dr. Leopoldo Vega, executive director of the Southern Philippine Medical Center (SPMC) here, told The STAR that the victim is already able to say some words but that her cognitive level remains low.

The victim was rendering volunteer services in the Maguindanao town of South Upi when she was sexually molested last Sept. 25.

Vega said the victim, who sustained brain contusions, has shown some signs of recovery, as she now could say some words but could not still complete a sentence.

“Her speech is usually a repetition of what you tell her. Like if I tell her ‘I am Doc Vega,’ she would say ‘Vega.’ And when we ask her where she is at that moment, she would say ‘balay’ (house),” Vega said.

He said the victim is still disoriented with regards to time and place and other things.

“But what is good is she already says audible and comprehensible words and that she no longer mumbles unlike when she was first brought here in SPMC,” Vega said.

He said lapses in her cognitive level could be a result of the physical and psychological trauma she went through in the hands of her attackers.

Vega added that she could already eat slowly unlike before when she was dependent on tube-feeding.

The SPMC chief cited the need to carry out strict measures to help the victim recover, such as no television or newspapers in her room.

“We do not want her to listen to the news on TV because it might add to the trauma she is experiencing right now. We also do not want newspapers inside her room so she could not read about what is going on,” he added.

Her attending physicians also recommended that only female nurses would take care of her.

“We have only allowed female nurses and female physical therapists to help lessen her trauma,” he said, adding that security has also been tightened in the vicinity of her room at SPMC.

“As to her full recovery, we really could not tell yet. It really all depends on her improvements as days go by,” he said.

In Maguindanao, six suspects arrested after the rape have been released as the provincial prosecutor found insufficient evidence against them.

A former militiaman, who earlier had owned up to the crime but later retracted his confession, remains under police custody. - By Edith Regalado (Philstar News Service,

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Reposted From and GMA News.TV

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Repost From Jerrie M. Abella of GMA News.TV

Kin of Pinoys in Afghanistan plane crash grieve over loss

The families of the six Filipinos who died on board a cargo plane that crashed in Afghanistan on Tuesday are still reeling from their loss, even as they struggle to come to grips with the deaths of the heads of their families.

Nela Padura, wife of the plane’s avionics staff Edward Padura, said that while she is still in shock after receiving confirmation of the death of her husband on Wednesday, she is nevertheless trying to be strong for their four children.

"It’s painful but I have to accept it. If I won’t be able to deal with it, our children will be the ones who will suffer," she told GMA News-Cebu’s Vic Serna in a newscast on “24 Oras".

Padura retired from his position as second lieutenant of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in 2004 to try his luck abroad.

Like him, two other victims were likewise natives of Cordova town in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu: mechanic Bernard Castillo and crewmember Ibelo Valbuena.

Castillo likewise previously was with the PAF before he retired to work as a mechanic in Afghanistan.

His family told GMA News that he had earlier said he will return to the Philippines in December when he finishes his six-month contract, and promised to bring them all to Boracay island, a popular tourist spot.

"I know it is hard to accept but I and my siblings, along with our mother, will have to accept what happened," said Geraldine, one of Castillo’s four children.

The family of Valbuena, meanwhile, declined to be interviewed.

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Pilot Bulos was ‘full of life’

In a separate report by Marisol Abdurahman also on “24 Oras", Ingrid Bulos, wife of Major Henry Bulos who was the plane’s pilot, recalled her last conversation with her husband.

"Full of life lang siya a few days ago and masaya kaming nag-uusap… Gustong-gusto mo na siyang maabot, makausap, tapos biglang nawala," Ingrid said in between sobs. (He was so full of life a few days ago, and we were so happy talking… You’d wanted so much to reach him, to talk to him, then suddenly he’s gone.)

She likewise narrated how difficult it was for her to tell their only daughter that her father won’t be coming home.

"[I told her], you know what, Daddy's not coming back anymore. When they hit the mountain and Daddy stood up, Jesus was there and Jesus said it's time to go," she recounted.

