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"

About these ads

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.

DARNAAA!!! Kumakatok lang Po! Distress Call

A friend of mine called me a few minutes ago asking for my help. His friend, a Filipina Household Service Worker (PGMA’s Super Maids) called him narrating her ordeal in the hands of her Egyptian employer (bakit kaya Egyptian, siguro naloko naman to ng recruiter). She was “kono” maltreated and abused”. At sabi pa sa kanya na pag wala daw tumulong sa kanyang tumakas “tatalon daw siya sa ika-apat na palapag ng building na kanyang tinitirahan.  Tanong ko sa kaibigan ko “Bai basin imo na UYAB, pagkatapos ma rescue kunin mo sa Bahay Kalinga at ibahay habang buhay” sabi niya “he he, ikaw talaga bai, hindi oy”! para bang nahihiya, he he. 

FHSW "Darna in Real Life"

FHSW “Darna in Real Life”

Well, well, well,  im not new in this kind of distress call, some of them true and some of them not, “bakit pa kasi nauso ang cellphone may text mate tuloy”. 

Pero wala akong magagawa kundi tutulong sa ating mga kawawang “PGMA’s Super Maids” in Filipino dialect “DARNA“.   

Sabi ko sa kaibigan ko “Bai, gawin ko ang aking makakaya na makaabot sa mga kaibigan “kono” natin  sa Embassy at POLO/OWWA, pero huwag kang umasa dahil yong problema sa Makkah/Jeddah na nakakarating na sa pinaka matayog na opisyal ng Konsulada natin doon, sa awa ng Diyos wala pa akong natatanggap na balita”.  Dagdag ko “pag nagka ganon, bai! hindi malayo mag ALA DARNA yan” huwag naman sana. &*#@ Kumakatok lang po!. Sensya na.

Let us wield the power of the overseas vote

INQUIRER.net First Posted 12:37:00 07/05/2009 Filed Under: Migration, Elections, Eleksyon 2010,

Some four years ago, the Overseas Absentee Voting Act and the Dual Citizenship Act were passed by the Philippine Congress and signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The first enabled overseas Filipino immigrants to vote in Philippine elections. The second allowed those of us who had become naturalized citizens of other countries to reacquire Philippine citizenship and thus enjoy the right of suffrage, among other rights.

OFW Vote

OFW Vote

We who live in America lobbied long and hard to have both laws passed. We said we wanted to alleviate poverty, stimulate national development, and change the culture of corruption and incompetence in government. We demanded a say in the way the country was being run because we were keeping its economy afloat with our billions in dollar remittances. And we argued that our voting potential, numbering in the millions, could place honest, competent, and dedicated leaders in office and bring about a renaissance in the Philippines.

But what has happened when we were finally given the right to vote? Of the millions that make up the overseas Filipino population, only a few disappointing thousands have bothered to register and even fewer actually voted in the last Philippine elections.

Many reasons have been given for this. Stringent election rules and requirements. The belief that our votes would not be counted anyway in an electoral process notorious for cheating. The cynical view that the incumbent rascals would simply be replaced by a new set of thieves and incompetents.

But weren’t these the very reasons why we demanded our rights as citizens? Didn’t we insist that our enlightened votes could change the status quo?

As strangers in a foreign land, we have dared uncertainties and challenges and have become masters of our own destiny. Should we now become defeatists in the face of a challenge that we are perfectly capable of confronting?

In only a few months, a crucial election will take place. In May 2010, a new president will be elected, amidst increasing poverty and growing unrest among the masses and allegations of rampant corruption, extra-judicial killings, and abuse of power. Once more we are being asked, as overseas Filipino citizens, to participate in the electoral process and help achieve the reforms that our country desperately needs.

It is not enough to send money. Not enough to criticize and complain. Let us not turn a deaf ear to the pleas of our country and people. Let us perform our sacred duty as Filipino citizens. Let us wield the power of the overseas vote.

Yes, we can elect competent and honest public officials if we cast our votes wisely. Yes, we can make our votes count by being vigilant and involved. Yes, we can help lift the Philippines from its miserable state.

