OAV Registration (May 6, 2014 – Oct. 31, 2015)

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"IT IS ONLY WHEN YOU EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO CHOOSE THAT YOU CAN ALSO EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO CHANGE"

“IT IS ONLY WHEN YOU EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO CHOOSE THAT YOU CAN ALSO EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO CHANGE” (Registration starts  May 6, 2014 to October 31, 2015)

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Labor Ministry launches portal for expatriates

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Labor Ministry launches portal for expatriates

In a bid to prevent workers’ rights violations in the Kingdom, the Ministry of Labor has launched an exclusive Web portal to educate workers about their rights and how to avail them.

640x392_79058_157084The Web portal  www.laboreducation.gov.sa  launched on Tuesday aims to boost awareness about workers’ rights and the rules that regulate the relationship between the employee and employer in the Kingdom. While the Web portal’s Arabic version has comprehensive information, the English version is still under construction, according to sources in the Labor ministry.

The Web portal comes in the light of several reports of exploitation of expatriate workers in particular, due to lack of legal knowledge. The portal provides useful information related to the contact details of relevant authorities, workers’ rights, contractual obligations and wages, working hours, training, qualification, work responsibility, disciplinary rules and the calculation of end of service benefits.

It also makes provision for special rights for people with disabilities and women workers.

Sources pointed out that one can also lodge a formal complaint through the Web portal. The sources said that the Labor ministry which is fully automated through an electronic system now intends to extend the same facility for workers to improve the working environment and guarantee the rights of employer and employee.

Taken from: Arab News Saudi Arabia News/JEDDAH: Irfan Mohammed/Published — Wednesday 17 September 2014

 

Advocate what is right – NOto550

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The issue of the integration of terminal fee into airline tickets is seems like a reported ISIS (unconfirmed) statement on tweet to destroy the Holy Kaaba in Mecca after capturing Saudi Arabia.  Though these two issues very much differ from the other, it is like an atomic bomb exploded right in front of those concern people that surely affected by the recent events.

NOto550Actually, OFWs is still exempted from paying airport terminal fee if the plan prosper; the main question here is why integrate the payment of terminal fee into airline tickets if the OFW is properly documented by showing to the airline agent the OEC.  The logic is – we have the OEC; and why on earth incorporate the terminal fees along with the ticket and subject for reimbursement later because we are exempted from paying it.  What a totally stupid idea. What an insult to us – OFWs. (Other scenario in the implementing process at the last part of this post). 

And adding more insult to the insult is about the refund process. Why giving us more excess burdens by having it reimburse with all of those documentary requirements?  To obtain OEC, will take us one day and now you are asking us to queue on the very day of our departure just to collect the money that we can’t even use in the country of our destination. Sa isang banda, bakit pa namin bigyan ng problema or istorbohin ang aming pamilya o kamag-anak para lamang mag pa-reimburse. Exempted na nga, pagbabayarin pa at ibabalik rin pala! Di ba masalimuot? 

Are those stupid minds behind this plan are enemies of OFWs? Why our government always keeping an eye on us – OFWs? Are you not contented to the millions of dollars of remittances WE, OFWs brings into the country?  Saving our economy while those corrupt government officials spending millions of OWWA funds at the expense of an ordinary OFW’s.

But I still believed that all of these fees that Philippine officials want to put on the shoulders of our OFWs will not materialize because OFWs are protected with the Migrant Workers Overseas Filipinos Act.

imagesThe issue of terminal fees to be imposed to OFWs was already an issue way back then. I remember in 2005, the government plan to restore the gross income tax on OFWs,  the following year there was a proposal to collect from the OFWs security fee of $3.50 (P175) and a rumored about terminal fees surfaced in the succeeding years. All of these turned out into the trash because any fees to be collected to OFWs clearly violates the said law.

The  R.A. 10022 as amended read as follows:

SEC. 35.  Exemption from Travel Tax, Documentary Stamp and Airport Fee. - All laws to the contrary notwithstanding, the migrant workers shall be exempt from the payment of travel tax and airport-fee upon proper showing of proof entitlement by the POEA.

What proof entitlement does the law talking about? To quote “Upon proper showing of proof entitlement by the POEA”.  What document we are talking about?  The Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). The OEC is a requirement under the rules and regulations of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). This helps ensure that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are properly documented and protected.

The basic requirements to obtain an OEC are: a) Passport with valid working visa. In KSA, Exit Re-entry visa for vacationing OFWs/Employment Contract or Working Visa for new OFWs b) Annual payment and or OWWA Certificate of Membership c) Annual Payment of Pag-ibig membership d) Copy of Ticket  reservation e) Annual Payment of Philhealth membership.

If you have all of the above, OEC holders are exempted from paying the travel tax and the airport terminal fee.

Please note that in KSA, the employer are the one who will purchase the ticket (as prescribed in the contract) for their vacationing workers. The original copy of the ticket is handed to the worker on the day of his/her departure along with their passport (that was keep by the employer from the day the worker arrived in KSA) and other travel documents.  Prior issuance of the ticket, the worker only have the copy of the ticket reservation.  So it means if we will apply for OEC at our Embassy/POLO office we don’t have a choice but to present them with the copy of the ticket reservation from the airline company na may kasama ng terminal fee.Walang lusot ang kawawang OFW”.  Kung sa Pilipinas kami kukuha ng OEC natural na ang ticket namin na binili ng employer ay may dagdag or kasama ng terminal fee. PERO may isang problema, papayag kaya ang employer na bayaran ang dagdag na singil for terminal fee?  Ito ay isa sa mga usaping aabangan natin. Ang kawawang OFW na katulad ko ay walang magawa kundi pumila sa designated areas to comply with the refund stupid process.

