Novel way of misusing labor law

Novel way of misusing labor law

Exit Re-entry Visa Stamped in the Passport

Legal experts will be watching closely a case in Jubail in which a expatriate worker leaving the Kingdom for good discovered his former employer had skirted a new Saudi labor law by giving him an exit/re-entry visa instead of a final exit visa. The difference may, to the untrained eye, seem inconsequential. However, according to the new Saudi law, an exit/re-entry visa instead of the required final exit visa will block an expatriate worker from returning to the Kingdom on a new employment visa.

Under the revised law, the no-objection certificate previously required of companies for departing employees was eliminated, if they had a proper final exit visa on their passports. By cleverly substituting an exit/re-entry visa for the final exit, companies make it appear as if the employee has not left in good standing. This can preclude the worker from returning to the Kingdom for years in some cases. The final exit visa on one’s passport is seen by Saudi missions abroad as proof that the person has left the company with a clean slate.

Some hapless employees only discover this as their passports are often delivered to them at the airport as they depart; some might not even notice the misuse until reaching their home countries.

Electronic Exit Re-Entry Visa

The reason this deceit has come to light is because a 33-year-old Indian pipe technician who had been with the same company for 13 years discovered the wrong visa at the airport’s immigration counter and went back to his former employers to correct the “mistake” and then return to India with his wife and two children. It was only after speaking to his employer that he learned this was not a mistake but an underhanded way to keep him from coming back to the Kingdom for future employment.

“I never had any complaints against the company,” said the disgruntled pipe technician who has been stranded since October in Jubail with his family, unable to work and unable to leave. read more>>>>>

 By SIRAJ WAHAB | ARAB NEWS Published: Dec 27, 2010 23:58 Updated: Dec 27, 2010 23:58 DAMMAM:

KSA to Washington DC, USA…

KSA to Washington DC, USA…

According to Kabul Press on their March 2010 online article under Kabul Press Reveals said that the U.S. Department of State has labeled virtually every non-European country a “hardship post” for American diplomats and that include Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. However, they can’t refuse if their next tour of duty will be in the Kingdom, why?  Because of the extra pay to compensate the new posting. They will earn 20% extra pay as “hardship differential”.

“Riyadh City at Night”

How about Filipino diplomats? I mean the Filipino contingent as member of the Philippine mission in KSA? Well of course the Philippine government should compensate their hardship in taking care of our OFWs in distress not to mention that there are estimated 1 million Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia under their watch. How much? That I do not know, but for sure after all the hardship – they deserve to be posted from KSA to Venice, Italy. I mean… after sakit sa ulo, after all the kunot noo, lagas ng buhok, and batikos from the press – to recompense all of the above, will be a good posting and shining moments somewhere in the 10 best cities in Europe.

I haven’t got a chance to see some of the new members of the diplomatic corps at our Philippine Embassy more particularly POLO-Riyadh Labor Attaché Albert Valenciano, kasi hindi naman po niya binigyang-pansin ang aking formal letter asking for appointment. I don’t know if he receive it or not or baka naman busy siya dahil hindi naman ako nakatanggap ng sulat paumanhin na siya at sampu ng kanyang mga welfare officers ay busy sa mga problema ng ating mga distress OFWs.

Philippine Embassy, Washington, D.C.

But this morning, I’ve just read an online news item  that the officers and members of the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME) complained against the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh (POLO-Riyadh “read l.c.”)  for rebuffing them when they visited the Bahay ng Kalinga (BK) to offer donations for the wards staying there.

I tried to look back in the past who among my friends from Labor Attache’s Sodusta, Rasul, Roldan and Dela Fuente snubs such good deeds from Filipino organizations in Riyadh most especially coming from a Professional group? “Parang wala pa akong naririnig, lalo na pag donasyon (gamit at pagkain) ang pinag-uusapan” considering that it is very beneficial to our Filipina OFWs in distress at Bahay Kalinga.

According to Labor Attaché Valenciano, the shelter is not officially allowed to be very visible to the public especially where large gatherings of opposite sex are noticeable.

Isip ko naman, not unless the Philippine Ambassador is present (siyempre) in such gatherings (private residences).

Well, Labor Attaché Valenciano is a Career Executive Service Officer and before his assignment as Labor Attaché to Riyadh, he was Director IV of OWWA and was posted as Welfare Officer in Tel Aviv, Israel and Labor Attaché in Rome, Italy and he was one of the few pioneers of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. He was there when OWWA was created and I just hope that his action is based in an opinion of choice – not just an informed decision.

Siguro mas maganda ang Washington DC posting compared to Rome, Italy.  