The last day of registration to vote in the 2010 presidential elections is on August 31. Let us all register and vote.

We can do it. Yes, we can!

Global Nation:  Let us wield the power of the overseas vote 

****

related post:     Absentee Voters GO Out and VOTE  ; Riyadh Group Says Yes to OFW Political Party

2

Pasaway

Yesterday, I read an online news at GMANews TV  about “72 Filipinos” rounded up during a concert inside a compound in  eastern Riyadh.  Gays are not prohibited in Saudi Arabia but  display of homosexual behavior is strictly forbidden.  Such offense could suffer imprisonment and lashing for immorality.

Vice President Noli De Castro who is also the Presidential Adviser on OFW Affairs reminded OFWs to abide laws in their respective host country more particularly in Saudi Arabia.

This blogger also reminded fellow kababayan’s in KSA to respect the strict laws of the host country in an entry titled ” Immorality a Serious Offense “.

Just two weeks ago  the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in the Kingdom raided a Gambling Den (Sabongan) in Buraydah.  A total of 150 gamblers in different nationalities many of them Filipinos  were arrested during the raid.

2Gambling is also strictly prohibited in the Kingdom.  Caught and if found guilty of organizing such gambling arena will be imprisoned for months, lashing and be deported to their respective country of origin and be blacklisted to enter back again in the Kingdom (see related entry “Massive Fingerprinting of Expats Begins“).

Filipinos said “we are smarter than other nationalities when it comes to work, we are not lazy, we are very industrious, we have bigger brains, we can invent things that can make our life more easier and safer”  that is why in every corners of the world there are Filipinos and it is true. Though sad to say that in every part of this world there are also “PASAWAY Filipinos” see more photos below.

untitled

5

4

3

Diplomat Ako OFW lang Kayo

Online GMAnews.TV reported that Department of Labor and Employment official urged overseas Filipino workers to expose discourteous Philippine embassy and labor personnel in their work sites so that they may be punished.

Wow! A GOOD news! A lot of them in the Philippine Mission abroad. It’s about time to expose and name those “insensitive, rude, discourteous and arrogant” diplomat “kono” manning government agencies that are supposed to look for the welfare and protection of our fellow OFWs.

But how about a word coming from the mouth of a top diplomat telling OFW “Diplomat Ako, OFW lang kayo!” would it be a valid cause for immediate dismissal? Maybe a new posting will do.

"FBack Off"

"FBack Off"

 

In this photo during ZTE hearing at Philippine Senate, De Venecia said that Mike Arroyo approached him and with a finger that was about “two inches from his nose,” told him to “back off.”

It is just like Diplomat Ako, OFW lang Kayo!”

Nowhere to Go…Where are They?

My blood pressure goes up to a level of 150/150, reading inquirer.net online breaking news about “Abused maids die each week in Lebanon“.

Darna "GMA's Super Maids"

Darna "GMA's Super Maids"

I speak to myself loudly asking; How many in KSA???? How many untold stories of rape, maltreatment and abused in Riyadh alone? And how many of them under the care of fellow OFWs who instead of giving them shelter and comfort; only to give them more agony and pain. Who to trust? Nowhere to go…

Why our Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh, our Philippine Embassy in particular can not provide refuge and even refused to admit our fellow OFWs in distress?

What happen to  Magna Carta for Migrant Workers  of 1995 provision under III: Services, Section 19 Establishment of a Migrant Workers and other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center? What’s the use of this Center if they can not provide shelter to distress OFWs? Ano ang trabaho ng mga kawani sa Center na ito?  Umuwi na lang kayo! Ang laki pa naman ng allowance ninyo dito! Dollar pa nga yata!  

The establishment and operations of the Center are joint undertaking of various Philippine government agencies overseeing the plight of our Filipino migrant workers. Now! Where are they?!!#$%

Gov. Ed Needs our Prayers

I was in Saudi Arabia when I heard that a servant of God won the election in Pampanga. A miracle I should say and the signal to a new beginning in the Philippine Politics. The province of Pampanga was dominated by the local ruling elite that include the Arroyo’s, Guiao’s, Pineda’s and the Lapid’s.

