OFW Empowerment 2014 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

annual

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 430,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 18 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

OEC-BM Online Processing


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H.E. Ezzedin Tago & Hon. POEA Admin Cacdac

H.E. Ambasador Ezzedin Tago & Hon. POEA Admin Hans Cacdac

During the Filipino Community meeting with DOLE Secretary Baldoz at the Philippine Embassy, the Honorable POEA Administrator Hans Cacdac was with her. Admin. Cacdac announced to the attendees about the POEA OEC-BM Online Processing. It is indeed a good project by the POEA, and I salute POEA Admin Cacdac for this very useful initiative.

 I humbly request our government particularly those agencies overseeing the plight of OFWs to start planning or think something that could be beneficial for us OFWs rather than issuing a Memorandum Circular forcing us OFWs to pay P550 terminal fee in the cost of an airline ticket. 

By the way, thanks to the court ruling last November 19 issued by Judge Tingaraan Guiling of Pasay RTC Branch 109 by declaring MIAA’s Memorandum Circular No. 8 as “unenforceable” for a mere reason that  the Memorandum Circular did not comply with the legal requirement that it must be published in the Official Gazette or any newspaper of general circulation 15 days before its implementation.

I’m sure MIAA will file a motion for reconsideration if allowed by court and I just hope our court will later rule the MC No. 8 with finality that it is “unconstitutional” in violation to Republic Act 10022 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of. 1995) that prohibits the collection of travel tax and terminal fee for OFWs who possess valid Overseas Exemption Certificates.

Back to OEC-BM Online Processing, I tried to apply online but unfortunately the facility only caters OFWs to POEA offices in the Philippines. It means up to this writing, those OFWs who wish to set an appointment for your OEC to POLO offices at the site of employment has yet to be operational online. You can see below screen shot of the online facility in red arrow showing that the said locations are “coming soon”. To those OFWs already in the Philippines, please try to point your location to your areas where you are now and check the availability of the given dates to set an appointment after you’ve done filling out the online form.

Surely it can lessen the waiting time because an OFW has the slot, but just to make sure you’ll be there on time and you have all the necessary documents with you like passport and previous payment receipts as required in obtaining an Overseas Employment Certificate.

To those who haven’t visited the site online, please click this link: OEC Balik-Manggagawa Online Processing  and simply follow the instruction.

Frequently Asked Questions: click here >>>>BALIK-MANGGAGAWA (BM) ONLINE   PROCESSING SYSTEM

To POEA, MABUHAY Kayo! Keep up the good work in the service to OFWs. – BongA

oec2

Fig. 1- POEA Appointment Offices outside PHL “Coming Soon”

oec1

Fig. 2 – Slots Available in POEA Cebu Office

FilCom leaders pleased Secretary Baldoz Second visit in Saudi Arabia


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FilCom leaders pleased Secretary Baldoz Second visit in Saudi Arabia

Philippine Labor Secretary Erlinda Dimapilis-Baldoz

Philippine Labor Secretary Erlinda Dimapilis-Baldoz

30 November, 2014, RIYADH: Filipino Community leaders are really delighted to receive an invitation of Philippine Labor Secretary Erlinda Dimapilis-Baldoz through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office to meet Filcom leader in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This visit is the second time of Secretary Baldoz since she took office in 2010.

The first visit was in May last year upon the signing of the Labor pact between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia that established the commitment of the two governments to implement a standard employment contract that provide protection for Filipino Household Service Workers. However, most of the Saudis are complaining about the very expensive fees the local Saudi recruitment offices are charging in bringing domestic workers from Philippines.

OFWs in Saudi are also facing forward that this visit of Secretary Baldoz could pave a way to formalize an agreed standard employment contract for skilled and semi-skilled workers in the Kingdom through a bilateral labor agreement similar to that of the standard FHSW contract. This could prevent employers from substituting a contract for their own interest. It can’t be denied that contract substitution still rampant in the Kingdom despite of both countries good labor relation.

The Filipino Community is likewise grateful to the good Secretary Baldoz for inviting them in line with the Philippine Government agenda on reintegration program. The OFW reintegration program should be properly disseminated to the vast population of OFWs as their guide in their eventual return to the homeland.

The top Labor executive’s ardent desire to hold an audience with the Filipino Community in Riyadh tonight, Sunday, at 6 PM is indeed a serious move that the Aquino government is sincere in their reintegration program for OFWs and looking for an alternative source of income for those who decides to be back home for good. – BongA

PhilEmb Advisory: Bringing Medicines with Narcotic Properties In and Out of the Kingdom


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Philippine Embassy Advisory Saudi Arabia’s Procedures and Measures on Bringing Medicines with Narcotic Properties In and Out of the Kingdom

philemb(Riyadh, 20 November 2014) – The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh recently received from the concerned Saudi authorities a copy of regulations and measures in bringing medicines with narcotics properties in and out of the Kingdom for personal use.he Embassy requests all Filipinos who may be bringing into the Kingdom their medicines to carefully read, understand and comply with the requirements, in order not to be inconvenienced or questioned during entry into the Kingdom.