Kaya mga igan na Labor Attache’s and Welfare Officers, we need your assistance, we need your caring hands to our distress OFWs. We all knew that mahirap maging pogi pag ang posting ninyo KSA; pero may magandang sikat ng araw sa bahaging kanluran na naghihintay po sa inyo.

Before I forget,  Peace on Earth and Happy Holiday!

OFWEmpowerment Blog- 5 years of existence

OFWEmpowerment- 5 years of existence

Like any other anniversaries, today marks a new year to a new beginning and my further commitment to serve the OFW sector.

"AKO Pilipino Taas Noo Saan man Dako sa Mundo"- Babalik AKO Bayan Ko

Five years of existence is a symbol that increases in value or in strength with each passing year that reflects what this blog has made in the partnership of my fellow OFWs. As what I’ve said in my previous entry “I am not perfect but it’s quite relieving that someone out there believes in you.   

Today is a significant milestone for this blog and time to pause, to reflect, and to celebrate what has been accomplished in a relatively short span of years. Though this blog started  just for fun to ease the homesickness of the blogger far away from home and his loved ones; yet it is very fulfilling that it became a home to our fellow OFWs who needs answers to their unanswered questions.  

I came to realization that what I am doing is not enough, because with you as my partner, together – WE can do many things to help each others in times of needs and for us to lend a hand to those who needs us.

And as long as I am the writer, the editor and publisher  of this blog, I will remain your humble servant. I will try my best to keep this blog alive, to hear your sad stories, inquiries among others. I will also try to give all the information you need beneficial to the OFW sector.

To all my readers, visitors, friends and fellow community leaders, I have been deeply moved and heartened by your unwavering support and encouragement. I am gratified by the wholehearted endorsement of so many to read and subscribed “OFWempowerment” blog.

Today, WE still exist because of   YOU out there. You are the bedrock upon which OFWEmpowerment existed; you are the foundation that will sustain OFWempowerment towards a new years’ to come.

OFWempowerment 5 years of existence is also dedicated to my dear friend the late OFW Farmer Claro Ybanez  of  Davao and to his family. Wherever you are now  Nong Claro, I want you to know that –  We continue to exist because of  you and you are my inspiration.

To my brothers  Doods  and Bebs who believes of what I am doing, to my family, to my close friends, to OFW Congress-Riyadh and to all of you in the cyber world – THANK YOU So much!

Happy 5th Year Anniversary.

December 13, 2010


The busiest day so far in the Year 2010 was  Wednesday, December 8, 2010.  

596 views on your busiest day, December 8, 2010

Pageviews: 596


Top 10 Posts & Pages

These posts on your site got the most traffic.


Title   Views
Home page 129
Iqama Rules, Jawazat Procedures, Repatriation Advisories 91
New Saudi Labor Law 40
KSA Exit & Re-entry Visa 31
Handbook for Overseas Filipinos 23
GCC Labor Laws 22
Iqama System Violations & Penalties 19
Open Letter from Ex-OFW Marge 15
SLL Basic Information 15
Rep. Act #10022 13

OFW from Riyadh chosen as 2010 MOFYA Special Awardee

 Dec. 6, 2010, Riyadh, KSA – OFW from Riyadh was chosen as 2010 MOFYA Special Awardee for “Outstanding Achievement in Community Projects” in 2010 Search for Model OFW Family of the Year Award (MOFYA 2010).
Philippine President  H.E. Noynoy Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay  hands out the prestigious award to OFW Alex Veloso Bello and his entire family today at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel in Pasay City.  

The search for the Model OFW Family of the Year Award is an award-giving program designed to give recognition to outstanding OFW families, and promote best practices in achieving optimal success in all aspects of life in the face of overseas migration of one or more members of the household.

Alex Veloso Bello is currently working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for 26 years and his wife Evangeline Morden Bello decided to go home for good and put up a small business. Now, the family owns the Lifestyle Beauty Spa & a Gift Shop in Tacloban City which was established from the couple’s earnings abroad.

His wife Vangie was an OFW in Saudi Arabia for 16 years. She worked as staff nurse at King Khalid University Hospital, in Riyadh.

OFW Alex Veloso Bello,  the President of OFW Congress- Riyadh  is a Purchasing Executive for 11 years of ABB-Asea Brown Boveri-Saudi Arabia. He represents Region 8, Eastern Visayas in the National Search for Model OFW Family Award (MOFYA 2010) for land-based  category.

MOFYA is an annual search conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), through the OWWA offices in the regions, where two MOFYA winners, one Land-based (LB) and one Sea-based (SB) are being chosen.  A selection for National Award among all regional awardees will be chosen as the MOFYA 2010.  There are 34 regional finalists, two national winners and two special awardees.

