Binay to set up foundation for the needs of distressed OFWs

Riyadh, KSA: Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay arrived and tired from Qatar  fulfills his promise to met Filipino Community in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last Friday, April 1, 2011 at Liwasang Bonifacio ground of the Philippine Embassy,  to tackle OFW issues and concerns. But prior to that, Binay visited first the Bahay Kalinga (Filipino Workers Resource Center) to see for himself the real situation of the Filipina distressed workers housed in the mentioned shelter.

Philippine Delegation (seated): Alexander Aguilar of HDMF, former Agusan Del Sur Congressman Rodolfo "Ompong" Plaza, VP Jojo Binay & CDA Ezz Tago.

He vowed to create a foundation that could supplement to the needs of the distressed OFWs in emergency situation such as availability of  funds in securing tickets for immediate repatriation of those OFWs who have already the clearance to leave Saudi Arabia.

During the open forum, he was asked about why  there’s been such a long delay in making the appointment of a new Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom, Binay said “an appointment had already been made but  he can’t reveal it at the moment who the appointee was.” But it was noticed that the Vice President addressed Philippine Embassy Charge D’ Affaires Ezzedin Tago,  as “Ambassador”.  

Binay who is also the Presidential Adviser on OFW Affairs, said that a technical committee in Manila was formed to review the issue of the host country’s temporary ban on deployment of Filipina Household Service Workers. The OFW Congress-Riyadh on the other hand presented to Vice President Binay a letter supporting the temporary ban and perhaps stops sending FHSW in the host country.

FilCom leaders Engr. Eli Mua, Gob Dimalotang, Alex Bello, Jhune Barbadillo

The letter expressed deep concern of our FHSW on their welfare and safety. There are more countless stories that can be shared by our “kababayans” which to them can no longer be erased and will just remain a traumatic experience that will hound them in the remaining years of their lives. The risks  is too much for us to take, although, we are aware that sending these domestic helpers here in the kingdom would somehow decrease the rate  of unemployment in the Philippines and will bring additional dollar remittances to the country  however, we should also try to weigh our concerns.” The letter also challenges the Philippine government and Filipino Community leaders in the kingdom, asking “which is bigger in scope and responsibility? The dollar remittances or their welfare and safety.”  The letter also includes,  expediting the status of those OFWs in Death Rows and working for a possible commutation of their death sentences.

Aside from labor matters, the Vice President is expecting to discuss trade and investment with officials of the Saudi government. The Philippine delegation led by Binay are former Senator Kit Tatad, former Philippine Congress representatives, Apolinario “Jun” Lozada of Negros Occidental and Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza of Agusan Del Sur, Jesus Varela and Alexander Aguilar of Home Development Mutual Fund, former Governor Ben Loong of Sulu, and Binay’s son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay –end-

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True or Not, WE deserve to know

True or not, WE deserve to know

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

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

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

Crime against woman: naked realities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Letter to Pres. Noynoy Aquino

 AN OPEN  LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT  BENIGNO  AQUINO III

Subject: Please include the  OFWs in your agenda for a real change

Mahal na Pangulo,

Ako po ay isang ordinaryong OFW sa bansang Saudi Arabia.  It so happen lang po na naging  isa sa mga lider-komunidad ng mga samahang Pilipino sa Riyadh.

Ako rin po ay naging isa sa inyong mga OFW volunteer nitong nakaraang halalan at convenor ng OFW4Noy24President Movement ( http://ofw4noy24president.wordpress.com/ ) .

Labor Export

 

Hindi ko po alam kung mababasa po ninyo ito, pero ako po ay nagbakasakali na maihatid sa inyong tanggapan ang mga hinaing ng ating mga kababayan sa bansang Saudi Arabia. At maging ideya po ninyo sa mga tunay na nangyayari sa aming hanay. Sana po ay maging  guide po ninyo ito sa maaring hakbang  ng inyong  gobyerno sa pagtulong o pagbalangkas ng batas upang maalagaan ang aming karapatan bilang manggagawang Pilipino sa ibayong dagat.

Hindi po lingid sa inyong kaalaman ang mga hinaing ng mga OFWs lalo na po sa mga bansang sakop sa Gitnang Silangan. Isa napo rito ang pang-aabuso at pagmamaltrato sa ating mga kababaehang Domestic Helper o kasambahay. Nandiyan rin po ang rampant contract substitution na kung saan nababago ang kontrata pagdating sa kaharian.

Napakarami po ng problema namin dito na hindi agarang matugonan ng ating Konsulada at Embahada dahil na rin sa kakulangan ng mga staff na marunong o may alam sa Shariah Law, mga Arabic interpreter at sasakyang magagamit ng ating mga POLO/OWWA staff upang marating agad ang mga tulong sa mga kawawa po nating mga kababayan. Ang pagtalaga ng isang Labor Attache na may alam sa Shariah Law at may alam pati sa kultura at tradisyon ng mga bansa sa Gitnang Silangan.  Ang paglagay ng isang opisina o tanggapan sa paliparan ng kaharian upang ma dokumento ang lahat ng mga detalye ng isang OFW na parating sa kaharian, destinasyon nito, address, pangalan  ng amo ng  OFW  lalong lalo na po sa mga Filipina Domestic Helper.  Ang pag-buo ng isang committee na galing sa administrative department (Executive Branch of Government) ng ating pamahalaan upang mangasiwa sa pagbalangkas ng isang konkretong bilateral labor agreement na may ngipin at lakas upang mapangalagaan ang aming kalagayan, karapatan at kagalingan. Isang OFW Trust Fund from the office of the President, whatever you call it, na kung saan ito ay magagamit para lamang sa mga kinakailangan pinansyal sa mga kaso (labor or criminal case) at sa mga nakulong na kababayan at sa mga takas po naming mga kahanay.   