Wala ba kayong naalala?  Parang kahalintulad ng OWWA membership fee!   To quote found at their websiteOWWA membership fee to be paid by the employer.”  NAPAKALINAW!  Ang tanong,  employer ba ninyo ang nagbabayad sa OWWA membership fee? 

Okey,  let’s talk about  amending the law. Of course, a certain law can be changed or a portion of it can be amended but it can be done in normal legislative process.  A law can be replaced in its entirety or if not the court can declare part of a law unconstitutional and renders that portion void but leaves the rest in place. However, all of these can be done in a proper forum through legislative proceedings or in court proceedings. Kaya may laban pa rin tayo na tutulan ang panukalang ito ng mga istupido. 

If our legislators, particularly those “leaders kono” for OFWs can’t do anything to stop this stupid plan, then WE should fight for it! Maybe not in the house of Congress, but perhaps in the Court of Law.

For whatever this pahirap sa OFW is all about, I am asking my fellow OFWs to advocate what is right for us - NOto550.  – BongA

NAIA-Terminal-Fee-International

 

Saudi woman’s quest for childhood nanny touches heart of a nation

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There are sad stories and or shocking treatment but overwhelming majority of domestic workers in the Kingdom are treated well with respect in this country. Sad stories? Yes! But also many of them returned home with success stories of their own.” – BongA

Saudi freelance journalist Rawan Radwan

Saudi Journalist Rawan Radwan

When Saudi freelance journalist Rawan Radwan set out to locate her childhood nanny, she never imagined that her search would become an international news story, warming hearts around the globe.

Three years ago, the 29-year-old Saudi woman and her sister, Hadeel, discovered a deeply touching personal letter written to their mother by a woman from the Philippines 22 years ago.

“The discovery of that letter sparked my curiosity to find this person,” said Radwan. “She was our nanny, and her full name was Marie ‘Ning’ Bernardo. Many of our happy childhood memories are associated with her.”

With time and distance working against her, Radwan was frustrated time and again in her quest to locate the long lost nanny.

“I wanted to know where life had taken her,” she told Arab News. “She was very caring; it was she who instilled a sense of discipline in us; she was the one who read bedtime stories to us; she was the one who taught us English.” 

The Nanny

The Nanny

The then-youngsters were particularly attached to Marie because of the nature of their parents’ jobs. “My father, the late Mohammed Jamil Radwan, was a diplomat posted in Jakarta; my mother, Fatma M. Zain, was a lecturer in Jeddah. Both had very busy work schedules, and so we were left in our nanny’s care most of the time at that formative, impressionable age, and so everything good that she did for us remained deep within.” 

Radwan said she and her sister may have had 10 nannies after Marie, but “no one could replace her in kindness and goodness, and that is why I wanted to reach her.”  

With time and distance working against her, Radwan was frustrated time and again in her quest to locate the long lost nanny.

“I wanted to know where life had taken her,” she told Arab News. “She was very caring; it was she who instilled a sense of discipline in us; she was the one who read bedtime stories to us; she was the one who taught us English.” click  ArabNews to read more>>>

By ofwempowerment Posted in News

Everyday Law – e-lawyers online

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Sa dami ng mga OFW readers natin na nagtatanong or nag-inquire sa ating blog tungkol sa usaping pamilya o mag-asawa at di ko masagot at ni-refer ko po sa mga abogado dahil hindi po ako isang abogado, ito na po ang inyong hinihintay!!!

“PWEDE BA ANG KAMAG-ANAK KO NA LANG ANG MAGPRESENTA NG EVIDENCE KO SA ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE SA KORTE?”

ANG PALAGIANG PERSONAL APPEARANCE O PERSONAL NA PAGPAPAKITA NG PETITIONER O NAGSAMPANG ASAWA SA KORTE HABANG NILILITIS ANG ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE AY HINDI KAILANGAN O HINDI REQUIRED NG RULES OF COURT NGUNIT KAILANGAN ANG KANYANG PERSONAL APPEARANCE UPANG KUNIN ANG KANYANG TESTIMONYA SA KORTE AT PERSONAL NA MAGPRESENTA NG KANYANG EVIDENCE.

Ang karaniwang tanong sa E-Lawyers Online tungkol sa annulment of marriage o declaration of nullity of marriage ay kung kailangan ba ang personal appearance ng nagsampang asawa habang nililitis sa korte ang annulment of marriage. Maraming OFW o nasa abroad ang nagtatanong dito dahil ang akala ng marami ay required sila na manatili sa Pilipinas habang nililitis ang annulment of marriage. Ganito ang tanong ng isang reader sa E-Lawyers Online:

lawyersAttorney, sa abroad po ako nagtratrabaho at matagal na akong hiwalay sa asawa t may balak akong magfile ng annulment of marriage. Kailangan bang nasa Pilipinas ako habang nililitis ang kaso ko? Pwede bang kamag-anak ko na lang ang magbigay ng testimoniya sa korte at hindi na ako umuwi sa Pilipinas?”

