Hanggang Kailan – Until When..

Hanggang Kailan – Until When..

May of this year, news broke out that Saudi Arabia will stop hiring Indonesian workers that includes household helpers. The reason – the cost of recruiting labor from Indonesia is ridiculous. The Saudis spent SR 9000 in getting an Indonesian maid and Indonesian government also asked  for a  SR 375.00 increase of wage in all Indonesian workers coming to the Kingdom.  

On the other hand, Indonesian government banned their warm human bodies to work in Kuwait and up to now the two countries are still exchanging drafts of a Memorandum of Understanding that would help improve the conditions of Indonesian’s working in Kuwait. The Indonesian government promise to lift the ban if the requests to provide more protection of their nationals are written in the MoU.

Early of this year, there were rumors that Saudi government will likewise moving towards stopping the recruitment of housemaids coming from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam for alleged failures to supply qualified housemaids that suit the local culture and tradition.

L.T. Ariyawathi, a 49-year-old Sri Lankan maid

Probably this time it is not Saudi Arabia that will impose the ban but the Sri Lankan government should do the first move after what had happened to L.T. Ariyawathi, a 49-year-old Sri Lankan maid who complained of maltreatment and abused.

Ariyawathi x-rays have shown that she had 24 nails and needles in her body. “They (her employer and his family) did not allow me even to rest. The woman at the house had heated the nails and then the man inserted them into my body,”  Ariyawathi was quoted as saying in the Lakbima, a newspaper published in the local Sinhalese language.

Without Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam as a source of warm human bodies in the Saudi households, there will be more likely Filipina domestic helpers in every Saudi houses in the Kingdom. It means –  Philippine government is happy, the more OFW remittances, the better and merrier.

Believe me this countless sob stories of abused to our Filipina domestic helpers abroad will continue and surely there will be like  L.T. Ariyawathi if the Philippine Government could not come up with concrete measures to protect them.

 In 1998 Saudi Arabia and Philippines enter into less formal bilateral arrangements focused on household helpers such as: that overseas employers must guarantee the safety of the workers and provide human condition in the workplace, give them one day off a week, pay them overtime for work during Friday’s and grant them a two-week annual leave or 30 days upon completion of 2 years. However, we all knew that these agreements based on the mutually agreed employment contract never materialize when the workers arrived at site. The fact that there are many complaints and runaways  housed in Resource Centers and welfare centers in the Gulf countries, the so-called arrangement are not efficiently being implemented.

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council passed a bill  to improve legal protections for the estimated 1.5 million domestic workers in the country, but the measure still falls short of international standards according to Human Rights Watch.

I, personally appeal to Rep. Carlos Padilla and to all the members of the House of the Representatives fact finding committee to move and let your recommendation proceed to the next level of talks among your peers.  A total ban on sending Filipino maids or domestic helpers to the Middle East is the right and concrete move.  

The recommendations was made last year by members of the fact-finding mission after they found out that many of the Filipino maids working in different places in the Middle East were being treated as slaves and were sexually and physically abused.

 “Kailan titigil ang pang-aabuso at kailan matatapos ang kalbaryo, ng mga taong hindi masagot ang mga tanong at walang lakas lumaban…. Hanggang Kailan”

Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah – Press Release

Press Release

23 August 2010

In light of various media reports on the status of repatriation of Filipinos from Jeddah, especially those who stay at the Seaport Hajj Terminal as arranged by the Philippine Government, we wish to provide the public the following information and update.

