Saudization right under our noses

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In Year 1993 as I step Saudi Arabia for the first time, the echoing whispers of Saudization were the first I heard among many issues in the circles of the expatriate community.

Between 1995 and 2000, Saudization had been already the talk of the town, even before the appointment of the late Saudi Labor Minister Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, the father of the national strategy of Saudization. Though the rumored started to circulate among the Filipino community in Jeddah many expatriates in various nationalities shrugged off the idea and treated it as a mere hearsay because most expatriates at that time were employed in building and construction sector. Menial jobs such as laborer and construction workers often not the type of jobs the Saudis want to do.

As usual like rumors, that whispers started to wither into the horizon and expatriates realize it’s not a threat at all. Why? Because the jobs created were in the field of construction, trade, agriculture and service workers, which commonly occupied by expatriates. It was not until the late Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi was appointed as Saudi Labor Minister.

In 2000 again a rumor came out that the host country starts campaigning to trim down the number of foreign workers in the Kingdom which was estimated at 6 million of that year and 500,000 of those estimated figures were Filipinos.

Y2K was the year the government started to become serious on their crusade by wrapping out economic and labor policies emphasizing the creation of jobs among the Saudi populace. Alarmed by the bulging population of foreign workers, thus – the creation of the Seventh Development Plan for the year 2000-2004 which focuses more on economic diversification and a bigger role of the private sector in the Saudi economy and new jobs for Saudi nationals as well.

Al-Gosaibi focuses on modernization of the Ministry, creating a new women’s sector in the labor market. His agenda tackles issues such as unemployment of women and reducing the number of low-skilled foreign workers and training Saudis to take over expats jobs.

SaudizationThe late Labor Minister during the Jeddah Economic Forum in 2008 defended the Saudization policy enforced by his ministry, asserting that businesses and the media unfairly portray Saudi youth as lazy. “Saudi primary and secondary schools need to improve the teaching of English and technical skills in order to better prepare students for a globalized job market” he said.

Of course, the late Labor Minister is absolutely right, for my 20 years as an expat in this country which I already considered my second home, I personally do not agree that Saudis are not suited for the job that usually given to expatriates. I have worked with secretaries, messengers, drivers and ordinary office workers, they are just the same as what other nationalities are capable of doing. I have met Saudis in high level position, they are friendly, smart and I admit they are very professional to deal with and most of all Saudis are very kind people.

SAUDI ARAMCO the biggest oil and the world’s most valuable company was the one who first heed to the call of Saudization under Al-Gosaibi’s turf of leadership in the Labor Ministry. SAUDI ARAMCO as early as 2005 already pursued the Saudization initiatives to their independent contractor. The plan is to employ Saudi national “stage by stage” as their Saudization strategy dubbed as CCS (Corporate Contractors Saudization). The contractor on the other hand had no choice but obligated to meet the employment standard demands mandated by the oil company, the only way to be able to continue their business partnership with the company who owns the world’s largest oil field.

In order to do so, these contractors should see to it that by the Year 2015, Saudi nationals employed as skilled workers in their respective companies must consist of an 80 % workforce and cut down the number of expatriate workers to 20%. (Taken from Saudization planning-Saudi Aramco-CCS).

I realized that Saudi Aramco’s strategy may bring the Saudi nationalization program a success soon before the year 2020 arrives. However, in my opinion government owned corporations and private companies could not come up with the same result overnight not unless there will be a will of their own to seriously train Saudi nationals to menial job they hate to do.

Here comes the Nitaqat program under the now energetic Labor Minister Adel Fakeih. The Nitaqat itself is a challenge from both the government and their constituents. Implementing such crucial plan should be done gradually because the long term impact of a succession plan is to develop human capital. It can’t be denied that the consequences of rushing up to the objectives could be the same tool that could backfire to the long awaited success of Saudization. The existing approach of change should be done in a slow manner, but steadily and under a minimum speed that could come up into a smooth transition of knowledge transfer.

Now, the amnesty program of the Saudi government is obviously a part of Saudization strategy. The just recent mass deportation of undocumented expats and over stayer is in fact a cleansing process which could be an opportunity for Saudi nationals to learn the job vacated by expatriates.

Now, the reality of Saudization is no longer a whisper, it is finally occurring right under our noses.  (BongA)

Related Post:   When the Soil is Ready;  The reality is yet to come   

References:  The Saudization Initiatives ;  Prominent Saudis: Dr. Ghazi Al Qosaibi; Saudi Aramco (Saudization Guide for Contractor Companies)

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The reality of Saudization is yet to come

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4/11/2013, RIYADH: Why on earth those undocumented Filipino workers in the Kingdom are hard headed enough to comply legalization process under the Saudi government amnesty program and chose to stay in the Kingdom? Does the three months grace period not enough to conform requirements to complete paper works? I don’t think so. There are many remedies waiting for them during those periods;  to rectify their working status or decide to go home for good.

The Philippine Embassy on 10 October 2013 announced in their website that male Filipino worker who wishes to be repatriated before the 3 November 2013 deadline, but lack the required original iqama or passport and thereby have been unable to process exit visa to contact Embassy and labor office. The Philippine Embassy under the Ambassadorship of H.E. Ezzedin Tago   has arranged with the Office of the Emir for the creation of an interagency committee to look into the cases of those with no documents in preparation for their repatriation. The Philippine labor office was even open during Eid holidays to serve their distress nationals who want to avail the Saudi government amnesty program.

There were even separate facilities for mothers with unducmented children whether they are registered or not to proceed to the embassy’s Um Al-Hammam field office and avail the additional few days’ extension for DNA testing as provided by the Saudi authorities.

DNA testing is an initial step prior to processing at the Jawazat for final exit for those undocumented Filipina mother and children.

However, despite of the announcement and notices from various Filipino groups to their members and friends, a few have been heeding the call.

philembassyWhat’s wrong? What’s on the mind of our fellow OFWs? I can’t find any answers to those simple questions that I, myself asked. Are our embassy has failed to reach our fellow OFW in distress? The answer is No either, because the just concluded amnesty program of the Saudi government was not only for Filipinos, in fact it was for all expatriates in the Kingdom. It is a national instruction or order from Saudi authorities to all foreign workers to correct their status or leave the Kingdom for good. I think our Embassy and or our Consulate had exhausted all possible means to help our OFW in  distress. Maybe the three months time extension was not enough or there will be a personal neglect or the “Filipino manana habit” has something to do with it.

Today is the day to reckon, there will be no excuses. Whether we don’t like it, our own action and by ignoring to follow orders has been substantiated, and therefore we must face the consequences. The theory of flight says “for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction”.

The Saudi authorities will start a massive crackdown to those expatriates who failed to rectify their statuses. There will be a knock on your door at any given time and as what Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Al_Hamzi, Director General of the Passport Department  said “we have plans to deal with overcrowding at correctional facilities and prisons have more capacity and are located across the Kingdom, unlike deportation centers, which have a limited capacity.

A Saudi colleague of mine at work saidafter the crackdown and cleansing period, the increase of crimes that involves foreigners will be lessen and corruption in few offices perhaps be eradicated which year by year became a disease in our system”.  