The Bello’s have five children of which one is a registered nurse, and is presently working with King Fahad National Guard Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia who is married to a Filipino Doctor. One is a graduating nursing student studying in Southwestern University in Cebu.

Araw ng Pasasalamat


Alex Veloso Bello at an early age experienced hardship in life and in order to go to school he worked as a gasoline boy to make both ends meet. Later landed a job as a hotel bell boy and armed with courage and determination he became Asst. Front Office Manager of the Hotel. 

After he graduated from Divine Word University, Tacloban, he tried his luck in Manila and worked as a project accountant / auditor before he decided to work abroad. He got married at the age of  22 and have  five (5) children, four (4) of their children were born in Saudi Arabia, until he found a good job in ABB Saudi Arabia as Section Head of  the company’s Purchasing Department. Asean Brown Boveri is world’s leading power and automation technology companies. The couple has two grandchildren.

Alex Veloso Bello was conferred by OWWA Region 8 as “The Most Outstanding OFW” land-based category last June 2010 during the Migrant Workers Day celebration dubbed as “Araw ng Pasasalamat.”

To read more about Alex Veloso Bello and his accomplishment as an OFW, please click Alex Veloso Bello A Brief Biography of an OFW Leader”  

President Aquino handed this year’s MOFYA to the following:

Engr. Ermie Lagman Garon and family of Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac, 2010 Model OFW Family of the Year, Land-based category; Victor R. Dela Cruz and family of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, 2010 Model OFW family of the year, sea-based category;

Alex V. Bello and family of Tacloban City, Leyte for Outstanding Achievement in Community Projects; Capt. Gaudencio C. Morales and family of the NCR for Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship.

A Royal Pardon, Long Live the King!

Successful Surgery

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (L) and Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud

The world celebrates after the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah successful surgery for the removal of a blood clot and adjustment of the King’s slipped disk. The King’s health is not only of great importance to the Saudi’s and Muslim world but a global concern as well.  Saudi Arabia under the King’s leadership controls more than a fifth of the world’s crude oil reserves.

Most online news item carries the story of the “successful surgery” done in New York. “May God the Almighty protect the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and grant him good health and a speedy recovery.” Long live the King!

Customarily, the Royal family circle who governs this blessed nation gives thanks to ALLAH by way of sharing HIS goodness to other people. Last year, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah ordered the release of some prisoners held for public rights who do not pose any danger to public security. This was announced after the Crown Prince Sultan, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Aviation arrived from successful medical trip abroad.

Also, September of this year, a royal pardon by His Highness Saudi King benefits illegal migrants, particularly those who violates the country’s residency laws, that includes Umrah, Haj and other holders of visit visa who overstays in the Kingdom. The King ordered the royal pardon after Riyadh Governor, Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud underwent spinal surgery in the United States in August.


While, the world celebrates the King Abdullah’s successful surgery, the Saudi authorities have detained 32 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Eastern Province after conducting early morning raids on various villas and flats in the Thuqba area, Alkhobar, on Wednesday, Arab News reported.

According to the report, 26 of the 32 were women. The Philippine Embassy Charge d’Affaires Ezzedin H. Tago assures that they are closely coordinating with authorities in the Eastern Province to find out what charges will be filed against them and their rights will be fully protected. Those arrested are mostly absconders who ran away from their employers, claiming contract substitution, abuses, maltreatment and other labor malpractices.

The embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office are doing their best to help hundreds of complains from our distressed OFWs. POLO finds ways to talk to employers on their behalf to reach for an amicable solution. In cases where amicable settlement is not possible, the embassy find ways to have them repatriated back home. On the other hand, POLO assists the aggrieved OFWs to file formal complaint with the Saudi Labor Office where the process takes months and even years.

Honorable Khalid Abdullah Al-Dawud, a judge at the Court of Grievances, referring to major reasons that lead to the delays of delivering justice in this country said inaction on the part of any one of these agencies (police, the public prosecution, prison authorities and judges) could lead to prolonged court proceedings, even if the case involves a petty crime and insufficient number of qualified court translators is another reason behind some delays.”  

Sponsorship System and Saudization

Saudi Arabia under the sponsorship of specific employers, the foreign worker is at the mercy of his employer. Even when sponsors did participate in an attempt for a possible settlement or negotiations, kafil or sponsors sometimes bargained for repayment of recruitment fees, visa fees and others in exchange for unpaid salaries; or to provide an air ticket home in exchange for a full settlement of the case. The distressed OFWs again with no choice accept the offer in exchange for home or without the sponsor’s approval, longing for home would be in vain.