Ang mga nababangit sa itaas ay maging ganap lamang kung ang namumuno sa ating bansa ay may “political will” wika nga o may malasakit sa aming mga OFW.

Mr. President, WE know  the ever-increasing burdens  on your shoulder, the Filipino people has spoken, your victory in the last election has given  renewed hope and courage to all who have faith in the new government.  WE are asking you Mr. President to please include the  OFWs in your agenda for a real change.

Mahal na Pangulo, kalakip ng liham na ito ay ang mga sulat ng mga bisita na OFW sa  OFWEmpowerment Blog ( http://ofwempowerment.wordpress.com/  ) na kung saan makikita po ninyo ang tunay na mukha ng isang dumaraing na OFW. Ang sulat po na ito ay tatlo lamang sa mga napakaraming problema ng aming mga kahanay.

Siyanawa ay matutulongan mo po sila. Kami po ay umaasa.

Maraming Salamat Po!

Manuel A. Amora – OFW Riyadh

Hanggang Kailan – Until When..

Hanggang Kailan – Until When..

May of this year, news broke out that Saudi Arabia will stop hiring Indonesian workers that includes household helpers. The reason – the cost of recruiting labor from Indonesia is ridiculous. The Saudis spent SR 9000 in getting an Indonesian maid and Indonesian government also asked  for a  SR 375.00 increase of wage in all Indonesian workers coming to the Kingdom.  

On the other hand, Indonesian government banned their warm human bodies to work in Kuwait and up to now the two countries are still exchanging drafts of a Memorandum of Understanding that would help improve the conditions of Indonesian’s working in Kuwait. The Indonesian government promise to lift the ban if the requests to provide more protection of their nationals are written in the MoU.

Early of this year, there were rumors that Saudi government will likewise moving towards stopping the recruitment of housemaids coming from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam for alleged failures to supply qualified housemaids that suit the local culture and tradition.

L.T. Ariyawathi, a 49-year-old Sri Lankan maid

Probably this time it is not Saudi Arabia that will impose the ban but the Sri Lankan government should do the first move after what had happened to L.T. Ariyawathi, a 49-year-old Sri Lankan maid who complained of maltreatment and abused.

Ariyawathi x-rays have shown that she had 24 nails and needles in her body. “They (her employer and his family) did not allow me even to rest. The woman at the house had heated the nails and then the man inserted them into my body,”  Ariyawathi was quoted as saying in the Lakbima, a newspaper published in the local Sinhalese language.

Without Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam as a source of warm human bodies in the Saudi households, there will be more likely Filipina domestic helpers in every Saudi houses in the Kingdom. It means –  Philippine government is happy, the more OFW remittances, the better and merrier.

Believe me this countless sob stories of abused to our Filipina domestic helpers abroad will continue and surely there will be like  L.T. Ariyawathi if the Philippine Government could not come up with concrete measures to protect them.

 In 1998 Saudi Arabia and Philippines enter into less formal bilateral arrangements focused on household helpers such as: that overseas employers must guarantee the safety of the workers and provide human condition in the workplace, give them one day off a week, pay them overtime for work during Friday’s and grant them a two-week annual leave or 30 days upon completion of 2 years. However, we all knew that these agreements based on the mutually agreed employment contract never materialize when the workers arrived at site. The fact that there are many complaints and runaways  housed in Resource Centers and welfare centers in the Gulf countries, the so-called arrangement are not efficiently being implemented.

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council passed a bill  to improve legal protections for the estimated 1.5 million domestic workers in the country, but the measure still falls short of international standards according to Human Rights Watch.

I, personally appeal to Rep. Carlos Padilla and to all the members of the House of the Representatives fact finding committee to move and let your recommendation proceed to the next level of talks among your peers.  A total ban on sending Filipino maids or domestic helpers to the Middle East is the right and concrete move.  

The recommendations was made last year by members of the fact-finding mission after they found out that many of the Filipino maids working in different places in the Middle East were being treated as slaves and were sexually and physically abused.

 “Kailan titigil ang pang-aabuso at kailan matatapos ang kalbaryo, ng mga taong hindi masagot ang mga tanong at walang lakas lumaban…. Hanggang Kailan”

OFW Forum in Industrial Area-Riyadh to tackle Saudi Labor Law

OFW Forum in Industrial Area-Riyadh to tackle Saudi Labor Law
By: Wizbone

19 January, 2010, RIYADH: Alarmed by many complaints on site from Filipino expatriate workers in the Kingdom, a Filipino community organization formed in 2002 in the Industrial Area of Riyadh are conducting a series of forum dubbed as “Know your Rights and Obligations as an OFW in the Kingdom”.

OFW Forum will be held this coming Friday, 22 of January 2010 in the New Islamic Center Auditorium, 2nd Industrial Area, Riyadh at 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Saudi Arabia (KAKAMPI-KSA) decides to re-convene the group task in educating fellow Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in the Kingdom on their rights and obligation as a visitor worker in this oil rich region.

Despite of work related complaints heard from OFWs, Saudi Arabia remained the favorite destination of OFWs comprising 19.8 percent of the total deployed Filipino contract workers around the globe.

Two hands pointing each other's direction is means Equality - “Rights and Obligations” (The Employer-Employee Relationship)

Bong Amora founder of KAKAMPI-KSA said “many of the newly deployed OFWs in Saudi Arabia are in culture shock more specifically on aspects where the host country’s culture, customs and traditions not congruent to the Philippine psyche.”

“The objective of this forum is to impart to OFWs, the Kingdom’s – Islamic Way of Life”. Amora added.

OFW Forum is a joint effort of KAKAMPI-KSA, the New Islamic Center, 2nd Industrial Area under the Directorship of Shk. Mohammad Bin Hamza Al Kurdi and the GUARDIANS NewHope Brotherhood International, Inc. (GNBII).