Luid Ka

Luid Ka

 

The mere fact that he won the election against an ingrained political elite allied with the Arroyo’s is a proof that it is God’s will. The God’s gracious hands are the shining armor of this political neophyte to serve and save the province from corruption; with hope and prayers that good governance under his tenure will prevail and other leaders would follow.

The just recently Malacanang Cash Gifts exposed by Gov. Ed Panlilio gives the citizenry a light of hope that public service can be honorable in the absence of gold and guns. In the first place he won the election significantly without buying any single vote (see Democracy and our Votes). It is an example that the Filipino people are matured and intelligent enough in choosing a public servant that can govern our country with transparency and accountability.

Now, his enemies bowed to prevent him from continuing his vow of good governance – he needs our prayers and join us campaigning and supporting good governance in Pampanga.

Just around the Corner

My comment to Perryscope entry  “OFW on the road to Empowerment”

OFW Empowerment is just around the corner

Malou Fernandez article was just like an issue of the proposed OFW taxation and the plan transfer of OWWA fund to government-controlled bank, where it spark and made a loud boom like a detonated bomb from a suicide bomber in Tikrit, Iraq. The roaring voice of disagreement from OFWs to the mentioned plan echoes around the four corners of the globe. Result – it dies even before it started.  “Mabuhay ang OFWs”.

But start talking about politics and OFW political empowerment, nobody will react, no emotions, as if late Bert Tawa Marcelo’s famous movie “WANAKOSEY” in Philippine dialect “Tamimi”. Why? It is because politics to all of us Filipinos is dirty and we can’t deny it.

What happen to our country now is just like a cancer that cannot be cured. Our Government is governed by the same politicians, people who can manipulate the lives of other people through the power of money and influence.

Immigrants in U.S.

Immigrants in U.S.

WE heard it, we feel it, and we saw it in front of our very own eyes and how come we OF/ OFWs ignore these? Is it because we are not there (at home)? Is it because you are an immigrant or an overseas Filipinos who enjoy the customs, traditions and the life of the country you live in? Or You are an OFW in Saudi Arabia or a seaman who believes that if your family back home eat three times a day, owned a big house and an expensive car  “KALIWALI” (never mind) what happen to our country.

NO! Whether we like it or not, an Overseas Filipinos and OFWs are part of Philippine politics. We are Filipinos in thoughts, in words and in deeds. “Kayumangi ang kulay natin”  we can’t deny nor hide our true identity wherever we may be.

We can’t ignore what happening within the community and our beloved country, because deep inside we feel the sacrifices and struggles of the poorest of the poor Filipinos. We feel the pain of our Filipina Household Service Workers, maltreated and raped in the dessert land of the Middle East.

If you feel all those mentioned above, then you are a Filipino.

What we need is to act and set things our country towards the right direction. And only the power of the 8 Million Overseas Filipinos and families at home is the answer to all of these anxieties. We need change and that changes must start from us.

Mr. Victor Barrios is one of the 8 Million Overseas Filipinos who believed that a Global Filipino Coalition could change our country from turmoil, corruption and injustice. We OFWs in KSA and around the globe believes that it is about time to empower ourselves towards a new beginning.

An e-group was formed to discuss a possible creation of an OFW-led Political Party. We call it “Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino“, PPP in short, where we consolidate our opinions, heard our different views and would probably come up into a cohesive foundation in the formation of a powerful Philippine political party in 2010.

We are very grateful to those who respond so promptly in this urgent call and it shows a great responsibility and challenge to all of those who believed that unity after all is not too elusive to attain.  The formation of PPP gives a new growth in our own sense of unity. As the time goes on, we will learn that this unity will hold us together even in the midst of diverse opinions and variety of ideas. ### BongA

 

there you are!

there you are!

OFW Political Empowerment

is just around the corner ready to explode.

Immorality a Serious Offense

A week ago I received a call at 1:30 early morning; I may call it a distress call. The person in the other line was an acquaintance a long time ago; it even took me a few minutes to remember her.