  • The repatriation of Filipinos is neither an amnesty nor is it mass repatriation.  Those who enlist are voluntarily surrendering for deportation. 
  • From middle of June to the first week of August a total of 1125 enlisted for voluntary deportation.  The breakdown is 341 males, 597 females, and 187 children.
  • All adults are interviewed by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Jeddah (POLO Jeddah) prior to admission to the Seaport Hajj Terminal.
  • Not all of the Filipinos stay at the Seaport Hajj Terminal.  Some choose to stay out.
  • For those who choose to stay at the Seaport Hajj Terminal, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Jeddah (POLO Jeddah) shoulders their accommodation at 10 Saudi Riyals per day and provides 2 meals.
  • The Seaport Hajj Terminal is being offered by the Saudi Government to curtail the practice of overstaying foreigners loitering at public places like under the Kandara Bridge to seek deportation. 
Voluntary listing Male Female Children Daily Total
10-Jul-10 0 133 37 170
11-Jul-10 0 59 24 83
12-Jul-10 97 50 23 170
13-Jul-10 22 0 0 22
14-Jul-10 16 33 11 60
15-Jul-10 15 35 13 63
16-Jul-10 0 0 0 0
17-Jul-10 11 31 2 44
18-Jul-10 14 13 6 33
19-Jul-10 0 0 0 0
20-Jul-10 10 27 5 42
21-Jul-10 0 0 0 0
22-Jul-10 71 93 30 194
23-Jul-10 0 0 0 0
24-Jul-10 0 0 0 0
25-Jul-10 0 0 0 0
26-Jul-10 0 0 0 0
27-Jul-10 0 0 0 0
28-Jul-10 0 0 0 0
29-Jul-10 0 0 0 0
30-Jul-10 0 0 0 0
31-Jul-10 54 106 29 189
1-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
2 Aug-10 0 0 0 0
3-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
4-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
5-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
6-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
7-Aug-10 30 0 0 30
8-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
9-Aug-10 1 17 7 0
10-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
11-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
12-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
13-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
14-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
15-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
16-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
17-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
18-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
19-Aug-10 0 2 1 0
20-Aug-10 0 6 0 0
21-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
22-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
23-Aug-10 0 0 0 0
Total 341 605 189 1134

 Admission into Deportation Center

  • To be admitted into the Deportation Center, the Saudi General Directorate for Passports requires that the overstaying national must have a travel document [with his/her real name] and a one-way return ticket with confirmed booking.
  • The Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah issues the Filipinos with travel documents waiving any of the normal requirements for the issuance of a passport or Travel Document.  Those who enlist for deportation only have to file an application and do not provide any of the normal required supporting documents.  This also applies for their children.  The travel document, which normally costs 80 Saudi Riyals, is issued free of charge.
  • Due to the big number of deportees from various nationalities, the Saudi Government requires that the deportees have a confirmed flight one or two days after their admission into the Deportation Center.
  • Admission into the Deportation Center is determined by the Saudi Government, and only after the names are given to them with complete travel documents and tickets.  The General Directorate for Passports (Jawazat) decides when it will admit Filipinos from the Seaport Hajj Terminal into the Deportation Center, and they decide how many to admit based on space availability at the Deportation Center.
  • Inside the Deportation Center, the Saudi authorities conduct an investigation including taking fingerprints and biometric data.

 

Admission into Deportation Male Female Children  
Jul 25, 2010 50 127 38 215
Aug 1, 2010 0 147 51 198
Aug 2, 2010 0 110 21 131
8 Aug 2010 169 0 0 169
21 Aug 2010 0 57 22 79
22 Aug 2010 0 10 3 13
Total 219 384 110 805

 Schedule of Outbound Repatriation Flights

  • The Philippines is one of only few countries who have made an arrangement for the use of the Seaport Hajj Terminal, and one of only two countries that shoulders the plane ticket of their nationals for deportation and assists for their eventual repatriation.
  • If anyone looks at the record of admission into the Deportation Center and compares it with the schedule of flights, it is easy to deduce that the length of stay at the Deportation Center is very short.  Under Saudi laws, any overstayer or worker who absconded from his/her employer is subject to penalties and detention.  Clearly, these penalties are waived for those who undergo this procedure.
  • However, if the Jawazat authorities do not clear an individual for departure during the investigation stage, that person stays longer at the Deportation Center. It is the Saudi authorities that determine who is cleared and who is not.
  • There are also instances that those who are cleared are not able to make their flights for various reasons, such as the breakdown of the fingerprinting and biometric machines or simply because the Jawazat authorities failed to bring them to the Airport.
  • Consistent with practice in the voluntary deportation in September 2009 to March 2010, plane fares of overstaying hajj and umrah pilgrims and children of OFWs are not shouldered by the Government as per instructions received by the Consulate and the POLO Jeddah.

 Schedule of repatriation flights

  Male Female Children Total
27-Jul-10 0 48 8 56
29-Jul-10 0 31 8 39
29-Jul-10 0 40 21 61
30-Jul-10 35 0 0 35
3-Aug-10 0 46 14 60
5-Aug-10 0 56 26 82
5-Aug-10 0 19 11 30
8-Aug-10 0 34 0 34
9-Aug-10 0 30 16 46
10-Aug-10 0 28 5 33
12-Aug-10 86 0 0 86
23-Aug-2010 17 0 0 17
TOTAL 138 332 109 589

 Summary as of 19 August 2010

  • From 10 July to 19 August, POLO Jeddah has repatriated 562 Filipinos or 121 males 332 females and 109 children

 As of 23 August 2010, there are no Filipinos at the Seaport Hajj Terminal seeking deportation. 