In a press conference, Deputy Labor Minister Mufrej bin Saad Al-Haqbani said labor inspectors would visit commercial establishments, construction sites, operations and maintenance offices, retail outlets, catering companies, cafes. They will crosscheck workers’ identities with their legal documentation to ensure that workers are legal.

Deputy Labor Minister Al-Haqbani was thankful to foreign workers who have participated in the development of the Kingdom. “We still want you but we want foreigners to remain in the Kingdom lawfully” he added.

The Passport Department and other Saudi government security agencies can now exercise and strengthen its internal security measures against terrorist activities and infiltration; crimes such as drug smuggling, manufacturing and alcohol use, visa forgery, immoral act and back door activities. It can easily solve crimes and prevent those expats or foreigners with criminal backgrounds to return the country with false names or new identity.

Again folks, it is not Saudi government harassment and or violation of human rights, it is for the good of all expatriates, the employers and the country as well; and the last but not the least the reality of Saudization is yet to come”.  – BongA

Related links:

Thousands arrested on first day of crackdown 

Life hit hard by labor raids 

MOI Spokesman announces end of grace period for violators of labour, immigration regulations 

Labor inspectors won’t raid homes

Thousands arrested on Day 2

Labor action pays off

Remittances poised to fall 20% in wake of campaign

Three facets of sexual abuse

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Case No. 1 = Silvio Berlusconi

The former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced yesterday to seven years in jail after being found guilty of paying for sex with an underage prostitute Karima El Mahroug. In Italy, paying a woman for sex who is underage is a criminal offense. Karima El Mahroug was 17 at the time of the sex with consent occurred. However, the exchange of sexual services for money in Italy is legal, but organized prostitution like brothels is prohibited and paying a person under 18 for sex is a crime.

Just-Ice Italy prohibits sexual acts to an unmarried person under the age of consent which is 14. If two people engage in sex below the age of consent and in the same age, both can be charged with misdemeanor while if the one is older than the victim, the older person is treated as a sex offender and can be charged with statutory rape.

The 76-year-old former Italian leader and media tycoon, who denied all the allegations, has also been banned from holding public office for life.

Case No. 2 = Name withheld

A man could be convicted of rape even if the woman agreed to have sex, judges have ruled.

He would still be guilty if he did something she asked him not to, a High Court panel led by England and Wales most senior judge ruled.

This is a case involving a wife who claimed her husband broke their agreement by failing to withdraw. The judge’s creed that the man would no longer have the consent because he intentionally ignored the limitations set by his wife before the act was decided.

The judges said, the wife was deprived of choice and her consent was invalid under the circumstances. She agreed to have sex with her husband after the latter promised to withdraw because she was adamant that not to have another child. The couple has four children, two girls and two boys; the youngest is four years old. But the husband went back on his word, making her pregnant.

The judges decided it falls within the statutory definition of rape. Though they informed the public that withdrawal is not a safe method of contraception.

The husband now faces prosecution for rape following the court’s ruling that, if he deliberately ignored his wife’s wish that he withdraw before ejaculation, she had not consented to sex.

Case No. 3 = Antonio Villafuerte

Presumed innocent until proven guilty, that’s the case of POLO Riyadh, Asst. Labor Attaché Antonio Villafuerte. He should be summoned to come home and faced his accuser, to speak and defend himself on the accusations of sexual abuse hurled to him by female OFW in distress.

The story published in Philippine daily newspapers narrated that female OFW in distress named “Michelle” went to the shelter (Filipino Workers Resource Center) waiting for her ticket. According to her the Assistant Labor Attaché Tony Villafuerte told her that an Egyptian will pay her ticket back home in return of a sex act but the Labor Attaché himself started to take advantage of her. But she refused, and also the Egyptian pitied her.

To my readers, please note that no sexual act took place or consummated , the word “take advantage on her” and the “the Egyptian pitied her” are clear enough that nothing happened yet. This is only in the case of Michelle. We don’t know yet if there are other signed complaints from more alleged victim.

The International Association of Women Judges based in Washington, USA says; people who occupy positions of authority and public trust sometimes abuse their power and seek to take advantage of those who are dependent on their favor. When the abuse of power involves a demand for sexual favors, we are naming it “sextortion.”

It is just so sad to think that the people we rely on to be on our side are the ones hurting us. However, we should be concerned about the idea that sometime allegation may be subject to false-accusations. This sits against one of the most important principles in law: a person is to be presumed innocent, until they are found to be guilty.

By: Bong Amora

Is campers action justified? or just an act of stupidity!

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Is campers action justified? or just an act of stupidity!

I am not against the campers; maybe I would do the same if I was in their shoes especially if I feel I’m trapped and nowhere to go. However, we can’t justify an illegal action as “an exemption to the rule”. Moral justification by way of obstructing the law of the host nation cannot be moral; a questionable act thinking it is right under the circumstances is not the answer to all of our anxieties.

thereisnothingworsethanaggressivestupidityI would like to remind my fellow OFWs once again that in Saudi Arabia, the workers may it be their nationals or foreign workers are strictly prohibited from organizing, may it be a group of individuals forming an association, more on calling strikes against employers or the authorities. It means social organizing like camping together for a purpose; especially in public places are very much prohibited.

End of last year, the Saudi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced banning any expatriate organization or association in the entire Kingdom. The said statement directed all foreign missions in Saudi Arabia to comply and prevent the creation of community organizations and immediately cancel formation of such and their activities without permit from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Though the mentioned directives raised questions than answers among expatriate communities, the MFA didn’t bother to reason out why there was such an order.

The recent developments reported in Arab News today that about 2,000 Filipino workers are still camped outside the Philippine Consulate to put pressure on Philippine officials to speed up the processing of their paperwork is not the solution to their problems. The advisory on Procedures to Obtain Final Exit for Repatriation announced by the Embassy is clearly set out that there are still steps to follow and needed to be done prior repatriation proceedings. Camping outside the Embassy or Consulate premises is an illegal form of assembly according to their law. The worst case scenario is that the Saudi authority might treat this matter even seriously and massive arrest will happen in the next days to come. Di bali kung hindi kayo arestohin dahil may rasyon kayong natatanggap sa ating Embahada or Konsulado, ang problema kung sa kulungan kayo mapunta, maniwala kayo kabayan ang kulungan sa Saudi mas massahol pa sa kulungan sa Pinas.

 I also don’t believe that the campers are running out of food and water, the Embassy and the Consulate are providing you daily of your basic provisions like water and food.  Hindi nga lang kasama ang hinihingi nyong GOLD, mukha yatang sobra na ang pagka “spoiled” ng mga campers natin, pati Gold kasama sa mga hinihingi. Dito nga sa Embahada masaya ang mga campers, may DISCO pa between eating, napping and sleeping time. 

Acting helpless in order to gain pity or sympathy differs from acting  like stupid to seek attention from others or authorities. – BongA 

One who makes himself a worm cannot complain afterwards if people step on him”  – Immanuel Kant 

If the weeds are removed – is the soil ready?

**

Been working in Saudi Arabia for almost 19 years now and the Saudization plan was already among the many hot issues way back then, but it’s like seaweed with no roots, it needs a firm surface such as rock to grow on.

