New OFW regional group sworn into office by Street Sweepers

Tacloban City – Taking oath before a “Street Sweepers” may not be a good idea under Section 41 of the Philippine Administrative Code but that doesn’t stop for a newly constituted organization to take their oath of office administered by street sweepers in the city.

Pagkakaisa OFW & Family in Region 8, Eastern Visayas

PAGKAKAISA OFW and Family in Region 8, Eastern Visayas were sworn in before the Tacloban street sweepers during the association’s First General Assembly on June 18, 2011 held at the Boulevard Restaurant in Tacloban City.

The group comprised of OFWs, active and ex-OFWs and so with their families is a non-stock and non-profit association under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines.

The gathering was witnessed by more than three (300) hundred participants. The affair was honored by the presence of relatives and families of the OFWs from Region 8. The affair had its many firsts, unlike other induction ceremonies, there were neither big names nor fun fare for having celebrities and politicians as its honorary guests of honor.

The association invited three street sweepers from MMDA to induct them into office; they are Mr. Virgilo Bostrillo, Mr. Darwin Balderama and Mr. Francisco Salas.

The officers of  the association firmly believes that the three symbolizes the  true  Filipino values, which is, despite of difficulties and hardships  they’re facing, they are still proud on what they are doing of serving  the public and do everything  to improve their personal living conditions. One of them is a College Criminology graduate.

“The Honorable Street Sweepers” Mr. Virgilo Bostrillo, Mr. Darwin Balderama and Mr. Francisco Salas

The association believes that it’s about time for the OFWs and their families to come together and form a worthy cause that will not only benefit the OFWs and their families but would somehow lessen the alarming poverty rate among the people in Region 8. The group will embark on the concept of  TEAM WORK and synergy among its members as the saying goes: “kung kaya nila, kaya rin namin.”      

The Founding President, Mr. Alex Veloso Bello, the  MOFYA 2010 National Special Awardee in his acceptance speech stressed the need for a strong commitments among its members. He pointed out to achieve the following objectives:

– To conduct an opportunity for its members to gather a liberal discussion on issues involving the OFWs and their families in Region 8.

–  To promote strong unity and machinery and together they will express their own opinions and suggestions on how to further improve the lives of the OFWs and families in Region 8.

–  To create a global network of federal association among other regions through modern technology and communication in coordination with the Philippine government.

–  To formulate and support advocacies and significant bills to the Philippine government concerning the welfare, benefits, education, training, deployment and re-deployment and other related matters that are beneficial to OFWs or ex-OFWs and their families.

Participants (OFWs, ex OFWs and Family)

Bello emphasized that the association’s objectives can only be realized through strong devotion and dedications among its officers and members. “It is the officer’s aspirations to develop its members to become leader’s in the future through proper education and honing their interests” he added.

The group believes that as poverty line of the Filipino people increases, there will be more people suffers from poverty and blaming the government for all of these is not the solution. Pagkakaisa OFW and Families will take part of helping the people in Region 8 to become self- reliant and to motivate them to help themselves.

Bello explained that “it is about time that OFWs like us should think of ways and means to help the government alleviate the living conditions of the people in Region 8. The profile of our Region shows that there are more middle class and lower class families who cannot afford to send their children to school.”

He also reminded the OFW families who are left behind to handle properly the finances being sent by the family member who happens to be an OFW worker and just don’t rely on the remittances being sent.

The newly inducted officers are; President: Alex Veloso Bello, Executive Vice President Noel Sia, Vice President for Northern Leyte: Violeta S. Sabornido, Vice President for Southern Leyte: Leo Quirante, Vice President for Western Leyte: Paul Villamor, Vice President for Eastern Samar:  Angelita Alalim, Vice President for Western Samar: Reynaldo Tuazon, Vice President for Northern Samar Danilo Pancho, Vice President for Biliran: Pablito Cuizon.

OFW and Families of Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) Founding Chapter

The Executive Officers are; Secretary: Rosario Macapugas, Assistant Secretary: Nida Cortez, Treasurer: Delia Reyes, Assistant Treasurer: Norma Enerlan, Auditor: Floresa Tabuloc, Asst. auditor: Julie Saldana, Marshals: Victor Quimbo and Arturo Bello, Jr.

The Board of Directors are; Tacloban City: Dr. Pantaleon Hobayan (Chairman of the Board), Rogelio Labbarete, Evengeline Bello, Lolita Entong, Tess Contado.