GNBII Riyadh Chapter  Founder  Luis Cabandez emphasized that “the general goal of the forum is to spread the word as we don’t want more Filipinos to experience what many of us went through in the country whose rules and regulations, policies and labor laws are very different from ours.” “The ultimate purpose of this forum is to guide our kababayans in the right direction as visitors and a foreign worker in the Kingdom.” Cabandez explained. GNBII-Riyadh is a chapter group of GNBII mother organization based in Jeddah.

OFW Forum will illustrate the proper remedial and concrete steps to consider in resolving work related problem on site as well as to avoid systemic constraints and risk of a labor dispute may bring to an OFW.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will educate OFWs about the Kingdom’s Saudi Labor Law. This is in line with POLO/OWWA “On-site Labor Education Program (OLEP)” not only in Riyadh but to other areas in Central and Eastern Region of the Kingdom especially to those places where there are large numbers of OFWs employed.

POLO/OWWA Riyadh is currently headed by Officer in-Charge, Assistant Labor Attache Atty. Cesar L. Chavez, Jr.

A new Labor Attache will be posted soon in Riyadh to replace out-going Labor Attache Resty Dela Fuente.

The Assistance to National Section (ANS) of the Philippine Embassy to be led by Vice Consul Roussel Reyes will also guide the participants regarding the proper procedure or action an OFWs can do to assist fellow OFW in distress, more importantly the run-away.

KAKAMPI-KSA in a statement said “We will also tackle the importance of interpreting the Saudi Labor Law, more particularly to its provisions where rights of OFWs are violated. The Forum also needs to identify recruitment crocodile agencies in the Philippines that only look into their own pocket and not the welfare of the OFWs they deployed.”

Some of the OFWs complain of contract substitution, delayed payment of salaries, poor living conditions, extension of work even after expiration of contract, non-payment of end of service benefits among others.

OFW Forum, “Know your rights and obligations as OFW’s in the Kingdom” is under the auspices of Philippine Embassy in Riyadh. ***

LOCATION MAP:

New Islamic Center (2nd Industrial Area-Riyadh)

OAV Internet Voting and OFW representation – Hoping for the best

OAV Internet Voting and  OFW representation – Hoping for the best

GFN (Global Filipino Nation) a group of a coalition of major Filipino expatriate organizations who drafted the insertion of internet registration and voting said that the proposed amendment of Republic Act 9189 known as Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003 is now pending in the Senate.  The bill contains the new version of allowing Internet voting for overseas Filipinos. 

internet

Internet Vote - OFW Vote

GFN office in Manila spokesperson Connie Gomez Valdes in an email said that  “the bill was technically approved in the Committee on Constitutional Amendments headed by Sen. Chiz Escudero and is being passed around the tables of Senators Loren Legarda, Manuel “Mar” Roxas and  Noynoy Aquino for signature.  Once they have signed, it will be discussed in the Senate.”   

GFN advocates empowering global community of unified Filipinos to proactively participate in their motherland’s mainstream activities particularly the right to vote.  GFN is pursuing the passage of this amendment for the coming May 2010 elections.  GFN led convenor, Asian Leaders 2004 awardee  Mr. Vic Barrios and FilAm community leader Ernie Del Rosario are the two proponents who drafted the insertion of internet registration and voting in the proposed amendment. 

Called GFN Lead Harvesters, they appeal to global Filipinos to help lobbying or pushing for the passage of the amendment before the May 2010 election.   “Since we did not make it happen for the registration period, I appeal to everyone to please help us by writing letters to the senators and congressmen” said Connie Gomez Valdes.

 ”It would be good also to write to your consuls to make them aware that we are on top of the situation” she added.

Internet voting was successfully tested in Singapore last July 20 to August 8 which the Commission on Elections describes as “major step forward” towards the full modernization of Philippine elections.  Being a remote electronic system, OAVs can cast their votes from their homes, workplaces and cyber cafes and voting stations to be set up inside the Philippine embassy.  

Filipino community leader Rudy Nazruddin Dianalan based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and the main proponent of ”internet voting”  during the tripartite meeting of Filipino community in Saudi Arabia  said  “internet voting is the most practical method to maximize the participation of OAVoters in elections.”

Most Overseas Filipinos are far away from diplomatic posts and going to the nearest one to vote entails too much expenses. Like here in Saudi Arabia.  OFWs that are registered as absentee voters can only go either to the embassy in Riyadh or the consulate in Jeddah.

“Of more than one million OFWs in the kingdom, only about ten to fifteen percent are within reasonable distance to the two diplomatic posts here. Spread over a land area about five times larger than the Philippines, most OFWs do not have the means or the motivation to travel a long distance to cast their votes.”  Mr. Dianalan added.

Rudy Nazruddin Dianalan is among called by OFWs in Saudi Arabia to represent the OFWs in the Senate.  Filipino community is hoping that major Philippine political parties will include OFW stalwarts in their Senate slate.

“Assuming a crack at the senate, my advocacy shall center on the protection of OFWs from recruitment to worksite, the welfare of their families left back home, strengthening the ties of Overseas Filipinos to the Philippines and their reintegration, and enhancing a global Filipino nation.” He said.

Mr. Dianalan is the Chairman Emeritus of KASAPI,   duly recognized federated and coalesced alliance of Filipino community organizations in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  He was one of those who hardly fought that  OFWs should be represented in Congress.  

Among the names eyed to represent OFWs is Susan “Toots” Ople, the daughter of the late Sen. Blas F. Ople.