Though, like any other country on earth unemployment among young Saudis is a serious problem and like all animal life in the ocean, seaweeds are essential to ocean health.  Job creation on a specific country stimulates economic growth and unlocks young  graduates on its potentials to contribute economic development.

The beginning will always be tiring and difficult, but young people can realize their ambitions if they are persistent and work hard,” said the late  Saudi Labor Minister Ghazi Algosaibi  after his surprised visit in a restaurant in Jeddah serving hamburgers to customers for three hours to encourage young Saudis to take jobs they think menial jobs or are not capable of doing it.

By extracting seaweeds it can generate billions of dollars each year by people for food, stock feed, fertilisers and medicines.

Perhaps, the Saudi government for all these years haven’t yet build the foundation that Saudis can hold on. Famous and respected journalist Elham Ahmad of Saudi arabic daily Al-Yaum newspaper said, Despite this, shouldn’t we test the soil before implanting the seeds? We have to wait and give this young generation a chance to learn.”

Today, under Labor Minister H.E. Adel Fakeih, Saudi Arabia is very serious in their mission by creating 1.12 million jobs for Saudis in 2014,  3 million jobs by 2015 and 6 million by 2030;  the reality about  “Nitaqat and Expat Fees   is to get rid of expatriate employees by the end of 2014.

My personal question to Mr. Elham Ahmad, Sir, after six years since you wrote the famous article “Failure of Saudization” -  if the weeds are removed – is the soil ready?” – BongA  

***

related links

Failure of Saudization   

Saudi Arabian minister serves burgers to get nationals to work 

Firms with more expatriates than Saudis to pay fees 

Prince Alwaleed endorses SR 2,400 expat fee

Standard Employment Contract for HSWs bound for KSA

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RIYADH, KSA 19/11/2012: After The Saudi government decided to lift the ban on the hiring of Filipino household service workers (HSW’s), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued last October 1, 2012 the Memorandum Circular No. 8, Series of 2012, the new guidelines on the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and POEA registration of SRA (Saudi Recruitment Agencies) hiring Filipino Household Service worker to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In the guidelines, it is clear that SRA’s should be accredited by our POLO before the Philippine Recruitment Agencies (PRA) in the Philippines can hire or deploy FHW in the Kingdom. However, according to my friend Mr. Hassan Khalil, the Contract Verification Officer of our Philippine Embassy/POLO, in his email dated 11 November 2012 informed me that the lacking document so far was the standard POEA Recruitment Agreement between the Principal/SRA and PRA.

The good news is that the Royal Saudi Embassy has already come up the final version of the Standard Employment Contract between the FHW/PRA and the Employer/SRA.

The following provisions are included in the standard employment contract:

1)  Contract Duration: Two (2) years effective   from the date of departure of the worker from the Philippines. The monthly salary shall start upon actual reporting to work.

2)  The Household Service Worker and the employer agree on a monthly salary of     US$ 400.00 which is in accordance with the laws and regulations prevailing in both countries.

3)  The employer shall open a bank account  for  the HSW  in  KSA, subject to SAMA rules and regulations and shall deposit regularly every  end  of  the month the salary of  the HSW to the  said  account.  The passbook or deposit slip or their equivalent shall be given to the HSW   and remain in his/her custody.  The employer   shall   help   the   HSW   to remit his/her salary    through    proper   banking channels.

4) The   Household  Service  Worker  shall   be provided  with  continuous  rest  of  at least  (8)  hours  per day.

5) Rest Day: At least one (1) rest day per week.

6)  Free transportation to the site of   employment and back to the point of origin upon expiration of contract and ensure the worker’s timely repatriation. In case of termination for reasons not attributable to the worker, the employer shall bear the cost of repatriation of the worker to the Philippines.

7)  The employer shall provide the Household Service Worker, suitable and sanitary living quarters as   well as    adequate    food   or equivalent   monetary   allowance.  

8)   For acceptable medical reasons, the HSW shall be allowed to rest and shall continue to receive his/her regular   salary. The employer shall    shoulder   the medical expenses.  

9)  The  HSW  is   entitled  to  return  to    the Philippines to spend his/her paid  vacation leave   of  thirty  (30)  days  for  every   two years of service with a round-trip economy  class   ticket. In case of his/her desire to continue working    with    the    employer, he/she    is     entitled     to   an    additional one-month salary.

10)  In case  of   death,  the  employer   is responsible   for  the  repatriation  of   the  HSW’s remains  and  personal  belongings to the Republic of the Philippines as  soon as   legally   possible   and   without undue delay. In case the repatriation of remains is  not  possible,   the same  may  be disposed of after obtaining   the approval of   one   of   the   HSW’s   next   of   kin or by the Philippine Embassy.

11)  In case  of  dispute between the employer  and the HSW, the  two contracting parties may  refer  the dispute to the appropriate Saudi  authorities  for  conciliation  and/or resolution.

12)  In case the Household Service Worker runs away  or   refuses   to work   without  valid  causes, the Philippine recruitment agency  shall  be  responsible  in  having    him/her  replaced  or  in returning the accrued cost of recruitment to his/her employer, as per  agreement   between  the   employer,  the Saudi    recruitment    agency  and  the  Philippine  recruitment  agency.

13)   The  worker  shall  be  repatriated  at  the employer’s  expense  in  the event  of  war,  civil disturbance or major natural calamity, or in case the worker suffers from  serious illness or work injury medically  proven  to render  him/her  incapable  of  completing the contract.

14)  After  the  expiration of  the  contract  and  the HSW   desires  to   return    the  Philippines, the employer shall present the  bank  statement of  the HSW to the Saudi recruitment  agency, and the employer and the worker shall  then  sign a final  settlement. Such bank   statement and proof of settlement may be submitted as evidence in the Philippines and in the KSA.

15)  The contract   may   be renewed   upon the agreement of the worker and his/her employer.  Should    the   contract be renewed, a copy of the renewed iqama shall   be submitted   to   the   Philippine Embassy/Consulate by the employer or Saudi recruitment agency.

16)   The contract   shall    be written in   two original copies in the English and Arabic text, both copies being equally authentic.

Special Provisions in the contract provided below:

- The   responsibility  of  informing   the employer  regarding  the  departure and  arrival  of   the    HSW  in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shall be that of  the  Philippine recruitment agency  in coordination  with   the    Saudi recruitment   agency.

- The employer and his family members, and  the HSW shall treat  one   another with  respect  and  dignity.

- The  HSW  shall  work   solely  for  the employer  and  his immediate household.

- The   employer  shall  not  deduct  any amount from the regular salary of the Household Service Worker. In case  of deductions

Philippine Recruitment Agencies + Saudi Recruitment Agencies

  for  lawful  reasons,   such deductions  must  be reflected  in  the HSW’s  pay  slip.

- The  employer shall pay the cost of the Household Service Worker’s residence permit (iqama), exit/re-entry visa, and final  exit  visa,  including the renewals and  penalties  resulting  from  delays.

- The  Household Service  Worker  shall be  allowed  to  freely  communicate  with his/her family and the Philippine  Embassy / Consulate  on  his/her personal expense or account.

- The passport and work permit (iqama) of the worker shall  remain  in  his/her possession.

- The  employer  shall  explain  to  the members   of  his household    the provisions of this contract and ensure that  these  are  observed.