Henry Bulos’s mother Precy likewise told GMA News how difficult it is that her son’s body may no longer be recovered.

"Ilang araw na, hindi pa kami nakakapag-[luksa]. Ano ba ang kakandilaan namin? Ano ang aasahan namin? Abo, mga body parts, pagsasama-samahin, at ike-cremate, magparte-parte na lang kami. Walo kayong magpaparte-parte. Gaano kasakit yun?" she said.

(Days have passed but we have been unable to properly grieve. What will we light candles for? What will we expect? Ashes, body parts, then gather these to be cremated? All of us eight families will have to share the ashes. How painful could that be?)

Seasoned pilots

Bulos’s co-pilot, retired Gen. Rene Badilla, was meanwhile the vice commander of the PAF when he retired in 2009.

In a text message to GMA News, former commanding general of the PAF Pedrito Cadungog expressed his sadness over the death of Badilla, whom he described as a close friend and classmate at the Philippine Military Academy.

PAF spokesperson Miguel Ocol likewise described Bulos and Badilla as two seasoned pilots of the agency.

"(Dalawa) sa mga matitinik naming C130 pilots. Across the PAF, nalungkot kami. Silang dalawa, sila ‘yung tipong pag sinabi mong C130, sila ang maiisip mo," Ocol said.

(They were two of the most seasoned C130 pilots. When you talk about C130, you’ll immediately think of the two of them. Across the PAF, we were all saddened.)

Badillo was a member of the PMA Class 1975, while Bulos graduated from a flight school in 1989.

The PAF said it will give full military honors to both Badilla and Bulos.

The Department of Foreign Affairs meanwhile said while there is an existing labor deployment ban in Afghanistan, filing charges against the six Filipinos’ employers will not be the department’s priority, as they are still working for the immediate repatriation of the victims’ remains.—Jerrie M. Abella/JV, GMANews.TV

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Repost From Vera Files

NGO blames Arroyo for Pampanga human rights violations

By Yahoo! Southeast Asia Editors – September 26th, 2010

By VERA Files

Clark Freeport, Pampanga—A human rights group in Central Luzon is blaming former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the increased incidence of human rights violations here in her home province Pampanga.

Aurora Broquil, president of the group Defend Central Luzon, said seven intelligence units have been deployed in Pampanga alone since late last year, including those from the air force, army, the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), the Philippine National Police, and even the National Bureau of Investigation. The number, she said, excludes the regular units of the AFP and PNP now deployed within Central Luzon.

Broquil said this is the reason Pampanga has been “terrorized.”

“Can you imagine napakaliit ng Pampanga para i-deploy ang seven intelligence units… That was the time na nililinis ang Pampanga, kailangang linisin dahil darating si GMA (Pampanga is too small to have seven intelligence units. That was the time they were clearing up Pampanga because GMA was arriving),” Broquil said in a talk with members of nongovernment groups attending an investigative reporting workshop on human rights conducted by VERA Files recently.

At the same forum, AFP Northern Luzon chief Lt. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan, who took over the Command in July, assured NGOs that he would pursue a campaign of zero violation as part of his plan to get soldiers to internalize human rights principles.

He appealed to human rights groups not to be too hard on the AFP and PNP. “We are doing everything in our capacity to get away from the spectre left by martial law. Give us the chance to prove that we are protectors of the people and their rights,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan told VERA Files that it’s possible that there are indeed more military units deployed in Pampanga over and above the regular ones, but he pointed out that this is part of operational control and that the number of troops vary from place to place.

Pangilinan said he would study the matter, although he denied Broquil’s accusation that the units were there to harass, much less terrorize, communities.

“If it’s true that there are seven intelligence units there, it’s for good, not for anything sinister,” Pangilinan said.

Broquil said the intelligence units were assigned to Pampanga in preparation for Arroyo’s assumption of the post of representative of the province’s second district after the elections in May.

Pangilinan said there was indeed a detachment organized and assigned to Lubao but it was withdrawn after University of the Philippines professor and Lubao native Randy David warned that the soldiers could be used to harass voters.