Walang batas sa Rules of Court o sa Admin. Matter No. 02-11-10-SC dated March 4, 2003, kilala bilang Rule of Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Marriage and Annulment of Voidable Marriages o sa Family Code na required ang petitioner o nagsampang asawa na manatili sa Pilipinas habang nililitis ang annulment of marriage. Ang required lamang sa petitioner o nagsampang asawa ay personal siyang magbigay ng testimoniya sa korte sa tinakdang panahon upang patunayan na meron siyang ground at evidence para ipawalang bisa ang kasal niya. Usually, ang pagbibigay ng testimoniya ng petitioner sa korte ay nagagawa at natatapos ng 2-3 days at pagkatapos nito ay pwede na uli siyang bumalik sa trabaho niya sa abroad. Ang testimoniya ng mga ibang witness na nasa Pilipinas ang unang pinipresenta at saka ang testimoniya ng petitioner ay ini-schedule namin sa panahon ng vacation sa Pilipinas ng petitioner upang maging convenient. Ano sa tingin ninyo? Interesting di ba ? read more>>>>

An Appeal to Free Fred

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Wenifredo “Fred” Castolome, an active Filipino community leader in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is now languishing in jail on the charge for breach of contract to operate a five year school operation. He is at present incarcerated in prison at Hogug Islahiyah, Amber 9 Detention Cell, Briman, Jeddah. Most of the Filipino community in Jeddah knows “Fred” very well, it is because he is actively involved in the Filipino community. He was the former President of CSOSA (Cebuano Speaking Organization in Saudi Arabia), a regional group behind many cultural, sports and fundraising activities for a purpose in the Philippine Consulate. He was also the former Chairman of the Overseas Filipino Worker Cooperative Council, whose organization (OFWCC) conducts seminars to fellow OFWs on cooperative and computer literacy training not only in Jeddah but also in Taif and Riyadh. These two organizations I mentioned are few of the many organizations, Fred has been active with.

Winefredo Pernes Castolome

Wenifredo Pernes Castolome

Fred and his wife Moncita  spent most of their lives in the Kingdom and in fact their two sons “Jan Jan” and “Jesric” are both born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Like any other Philippine School in the Kingdom, the defunct Sunrise International School has its trustee in which Fred was the Chairman of the Board.

The first year of the five year contract operation was then going smoothly, however the next year was a trying year for the school. Until the board realized that to continue operating is impossible for them to perform its obligation. They decided to cease its operation.

Unfortunately, their local partner refused to accept the groups’ decision who take legal action and brought the complaint to the court against Fred in his capacity as chairman of the board.

Both parties, then initially agreed in the sum of SAR 300,000 to settle the amount representing losses for the remaining three years of the agreed contract. Regrettably, the court corroborated by the complainant raised the agreed amount to SAR 1,300,000.

Due to anxiety, lack of sleep and afraid of the consequences Fred as ordered by the court signed the documents in the absence of witnesses, consulate interpreter and legal counsel.

Impossible to produce such huge amount Fred was arrested and put in jail on May 15, 2012.

I know Fred personally way back when I was in Jeddah (1993-1997), he is a family man, an energetic person, full of life and stamina, a man who never rests and delivers what you wanted if you ask him to do a certain task. He likes to roam around offering anyone an alternative ways how to have an extra cash for savings.

His pocket is open to all his friends, organizations and charities; he never says no to a friend in dire needs of money. Not all are destined to succeed, there’s always an accompanying failure in an attempt to reach the top, people sometimes fail in any endeavors or ventures, I or you want to create and Fred is one of them.

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Click Gavel for the Facts of the Case

The Philippine Sunrise International School (PSIS) was a failure, but it doesn’t mean that ceasing its operation was an intent to cheat or defraud the other parties involved. Breach of contract is not a crime, therefore a two years in prison is considerably the value of the amount in damages asked by the complainant. Fred already suffers the consequences of his action. For Fred, 2 years in jail is another 30 long years as an OFW in the Kingdom.

On behalf of Fred’s family, relatives and friends; WE appeal to the other party concern to please drop the case so that Fred can go home and be with his family. He already suffers and punish, two years is enough to a 64 years old OFW with a declining health.

On behalf of Fred’s family, relatives, friends, Filipino Community organizations in Jeddah, Fred helps to organized; WE respectfully appeal to His Royal Highness Prince Mishaal bin Majid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Governor of Jeddah to please free the man who considered Saudi Arabia as his second home.

On behalf of Fred’s family, relatives, friends and OFWs in the Kingdom who knows him well;  WE humbly appeal to H.E. Ambassador Ezz Tago to please look Fred’s case and assist him of a legal counsel and or whatever necessary to be done under the circumstances of the case.

Lastly, on behalf of Fred’s family, relatives, friends and the son and daughters of  Almighty God ; WE pray Lord in Heaven to please give Fred more strength and good health for him to submit and hold Your Grace in this trying and tough times of his life.  

Philippine Embassy hosts Diplomatic Reception to celebrate 116th Anniversary of Philippine Independence

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The Philippine Embassy celebrated the 116th anniversary of the Declaration of Philippine Independence on 27 May 2014 with a diplomatic reception at the Al Tuwaiq Palace in Riyadh. Around 200 distinguished guests attended, officials from the different Saudi government offices, Saudi businessmen and Ambassadors and representatives from the various diplomatic missions in Riyadh.

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This year’s theme is “Kalayaan 2014: Pagsunod sa Yapak ng mga Dakilang Pilipino, Tungo sa Malawakan at Permanenteng Pagbabago,” calling on a new generation of Filipinos to take inspiration from the lives of the Philippine revolutionary heroes and emulate their nationalistic fervor to bring about positive and lasting change in the Philippines.

The celebration was honored by the attendance of His Royal Highness Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the new Emir of Riyadh. The Emir congratulated Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago, who in turn thanked the Emir for gracing the occasion and personally invited him to visit the Philippines.

The partnership between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia has remained strong and productive through the years, and bodes well for the warm friendship sure to endure between their two peoples for generations to come.

Bilaterally, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia continue to build on their economic ties. Saudi Arabia is the Philippines’ 12th top trading partner and ranked 32nd among the latter’s export markets. Saudi Arabia has also remained the Philippines’ 8th largest source of investments.