She was crying asking for help. Mutawwa’in, a religious police who constitute the Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice in the Kingdom, apprehended her and two other female companions. They just stepped out from a car and about to enter a restaurant when the religious police spotted them and asked for proper documentation.

My friend actually was in a wrong place at a wrong time, she was in the company of unrelated person of the opposite sex.

I advised my friend to relax and instructed her to contact her sponsor.

I contacted Attache Tom Lawson at the Philippine Embassy who acted right away and later found out that 2 of her companions have serious problem due to the absence of working permits or iqamas. In other words her companions were undocumented OFWs.

My friend who has complete documents was released after her sponsor came and signed a waiver for her temporary release. Her other companion who have a photo copy only of her iqama was also freed the next day after her employer showed up at the police precinct and bailed her out. The third one who doesn’t have a residence permit remains in jail.

However, their case that is called “immorality” will be forwarded to the court that will render the final decision.  A hearing would take place for them to defend themselves in court.

Men and women found together with faked marriage documents or who were not married or closely related is against the Islamic law in the Kingdom; and it is “immorality or prostitution” according to its interpretation of Shari’a.

If men and women found in an embarrassing situation, women could be charged with “prostitution”. The police will then file a case to the court and if found guilty, it is punishable by flogging with a cane and a prison term of six (6) months or more and subject for deportation.

Flogging

Flogging

Many fellow OFWs are incarcerated in different jails in the 3 Regions of the Kingdom from various offenses including immorality and illegal marriage. To my fellow OFWs in the Kingdom – please let us respect the law of our host country and see to it that the documents with you are legal binding documents and not a fake one, or else you may spend part of your working contract in jail with flogging as bonus.

read related post: Pasaway ; CP’s on PDOS ; Philippine Embassy cautions OFW’s 26 Filipinos arrested for possessing fake papers (marriage, iqamas) in Dammam

How can our Government protect us?

There are a lot of stories around that I want to write but my emotion clogged up due to its complexity. A couple of months ago this blogger was reprimanded by our Philippine Mission for just a mere inquiry about the death of a Domestic Helper who died under their care.  But who will dare to inform the Filipino global community of what is happening particularly to the plight of our distressed OFWs? As a community leader and an OFW, I have the right to inquire and assist those compatriots who ask for help.

The case of Catherine Sarabia and her 4 months old baby who traveled to Jeddah after our Philippine Mission in Riyadh can’t do anything on her case is worth a few clicks on my keyboard. She is back in Riyadh again after our Consulate Officials in Jeddah could not do anything on her plight. But I will defer the story for a moment, I should need to gather more facts before pouring out aloud my emotion in due time. When that time comes, am sure it would be a “Headlines” at home.

Case of OFW J. Dulnuan in Canada

Case of OFW J. Dulnuan in Canada

Talking about “headlines” the vultures in our midst is coming back in the scene again and our Government has done nothing to curb or stop the illegal trafficking of Filipinos. Illegal entries of OFWs to other countries are again on the rise. This pertains to the 51 Filipinos that had been kidnapped to fill in the labor contract to work for the construction of U.S. Embassy 21 high-rise towers in 104 acres on the west bank of the River Tigris in Iraq.

How powerful those people behind the scene that even our media walang naamoy tungkol dito.  Philstar columnist Carmen Pedrosa in his column said “where are the usually alert local press and human rights groups when all this was happening? Or when it happened and came to be known through a congressional inquiry in US Congress, it took the London Times to pick it up as a major story”. To read more click link “Why did this story not make the headlines?”

In Jeddah, a news item appeared in Arab News about the 7 OFWs hired to work in a restaurant with Tourist Visas. Those OFW could be apprehended and end up in jail if found working without residency or work permit.

No to Illegal Recruitment

No to Illegal Recruitment

Despite of the temporary ban to work in Lebanon, many Domestic Helpers arrived in that country through unscrupulous travel agencies based in Cebu. How can they travel or exit from our country without the help of corrupt officials in our Government?