But the arrest and torture of suspected activists have been on the rise in the past year, Broquil said, citing the case of Rodwin Tala, Lenin Salas, and three others who were arrested without a warrant on Aug. 3, blindfolded and tortured.

The five men were alleged members of a leftist armed group called “Rebolusyonaryong Hukbo ng Bayan,” and charged with illegal possession of firearms.

It wasn’t until the next day, however, that their mothers were allowed to see them.

Gloria Tala said when she went to see her son Rodwin at the Provincial Police Office, his hair was burnt, his clothing disheveled, his body black and blue, and his chest showed signs of cigarette burns.

She said she tried taking video footage of her son using her cellphone, but an unnamed police officer snatcher her cellphone from her, while another shouted at them.

“Mga putang ina nyo, pagpapapatayin ko kayo. Kahit mga babae kayo, pumapatay ako ng babae (I’m going to kill you. It doesn’t matter that you are women. I kill women),” Tala quoted the unidentified police officer as saying.

Fanny Salas, whose son Lenin was also arrested, said she found her son weak and almost unable to stand. She quoted her son as telling her, “Mommy, tinortyur ako (Mommy, I was tortured).”

Both mothers were prevented from speaking with their sons at length or even approaching them, and even offering them bottles of water.

Salas said she tried not to let her son out of her sight. “Para akong asong sunud ng sunod sa anak ko dahil takot na akong mawala siya sa paningin ko (I was like a dog because I kept following my son around. I was afraid to let him out of my sight),” she sobbed.

Broquil explained that acts of torture do not only involve those inflicted on victims and their immediate families, but on other relatives. Threats and harassment have been experienced by those who are in some way connected to the victims.

She said military operations are now focused more on urban districts where there are many government projects, “quashing all forms of opposition” and “sow(ing) fear” not only towards progressive organizations but entire communities.

Broquil said after United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston’s report on human rights violations in the Philippines came out in 2006, killings in Central Luzon decreased.

But they resumed in 2008 when her group observed a new “phenomenon of forced disappearances” with new methods of harassments. There have been cases of abductions “without traces of evidence,” which she described as those in which the abductors were almost impossible to identify.

Last week, a report on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines by lawyer Al Parreño and funded by The Asia Foundation and the USAID, found among others that “Pampanga had the most number of cases (of extrajudicial killings) with the record of having thirty-seven (37) cases and forty-one (41) victims. Majority of the Pampanga cases still remain unsolved as the suspects are still unidentified and some of the cases are dismissed. Most of the victims in Pampanga are elected government officials or alleged members of the NPA.”

Parreño’s study analyzed 305 incidents of extrajudicial killings over 2001 to 2010, the nine-year-period during which Arroyo was president.

Meanwhile, Salas, Tala and their companions have been charged with illegal possession of firearms, ammunitions and explosives, offenses which are non-bailable.

In late August, the Salas family filed a writ of amparo, a remedy that covers extralegal killings, enforced disappearances and threats to an individual’s right to life, liberty and security. The first hearing of the five detainees’ case is set for tomorrow, September 28.—with reports from Neil Lim, Maxine Tanya Hamada, Jonal Santos, Richie Supan, Denise Fontanilla, Farah Sevilla, Ryan Gan, Homer Yabut and Eladio Perfecto

Reposted From Vera Files

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Repost From Gerry Plaza Of Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Angelica keeps mum on Claudine’s threat

By Gerry Plaza – August 30th, 2010

Showbiz Eye by Gerry Plaza
For Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Angelica Panganiban will remain silent on fellow actress Claudine Barretto’s plans to file a court case against her.

In a report published on the Philippine Entertainment Portal, Claudine alleged that Angelica was the source of ugly rumors that she has an extra-marital affair with a common friend, Martin Castro, who is very much married and also a close friend of Derek Ramsey and Raymart Santiago.