  • POLO Jeddah continues to monitor on daily basis the status of Filipinos at the Deportation Center, to ensure their timely departure upon completion of the investigation by the Saudi authorities.

 

  Male Female Children Total
Enlisted for deportation 341 597 187 1134
Admitted into the Deportation Center 219 384 110 805
Still at the Seaport Hajj Terminal 0 0 0 0
Repatriated 138 332 109 589
Inside Deportation Center & awaiting deportation (still be under investigation) 81 119 26 206
Did not show up during pick-up (living outside or still working) 122 152 52 326 

 **  Thanks to Consul General Ezzedin Tago (Philippine Consulate – Jeddah) for this detailed report.

I Won’t Hold You Back

This song is dedicated to the late Beauty Queen Melody Gersbach, 24, who died yesterday in a car accident. Gersbach represented the Philippines in the Miss International beauty pageant in Beijing last year. A native of nearby Legazpi City, Gersbach was born to a German father and a Filipino mother.

Melody Gersbach

The best way to show beauty is to give a sincere smile” – MG

Ramadan Karim!

Ramadan Karim! (August 11 to Sept. 10, 2010)

Ang Ramadan ay buwan ng pag-aayuno para sa mga Muslim sa buong mundo. Kalakip nito ang pigilin ang sarili mula sa pagkain, pag-inom, at pakikipagtalik mula sa madaling araw hanggang dapit-hapon sa panahon ng Ramadan. Para sa mga nag-aayuno ito ay isang paraan ng pagpigil sa  nasa ng katawang tao at pisikal na pangangailangan. Subalit yaong hindi nag-aayuno ibig sabihin hindi nito naiintindihan ang kanyang layunin.

Ang pag-aayuno sa buwan ng Ramadan ay isa sa limang haligi ng Islam. Ang mga ito ay ang pundasyon kung saan ang buong istraktura ng Islam ay itinayo. Ang mga ito ay binubuo ng deklarasyon ng pananampalataya, panalangin, pag-aayuno sa Ramadan, nagbabayad ng Zakah [ang taunang kawanggawa] at gumaganap ang paglalakbay sa banal na lugar sa Makkah, na kilala bilang “Hajj.” Ang mga Muslim ay kinakailangan na gawin ang mga ito dahil sila ay bahagi ng kanilang relihiyosong mga tungkulin at ang mga ito ay bahagi ng kanilang tipan sa Diyos. Ang kakayahan ng pag-aayuno sa Ramadan at ang kanyang layunin ay sumailalim sa Banal na Aklat ng Qur’an.

Ang banal na buwan ng Ramadan ay tumutulong sa mga muslim na bumuo ng moral na disiplina. Ang pag-aayuno ay hindi lamang para sa pagpigil ng sarili sa pisikal na pangangailangan, ito ay isang okasyon na ipatupad ang moral na responsibilidad para sa espirituwal na paglago. Ang Ramadan ay isang uri ng pagbati sa Diyos at pagtupad ng pangako sa mataas at marangal na kaparaanan. Sa Islam, ang tunay na pag-aayuno ay paglilinis sa sarili, pagtitiis, pagpapatawad, awa at pakikiramay.

Sa mga bisita ng kaharian, irespeto natin ang banal na buwan ng mga muslim. Hindi man sa aspetong gawin natin ang kanilang pag-aayuno ngunit may mga kaugalian at mga regulasyon na dapat sundin sa pamamagitan ng hindi kumain, uminom, o maninigarilyo sa harap ng mga Muslim o sa anumang pampublikong lugar sa Kaharian sa mga oras na may liwanag pa ang araw.

Sa mga Muslim saan man dako sa mundoPeace, Happiness and Divine Blessing  to you all! RAMADAN KARIM! - ( Bong Amora)

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From: OFWempowerment Blog

The suffering heroes

The suffering heroes

The OFW sector continues to be the economic savior of the country. Last year remittance from Overseas Filipinos Worldwide reached a total of  $17.348 billion which is 5.4 %  above remitted in 2008.

Many Filipinos believed that with the new administration’s fight to end corruption and its people’s expectation of good governance, there will be an economic growth  in the Year 2011, but the very people who help uplift economic turndown in our country are the ones being hurt.