How can our government protect OFWs, “sa Pilipinas pa lang hindi na ninyo kami ma protektahan, how much more when an OFW arrived in his/her destination?”  Huh! If something happen to Catherine Sarabia and her 4 month old baby, surely it would be “another case of government neglect” like what had happen to Felisa Garcia.

Philippine Mission: Paramount concerns

OFW Welfare and Protection

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) has been the Philippine government’s primary concern in its relations with Middle East countries. In Saudi Arabia our Philippine Mission focuses more on Filipino expatriate’s welfare and protection considering the fact that large numbers of Overseas Filipino Workers are employed in this oil rich region.

As a community partner of our Philippine Embassy, I am aware that diplomatic talks in these regards between our Philippine Labor Office and Saudi Labor Ministry are one of the many agendas in progress. Hopefully these may lead into an understanding of possible well-implemented bilateral labor agreements.

What the Saudi government is requesting is when the contract is violated; the Filipino worker should present his complaint before the concerned agencies in the Saudi labor offices before he/she leaves the Kingdom. In this process, both sides can be heard and when there is a violation committed by the employer an appropriate compensation based on a given decision will be dispensed accordingly. Complaints raised by the Filipino workers to POEA after coming from the Kingdom will not give the chance for the Saudi employer to defend himself. If a breach of contract is found then any reward may not be properly handed to the aggrieved party.

Saudi authorities is also asking the Filipino community to respect the laws, customs and traditions of the country and not to get involved in any criminal activities, like engage in dealing illicit trafficking of illegal drugs and alcoholic beverages. So with other related crimes that may result into harsh punishment even death. Other areas of concerns such as alleged maltreatment and abuse of our Filipina domestic Helpers are issues that are being discussed between the two countries for a better RP-KSA relationship.

Trade and investments

We are all aware that Welfare and Protection for our OFWs are not the only paramount interest of our Philippine Mission in the Kingdom. The area of Trade and Investment is very essential as part of their diplomatic responsibility. Trade and Investment has always been the major force behind the economic relations among nations.

During last year’s meeting of Pres. Gloria Arroyo and members of Saudi chambers of commerce and industry and the council of Philippine-Saudi businessmen, she encouraged Saudi businessmen to invest in the Philippines in different industrial sectors especially in Mindanao. Saudi businessmen welcomed the idea of investing in our country. Philippine Commercial Attache was formally re-introduced for the mentioned purpose.

2007 UNITED NATIONS— Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo and His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al-Faisal reaffirm the Philippines and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ’s firm commitment to strengthen friendly and cooperative ties, particularly in trade and investment, the peace process in the Southern Philippines , migration and inter-regional cooperation.  Secretary Romulo and Prince Saud Al-Faisal met following the ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Meeting held at the sidelines of the 62nd UN General Assembly. The ASEAN-GCC strongly supported a proposal made by Secretary Romulo for ASEAN and GCC senior officials to begin discussions on formal linkages as well as specific projects for the ASEAN and GCC foreign ministers to consider at their next meeting.

2007 UNITED NATIONS— Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo and His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al-Faisal reaffirm the Philippines and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ’s firm commitment to strengthen friendly and cooperative ties, particularly in trade and investment, the peace process in the Southern Philippines , migration and inter-regional cooperation. Secretary Romulo and Prince Saud Al-Faisal met following the ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Meeting held at the sidelines of the 62nd UN General Assembly. The ASEAN-GCC strongly supported a proposal made by Secretary Romulo for ASEAN and GCC senior officials to begin discussions on formal linkages as well as specific projects for the ASEAN and GCC foreign ministers to consider at their next meeting.

Mindanao is not only the home of our Muslim brothers and sisters but the country’s main agricultural export zone that currently brings tuna, pineapple, rattan furniture and fresh bananas to Saudi Arabia. The Philippine furniture alone proved its competitiveness in the world market in quality and design and the Saudi businessmen wants to purchase directly from our country than buying furniture from America that are originally manufactured in the Philippines.

Just yesterday, Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio Villamor made an appeal to community leaders to support and assist in promoting to potential participants in the establishments, companies or institutions OFWs are connected with, in the upcoming October 17 to 20, 2007 International trade fair in Manila initiated by Manila FAME International.