Angelica’s lawyer, Joji Alonso, released a statement read on ABS-CBN’s “The Buzz” on Sunday, August 29:

“Angelica has been advised to keep silent. There’s no need for her to say anything, moreso in reaction to what has been said. She has not done anything wrong, much less malign Claudine. On the contrary, it is Angelica who is being maligned by these unfounded accusations. Neither is there a need to dignify this incident by saying something more than what has already been said.”

Denying that Angelica ever made any claim about Claudine’s supposed extra-marital affair, the lawyer further said: “Whatever more that is said against Angelica shall be cause of the filing of appropriate civil and criminal cases.”

In the report, Claudine denied any romantic links with Martin and that they are only friends. She added Martin and Raymart remain as close friends.

Asked what drove Angelica to make such accusations, Claudine told PEP that the actress was out to destroy Martin’s friendship with Derek. “Gusto niyang sirain si Derek at si Martin. Ipinagkakalat niya na addict si Martin,” she said.

In addition, Claudine said she was also out to protect her sister Gretchen’s reputation, which Angelica had besmirched in Twitter messages. She also claimed that in a party they all attended, Angelica had talked to guests about Gretchen’s supposed gifts to Derek, her longtime boyfriend. Gretchen and Angelica have since patched up their differences.

In a separate PEP report, Star Magic’s Johnny Manahan expressed full support for Angelica, one of their prized talents, in this controversy.

“She is feisty, irreverent, sometimes crude, but never a liar,” Mr. M said.

“Whoever is behind the web of lies and falsehoods being spun in print, Twitter, and other media must be a very disturbed individual. I only hope this nonsense stops before it destroys the perpetrator,” he added.

To Claudine, one of his original talents in the network who has since moved to rival station GMA-7, Mr. M did not mince any words in another message to PEP: “Go Ahead! Sue, Claudine. Make our Day! Para bellum (Prepare for war).”

Reposted From Gerry Plaza Of Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Repost From Jerrie Abella Of GMA News.TV

5 Filipino drug 'mules' face execution in China this month

(Updated 7:58 p.m.) Five Filipinos may be executed in China this month over drug-related offenses, a party-list lawmaker said on Wednesday citing information from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The five — four women and a man — were recently sentenced to death without reprieve, according to Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello at a press briefing.

He said he got the information from DFA undersecretary for migrant workers Esteban Conejos during the hearing of the House committee on overseas Filipino workers affairs, which he chairs.

Conejos did not provide the names of the accused but said they were used as drug mules by international drug syndicates. He said two of the five cases have already been brought before the higher court of Beijing.

Bello refused to give details of the execution, which he said could happen in two to three weeks, saying he does not want to alarm people.

The DFA, in a statement issued on the same day, said the majority of the 302 Filipinos facing drug-related cases in Asia are in China (205 cases), followed by Hong Kong (26) and Malaysia (17). It said 221 of these cases involve women.

It noted that most of the Filipinos caught were lured to act as “drug mules" by international drug syndicates.

In China, drug trafficking of 50 grams or more of illegal drugs is punishable by 15 years in prison, life imprisonment or death. In Muslim countries, drug trafficking is punishable by death, according to Shariah law.

A Filipino lawmaker, Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson, is currently detained in Hong Kong after he was arrested at an airport there for allegedly carrying cocaine and prescription drug Valium.

In an interview, AGHAM party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones said the government might save the Filipinos through the documents that will be presented by the DFA about the members of the syndicate behind the illegal drug operations in China.

He said two members of the drug syndicate were arrested in the country.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs is in a hurry to save the lives of these five Filipinos by presenting documents proving that they are just victims. The two arrested suspected members of the international drug syndicates will be presented there," said Palmones.

The DFA, for its part, reiterated its warning to Filipinos traveling overseas against possession or trafficking of illegal drugs.

“We warn our countrymen from carrying drugs when traveling overseas and especially not to accept packages, which they suspect contain drugs, and also to be wary of the modus operandi being used by drug-trafficking syndicates. If they are caught, they will face very dire circumstances," Conejos said.