Philippine Peso

Last Saturday, Mario, my roommate was very upset of the  P 44.74 exchange rate versus a dollar. He needs to send P25,000.00 monthly budget remittance to his family back home  and with the said exchange rate he needs to look  for an additional SR 100 to maintain his monthly remittance. Like Mario, me too could fell the high cost of living in Saudi Arabia compare in the 90s. That is why our remittances will vary from time to time  and whether we like it or not we have to remit  regardless of what level the peso is.

However, economic expert said that this year’s fourth quarter growth will depend on the OFWs remittances coming  year end and Christmas season.          

But June issue of  The Market Call of the First Metro Investment Corporation (FMIC) and University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Capital Markets Research, expectations that the economy will post an 8% growth could be vulnerable due to the country’s budget deficit and strong peso.

In economic point of view, strong peso could diminish the purchasing power of OFWs and according to FMIC, strong currency also discourages domestic manufacturing and pushes down tax collections. This negative forecast should be given utmost attention by our new administration in order to come up with their expectations.

We believe that a strong peso will help improve our country’s economic condition but it must not be at the expense of us Overseas Filipinos and our families.

Since August 1 to 8, 2010, there is a continuing dollar decline on our remittances as shown below. And it can’t be denied that with the trust and accompanying support of the Filipino people in the new government under the leadership of President Benigno Aquino III, there will be a crucial impact of a strong peso in the following months.  We already suffer enough being away from home, we can’t afford additional burdens.

Sunday 8 August 2010 1 USD = 44.7444 PHP USD PHP rate for 08/08/2010
Saturday 7 August 2010 1 USD = 44.7474 PHP USD PHP rate for 07/08/2010
Friday 6 August 2010 1 USD = 44.9395 PHP USD PHP rate for 06/08/2010
Thursday 5 August 2010 1 USD = 44.9765 PHP USD PHP rate for 05/08/2010
Wednesday 4 August 2010 1 USD = 45.1762 PHP USD PHP rate for 04/08/2010
Tuesday 3 August 2010 1 USD = 45.0788 PHP USD PHP rate for 03/08/2010
Monday 2 August 2010 1 USD = 45.2656 PHP USD PHP rate for 02/08/2010
Sunday 1 August 2010 1 USD = 45.604 PHP USD PHP rate for 01/08/2010
       

We therefore request the new government, especially to the economic team of the new administration  to look into ways to mitigate the negative impact of  the continuing dollar decline on our remittances, and alternatives may be implemented such as; a) Peg the Peso b) Creation of an OFW Stabilization Fund  c) Creation of an OFW Bank that will cater OFW financial needs d)   Special exchange rate for OFW remittances.

By: Bong Amora

The Jokers in the Senate

Many Filipinos said that of all Showbiz senators in the Philippine Senate, Sen. Manuel Lapid is a joke. But don’t you know that U.S. Senate also has one, he is Sen. Al Franken, Democrat from Minnesota.

Sen. Al Franken, Democrat from Minnesota.

He is now in the news for making theatrical gestures and whispered under his breath when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) laid out his opposition to Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination.  Al Franken appeared moving around in his chair, gasping and rolling his eyes.  The Kentucky senator complained of distraction and even went up to the former comedian and said “This isn’t ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Al.”  Sen. Al Franken later apologized to the head of the (GOP) Grand Old Party for being rude.  

Elena Kagan  however was confirmed as the newest Supreme Court Justice of Obama administration.

Franken first achieved prominence as a writer and performer for the television show Saturday Night Live since its inception in 1975 before moving on to writing and acting in films and TV shows. He then became a political commentator, author of five best-selling books, and host of a radio show Air America. Franken was sworn in to the Senate on July 7, 2009.

Senator Franken’s first piece of legislation was the Service Dogs for Veterans Act. A service dog is a type of assistance, specifically trained to help people who have disabilities.

On the other hand our very own “Lito Lapid” is a famous actor, tried his luck in politics by running as Vice Governor in his province of Pampanga then governor before he became senator in 2004.  

Sen. Manuel Lapid & U.S. Pres. Obama

He earned the name “joker” in the Senate when he filed a bill that requires law to be written in Filipino and wants Senate Rules of Procedures be in Tagalog or Filipino language.  According to his fellow Senators, they can use Tagalog but it doesn’t mean it can be utilized for the business in the Hall of the Senate.

The latest Lapid Joke was when  the Senator asked former Philippine President GLoria Arroyo to include him on her U.S. trip to have photo opportunity with  U.S. President Barack Obama.

Sen. Lapid only finished high school due to poverty, the reason why he decides on becoming an extra for the movies. He was first a stuntman before he became famous action star.