In terms of tourism, there has been an increasing trend in the arrival of Saudi visitors to the Philippines since 2009. A total of 38,969 Saudi visitors came to the Philippines in 2013 compared to only 19,101 in 2009, buoyed largely by the Embassy’s active tourism promotion in Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with local travel agencies.

Another landmark was set in May 2013, when the two countries signed the bilateral agreement on the recruitment of domestic workers. (Press Release: PR- 075 -2014 11 June 2014)

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 Philippine Embassy Entertains Filipino Community in Riyadh on Independence Day

(RIYADH, 13 June 2014) – Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago gathered the officers and staff of the Philippine Embassy and the Filipino community on 13 June 2014 to celebrate the 116th anniversary of the declaration of Philippine Independence.

Reversing the usual practice of community members presenting entertainment and cultural numbers in past national day celebrations, this year the Embassy officers and staff, their spouses and their children prepared song and dance numbers for the delight of the Filipino community.

The program started with the video message of President Benigno S. Aquino which was delivered in Naga City in the morning of 12 June 2014. This was followed by the message of Ambassador Tago.

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In his message, Ambassador Tago conveyed his appreciation to the Filipino community for taking time-out from their busy scheduled to attend the celebration. He conveyed to the community the importance of the sacrifices of our heroes for us to gain the freedom and democracy we all enjoy today.

The Filipino community was entertained by the Embassy children’s rendition of the song “I Am But a Small Voice”; followed by a ballet number, “Dalagang Pilipina” performed by Ms. Farrah D. Dingal, nationalistic song “Tagumpay Nating Lahat” by the Philippine Embassy choir, traditional “Pandango sa Ilaw” led by Social Welfare Attache By Ms. Perlita V. Panganiban and Embassy Spouses.

A Filipiniana Fashion Show showcasing traditional/classic, ethnic and contemporary Philippine fashion was participated in by Embassy personnel, spouses and their children.

This was followed by back-to-back song numbers by Minister and Consul General Marshall Louis M. Alferez who sang “Kahit Isang Saglit” and Second Secretary and Consul Mary Jennifer D. Dingal who sang “Ikaw.” For the finale, Ms. Mae I. Galvez, spouse of Attache Emmanuel P. Galvez, sang “Dakilang Lahi”.

During the program, Ambassador Tago took the opportunity to welcome and introduce to the Filipino community the new officers and staff of the Embassy and also bid farewell to its personnel whose tours of duty will be ending in June 2014.

The program was hosted by Second Secretary and Consul Winston Dean S. Almeda. (END)

A Personal Tribute “Remembering Ka Bert”

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A Personal Tribute “Remembering Ka Bert”

There are an estimated half a million OFWs in Saudi Arabia, a few extraordinary souls quietly offer to lend a hand to others without any kind of recognition. As what the holy scripture says: Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)

I – Distress Call

Many years ago (can’t remember exactly what year), I was responding to a distressed call from a fellow Filipino worker in a “nail factory” a few blocks from my place of work (former employer) in the 3rd Industrial Area-Riyadh. I was in the office at that time when I received the call. As an active community leader in the area during those year promised the other end of the line that I will visit them after work. 

"Ka Bert" speaking before the Philippine Senators during 2002 OAV Bicameral Meeting at Philippines Embassy-Riyadh

“Ka Bert” speaking before the Philippine Senators during the 2002 OAV Bicameral Meeting at Philippine Embassy-Riyadh

Aside from three months salary delay, I sensed the seriousness of the call and the thoughts that this visit was going to be different and my plan was to bring with me friends who can help me document the case. They were “Ka Bert” an OFW advocate, who was then actively involved in helping fellow distressed Filipino workers; and “Ka Bien”, an ArabNews correspondent at that time. Both friends are members of Pusong Mamon Task Force or PMTF. The PMTF group consists of volunteer crisis intervention coordinators, Filcom leaders and concerned individuals offering direct assistance and services of various OFW cases like labor, welfare and police cases.

We scheduled our visit Friday, two days after the distressed call. Despite of seeing seasonal complaints of OFWs in the Industrial area of Riyadh, our heart sank when we saw the real situation. 

When we arrived at the entrance of the adjacent gate located beside the factory itself, we noticed right away the guardrails loosen uselessly on the side. It came right in my head that the Saudi Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (baladiya) strictly prohibits workers’ accommodation near the place of work  factories or industrial plants in particular.

As we carefully walked in a muddy walkway going to our kababayans’ accommodation, we observed  what likely a dirty kitchen along the side of the alleyway for them to cook. At that very moment I, Ka Bert and Ka Bien glanced at each other’s simultaneously and I whispered to my own ear “God, I was right, this was indeed very different.” 

When we reached to their rooms, more surprised awaiting us, the rooms were dimly lit by a single drooping bulb; the surroundings were uncomfortable to them and congested enough for a twelve Filipino living in a 48 square meter living quarter. On the left side of their door a small round table with two dilapidated chairs. The leader of the distressed OFWs offered us to sit while others prepared coffee for us. As Ka Bien interviewed the spokesman of the group I can’t help myself to think how can they sleep during cold nights in their bed placed in the soil floor where it stands. 

Pasensya na po kayo Sir sa aming lugar” one of the distressed OFW said. “Pasensya na rin po kayo sa amoy” he added while his eyes led us towards the long piles of steel wires used for making nails where a mountain like metal dusts shining on the ground emanating unpleasant smell. 

Teary eyed, they’re asking us to help them on their grievances such as; delayed salary, no proper living conditions, hazardous working conditions and many more. 