Among the drug-related cases in China, five have been meted the death penalty without reprieve, and 70 with death penalty with two-year reprieve. There are 35 cases given life imprisonment sentences, 68 with fixed-term imprisonment, and 27 pending cases.

Palmones, meanwhile, expressed fear that the cases of five Filipinos may be affected by the bloody hostage-taking incident in Manila that claimed the lives of eight tourists from Hong Kong.

But Conejos, at a Senate hearing, said he is sure the appeal of five Filipinos will not be affected by the hostage-taking.

“I'm sure that both countries will look at cases separately and will decide on the basis of the good relations that we have with China," Conejos said after attending a Senate hearing on human trafficking on Wednesday.- with Jerrie Abella/KBK, GMANews.TV

Reposted From Jerrie Abella Of GMA News.TV

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Repost From GMA News.TV

RP staffer in Riyadh still detained without charges

An employee of the Philippine post in Riyadh continues to be detained there for over two months now for his alleged involvement in the death of a woman, but local authorities have yet to file charges against him. Philippine Labor Attaché to Riyadh Alberto Valenciano confirmed in an interview that Bashir Ayob, an employee of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, remains in detention at the Deira jail but has yet to be formally charged. Ayob, 42 from Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat, was arrested on June 12 while attending to the repatriation requirements of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW). (See: RP welfare officer in Riyadh held on false charges, says wife)

Based on a previous interview with his wife Janet, a Filipina nurse also working in Riyadh, Ayob was arrested allegedly after bringing to the hospital an unidentified pregnant woman, allegedly also an OFW, who eventually died due to severe bleeding. Janet has previously appealed to the Embassy to assist his husband, saying that he was innocent. “He is just a fall guy. He helped many OFWs to be repatriated to the Philippines and now he is being accused of a crime he never did," she said. Embassy yet to receive info Valenciano said Ambassador Antonio Villamor has already sent a note verbale to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting that a meeting between him and the deputy minister of interior be arranged. “We have to follow the diplomatic process. For now, this is the most that we can do," Valenciano told GMANews.TV. According to Valenciano, Villamor has likewise sent another note verbale to follow up on his previous request, but the Embassy has yet to receive a response. Valenciano also admitted they have yet to get hold of confirmed information on the circumstances of Ayob’s arrest, saying they only have a copy of a police report indicating that Ayob’s case is still under investigation. “We have already filed a motion for his release. The Embassy is on top of the situation but we can only do so much based on local laws," he said. Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Carmelita Dimzon meanwhile said in a separate interview that according to reports, Ayob was arrested because “he violated the law of Saudi Arabia." “Reportedly he brought a woman to the hospital and the woman died. Under Saudi laws, you should not just leave a dead person in the hospital and instead report it to authorities. He reportedly failed to do that," Dimzon said. ‘Guilty until proven innocent’ Valenciano said the Embassy has already hired a Saudi lawyer to work on Ayob’s case. Unlike in the Philippines, he explained, people in Saudi suspected of committing crimes are “presumed guilty until proven innocent." “Suspects may be detained up to six months, within which charges should already be filed. After that, he may be released if there are still no charges," said Valenciano. A Filipino migrants’ rights group has urged the Embassy to place Ayob under its custody. “More than 2 months now since his detention, the Philippine post didn’t even bother to issue a certification that Ayob is not the person who abandoned the (woman), and arrange to place him under the Embassy’s custody," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator. Monterona added Ayob’s continued detention resulted in an increased number of cases of OFWs in distress that are unattended. “Now there are about 120 distressed OFWs staying at the Bahay Kalinga, unlike before under Ayob’s care when there are only about 40 OFWs there," he said. Embassy employee since 80s Ayob has been working in Saudi Arabia for almost three decades now in various functions in the Embassy, such as interpreter and assistant in the Embassy’s welfare office. His duties involve liaising with other local authorities on behalf of OFWs in distress, and attending to cases of sick OFWs, which includes bringing them to clinics and hospitals. “Technically he is not a welfare officer, but he assists mostly women OFWs who escaped from their employers and are now in the Embassy’s Bahay Kalinga. He was the one working for their exit visas for their repatriation," Valenciano explained. Dimzon likewise said Ayob was hired locally, being already a resident of Riyadh before working for the Embassy, but he remains a Filipino citizen. Ayob started working for the Embassy since 1980 as a contractual employee. Janet joined him in Riyadh in 2003. They have a five-year-old son.—JV, GMANews.TV