- Any provision of this Standard Employment  Contract   may be altered,   amended   or  substituted   through  the   Saudi-Philippine Joint Technical Working Committee.

All of the above were perfectly written and the interest of our HSWs are fully protected under the provisions of the contract. However, the rights and obligations of the SRA and PRA is not clearly define as to who are really responsible in case one of the party fails to perform, precisely and exactly, his/her obligations under the contract.

One factor that should be defined of is - who are responsible if the employer had terminate the employment of the HSW when she failed to arrive the employer’s expectation of  his/her work performances. Is it the responsibility of the SRA or the PRA?  Where “she” be housed temporarily while still in the Kingdom waiting for her replacement?

One more thing, the special provision of the contract failed to mention about the role of our POLO and Philippine Embassy in case of termination of employment.  Does the POLO/Embassy should be informed about the termination? In this scenario, it must be emphasized that the POLO/Embassy should be notified at once when this happen.  

If I may recall, there were three termination and runaway cases that I knew that  the HSW  requested to be transferred to POLO or Embassy for her safety.  She was afraid that sexual harassment may occur at the SRA’s custody.

Further, special provisions says; “the passport and work permit (iqama) of the worker shall remain in his/her possession”, I doubt if this provision be realized.

Lastly, there are no provisions about how to validate and confirm that a Household Service Worker  upon arrival at site has a clean, comfortable and decent place to stay and her conditions are in conformity with the above stated provisions.BongA

Update:  15 December 2012

POEA Memorandum Circular No. 13 Series of 2012

Further to POEA Memorandum Circular No. 08, Series of 2012, on the guidelines on the POLO accreditation and POEA Registration of SRA hiring Filipino HSWs for Saudi Arabia, a POEA-prescribed model/standard Recruitment Agreement (RA) between the SRA and the PRA is hereby adopted as per Memorandum Circular No. 13 Series of 2012 signed by POEA Administrator Hans Cacdac.

To read the full text of the Model Agreement  click here >>>>>>> 

Why Overreacting?

Why Overreacting?

Many of our fellow OFWs especially those in networking sites overreacted to the House Bill 6195 filed by Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David. Let me explain, the said house bill does not mention any paragraph that WE, OFWs require to pay $50 as contribution to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Emergency Repatriation Fund before leaving the country.

The bill intends to provide the necessary measures for the government to carry out its responsibilities to assist distressed OFWs in cases of war, epidemic, disaster or calamities, natural or man-made, and other similar events, and promote their general welfare” according to the 2nd termer, Manila, 4th District Representative  to the House of Congress. Continue reading

Open Reply to my Reader re: OWWA

Paano itinataguyod ng OWWA ang tinatawag na nasyonalismo sa aming hanay ayon sa 1987 Phil. Constitution?

Sa totoo po, wala po akong personal na hinanakit sa OWWA. Ngunit bilang isang lider komunidad ng mga mangagawang pinoy sa ibayong dagat, hindi ko po naramdaman ang tinatawag na nasyonalismo or patriyotismo ng OWWA sa aming hanay. Sa kadahilanang napakaliit lamang po ang nai-ambag ng OWWA sa pangkalahatang pakinabang ng isang OFW. Meron man, maramdaman lamang po namin ito kung kami ay nadisgrasya dahil sa karampot na benepisyong makukuha namin kung kami ay wala ng daliri, paa at hindi na makalakad. Yong iba naman po nating kahanay ay hindi napo naramdaman ang tulong ng OWWA kung nasa kahon na itong darating sa ating bayan. Iyan kung hindi po paso ang aming membership status, dahil wala kang matatanggap sa OWWA kung hindi ka nakapagbayad ng membership fee nito or expire na ang iyong membership.

Patriotism & Nationalism: 12-year old Janella Lelis of Albay after this picture of her was taken by Francisco Pena Lozano while she was saving the Philippine Flag & braving the flood waters brought by Typhoon Juaning.

Nasaan ang Nasyonalismo para sa mga OFWs na dugo at pawis ang pinuhunan para mabigyan ng kinabukasan ang pamilyang naghihikahos sa bansang sinilangan? Nasaan ang pagmamahal ng OWWA sa mga OFWs na naging bayani “kono” sa mga mata ng pamahalaan upang isalba ang ekonomiya ng bansa?

1987 Constitution Section 29.(3) All money collected on any tax levied for a special purpose shall be treated as a special fund and paid out for such purpose only. If the purpose for which a special fund was created has been fulfilled or abandoned, the balance, if any, shall be transferred to the general funds of the Government.

Nasaan ang Nasyonalismo ng OWWA, at ng mga Board of Trustees mismo noong sila ay pumayag o sumang-ayon na mailipat ang milyon-milyong peso ng OWWA Medicare Fund sa Philippine Health Insurance Corporation?

Malinaw po na ang paglipat nito ay illegal at hindi po para sa kapakanan at kagalingan ng OFW ang rason ng paglipat nito. Ayon sa Section 29 ng Saligang Batas: Lahat ng pera na nakolekta sa anumang buwis para sa isang espesyal na layunin ay dapat na itinuturing na isang espesyal na pondo at ang perang ito ay dapat gastosin lamang para sa inilalaan nito.

Sa talumpati ni Pangulong Noynoy nitong nakaraang Bagong Bayani Awards 2011 aniya “Manalig po kayong tinitiyak ng gobyerno na ang pinaghihirapan ng ating mga OFWs ay may pinatutunguhan at hindi nababalewala”. Sana ang namumutawi sa kanyang bibig ay hindi po ningas cogon lamang dahil simula ng kanyang panunungkulan ay hindi pa po namin naramdaman ang totoong serbisyo ng OWWA which is to addressed the needs and concerns of distressed OFWs documented or undocumented ayon sa nakasaad sa Magna Carta R.A. 8042 as amended.

Panghuli, dapat pong magkaroon ng pampolitikal na representasyon o partisipasyon ang aming hanay upang mapakinggan ang aming boses at mabigyan ng pagkakataong makasali sa paghimok at paggawa ng batas o polisiya ayon sa aming tunay na pangangailangan, tungo sa isang makatotohanan, kapakapanibangang serbisyo para sa OFW at sa pamilya nito. Kabilang kami sa sektor ng lipunan at dapat lamang na may karapatan kaming magsalita tungo sa iisang mithiin pangkabutihan para sa aming hanay. -end- By: BongA

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)

Let’s unite for the sake of those OFWs in Libya

Rescue Effort

Expats in Libya (Evacuees)

What I’ve heard is that there will be an onward flights arranged by our Phil. government for those OFWs crossing the Libyan border to Egypt or Tunisia, as well as those arriving by boat in Malta or Crete. I am not really sure that this arrangement are being implemented at this very moment but for sure our government will do the best what they can do for the safety of those OFWs affected by the worsening situation in Libya. Let’s us hope and pray that those government agencies given the task on this purpose will exert more effort para naman maibsan ang worries ng ating mga kababayan doon at sa kanilang mga mahal sa buhay na naghihintay sa Pilipinas. Though, practically, we should admit that during wars and this kind of events, we cannot do the rescue effort in just a blink of an eye, our prayers are needed than blaming each other’s shortcomings.