She served in the Senate in 1987 as media relations officer of Senator Ernesto Herrera.  In 1989, the Citizens’ Drug Watch Foundation was created with Herrera as president and Susan as executive director.  When the late Sen. Ople was designated Foreign Affairs Secretary, he brought Susan with him as chief of staff.  It was during her stint at the DFA that Susan became deeply involved in human trafficking and OFW cases.  In 2004, after  Senator Ople  died, Susan Ople was appointed Undersecretary of Labor and Employment.

Since the 1970s, the issue of Overseas Filipino Workers welfare has become one of the primary concerns of the government. However, in spite of efforts to provide protection, benefits, and programs to address their welfare, there are still many OFWs that have become victims of various circumstances and abuses from their foreign employers.

In 1992, the Party List Act of the Philippines was signed into law.  However, the implementing rules of the Party List Act came very late and the  then newly elected President, Fidel V. Ramos, appointed party-list representatives from several recognized sectors, like labor, business, cooperatives, teachers, OFWs, and others.

Ramos also appointed two OFW sectoral representatives in Congress, from the ranks of  OFWs  in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  

But many say the failure of OFW sectoral representation in Congress was because the representation itself did not enjoy the mandate of the OFW sector they are supposed to represent.

In 1995 up to now many OFW party lists tried their luck to participate in the last elections, not even one of them  garnered the mandatory requirement in number of votes needed to be able to nominate a representative to Congress. 

Now, that unity is too elusive to achieve, the OFWs will try the upper House of Philippine Congress, the Senatehoping for the best.  

By: Bong Amora

Related Post : The continuing saga towards OFW Empowerment

Pass the Senate and House Bill amending R.A. No. 8042

nograles

Speaker Prospero C. Nograles consults with leaders of the various Filipino communities in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who raised, among others, the need for faster facilitation by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration of services relative to OFW Welfare, and licensure renewals by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC). The Speaker, together with his official delegation composed of Deputy Speaker Simeon Datumanong, Reps. Munir Arbison, Yusop Jikiri, Nur Jaafar and Mujiv Hataman, have assured the OFW leaders that their concerns, including better OFW representation abroad, will be taken into consideration and their suggestions be thoroughly studied. The common sentiment is to strengthen OWWA's programs and be more responsive to the needs of OFWs. Additional OWWA action desks in embassies and consulates are also being pursued. Saudi Arabia is the second home of more than one million Filipinos.

Philippine lawmakers are expected to arrive in Riyadh on November 5, 2009. They are on their working trip to Middle East for a series of consultation meeting with Filipino Community, Philippine Embassy officials and Philippine government agencies overseeing the plight of OFWs.

They are members of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) to conduct congressional hearing among Filipino Community leaders in Riyadh on issues concerning  OFW grievances and complains. 

However, as of this writing, I haven’t yet heard from fellow community leaders of an invitation from Philippine Embassy/POLO/OWWA  to attend such important event. The visiting lawmakers are Representatives Luz Ilagan, Carlos Padilla, and Rufus Rodriquez.

The House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) has the jurisdiction to tackle all matters directly and principally relating to policies and programs on the promotion and protection of the rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workers and their families.  The 14th Congress COWA is Chaired by Rep. Manuel  Zamora consisting  35 Committee members namely:  Five Vice Chairman, Lagman, Edcel, Gatchalian, Rex, Labadlabad, Rosendo and Romulo, Roman. Members of the Majority are Magsaysay, Ma. Milagros,De Guzman, Del , Estrella, Conrado III,Bichara, Al Francis,San Luis, Edgar,Sy-Alvarado, Ma. Victoria,Robes, Arturo,Roman, Herminia,Chong, Glenn,Codilla, Eufrocino Sr.,Alcala, Proceso,Cajayon, Mary Mitzi,Amatong, Rommel,Bonoan-David, Ma. Theresa, Dela Cruz, Jonathan, and Arroyo, Ma. Lourdes. For the Minority are Ilagan, Luzviminda,Villanueva, Emmanuel Joel, and Hataman, Mujiv.

If Philippine Embassy will invite me to the consultation/hearing and be given a chance to talk in front of the Honorable Lady and Gentlemen from the Philippine House of Representative, I will lobby for the immediate approval of House Bill 05649 or  Senate Bill 3286 and it should be signed into law before the May 2010 election.  

House Bill 05649:  “The Standards of Protection and Assistance For Migrant Workers Act” is an act guarantees the protection of the rights of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are to be deployed only in countries where labor and social laws protecting workers’ rights, adherence to conventions, declarations and resolutions, and bilateral agreements or arrangements are existing and guaranteed. Principal author of the bill is Rep. Manuel Zamora. It was approved on 2nd Reading dated 2009-02-03 and approved on third reading dated 2009-02-04 with the followingvotes Yes = 127, No = 0, Abstain = 0.

The abovementioned bill is a counterpart bill under Senate Bill 3286 known as an “Act amending R.A. No. 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers Act of 1995, as amended, further improving the standard of protection and promotion of the Welfare of Migrant Workers, their Families and Overseas Filipino Workers in Distress and for other purposes.”  The legislative status of the bill is for recommendation for approval pending before the  “Senate and House Conference Committee” since August 17, 2009.

Above House Bill 05649 is a consolidated bill substituting the following House Bills:

HB00628 –  “Establishment of a legal attaché office in every country in the Middle East to provide free legal assistance to Filipino migrant workers in need of legal aid or in crisis or difficult situation”. The bill was authored by Rep. Judy Syjuco.

HB00700 – “Act Setting Higher Standards of Protection of Migrant Workers”. Authored by Rep. Rexlon Gatchalian, the bill prohibits the issuance of a work permit to a country where there is no existent guarantee for the protection of the rights of migrant workers.  Bill Status: House agreed to the request for a conference made by the Senate.

