Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Repost From GMA News.TV

DOLE assures aid for distressed Pinoy workers in Jeddah

The country’s labor department has assured the unpaid Filipino medical workers in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, that the government is pursuing conciliation efforts to address their complaints in the face of impending closure of their jobsite.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque gave the assurance, saying the government remains firm in ensuring that assistance is extended to the 200-plus affected workers, in a release posted on the website of the Department of Labor and Employment. Some 236 workers, which include nurses and clinic staff, earlier sought assistance from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Jeddah, after their employer failed to pay them their salaries for six months and announced it will be ceasing operations. (See: Jobless in Jeddah: 200 unpaid Pinoys seek help) Their employer, Al Ansar Hospital, operates a hospital and two polyclinics. Only one polyclinic remains in operation, and is likewise set to close soon. The release said Roque has directed POLO to continue to pursue an “all-out effort to assist all affected workers in consultation with the host country."

Labor Attache to Jeddah Vicente Cabe has also been asked to fully confirm the closure of the hospital’s remaining polyclinic. Meanwhile, in a report to Roque, Cabe clarified that POLO had earlier pursued efforts to conciliate the case. “The efforts applied by the POLO are consistent with Philippine law, particularly Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant and Overseas Filipinos Act’s policies to ensure social, economic and legal services to Filipino migrant workers," the release stated, quoting Cabe. Cabe earlier told GMANews.TV that the workers’ complaints have already been forwarded to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor and to the Office of the Governor of Jeddah for appropriate action. He added that a case against Al Ansar regarding the workers’ unpaid salaries is also pending before the Primary Commission of the Ministry of Labor. “Although conciliation, especially in a foreign land, takes effort, time, and patience to gather the parties to sit down and negotiate, our persistence to intervene and assist the OFWs are in consonance with the mission of the POLO to ensure onsite assistance, and to promote their welfare," Roque said.—JMA/JV, GMANews.TV

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Reposted From GMA News.TV

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Repost From Sophie Regina M. Dedace of GMA News.TV

Bangit not resigning, hits efforts to politicize AFP

Expressing dismay at what he said were "attempts to destroy" the military, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Delfin Bangit on Monday broke his silence and stood firm against those prodding him to relinquish his post.

At a press conference, Bangit said he could not abandon his duties and maintained he serves at the pleasure of the Armed Forces' commander-in-chief, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Addressing Edwin Lacierda, the spokesperson of presidential frontrunner Sen. Benigno Aquino III who called on the AFP chief to step down, Bangit said those calling for his resignation do not know what they are talking about.

"They should know and understand that a soldier is either relieved, reassigned, or has to stand to his post if his superiors want him to stay. A soldier filing a resignation is abdication of duty in our Articles of War, particularly Article 58, and that [resigning] is punishable under our system," Bangit said.

"So long as I am here, I will be the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. I will fight any side that drags the Armed Forces into politics," he added.

He likewise said he would remain as AFP chief "until the next Congress," citing President Arroyo's order.

Prior to Monday's press briefing, Bangit admitted he thought about resigning because the AFP leadership was being "politicized" and that some 300 military officers were supposedly denied confirmation by the Commission on Appointments because of him.

He added he was "too ashamed" that the AFP was dragged into politics after working hard to remain non-partisan in the recently concluded May 10 automated polls.

"I therefore decided that I should go if that is what will keep the Armed Forces intact. Yesterday, instead of doing that, I decided to fight for the institution because I feel that everytime they are hurting me, they are hurting our institution. I came to realize that it is no longer me, this is no longer just about General Bangit, whom they doubt despite contrary evidence," he said.

The doubts Bangit referred to concerned questions about his independence from the appointing authority, with which he shares close ties.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1978, Bangit is perceived to be close to President Arroyo. The outgoing commander-in-chief is an honorary member of Bangit's class. Bangit is scheduled to retire on July 31 next year.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who is ex-officio chair of Commission on Appointments, earlier said Bangit would have to relinquish his post after the commission adjourned last Friday without confirming his appointment. — Sophie Regina M. Dedace/RJAB Jr./RSJ, GMANews.TV

Reposted From Sophie Regina M. Dedace Of GMA News.TV

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Repost From GMA News.TV

SLEx toll fees to increase up to 400%, operator says

Motorists would pay up to P85 for driving through the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) once the South Luzon Tollway Corp.’s (SLTC) request for an increase in toll fees is approved.

Speaking at the Balitaan sa Tinapayan news forum in Sampaloc, Manila on Sunday, Alma Tuazon, SLTC spokesperson, said that her company has a pending petition before the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) to raise the SLEx toll rates.

“Once approved by TRB, there may be a 300-percent increase of toll fee for the motorists passing [through] the SLEx," Tuazon said.

The present toll fee from Alabang to Calamba is P22 for cars. Once the SLTC’s petition is approved, the toll fee will increase from P70 to P85.

The SLEx toll rate is 75 centavos per kilometer, according to the office of Senator Ramon “Bong" Revilla Jr. – a staunch opponent of the toll rate increase – with buses paying P43 and trucks, P65 from Alabang to Calamba.

The cost of the SLEx rehabilitation has amounted to P11 billion since the project started in 2006, Tuazon said, explaining why the SLTC has filed for the authority to increase its toll rates.

Rehabilitation of the South Luzon Tollway segment started in 2006 under the SLEx Upgrading and Rehabilitation Project to expand the Alabang Viaduct as well as the road from Alabang to Calamba, eventually connecting the expressway to the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road to Batangas.

SLEx would be the Philippine's longest expressway once its 118-kilometer rehabilitation and extension to the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road is complete.

If motorists feel that the proposed increase is too high or excessive, they can file a petition with the TRB, TRB spokesman Julius Corpus said.

He said the SLTC will also hold dialog with operators of provincial buses plying the SLEx. —VS. GMANews.TV

Reposted From GMA News.TV