Manila Fame International is organized by the Center for International Trade Expositions (CITEM), an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry. You can visit their web site at www.manilafame.com.

Let us-all help endorsing Philippine export products that would further enhance strategic RP-Saudi relations in Trade and Investments.  – END by: BongA.

Three in One

(1)

DFA USEC Rafael Seguis

DFA USEC Rafael Seguis

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Rafael Seguis is scheduled to leave for Jakarta after his brief visit in the Kingdom. Am sure he is here on official visit as Philippine Government emissary to the Kingdom for a possible diplomatic approach in relation to the plight of our 3 compatriots who are on death rows.

USEC Seguis prior to his posting at DFA-OUMWA was a former Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. His expertise handling sensitive issues in the past that concerns to our compatriots in distress proved him as a true diplomat, in words and in deeds. Sir, WE can count on you in these very trying moments.

****

(2)

OWWA Admin. M. Roque

OWWA Admin. M. Roque

OWWA contractual employee who slapped a flight attendant in an outburst of emotion deserves to be terminated at once – thank you Administrator Roque. When I’m home, I will show you some list of names of POEA/OWWA personnel who are very rude in dealing with our fellow OFWs, hope there will be an appropriate investigation to get rid of such kind of arrogant public servant.

****

 (3)

PPP FINAL LOGOThe recent discussion on a proposed OFW/OF led political party is currently in progress. Forming a political party is not just like a simple thing to tackle. This is not an ordinary organization; therefore a broader and active participation among Overseas Filipinos and OFWs is very essential for the realization of this dream.

Overseas Filipinos, Overseas Filipino Workers (land, sea based, former OFWs, OFW advocates at home) are invited to join our yahoo e-group. Your ideas is important to us, let it be heard.

If you are not an OFW, we may still consider accept/approving your subscription request provided you could show to us your concern about the welfare of and issues about OFWs.

Come! Join Us!!!

Peace, Love not War

Sid Meier’s Civilization, a game to play 

 ***

U. S.  Sen. G.W. Norris

Peace is LOVE not WAR

Peace is LOVE not WAR

“To whom does war bring prosperity? Not to the soldier who for the munificent compensation of $16 per month shoulders his musket and goes into the trench, there to shed his blood and to die if necessary; not to the broken-hearted widow who waits for the return of the mangled body of her husband; not to the mother who weeps at the death of her brave boy; not to the little children who shiver with cold; not to the babe who suffers from hunger; nor to the millions of mothers and daughters who carry broken hearts to their graves. War brings no prosperity to the great mass of common and patriotic citizens. It increases the cost of living of those who toil and those who already must strain every effort to keep soul and body together. War brings prosperity to the stock gambler on Wall Street-to those who are already in possession of more wealth than can be realized or enjoyed.”  – U.S. Sen. George William Norris (April 4, 1917)

In this speech Senator Norris details his reasons for opposing a Senate resolution entering the United States in World War I. He criticizes British and German acts of war toward neutral third parties and the use of American citizens as “insurance policies to guarantee the safe delivery of munitions of war to belligerent nations.” Norris also criticizes opportunistic businessmen who seek to profit from the war.

***

The Game – CIVILIZATION  III

Civilization IV

Civilization IV

Sid Meier’s Firaxis Game “Civilization” is a widely renowned computer game in everyone’s personal computers. Kids, parents, professionals and people from all walks of life can play the game using only computer mouse. But the player brainpower in pursuit of winning the game is very important in order to build a Civilization that could stand the test of time.

Been playing Civilization III for two years now but I always ended up a loser. Only these past two weeks of my continuous long quest to win the game that I finally succeeded.

Civilization III is a game played by one player in a mind controlled game. The player chooses what nation he/she wants to play. Yesterday I played and selected Abraham Lincoln of the United States.

The player/nation starts from scratch. It needs workers or inhabitants to learn the secrets of farming, road-building and irrigation for them to settle down. The player/nation must build improvements to satisfy the needs of its people. The player monitors the Governor of each cities and emphasize how important are the food, peoples moods as well as commerce and production.

