Saudi-Philippine labor pact formally takes effect

Philippine Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Mufarrej bin Saad Al-Haqbani exchange documents after signing the labor agreement. (AN photo)

Philippine Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Mufarrej bin Saad Al-Haqbani exchange documents after signing the labor agreement. (AN photo)

RIYADH: Philippine Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Mufarrej bin Saad Al-Haqbani signed a labor agreement Sunday on the hiring of Filipino household service workers (HSWs). Al-Haqbani signed on behalf of Labor Minister Adel Fakeih.“The agreement is historic and today is a very significant day in Philippine-Saudi bilateral relations,” said Baldoz. The agreement is the first by the Saudi Ministry of Labor with a manpower-supplying country.

“This agreement heralds an era of stronger bilateral labor cooperation between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia for the protection and welfare of Filipino HSWs in the Kingdom,” she said.

The agreement comes after Saudi Arabia and the Philippines agreed on a standard labor contract last year, which shall govern the employment of HSWs in the Kingdom.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that the agreement is for five years and can be extended automatically for similar periods. It will also incorporate the formation of a joint working group to meet on a regular basis to discuss and resolve the problems of HSWs who include housemaids, baby sitters, laundrywomen, family drivers, cooks and gardeners.

“We expect that 60,000 out of an estimated 670,000 OFWs in Saudi Arabia will immediately benefit from this agreement, which lays down areas of cooperation between the two countries,” Baldoz said.

The agreement includes the following:

1. A mutually acceptable recruitment and deployment system;

2. The recruitment of domestic workers through agencies that practice ethical recruitment and are licensed by their respective governments;

3. Prohibition of charging or deducting any cost attendant to recruitment and deployment from the worker’s salary;

4. The right of recourse to authorities in case of contractual disputes in accordance with applicable laws and regulations;

5. Legal measures against recruitment offices, companies or agencies for any violation of applicable laws, rules and regulations; and

6. Resolution of any issue arising from the implementation and enforcement of the agreement.

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Advisory: OAVs Who Failed to Vote Twice

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The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh informs all concerned Overseas Absentee Voters (OAVoters) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that the deadline for filing of manifestations of intent to vote by OAVoters who failed to vote twice in 2007 and 2010 has been extended to 11 January 2013.

"It is only when you exercise your right to choose that you can also exercise your right to change”

“It is only when you exercise your right to choose that you can also exercise your right to change”

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh received instructions from the Commission on Elections, through the Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat (DFA-OAVS), of the promulgation by Comelec on 14 December 2012 of Resolution No. 9578 which extends the deadline for filing of manifestations of intent to vote by OAVoters who failed to vote twice to 11 January 2013.

Comelec Resolution No. 9578 extends the deadline set for filing said manifestations under Resolution No. 9567.

Under Comelec’s resolutions, Overseas Absentee Voters (OAVoters) who failed to vote twice during the National Elections in 2007 and 2010 will be deleted from the National Registry of Overseas Absentee Voters (NROAV) unless they submit a manifestation of their intent to vote by 11 January 2013.

Only registered OAVoters whose names appear in the NROAV will be allowed to vote in the 2013 Nationals Elections.

Procedures:

Check if your name is included in the list of OAVs who failed to vote twice. To access the list, copy and paste any of the below links to your web browser’s URL address tab:

From Comelec’s website at:

http://www.comelec.gov.ph/oav/uploads/pdf/oav_lists/FailedToVoteTwice.pdf

From DFA-OAVS at http://dfa-oavs.gov.ph/images/pdf/failedtovote.pdf

If your name is in the list and you intend to vote in 2013 at the Philippine Embassy or Consulate where you are registered as OAV, submit a manifestation of intent to vote through the following options:

Option 1: Submit the manifestation of intent to vote to the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh.

Option 2: Submit the manifestation of intent to vote directly to COAV online at www.comelec.gov.ph/coav or through fax at fax number (+632) 521 2952.

Option 3: Submit the manifestation of intent to vote directly with the Commission on Overseas Absentee Voting (COAV) at COMELEC in Intramuros, Manila

Deadline of submission of manifestations of intent to vote is on 11 January 2013. END

 

Recruitment agencies violating placement fee policies face penalty – POEA

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Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac yesterday said the POEA will cancel the license of recruitment agencies found collecting excessive placement fees from applicants or charging placement fees from workers seeking employment in countries which have laws that prohibit the same.  

poeaCacdac also advised Filipino jobseekers to pay the placement fee only if they have signed an employment contract and a receipt corresponding to the amount paid is issued to them, and to avoid licensed recruiters that continue to defy the government’s placement fee policy which is clearly defined in various promulgations.  

DOLE Department Order No. 34, Series of 1996, POEA Governing Board Resolution No. 2, series of 1998, and POEA Memorandum Circular No. 14, Series of 1999 authorize a recruitment agency to collect from its hired workers “an amount equivalent to one month salary, exclusive of documentation and processing costs”.

Section 2 b, Rule 1, Part 6 of the 2002 POEA Rules and Regulations prohibits “charging or accepting directly or indirectly any amount greater than that specified in the schedule of allowable fees prescribed by the Secretary, or making a worker pay any amount greater than that actually received by him as a loan or advance.”  

Cacdac said there is total prohibition on charging placement fees from Filipino household service workers, seafarers, and workers for deployment to countries which disallows placement fee collection.  

Charging placement fees from Filipino household service workers is prohibited under POEA Governing Board Resolution No. 6, Series of 2006.  

Section 2 c, Rule 1, Part 6 of the POEA Rules defines as a recruitment violation any act of “charging or collecting placement fee for deployment to countries where the prevailing system, either by law, policy or practice, do not allow the charging or collection of placement and recruitment fees”. The POEA Rules also exempt seafarers from paying placement fees.  

Countries like United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, and the Netherlands do not allow the collection of placement fee by recruitment agencies from foreign workers because the employer is paying the cost of placement and recruitment services.  

The prohibition is also applicable to agencies that are deploying workers to the Canada provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.  

Cacdac said that hiring of foreign workers in occupations that usually require a high school diploma or a maximum of 2 years of job-specific training (level C and D) under the Pilot Project of the Government of Canada is also covered by the prohibition on collection of placement fee. Under the prevailing policy of the Canada government, employers shall cover all recruitment costs related to the hiring of foreign workers.  

The ‘no placement fee’ policy also covers agencies deploying workers to the U.S.A., including Guam, Cacdac said.  

POEA Memorandum Circular No.10, Series of 2009 orders that licensed recruitment agencies recruiting Filipino workers under the H2B program for the United States, including Guam, are strictly prohibited from charging any placement and recruitment fees from Filipino workers bound for these destinations.  

The United States’ Department of Homeland Security on 18 January 2009, has implemented regulatory changes to the H2B visa classification used for foreign workers seeking employment in the United States and Guam. Under the new rules, the cost of recruitment of these workers must be borne by employers and the charging or collection of placement fee by an employer, agent, facilitator, recruiter or similar employment service provider from workers under the H2B visa category or temporary skilled labor is illegal. Cacdac said violation of the “no placement fee” policy is a serious administrative offense with a penalty of cancellation of license under Section 1-A (5) of Rule IV, Part VI of the POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land based Workers.  

Cacdac further urged applicants to report to POEA any recruitment agency that charges excessive placement fees or collect fees which are not sanctioned by other countries.

POEA Advisory July 2012

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Marhaban and Good Luck! “Philippine Delegation to KSA”

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Philippine Government officials are here to represent the executive branch of the Philippine government on its  4th phase of discussion with their Saudi government counterpart on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 27 and 28 to be held at Riyadh Conference Palace Hall. 

