Filipino Community leaders in KSA seeking audience with Philippine Vice President Jojo Binay

RIYADH – The official website of  Vice President and Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW) Concerns Jejomar C. Binay announced that VP Binay will leave Friday to look into the situation of OFWs in the Middle East as per instruction from President Benigno Aquino III.

The Vice President is expected to arrive Riyadh on the 28th of February 2011. He will be meeting with government high ranking officials in Saudi Arabia from Kuwait and also expected to visit United Arab Emirates to hold labor bilateral discussions aiming to improve the conditions of Filipino workers in these countries.

He will also be closely monitoring the security situation of OFWs in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen in light of protest actions taking place in those countries. According to the Vice President’s website there are around 31,000 Filipinos in Bahrain, 26,000 in Libya and 1,400 are in Yemen as of June 2010.

“We are working very closely with DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] and our embassies to ensure that all preparation and contingency measures are smoothly implemented,” Binay said.

Binay will visit OFWs in welfare centers and job sites to listen their concerns.

Filipino Community leaders from  KASAPI Congress in Jeddah is expected to come to Riyadh and together with the OFW Congress-Riyadh will seek an audience with the Vice President to discuss  number of issues pertaining to those OFWs incarcerated in various jails in the Kingdom and in the death row in particular. And so with the refusal of the Saudi government to implement the new requirement on contract demanded by the Philippines. One of the conditions allows it to obtain private information on the family and social situation of Saudi citizens. The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs sought its revision.

Also, the OFW Congress in Riyadh during their induction rites to be held 24 February 2011 at Philippine Embassy will submit a resolution addressed to H.E. President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and Vice President and Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW) Concerns Jejomar C. Binay.

The group demands include the appointment of two (2) personalities or OFWs coming from the rank of OFWs in Middle East particularly in Saudi Arabia to the two key government agencies that oversees the plight of the Filipino Migrant Workers, the POEA and OWWA governing boards respectively.  And the President to support pending bills in Congress for the creation of a medical facility or OFW Hospital named “Bagong Bayani Medical Center”, recognizing the economic contribution of OFWs in the country dubbed as the new heroes of the Republic.

As courtesy rules, the resolution will be formally presented to Philippine Embassy Charge D’ Affaires, Hon. Minister Counselor, Consul General  Ezzedin Tago who at the same time will grace the occasion.

While in Kuwait, the Vice President will also be representing President Aquino during the celebration of Kuwait’s 50th National Day,  20th Liberation anniversary and five years of the rule of the Emir of Kuwait, Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah. – (BongA)

Maximizing the development impact of remittances

SINGLE –YEAR EXPERT MEETING ON

 MAXIMIZING THE DEVELOPMENT IMPACT OF  REMITTANCES

 Geneva, 14‐15 February 2011

 MOBILIZING THE USE OF REMITTANCES TOWARDS POVERTY  REDUCTION AND ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL  DEVELOPMENT

  THROUGH GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES:

  THE PHILIPPINE EXPERIENCE

By

Saul DE VRIES

Deputy Director

National Reintegration Center for Overseas Filipino Workers

Department of Labour and Employment

Introduction

 Compared to its ASEAN neighbors, the Philippines has more extensive experience of sending manpower abroad. Numerous policies and programs, crafted by the government, reflect this reality. Realizing the potentials of migration for work, the Philippine government pursued its overseas employment program with the general objective of achieving economic and social benefits for Filipino migrants, their families, communities and the country as a whole.

Being one of the major labor-sending countries in the world, the Philippines ranks high in the list of top receivers of remittances from overseas. From a macro angle, foreign remittances have significantly contributed in maintaining the country’s foreign exchange reserves afloat and have become a constant source of income, which even supersedes direct foreign investments and overseas development assistance funds received by the Philippines.

Please click the UNCTAD Logo for the full text

PhilEmb Advisory re: Use of the Embassy Grounds

RIYADH:  The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia through Advisory No. 2011/12 dated 14 February 2011 wishes to inform the Filipino Community in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on the new regulations, procedures and conditions on the use of the embassy grounds and/or the use of  its facilities.  

Philippine Embassy in Riyadh

The Philippine Embassy issued the advisory in compliance to the host country’s directives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed to all diplomatic missions in the Kingdom.

Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs in their “note verbale” has informed the Philippine Embassy that the host government will allow activities to be held in the Embassy grounds for the following list of community events; a) Art exhibitions b) Seminars c) Cultural lectures d) Poetry readings e) Concerts f) Exhibitions g) Bazaars. All other activities not mentioned in the list may not be given a corresponding permit.