II – Mission Possible (to be continued)

To my readers, my sincere apology that the next 2 chapters of this article will be posted in the next few days due to my busy hours of work.   The blogger is an OFW whose work is of more priority than any other personal activities. – BongA 

Filipino Community in Saudi Arabia Urged to Heed Saudi Ministry of Health Guidance on MERS Coronavirus

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(Riyadh, 15 April 2014) – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh urges the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia to take necessary precautions and follow the guidance of the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) with regard to the Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The Embassy continues to advise Filipino nationals in Saudi Arabia to remain calm and follow existing guidelines given by Saudi MOH (as shown in the infographic below), particularly on regular and thorough washing of hands, frequent use of hand sanitizers, and observing other general hygiene practices. Those who experience any of the disease’s symptoms are urged to immediately seek medical attention.

If you have specific queries, the MOH Hotline can be reached at 800-249-4444.

On 9 April 2014, Saudi Health Minister Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah stated that “the rate of incidence is still low, and doesn’t represent an epidemic … according to the criteria of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the relevant scientific committees.”

On 12 April 2014, the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi confirmed one Filipino worker died on April 10 due to MERS-CoV, while five other Filipinos who were infected remain in quarantine as a precaution but are recovering.

The WHO has identified the symptoms of MERS-CoV, which include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and even diarrhea. Human cases of MERS-CoV have also been reported in other Middle Eastern countries, such as Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates. (END)

PhilEmb PR-053-2014 dated 15 April 2014

 

Walk for Freedom

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In 2008, I wrote about awareness of the Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia (Reward– A Sword) emphasizing to my readers and fellow OFWs that in Saudi Arabia if you take someone’s life you will pay your own life as well

But murders or killing someone are not the only crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia,  even adultery and consensual sexual relations between adults of the same sex is punishable by death through public stoning. Scary, isn’t it? Particularly if the crime committed resulted in murder or aggravated murder, the method of death penalty is beheading. 

Aggravated murder is an offense such as murder during a robbery or murder involving seclusion, treachery, or other methods rendering the victim helpless. While murder is any sane person who intentionally kills a person with a weapon. (Taken from Death Penalty Worldwide

dr_c2e9095ab859962ca08a1dfbe5f417caIn 2013 according to press agencies (AFP), there were 78  executions in Saudi Arabia by way of beheading.  And one of our own Joselito Zapanta is on the list to be beheaded in 2014 if our Government fails to come up with the blood money demanded from the family of the Sudanese national whom he killed in 2009 in a moment of blind fury over a rent dispute. 

While Zapanta’s freedom is under negotiation, another big blow to the Filipino community happens just yesterday, a Filipino national with British passport was found killed stabbed by fellow Filipino. According to the Philippine Embassy the perpetrator was arrested and confessed to the crime. The facts of the case were already reported today to the Office of  Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs-DFA

The victim works as a nurse in one of the Saudi government hospitals in Riyadh. He was found dead in a pool of blood after the Saudi authorities forcibly opened the apartment door of the victim in response to a claim of the victim fellow worker that their colleague haven’t reported to work.   The victim’s fatal stab wound was found in the neck, according to Al-Riyadh online news

I just hope and pray that the latest happening in the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia could not affect  Lito Zapanta’s walk for freedom. – BongA

كما جاء في البيان أنه تم تلقي بلاغ أحد المواطنين الذي تقدم به إلى مركز شرطة المعذر بتاريخ 15/5/1435هـ الذي يعمل في مستشفى حكومي عن تغيب أحد ممرضي المستشفى وهو بريطاني من أصل فلبيني يبلغ من العمر 53 سنة، وبالانتقال إلى مقر شقته في حي المعذر بصحبة الخبراء المختصين فتح باب الشقة ووجد مسجى على الأرض ويسبح في بركة من الدماء، وبه أثر طعنة في العنق وقد فارق الحياة، و تم إجراء التحريات اللازمة التي أسفرت عن التعرف على هوية القاتل والذي اتضح أنه فلبيني يعمل مقدم طلبات في أحد المطاعم، بعد أن سرق أجهزة حاسب من شقة المجني عليه، وجرى القبض عليه وأوقف وتم إشعار هيئة التحقيق والادعاء العام لاستكمال إجراءات القضية.  http://www.alriyadh.com/net/article/920482

PhilEmb Consular Outreach

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List of Passport Applicants for Embassy On Wheels at Al Yamama esteraha in Al Khafji, KSA 

on 21-22 March 2014

Click the Passport image below  to view the names of the Passport Applicants.

ako-kaakibat-ng-ofw.jpg

Also be informed that only the following are exempted from appointments for renewal of passports:

1.  Senior citizens from 60 years old and above;

2.  Newborn applicants, from 1 year old below;

3.  Pregnant women with a medical certificate;

4.  Applicants who have lost their passports;

5.  Applicants who have damaged passports; and

6.  Applicants with errors on their passports.

Further, be noted that the Philippine Embassy will soon be moving to a new website at http://riyadhpe.dfa.gov.ph

Add Wife…Have Life…

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Q: Would you die for your new religion, Mr. Nollora?

Q: If you would die for your new religion, why did you allow that your faith be indicated as Catholic when in fact you were already as you alleged  “Muslim” to be put in your marriage contract?

Q: Under your Muslim faith, if you marry a second wife, are you required under your faith to secure the permission of your first wife to get married?

Q: Did you secure that permission from your first wife, Jesusa Nollora?

“xxx (W)itness Jesusa Pinat Nollora xxx testified that she and accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. met in Saudi Arabia while she was working there as a Staff Midwife in King Abdulah Naval Base Hospital. Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. courted her and on April 6, 1999, they got married at the [IE]MELIF Chruch [sic] in Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan (Exhibit ‘A’). While working in said hospital, she heard rumors that her husband has another wife and because of anxiety and emotional stress, she left Saudi Arabia and returned to the Philippines (TSN, October 4, 2005, page 10). Upon arrival in the Philippines, the private complainant learned that indeed, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. contracted a second marriage with co-accused Rowena P. Geraldino on December 8, 2001 (Exhibit ‘B’) when she secured a certification as to the civil status of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. (Exhibit ‘C’) from the National Statistics Office (NSO) sometime in November 2003.