Riyadh Conference Palace

The Technical working committee of both sides will tackle areas of cooperation between Philippines and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as mandated by Article 7 of the General Agreement signed by both countries in 1994. The technical committee will finally discuss areas of cooperation in the field of trade, investments, labor, education,   transportation and others.

This meeting is in continuance of the ongoing bilateral talks between KSA-Philippine Joint Technical Committee to consult each other and identify the measures and means  in order to promote and consolidate particular areas of cooperation.  

I hope that the two countries may arrive into a mutual stance that would benefit its citizenry and their respective countries in general.  And in order to realize the outcome of this meeting, there should be a solid commitment from both sides to put whatever it is – into action.

Some important areas that should be concluded is how to expand its trade relations and study how to  lessen the burden in facilitating trade exchange of both export products that  enter their countries respectively. That includes setting up trade fairs to give way for new potentials of investments particularly in the field of agriculture and fisheries.   

Student exchange is also one important factor that could inspire both countries educational schemes and exchange of experiences in new technologies such as seminars, workshops, technical and vocational training; as well as scientific and cultural symposia in their respective educational institutions, universities and research centers. 

Security cooperation is also a crucial topic that should be addressed during the meeting. Possible collaboration on this regards, like information exchange related to security matters that threatens the safety of its countries and their nationals respectively.

PHL-KSA Friendship Pins

The committee should come up a new agreement in the field of transportation such as the return of Philippine Airlines flight from Philippines to Saudi Arabia and vice versa in order to meet pressing demands of huge numbers of Filipino passengers. However, flights should be equally divided between SAUDIA and PAL and strip off unnecessary taxes currently imposed to airline companies on both sides of the fence. 

Last but not the least, a bilateral labor agreement on the just concluded developments by both countries forging a new standard contract for Filipino Household Service Workers should be thoroughly implemented by way of redefining the rights and obligations of the Saudi Recruitment Agency (SRA) and the Philippine Recruitment Agency (PRA) in case one of the contracting party fails to perform, precisely and exactly, his/her obligations under the Standard Employment Contract.

Further, I hope that this committee meeting would pave the way for wrapping up the finalization of the Recruitment Agreement between SRA and the PRA. This agreement is needed in the resumption of the deployment of HSW in the Kingdom.

Lastly, if the KSA-Philippine Joint Technical Committee was able come up a standard contract for HSW, how come that the committee cannot crop up a one standard uniform contract   for skilled Filipino workers** ?

** This particular contract  could not be substituted with any other contract when the deployed worker arrive at site)   

Well, good luck to our Philippine delegation and have a nice Saudi winter day ahead of you!

By: BongA

OFWs’ plight tops Aquino agenda in Laos–envoy

Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic—The plight and protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will figure prominently in President Aquino’s talks with European leaders during the 9th Asia Europe Meeting Summit (Asem) here, according to Philippine Ambassador Lumen Isleta.

Isleta said that among the many topics to be taken up in the biennial gathering of Asian and European leaders, President Aquino will give priority to issues related to migration.

Europe is host to many Filipino workers. The majority of the merchant marine fleet of Norway, for instance, is manned by Filipino seafarers.

“In the talks of the President with Europe as a whole, migration will figure quite prominently in the topics he will raise,” Isleta said.

Energy security is another matter the President intends to highlight, she said. The Asem Summit is expected to tackle various issues, including the euro zone crisis, climate change, sustainable development, and economic and financial setbacks.

Mr. Aquino is also expected to seek support for the Bangsamoro, the autonomous region to be formed in accordance with the recently signed peace agreement with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

It is not certain if the territorial disputes in the South China Sea would be on the agenda.

The President’s focus on migration comes on the heels of a recent analysis of the International Labor Organization (ILO) showing that domestic workers in Europe, including Filipinos, continued to be prone to abuse.

According to the ILO, the existence of laws for domestic workers has not been enough to protect them, with weak compliance and gaps in legislation.

Though there are labor inspectors, few domestic workers are eager to report or denounce their employers, it said.

Wrong perception

It further said that the failure to follow the laws was related to the perception of some people that domestic work was not a real form of employment. Many of the domestic workers in Europe are in the informal economy, and include illegal migrants. read more 

Taken from Phil. Daily Inquirer online news (4/11/2012)

Let’s help PHLPost to stand the test of time

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I remember when I was a kid my late mother asked me to collect parcels and packages coming from my sister who worked as a nurse in United States of America and later  collect my late father’s SSS pension to our town’s post office. It was indeed fresh in my mind that we rose early in the morning just to avoid the long queue that usually seen every day in the town’s post office. It was formerly named Bureau of Posts.

Today, we even seldom see people standing in front of the receiving and mailing windows in all post offices found in every town of the Philippine archipelago. Sad to say that the government institution that provides postal services to Filipinos for over 250 years is now overtaken by the rapid development of new technology and the continuing landscape of the online world.

I am glad that the present administration is serious in their program to revive the ailing postal service into a profitable institution and with a budget of P640M, the ongoing rehabilitation is being monitored by PNoy  attaching PHLPost under the Office of the President. Not to mention that PHLPost is now at present a separate entity of the government owned Philippine Postal Savings Bank.

Standing L-R: George C. Guico, UFWCD Riyadh IT Coordinator; Ed Margarito Balais, UFWCD Riyadh Webmaster; Ernie Saplan Perez, UFWCD Riyadh, President; Cesar Gervacio, President PRGBII (Philippine Royal Guardians Brotherhood International Incorporated – PRGBII); Manuel “Bong” Amora, UFWCD Riyadh, Adviser; Vic Delos Santos- President, AFTTA (All Filipino Table Tennis Association); Stanley Arcilla, UFWCD Riyadh, Secretary; Henry Zosa, UFWCD, Riyadh Business Manager & Photographer; Habib Batua-President, FEMAS (Federation of Maranao Associations in Saudi Arabia) Sitting L-Rt: Postmaster General & CEO Hon. Josie Dela Cruz; Saudi Arabia Philippine Ambassador, H.E. Ezzedin Tago; Engr. Mama S. Lalanto Al Haj-Asst. Postmaster Gen.; Abdul Gaafar Dimalotang – President PhilMOWA (Philippine Muslim Overseas Workers Movement)

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The just concluded marketing trip of PHLPost Postmaster General and CEO Josefina Dela Cruz in the Middle East, to provide PHLPost remittance service to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) proved otherwise that it is now about time for the Philippine postal service to embark and embrace the new era of information technology.

Just like Philippine private banks, PHLPost will be launching in the Middle East its e-Postmo service, an electronic money transfer system through which OFWs can send money to the Philippines. Armed with post offices accessible in all locations throughout the Philippines, their beneficiaries will receive the amount on the same day of remittance and collect the exact amount remitted to them because PHLPost has no hidden charges. PHLPost program also includes door-to-door remittance service.

Philpost remittance service will be available very soon in Saudi Arabia, UAE and other GCC countries. Al-Rajhi Bank will be the PHLPost’s Saudi counterpart in the remittance service. Just go to the nearest post office or bank in the country where you are to remit your money. Various modes of delivery, such as cash pick-up at the post office, cash door-to-door delivery, credit to account, and postal money order.

 “The message of the visit is for the Filipino community to support PHLPost and help save the jobs of 11,000 postman and postwomen back home. The agency today has a different looks and vision, give chance for PHLPost to show to the Filipino people that it can” Filipino community leader Vic Delos Santos said.