When a civilization develops, it can mobilize its economy for war. It starts with a Warrior (Stone Age) to Swordsman, longbow man and to high tech war equipments like warplanes, tanks and nuclear weapons. When a nation goes to war, it should have four types of combat units: ground/naval combat, bombardment, missile attacks, and air combat. But the player must have consistent amount of gold in the nation’s treasury to sustain military offensive and defenses against its enemies.

Winning the game can be achieved by purely military solution: conquer the world, civilization by civilization. If you eliminate all civilizations from the game, you win. Also, cultural victory which means make your whole civilization the envy of all any rivals, you win.

When your civilization builds an embassy in a rival’s capital city, or when a rival builds one in your capital, you can negotiate “Diplomatic Agreements” like trade embargo, military alliances such as mutual protection pacts and right of passage with friend nations against your enemies to win the game. 

Because of my militaristic way of winning and constant desire to keep my nation rich and powerful are maybe the contributing factor of my many failures or losses for almost two years of playing CIV. III. What I like most is to watch my warplanes bombarding enemy improvements and I enjoy rival nation to perish in the world by one drop of my missiles/atomic bombs.      

What I overlook is “Diplomacy“, the other area of winning the game which requires the player an excellent diplomatic skills. Like for instance, trading agreements to other civilized nations, more particularly offering them new technologies and resources, in exchange for something your nation don’t have. Building roads and access of  sea route for trading purposes. Another one is lending them gold to sustain their survival and helping them to build again their nation caused by the destruction of war.

There are many other diplomatic ways to win the game. But in order to achieve it, you must be getting elected to the head of the United Nations. All nations are required to build a U.N. building, though the first nation to build will be the host country of the symbolic U.N. building. After the United Nations Building is built there are periodic votes by the council to elect a leader and to be elected, and a candidate must win a majority of all votes. If you are the one, you win the game.

Yesterday night from 10:00 AM to 11:45 PM almost midnight, armed with diplomatic strategy or approach, AT LAST! I WON THE GAME! Now, I am at PEACE and NO TO WAR.   Sid Meier’s Firaxis Game “Civilization 1 to 4″ –  A game to play.  * BongA

***

The United Nations

U.N. Headquarters

U.N. Headquarters

Created in 1945 to maintain international peace and security, the United Nations was the second of two laudable efforts to establish an international authority on law and human rights between the self governing nations of the world. Headquartered in New York City, the United Nations was established at the end of World War II in response to the apparent ineffectiveness of the League of Nations to prevent another global conflict on the scale of “The War to End All Wars”. The organization was originally conceived in 1941 as the Atlantic Charter, an agreement signed between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, but developed into a pact signed by 26 countries to try to stop the aggression of the Axis powers. In 1945, in a conference between “The Big Three”, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, the original charter was laid down. Throughout its history the United Nations has had great success in establishing many permanent international laws on subjects from human rights, international treaties, and worldwide decolonization. Although the United Nations does not have the power to enforce decisions or compel nations to take military action, the ability to compel member nations to impose economic sanctions against countries guilty of violating security orders gives it significant power in the world stage.

COA Performance Audit

Commission on Audit

Commission on Audit

We heard that the Commission on Audit would be visiting post overseas to conduct Performance Audit. It means to assess Government funds used by our posts and evaluate how the money is/was spent. The COA has the mandate not only on financial audit but performance audit as well.

 

Specific areas that they're going to assess are: Overseas Absentee Voting, ATN (Assistance to Nationals), LAF (Legal Assistance Fund) and overall affectivity in the delivery of programs and services to OFWs. The COA will then prepare a report that will be submitted to Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary. The report will also be made available to the public.

We welcome this very good news; perhaps the COA should include Philippine Overseas Labor Offices/OWWA as well as our Filipino Workers Resource Center.

I don't know if funds outside from Government coffers are included in their performance audit like LACSON Fund or other funds intended for the released of our jailed compatriots such as blood money not coming from our OWWA contributions.