17120907_BG1Upon learning this information, the private complainant confronted Rowena P. Geraldino at the latter’s workplace in CBW, FTI, Taguig and asked her if she knew of the first marriage between complainant and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. to which Rowena P. Geraldino allegedly affirmed and despite this knowledge, she allegedly still married Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. because she loves him so much and because they were neighbors and childhood friends. Private complainant also knew that Rowena P. Geraldino knew of her marriage with Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., because when she (private complainant) was brought by Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. at the latter’s residence in Taguig, Metro Manila and introduced her to Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.’s parents, Rowena P. Geraldino was there in the house together with a friend and she heard everything that they were talking about.

Because of this case, private complainant was not able to return to Saudi Arabia to work as a Staff Midwife thereby losing income opportunity in the amount of P34,000.00 a month, more or less. When asked about the moral damages she suffered, she declared that what happened to her was a tragedy and she had entertained [thoughts] of committing suicide. She added that because of what happened to her, her mother died and she almost got raped when Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. left her alone in their residence in Saudi Arabia. However, she declared that money is not enough to assuage her sufferings. Instead, she just asked for the return of her money in the amount of P50,000.00 (TSN, July 26, 2005, pages 4-14).

Prosecution witness Ruth Santos testified that she knew of the marriage between the private complainant and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., because she was one of the sponsors in said wedding. Sometime in November 2003, she was asked by the private complainant to accompany the latter to the workplace of Rowena P. Geraldino in FTI, Taguig, Metro Manila. She declared that the private complainant and Rowena P. Geraldino had a confrontation and she heard that Rowena P. Geraldino admitted that she (Rowena) knew of the first marriage of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. and the private complainant but she still went on to marry Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. because she loves him very much (TSN, October 24, 2005, pages 3-5).  Read More>>>>  Supreme Court Decision re: Bigamy : G.R. No. 191425  

Related Postings CLICK here :  SUPREME COURT – OFW CASES 

Saudi Ministry of Labor within our reach at 920001173

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Saudi Ministry of Labor Call Center
920001173

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh informs the public that the Saudi Ministry of Labor call center number is 92-000-1173.

Saudi-Ministry-of-Labour-Logo-e1308919211190The number provides information in Arabic and English for the following, which can be accessed by pressing first 2 for English and then the number for the service as indicated below:

  1. Nitaqat program inquiry
  2. Technical support for Ministry of Labor e-Services
  3. Labor dispute settlement
  4. Wage protection system
  5. Complaints related to labor offices
  6. Female labor services
  7. Information on domestic labor (HSW) regulations

The number of the call center was provided to the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine delegation that recently concluded the Second Joint Commission Meeting in implementation of the bilateral agreement on domestic workers.

The Embassy urges all Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia to call the number in case of any inquiries on the Saudi labor law, Nitaqat, labor dispute settlement and complaints against employers or recruitment offices.###

PR-030-2014: 26 February 2014

Saudization right under our noses

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In Year 1993 as I step Saudi Arabia for the first time, the echoing whispers of Saudization were the first I heard among many issues in the circles of the expatriate community.

Between 1995 and 2000, Saudization had been already the talk of the town, even before the appointment of the late Saudi Labor Minister Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, the father of the national strategy of Saudization. Though the rumored started to circulate among the Filipino community in Jeddah many expatriates in various nationalities shrugged off the idea and treated it as a mere hearsay because most expatriates at that time were employed in building and construction sector. Menial jobs such as laborer and construction workers often not the type of jobs the Saudis want to do.

As usual like rumors, that whispers started to wither into the horizon and expatriates realize it’s not a threat at all. Why? Because the jobs created were in the field of construction, trade, agriculture and service workers, which commonly occupied by expatriates. It was not until the late Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi was appointed as Saudi Labor Minister.

In 2000 again a rumor came out that the host country starts campaigning to trim down the number of foreign workers in the Kingdom which was estimated at 6 million of that year and 500,000 of those estimated figures were Filipinos.

Y2K was the year the government started to become serious on their crusade by wrapping out economic and labor policies emphasizing the creation of jobs among the Saudi populace. Alarmed by the bulging population of foreign workers, thus – the creation of the Seventh Development Plan for the year 2000-2004 which focuses more on economic diversification and a bigger role of the private sector in the Saudi economy and new jobs for Saudi nationals as well.

Al-Gosaibi focuses on modernization of the Ministry, creating a new women’s sector in the labor market. His agenda tackles issues such as unemployment of women and reducing the number of low-skilled foreign workers and training Saudis to take over expats jobs.

SaudizationThe late Labor Minister during the Jeddah Economic Forum in 2008 defended the Saudization policy enforced by his ministry, asserting that businesses and the media unfairly portray Saudi youth as lazy. “Saudi primary and secondary schools need to improve the teaching of English and technical skills in order to better prepare students for a globalized job market” he said.

Of course, the late Labor Minister is absolutely right, for my 20 years as an expat in this country which I already considered my second home, I personally do not agree that Saudis are not suited for the job that usually given to expatriates. I have worked with secretaries, messengers, drivers and ordinary office workers, they are just the same as what other nationalities are capable of doing. I have met Saudis in high level position, they are friendly, smart and I admit they are very professional to deal with and most of all Saudis are very kind people.