Tanuan: Beatriz Aleta, Dulag: Eugenio Alicando, Alang-alang: Annariza Alve, Ormoc City: Araceli Sevilla (Vice Chairperson), Isabel: Cecila Orsalez, Calubian: Nida Robin, Almeria: Crisanto Calvez, Basey: Flor Lagutan, Calbayog City: Edgar Madeja, Babatngon: Cesar Nacorda, Baybay: Teresita Gabi.

The association Board of Advisers: Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis and 2009 OWWA Land Based  “Most Outstanding OFW Awardee  Engr. Francisco “Jun” Aguilar, Jr.

Although, PAGKAKAISA agreed to develop self – reliance among them but, they are still expecting support from the government and Non Government Organization to start the projects that they started to conceptualize.

The group also encourages other regions in the country to organize PAGKAKAISA OFW and Family and to consolidate their strength  that could eventually bring and empower OFW families into the mainstream of the Philippine society. – end – by: BongA

Saudization: A two-way process

For the past 20 years I have been in the Kingdom, we have seen a number of plans, programs and projects aimed at Saudization of the work force. In fact, the Saudi government has always aimed for a realistic average figure of about 25 to 30 percent Saudization in order to facilitate a smoother and viable transition.

100 % Saudization

Even at this low target, all the previous programs failed miserably, simply because Saudis have not been able to motivate themselves to grab the positions and opportunities offered to them, almost on a silver platter, and to top it all, at double to triple salaries and benefits paid to the expats, working in the same position and carrying out same duties. Other than banks and other essential government services, for which Saudis have been deemed as must, most of the private sector has been constantly struggling to meet government quotas of Saudization fixed by the Kingdom.

Sometimes this pressure on the private companies have led them to resort to illegal ways and circumvent the laws.

I feel, and I think most of us do know, that Saudization cannot be a one-way process. No matter what programs or plans are put in place, unless Saudis respond to it through their own motivation and eagerness to work, the government will continue to review and revise old or existing plans to Saudize.

When we will witness many Saudis working as mechanics, landscapers, carpenters and masons, A/C technicians, tailors, salesmen and restaurant workers, then only we will begin to realize that Saudization is taking root. The onus is on the Saudis to grab offers of jobs being made, accept salaries according to the average living standard, and most of all shun all the stigma connected with the idea that working with our own hands is below the dignity of a Saudi. In truth it’s the other way round. Saudization is a two-way proposition. Saudis are the only people in almost the whole world, to be lucky enough to have myriads of opportunities lying at their feet, and a very generous government to give them the chance, if they are willing to accept and work.  (10 July 2011)

Within your reach…

(We are a land-based recruitment agency, registered with the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Concerned with your business’s specialized needs, we provide only competent, highly qualified professionals and multi-skilled workers. We cater our services to businesses of: Healthcare | Information Technology | Education | Construction & Infrastructure |Hotel & Travel | Industrial Sector Globalization is our main thrust and you can rest assured that all your manpower needs will be met. “Man Resources” works closely with institutions whose ethics and values are in line with ours – believing that to strengthen one’s global position and keep it strong, one must start with a competent, well-treated, and motivated work force. “All Access”. Thru phone, email, cable or the internet, we are always within your reach whenever and wherever in the world you may be. “At Home”. Philippines: the site of the best human resources. It is one of the largest and the most globally competitive in the world. “Power Handling”. Our senior management personally handles your needs and our staff is highly competent, that each specific sector’s manpower will be filled expeditiously with the right people. “Tried & Tested”. We are linked to various educational and training centers because our pre-selected applicants get continuous training depending on your company’s requirements. “Legitimate business”. Duly recognized by the SEC and other government agencies,, you can be assured that every transaction and arrangement with us is legitimate and real.)

A well flowered description of a reputable, license and premier recruitment agency in the Philippines where a probable employer’s trust is the main mission of their agency’s profile but not to a prospective OFW applicant.

Our attention has been drawn to this particular recruitment agency in Philippines whom I will not name in this entry, perhaps at this time.

A distressed OFW, now roaming around Batha is a victim of a contract substitution by his employer and probably in connivance with this premier recruitment agency.

This poor OFW signed a two year contract through this recruitment agency in the Philippines as “Electro Steel” with a monthly salary of USD 700.00, equivalent to SAR 2,625.00 or an equivalent to Philippine currency of P 30,445.00 yet when he arrived in Saudi Arabia he was transferred to new employer. His salary was reduced to a mere SAR 1,200, worst he didn’t even receive his salary for nine months. He received a mere SAR 50, SAR 100, SAR 80 and forced to sign a blank paper every time he received such an amount. Worst he was assigned in a remote area near the Yemen border, 50 kilometers away from the nearest town of where he was situated.