Reposted From GMA News.TV

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Repost From Thea Alberto Of Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Palace: Spare our workers in Hong Kong

By Thea Alberto – August 24th, 2010
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By Thea Alberto
Yahoo! Southeast Asia

The Palace is concerned about the situation surrounding Filipino workers in Hong Kong after receiving reports that a Filipina maid had lost her job after Monday’s tragic hostage crisis in Manila.

“May incidental reports na pinapaconfirm pa namin that a Filipina maid was fired by her employers in Hong Kong because of what happened [We're still trying to confirm reports that a Filipino maid was fired by her employers because of what happened],” said Presidential Communications Group Development Secretary Ricky Carandang in a press conference.

“We understand the anger and the dismay of the people of Hong Kong but at the same time also we don’t think that it’s right our ordinary citizens who had nothing to do with this should be paying the price,” said Carandang.

Based on statistics from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, there were at least 100,142 Filipinos working in Hong Kong in 2009.

From 2003, more than half a million Filipinos have found jobs in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is listed as the top working destination for “Household Service Workers” with at least 71,557 new hires in 2009.

Malacanang is also verifying reports of physical threats against Filipinos residing or working in Hong Kong.

Philippine government might also attempt to secure Filipinos there, according to the government spokesperson.

The Hong Kong government earlier raised a “black” travel alert for the Philippines, urging its residents to avoid any travel to the Philippines.

Hong Kong residents were outraged over the slow response of the Philippine authorities in the rescue, in which the police took 12 hours to neutralize the hostage taker Rolando Mendoza.

Some tweets are now demanding apology from the Philippine government.

@xiao_c, for instance, has retweeted this: “@newsinchina Philippine GOV,we chinese need your apologize for 9 HK tourists killed yesterday. If u agree,pls RT.”

Another Twitter user @newsinchina, meanwhile, urged Chinese users to launch a protest on the popular social networking service. “If we Chinese tweeps launch the protest to Philippine via twitter,they will feel the pressure. pls RT! #MANILA,” the user wrote.

Reposted From Thea Alberto Of Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Repost From Jerrie Abella Of GMA News.TV

Battered OFW’s remains finally home from Milan

The remains of a domestic helper beaten to death in the northern Italian city of Milan on August 6 arrived Thursday afternoon, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Emilou Verdad, a 40-year-old domestic helper working in Milan, was killed on August 6 allegedly by a Ukrainian national as she was stepping out of her house, according to Consul General in Milan Antonio Morales.

She was declared on dead on arrival at the hospital after she was allegedly beaten by a certain Oleg Fedchenko, whom Morales described as a “frustrated boxer."

Morales said the suspect, who has a history of violence and psychological problems, allegedly told his mother that he will kill the first woman he sees, and chanced upon Verdad.

Fedchenko is currently detained in a prison facility in Milan. He earlier requested to be transferred to a mental hospital but his motion was denied, according to Morales.

Verdad worked in Milan for 20 years before her death and was an active member of the Filipino community there.

In a statement, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday vowed to help Verdad’s family.

Upon learning of her death, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said she immediately directed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide the necessary assistance, particularly the repatriation and airport services for Verdad’s remains as she was a regular member of the OWWA at the time of her death.

All repatriation expenses were shouldered by OWWA, Baldoz added according to a release posted on the DOLE website.

The Labor secretary said Verdad’s husband has also been told of the requirements for the claim of death insurance benefits of P200,000 and the burial assistance of P20,000.