The rationale for the procedures and measures in releasing regulated medicines, which contain narcotic/psychotropic substances, brought by a patient arriving in and leaving the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for personal use, or by a Hajj Mission or concerned government authorities accompanying the Mission is as follows:

  1. It prevents the release of regulated medicines considered restricted/banned from being used internationally and domestically;

  1. It prevents the release of medicines as stated in Category (D) of Table I and Group (A) of Table II on the System on Anti-Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, as well as substances stated in Paragraph IV in the System on Anti-Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

  1. The request for the release of medicines should pass through the General Authority for Food and Drugs Administration’s Branch at the customs port or at the General Authority for Food and Drugs Administration, in the absence of a branch in the area or region.

  1. It allows the release of the medicines brought in by patients into the Kingdom for personal use, in accordance with the following conditions:

MEDICAL REPORT

  1. Attached detailed medical report from the medical institution/hospital which treated the patient;

  2. Date of the medical report shall not exceed six (6) months period; and

  3. Medical report should contain the following information:

    -Personal information about the patient

    -Medical diagnosis

    -Medical application and duration

    -Medical recommendations

    -Scientific name of the medicine and pharmaceutical brands and dosage prescriptions or,

DOCTOR’S PRESCRIPTION

    1. Attached accredited doctor’s prescription of the patient from the hospital;

      The date in the doctor’s prescription shall not exceeds six (6) months from date of issuance thereof; and

    1. The doctor’s prescription should contain the following information:

      -Diagnosis of the patient

      -Scientific name of the medicine and pharmaceutical brands and prescriptions

      -Usage of the medicine and the duration of the treatment

      -Official dry seal of the hospital that treated the patient

    1. Assurance and responsibility of the patient to limit his use of medicines for medicinal purposes only.

    1. Attached copy of patient’s identity card.

  1. The amount of medicine for approval and release should be sufficient for a period of thirty (30) days or for the duration of the patient’s stay in the Kingdom, whichever is lesser, and that such medicines are still valid for consumption, with the following considerations:

    1. In case the medicine is already consumed, the patient should visit a hospital/ medical specialist to ensure the continuation of his medication.

    1. In case the physician has confirmed the need for the patient to continue similar medication, the hospital shall require the patient to fill up an application prior to the issuance of a prescription on an appropriate medicine from a local pharmacy/market; the said patient is required to continue visiting the hospital for his therapeutic treatment, as may be required by his medical condition.

    1. In case of non-availability of medicines or its alternative brands in the local market, the designated hospital could shall secure the required medicines from medical distributors after securing approval from the General Authority for Food and Drugs Administration.

  1. For injectable medicines, the approval for its release may be facilitated through the supervision of a local hospital on behalf of the patient, with the precondition that the medicines should be registered under the said hospital for personal use in accordance with existing medical regulations.

  1. If the amount of medicine to be released exceeds the required amount needed by the patient, the excess must be confiscated.

  1. Patients leaving the Kingdom shall abide with the same procedures as those patients arriving in the Kingdom under Paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4) of this Article, and the amount of medicine which may be released must cover a maximum period of three (3) consecutive months.

  1. If the patient’s medicines are not in his possession but in the possession of one of his relatives (parents, children, brothers and husband), the patient’s identity card is required. However, if the medicines are in the possession of his representative, an Affidavit of Consent of the patient to bring the medicines is required, including a copy of his identity card.

  1. In the event that the medicines containing narcotic substances are in the possession of Hajj Missions or concerned government authorities arriving in the Kingdom, and will be used by patients accompanying the Mission, the said medicines will be subject to the following procedures:

    1. The Mission should submit a Request for Release of such medicines to the General Authority for Food and Drugs Administration’s Branch at the customs port area, which will receive the medicines.

    1. Specify the name of the Head of Mission as well as the name of the pharmacist or pharmaceutical technician accompanying the Mission who is responsible for the custody of the narcotic substances and, if there is no Head of Mission, the name of the doctor accompanying the Mission, is sufficient.

    1. Limit the number of personnel of the Mission.

    1. Request must attached the following:

      -List of requested medicines certified by the competent government authority of the Mission showing the scientific name of the narcotic medicines, and pharmaceutical brands, concentration, and quantity.

      -Assurance and responsibility to limit the use of the medicines to the members of the Mission only, and it will not be sold to or disposed of by any means, and that the used/consumed, damaged and unused medicines should be brought back by the Mission when leaving the Kingdom. A list of medicines used, consumed, or damaged by the Mission should be provided to the General Authority for Food and Drugs Administration’s Branch located at the customs area before leaving the Kingdom.

    1. The Mission should have medical doctor but all the medicines are under the direct supervision of the Head of Mission.

    1. The requested medicine is free from banned substances, recognized internationally or locally, in the Kingdom.

    1. Importation of medicines with narcotic substances are allowed through airplanes.

  1. Upon the approval of the request, a permit will be released to the General Authority for Food and Drugs Administration’s Branch through the supervisor who is in charge of the Cargo Section at the customs area.

  1. The General Authority for Food and Drugs Administration’s Branch in the municipality or in the region receiving the medicines has the right to either accept, reject and/or amend the request for reasonable grounds.

  1. When the Mission leaves the Kingdom, they are required to submit a copy of the list of medicines that were used/consumed, damaged, and unused. – END-

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

 

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

 

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

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

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)