Awful, he didn’t work as“Electro Steel” whatever this work is – but instead work as a helper in a small printing press. He was maltreated like an ordinary household worker, and sometimes beaten whenever he made mistake to any job this employer wants him to do.

He told me that every night, he asked to himself “paano kung di ko na makayanan at mapatay niya ako at kung hindi, ako ang makapatay dahil sa galit?” (what if this physical abuse caused my life or reach to the point that I may accidentally kill my employer out of rage?)

This was the question he keeps on asking to himself every time he goes to bed. He always weigh the consequences of what will happen to his family of four at home if he will be in jail forever or worst – beheaded. One day he decides to run-away, “buti na lang po may pumara sa akin na truck sa highway kaya po nakarating ako dito sa Riyadh” he narrated to me his ordeal while his hands was shaking. A decision that he never regrets rather than stay in his employer that he may be feel sorry for the rest of his life, he told me.

ATTENTION to all recruitment agencies in the Philippines, “MAN Resources” in particular, tingnan nyo naman kung sino ang mga kliyente ninyo? Kawawa naman po itong mga kahanay namin na pina-paalis ninyo or dini-deploy ninyo at ngayon nagliwaliw sa Batha at nakikitulog at nakikikain na lang sa kung saan saan. Di na ba kayo naaawa sa mga OFWs na ito? Hindi nyo ba alam na ang Saudi police ay hindi na po nang-huhuli ng takas? Kung hinuhuli man, ikukulong muna ito ng matagal bago e-report sa ating Embahada. Hindi ba ninyo alam na kung hindi magbibigay ng Exit clearance ang magaling ninyong kliyente puwedeng habang-buhay magliwaliw sa Saudi Arabia ang pina-alis ninyong OFW? Magbasa naman po kayo ng diyaryo pagkatapos ninyong maningil ng placement fee sa inyong mga pinapa-alis na OFW!

The idea of slavery is not anymore happening in the 21st century; however, it is also hard to imagine that the remnants of it still exist in some areas of the Middle East and perhaps in the other part of the globe.

We are here working legally under the protection of our government as a documented OFWs. However, sometimes OFWs like me find just the very opposite, we find ourselves abused, isolated and exploited. Sometimes no one else can turn too, not even the government agencies stationed in the receiving countries that are supposed to protect us from further humiliation. The same government agencies that says “magpahuli ka na lang para ma-deport or di kaya’y magtrabaho ka na lang kahit walang work permit para makaipon ka ng pamasahe pauwi or pambayad sa tinakasan mong employer para bigyan ka ng exit clearance dahil hindi mo tinapos ang iyong kontrata”.

Para saan po ang OWWA mandatory membership? Para saan po ang mga binabayaran namin bago makakuha ng OEC? Saan na ang tinatawag ninyong Bagong Bayani?

Ngayon pa lang Madame Mai Anonouevo of ATIKHA at 2010 Model OFW of the Year winner for the land-based sector Kagalang-galang Mr. Ermie Garon, kung totoo po na maging isa kayo sa mga bagong Board of Trustee ng mga government agencies na ito, isama nyo na po sa inyong listahan ang mga problemang ito upang mabigyan ng pagbabago ang takbo ng mga ahensyang ito at  maging sulit po ang binabayad namin sa mga nakatagalang Board of Trustees  sa mga ahensya ng gobyernong dapat kami ay pangalagaan.

MAN Resources, I challenge you now – tulongan nyo po na makauwi ang OFW na ito dahil kung hindi ipa “All Access ko kayo thru phone, email, cable or the internet, IWAGAYWAY ko po ang inyong pangalan sa google search. Kung may tanong kayo I am always here  within your reach.”

By: Bong Amora (10 July 2011)

Tidbits: the Nitaqat and POEA FDP

The Nitaqat

Many expatriates are afraid of what would be the outcome of this new Saudi policy, and some says it can create chaos among OFWs that will be affected on it. For me, there’s nothing to worry, I don’t even agree that our low skilled and semi skilled OFWs will be displaced. You know why?  Under the Nitaqat system an expatriates or a foreign worker will be given a free hand to transfer to another sponsor without even asking for the original sponsor’s consent.  This category falls under the Yellow and Red categories.

To those fellow OFWs who wrote in our blog asking if their employer’s move terminating them is legal – my answer is No! Under the Nitaqat system those companies belong to Yellow and Red categories will not be able to renew their foreign workers’ visas – it means, the worker still have the chance to complete their contract till his/her work permit expires (unspecified period) or contract expires (specified period).  If your sponsor terminates your contract, don’t panic, don’t sign any documents accepting the termination, tell them that you understand the  point and instead  submit a letter of non-renewal of contract. In this manner, the worker can receive all the benefits under the law.