Also, allow me say “let’s help PHLPost to stand the test of time, it is not just about profit and competition with the private sector, it is about preserving our country’s national heritage. – BongA

PHLPost executives will visit Riyadh to discuss new postal service for OFWs

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12/09/2012 RIYADH:  The Philippine Postal Corporation, (Filipino: Korporasyong Koreo ng Pilipinas), is a government owned and controlled corporation responsible for providing postal services in the Philippines. The Philippine Postal Corporation has an estimated 13,800 employees and runs more than 2,000 post offices nationwide. PhilPost is based in the Philippines’s primary post office, the Manila Central Post Office, which overlooks the Pasig River. Previously PHLPOST was an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the  Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT).  

Its policy-making body is the Board of Directors, composed of seven members including the Postmaster General who serves simultaneously as the Chief Executive Officer of the corporation.

PHLPOST Brief History

* 1767 – Established as postal office in Manila.

* 1779 – Created as a postal district of Spain.

in 1783 Governor General Basco organized a postal system throughout the archipelago . First postage stamp was issued on February 1, 1854. 

* 1837 – Re-established as such on December 5.
* 1838 – Became a leading center of postal service.
* 1877 – Became a member of the Universal Postal Union.
* 1898 – Established as a postal service on the order of Philippine Revolution president, Emilio Aguinaldo.
* 1902 – Created as a bureau under the Department of Trade by virtue of Commission of the Philippines Act no. 426 on September 5.
* 1926 – Built in its present Neo-classic architecture.
* 1946 – Rebuilding after it was destroyed in World War II.
* 1987 – Named Postal Service Office under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) by virtue of Executive Order no. 125 on April 13.
* 1992 – Became the Philippine Postal Corporation (its present name) by virtue of Republic Act No. 7354 on April 2.

Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) officials during the signing of MOU in reconciliation of service records of GSIS contributions of PHLPost employees in Cabarroguis, Butuan City, Maasin, Lucena, and San Pablo City

From year 1998, the internet technology has significantly reduced the demand for postal service but last year during PHLPOST 228th Year Anniversary, a new theme was launched under the Aquino administration “PHLPOST: Bagong Simula Bagong Sigla”, a “New Beginning New Vigor”. Just last year, President Aquino placed PHLPost directly under the authority of the Office of the President through Executive Order 47 and allocated P644 million to support its efforts to revive the corporation.

PhilPost  with a new Chief Executive Officer in the person of former Bulacan Governor Josie Dela Cruz,  armed with a vision to rebuild the Philippine Postal Corporation, her mission – aims to revive the whole postal system thru more efficient way of servicing the public and; with her innovative and creative ideas THUSePostMo is born not only locally but hopefully, to serve Overseas Filipinos around the globe.

This Friday, 14 of September 2012, PHLPOST officials  to be led by the Postmaster General herself, Josie Dela Cruz  will meet the Filipino Community in Riyadh to discuss and offer  new services to OFWs  designed in today’s technology trend.  The lady Postmaster General in her speech during the launching of  its 20th year as corporate entity of the Government said “Let us leave the past behind because we can no longer change it. Let us look to the promise of tomorrow, through the intelligent use of today.”  She was referring to the Philippine Postal Corporation’s position in today’s  high tech world.  - BongA-

References:  Wikipedia, Phlpost website

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R.A. 9262 “Hold Departure Order”

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I received a number of comments and inquiries from our readers asking how to claim for support against their OFW spouses who’s been engage in extramarital affairs abroad, abandoning and withdrawing financial support to their children.

Asking for financial support to your spouse through your spouse employer abroad is not the answer to your problem. Mostly, employer’s will just ignore your complaint or claim against your spouse for a simple reason, they are not concern about their employees personal or family problem. The Embassy, POLO and OWWA offices abroad can only summon and give advice to the errant provider not to abandon their families back home. Other than that, nothing they can do.

As what I’ve said, the only best option is to file a complaint against your spouse in Philippine court concerning with your claim for support and request the court for the issuance of a Hold Departure Order.

Section 37 of RA 9262 “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004” expressly provides that the court can issue an HDO as part of a petition for a Protection Order (Temporary or a Permanent Protection Order). Section 36, Rule V of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9262 implements Section 37 of RA 9262.Upon the filing of a petition for a TPO or a PPO, the judge can on that same day issue an HDO to prevent the respondent (like an OFW leaving for abroad) from leaving the country while the petition is being heard. 

A hold-departure order is by no means permanent. Its lifetime co-exists with the pendency of the criminal case that led to the issuance of the order. If the accused is acquitted or if the criminal charges have been dismissed, the judgment of acquittal or the order of dismissal shall include therein the cancellation of the hold-departure order that may have been issued. The trial court is obligated to furnish the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Bureau of Immigration with a copy each of the judgment of acquittal or the order of dismissal within 24 hours from promulgation.

It should be noted that in addition to those hold-departure orders issued by the courts in criminal cases, the Department of Justice (DOJ), through DOJ Circular 41 (issued May 25, 2010), has affirmed its own prerogative to issue hold-departure orders against those accused in criminal cases falling within the jurisdiction of courts below the Regional Trial Courts, i.e., those punishable with prison terms below six years. The applicability, scope and extent of DOJ Circular 41 will almost certainly be clarified in the future by the Supreme Court.

Take note also that under the Supreme Court guidelines for RA 9262, there are ready made forms for a petition for a Protection Order and even an Affidavit of Indigency which families of OFWs can avail of.  Under the Supreme Court guidelines, the Office of the Clerk of Court (OCC) is mandated to help the petitioner in filling out the forms in strict confidentiality and in actually filing the petition. However that in several instances, the OCC has referred petitioners to go to the Public Attorneys Office (PAO).  -BongA-

Source: The LawPhil Project, Arellano Law FoundationInquirer Global Nation, Business Mirror, Legal Updates

Paalam DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo

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Ang OFW Empowerment BLog  ay nakikiramay sa pamilya, kamag-anak , mga kaibigan at sa buong bansa sa pagpanaw ni Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.  Ang kanyang paglisan ay isang kawalan ng bansa sa isang  magiting at totoong lider  ng bansang Pilipinas.

Maalaala po namin kayo Kalihim Robredo bilang isang maka-Diyos at maka-Taong lider na ipinahayag ang tunay na katapatan bilang lingkod publiko ng bansang Pilipinas

May 1958 – August 2012

Kapag hayag at may pananagutan ang pamamahala, malalaman natin kung hanggang saan tayo nararapat na tulungan ng ating pamahalaang panlalawigan, bayan o panlungsod sapagkat magiging madali para sa ating makita kung magkano at ilan ang nakalaan sa bawat serbisyo publikong kinakailangang ipatupad.
DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo

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Government Record

Appointed DILG secretary by President Aquino in 2010, Robredo, 54, was one of the most prominent figures among a rising generation of local officials becoming known on the national stage. His performance in Naga, where in 1988 he was elected mayor at the age of 29 – then the youngest city mayor in the Philippines – brought him national as well as international recognition.

Robredo was born on May 27, 1958, in Naga City. He is a second-generation Filipino-Chinese, and the third of five children of Jose Chan Robredo Sr. and Marcelina Manalastas.

He served the city for an unprecedented six 3-year terms, DILG records note, in 18 years, transforming Naga into the Bicol region’s premier city.

In 1996 he was named one of the Philippines’ Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) as well as one of Ten Outstanding Young Persons  (TOYP) in the world. Two years later, at the age of 38, he won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service.

Asiaweek Magazine called Naga one of Asia’s Most Improved Cities, and credited Robredo with bringing dynamism and innovation to public service, the local bureaucracy, and community concerns from housing to public health matters.

Academic record

Robredo was an Edward Mason Fellow and a graduate of Masters in Public Administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the DILG says on its website.

He earned a degree in Industrial Management Engineering and Mechanical Engineering from De La Salle University, and then an MBA from the University of the Philippines.