Events outside the diplomatic mission must be held in a particular place like hotels and cultural center and should not exceed past midnight.

Filipino Community organization who wishes or want to use the Philippine Embassy grounds must submit a letter request (2) months prior to the actual date of the event.  

Although the “Philippine Embassy is certain that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recognizes the Embassy’s immunity to hold activities within its premises, the Embassy has the obligation to respect the host country’s  laws, culture and traditions under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relation”, the advisory says.

The Philippine mission in Saudi Arabia is requesting Filipino Community organizations to cooperate and comply with the host country’s directive. – BongA

To read the full text of the Advisory, please  click here >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> using the acrobat reader.

To our flag carrier, our sad farewell…

The Philippine Airlines country manager in Riyadh, Mr. Reynaldo Garcia announced today that the country’s flag carrier will be suspending its flight operation between Manila and Riyadh effective 01 April 2011 due to commercial issues.

Philippine Airlines Advisory – 007  dated today 8th February 2011 said that the  PAL management convey with extreme regret about the decision.  Dispositive portion of the mentioned advisory says, “nonetheless, rest assured that this did not come without due consideration of the painful effect it will have on our customers, generous business partners and wonderful friends in the industry”.

To our flag carrier, our sad farewell…

PAL first flew to Riyadh on March 1, 1987 and it was recalled that PAL has reduced its presence in ceasing flight to Dubai and Jeddah in 1998, then Dammam in 2001 and stopped  its flight operation to Riyadh on March 2006.  

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Congress-Riyadh, the OFW Congress-Eastern Region, Kasapi Congress-Western Region and other community groups were among the prime movers requesting the then GMA administration to help resume its flight back to the Kingdom.

In response to the clamor of more than two million Filipino Overseas Worker (OFW)communities in the Middle East, the flag carrier resumes back its service to Riyadh on  March 28 of last year, after four years of absence, but unfortunately for a mere year of  operation it dropped its flight  to Riyadh – again for commercial reason.

To our flag carrier, our sad farewell

DOLE Reform agenda for OFW sector

DOLE Agenda 2010-2016

The implementation of R. A. 10022 is a challenge that puts the DOLE at an even bigger forefront in pursuit of the goal of  President Benigno S. Aquino III  to reinvigorate labor and employment in the country and strengthen workers welfare and protection  both in the country and Filipino contract workers overseas.

According to DOLE’s Report on President agenda’s on Labor and Employment 2010-2016,  the department is crafting policies and reforms to respond to the current labor and employment situation. These reforms are structured in four key areas; 1) employment facilitation 2) workers welfare and protection, 3) labor relations 4) governance.

Overseas Filipinos welfare and protection reforms falls on Agenda 9 to 12 of the report such as;  review the continued deployment of workers to countries, which are high-and medium-risk areas, and the continued deployment of workers in high-risk occupations. Policy reform in agenda # 9 focuses on reducing the deployment of low-skilled workers in countries where work prone to abuse and exploitation.

Agenda # 9  can only be realized if the Government will once and for all  impose a ban in the deployment of Filipina Household Service Workers to countries where there are proven and ducumented rampant maltreatment, sexual harassment and abused.   

Reform Agenda 10 focal points are employment opportunities and social protection. Areas of reforms are the creation of an efficient “one-stop” for processing applications for overseas work and seeking redress for grievances such as; the establishment of OWWA-NRCO Reintegration Centers or PESO and the creation of develop one-stop centers that can be used to help Filipinos find jobs in both the domestic and international scene.

On Agenda # 10, OWWA-NCRO or PESO are usually found in the city like Capitol building and offices located in provincial capitol or regions,  PESO (Public Employment Service Offices)  should also be visible or can be found in all Local Government Units in every municipality. 

OFW grievances can be addressed by intensifying  grievance mechanisms for OFWs in which this could be responded by  24/7 hotlines in partnership with telecommunication companies and the presence of migrant workers desk in different destinations.

In KSA alone, OFWs can not feel the presence of 24/7 hotlines. Although Philippine Embassy, Consulate and Philippine Overseas Labor Office  announced the 24/7 telephone service  for those OFW in needs of emergency help and those with grievences –  WE still heard reports from OFW distressed callers that  government officers are uncaring and  unresponsive to OFW calls for help and support.  

Migrant Workers Desk?  Try at least one in Batha, Riyadh and one in Balad, Jeddah.   