Another option is – the worker can transfer his services or can transfer employment to another company even without the original employer’s consent.  So why panic? Stop worrying because we are not affected at all. Many good companies especially those belong to Green and Excellent categories will surely hire our services – Filipino pa! Alam nila kung paano tayo magtrabaho. So, those OFW’s out there, if you sense that your company will surely be affected by Saudization for not complying the recent Saudi government Nitaqat system, it’s time for you to start looking for a new employer but just do it cool and ask for their consent if necessary. (Click this link>>> The Facts About Nitaqat “The Nitaqat System in a Nutshell”)


PHL Recruitment Agencies should be aware of the Saudi’s Nitaqat policy; particularly their clients belong to Yellow and Red categories.  In the same time job seekers should be smart in accepting job offers from Saudi firms nowadays. Find out how long the Saudi employment company has been in business, see to it that the firm’s present financial condition is stable and more importantly, these companies are in line with the Saudization policy.

One more thing, job seekers or applicants who passed interviews from their prospective employers, please do not sign any documents or comply to the recruitment agencies instruction like, to undergo medical examinations, advance payment of placement fees and others without accepting first the employer’s JOB OFFER in accordance with the POEA Full Disclosure Policy.

The following terms and conditions must be written in the mentioned job offer or Full Disclosure of Employment Contract:

1)      Salary per month

2)      Food allowance ( If there is)

3)      Designation (Work Position)

4)      Contract Duration ( includes Yearly/after 24 months with number of days paid vacation)

5)      Free Airfare Ticket (upon completion of contract: 1 Year or 2 Years, it depends)

6)      Probation period (3 months)

7)      Transportation ( Allowance or Provided by employer)

8)      Accommodation ( Allowance or Provided by employer)

In addition, an OFW should always be aware of his/her Visa Category. If the visa category is different from the official work at site, an OFW should acknowledge that he/she is aware about it BUT salary and official designation shall be applied at site. This document should be signed by both the OFW and the Manager or Owner of the recruitment agency.

Upon arrival at site or country of destination, DO NOT sign any documents or new contract in which the basic terms and conditions are not the same in the Job Offer you signed with your recruitment agency in the Philippines. –End-

Philippine Embassy Statement on Visas for Filipino Household Service Workers

Philippine Embassy Statement on Visas for HSWs
Press Release 49/2011
2 July 2011

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh has learned through print media about the Saudi ban on stoppage of work visas for domestic workers from the Philippines which will be implemented effective 2 July 2011 as announced by the Saudi Ministry of Labor.

As of 1 July, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh has not received any official notice on the matter from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Labor.  The Embassy has sought a meeting with Saudi officials to confirm the parameters of this pronounced policy by the Ministry of Labor Spokesperson Mr. Hattab Al Anzi.

The Philippine Embassy has also received questions on whether the new policy would negatively affect Filipino HSWs already working and whose iqamas are subject for renewal or are going on vacation and would return.  The Philippine Embassy shall seek proper clarification on this issue from the Ministry of Labor.

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh clarifies that the processing, verification and authentication of contracts of household service workers has been suspended since March this year following an instruction from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and pending mutual agreement on the requirements for verification and terms and conditions of the contracts.

A Philippine – Saudi joint technical committee met in Manila on 24-27 April this year.  The Saudi delegation was headed by Assistant Deputy Minister of Labor H.E. Mr. Hashim Rajeh.

After the April meeting, the Philippine side agreed to waive requiring the employer’s personal appearance as well as submission of a police clearance, certificate of employment, vicinity map or sketch of the employer’s residence and names of the members of the employer’s family. On the other hand, the Saudi delegation agreed that Saudi employers would hire Filipino domestic helpers through licensed Saudi manpower agencies to be pre-qualified by the labor section of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah.

The only remaining issue to be resolved is the minimum salary.  The Saudi side proposed reducing the minimum salary to 240 U.S. dollars  per month from the existing minimum salary of 400 U.S. dollars per month which was set way back in 2006 applicable to all countries hiring Filipino domestic workers. The Philippine Department of Labor through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), which supervises and regulates the deployment of Filipino workers overseas, decided to maintain the monthly salary at the current level.

Before the reported decision of the Ministry of Labor to stop issuing visas for domestic helpers from the Philippines, the Embassy proposed resuming the talks to further discuss the remaining issue of the minimum salary.