WE, Filipinos especially those people in the world of dirty politics-pinoy style, “matagal pa po ang eleksyon”, you should stop throwing each others mud and instead pray hard at kumilos kung may magagawa para sa kaligtasan ng ating mga kababayan sa Libya.

At sa mga media or pahayagan na ang isinusulat ay puro kapalpakan ng gobyerno,  akala nyo magaling kayong Pilipino, tingnan nyo muna ang inyong sarili kung nakapasa ba kayo sa tinatawag na journalism code of ethics and standardsWala ba kayong nakikitang magandang nagawa ang gobyerno?  Sa mga oposisyon, di ko kayo masisisi dahil kung hindi kayo mag papapel na oposisyon, or leftist, sigurado wala na kayo sa ere. At least man lang sana this time, let’s unite for the sake of those OFWs that needs our help.

VP Binay visit to KSA

Vice President Binay’s  visit to the Kingdom was postponed due to the request of the host government at hindi po kapalpakan ng ating Embahada at Department of Foreign Affairs, gaya ng sinasabi ng mga kritiko ng gobyerno.

Philippine VP & Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns Jojo Binay with Esteban Conejos, Office of Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs-DFA

As the 2nd highest official of the land, the Kingdom wants that VP Binay’s visit will be in an official capacity with highest respect of acceptance from  His Highness King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud. VP Binay wants his entourage to sidetrip Saudi Arabia via Kuwait.  Vice President Jojo Binay was invited by His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of  Kuwait to witness its founding day celebration.

Here in Saudi Arabia, even an Ambassador who wants to visit a government facility needs an approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an standard operating procedure where the head of mission is a special and very important person. He will be fully guarded and honored.  Ang Bise Presidente pa kaya ng bansang Pilipinas?  The number two Philippine highest official in the land who represents  “1.5 million OFWs in the Kingdom.”  Ganyan ka-importante ng  Hari ng Saudi Arabia ang isang Head of State.

In an Official Visit to a State Capital, like Riyadh,  the Vice-President should be received by the Governor, a Minister, and at least a high ranking police officer. The Vice-President, will be given a special place to stay and a transport to the extent if necessary irrespective of the nature of the visit. If the Vice-President is making a transit halt either at the Kingdom’s Capital or any other place in the Kingdom, one executive and one police officer may be present to render such assistance as may be necessary. If the Vice President wants to visit a person or friend in private, a government executive and one police officer should be present on arrival and departure. In all of these secenarios, the Vice President or a head of state is fully guarded by crack police or military units.

As we all knew that the King of Saudi Arabia had just arrived from a medical trip, surely, the King is too busy during these days and of course  he wants to make sure that he will receive the second highest official of the Republic of the Philippines by himself.

Kaya mga borg, hindi po kapalpakan ng Embahada at ng DFA sa atin ang hindi pagtuloy ni Vice President Binay sa Riyadh, kundi dahil sa request ng host government. Kaya mga oposisiyon sa Kongreso tumahimik na kayo at magkapit-bisig, magtulongan para sa katahimikan at kaunlaran ng bansa. Pero at least nakikita namin kung sino talaga kayo!!!

Siyanga pala bago kayo magdakdak at magkunwaring pro-OFWs sa inyong mga adhikain bilang mambabatas, tumulong muna kayo at magpakitang gilas at personal mismo na tutulong –  para naman at least kaming mga OFWs bibilib po sa inyo. Pero kung sa kongreso lang kayo magdakdak at dakdak dito dakdak doon ang mga galamay ninyo para lang mabandera ang pangalan sa diyaryo at media – “HINDI PO GAGO ANG ISANG ORDINARYONG OFW.”

Edward Everet Hale says “Look up and not down. Look forward and not back. Look out and not in, and lend a hand.” (End) BongA

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!

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. http://en.wikipedia.org 

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

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: http://ofwempowerment.wordpress.com/category/hit-u-hard-a-little/

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.

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.   

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”

Does R.A.10022 really help OFW Grievances?

Does R.A.10022 really help OFW Grievances?

It took five months from Government concerned agencies to craft up the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) covering the Republic Act No. 10022, more particularly known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, As Amended, further Improving the Standard of Protection and Promotion of the Welfare of Migrant Workers, Their Families and Overseas Filipinos in Distress, and For Other Purposes.

Abante-Atras

The question is Does R.A.10022 really helps OFW Grievances? The fact that it is still remains to be implemented or in other words remains to be seen; OFWs like me can’t expect the good outcome it would bring to the grievances of OFWs especially in Middle East where rampant contract substitutions are on the rise. Or it would just like as usual “a swinging pendulum that loses its energy once it is set into motion” shall we say.

DOLE said the IRR, published last Wednesday in Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Manila Times will take effect on August 13. At last after tedious discussions from the stakeholders coming from government sides, non-government organizations, OFW sectors, OFW advocates, Insurance companies, health professionals and others. Some of them raised their concerns and apprehensions on the new law. Recruitment agencies themselves even commented that it shields the government and the recruiters from their responsibility to the OFWs.

A visitor from manning agency in this blog even questioned the amended law that seafarers should NOT be covered into the “Migrant Workers Act” as the term “MIGRANT WORKERS” refers to the land base foreign workers where they need to obtain work permits or necessary workers visa. They argue that seafarer’s maximum contract tenure is only one year and has no guarantee that they will be migrated into one country having been aboard a merchant fleet sailing worldwide.

It also covers in the amended law that the employers are responsible for repatriation of stranded OFWs. Does this law have teeth to grind those employers in Middle Eastern countries where employers deliberately escape of their obligations once worker runaway or not anymore in their custody? And those crocodile recruitment agencies “na pag tatawagan at susulatan mo hindi sumasagot at umiiwas sa kanilang responsibilidad”.  Let us wait and see guys before we celebrate.

Anyway let us give a benefit of a doubt; after all, it is for the good of OFWs. It depends on how our DOLE and other implementing agencies to handle it in the battlefront and give mandate and power to their Labor Attaches or their representative at site.

DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said “R.A. 10022 will give expanded protection of the country’s “modern-day heroes” in pursuit of the new President’s 22-point agenda for labor and employment.

The rules and regulations salient protective measures of the new law are as follows:

1. Emphasis on stronger bilateral and multilateral relations with receiving countries for protection. Interpreting provision of free skills and livelihood programs as expanding free access to such programs;

2.  Criteria for host countries (guaranteeing protection), subject to concurrence to “take positive and concrete measures” to protect the rights of migrant workers; and clarifying a three-step process that involves a) DFA certifications on compliance by host countries; b) POEA resolution allowing deployment to complying host countries; and c) POEA processing of workers’ documents to countries identified in POEA resolutions.