This year’s report says that there is an estimated three million illegal residents in the Kingdom in various nationalities. I cannot say that these counts only runaways but the figure is very alarming and the number of such absconders has increased and constitute a real security threat to the Kingdom. Not to mention that Saudi Arabia today has its own problem of unemployment and reining in inflation are the major challenges facing the Kingdom’s economy, Saudi economic experts says.

Arab news item says “the Kingdom also draw attention to the need to extend improved government support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs)  to check the influx of foreign workers in the Kingdom’s job market.”

In the same news, the labor Minister H.E. Adel Fakieh admits that serious efforts is needed to employ qualified Saudis in the place of foreigners who dominate most local sectors.

And why prolong the agony and failure of Saudization? The answer is just very simple – “abolished Sponsorship system” and let the Saudi government or private companies under the supervision of the Saudi government should act as sponsors of foreign workers. In this manner the government can control the flow of foreign workers and give way to its Saudization effort.

If this happens, everybody happy, there will be Saudi’s in all government and private institutions and once and for all eradicate sponsorship (kafala) system that protects employers from legal responsibility to respond to charges of contract substitutions,  non-payment of wages, forced labor, or abuse and maltreatment to expatriates.

Bahrain abolished the system in 2009, and Kuwait reportedly plans to do so by February 2011 and just recently Qatar is considering ending the sponsorship system. Saudi Arabia will soon follow and the rest of the GCC member countries.

A prayer for the King

But how about those three million illegal residents in the Kingdom? My favorite idiomatic expressions is the answer – “separate the grain from the chaffs” and give them a “Royal Pardon”  once and for all; and those found worthless should be totally banned from entering the country.

WE (OFWs) pray for the speedy recovery of His Majesty, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques  and his safe return to the Kingdom and so with the future announcement of the most awaited “Royal Pardon.”  LONG LIVE THE KING!   -end-

By: Bong Amora

What is a Diplomat?

Online news article titled “OFWs in Saudi lobby for career diplomat” caught my attention.  So I decide to post this entry to make a correction about the mentioned article and for everybody to know who among the two Tago’s is the real diplomat?

(A) Abdul Hannan M. Tago

Abdul Hanan Tago

To my knowledge Abdul Hannan M. Tago is a bilingual journalist, who speaks four languages Arabic, English, Maranao and Tagalog.  He obtained his BA in Arabic Literature major in Mass Communication and Public Relations from Al-Azhar University and  M.A. in Political Science  from Arab League Institution, Cairo, Egypt.

He is a community leader and a respected Maranao in the Filipino Muslim community.  His proficiency in Arabic opened the doors to become one of the correspondents  of  Arab News, the leading English newspaper in the Middle East. He joined Arab News in 1992 where he has been working ever since and presently the Executive Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief.

Abdul Hanan Tago is also a regular writer in leading Arabic newspapers Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and Al Eqtisadiah.  

(B) Ezzedin Tago

Min. ConGen E. Tago

The other Tago is no less than Ezzedin Tago, the current Philippine Consul General in Jeddah and currently designated as Charge D’ Affaires of the Philippine Embassy. Ezzedin Tago is also a son of a former career diplomat from Lanao del Sur and who was among the first graduates of the International Philippine School in Jeddah and himself a career foreign service officer. Consul General Ezzedine Tago  was just recently confirmed by the Commission on Appointments  to the rank of Career Minister. (see  ConGen Ezzedin Tago Profile

Among those confirmed are Romulo Victor Israel Jr., and Adrian Elmer Cruz as Foreign Service Officer, Class I and Gerardo P. Abiog Foreign Service Officer, Class II.

Consul Cruz and Vice Consul Abiog was formerly posted in Philippine Embassy, Riyadh overseeing the implementation of the Philippine Overseas Absentee Voting while  Vice Consul  Jun Israel is still in the Kingdom waiting for his new tour of duty.  

If  H.E. President Noynoy Aquino could not appoint a new Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by end of this year, the OFW Congress-Riyadh is planning to hold a general assembly meeting and elect its Executive Council members this coming end of December and at the same time endorse Minister Consul General Ezzedine Tago to the Ambassadorship vacated by former Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor.

There are at least 10 names vying for the position that was already submitted to the office of the President  but until now the President has yet to decide who among  in the list is capable for the job.  

What is a DIPLOMAT?

A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization.  In other words, a person who represents their government.

The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and friendly relations. Diplomats in posts collect and report information that could affect national interests, often with advice about how the home country government should respond. Then, once any policy response has been decided in the home country’s capital, posts bear major responsibility for implementing it. Diplomats have the job of conveying, in the most persuasive way possible, the views of the home government to the governments to which they are accredited and, in doing so, to try to convince those governments to act in ways that suit home country interests. In this way, diplomats are part of the beginning and the end of each loop in the continuous process through which foreign policy is made. 