The Philippine Embassy stresses that the requirements for labor contract verification and the terms and conditions of the contract including the $400 minimum salary are not new as suggested by some news reports.  These requirements are part of the HSW Reform Package introduced in December 2006 by the POEA, which have been implemented since 2007 for deployment of HSWs worldwide.  There are a series of POEA Governing Board Resolutions issued in 2006 and 2007 to implement the HSW reform package.  -END-

OFW Congress-Riyadh hosted a Dinner in honor of OFW Dr. Lito Astillero

Chris Lavinia, POLO Welfare Officer Nestor Burayag, Resty Sibug, Marilyn Lavinia, H.E. Ambassador Ezz Tago (barong), Gob Dimalotang, Oscar Domingo, Dr. Lito Astillero (yellow arrow) & Robert Ramos

RIYADH, Saudi ArabiaOFW Congress, an advocacy group comprised of various Filipino community organizations in Riyadh hosted a farewell dinner get-together in honor of Dr. Lito Astillero dubbed as the “Father of the OFWs in the Kingdom”. The farewell dinner get-together was held at Al-Nafoura Restaurant in Riyadh, Wednesday  night.

Astillero, who is from Western Mindanao, has been an OFW for the past 23 years in the Kingdom as Laboratory Director at Al-Mishari Hospital in Riyadh. He also worked in Iran and Libya, summing up as an OFW for the last 35 years.

Among those who came to bid farewell to Dr. Lito Astillero is no less than the Philippine Ambassador-designate to the Kingdom, H.E. Ambassador Ezzedin Tago.

The get-together was more than a celebration for an OFW who is leaving Saudi Arabia for good, the country he considered a second home for the past 23 years. But it was also a historic moment when one by one, the community leaders stood and narrated all the good things and deeds he has been doing to the OFW Community.

Dr. Lito Astillero had been an active community leader, adviser, philanthropist and fund campaigner whenever calamities struck the Philippines. Among the organizations he headed is the Organization of the Knights of Rizal (OKOR) of which he was Founding Regional Commander (Formerly called Area Commander), Middle East and Africa Area Council, from 2002 to 2004; Founding Chairman, Gabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino Party, 1999 to 2002; Chairman, BIMPCO Multipurpose Cooperative in 1997 to 2000; Chairman, PUNO “Pagkakaisa at Unawaan ng mga Organisasyon” from 1996 to 1997; President, BAR “Basketball Association of Riyadh” in 1993 to 1996; President, BISAYA “Bisayang Igsoon sa Saudi Arabia, 1996 to 1997; Board of Director, Philippine Embassy International School of Riyadh, 1996 to 1997; President, Filipino Community of Libya, Misurata, Libya, 1979 to 1981; President, Filipino Community of Iran, Bandar Abbas Iran in 1976 to 1978.

He earned his degree at Southwestern University and placed 9th in the 1968 Medical Board Exam. Presently, his family is residing in Labangon, Cebu City. The doctor and his wife Elena have five children, which include two doctors, a nurse, an engineer and a lawyer.

During his stint as an Overseas Filipino Worker, he received various awards, including the Special Presidential Award 1996 – Banaag at Sikat, the San Lorenzo Ruiz Award for Outstanding OFW (1994) both awarded by former President Fidel Ramos; the Bagong Bayani Award (1992) by former President Cory Aquino; and the Most Outstanding Filipino in Saudi Arabia (1990) by the Philippine Embassy.

Ambassador designate Ezzedin Tago in his short remraks was saddened to hear that Dr. Astillero will leave the Kingdom for good, “Dr. Astillero is a well respected Filipino community leader, we will surely missed him but we must continue his unfinished task and he should be our inspiration in doing what is good for the OFWs,” Tago said.

Tago also expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the OFW Congress for the support he get since from the beginning he was assigned in Riyadh as Philippine Embassy Charge D’ Affaires. He emphasized that it is still improper addressing him as “Ambassador”, for the fact that he still need an official acceptance from the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud on his appointment as Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom. “Without it (official acceptance) I am still the Charge D’ Affaires and Consul General of our Embassy” he said.

After his remarks, Tago excused himself to prepare for his flight to Kazakhstan as part of the Philippine delegation in the 38th Session of the Organization of Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers. Philippines is seeking OIC permanent observer status since 2008. OIC is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations.

Astillero was also thankful to the OFW Congress in hosting the said Farewell Dinner Get-Together in his honor. “I am truly honored and I really appreciate your gesture in hosting this dinner” he said. “I just hope that you will continue helping our fellow compatriots in distress” Astillero is referring to those unfortunate OFWs in distressed seeking help from the community. He also asked the OFW Congress-Riyadh  to  rally behind the newly installed Philippine Chief of Mission in the Kingdom.

