Finding Out Who Among Them – 2016 National Election

In Philippine May 2016 National Election, registered Overseas Absentee Voters should focus on finding out who among in the national candidates for President to Vice President and Senators  worthy of our vote.  

The OFW sector should be well represented by those legislators who are really concerned with issues in relation to the general welfare of Overseas Filipinos or OF. Please note that I referred Overseas Filipinos as Filipino Immigrants with dual citizenship, Filipino migrant workers and land based and seafarers.

Sad to say that there are few OFW supporters in the legislative body  of our government.  In the 16th Congress, the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs are comprised of  35 members, the 4 among them are identified as OFW advocates.  Bills authored and co-authored by those OFW advocates are still pending or referred to another house committee for evaluation. Some of those bills even lasted for 2 to 3 years on their shelves. Undoubtedly, it will never be deliberated or acted upon or even reach on the second reading or be included in the order of business.  Remember, that every House Bills are still subject of Senate action which undergoes the same legislative procedures.

Would the above scenario be corrected? Yes! Why not? The legislator who is an OFW advocate, an author or just a co-author of the bill can influence the members of the committee being referred, to speed up the process by conducting  immediate public hearings on the proposed legislation.  Non-government organizations, expert on migration, OFW/Seafarers organizations (overseas and at home) or individuals whose advocacies focused on the main issues and concerns of OFWs should likewise be pro-active to pressure the members of the committee to move to the next level of the process.  Sorry to say that some of our OFW advocates in the House and the Senate are busy focusing on other matters in their other areas or field of expertise. Some of those bills can be included in the lists of the “Silliest Proposed Laws Philippine Lawmakers Tried to Pass.” 

According to “The Action Guide for Advocacy and Citizen Participation”, Policy advocacy is an initiative to focus exclusively on the policy agenda and a specific policy goal. These advocates usually assume that policy change will produce real change on the ground.

So, in the coming national election, I arrived into a simplest form of identifying those politicians in line with our cause by rating them on how they managed to support on certain OFW issues at the House and the Senate. Others can be identified on how many bills they authored or co-authored during their incumbencies.  How many of those bills signed into law, how many resolutions they filed for the general welfare of Filipinos overseas.   

I personally categorized the following 2016 aspiring candidates at the national level into four (4) categories:        

  1. PRO-OFW – A politician who advocates, argues, defend, participate or justify policies in relation to the general welfare of Overseas Filipinos/ OFWs.
  2. CONSIDERATE –  A politician with a specific position on certain issue or concerns in relation to the welfare of Overseas Filipinos.
  3. MODERATE – A politician whose legislative agendas focused on another field of advocacies and rarely participate on issues and concerns of OFWs. 
  4. UN-RATED –  To be rated or categorize later on.


OFW Political Empowerment 2016

OFW representation in Congress

The Philippine Election 2016 is fast approaching. It will be held on May next year and being at home, I can feel and smell the preparation of some politicians in the surrounding community that I belong. Even in TV ads, some Presidentiables are busy making their own “papogi points” to the public. Of course, it’s part of their strategy to win the public sentiment on national issues at hand.

Talking about OFW Political empowerment, the OFWs were able to get a seat in Congress through the OFW Family Party List group who made it in the last 2013 election. Truly, we are proud that OFWs are finally represented in Congress since 14 years when former Congressman Sid Aligada and  Omar Fajardo were appointed by former President Fidel Ramos to represent OFWs in the Philippine lower house of Congress.

But frankly, I can’t feel of any changes being made or introduced on the various issues of government policies that concerns our OFWs. I am not against Congressman Roy Seneres and in fairness, the good Congressman filed several bills in Congress since he assumed office yet none of them made it to the President’s desk. Surprisingly, I read an online article that he is eyeing for 2016 Presidential election. That, I have so much doubt that he can even reach number  10 in the list of the highest votes for the Presidency. Well, for me 750 thousand votes are not enough to change the course of history from Congress to Presidency. My sincere apology to the former Ambassador, that’s only my opinion and I am entitled to it. However, if the good former Ambassador will stick to where he is now and ask his colleagues in Congress to prioritize his bills, then Sir, you have my one vote again.

OFW Political Empowerment in barangay level


Photo taken from the website of Barangay Info System-Davao

During the 2013 barangay election there were 53,786,223 registered Filipino voters according to COMELEC website It means out of 101 Million Philippine population (taken from  worldometers) half of our population are registered voters.