How to become a diplomat?

A person whose career or profession is diplomacy; working as a political officer, monitoring developments in the host country; or representing the country in press and public affairs; in consular and immigration work; or as a commercial officer.

A career diplomat is responsible for formulating, implementing, and supporting country’s foreign policy.

To become a diplomat, a person should need to spend two thirds of his/her working life abroad protecting and promoting the country’s interests as well as assisting its citizens in need of help.

To become a diplomat, a person must have at least five traditional career tracks:  Consular, Political, Economic, Management, and Public Diplomacy.  An individual in any one of these tracks will hold diplomatic titles in the countries in which they serve and, over the course of a successful career, may climb the career ladder to the top rungs, even ultimately becoming competitive for an ambassadorial slot. –  New World Dictionary 4th Edition

The Triumph of Boxing




It was a classic dismantling of the last Mexican warrior standing – the Great Antonio Margarito…!

And total annihilation without doubt; in a surgical demolition from the very first round to the end…!   

The Triumph

The fight was a confirmation of the testament of PACMAN as the gladiator on top of them all. At an official weight of 144.6 lbs, Pacquaio winning the 154 pound – Super Welterweight Championship Belt (Junior Middleweight in other boxing bodies) is an overwhelming achievement, probably the first of its kind. Remember, Pacquaio was not even supposed to be qualified to the division’s minimum weight requirements!  That made the conquest even sweeter in what history’s unparalleled eighth crowns in eight weight divisions. Oscar Dela Hoya made it as a distant second at six; Sugar Ray Leonard, five; Floyd Mayweather Jr. at three … and the other big names, I can’t recall anymore

The aftermath of the fight saw Margarito suffering a broken bone on the face. Other reports are saying something about a broken eye socket. Whatever it is, Antonio would have to stay longer at the hospital for surgery and more thorough check up. From the looks of it, he may have ended his career this early – and sadly, Margarito will never be the same again.

But then to me, the beatings he got in this lopsided fight may transcend beyond the present obviousness of a broken facial bone, I mean – I’m afraid Antonio may now be treading the path to Parkinson in the near or distant future – himself ending up in what he mimicked on Coach Roach days before the fight.


As promised, Antonio Margarito didn’t quit. Robert Garcia, his Trainer, didn’t quit either. Referee Laurence Cole didn’t signal to a quit.

It was the Filipino Destroyer who quit!

In Rounds 11 & 12, Pacquiao took it easy and ceased throwing big bombs at the already devastated foe – but  …. read more>>>>>>>>> 

The Venom of Success


 By Doods A. Amora, PEE

The fight with Antonio Margarito is inching closer – two more weeks of heavy training… the remaining days are for tapering down.

So then, Pacman has only two weeks of last hour cramming. Mentally and physically, it’s not enough. Coach Roach is concerned. To his mind, a lot of set maneuvers in sequenced drills have yet to be perfected.

The fans are worried. I too, am anxious.


Again, too many distractions… too many sidetrips.

This time, I’m not sure if the Filipino people can accept defeat. That of course includes those so-called ‘constituents’ of the Politician – the very ‘constituents’ who love him because he is the Congressman.

Yet I doubt that the Filipino nation (me, included), the so-called “Sambayanang Filipino” (in traditional politicians’ over-used flatter) prefers to see their idol in coat & tie, dining & mingling with the elite.

The Congressman

I still would like to believe the “Sambayanang Filipinowants to see their idol’s hands raised in a stunning knock-out victory! That’s Planet Pacman is all about – nothing else.

Sidetrips…? Being a Congressman in Planet Pacman, is icing of the cake. In the highest degree, it is the self-actualization of the man’s long-time hierarchy of dreams. Hence, the congressman in Manny is bonus, at least, in the thoughts of many.

No question about it. That is his…  to read more >>>>>>>>

OFW Ako, Diplomat lang Kayo!

I posted an entry in this blog two years ago titledDiplomat Ako, OFW lang kayo!upon reading an online news that Department of Labor and Employment at home urged overseas Filipino workers to expose discourteous officials from Philippine mission abroad so that they may be punished. The entry was made referring to a top Philippine diplomat based in Riyadh telling to an OFW “diplomat ako, OFW lang kayo!” during altercation on the usage of Philippine Embassy grounds for FilCom activities.

Though a year before DOLE made that announcement, Sen. Manny Villar already filed Senate Bill 1879, to impose penalties on Philippine consular officials and other government personnel for failure to act on complaints of, or to give assistance or render service to migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress. He also filed Resolution No. 248, urging the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to conduct an inquiry on the allegations of bad attitude, negligence and incompetence of some Philippine embassy and consular personnel stationed in various countries in handling cases of distressed OFWs.