Gob Dimalotang, founding President of PHILMOWA (Philippine Moslem Overseas Workers Movement) said, “there will never be another Dr. Astillero in our heart” while Allan Macabangkit of Shakba says “It is not enough for us to say Goodbye and Thank you to our beloved Big Brother”.

Dante Pangcoga of Integrated Mindanao Economic Forum said, “If only I can stop him not to go, I will stop him, Dr. Astillero is a person hard to be replaced.”

OFWC Executive Vice President Faisal Sarque described Dr. Astillero as an icon. “Even we have diverse opinion on certain issue but we are still friends in and outside the community” Sarque said.

Sarque handed to Dr. Lito Astillero a “Certificate of Recognition” from OFW Congress-Riyadh for his outstanding commitment and dedication advocating the interest, well-being and welfare of the Overseas Filipino Workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In 2008, Astillero was endorsed by OFW Congress-Riyadh along  with OFW advocates and organizations worldwide to the top OWWA post, but the former Arroyo administration choose Carmelita Dimzon, a long-time official of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) as chief of the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Just recently, OFW Congress-Riyadh handed to Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay during his visit in Riyadh a recommendation asking the Government to appoint a land based OFWs from Saudi Arabia to sit as OWWA and POEA Board respectively. The OFW Congress did not in particular endorse any personalities for the mentioned seats but two of their Executive Council members were endorsed by other group namely Engr. Robert Ramos and so with Dr. Lito Astillero.

When asked about the rumor that a certain group at home is seeking for his seat in the POEA and OWWA Board, Astillero neither confirm nor deny it, but he assured that he would continue advocating issues and concern affecting the lives of the OFWs at site and their families at home.

OFWC President Alex Bello who is currently in Philippines sent a message to Dr. Astillero posted at Facebook “now you can spearhead to empower the OFWs & Ex-OFWs & Families here in our homeland”. Bello is referring that Dr. Astillero can now be an active campaigner of OFW empowerment at home. Just recently Alex Bello and OFW families in Region 8 formed the “Pagkakaisa OFW Family, Region 8.” The concept is to organize Pagkakaisa OFW Family in all regions nationwide which aimed to bring and empower OFW families into the mainstream of the Philippine society. -End-

The Nitaqat

The Nitaqat  (New employment rules to shake up Saudi private sector)

Saudi Arabia is unveiling a major overhaul of the long-ineffective plan to nationalize a private sector workforce dominated by foreigners to the tune of nine out of every 10 employees. This month, the government will inform companies which of four categories — ‘excellent’ or Blue, ‘green’, ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ — they fall under based on whether they employ enough Saudi nationals to comply with established quotas. Following a grace period, the new Saudization scheme, known as Nitaqat (or ranges in Arabic), would level severe penalties on violators and offer incentives and rewards to those firms meeting quotas.

The Color Categories

The new system is more dynamic, applying 205 categories of quotas that vary based on the line of work and size of the company.

Excellent or Blue:

In many cases, companies achieving more than 30 percent nationalization would be classified as “excellent”.


While ‘green’ companies will be entitled to, for the first time, recruit foreign workers freely from the other two categories & transfer their sponsorship visas without their current employer’s consent.

Small company in the wholesale and retail sector wanting to attain ‘green’ status should have 10 percent – 26 percent  nationalization. Medium-sized firm needs 17 percent – 33 percent. While large firm should have 24 percent – 34 percent. Non compliance will have all work permit renewal services suspended according to Ministry of Labor.

However, those who comply will benefit from a streamlined visa approval process that would grant their employees visas within 10 days as the ministry moves toward decentralizing visa issuance. In addition, those falling in the “excellent” and “green” categories will be able to recruit workers from the other categories without having to obtain their employer’s consent.

Yellow: (Yellow)

Firms with a ‘yellow’ label will be able to renew work permits on the condition that employees have not spent more than six years in Saudi Arabia until February 23, 2012, but their rights to new visas and transfers ends by September 10. In other words, the Saudi government will impose a six-year cap on residency visas for expatriate workers, if their employers fail to meet quotas or if their employers fall in “yellow category”.


Companies falling in the ‘red’ category who resist or those who will not heed to “Saudization process” will be unable to get new licenses, renew their licenses, renew their employees’ visas or hire new foreign labor.

Companies falling in the ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ categories, and hence do not employ enough Saudi nationals, will be unable to renew visas of their expatriate staff or issue new visas unless they reach compliance in the number of Saudi employees they hire.