3. Inclusion of amendments to prohibited acts that may constitute illegal recruitment by licensed and unlicensed agencies, as well as other prohibited acts, such as loans, decking practice in OFW medical examinations; and recruitment by suspended agencies;

4. Anti-illegal recruitment programs that include institutionalizing the role of LGUs; added capability of POEA lawyers; prosecution; and operation and surveillance to apprehend illegal recruiters;

5. Money claims. Inclusion of voluntary arbitration;

6. Repatriation and mechanism for repatriation. Responsibility for repatriation with principal/employer and licensed recruitment agency; 48-hour notice rule and 15-day period  for countries with exit visa requirements; provisions on repatriation of underage workers and asserting penalties and liabilities for recruiters who recruit underage migrant workers;

7. Overseas Filipino Resource Centers will now have additional required personnel, such as psychologists, etc. and be under direct POLO supervision;

8. Institutionalizing the National Reintegration Center for OFWs;

9. Protection from abusive medical clinics;

10.  Ensuring the use of the legal assistance fund for foreign lawyers and attorneys’ fees and for filing of cases against erring or abusive employers;

11.  Compulsory insurance to cover agency-hired workers for accidental death, natural death, permanent total disablement, repatriation costs, subsistence allowance benefit, money claims, compassionate visit, medical evaluation, and medical repatriation.

Hope so…..

By:  BongA

No Gay, No Employment Policy

Tunay na naging mainit sa nagdaang buwan ang usapin tungkol sa deployment ng mga Filipinos na nasa kuwadra ng mga homosexuals pagkatapos lumabas ang recruitment directive na pinadala ng Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia sa mga employment recruiting agencies sa Manila. At kasabay nito, naging mainit din ang naging mga paalala at tagubilin ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno at sanggunian ng Pilipinas tulad na lamang ng Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) sa mainit na isyung ito.

"Aminin"

Sa nakaraang personal na pagbisita ng manunulat sa tanggapan ni G. Mario Tuscan N. Nas, Chief ng Balik Manggagawa Processing Division (Department of Labor & Employment), napag-alaman na matindi ang ginagawa nilang mga paalala sa mga kababayang bading lalu na yung mga bagito na tunay na mag-ingat at igalang ang batas ng Kaharian sa isyu ng kabaklaan. Ayon kay G. Nas, walang tigil ang kanilang mga pagpapa-alala kahit sa mga datihang OFWs na kabilang sa third sex na lubusang sundin ang mga kalakaran ng Kaharian para hindi maharap sa mga problemang moral at malagay sa balag ng alanganin. At kung hindi man makakasunod sa batas na umiiiral ay mabuting huwag nang dumiretso pa sa pagpunta para magtrabaho sa Kaharian ng Saudi Arabia.

Sa ilang ginawang pagbisita sa mga recruiting agencies na tumangging magpalathala ng pangalan, napag-alaman na tunay na sumusunod sila sa “no gay, no employment policy” dahil ayaw nilang magkaproblema sa kanilang relasyon sa Kaharian at maiwasan ang pagbulusok ng kanilang revenue, kasabay din sa kanilang pagprotekta sa kapakanan ng mga Pinoy na kasama sa third sex lalu’t alam nila ang kasalukuyang batas. Isa sa pinagpapasalamat ng mga naturang recruiting agencies ay ang hindi pagkakaroon ng “clampdown” sa mga datihang OFW gays dahil kung mangyayari ito, tunay ding mabubusisi kung saan nga bang recruiting agencies sila umalis papuntang Kaharian.

Sa umiinit na kaganapan, ang tunay na nasapol at tinatamaan ng naturang recruitment directive ay ang mga homosexuals na lantaran ang pagiging bading. Isa sa hindi maitatatwang katotohanan ay tunay namang napakahirap matukoy kung sino nga ba ang bading (at hindi) sa gitna ng mga Pinoy gays bunsod sa bagong kalakaran (gay trend) sa makabagong henerasyon nang mga bading kung saan mas gusto nilang mgmukhang mga tunay na lalaki dahil ayon sa kanila ito ngayon ang uso.

Samantala, ayon naman sa ilang grupo ng mga bading na nagpahayag nang kanilang punto de vista, kanilang sinabi na hindi naman lahat talaga ng bading na Pinoy ay mga “sakit ng ulo” ng Kaharian lalu na’t marami sa kanilang bilang ay naghahangad lamang na makapagtrabaho sa kanilang mga piniling propesyon at kumita ng pera para matugunan ang mga pangangailangan ng kanilang mga naiwang pamilya. At para naman sa kapuwa nila bading na lantaran ang pagpapakita ng kanilang pagkatao sa napaka-konserbatibong lipunan ng Kaharian, ang tangi nilang hiling ay huwag lamang sariling kapakanan, ‘kalandian’ at kagustuhahan ang isipin bagkus ang kapakanan, reputasyon at magandang hangarin ng lubos na nakakarami na maaaring tuluyang maapektuhan. – (J. Nava Cruz, an OFW, is a writer-documentarist. E-mail at bashamel007@yahoo.com)

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sun 4th July 2010, J. Nava Cruz Saudi Arabia

pragmatically witty

The Trophy

I just read a realistic response out of 1,387 comments on issue about  WAR in the recent Yahoo news online regarding  future tank defense system.  I found it pragmatically witty.

read>>> Futuristic tank defense system unveiled

I think it is just a waste of time. Some country will come out with something to counter this. It is like a merry go round, it keeps going around in cycles. Why don’t they come out with something that prolong human lives rather than finding more ways to kill. Such a waste on funds and human resources. Suggest, we fire all the nukes and exterminate humans from the earth. Then we don’t need to kill anymore. – Confucius

How much more…..

Government officials/employees especially those who deal with public are requested not to be rude but courteous to improve the image of the civil service. Patience and professionalism are  vital elements that could help upgrade the image of our Government. Also, civil servants must listen to the grouses and problems of the public.

You are about to read a scenario that will explain today’s inescapable realities, the Filipino people’s chronic absence of trust in politics and Government.

The letter below comes from a friend who facilitated the claim request in behalf of the deceased OFW’s heir. ***

 This is pertaining to our claim request for the last pay and other benefits of your sister, Arlin V. Bello, who died last Aug. 24, 2009 while on tour of duty in Dubai, UAE.

To begin with, the employer of your sister, Al Shola Driving School in Sharjah, UAE will only release her last pay and other benefits only after the presentation of the following documents: a) Authenticated Certificate of Heirship and b) Authenticated Special Power of Attorney, authorizing Congen Benito Valeriano of the Phil. Consulate General in Dubai-UAE to claim for the above.

Although, the process was a bit tedious for the bereaved family of your late OFW sister, but in our desire to get even the last centavo of her hard -earned money, we abide by the requirements without any hesitations at all.

This is where our calvary started. The long process of getting the approval of the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court , the authentication of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the UAE Embassy, and a corresponding price for every process that we underwent , not to mention the difficulty that we encountered while queuing were followed without any complaints at all.

Finally, last March 1, 2010 at 9:20 am after almost a month of waiting, I was instructed by the Secretary of Usec Conejos of the OUMWA to submit it to the Docket, in spite of my request to hand carry your personal letter addressed to her boss with the endorsement of Congen Valeriano. I have no choice but to follow, thus, the letter together with all the original documents were submitted to the docket officer, a certain Joey Magaso, who promised me that the same will be forwarded to the office of Usec Conejos and will be given the priority in sending it to Congen Valeriano in UAE.