How many per cent of OFW family comprised a mere barangay?  According to my neighbour who works at the local office of the Philippine Statistics Authority, in one particular barangay in Cebu, OFWs is comprised of 5% of the barangay population. Each family of that 5% population has 4 to 5 family members who are registered voters. Good enough for an OFW (former OFW or OFW family members or relatives) who wants to run as a barangay councilman with a 2,500 votes for a barangay population that consist of 10,000 registered voters.

Perhaps, the continuing saga in our fight for OFW political empowerment must start in barangay level. So, by representing the concerns of OFWs in a barangay or in many barangays around the Philippine archipelago, then the national scene will follow.

According to the April to September 2014 statistical report by Grace Bersales of Philippine Statistics Authority, there was an estimated 2.3 million Overseas Contract Workers (OCWs/OFWs) or those with existing work contract comprised 96.0 per cent (2.2 million) of the total OFWs.  The rest (4.0% or 92,000) worked overseas without contract.

The total of 2,392,000 OFWs plus  five of their families back home can even move a mountain apart to put a President in Malacanang with a total of 11,960,000 votes; near enough to what President Aquino garnered in 2010 presidential election.

Well that’s only a simple presumption, nonetheless  Benjamin Banneker, an African American scientist once said “presumption should never make us neglect that which appears easy to us, nor despair make us lose courage at the sight of difficulties.”

That’s the reason why I am advocating Overseas Absentee Voting registration and requesting those  975,263 Overseas Absentee Voters worldwide to update your voting status, especially to those 237,504 registered voters who failed to vote in the previous Philippine national election.

To my fellow OFWs, talk to your families back home, ask them to participate in the October 2016 barangay election and through them, we can now empower by representing our OFW sector in the barangay level.BongA    

OEC-BM Online Processing


H.E. Ezzedin Tago & Hon. POEA Admin Cacdac

H.E. Ambasador Ezzedin Tago & Hon. POEA Admin Hans Cacdac

During the Filipino Community meeting with DOLE Secretary Baldoz at the Philippine Embassy, the Honorable POEA Administrator Hans Cacdac was with her. Admin. Cacdac announced to the attendees about the POEA OEC-BM Online Processing. It is indeed a good project by the POEA, and I salute POEA Admin Cacdac for this very useful initiative.

 I humbly request our government particularly those agencies overseeing the plight of OFWs to start planning or think something that could be beneficial for us OFWs rather than issuing a Memorandum Circular forcing us OFWs to pay P550 terminal fee in the cost of an airline ticket. 

By the way, thanks to the court ruling last November 19 issued by Judge Tingaraan Guiling of Pasay RTC Branch 109 by declaring MIAA’s Memorandum Circular No. 8 as “unenforceable” for a mere reason that  the Memorandum Circular did not comply with the legal requirement that it must be published in the Official Gazette or any newspaper of general circulation 15 days before its implementation.

I’m sure MIAA will file a motion for reconsideration if allowed by court and I just hope our court will later rule the MC No. 8 with finality that it is “unconstitutional” in violation to Republic Act 10022 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of. 1995) that prohibits the collection of travel tax and terminal fee for OFWs who possess valid Overseas Exemption Certificates.

Back to OEC-BM Online Processing, I tried to apply online but unfortunately the facility only caters OFWs to POEA offices in the Philippines. It means up to this writing, those OFWs who wish to set an appointment for your OEC to POLO offices at the site of employment has yet to be operational online. You can see below screen shot of the online facility in red arrow showing that the said locations are “coming soon”. To those OFWs already in the Philippines, please try to point your location to your areas where you are now and check the availability of the given dates to set an appointment after you’ve done filling out the online form.

Surely it can lessen the waiting time because an OFW has the slot, but just to make sure you’ll be there on time and you have all the necessary documents with you like passport and previous payment receipts as required in obtaining an Overseas Employment Certificate.

To those who haven’t visited the site online, please click this link: OEC Balik-Manggagawa Online Processing  and simply follow the instruction.

Frequently Asked Questions: click here >>>>BALIK-MANGGAGAWA (BM) ONLINE   PROCESSING SYSTEM

To POEA, MABUHAY Kayo! Keep up the good work in the service to OFWs. – BongA


Fig. 1- POEA Appointment Offices outside PHL “Coming Soon”


Fig. 2 – Slots Available in POEA Cebu Office

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.

read more>>>>>

Advisory: OAVs Who Failed to Vote Twice


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.


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:

From DFA-OAVS at

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 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


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


Marhaban and Good Luck! “Philippine Delegation to KSA”


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