After his graduation from DLSU, it seemed Robredo was on track for the corporate life, joining San Miguel Corporation’s Magnolia division. But then he returned to Naga City in 1986, and was convinced to sign on as Program Director of the Bicol River Basin Development Program. Here he developed his taste and passion for public service, and two years later he ran for mayor.

His fellow local officials elected Robredo to lead the League of Cities of the Philippines in 1995. “He was also elected chairman of the Regional Development Council, the regional planning and coordinative body of Bicol’s six provinces and seven cities, from 1992-98. Since 1995, he also chairs the Metro Naga Development Council,” the DILG says on its website.

“A trustee of Synergeia Foundation, a national advocacy group for education governance reforms, Robredo is a member of the Liberal Party of the Philippines and a prime mover behind the Kaya Natin!, a national movement that seeks to bring genuine change and ethical leadership in the country.”   ( interaksyon.com )

PRC to conduct Nursing Licensure Exam in Riyadh

Press Release No. 119 – 2012 (16 July 2012)

The Professional Regulations Commission (PRC), an attached agency of the Department of Labor & Employment (DOLE), has approved the conduct of Special Professional Licensure Board Examination in Riyadh,   for Filipino nurses on October 25-­‐27,  2012This is in support of:

•   Bringing the PRC programs and services closer to the Filipino professionals abroad.

•   Supporting the professional development and employment competitiveness of our underboard nursing graduates working overseas.

Ambassador Ezzedin Tago explained that with the board exam for nurses, most of the Filipino   professionals   in   Saudi   Arabia   would   have   a   chance   to   upgrade   their qualifications without going back to the Philippines.  In the past, licensure examinations have been successfully conducted here for engineers, architects and accountants.

The  Filipino  applicants  can  submit  their  accomplished  application  forms  together  with the requirements to the lead person to be designated by your hospital who will then forward these documents for evaluation to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), Philippine Embassy.  The cut-­‐off date for the submission of the completed requirements is July 31, 2012.

Interested  applicants  are  advised  to  download  application  forms  for  the examination from the PRC Website, www.prc.gov.ph.

For further queries, you may contact the following officers of the Filipino Nurses Association in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (FILNASA):

a.    Alina Articulo ‐  0533466462   b.  Edna Torrecampo ­‐ 0508158134  
c.  Lisa Serrano -   0508151194   d.  Liza Medina ­‐   0567461318  

Beware of fake recruitment e-mails

Beware of fake recruitment e-mails

You are selected!

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration advises jobseekers to think twice before replying to e-mails with the said subject especially those coming from “international companies” they have never heard of before.

POEA Chief Cacdac

Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said an e-mail congratulating an applicant for being selected for a specific job he or she did not apply for reeks of a recruitment scam.

“When you post your resume to a job search site, you are opening your personal data to potential employers, and even scammers, so be careful,” Cacdac added.

The administrator said these e-mails promise employment in hospitals and caregiving establishments in Canada and the U.S.A. at almost no cost to the applicant but they have to pay for medical tests and interview coaching in the philippines.

Cacdac cited the case of a certain Fraser Health which recruits nurses and caregivers for supposed employment in Canada.

Upon verification, the real Fraser Health in Canada denied the e-mail came from them. The fake company uses free e-mail accounts at hushmail.com whereas the true Fraser Health uses their domain name fraserhealth.ca.

Cacdac said the come-ons offered by the fake company could be hard to refuse for some Filipino workers looking for overseas jobs. The e-mail said applicants would not be charged any placement or processing fee, and the cost of air fare And work visa would be paid by the employer. But the catch is they have to pay Php3,750.00 for “Canadian Embassy Interview Coaching” and medical tests costing up to Php5,000.00.

“Because the company is not real, the victims are unnecessarily spending hardearned money in pursuit of non-existent jobs,” Cacdac said.

Cacdac urges job applicants who received such recruitment e-mails to forward the same to info@poea.gov.ph for verification and proper action by the POEA and police authorities. ### (March 9, 2012)

Simple EDSA Day at PhilEmb-Ruh

Flag Raising Ceremony at Phil. Embassy Liwasang Bonifacio Ground

 

25.02.2012 RIYADH – The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia commemorated the 26th Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986 in a simple ceremony attended by Embassy, POLO/OWWA officials and the members of the Filipino community.  

The activities started with a flag raising ceremony  followed by a communal rendition of the song Bayan Ko.  Breakfast were served at the official residence of Philippine Ambassador  H.E. Ezzedin Tago. – end-

Anxiety to repay biz loans may weaken DOLE program

(FEATURE ARTICLE)

Anxiety to repay biz loans may weaken DOLE program

by: JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO (OFW Journalism Consortium)

PASAY CITY—A MONTHS-OLD program handing out business loans to returning migrant workers does not require collateral from borrowers, and a finance expert thinks borrowers might encounter uneasiness to repay these loans.

The P2 billion Reintegration Fund for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) hands out loans ranging from P200,000 to P2 million to existing migrant entrepreneurs. But microfinance specialist Jun Perez is worried that required documents returning OFWs must present and frequently show might give borrowers hesitation to repay.

The context here, said the managing director of the microfinance network Seed Finance Corp., is the size of the enterprises vis-à-vis returning OFWs’ abilities to repay.

The loan range implies that borrowers run small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Meanwhile, lenders Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) will require OFW borrowers to show documents related to their enterprises, such as purchase orders and titles to equipment purchased. There’s no collateral required for this loan program.

And this is where Perez’s view comes in about borrowers’ “compunction,” or a person’s strong uneasiness caused by a sense of guilt.

Borrowers running SMEs have to title their properties just to secure their loans, though the situation might not be applicable to those running sari-sari (small retail) stores or buy-and-sell ventures. Titling these properties entails costs, in the hope that with the titling the enterprise grows. With such growth the enterprise will now institutionalize having purchase orders (like sari-sari stores) like what usual businesses have.

Then the uneasiness comes in since running the business, producing the titles and business-related documents, and repaying the loans all come into play for the OFW borrower. In such a situation, the scheme of not requiring collateral for these SME loans “might be disadvantageous to the banks (DBP and LBP),” Perez said.

The Reintegration Fund represents the new scheme of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) to hand out livelihood loans to overseas workers. No less than President Aquino III ordered the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to roll out this program.

But years of previous livelihood programs handled by OWWA, whether handled alone or in collaboration with financial institutions such as the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC), have histories of high non-repayment rates by OFW borrowers.

 Risks

THE fund has P0.5 billion each from Land Bank and DBP, as well as a guarantee amount of P1 billion from OWWA (the world’s largest migrant welfare fund whose resources come from US$25 membership fees that departing overseas workers pay on a per-contract basis).

Officials of Land Bank and DBP explained during the fund’s launch months ago that both banks will offer an interest rate of only 7.5 percent to each of the loans, payable from two to seven years.

The loans, said Land Bank’s Cressida Mendoza and DBP’s Brillo Reynes during the congress, will make up 80 percent of the total capital needed by the enterprise. There’s also a catch: The businesses to be financed by these loans “must be earning”.

That way, said Mendoza, the situation “will be mutually beneficial to the OFW and to the bank”.

NRCO director Vivian Tornea said in a DOLE release that while there’s no collateral, loan applicants must “guarantee the business enterprise… is viable and profitable —or earning, say, like P10,000 a month”.

Actually, Perez and another development finance expert, Hector de Pedro of the nonprofit Mandato Inc., think both LBP and DBP have proven track records in handing out these reintegration loans.

It’s just that the image of these banks as part of the “government” that worries both Perez and de Pedro. Government-run lending programs “fail,” de Pedro thinks, because “the (word) government is literally synonymous to the word dole out —and the approaches of some agencies do not breed entrepreneurs”.