The bill as per  Senate web site was substituted by Senate Bill 3286 which failed to become part of the amended provisions of the now Republic Act No. 10022. It is very unfortunate that R. A. 10022 does not reprimand, castigate or penalize any diplomatic corps of bad attitude, negligence and incompetence in attending to the cases of Filipino migrant workers in distress.

That is why our diplomats more particularly our Honorable Labor Attaché’s around the globe knows where they stands. They continue to be rude, indifferent to our unfortunate OFWs, unmindful of their acts, babbling like a parrot, waiting for their new post somewhere in Europe and America. Huh! You should be posted in the war torn Afghanistan instead.

That is also why OFW in distress turns from the help of fellow OFWs and Filipino Community organizations because they’re afraid to visit our embassy, POLO/OWWA offices because of their uncaring, unsympathetic, insensible attitude towards OFWs, more particularly those in need of help.

And now, YOU ask me to shut up and to stop minding these people(unfortunate OFWs) who seek our help?  Atty. Labor Attaché, please be reminded that Section 1. Par. (h) of Section 2 of Republic Act. No. 8042, as amended says “The State recognizes non-governmental organizations, trade unions, workers associations, stakeholders and their similar entities duly recognized as legitimate, are partners of the State in the protection of Filipino migrant workers and in the promotion of their welfare. The State shall cooperate with them in a spirit of trust and mutual respect. The significant contribution of recruitment and manning agencies shall from part this partnership.” 

Hongkong OFW Agnes Tenorio

Bakit mo ako pinapatigil sa pagtulong at pag-refer sa inyong tanggapan (POLO/OWWA) tungkol sa kanilang problema at hinaing?  Kung babaliktarin ko at sabihin sa iyo ang mga katagang ito “OFW Ako, Labor Attaché lang Kayo!” What would be your reaction? You should not treat us like the way Philippine Labor Attaché to Hongkong Romulo Salud treated OFW Agnes Tenorio. Wala kang karapatang patigilin ako. We are the “true unsung heroes” and “the savior of our nation”, don’t you know that – Atty. Labor Attaché?

 I respectfully request the Vice President and Presidential Adviser on OFW Affairs Jejomar Binay in your upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia and so with DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, to please evaluate the individual performance of the members of the diplomatic corps, especially officials from the office of POLO/OWWA to determine the merits of their continuing tour of duty. I am so sure that some of the “wheat should be separated from the chaff” or else kawawa ang mga OFWs na nangangailangan ng agarang tulong sa ating mga magigiting na diplomats.

Salamat po!

related post:

True or Not, WE deserve to know

True or not, WE deserve to know

Riyadh, 7  October 2010 – Four Filipina nurse were abducted and allegedly victims of rape in two separate incidents, according to Filipino migrant rights group in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Alarmed with such incidents Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan-Middle East appeal to the Philippine Embassy to conduct an investigation regarding the gruesome details of the incident allegedly done to the Filipina nurses.

According to KGS chairperson Eric Jocson, who conducted their own investigation, the victims were Filipina nurses working in several hospitals in Riyadh. In the first case, announced by Jocson one of the victims works in Riyadh Kharj Hospital (RKH) also known as Riyadh Military Hospital.

Crime against woman: naked realities

Based on initial investigation, the nurse was among the passengers of the hospital bus service but she was left behind and decided to take a cab. While on the way to her accommodation, unidentified man blocked the cab and forced the victim to his car. The Filipina nurse was found later in the desert and in critical condition. It was learned that there was an indication that she was abused. After two weeks the victim died.

In the second case, according to Jocson, three Filipina nurses who work in the National Guard Hospital in the same city were walking from their accommodation to buy something at a nearby department store. According to the witnesses, a car suddenly stops and forced the three Filipina nurses into their car.

After few days, the three Filipinas were found in a remote area in the mentioned city. The shocking discovery showed signs that the victims were gang raped based on the initial medical examination results that there were lacerations on sensitive parts of their bodies. Suspects of this heinous series of acts to Filipina nurses are still at-large.

Engr. Faizal Sharque, Executive Council member of the OFW Congress-Riyadh, a group of Filipino Community organizations and leaders advocating OFW issues and concerns reminds everyone not only to Filipina nurses working in this oil rich region to refrain from going out at nights. “Nurses who are invited by other nationalities and even fellow Filipinos outside their accommodation during night in any given places and time should not accept invitation”,  Sharque said.

“We are not in Manila where you can just roam around and paint the town red”, he added.

Member organizations of OFW Congress are also requesting the Philippine Embassy to investigate this ghastly news around the Filipino Community.

“Our nurses are here because our country can’t provide job to thousands of nursing graduates each year; and they received such horrifying deaths in exchange for a dollar”, OFWC said.