Meanwhile, Morales said his office has already asked for financial support from the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs of the DFA for legal expenses.

Verdad left behind a husband and two children, who were with her in Milan.

On August 17, they flew from the Italian city to bring her remains to her hometown in Calauan, Laguna.

Morales said the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, celebrated a Mass in memory of Verdad, which was attended by Filipinos in Milan and local government officials, including Milan Mayor Letizia Moratti.

There is no scheduled hearing yet on the case against the suspect, according to Morales.—Jerrie M. Abella/JV, GMANews.TV

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Repost From Andreo Calonzo Of GMA News.TV

Pinay in HK jail for alleged 'drug mule' role

A Filipina is currently detained in Hong Kong for allegedly carrying illegal drugs into the Chinese territory last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Saturday. The unidentified Filipina was arrested Wednesday last week at the Hong Kong International Airport for allegedly carrying 276 grams of cocaine and is currently detained at the Tai Lam Center for Women, the DFA said in a news release posted on its website on Saturday.

According to the DFA, the Filipina told representatives from the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong that the illegal drugs she was caught carrying came from a Chinese national now detained at the Parañaque City Jail, who recruited her and promised him payment for the delivery of the cocaine. She likewise said that she was asked to turn over the illegal drugs to a man who would meet her in Hong Kong upon her arrival. The Filipina has already appeared before the Tsuen Wan Magistrates’ Court on August 9, and is scheduled for another hearing on October 28, the DFA said. Under Hong Kong laws, possession of dangerous drugs is punishable with a maximum imprisonment of seven years and a maximum fine of HK$1,000,000. The incident prompted the DFA to reiterate its warning to Filipino travelers who act as drug mules in exchange for money.

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos warned these Filipino drug mules of “stiff penalties" for travelers who are caught carrying illegal drugs into other countries. "We warn our countrymen not to accept packages which they suspect are drugs. If they are caught carrying illegal drugs, they will face very dire consequences. We also appeal to our public to be wary of the modus operandi used by drug-trafficking syndicates," he said in the same news release.

Two weeks ago, Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson was also arrested at the Hong Kong International Airport for allegedly possessing 26.1 grams of cocaine and two tablets of Valium. (See: CCTV shows Rep. Singson 'eluding' airport X-ray machine)—Andreo C. Calonzo/JV, GMANews.TV

Reposted From Andreo Calonzo of GMA News.TV

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Repost From Thea Alberto Of Yahoo! Southeast Asia

New NFA administrator seeks system audit

By Thea Alberto – July 27th, 2010
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By Thea Alberto, Yahoo! Southeast Asia

The National Food Authority seeks a systems and management audit, following President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s revelations of wasteful spending in the agency during the previous administration.

NFA Administrator Lito Banayo said he already sought the help of Department of Justice (DoJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the systems audit.

“I am minded to institute a systems and management audit of my agency to ensure both systems and personnel are functioning properly according to our mandate,” Banayo said, quoting his letter to Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Banayo said the audit would include investigation of previous purchases, protocols in timing and volume of rice importation and inventory of system to prevent waste and spoilage of stocks.

Banayo lamented that NFA has a debt of P177 billion as of June 30 yet the agency has overstock of rice in its warehouses.

“Punong puno po kami ng bigas. Naliligo po kami sa bigas,” Banayo said, adding that the country has sufficient rice supply until December.

Banayo said he also suspects some of rice in stock were purchased back in 2008, which means the stocks are past its shelf life of six months.

The over importation of rice was first revealed by the president in his first State of the Nation Address.

“Ang masakit nito, dahil sobra-sobra ang binibili nila taun-taon, nabubulok lang pala sa mga kamalig ang bigas, kagaya ng nangyari noong 2008. Hindi po ba krimen ito, na hinahayaan nilang mabulok ang bigas, sa kabila ng apat na milyong Pilipinong hindi kumakain ng tatlong beses sa isang araw?” Aquino said in his speech.

Reposted From Thea Alberto Of Yahoo! Southeast Asia