SAUDI ARAMCO the biggest oil and the world’s most valuable company was the one who first heed to the call of Saudization under Al-Gosaibi’s turf of leadership in the Labor Ministry. SAUDI ARAMCO as early as 2005 already pursued the Saudization initiatives to their independent contractor. The plan is to employ Saudi national “stage by stage” as their Saudization strategy dubbed as CCS (Corporate Contractors Saudization). The contractor on the other hand had no choice but obligated to meet the employment standard demands mandated by the oil company, the only way to be able to continue their business partnership with the company who owns the world’s largest oil field.

In order to do so, these contractors should see to it that by the Year 2015, Saudi nationals employed as skilled workers in their respective companies must consist of an 80 % workforce and cut down the number of expatriate workers to 20%. (Taken from Saudization planning-Saudi Aramco-CCS).

I realized that Saudi Aramco’s strategy may bring the Saudi nationalization program a success soon before the year 2020 arrives. However, in my opinion government owned corporations and private companies could not come up with the same result overnight not unless there will be a will of their own to seriously train Saudi nationals to menial job they hate to do.

Here comes the Nitaqat program under the now energetic Labor Minister Adel Fakeih. The Nitaqat itself is a challenge from both the government and their constituents. Implementing such crucial plan should be done gradually because the long term impact of a succession plan is to develop human capital. It can’t be denied that the consequences of rushing up to the objectives could be the same tool that could backfire to the long awaited success of Saudization. The existing approach of change should be done in a slow manner, but steadily and under a minimum speed that could come up into a smooth transition of knowledge transfer.

Now, the amnesty program of the Saudi government is obviously a part of Saudization strategy. The just recent mass deportation of undocumented expats and over stayer is in fact a cleansing process which could be an opportunity for Saudi nationals to learn the job vacated by expatriates.

Now, the reality of Saudization is no longer a whisper, it is finally occurring right under our noses.  (BongA)

Related Post:   When the Soil is Ready;  The reality is yet to come   

References:  The Saudization Initiatives ;  Prominent Saudis: Dr. Ghazi Al Qosaibi; Saudi Aramco (Saudization Guide for Contractor Companies)

All About Final Exit

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A L L  A B O U T  E X I T

Final Exit

Many OFW commenters on our blog working in KSA are asking me what to do when their Saudi employers postponed their leave or final exit (visa) on certain grounds such as: waiting for the arrival of replacement or the worker position should not be vacant or the worker’s presence is necessary pending completion of a current project.

In usual practice, the sponsor can postpone the vacation or exit visa application of their employees taking consideration of work requirements or shall we say “with justifiable reason of the postponement.” However, if the employer asks for more extension after the period of ninety days, the workers’ consent must be obtained in writing (Art. 110 par. 2 SLL) and the worker have the right to say “NO”. In this particular situation the employer has no right to postpone again the leave of the employee. If the employer continues to insist and fails to obey the agreement or ignoring the worker’s plea, the only way for the worker to leave Saudi Arabia is to file a case in Saudi labor courts against the employer, which of course may take several days or perhaps months but surely the worker can leave after the verdict is handed which is clearly favorable to the worker.  

Exit Re-entry Visa

Let’s talk about vacation leave. Since a large number of employees do not return to Saudi Arabia after availing leave, most employers big or small, establishment or companies retain one month salary of their foreign worker or sometimes the worker will shoulder the half cost of airline ticket to compensate visa cost, resident/iqama permit, medical insurance and other expenses incurred in recruiting the worker “as a security precaution” before allowing the worker to go on leave. However, most of the employers will give back to the worker the amount held for that purpose when the worker’s return from leave or vacation. The blogger experienced this kind of internal company policy where you don’t have any choice but to follow the rules.    

surrender iqamaGCC countries, not just Saudi Arabia experiencing this kind of dilemma where expatriates with Exit Re-Entry visa  choose not to return to finish their contract.At present the GCC member countries  are looking for a concrete solution to implement a measure to ensure that workers, who are returning home to their country on leave or with exit re-entry visas, return to complete their contract terms.

 In KSA the following are the usual move of the employer.

1) When the sponsored expatriate traveled outside the Kingdom carrying exit and re-entry visa, the sponsor must revoke the Residence Permit of his sponsored and (secure) a page copy of his passport on which the exit and re-entry visa stamped on.

2) When the foreign worker failed to return back to KSA after two months or depending on the number of days the visa expires; the sponsor must follow-up the Office of  Jawazat (Saudi Passport Office) on which the visa was issued to receive the Iqama and to get a receipt from there containing retrieval of Iqama to deposit it on the Iqama file of the worker.

3) The office of the Jawasat or Saudi Passport Office will update the file status of the foreign worker, such as fingerprints and other personal information and forward the detailed information to the Naturalization and Residency  Division of the Ministry of interior and Saudi Immigration authorities  data base.

4) And if the sponsor got any information that his foreigner sponsored worker who he gave an Exit and Re-Entry Visa returned to the Kingdom with another employer, then the employer will report it to the Office of Investigation and Tracking Foreigners for necessary legal action. Upon apprehension and proven otherwise that a foreign worker violates certain directive from the office of the Jawasat or Saudi Passport Office, then the worker will be subject for deportation to the worker’s home country. Worst the worker will be subjected for jail term until deportation requirement proceedings is complete.

In today’s high-tech Information Technology, it is possible that GCC countries agreed to have common shared database information system where they can exchange names and whereabouts of their nationals and expatriates with criminal offenses or having pending legal action against their nationals and or expatriates.

Surrender Work Permit prior Exit

Last month an announcement made by the Ministry of Interior through the Division of Naturalization and Residency that expatriates residency permit (iqama or work permit) should be surrendered to the regional passport department at least three months or 90 days prior processing of expatriate final exit application visas. A residence permit is a government document issued to Non Saudis and National ID’s for their nationals. 