Contrary to Sen. Al Franken who only authored one (1) law, Sen. Manuel Lapid  have three (3) famous bills enacted into law as Senator (2004-2010), naming “Arnis” as the Philippines National Sport, secondly a law that grants legal assistance to the poor and gives lawyers tax credits for legal services rendered to poor clients and as co-author of the Cheaper Medicines Law.

Let’s just say, they are the Jokers in the Senate but they have very useful piece of legislation.

A captain’s Confession

Why the Pilots Left?

A Captain’s Confession:

The Country's Flag Carrier

Yesterday, a gag order was circulated by the airline preventing its remaining narrow body pilots, as well as the rest of its employees to speak to the press about what is happening inside our ex-company. Also last night, a meeting was called by the government for us and the management to talk. We intentionally did not attend the meeting because there is nothing to talked about. We have no intention of going back either. We already severed our working relationship with them. Its better for us to see each other in court and just pay whatever damages there is to a breached contract than deal with them again.

On this ground, we also have no intention of showing our faces today at the meeting re-scheduled at 10 a.m. If worse comes to worst, we have or lawyers to defend our rights.

What made us leave is perhaps the best question to ask.

But contrary to management’s propaganda of greener pasture abroad, is only half truth of what is really happening inside, a condition which prompted us to decide our fate for a better future. Its not all about the money. Its about respect.

PAL claimed that they are operating at a loss for three years in a row. Honestly, its not our problem if they mismanaged the company with indiscriminate fuel hedging. But it became our problem when some of our peers were declared redundant by the airline for the sheer incompetence of its managers.

And maybe because of a company named Air Philippines >>>>> read more  

related link: New Philippine Airline to Launch Flights to Saudi Arabia ;   Come Back to Saudi Arabia, Filipinos Ask Philippine Airlines ;     Philippine Airlines touches down in Riyadh ;   PAL’s return to Saudi starts bringing in profit 

Engr. Francisco “Jun” Aguilar For OWWA Board

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration is a Philippine government agency tasked with the care, protection and

Jun Aguilar with Noli Benavent, Angel Pantoja (Ex OFWs in Riyadh), Vic Barrios & Lanie Aquino (partly hidden) of Global Filipinos in a huddle with Sen. Kiko Pangilinan

 assistance of Overseas Filipino Workers. Its policies have a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of Filipinos working overseas and the families they leave behind. With the new Aquino administration, there is a need for a review of the OWWA, its failures and successes, adherence to the regulations and implementation of needed reforms.  Part of this reform is the creation of a new OWWA Board. This petition is to request President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino,  to consider the appointment of Francisco “Jun” Aguilar to the Board of the OWWA. 

Francisco “Jun” Aguilar had spent thirteen years in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as an Overseas Filipino Worker  from 1985 to 1998.  He worked at the King Abdulaziz Military Academy as a technical analyst and later moved to the National Industrialization Company.  As an OFW, he was witness to the distressed situations of Filipino workers whom he assisted as best as he could.  It was an experience that will influence his unwavering dedication to improve the lives of the Filipino workers.

CLICK & SIGN

Upon returning to the Philippines in 1998, he formed the Filipino Migrant Workers Group, a principled recruitment agency.  This is the only agency that does not charge a placement fee from applicants.   He also encouraged savings and investment programs for the Overseas Filipino Workers and their families for their retirement and re-integration.  He volunteers numerous hours on social-civic-political advocacies.

Mr. Aguilar’s experiences as a former Overseas Filipino Worker, a recruitment agency owner and as a humanitarian worker provide him with the appropriate know-how and mindset that will guide him as a progressive Board member.   He can articulate on the perspectives of the workers, recruiters as well as clients and, therefore, effectively assist with the policy making of OWWA.  With a proven track record of leadership, commitment and dedication to public service, he is the voice of the Overseas Filipino Workers.  

Jun Aguilar w/ Rep. Roilo Golez during Congressional Consultative Hearing re: OFW Concerns

We, therefore, request the newly elected Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and his administration to appoint Francisco “Jun” Aguilar on the board of OWWA because of his merits.  More importantly, his guiding principles exemplify those of the current administration with its mantra of change.

***

It is about time that a true bloodied OFW will be a given a hand to represent OFW Sector (land-based) in the  OWWA Board, please sign the PETITION.  

To know more about Engr. Francisco “Jun” Aguilar  click here >>>>>

Thanks a lot!

RELATED POSTS:   Migrant workers day, nothing to celebrate  ;   OFWs opposed newly appointed OWWA Board  ;  OFWs back Cebu Doc as  OWWA  head