Agenda 11 is to audit the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to rationalize the management of its funds, in terms of the benefits provided as well as how the funds are invested. In response to the program, the department will see to it that the board of trustees is a multi-sectoral group that will truly work towards the protection of the interests of their respective groups.  

As long as the  criterion in terms of the nominee contribution to OFW sector is only 40%, WE, OFWs are not properly represented in the POEA and OWWA governing boards. We need a PRO-OFW who can truly serve the OFWs by heart.  

Lastly, the Agenda 12 is to work with the DFA to transform Philippine embassies, consular offices and POLOs into centers of care and service for overseas workers by assigning more foreign service officers to posts where there are many OFWs and train them in the needs of the communities they serve. And to adopt a more holistic approach in ensuring the welfare and protection for OFWs.

Very simple and  in other words, “make sure that there will be OFW-centered diplomatic posts and POLO offices worldwide.”

The succeeding agendas are more on reintegration (social welfare services, investment and savings program, skills training, etc.) and the Government’s comprehensive  response in the implementation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

Wanakosey.

Source: DOLE on President’s Agenda on Labor and Employment  

Angat ka nga Pinoy!

ANGAT KA NGA PINOY!

Habang naglalakad, tumitingin tingin, ng aking mabili
Nang maipadala, sa aking pamilya, sapagkat nawili
Habang namimili, tanong ng tindero, ‘ko daw ba’y nepali
Sa arabong wika, sagot ko sa kanya, ”ana Pilipini”

Tinderoy nag”thumbs up”, ibig na sabihin, ayos daw ang pinoy
Sa bargain na damit, sa paghahalungkat, akoy nagpatuloy
Habang nagka kalkal, may pagmamalaking, sa isip sumibol
Sapagkat ramdam ko, at napatunayang, ANGAT KA NGA PINOY

Isa dalwa tatlo, apat lima anim, marahil ay walo
Mga dominanteng, mga manggagawa, sa bansang arabo
Sa ganda ng papel, na ating ginampang, mga pilipino
Nasumpungan tayong, lagi sa listahang, nag numero uno

Hindi bat yay dahil, sa tayo ay tapat, sa ating tungkulin
Ano mang iatas, bastat makakaya, ay ating gagawin
Kayat ang tiwala, sa ating sarili, ay pana tilihin
Isiping tayo ay, mga pilipinong, may talento’t galing

Imahen ng ating, lahing dinadalay, ating pag ingatan
Papel na kayputi, ni kahit, gatuldok, huwag dudungisan
Nang di man dumating, ganda nitong bukas, sa Lupang Hinirang
May matatakbuhang, mainit na bansang, naghihintay lamang

By: Briggs Napicog

PhilEmb Advisory: Coverage of Royal Pardon & Procedures for Repatriation for Overstayers

Advisory No. 007-2011

26 January 2011

Advisory: Coverage of Royal Pardon & Procedures for Repatriation for Overstayers

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh recalls that the Saudi Government had graciously announced on 22 September 2010 a Royal Pardon or Amnesty for a period of six months for those who overstayed their visas and violated residency rules. The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh immediately sent on 22 September 2010 a Note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to clarify the coverage and procedures for the Royal Pardon. The Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah sent a note on the same subject to the Saudi MFA Makkah Branch on 25 September 2010. 

Procedures to avail of Royal Pardon for Overstayers (Hajj, Umrah and Visit Visa]

On 1 January 2011, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh received the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ reply in Note No. 94/77/21403 dated 19 Muharram 1432 Hejira [25 December 2010] with the following information:

With reference to those who violated their hajj, umrah and visit visa, their fingerprints shall be taken by the Wafeeden Departments and then they shall be processed accordingly and allowed to leave. 

With reference to those who are visitors [on family visit visa], 

* They should proceed to the Directorate for Passports [Jawazat], 

* They should settle fees for extension of the visit visa [penalty is SR200 per month. The SR10,000 penalty has been suspended for the period of the Royal Pardon.] 

* Their status should be corrected at the computer database [of the Directorate for Passports] 

* The visit visa holder is also required to present him or herself to the General Directorate for Passports or Jawazat in the respective regions for biometrics [fingerprinting] and finalization of his repatriation. 

According to the authorities, all overstaying nationals, including those availing of the Royal Pardon, will be blacklisted from returning to the Kingdom. Overstaying foreign nationals apprehended after the 23 March 2011 will be required to pay a heavy penalty and may be subject to imprisonment.

In its reply, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not include any mention of those with expired iqamas; those who came to the Kingdom for employment with a sponsor and have stayed beyond the validity of their iqama; or those who absconded from their original employer and seek repatriation. It is therefore clear that, as mentioned in various news reports, absconding workers or TNTs are not included in the Royal Pardon or “Amnesty”. 