Thus, Perez said the Reintegration Fund’s implementation “must maintain the discipline and conviction that it must be sustainable, thus must support clearly-viable or potentially viable (enterprises) with community impact”.

Not surprisingly, the Reintegration Fund leaves those OFWs planning to launch start-up enterprises by the wayside—similar to how banks offer loans to existing ventures (but not to start-ups).

The upside of this regulation by DBP and LBP is that government invests its loan resources on proven practices, and that means all figures are (easily) given. Still, new business models coming from OFW enterprise start-ups may not be developed “because there is no support,” said de Pedro.  

Repayment

THE issue of repayment has haunted previous livelihood programs of OWWA, the most recent of which was the loans OWWA and the NRCO issued to OFWs displaced by the global economic crisis in 2009.

Previous OWWA and NRCO programs on reintegration saw OWWA directly providing these services, especially loans (even if OWWA is not a quasi-financial institution). OWWA also has a running Livelihood Development Program for OFWs (LDPO), in coordination with the National Livelihood Development Corporation —though information is not available on the nationally-run loan program’s repayment performance.

During a press conference after the fund’s launch, Labor undersecretary Danilo Cruz told the OFW Journalism Consortium OWWA “will exert extra efforts” to monitor borrowers’ repayment of their loans. Handling loans “is not OWWA’s forte,” Cruz adds, justifying DOLE’s partnership with LandBank and DBP. The partnership sees OWWA’s share to the Reintegration Fund as a guarantee fund in case of non-repayment, Cruz told reporters during a press conference.

LDPO has its own repayment woes. For example, officials of a cooperative in central Philippines that is a conduit of LDPO loans said there is a “high” non-repayment rate among their OFW borrowers. The conduit, the Philippine Cooperative Central Fund Federation, then conducted a financial education and business assessment seminar to some of its borrowers so that the latter are told how to handle the capital they have.

For migrant civil society advocates like Carmelita Nuqui of the Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), the reintegration fund’s regulations are “different from what the government says in public”. Loans for returning migrants, Nuqui says, are available “but why can’t overseas Filipino workers get them right away if these are really for them?”

Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin Tago visits KACST

1 February 2012/RIYADH :  As part of  the Philippine Embassy’s effort to enhance bilateral relations with the host country,  the new  Philippine Ambassador, His Excellency  Ezzedin Tago  met  with  officials of  the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology-KACST,  the Saudi Arabian national science agency and its national research laboratories.

His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Suwaiyel, the President of KACST welcomed the visit and the meeting. The new Philippine envoy was accompanied by  Vice Consul, Atty. Paul Saret, the mission’s  Political and Economic Officer.

H.E. Ambassador Ezzedin Tago with KACST Directorate of International Cooperation, Director Mohammed Al-Badrani

The main purpose of the visit is to promote bilateral technical cooperation under the aegis of the Philippine Saudi Arabia Cooperation Agreement on Economic Trade, investment and  Technical Cooperation.

The  Philippine Embassy wishes to discuss possible areas for joint research programs on the basis of earlier discussions made between KACST and the Philippines, Department of Science and Technology-DOST  at the technical levels.

During the meeting the KACST President, Dr. Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel  directed the KACST-Directorate of International Cooperation to identify specific areas of mutual interest in selected fields for joint collaborative  research  programs.

PhilEmb Political and Economic Officer, Vice Consul Paul Saret, KACST-DIC Director M. Al-Badrani & Phil. Ambassador Ezzedin Tago

The Department of Science and Technology in the Philippines submitted  list of Philippine Institutions responsible in their Research and Development such as in the field of Computer Electronic Research, Petroleum and Petrochemicals and Energy ResearchAstronomy and Geophysics, Food Irradiation and Medical and Bioethics.

Aside from overseeing the welfare and protection of the estimated 1 Million OFWs in the Kingdom, the major task of the Philippine mission is to undertake bilateral agreements that will benefit both countries in the field of commerce, agriculture, engineering, science and technology. All of the mentioned areas can be achieved through collaborative means covered by the umbrella Memorandum of Agreement  signed by the two countries in 1994. –end- By: BongA

Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International-Bound Passengers in All Airports and Seaports in the Country

Philippine Embassy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia : Press Release No. 2012-011 (19 January 2012)

Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) implements  “Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International-Bound Passengers in All Airports and Seaports in the Country”

The Embassy informs the public that the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) started on Tuesday, 10 January 2012 implementing the following

Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International-Bound Passengers in All Airports and Seaports in the Country”:

GUIDELINES ON DEPARTURE FORMALITIES FOR INTERNATIONAL-BOUND PASSENGERS IN ALL PORTS AND SEAPORTS IN THE COUNTRY

Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9208, otherwise known as the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003”, and its implementing Rules and Regulations, Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995”, as amended by Republic Act No. 10022 and other related laws, the following guidelines providing for definite parameters in the strict enforcement of immigration departure formalities intended for the prevention of trafficking in persons, illegal recruitment, and other related offenses, are hereby promulgated for strict implementation/compliance by all concerned:

I. TOURIST TRAVELLERS

A traveler intending to go abroad with a tourist/temporary visitor’s visa shall be subjected to:

1. Primary inspection

During primary inspection, the following documents shall be required from a traveler:

a) Passport  b) Visa when required c) Round-trip Ticket

2. Secondary Inspection

2.1 The Bureau of Immigration shall conduct a secondary inspection of a traveler, when deemed necessary, for the purpose of protecting vulnerable victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment and other relate offenses, through the assessment of the following circumstances:

a) Age  b) Educational attainment  c) Financial capability to travel

i. If not financially capable to travel, an authenticated affidavit of support, indicating therein the relationship within the 4th civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, together with the supporting documents, may be entertained; and

ii. An affidavit of undertaking/guarantee may likewise be entertained.

2.2 Any passenger/traveler who will be subjected for secondary inspection shall be required to accomplish the Bureau of Immigration Border Control Questionnaire (BCQ) to be furnished by the Immigration Officer.

2.3 However, the following shall automatically be subjected to secondary inspection:

a) Travelers without financial capacity to travel escorted/accompanied by a foreigner who is not related;

b) Minor traveling alone or unaccompanied by either parent or legal guardian without the required travel clearance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD);

c) Repatriated irregular workers, in which case, travel may not be allowed without the clearance from the IACAT (generate data);

d) Partners and spouses of foreign nationals intending to depart to meet and/or marry his/her fiancé without the CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate;

e) Passengers traveling to countries with existing deployment bans, alert levels and travel advisories and those in possession of visas to the said countries; and

f) Passengers who stayed abroad for more than one (1) year during a previous departure from the country as tourist/temporary visitor, intending to depart for the second and/or subsequent time.

2.4 Clarificatory questions may be propounded relating to the above-mentioned documents/purpose by the Bureau of Immigration.

2.5 A traveler found to be misrepresenting the purpose of his/her travel as tourist shall not be cleared for departure.

II. OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS (OFWs)

1. First Time Overseas Filipino Workers

1.1 Travelers under this classification shall present the following documents as validated by the Labor Assistance Center (LAC):

a) Passport  b) Visa c) Airline/Sea craft tickets d) Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)

1.2 Allowable Visa Usage (Based on POEA Rules and Regulations) Should there be any discrepancy in the actual job position/job title in the visa and in the Overseas Employment Certificate, travel may nevertheless be allowed provided that the POEA through hits LAC, has validated and approved the variance based on the following:

a) The visa category is related to the workers’ position or in line with the principal’s nature of business;

b) The recruitment agency executes an Undertaking on Visa Usage ; and

c) The worker is aware of the visa discrepancy situation and has executed a Declaration of Awareness and Consent.