HB00769 – “An Act Setting Higher Standards of Protection of Migrant Workers and their Families”. Authored by Rep. Arthur Pingoy, Jr. The proposed bill is an act to institute policies of Overseas Employment and establish higher standards of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers, their families and Overseas Filipinos in distress.

HB04783 – “An Act Improving the Protection of Migrant Workers, amending for the Purpose Section 4 of R.A. No. 8042. The bill was principally authored by Rep. Edgardo Chatto.

HB00699 – “Act Providing for the Selection of Additional Memberships in the Boards of the POEA and the OWWA, amending for such Purpose Republic Act 8042. Authored by Rep. Rexlon Gatchalian.

There are 41 House Bills and Resolutions currently referred to the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) found at Philippine House of Representative official website.  Several  of this House Bills seek to amend R.A. 8042 known as Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.  These bills are currently on hold pending deliberations and approval by both the House and the Senate.

Relevant House Bills intended for the promotion, welfare and protection of Overseas Filipinos are the following:

NO. HB00819 - Principal author:  Rep. Judy Syjuco. The bill provides for the abolition of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and for the transfer of their functions to the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers. Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION.

NO. HB03115 – Principal Author: Rep. Bienvenido Abante, Jr. “Overseas Domestic Helpers Act”, the bill aims to determine the countries where maltreatment and abuse of overseas Filipino workers is rampant and to ban their development to these countries. Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on OVERSEAS WORKERS AFFAIRS.

NO. HB04310 – Principal author Re. Narciso Santiago III. “Migrant Worker’s Retirement Act of 2008” establishes a retirement fund that shall provide social security protection to OFWs and their beneficiaries for contingencies resulting in loss of income due to inability to find another employment overseas due to old age, disability and/or sickness. Principal Author Rep. Rexlon Gatchalian, co-authored by Rep. Narciso Santiago III, Rep. Arnulfo Go. Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on OVERSEAS WORKERS AFFAIRS.

NO. HB04845 – Principal author: Rep. Narciso Santiago, III. “Left-Behind Households of OFWs Act of 2008″, that seeks the establishment of OFW family centers that shall provide welfare assistance and counseling services to the families left-behind by OFWs. Also directs the OWWA to develop a program for the re-unification and reintegration of returning OFWs. Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on OVERSEAS WORKERS AFFAIRS.

NO. HB05621 – Principal Author:  Rep Rufus Rodriguez. “Overseas Contract Workers Insurance Act”, seeks to protect and ensure the welfare of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) by providing them compulsory welfare insurance program in addition to the benefits being provided by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on OVERSEAS WORKERS AFFAIRS.  

NO. HB05657 – Principal author: Rep. Satur Ocampo. “An act expanding Legal Services to Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos in Distress”. Seeks to expand the legal assistance the Philippine government presently extends to migrant workers and overseas Filipinos, both documented and undocumented, in distressful situations abroad, particularly those who are incarcerated in the Middle East on account of lack of access to Shariah lawyers and other specific legal concerns. Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on OVERSEAS WORKERS AFFAIRS. *End*

By: Bong Amora

Read Related Postings:   

Proposed Amendment of R.A. 8042 

Amend R.A. 8042 

Migrant Workers Day - Nothing to Celebrate  

OFW’s opposed newly appointed OWWA Board

The OFW Journalism Consortium: A Reader’s View

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

(click OFJCI Logo to view their Site

(click OFJCI Logo to view their Site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Converging Filipino Diaspora Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development

Converging Filipino Diaspora Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development

A conference of Filipino organizations in the Netherlands entitled “Converging Filipino Diaspora Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development” will be held on November 2, 2007. Prior to the said conference the participants will be having a preliminary conference on October 29 to 30 dubbed as “The Filipino Expert’s Meeting”.

Damayan

Damayan

The general objective of the conference is to develop a common agenda towards harnessing the development potentials of migration and underline the importance of the contribution of the migrant and overseas Filipinos to the development of the Philippines, emphasizing the better use of their remittances, skills and acquired knowledge.

The participants will include Filipino organizations, especially those involved in development projects, other migrants groups based in the Netherlands and Dutch institutions concerned with migration and development. Representatives of Filipino networks from other European countries as well as from North America, Asia, Middle East and from the Philippines is also part of the conference.

Filipino resource persons will shed light on the current situation of the Philippines on a number of relevant themes related to migration and development. A Panel of Reactors composed of migrant and overseas Filipinos will share their specific responses and current initiatives.

Habagat

Habagat

Invited guest include Senator Kiko Pangilinan to speak on the role and impact of the contribution of the Filipino diaspora to the development of the Philippines. Ms. Djahlia Sitti, of the Moro Human Rights Center, a young Moro leader, will focus on the role of women in development within the context of peace-building. Writer, poet and artist Ms Mila D. Aguilar will share her insights on the evolution of Filipino culture, the current challenges in the Philippines and entrepreneurial mass movement as a response. Congressman Mujib Hataman, Anak Mindanao Party list representative will share his view on good governance in the light of the current situation of the Bangsa Moro people.

Oxpam

Oxpam

Other invited speakers are; Dovelyn Rannveig Agunias of Migration Policy Institute, Washington , DC, Leila Rispens-Noel Programme Officer, Popular Campaigning Oxfam Novib, The Netherlands, Mai Anonuevo Atikha, Philippines and Prof. Rolando G. Talampas University of the Philippines.

Guests includes Burgemeester Job Cohen the Mayor of Amsterdam, H.E. Ambassador Romeo A. Arguelles, Philippine Embassy and Minister Bert Koenders of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Alex Veloso Bello, the President of OFW Congress-Riyadh is representing OFWs from Middle East.

The conference is a project of Habagat Foundation in cooperation with Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland, Bisayang Daku Network and core-OFW.