Requirements for Repatriation of Overstayers – With Sponsor

Various officials of the Embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in Riyadh, Al-Khobar and the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah have made representations with the Saudi concerned authorities, particularly the General Directorate for Passports [Jawazat] and the Directorate for Expatriates [Wafeedin] and have been informed of the existing requirements for repatriation of absconding foreigners. 

Following is the general procedures and requirements, which could vary depending on a case-to-case basis: 

1) The absconding or overstaying worker should contact and proceed to the nearest Philippine Oversees Labor Office and provide the following:

a. Information on the sponsor or employer,

b. The original or copy of the iqama,

c. The original or copy of passport with the entry details

2)      POLO officer shall interview the OFW to determine his/her status;

3)       POLO shall contact the sponsor to negotiate for:

a.      The “No Objection certification” by the original sponsor;

b.      The Settlement Agreement or mukhalasa between the employee and employer wherein both parties sign that they have no claims. In case of the employee, this ensures that he has received all his monetary claims from the employer. In case of the employer, this ensures that he has no monetary claims against the employee, such as debts and other possible claims.

4)     In parallel, POLO assists the OFW to accomplish his / her sinumpaang salaysay for endorsement to POEA as necessary;

 5)      POLO, through POEA and OWWA, will request the deploying agency to facilitate payment of penalties if any and provide the repatriation ticket

a. Settlement of penalties for renewal of iqama [SR600 per year]

b. Withdrawal of absconding report SR2000

6)  Once the No Objection Certificate and Settlement Agreement are obtained, POLO shall make representations with the Saudi General Directorate for Passports [Jawazat] for the issuance of the exit visa. The Jawazat requires the following:

a. Arabic Endorsement Letter of POLO

b. Presentation of No Objection Certificate and Settlement Agreement or mukhalasa;

c. Settlement of applicable penalties;

d. Valid passport or, if passport is not surrendered by the employer or has been lost, a travel document which shall be issued by the Consular Section upon endorsement of POLO;

e. Fingerprinting and eye scanning at the Jawazat;

f. One way ticket to the Philippines

7) The Saudi Jawazat, upon compliance with the above, shall issue the exit visa.

 Jurisdiction issues

Filipinos who have overstayed their hajj, umrah and visit visas are advised that the procedures for the Royal Pardon or Amnesty for these categories are identical and applicable in all regions and provinces of the Kingdom.

The Embassy reiterates its advice to all Filipinos seeking repatriation, who came to work with a sponsor and have absconded but had not filed a complaint with the Saudi Labor Office or Saudi police for private rights such as unpaid salaries that they should seek the assistance of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in their city of residence, whether POLO Riyadh, POLO Jeddah or POLO Al-Khobar.

Filipinos seeking repatriation should not travel to other cities to seek repatriation. In case of apprehension by Saudi authorities, your repatriation could be stalled by the need to take you back to your city of residence for processing and clearance from your sponsor/employer. 

The attached Advisory No. 2011-001 dated 4 January 2011 issued by the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah entitled “Saudi Guidelines issued for those who overstay their umrah, hajj, visitors visa and seek deportationis meant for those who overstayed their hajj, umrah and visitors visa and live in Jeddah.

On instruction from the host government, the Embassy and the Consulate in Jeddah strongly advise Filipinos not to congregate at public places claiming that they do not have any proof of their identity, and seek repatriation or deportation. This would require Saudi authorities to be stricter as they would need to closely scrutinize such claims and not allow expatriates to leave the country until proof of their identity is submitted and their investigation completed while undergoing prolonged detention.

This would also lead to a permanent ban to return to Saudi Arabia on these expatriates.

For questions, please call the following numbers:

For police and detention cases, death, and other emergencies

* The Embassy’s Assistance to Nationals Section – Riyadh  056 989 3301: 

POLO Riyadh - 056 509 4862:  For employment and welfare issues in the Riyadh Region

POLO Central Regional 050 753 7997: For employment and welfare issues in the Central Region: Provinces of Qassim, Hail, Al-Jouf, Northern Border

POLO Eastern Region - 050 126 9742: For employment and welfare issues in the Eastern Region: Dammam, Jubail, Al-Khobar, Hofuf, Ras Tanura, Hafr Al-Batin

* Assistance to Nationals in Jeddah - 0555 219 613For police and detention cases, death, and other emergencies

POLO Jeddah - 0569 819 720 : For employment and welfare concerns

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