Nitaqat assigns different nationalization rates according to the size and activity of companies – so smaller companies have smaller overall quota requirements than larger ones do. Private sector companies, mainly smaller in size will struggle and possibly be forced to shut down as a result of the policy if it is widely enforced.

Nitaqat could lead to a downturn in remittances to countries that come to rely on them heavily for foreign currency. Non-Saudis population rose sharply, reaching 31 percent of the 27.6 million people living in the country by the end of 2010.

The new Nitaqat scheme could drastically alter this equation by forcing companies to hire nationals, invest more in training and increase wages if they want to stay in business.

By contrast, businesses that have complied with quotas will benefit from incentives and talented expatriates who have been working in the country for years are key beneficiaries of the new system, by encouraging companies to compete in order to retain top talent.

Excerpt taken from Arab News Article titled “New employment rules to shake up Saudi private sector” dated June 15, 2011 by John Sfakianakis, Chief Economist, Banque Saudi Fransi

Click this link for the  “Implementing Rules and Regulations

DOLE to hold first congress on OFWs

OWWA/June 3, 2011 – The Dept. of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and its attached agencies will be celebrating its 1st NATIONAL CONGRESS OF OFWs AND FAMILIES on June 7, Tuesday at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City. This momentous event falls on Migrant Workers Day, the special day made for the Filipino overseas workers.

Migrant Workers of various nationalities during May 2011 International Workers’ Day march through Hamra and Sanayeh in Beirut, Lebanon. (Click Photo)

The National Congress of OFWs and Families aims to convene OFWs and families, and other stakeholders to draw up recommendations for program development and policy direction in fostering OFW sector development, and to develop a mechanism in the implementation of the billion-peso reintegration program for enterprise development of OFWs.

The event’s highlight will be the launching of the 2 Billion Pesos Reintegration Program. This is a joint venture of the DOLE, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines. The program offers different enterprises, flexible and easy loan term payments for its OFW availees. This is in support of the president’s desire to give sustainable businesses to the OFWs and their families.

The event will also showcase exhibits of products and services of former OFWs and Overseas Filipino Circles (OFCs) who have previously availed of the reintegration programs and financial and technical assistances offered by the OWWA.

The event will also feature the presentation of the OFW Manifesto which underscores the needs and concerns of the OFWs and their families. The Manifesto was drafted from the accumulated reports of the Regional Congress of the OWWA Regional Welfare Offices.

The attendees of the event are the OFWs, their families, the OFCs, the social partners, the media and some distinguished guests.

OWWA organized this event in celebration of the national Migrant Workers Day.

Saudi to limit work permits to help locals

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia will not renew the work permits of foreign workers  who have spent six years in the country as part of its plan to create jobs for nationals, its labour minister was quoted as saying on Monday.”The current situation calls for strong cooperation between the government and private sector in solving the problem of unemployment with hundreds of thousands looking for work,” Adil Fakieh was quoted as saying by the pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat.

Let's put the "Saudi" in Saudization

Fakieh did not say when the decision would be implemented or whether it would be applied to all foreign workers or to specific jobs.

Unemployment among nationals in the kingdom, which sits on more than a fifth of global oil reserves and is the world’s biggest oil exporter, is currently 10.5 percent, he said, adding that 28 percent of the unemployed were women and 40 percent high school graduates.

Fakieh said there were currently eight million foreign workers in the kingdom of whom six million work in the private sector. Remittances from foreign workers total 100 billion riyals ($27 billion) a year, he said.

Saudi Arabia does not regularly publish data on unemployment, a sensitive issue since it highlights fissures in wealth distribution in the absolute monarchy with no elected parliament, where newspapers tend to carry the official line.

King Abdullah offered Saudis $93 billion in handouts in March to stave off unrest of the kind rocking other parts of the Arab world. This followed a $37 billion package announced in February in an initial move to ease social tensions.

Despite its wealth, unemployment in the Gulf Arab state has risen as an outdated school system focused on religion and the Arabic language produces graduates who have difficulty finding jobs with private firms.

Companies favour workers from Asia, prepared to work long hours for low salaries, or well-paid foreign experts.

Many Saudis work in the public sector but, in contrast to other Gulf oil producers such as Kuwait, citizens do not automatically get a job because of the rapidly rising population, which now stands at almost 19 million.

In 1994 the government began a “Saudisation” plan, setting quotas for the number of nationals private firms must hire. The programme failed to achieve a significant increase in the participation of nationals in the private sector, where Saudis still account for only 10 percent of employees.