OFWC added that “the Filipino community leaders in Riyadh sincerely appeals to the good Consul General Ezzedin Tago to look into this matter, true or not, Filipino deserve to know if this country is still safe to us OFWs. If it is true please seek justice on our behalf”.

Consul General Ezzedin Tago has been recently designated by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs as Charge D’Affaires, ad interim, of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh. He was the Consul General of the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah prior to his transfer in Riyadh.

In 2008, a rape case dubbed as “Rape on Christmas Eve” was the one greeted the good Consul General in the first days of his duty as Consul General in Jeddah, now, the same greetings in Riyadh in the first week of his duty.

A blog “Definitely for Filipino”

At first, I never thought that blogging will be part of my daily routine or perhaps became part of my life.  My week would be empty if I can’t post anything and my days would be boring if I don’t receive or read  comments and inquiries from our readers more particularly fellow OFWs.

And it is a fulfilling day if I can share with someone my thoughts, advices and opinions. Though I can’t say that what I shared or reply to those who asked my opinions are perfect, but it’s quite relieving that someone out there believes in you.

Blogging is being promoted as one of the easiest ways to promote oneself, organization, company or a product, etc. My friends asked me why I don’t put any ads on this blog and other money making features that can make money or earn money out of it. I told them blogging from the start is just a hobby and this is my personal blog and I am determined to write anything that will pop out in my mind, no one can ask me what to do, what to write and what to say because I owned this blog. I am the writer, the editor and publisher rolled into one.

Blogs these days are very popular form of expressing one’s self, pouring out your emotions on a certain topic  that you think entertaining or interesting to others or posting something that you think an important events, ideas and useful information that your readers may know.

The Philippines has plenty of historical buildings still standing today. To me, this particular building really stands out as it is one of the few that has survived the test of time and war. I am going to make the photos speak for themselves. (Click the Photo)

During most of my spare time in the office and at home, I surf the internet, and read blogs too that might interest me and give me an idea on what to post.  Today, I stumble upon a blog that I may consider calling it  “a fantastic blog” and a very informative blog in which you can find all the topics you want, from business, living, sports, technology, news, travel, photography, you name it!  You can find in this blog. It even has a chat room and a store, huh! If you’re a writer, you can submit articles. The design is superb and neat.  If you want “Nostalgic Videos”, it has! You can even watch “The Battle in Manila, 1945”.  Whew! My snappy salute to Ben Totanes the creator of DEFINITELY FILIPINO.

Want to see it for yourself guys! Visit “the blog for online Filipinos”, DEFINITELY FILIPINO!

Wait and see…

Kuwait announced that they will abolish sponsorship system in their country.  This is indeed a good news for expatriates in Kuwait.  Whose next in Gulf countries?

Saudi Arabia? Well, I don’t think so. If they are sincere enough to abolish sponsorship system, it should have been done ten years ago.

Actually, the plan to abolish sponsorship in Saudi Arabia have been the talk of the town since year 2000 and up to now the Saudi government is still drafting its Implementing Guidelines, given the fact that the effect of the abolition of the sponsorship system could also harm its own people.  

Saudi and expatriates queue at an Afghan foodshop in Jeddah in this file photo. Of the 27,136,977 people registered under the latest general census, 18,707,576 are Saudis and the rest are expatriates. ARABNEWS

Yes, putting an end to sponsorship system can eliminate exploitation of foreign workers. Once it is abolish, employer would not be responsible for any actions of the employee outside from the worksite. That includes the freedom from restrictions. Runaway workers will then have the choice to stay in the Kingdom or find another employer but the planned system should be implemented in a way that it could not be abused by the worker.  On the other hand, the said plan can minimize or totally eradicate a visa trade which is rampant in the Kingdom nowadays.

However, I have a doubt that the Saudi government is serious in this issue.  Last month  online news cited  Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior the pronouncement that the  “proposed unified recruitment companies will provide workers within 24 hours to people who need them, provided that applicants do not seek people with uncommon specializations or rare skills.”  It even reported that “applicants or employer can employ the workers for two years”.  Thus the creation of a government commission or a department handling recruitment jobs.  In my point of view, they will not abolish sponsorship system but they will encourage employers to hire workers through a unified recruitment firms in the Kingdom. In this manner, it will gradually eliminate sponsorship in the long run and then control expatriates in the Kingdom in the hands of a government recruitment firm.  Why not?  

The plan to abolish sponsorship has been in the air for a decade and why up to now the implementing guidelines still in the making?  Does this make sense?

Let us wait and see.   

Congratulations to the newly elected officers of Black Python!