Habagat is a foundation put up in 1993 by Dutch citizens of Filipino origin, specifically from Mindanao. It believes in the potentials of the migrants as agents of change and development both in their countries of origin as well as in their host countries. This vision has been reflected in its lobby and advocacy efforts in synergy with various migrant and overseas Filipino networks. It has also initiated and supported development projects both in the Philippines and other developing countries, like Nepal. Its partners include migrant organizations and migrant-related institutions both in the Netherlands and elsewhere. On top of this, it has closely monitored the Mindanao situation. Aside from peace-information drives for Mindanao in the past almost 20 years, it has sent a Peace Delegation to the Philippines in December 2006 in partnership with the Multicultural Women Peacemakers Network in the Netherlands.

Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland or Damayan was registered as an organization of Filipino migrants in 1986. It is committed among others, to support initiatives of people’s organizations in the Philippines as well as to facilitate exchanges between Dutch organizations and Philippine-based groups. It has conducted and supported campaigns on migrant rights, social participation and integration as well as rallied against trafficking of women and violence at home. It has participated in various migrant lobby and advocacy work like the Absentee-Voting, Ratification of the UN Convention for the Protection of the Rights of the Migrants and their Families. Currently, in close cooperation with the local government of Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental and in partnership with community-based organizations, it has started the project Maria Goes To Town -this is establishing a market place functional to a number of neighboring villages. At the same time, it has supported a number of children to school, again in cooperation with the local governments, people’s organizations and public school officials in North Cotabato and Davao areas.

The Bisayang Daku Network or BisDak NL was established in early 1990’s among the Visayan-speaking migrant Filipinos in the Netherlands.. It has organized benefit activities to provide an occasion for the Filipino to meet and promote Filipino culture. Through these activities, BisDak raises funds for small-scale community projects in Southern Philippines.

The core-Overseas Filipinos Worldwide (Core-OFW) is a think tank of concerned individuals, migrant organizations, NGOs and other members of civil society based in Philippines, USA and Europe, each with different fields of expertise and affiliations. Its activities are facilitated by those based in the Netherlands where some of its active members come from.

Note:

For this entry and information, my heartfelt thanks to the Conference Secretariat headed by Grace Cabactulan, Habagat Foundation, Chairperson Stichting Habagat and Basco Fernandez of the Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland.

Global Filipino Nation for Effective Governance

International Conference

“Building the Global Filipino Nation for Effective Governance”

May 8-11, 2008

THE PREPARATION

JULY 28, 2007 PLANNING CONFERENCE ON:

BUILDING THE GLOBAL FILIPINO NATION FOR EFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE

Former  Gen. Comendador  & Mr. Mike Bolos

Former Gen. Comendador & Mr. Mike Bolos

Over a period of more than one year starting in early 2006, various organizations in the overseas Filipino community have proposed to hold an international conference in 2008 to mobilize overseas Filipinos (OFs), their families and groups aligned with them into a force for governance change. As a result of a series of consultative exchanges among Filipino leaders at home and abroad, the focus evolved into the agreed theme of “Building the Global Filipino Nation for Effective Governance“, planned to be taken up during an International Conference on May 8-11, 2008.

The Attendees

The Attendees

The initial group of about a dozen potential planning conference participants quickly expanded to include a list of over 5 dozen participants, affiliated with more than 60 stakeholder organizations, who expressed keen interest in actively participating in the planning conference. The diversity of the backgrounds, ideologies and goals of the participants made the conference management a seemingly daunting task, with representation among the academe, think tanks, peasant groups, labor, media, grassroots organizers, business, banking and investments, consulting, OFW/migrant rights advocacy, youth, indigenous peoples, foundations and law. It was felt that, while having a large group planning the conference posed a challenge in maintaining manageability, a greatly enlarged circle of participants could pave the way for much broader range of committed stakeholders. It was against that backdrop that a whole-day Planning Conference was held on July 28, 2007 at the AIM Conference Center, Makati City.

The Group

The Group

The Planning Conference organizers wish to extend their deep appreciation to all of those who were directly involved with the preparation for the conference, contributed valued inputs to the logical frameworks for the conference modules, extended networking assistance, actively led or participated in the plenary sessions and workshops, offered insightful comments, rendered rapporteurial support and provided financial support. 

Special thanks are owed to the efficient Conference Secretariat, led by Mesdames Lanie B. Aquino and Nelia Lim.

Taken From: Aide Memoire: July 28, 2007, Planning Conference on: Building the Global Filipino Nation for Effective Governnance.

Open Letter of Appeal to Pres. GLoria M. Arroyo

Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Dear Madam President:

We are writing to you today to raise our concern over the continued appreciation of the peso to a level which is now hurting each and every one of us Overseas Filipinos and our families.

The following realities will help you appreciate the predicament we are in:

1) While our salaries during the last few years remained the same, our cost of living here in the Kingdom, like anywhere else, have increased.  This means less income available for remittance to our families back home;

US Dollar

US Dollar

2) The situation became worse when the peso appreciated from 55 to 45 versus US dollar during the last ten months.  The continued peso appreciation effectively reduced the value of our remittances by an average of 18%;

3) On the other hand the rising prices of commodities back home, which ironically should have decreased due to the strengthening of the peso, aggravated further the already worsening situation;

4) We estimate that with the 18% reduction in the value of our remittances plus, say a 10% increase in household expenses of families back home, an OFW who used to remit $300 monthly, will now have to send $405 to maintain his family’s current living standard. To be able to do this, he will have to work longer hours and/or tighten his belt.

5) For those of us who have planned to go back home for good within the next couple of years, will now have to reconsider our plans, and might have to extend our stay here in the Kingdom for a few more years.