Almost 70 percent of Saudis are under the age of 30, and the population is increasing by around 2.4 percent annually.

In an attempt to create thousands of new jobs and diversify its oil-dominated economy, Saudi Arabia launched a $400 billion five-year spending plan in 2008, the largest stimulus relative to gross domestic product among the world’s 20 leading nations.  (Reporting by Jason Benham, editing by Tim Pearce: REUTERS/ May 30, 2011 at 14:02 )

POLO/OWWA conducts OLEP Plus for OFWs

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office is conducting a series of  forum for three consecutive Friday’s starting this coming 27th of May, to be followed on the 3rd of June  and  17th  of June 2011  respectively  at POLO OFW Leaders Lounge inside the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh.

The mentioned forum called Overseas Labor Education Program or OLEP  is a noteworthy initiative by then former POLO Labor Attaché Resty Dela Fuente who is currently posted as Labor Attaché in Brussels, Belgium.

In an email sent by POLO Central Region Operations-Welfare Officer Atty. Cesar Chavez  the OLEP which is at present dubbed as “OLEP Plus” (Overseas Labor Education Program for Community Leaders) is a program that will give OFWs relevant information and know-how about the host country, its labor laws and its culture and OFWs rights, obligations and privileges as well,  recognized by the host country.   

Left to Right (POLO/OWWA) Asst. Labor Attache Atty. Cesar L. Chavez, Jr., Welfare Officer Odin Abdula, (ANS)Vice Consul, Atty. Roussel Reyes, Vice Consul, Atty. Paulo Saret and Islamic Center Dawa'h Exec. Manager Shk. Marwan Al Hamd during On-site Overseas Labor Education Program of the Philippine Embassy, POLO & OWWA in the 2nd Industrial Area-Riyadh/January 2010

POLO/OWWA OLEP Plus, under the mentorship of  POLO WelOff Atty. Cesar Chavez  is at present designed that consist the following program outline: Basic Community Leadership; Guide on the Salient Provisions of the New Saudi Labor Law; How to assist and handling Distress Calls; Family Law on Support; Trafficking in Person, Money Laundering; RA 10022; Workshop and others.  

OLEP Plus ensures the use of common reference and provides correct information to OFWs seeking advice from fellow OFWs.

While human smuggling is the talk of the town allegedly carried out by some POLO officials in Kuwait, the Filipino Community in Saudi Arabia still have very much confidence with our Labor officials  particularly in Riyadh and Al Khobar.

OLEP Plus  include  ground rules of  human trafficking and hopefully the “Waiver Policy” at Bahay Kalinga will continue to be enforced to prevent devious officials in releasing or transferring an OFW in distress from one employer to another in exchange for monetary consideration.

The BK “Waiver Policy” also ensures that our ran away female OFWs are protected from further harm done by fellow Filipinos who took advantage of their unfortunate situation.

See you at OLEP Plus!(BongA)

FilCom in Dubai come up with safety awareness booklet for OFWs

Filipino community leaders in Dubai come up with 50-page safety awareness book with tips outlining how compatriots new to the UAE can stay out of trouble.

Also in KSA "Avoid kissing in public"

DUBAI: Sex outside marriage could land you in big trouble. Avoid kissing in public. Don’t think that your debts are cancelled after you spend time in jail for bouncing a cheque. Don’t eat or drink in public during the fasting hours of Ramadan.

These are simple yet firm reminders Filipinos new to the country will get from a “safety awareness booklet” to curb the number of compatriots landing in trouble for being on the wrong side of UAE laws, a community leader said.

The 50-page booklet is being prepared by Filcom, a group of over 50 Filipino community leaders in Dubai and the northern emirates. “It’s a simple and easy to understand guide to remind our ‘kabayans’ [compatriots] about how to behave and take responsibility for their actions while in the UAE,” Lisa Magno Concepcion, President of Filcom, said.

The passport-size handbook is the latest attempt by the Filipino community to communicate dos and don’ts to the estimated 400,000 compatriots in Dubai. According to Concepcion, around 10,000 copies will be printed initially and distributed for free on June 10, two days ahead of celebrations marking the 113th Philippine Independence Day.

The guide also deals with illicit relations and potential punishments and also offers home safety tips. Couples who live together outside marriage are unaware that it is illegal here.” Many are also unaware that the way they dress could also invite trouble,” she said, adding a lot of Filipinos mistakenly think their debts are written off after they are jailed over non-payment of bank loans. “But in truth, you still owe the bank which can file a civil case until the amount is paid in full.”

The bilingual handbook (Tagalog and English), click here >>>>>>>>>to read more.