OFW Congress Pres. Alex Veloso Bello (BPMA's Mass Induction)

 I was invited yesterday to witness the mass induction of the newly set of officers, members and  promoted Karate belters of the Black Python Martial Arts Association, Inc.!   CONGRATULATIONS!

OFW Congress-Riyadh President, Alex Veloso Bello was present  to induct the officers along with OFWC Executive Council Member Engr. Faizal Sharque.  The induction rites was held at a resort yesterday October 1, 2010.

BPMA has been very active in Filipino community activities and community service. The association recently was being honored as Outstanding OFW Congress-Riyadh member  in recognition for their untiring community service and sense of volunteerism.  BPMA were assigned as Marshals in the implementation process of the  2004/2007/2010 Oveseas Absentee Voting in Riyadh held at Embassy compound.  They also donate blood to those in needs.

Grandmaster/Founder/Overall Chief Instructor/7th Dan Black Belter "Boy Macion" (Exhibition Match)

The association was organized in Year 1998 and  registered as Filipino Community partner of the Philippine Embassy/POLO/OWWA in Year 2000. BPMA is also registered with Securities and Exchange Commission. It was founded by 7th Dan Black Belter  “Boy Macion.”  The main headquarter of the group is in Hinundayan, Souther Leyte.

The mass induction was also highlighted with kata’s and karate combat and judo exhibitions. Parlor games and gift giveaways contributed to the joyous occasion.

I would like to thank BPMA Grandmaster and Founder “Boy Macion” and officers for the certificate of appreciation they presented to the blogger during the ceremony. BPMA is always a partner of KAKAMPI-KSA and OFW Congress in many community activities since the 1990 up to present.

Certificate of Appreciation- Thank You! BPMA.

“KSA National Day” – Give us and Treat us what WE Deserve

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia "National Day"

Filipinos like me don’t realize how much Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has done to the thousands of Filipinos seeking greener pasture in this oil rich region. Many are lucky, some were unlucky. Successful OFW returnees were able to buy properties, build house, own businesses, become investors, provide good education for the children and others. All of these we called “Katas ng Saudi”.

But yes! It is true that some of us are not doing well working in Saudi Arabia, like all the other nationalities does in every other country. Broken families after long separation, workers rights were violated, some went home abused, maltreated and worst arrived home in a box. Other says the main concern of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia is the cultural and religious differences. However, we can’t argue that we don’t have any other choice but to keep coming back in this desert land  rather than building lives at home in poverty.

Nevertheless, this country gives hope to thousands of Filipinos dreaming for a good and better future at home. Though, there are reports of abuses, maltreatment and contract violations in this country, majority of Filipinos are satisfied of their job, salaries, benefits and emotionally focused on their lives. And mostly those Filipinos working in the Kingdom for a long time found out that most of our perceptions about the Islamic world have another side of the story.  It is just like saying “the mistake of one could not be a mistake of ten”.

On the other hand, the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very proud hosting Filipinos in their country. I remember an article in Arab News and Okaz, (English and Arabic) popular newspapers in the country cited that Filipinos are “highly skilled, hardworking and get along well with people” a contrast actually with other nationalities, who do not possess the same qualities we have Filipinos. This is simply the reason why Saudi companies like to employ Filipinos because we are known for our eagerness to do a certain job and we are honest dealing with clients and most of all – we respect time to deliver a job.

The present administration should make a concrete move to establish comprehensive bilateral labor agreements with the host country that will clearly focus on the protection of OFWs, the issue of contract substitution and Filipina Household Workers on the issue of maltreatment and abuse.

We can’t just deny that majority of OFWs loved this country and consider it as second home. You have to be here and learn these things yourself. In my 16 years as an OFW I realized that Saudi Arabia is a unique country with many facets that most of us do not understand.  It is an opaque culture, conservative in nature, fiercely proud and protective of its culture and religion.

To my fellow OFWs in KSA, maybe life will not turn out to be as what we planned. I know some of you are worried about the outcome of your plans and your life while working in the Kingdom. Learn to live with disappointment, but remember that disappointment does not have to endure. Keeps on praying and never stop praying as well as never give up, because in every road – it offers a way to opportunity.

To my host country, WE are your visitors, WE are your humble workers, WE are your servant, Your wish is our command  BUT our emotions alert us when natural human need is not being met, so please give us and treat us what we deserve.

On behalf of the Overseas Filipino Workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; WE are so  thankful to Allah for having blessed us working in this country; to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, the Crown Prince His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, His Royal Highness Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Premier, and the people of Saudi Arabia, thank you for giving us (OFWs) the opportunity to be of service to the Kingdom and WE wish you a Happy Celebration on the occasion of the Kingdom’s NATIONAL DAY” (September 23).

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”