Philippine Peso

Philippine Peso

We believe that a strong peso will help improve our country’s balance of payments, and allow the government to service the country’s debts at a lower cost.  However, we also believe that the gains the government will earn from its debt servicing agreements must not be at the expense of those providing those benefits.  It must not be at the expense of us Overseas Filipinos and our families.

We therefore respectfully request your good Office to look into ways and means to mitigate the negative impact of the continuing dollar decline on our remittances. Please ask the appropriate officials in your cabinet to study how the following alternatives may be implemented:

A.    Special exchange rate for OFW remittances:

B.     Peg the Peso - Dollar exchange rate at P50 to $1;

C.    Creation of an OFW Stabilization Fund, like the one proposed for the export sector;

D.    Provision of incentives or rewards based on the amount of OFW remittance, in order to encourage OFWs to continue remitting the same amount to their families.

We believe that with enough political will, your good Offices will be able to find a solution to this problem which is most equitable to all affected parties.

Thank you for your time, and may God bless you and your family.

Respectfully Yours,

 

THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY LEADERS IN RIYADH

OFW Families in local governance

Every visit in my province when I’m home, I noticed newly constructed big houses in the countryside like in barrios or barangay that caught my attention whenever I had the chance to traveled Cagayan and Butuan. My beloved hometown in particular, I haven’t seen such nice houses in those areas way back in my younger years.

In every inquiries I made, who are the owners of these big houses? Only one common reply I’ve heard, “owned by seaman” or “owned by an ofw” or an “overseas Filipino”.

Thinking aloud lately how important the Overseas Filipinos contribution in nation building more importantly in our local economy. It’s just a simple logic, when the beneficiary receive the remittances from an OFW/Overseas Filipino, they will buy their basic necessities in the area, the local businesses benefited from it, the local government revenue goes up from the taxes derived from those acquired items, materials or properties by the OF/OFWs.

But not all OFWs (sea or land based) are lucky, some goes home empty handed and no savings at all and therefore needs help from the community or local government that once her/his remittances shared an important part in uplifting its local economic condition.

Nasipit Town Hall (Agusan Del Norte)

Nasipit Town Hall (Agusan Del Norte)

How can our local government or WE be of help to our not so lucky OFW returnees dubbed by our Government “Bagong Bayani”? As what I’ve said our Government Reintegration Program for our returning OFWs is just a drop in a bucket. Only very few had succeeded, not to mention that there are still requirements needed in exchange to avail such livelihood program.

What we need is a political mandate, OFW families should have a say in our local government structure or governance. We should be given a voice in determining the exact needs of our fellow OFWs and their families. There a lot of avenues we can contribute if we have the political mandate to get involve and have our views be heard for the purpose of crafting policies beneficial for our sector and social change in general.

It is about time, please join with us in our long quest for OFW/OF political empowerment.

****

Allow me to take this opportunity to congratulate Davao Councilor Peter Lavina an OFW advocate for having been re-elected as Davao City Councilor along with newly elected Vice Mayor Sara Duterte and come backing councilors Tomas Monteverde III, Myrna Dalodo-Ortiz and Tessie Mata-Maranon, and first-termers Edgar Ibuyan, John Louie Bonguyan, Samuel Bangoy, Karlo Bello and Rachel Zozobrado.

Councilor Peter Lavina in his privilege speech during the farewell session at the City Council on the rising value of the Peso which hurts Davao’s export sector, tourism and OFW families, he said “The government has embarked on a relief plan for the exports industry with an initial $1 Million Dollar hedge fund by the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines. I asked, what about the lowly OFW families?”

Daghang Salamat! Konsehal sa walang sawang suporta sa aming hanay. Mabuhay Ka!

Proposed Amendment of R.A. 8042

newsOnline news item this morning  brightens up my day.

Bicameral Committee on Labor and Employment of both House in Congress met yesterday about the proposed law that will replace Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.

Though, for me the right word is to amend some provisions not replacing the law.  

The said proposal seeks to strengthen safeguards for overseas Filipino workers. Relevant provisions mandates the POEA to deploy workers “only to countries where the Philippines has concluded bilateral labor agreement or arrangements” provided they guarantee the protection of Filipino migrant workers’ rights and comply with international laws and standards.

phil.cong

Philippine House of Congress

I’ve been writing and very vocal with regards to the welfare of our ordinary OFWs particularly our Filipina Household helpers. Their abusive conditions and absence of the concrete protection of their basic human rights in the host countries they’re in is highly at risk. And in spite of the new policy that governs the deployment of FDH, we still have to deal with primarily on how to prevent violation of our rights in a foreign country where laws and policies were  different from ours.

Bilateral Labor Agreements between sending and receiving countries actually were there for many years now. But it cannot be fully implemented due to the fact that some countries don’t recognize or comply international laws and standards pertains to migrant workers rights. Our Government even admitted that R.A. 8042 that provides selective deployment have difficulties to implement the policy since the demand was for unskilled workers.

To give POEA an iron hand by the mandate of a concrete new law could probably ease our burdens when it comes to abuses and maltreatment of our ordinary OFWs;  and their human dignity be fully protected. 

On the other hand, the committee should give ample time to deliberate and study the proposed salient provision “reversing  the long-standing but unimplemented policy to phase out the POEA and allow private labor recruiters to regulate themselves”. Perhaps my friend  Jun Aguilar  could enlighten us on this proposed provision. – BongA

Transnational Philanthropy 2

wowowee

wowowee

Watching Philippine game shows on TV is one of the alternative means of easing homesickness away from home. Being an OFW, I am hypocrite if I will not say that I am a fan of  “Wowowee” game show aired at night in KSA hosted by Willie Revillame.  I watched the show not exactly for the game, but for Willie’s corny jokes that made me smile. No offend to Willie, he is a good funny host not to mention that “Wowowee” in general helps many of our poor constituents dreaming of an instant hope.  