1.3 Instance When Visa Usage is NOT Allowed (Based on POEA Rules and Regulations). The use of Visa Usage Undertaking (VUU), however, does not, and can never, apply to Household Service Workers (HSW). The visa category should be strictly for household-based positions, otherwise, a traveler will not be cleared for departure and the aforementioned documents shall be confiscated for further investigation and appropriate action.

1.4 For Acts Involving Reprocessing of Contracts and Other Documents OFWs in possession of “reprocessed” documents shall not be cleared for departure.

Based on R.A. No. 10022, the following constitute acts of reprocessing:

1. The job description/position as indicated in the work visa is different from all other pertinent documents such as the Overseas Employment Certificate, the PDOS Certificate, among others;

2. The actual job as promised or offered is different from the actual overseas work as indicated in the pertinent papers; and

3. The name of the employer or hiring company as indicated in the work visa and/or OEC are not one and the same.

All documents used under the afore-mentioned provision shall be confiscated and turned over to the POEA for further investigation and appropriate action.

2. Balik-Manggagawa/Returning Workers

2.1 The following OFWs fall under the category of Balik-Manggagawa/Returning Workers:

a) Worker-on-Leave – a worker who is on vacation or on leave from employment under a valid and existing employment contract and who is returning to the same employer, regardless of any change in jobsite, to finish the remaining unexpired portion of the contract.

b) Rehire – a worker who was rehired by the same employer after finishing his/her contract and who is returning to the same employer, regardless of a change in jobsite.

c) POLO-registered worker – a returning worker whose employment contract was not processed with the POEA but was subsequently verified and registered with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in the jobsite and who is returning to the same employer either as a worker-on-leave or rehire, regardless of any change in jobsite. Same employer/principal refers to the current employer or the worker at the time he/she came home for vacation and to whom he/she is returning to resume employment upon return to jobsite.

2.2 Balik-Manggagawa OFWs shall be required to present the following:

a) Passport  b) Valid visa c) Airline/sea craft ticket  d) OEC issued onsite by the POLO or by the POEA

2.3 In case of incomplete or questionable documentary requirements, the OFW shall be referred to the POEA-LAC for further investigation and appropriate action.

3. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) on vacation but visiting other countries before returning to original worksite/destination

A Balik-Manggagawa OFW with a valid visa and existing work contract who intends to go to other countries while on vacation need not get a POEA travel exit clearance/OEC. Hence, he/she is considered a tourist and is not exempt from travel tax and terminal fee, but shall be allowed to travel.

4. Special Travel Exit Clearance

Pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement between POEA and BI, the following are required to secure a Special Travel Exit Clearance from the POEA:

a) PEZA-registered companies sending their employees to South Korea for training program with worker trainee visas;

b) Seafarers who are under the employment of a Philippine shipping company who are assigned to accompany or “conduct” a vessel that is being imported by the said shipping company from a foreign port to the Philippines, also referred to as “conduction crew” since they remain to under the employ of their local companies;

c) Filipino seafarers who are required to undergo special training abroad as prescribed by the prospective foreign employer;

d) Filipino workers and spouses who are covered by the Work to Residence Policy, and who applied for immigration to New Zealand with no pre-arranged employment with an employer prior to departure; and

e) Filipino workers required to undergo final interview or qualifying examination abroad as prescribed by the prospective foreign employer.

III. IMMIGRANT OR PERMANENT RESIDENT VISA

1. Filipino emigrants/residence visa or permit holders/permanent residence card holders Travelers falling under this visa category shall present the following documents for primary inspection:

a) Passport  b) Permanent residence visa /immigrant visa / permanent residence card

c) CFO Emigrant registration sticker

d) Airline/Sea craft ticket

2. Filipino spouses and other partners of foreign nationals

Travelers falling under this visa category shall present the following documents for primary inspection:

a) Passport

b) Permanent residence permit or visa / immigrant visa / permanent residence card

c) Guidance and Counseling Certificate

d) CFO Emigrant registration sticker

e) Airline/Sea craft ticket

3. Filipino J1 visa holders or Exchange Visitor Program Participants Departing for the USA

Travelers falling under this visa category shall present the following documents for primary inspection:

a) Passport  b) Valid J1 visa for USA

IV. SPECIAL CASES

1. FOR FINAL INTERVIEW/QUALIFYING EXAM

Workers to undergo final interview/qualifying exam as required by their prospective employers shall present the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Special Exit Clearance. In the absence thereof, passengers shall not be cleared for departure.

2. ON-THE-JOB TRAINING

Travelers intending to depart to another country for the purpose of onthe- job training shall present the following additional documents:

i. School certification on the need for on-the-job training

ii. Acceptance by the host company

iii. Certificate of Overseas Training by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

3. For relatives requesting for compassionate visit to an irregular worker abroad, a certification from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) must be secured.

4. Immediate family members of OFWs travelling with a tourist/temporary visitor’s visa shall be allowed without the need of further inspection, provided, they establish relationship within the first civil degree of consanguinity or affinity (spouse, children and parents) with the OFW and provided further that they present photo copies of the following documents of the OFW:

a) Passport   b) Visa  c) Overseas Employment Certification (OEC)  d) NSO authenticated birth/marriage certificate, as the case may be.

5. Passengers who intend to depart for intra-company trainings abroad for less than three (3) months shall present an invitation from the host company reflecting the duration, entitlements, travel and other incidental expenses; while those exceeding three (3) months shall present the corresponding Trainorship Agreement containing all the above data.

V. GENERAL GUIDELINES

1. Travelers presenting fake/fraudulent passports, documents, immigration stamp shall be confiscated by the BI without prejudice to any other action that may be taken against said passengers.

2. The BI shall turnover the confiscated passports and other fake/fraudulent documents to the DOJ-IACAT for appropriate action.

3. Passengers who were not cleared for departure by reason of vulnerability to trafficking, illegal recruitment, or other related crimes, shall be immediately turned over by the BI with IACAT Task Force or designated agency/ies for provision of mandatory services such as temporary shelter, legal assistance, or psycho-social interventions, and for more in-depth information gathering.

4. Immigration Officers, in the performance of their functions and duties, shall adhere to the principles of Courtesy, Accountability, Responsibility, Efficiency and Service (BI – C.A.R.E.S). The Bureau shall, likewise, institute a mechanism for immediate feedback and redress of grievances of passengers.

5. All agencies and Task Forces designated for the purpose of combating trafficking in persons, illegal recruitment, and other related crimes are hereby directed to revise existing procedures and systems to complement these guidelines within one (1) month from the effectivity thereof, to be submitted to the IACAT and PTFAIR for review and evaluation.

***End***

New Philippine envoy will meet FilCom leaders quarterly to discuss OFW issues and concerns

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia:  The new Philippine envoy to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, H.E. Ambassador Ezzedin Tago reiterated his commitment to meet with Filipino Community leaders  every three months to discuss issues and concerns affecting overseas Filipino workers in the Kingdom. He made the statement during the acquaintance meeting with the Filipino Community leaders in Philippine Embassy along with the embassy staff and POLO/OWWA officials last Thursday, 15 of September 2011 at the Philippine Embassy grounds.

It was recalled that Ambassador Tago  just recently presented his credentials to HRH Prince Saud Al Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia.  Tago is now officially and formally designated as Philippine Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Yemen.

In the meeting, Ambassador Tago announced some changes to improve the embassy’s services to its nationals. Working hours from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and no lunch break and Thursday’s is open from 8:00 AM to 12:00 Noon.