 I was so surprised when you told me that up to last week the said letter and documents were not yet received by Congen Valeriano. I started to follow it up, I called the docket department again to find out the reason for the delay in transmitting the said documents. To my dismay, I was asked to call different numbers and then finally this morning, I called the office of Usec Conejos and her secretary asked me to see or call Joey Magaso of the Docket Department. A woman whom I approached in the said department, easily traced the documents but again told me to go and see Joey Magaso. A man who seems to be the head of the department, a certain “ Roxs” told me the following” alam mo kasi, si Joey ay naka leave of absence at nag – iikutan sila dito, baka hindi na kay Joey yan, kay Gina na yata yan” , to which I responded: “ Sir, where can I see Gina?” and he told me: “ Wala din si Gina nakabakasyon”. I started to flare up and told him: “ Sir, where can I trace the said documents, in the absence of Joey and Gina, will somebody assist me and look for the said documents?” , to which, he said: “ Wala nga eh!, bumalik ka na lang sa ibang araw!”. I told him: “alam mo sir, pabalik-balik na ako dito, ang pinapakiusap ko ay amin at kung kani-kanino lang ako tinuturo, Sir, pupuntahan ko po si Usec. Seguis para mag patulong sa kanya at ikuwento ang lahat ng pangit na experienced ko sa Department na ito. He replied: “e ano kung magsumbong ka kay Seguis?” and I ended the conversation by saying: “ I wont argue with you sir, thank you”.

 This is too much for me to take, the people whom we thought would be the first to look after our welfare are the same people who don’t care and did not even lift a finger to extend help and provide good service to us. The OFWs who are being praised as the unsung heroes are ironically, the last to be remembered and worse, not given the fair treatment by his country men. If the Filipinos are considered the second class citizen in his own land, I can now imagine why they are being treated poorly in other countries.

I am sharing this story with you, not because the victim here is your family but since you represent the OFWs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as the President of OFW Congress and other associations for Filipino workers in a foreign land, but because, I feel that it is your duty to bring this matter to the right authority and give us an assurance that the similar incidence should not be repeated to any Filipino workers because, if this is happening to you in spite of your position as an OFW leader how much more with our fellow Filipinos that have no contacts nor connections at all.

Maybe we can request from our good ambassadors to look into this case and to please investigate any similar cases which our helpless countrymen have been encountering in the Dept. of Foreign Affairs.

 Thank you and regards.

Sincerely yours, Cielo

"Consider it Done"

The story behind the scene

The story behind the scene

Imagine from establishment to a reputable number 1 group of companies in the Kingdom, now became a household name to Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and at home. This is because for its abusive, unprofessional conduct and mismanagement towards migrant workers in their companies.

Why in decades of its operation this company became controversial among Filipinos and other nationalities in the Kingdom? Why it happens?

Established in mid quarter of the 70’s, the company became a Group of companies. Then emerged as leading name in country’s operations & maintenance market during the construction “boom” in the Kingdom; and later one of the most reputable and trusted company in KSA with more than 12 thousand employees from various countries.

Behind the Scene

In the early months of Year 2K the company’s good reputation as one of the best operations and maintenance service providers in KSA has changed when they get involved in hiring expatriates and share out these warm hot bodies to their subsidiaries and affiliates companies around the Kingdom.

Maybe, unknown from the top brass of this multi-divisional organization, their recruitment arm become greedy that even their medical trading business (importers & resellers of various medical, surgical and other items) turned into hiring medical workers such as hospitals janitors/janitress, patient attendants, dental assistants and caregivers to various government-run medical facilities and rehabilitation centers all over the Kingdom. Worse, some of those recruits  were dispersed  out to clinics and hospitals not affiliated with the Group.

What is the story behind the scene? According to a reliable source, this problem started as early as 1995-1998. There were already complaints filed at POLO (Philippine Labor Office) regarding unfair labor practices of this company. He added that there was a negotiation made between the company and POLO at that time which resulted into an amicable settlement. He narrated further that there was a friendly relation transpired between POLO and this company during the negotiation.

Online news reported that it started Year of 2001 where OFWs lodged complaint against the company for delayed wages, illegal deductions, contract substitution, dehumanizing work and living conditions, harassments and divisive tactics during their employment.

Year 2005, this company was barred from participating in the overseas employment program due to a number of complaints against them.

Unknown to POLO or POEA, they were able to use the services of several recruitment agencies in Philippines to facilitate their manpower requirements. Upon arrival of the OFWs in Saudi Arabia this poor workers will then be employed to the company’s affiliates and subsidiaries around the Kingdom at  dito mag umpisa ang kalbaryo ng ating mga kababayan. Ang hindi ko maintidihan lahat ng “job orders” dito sa Saudi Arabia ay dadaan muna sa POLO for verification and approval bago  bibigyan ng go signal ng POEA sa Pilipinas ang recruitment agency sa pag recruit ng mga OFWs. Ang tanong, bakit lumusot? Bakit hindi ito napuna ng ating POLO?     

In 2008 the order was lifted after several complaints had been resolved and the agency had reformed its system of employing OFWs.

Now,  this company is facing a permanent delisting from POEA of hiring Filipinos citing numerous complaints of contract violations (contract substitutions) and unfair labor practices lodged against it in the past years.  Maging permanente kaya?

The alleged current report treating our fellow OFWs  appallingly is unlawful in the eyes of men and the whole world and even violates certain provision in their own Labor Law (See SLL, Chapter 2 – Duties and Disciplinary Rules).

Labor Attache Rustico Dela Fuente should do his best to clean and clear these issues once and for all dahil kung hindi ang mga walong daan pang natitirang pinoy sa kompanyang ito (nasa ibat ibang establishment) ay susunod na mag hunger strike para lamang  maka-uwi. It means, this is a never ending story.

Siguro naman Sir, matuloy na po ang nabibitin ninyong “new posting” kung bibigyan mo ito ng panahon at ma-tuldokan ang problemang ito para naman ma miss namin kayo!  Good luck po! 

(P)arty for (P)ersonal (P)olitical ambition

Political Tidbits

(Re-published) A friend and an active Filipino community leader in the Kingdom (name withheld) called me last night and reminded me of the consequences that I might be getting into in the world of  Philippine politics. He is referring to our e-group named Partido Pangdaigdigang Pilipino, PPP for short. He added that like any other e-group some individuals might be using it in their personal political interest (PPP- Party for Personal Political ambition).

He maybe be right or wrong, everyone has the right of opinion. But from the start it never occurred to me that PPP will be utilized in one way or the other for political interest of  few aspiring politicians. 

Being one of the prime mover in the creation of this e-group, it was formed primarily as a forum or a venue to interact other Filipino communities worldwide whose objective is to discuss and possibly unite Global Filipinos for political empowerment.

PPP is not yet a political party of Overseas Filipinos, it was created as the starting point or  the first step towards OFW political empowerment.  As what I’ve said never regret joining this group. 

However, PPP is aiming that it will be a political party in the  future for overseas Filipinos represented by various Filipino groups  worldwide.

Note:  Published: 1/17/07

The OFW Journalism Consortium: A Reader’s View

The OFW Journalism Consortium: A Reader’s View
by ILDEFONSO F. BAGASAO

(click OFJCI Logo to view their Site

(click OFJCI Logo to view their Site

AMONG my peers, there seems to be a common observation in the reporting of any kind of news that media generally shows bias for sensational stories that whet the reading public’s appetite for such accounts but which incidentally also sells newspapers, broadsheets and tabloids.
News reportage on Filipino migrants is no exception.