The question is WHY? The Answer is of course very simple, an expatriate can leave the country only if he/she is cleared of any monetary obligations like bank loans, unpaid credit cards, unpaid landline telephone bills, traffic fines, electricity bills, transfer of car ownership and other financial obligations. If you have bank accounts, be sure to close it and ask for certification from the bank that the account is already closed. 

In such circumstances the worker should request to the employer a photo-copy of iqama with company stamp on it and signature of employer or manager of the company’s Personnel Department. This is very important document to show to the authorities or police checkpoint that can substantiate  the worker’s work permit  is really in the custody of the Naturalization and Residency office as required for Exit visa application.

If you’re done with all your outstanding monetary obligations, always ask for an official receipt or certification as proof of payment. The worker must not forget to bring in the airport  copies of sale documents such as Deed of Sale, Sale Agreement or Transfer of Ownership of any property that the worker previously owned.  (BongA)

KACST tower to house Knowledge Center

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The King Abdul Aziz City For Science and Technology (KACST) will be building a SR500 million high-rise tower to set up its new Knowledge Center on its campus.

The contract for the construction of the proposed tower was signed on Monday by KACST President Ibrahim Al-Suwaiyel and Sadoun Al-Sadoun, general manager of ABV Rock Group, which has undertaken to construct the complex in 27 months.

Al-Suwaiyel said that this will be an iconic tower which can be spotted from any part of the city. The project, he said, will be the first of eight to be constructed under its master plan spread over a period of five years.

Photo taken from: SPACEAGENCY (Space Agency was engaged to develop a wayfinding strategy and to design signage)

The proposed Knowledge Center. Photo taken from: SPACEAGENCY (Space Agency engaged to develop a way finding strategy and to design signage) – click image to zoom

Building a Knowledge Center is the most important project for the city, and it will include research institutes and centers to support scientific research,” said the KACST president. It will also provide the perfect environment for professionals and researchers in keeping with the spirit of the changing era which is going through a series of scientific and technological developments, he said.

The Knowledge Center will be a model of exclusive architectural work to go with scientific research. It is a unique design consisting of 18 floors with a total area of 47,000 square meters to house 1,750 employees in the complex. The complex will have two basement parking facility besides four floors for offices, media, public relations and communications.

Pointing out that the design of the building will take into account the use of the latest environment-friendly technologies in energy applications and smart buildings, Al-Suwaiyel said the building will provide innovative design and comfortable office environment within the organization for maximum productivity of employees. (ARAB News/22.02.2014)

2013 in review by WordPress

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 410,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 18 days for that many people to see it.

Where did they come from? That’s 196 countries in all!

Most visitors came from Saudi Arabia. Philippines & The United States were not far behind.

How did they find you?

Some visitors came searching, mostly for jawazat, saudi labor law, philippine embassy riyadh, jawazat riyadh, and jawasat

The top referring sites in 2013 were:

  1. facebook.com
  2. mail.yahoo.com
  3. delta-search.com
  4. topblogs.com.ph
  5. expat-blog.com

Thanks for flying with WordPress.com in 2013. We look forward to serving you again in 2014! Happy New Year!

Acceptance Speech – OBRA

Acceptance SpeechOutstanding Balikbayan and OFW Reputation Award

This coming 13 December 2013, the OFW Empowerment blog will be celebrating its 8 years anniversary.

When I found out that I will be receiving this award today it gave me time to ruminate on the period of time I have spent on my laptop, day and  night  just to pleased my fellow OFWs in  search of answers to their woes and grievances working in the foreign land.

First and foremost  I would like to thank them  for their trust in me and the ofwempowerment blog for all these years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast year, OFWempowerment Blog review of the WordPress 2012 Annual Report stated that “about 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 340,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 6 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!”

As of  today, the blog has 1,104,931 visitors and No. 8 in the list of Philippine top blogs under the community category. We have  2,341 followers,  1,679 emails only followers, 1009 Facebook followers, 19,045 comments, all answered and as of to date 263 comments unanswered yet, because I am here with you today.

What I achieve is just like a drop in a bucket; yet I owe it from my fellow OFWs who made the OFWempowerment blog stronger as ever that even a mightiest storm surge cannot weaken the foundation that this blog has been molded for the past  years. And to receive an award for something I love doing is a true reward  for which I am very grateful.

I would like to express my heartfelt  and sincere appreciation to  Exlinkevents the creator of OBRA (pang lima na PO ngayon) more particularly to Ms. Mitch Ballesteros, the woman behind this big curtain and  the awards WE are reaping today; and to Orly Ballesteros as well, the COO of Exlink Corporation.

There is only one thing we can do as a gesture of gratitude to the organizer, to all the AWARDEES WE CAN DO MORE by supporting EXLINK recent events that are just around the corner, the 10th Megabalikbayan OFW Expo, the OFW Business Summit, the International Beauty, Health and Wellness Expo, the International Travel Expo and many more.

I want to finish up by once again thanking everyone for giving me this beautiful Christmas, this wonderful award. Your guidance, your warm camaraderie, and my personal special thanks to Lyza and Sarah of Exlinks.

To my wife-Minda and my brother-Daniel, Jr. and his wife Lorna, who are here today to witness this once and a lifetime occasion. To each and every one of us who are here today-  thank you for sharing with me this glorious memory of a very proud and happy time in my life, a memory I am sure to reflect upon for years to come.  I am truly honored to receive Exlink events OBRA’s  Outstanding Filipino Blogger Advocate Award.

LASTLY, To the seven Filipino health workers died just recently in  Yemen blast along with the Eleven other Filipinos wounded in the attack – THIS AWARD IS FOR ALL OF YOU!

OBRA