The Consular Section also introduced an appointment system for passport renewal. “With the new appointment system, applicants will be able to request for a specific date and hour during regular working days” he added. The applicants in this new system will no longer have to wait in long lines at window 1 for processing and directly proceed to the encoding area.

Ambassador Tago reminded the community to directly transact business with Philippine embassy staffs and officials and urging Filipinos doing business in the Embassy not to deal with fixers and those individuals claiming as Embassy employees. He also ordered the member of the diplomatic corps to wear the official embassy ID’s all the time.

POLO Labor Attaché Albert Valenciano when asked what are the implementing guidelines of the host country for those workers whose categories belong to Red and Yellow who wishes to transfer to Green and Excellent Zones, “as of this time, the host country and the Ministry of Labor website has yet to announce the specific implementing guidelines for this purpose” he said. Labor Attaché Valenciano advised OFWs to keep visiting the Embassy website for any fresh developments about Nitaqat.

Welfare Officer Atty. Cesar Chavez pointed out that OFWs should not be worried about the new Saudization law, “OFWs are still bound to continue working till the employment contract is finally over” he said.  Even if the worker is belong to Red and Yellow categories, expatriate workers are still oblige to continue working until their contract expires” he further explained. Chavez however, reminded that pre-termination of employment due to Nitaqat should be reported to POLO. Termination due to the implementation of Nitaqat is a violation of Saudi Labor Law. Chavez also said that the new Nationalization law may not affect OFWs presently working in Saudi Arabia but to those future OFWs who wants to work in Saudi Arabia.

Overseas absentee voting registration was among the agenda discussed during the open forum. The Embassy will write a formal letter to the host country asking permission that mobile OAV registration will be conducted in Batha area in Riyadh and Philippine schools in the Kingdom. OAV registration starts October 31, 2011 to October 31, 2012. -end-

New CoM, First Order of Business

First Order of Business

9/12/2011, RIYADH:  Just recently H.E. Ambassador Ezzedin Tago presented his credentials as new Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom to His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia. Upon formally assumed office as the new Chief of Mission (COM) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, H.E. Ambassador Ezzedin Tago’s first order of business is to bring the Embassy closer to its nationals.

The Filipino Community in Riyadh received an invitation coming from POLO Labor Attaché Albert Q. Valenciano, inviting the Filipino Community organizations to participate in a meeting on Thursday, 15 September 2011 at the Embassy Chancery.

H.E. Ezzedin Tago, Ambassador and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Yemen will  discuss with the Filipino Community leaders the following agendas: New Saudization Policy of the Kingdom, Government Repatriation Program, the Absentee Voting and other relevant concerns.

The Saudi government started yesterday, September 11, 2011 the implementation of the Nitaqat restrictions to those companies who failed to comply with the Saudization targets. The sanction for non-complying companies will be the non-renewal of work permits of foreign workers. However, companies categorized in Red categories may still have time to comply up to December 11, 2011 while those in Yellow categories are given up to March 11, 2012 to improve the compliance.

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah advised OFWs in the Kingdom to check from time to time the Embassy ( http://www.philembassy-riyadh.org ) and  Consulate ( http://www.pcgjeddah.org ) websites respectively,  for new developments.

In an advisory released last month by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stated that the Embassy, through the POLO officers, will provide the necessary assistance to affected OFWs.

Other important matter to discuss is how to improve the present program of the Government in assisting the repatriation of  Filipinos who overstayed in the Kingdom and to make sure that the shelter where our kababayan stay inside the Hajj Terminal are in good condition and comfortable while awaiting for their scheduled repatriation.

It may recalled that the used of Hajj terminal is a special arrangement made by the Philippine Government represented by the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah with Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the approval of the Office of the Emir of Makkah to address the cases of Filipinos staying under the Sitteen Khandara overpass.

Among issues to be discussed are the plight of OFWs in distressed or OFW runaways housed at Filipino Workers Resource Centers and those in the Saudi Welfare Administration facility run by the Saudi government where female expatriates runaways in various nationalities are housed pending the required exit clearance from their sponsors to be deported.

In the upcoming meeting of  the FilCom and Embassy/POLO/Riyadh includes; the continuing Overseas Absentee Voting registration. The one year OAV continuing registration will start from October 31, 2011 to October 31, 2012.

In the last two absentee voting exercises, Filipino community participation were among seen as one of the contributing factors of the low turnout of voters registration and voters turnout during 2007 and 2010 elections. The new Philippine Chief of Mission in Saudi Arabia, H.E. Ambassador Ezzedin Tago will see to it that the Filipino community organizations must be involved this time.

The Philippine Overseas Absentee Voting mechanism was implemented in 2003, 2007 and 2010 Philippine elections to provide an opportunity for Filipinos abroad to exercise their right in electing the President, Vice President, Senators and one Party-list Representative. –end- BongA

Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin Tago Presents Credentials to HRH Prince Saud Al-Faisal

Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Ezzedin H. Tago and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia HRH Prince Saud Al-Faisal at his office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jeddah

September 8, 2011, RIYADH: Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Ezzedin H. Tago, was received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia HRH Prince Saud Al-Faisal at his office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jeddah on 7 September 2011.

Ambassador Tago presented a copy of his credentials to HRH Prince Saud Al-Faisal. During the call, Ambassador Tago reiterated the Philippine Government’s desire to enhance bilateral relations and elevate them to higher levels, particularly in areas that mutually benefit both countries and peoples.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal welcomed Ambassador Tago to the Kingdom, and expressed the Ministry’s full support to further develop relations between the two countries.

The presentation of  his credentials is a diplomatic process  in which an ambassador is certified as one country’s official representative to another. Diplomatic accreditation occurs when a new ambassador presents “letters of credence“, or credentials, to the host country’s head of state. Letters of credence, which are signed by the ambassador’s own head of state, confirm that the ambassador is authorized to represent his/her country, and ask that the host country respect this fact.

The diplomatic accreditation of  the then Charge D’ Affaires  Consul General Ezzedin Tago, as  the new Philippine Chief of
 Mission in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is now officially confirmed. Ambassador Tago’s diplomatic expertise in Foreign Service and as a career diplomat could promote friendly relations between the two nations as well as promoting our very own government foreign policies.

Ambassador Tago is the youngest Ambassador appointed by the Philippine government to head a foreign mission. – BongA

Philippine Embassy Clarification on Rumors of Final Exit Stamps for Those Leaving on Exit and Reentry

Press Release 53/2011

11 July 2011

Philippine Embassy Clarification on Rumors of Final Exit Stamps for Those Leaving on Exit and Reentry

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh reiterates that the recent announcement of the Saudi Ministry of Labor spokesperson Mr. Hattab al –Hanzi about the ban on the issuance of work visas for domestic workers from the Philippines effective 02 July 2011 applies only to new work visas. It does not cover the household service workers with valid work visas who are already in Saudi Arabia or whose iqamas are up for renewal or those going on vacation. They can continue to work with their present employers.

This matter was confirmed by Assistant Deputy Minister of Labor H.E. Hashim Rajeh in a recent informal meeting with Labor Attaché Albert Valenciano of the Philippine Embassy.

The Philippine Embassy also called attention to unconfirmed stories about some vacationing workers who reportedly encountered problems at the immigration counter at the international airport in Riyadh. Allegedly, the immigration officer at the airport stamped “exit only” on the respective exit/re-entry visas of the workers. As a result of these stories, OFWs are now having second thoughts of going on vacation for fear that they may not be able to return to Saudi Arabia.

Earlier, Mohammad Al-Hussein, spokesman for the Passport Department (Jawasat) in Makkah province has openly denied this when he was interviewed by Siraj Wahab, a news correspondent of Arab New. He said then that “there is no absolute truth to it. If it is an exit/re-entry visa then it cannot be changed at the airports. The final exit is stamped only after a series of steps are taken by both the employee and the employer.”