Stories about overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) coming home in coffins, jumping out of the windows, committing suicides, of rape, torture, and other forms of maltreatment in foreign shores, continue to dominate our daily newspapers. One has to find balance and variety in reporting of this or any kind of news.

For one like myself engaged in advocacy for migrant empowerment, I continue to wonder; given that we have an estimated 10 million of our fellow citizens working and making a living overseas, there must be and, indeed, there should be success stories and other development-oriented diaspora activities initiated by migrants all over the world that mirror their sacrifices and continued love for their origin countries.

However, if one has not scoured papers, studies and reports, or participate in conferences of development, international and multilateral agencies, academic and research institutions, which monitor, support, assist or enhance these activities, the public remains unaware of the important contributions to the economic, cultural and human capital made by migrants to their countries of origin, and the enormous challenges that had to be surmounted by people who once upon a time made a momentous decision to migrate.

Which brings me to the work of the OFW Journalism Consortium, a small band of journalists who in the last few years since their formal organization, chose to focus on development-oriented migration journalism, bringing to the public stories, reports, and even person-to-person accounts, that may well have escaped our notice.

I am quite sure the OFWJC’s brand of journalism has enhanced the public’s level of awareness on core issues, concerns and challenges of Philippine migration, diaspora activities that highlight the overseas Filipinos’ love for their native land and, at the same time, has pointed out to policymakers where reforms should be directed.

As a migrant advocate since 1999 to the present, I know of no other media group, here or elsewhere, that is engaged in this type of journalistic work regarding migrants.

Their reports have often been quoted or cited not only in academic papers but even by local and foreign newspapers. Perhaps, these are indications their decision a few years ago to focus on migrant issues was a wise one.

Well, they don’t sell newspapers –they only write and report these stories.

If that is not commitment, I don’t know what is. end

Editor’s note: The author is president of the nonprofit Economic Resource Center for Overseas Filipinos (Ercof), and plays the bass guitar and keyboards.

OFW’s opposed newly appointed OWWA Board

OFW’s opposed newly appointed OWWA Board

Saturday, 22 August 2009,  Riyadh -  An online Petition is now gaining momentum demanding the recall of  President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s  new appointee to OWWA Board of Trustees.

OWWA BOT

OWWA BOT

Just recently, PGMA  appointed  Mr. Joselito “Jojo” Sapio  as  new member of OWWA Board of Trustees and according to the Petition,  the new appointee was  GMA’s  election Campaign Manager in Hongkong and the founder of “GMA Pa rin Movement.”

The said online Petition demanded that the  conduct of selecting land-based OFW representation in the Board should be more impartial, transparent and independent.

The Petition demands includes:

- Increase the number of OFW representatives to the OWWA Board and reduce those from the  government.

- Make the OWWA work concretely for the welfare needs of OFWs and their families by scrapping the OWWA Omnibus Policies and promulgating a pro-OFW Charter.

- The OWWA Fund should never be used for the personal and political agenda of a few.

For the past years, OWWA has consistently been questioned with regard to the management and allocation of its funds. One of the most controversial issues involved the transfer of the OWWA Medicare Fund to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in 2004. This was made after Health Sec. Francisco Duque (then head of PhilHealth) wrote to PGMA endorsing the transfer, saying such would have a “significant impact” on the impending election at that time.”  the Petition said.

A year ago PGMA rejected  an online petition asking PGMA to  appoint Dr. Carlito L. Astillero a  Saudi-based Cebuano pathologist as chief of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) vacated by the then OWWA Administrator Marianito Roque who is now the current DOLE  Chief.  

The current OWWA Board of Trustees are:

Hon. Marianito D. Roque – Secretary of Labor and Employment and Chairman

Hon. Carmelita S. Dimzon –  OWWA Administrator and Vice-Chairman

Members:

Hon. Luzviminda G. Padilla – Undersecretary, DOLE
Hon. Esteban B. Conejos – Undersecretary, DFA
Hon. Jennifer J. Manalili – Administrator, POEA
Hon. Arturo C. Bumatay – Director IV, DBM
Hon. Gil S. Beltran – Undersecretary, DOF
Hon. Victorino F. Balais – Representative, Labor Sector
Hon. Rene Y. Soriano – Representative, Management Sector
Hon. Gregorio S. Oca – Representative, Sea-Based Sector
Hon. Corazon P. Carsola – Representative, Land-Based Sector
Hon. Bai Omera H. Dianalan-Lucman – Representative, Women’s Sector

The said Petition strongly  opposed  the arbitrary and biased selection of the land-based OFW representative to the Board of Trustees of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

You may access to the Petition by clicking the link below :

http://www.PetitionOnline.com/owwa4ofw/  ( “No to GMA ‘yes-man’ in OWWA Board of Trustees”.)BongA

related post:  Migrant Workers Day Nothing to Celebrate Amend R.A. 8042

The same People…

Migrante at DFA

Migrante at DFA

When Filipinos heard or watched about Migrante’s activities in Philippines and other countries kadalasan mag comment kaagad yan “Leftist naman ang mga iyan”. Pag sinabing “Leftist”, usually you are referring to those who oppose on how the administration governs the country and its people.  So if you’re opposing or contradicting a certain policies of the Government then those Congressmen and Senators who opposed the administration of GMA is Leftist!  According to them “NO” – sila daw ay mga leaders belong to the “Opposition”. Huh! Sige na nga.

In Web definition, the word Leftist particularly in politics means “left-wing, political left, leftist and the Left are terms applied to positions that focus on changing traditional social orders and creating a more egalitarian distribution of wealth and privilege”. 

Egalitarianism on the other hand is defined either as a “political doctrine that holds that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights, or as a social philosophy advocating the removal of economic inequalities among people”. 

In the Overseas Filipino Community  here in Saudi Arabia, Migrante is “an alliance of various OFW groups committed to protecting and upholding the rights and welfare of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and their families in the home front” (source http://migrante-ksa.blogspot.com/).  

Kung wala sila walang maingay, walang kakalampag sa mga kinauukulan upang mabigyan ng kasagutan ang mga hinaing ng ating mga kapwa OFWs“.

For me, I don’t consider Migrante a leftist group; I consider them an organization committed to help others in needs especially to those whose rights have been violated.  

Sen. Mar ROxas with MIGRANTE

Sen. Mar Roxas w/ Migrante (Click photo & read Sen. Mar Roxas "Stronger Protection for OFWs Urged)

Those fellow OFWs arrested by Saudi authorities were there in a right place and the right time. The meeting perhaps was called to update the status of their cases being handled or monitored  by kind individuals belong to the group Kapatiran ng mga Mangagawang Pilipino sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS).

I knew some of them; they are the same OFWs who help us in the implementation of Philippine Embassy on-site mobile overseas absentee voting registration.  They are the same ordinary OFWs who donate goods and food at Bahay Kalinga intended for our runaway maids.  They are the same people I mingled inside the Philippine Embassy during Filcom events. They are the same people who help us for the orderly conduct of Absentee Voting in Philippine Embassy.

Now, they are the same group of OFWs that needs help from our Philippine Embassy/POLO/OWWA.