The series of steps being referred to are the issuance of a release letter or no objection certificate (NOC) from the employer stating that it is giving its consent to release the worker and to send him/ her home to his/her country of origin. The employee has to sign a final settlement in which he acknowledges that he has received all his monetary claims from the employer. These documents are the basis for the issuance by the Jawasat of the final exit visa to the worker. Before the final exit visa is issued, Jawasat also checks whether the worker has any pending police case, traffic violation or bank loan. It is also required that no vehicle should be registered in the worker’s name at the time of final departure.

The Philippine Embassy advises OFWs not to believe these stories easily. As a precaution, vacationing workers should be in contact with their employers just in case they will have similar problems at the airport in Riyadh or elsewhere in the Kingdom. They should report the matter to the Philippine Embassy so that it could take appropriate action. The workers who are already in the Philippines on vacation can get in touch with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to document their case and bring the matter to the attention of the Saudi Embassy in Manila.

On rumors of changes to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia exit visa system

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte:  On rumors of changes to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia exit visa system ( Released on July 11, 2011]

There are chain e-mails going around that give some people the impression that the authorities of Saudi Arabia, in pursuit of Nitaqat or nationalization, have taken to marking the visas of foreign workers “exit only,” when previously, the visas were “exit-re-entry” visas. Saudi authorities have themselves denied that exit-re-entry visas have been switched to exit-only visas at airports. They clarified that Saudi authorities are revising their rules to apply a six-year rule for foreign workers in companies that fail to meet nationalization targets. The revised rules, however, will not affect final exit regulations as they exist.

For workers who are still under contract, an exit-re-entry visa is provided, no longer the sticker, but in paper form as records are now maintained electronically. Departing workers who have exit-re-entry visas are familiar with the procedure: they show the paper with their visa, it is checked, and the passport receives a rectangular “Exit” stamp; upon returning from vacation, the worker’s passport then receives an oval “Entry” stamp.

For those to be given a final exit visa, the regulations are clear: no employee can file for an exit unless their contract has concluded, if extended sickness benefits haven’t been given, as well as unpaid salaries and allowances. A clearance must be signed both by the worker and the employer. And these must be submitted to the Saudi Ministry of Labor for approval. The approval process requires electronic fingerprinting of the worker, and a background check to see if there are pending police or bank or credit card liabilities. Then it will be forwarded to the Jawasat for stamping as a final exit visa.

It is irresponsible to be alarmist at this point in time. As the Nitaqat rules are further clarified, the most significant development will be that the Iqama, or official identity card depicting an individual as a resident of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will become a basis for determining exit visas and not just the date of the end of contracts.

We understand that what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will apply is that the date for termination will either be the end of contract or the expiration date of the Iqama, whichever comes first. However, some companies may extend the contracts of their workers up to the date of the expiration of the Iqama, if that comes later.

This underscores what Labor Secretary Baldoz has been reassured by her Saudi counterpart: that Filipinos are a valued and welcome labor force in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and that there will be no wholesale disruptions of the labor market or mass expulsions or cancellations of contracts.

The Philippine Embassy and Consulates in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are prepared to render assistance to our fellow citizens, particularly undocumented workers. We urge our fellow citizens to undertake the proper documentation of their identity and work; and for our fellow citizens to be discriminating about so-called information spread by excitable, even malicious, and irresponsible individuals or groups.

To: OFWs bound for TAIWAN

PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION (POEA)

Dear OFWempowerment blog reader,

Sa mga kahanay po natin na mangingibang bansa sa TAIWAN, ang liham po na mababasa ninyo sa ibaba ay sulat  tugon  ni Atty. Josefino N. Naval ng POEA  sa mga katanongan ng ating kahanay na OFW bound for Taiwan.  Sana po ang liham na ito ay makapagbigay kaalaman sa ating mga kapwa OFWs na nais mag-trabaho sa Taiwan. 

Ito po ang sulat ng ating OFWempowerment blog reader:

“good day sir, isa po akong aplikante para sa isang factory sa taiwan at kasalukuyang pinoproseso daw po ng agency  ang aking mga papeles.ang concern ko po ay kung bakit di po sila nagbibigay ng resibo sa mga binayaran namin.tinanong ko po ung kahera kung wala talagang resibo nung nagbayad ako ng downpayment,ang sagot po niya ay “wala”.nangyayari rin po to sa mga kasama kong aplikante.Dapat po naming bayaran ang aabot P130,000 bago makaalis ng Pinas, kung saan nakasaad dun na 52k+ ang para sa placement fee;69k+ ang para sa refferals fee; medical; atbp…Ang pagkakaalam ko po ay maliban po sa placement fee na katumbas ng 1buwan sahod/ d lalagpas sa 45k na bayad ay wala na dapat bayaran sa mga agency, bakit po sila naniningil ng “refferal fee”?.kung para man ito sa mga brokers ng Taiwan, legal po ba yun? ang paghingi nila ng fee maliban sa buwanang babayaran pagdating sa Taiwan?  Hindi ko pa po binabayaran ung halagang 130,000 kaya lang nag-aalala po ako kung tama lang po ba na ganun kalaki ung dapat kong bayaran? tama po bang di muna sila magbigay ng resibo hanggat di buo ung kabayaran? salamat po.”

Kami po ay taos-pusong nagpapasalamat kay Atty. Josefino N. Naval (Chief of Staff) ng POEA sa agarang pagtugon ng aming liham. Siyanawa kayo po at ang inyong buong pamilya ay pagpalain ng poong maykapal.

Gumagalang,

Manuel  Amora

*****

June 7, 2011   

Mr. Manuel A. Amora 

Sir:

Ito po ay hinggil sa mga katanungan ni “Lester of  Beguet”.

1)      Tama po ba na hindi muna sila magbigay ng resibo hanggat hindi buo ang kabayaran?

- Hindi po. Obligasyon po ng recruitment agency na kayo ay bigyan ng kaukulang resibo para sa inyo pong binabayaran at kinakailangang nakasulat sa resibo ang halaga ng inyong ibinayad at “purpose” ng pagbabayad. Marapat na kayo po ay humingi ng kaukulang resibo sa bawat halaga na inyong ibinabayad sa recruitment agency.

2)      Hindi ko po binabayaran ang halagang Php 130,000.00 kaya lang nag aalala po ako kung tama po ba na ganon kalaki ang dapat kong bayaran?

- Ang kabuuang halaga na dapat ninyong bayaran ay hindi lalagpas sa Php 46,000.00 o maximum na po ang Php 47,000.00, depende sa exchange rate ng inyong one-month salary. Ang halaga pong ito ay binubuo ng katumbas ng inyong isang (1) buwang sahod bilang placement fee, at ang mga pre-departure expenses (tulad ng medical examination fee, Philhealth, OWWA membership fee, POEA processing fee, etc.) para sa isang OFW magtatrabaho sa Taiwan. Hindi po tama ang Php 52,000.00 bilang placement fee na sinisingil sa inyo.

Ang “referral fee” po ay hindi kasama sa mga legal na bayarin ng Taiwan-bound OFW at ang broker’s fee po ay hindi minsanang binabayaran bagkus ay may schedule of payments na nakatakda sa pagbabayad nito.

Sa pamamagitan po ng aming tugon sa mga katanungan ni “Lester of Beguet” kami po ay umaasa na nakapagbigay linaw sa kanyang mga nais malaman.

Lubos na gumagalang,

 

ATTY.  JOSEFINO N. NAVAL  (Chief of Staff)