What actually fascinates me is the presence of TFC subscribers and foreigners everyday who contributed much for the success of the widely watch noontime TV game show at home.  And I considered that the game show is use as an instrument of God’s kindness to those really in needs. Many will disagree with me; however, if the game of chance is truly meant for the poor then it is God’s given grace.  

UFWCD Global Officers at Manila Pen

UFWCD Global Officers at Manila Pen

Indeed, God touches the heart of every TFC subscribers to share a little of their blessing to others. One time I saw a group of Filams named Filipino American Movement for Empowerment (FILAMME) shared a monetary contribution for one of Willie’s project intended for the poor people in the provinces. Others give instant cash in dollars to contestants whom they feel worthy to receive such monetary help.

UFWCD and good donations to typhoon victims in Caramoan town particularly Baranggay Bical, Gata, Haponan, and Gibgos

UFWCD donated goods to typhoon victims in Caramoan town particularly Baranggay Bical, Gata, Haponan, and Gibgos

Sharing God’s blessings to others whatever small things it maybe is a fulfillment; and heavens rewards is happiness and contentment in life. Like my previous entry Transnational Philanthropy, there are many OFWs, Filipino Migrant Workers, individuals or groups around the globe who give back something to their place of origin or lend a hand to our less fortunate kababayans.

Last year’s typhoon that shattered many barangays in Albay left many homeless; and our displaced kababayans has found a new kindhearted friends from the ranks of the Overseas Filipino Community. The group “United Filipinos Worldwide for Community Development” formerly known as “Filipinos Worldwide for Better Philippines” whose members are Migrant Filipinos/OFWs coming from South Korea, Canada, Germany, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the globe and at home, personally visited Caramoan town particularly Baranggay Bical, Gata, Haponan, and Gibgos and handed out goods and other items for our less fortunate brothers and sisters in the said areas.

UFWCD handed over cash donations to the Sisters and Administrators of the Tala Leprosarium in Cavite

UFWCD handed over cash donations for our less fortunate brothers and sisters at Tala Leprosarium in Cavite

Prior to their visit to Albay, the group which is now in the process of incorporating their existence with SEC as a non-profit organization, handed over cash donations to the Sisters and Administrators of the Tala Leprosarium in Cavite.    

More power! To the Global Officers and members of “UNITED FILIPINOS WORLDWIDE for COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT” and to all Overseas Filipinos.  -BongA

To quote “The essence of giving would not sound as important unless you believed in something more important than us“.

International Human Rights Day

Poverty is a cause and a product of human rights violations

 

It is this double edge that makes poverty probably the gravest human rights challenge in the world. The links between human rights and poverty should be obvious:  People whose rights are denied-victims of discrimination or persecution, for example- are more likely to be poor. Generally they find it harder or impossible to participate in the labour market and have little or no access to basic services and resources. Human Rights and Poverty  

 

To: Migrant Workers around the Globe.

 

Today, December 10, 2006 is “International Human Rights Day

 

International Convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families; Part III: Human Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, Article  13.2 states: 

 

Migrant workers and members of their families shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art or through any other media of their choice“.

We Need Your Support

The recent moved by the Filipino Community around the Kingdom requesting PGMA and PAL to resume its flight to and from Manila to the Kingdom should be given utmost attention and necessary action without hesitation from the part of the Government and PAL.

The main issue in here is our national pride and our Government particularly the DOTC and the RP Air panel should look for a better chance by bringing it on top of the negotiating table with KSA authorities.

Securing the necessary rights to operate Manila-Dubai-KSA flights is I think attainable if the government and PAL will take the issue seriously.

PAL-Flying High

PAL-Flying High

WE NEED YOU BACK!!!

I just received a call this morning from a friend Engr. Noel Junto informing me about how our kababayan nurses in Jeddah supported the move and happily sign the said Letter Request inside their buses going for work. Hoping that others will do the same.

Our heartfelt gratitude to all the prime movers of this endeavor, the KASAPI Congress-Jeddah, OFW Congress-EP and OFW Congress-RUH particularly Mr. Adbul Jaafar Dimaloang (Phil. Moslem Overseas Workers Association) who stand and fight the negative feedbacks we received during the launching of the signature campaign at the Philippine Embassy.

WE will try our best to gather many signatures as we can and WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!

4th AJG Advocacy

Center for Migrant Advocacy

Center for Migrant Advocacy

 The Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) announces the 4th Dr. Alfredo J. Ganapin Advocacy Round Table Discussion on the Practical Social and Legal Remedies to Address the Needs of Families Abandoned by Overseas Filipino Workers on December 15, 2006; Friday, 9:00-12:00 noon at the University Hotel, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

For this last forum for the year, the AJG Advocacy will focus on the impact of migration on the families, women and children left behind. The RTD aims:

1) To better understand and address the issue of family abandonment vis a vis labor migration

2) To know how the various government migration-related agencies approach and address the problems

3) To identify the gaps in existing laws, policies and practices vis OFW family abandonment and financial support

4) To come up with concrete practical social and legal remedies to family abandonment by OFWs as well as concrete support programs to woman parents/spouses left behind.

CMA-FES invited various migrant-oriented government agencies to share their responses and approaches to the issue.

Atty. Henry Rojas

Atty. Henry Rojas

CMA/FES invited two resource persons to start off the discussions:

Atty. Farah G. Decano, Chairperson, Committee on Children, Women and Family Relations, Sangguniang Panlunsod, Dagupan City – to expound on existing laws, policies and practices to address family-women- and -children related issues and concerns.

Atty. Henry S. Rojas, CMA Legal Counsel and Founding Member, Lawyers’ League for Liberty (Libertas)- an association of young lawyers committed to judicial and social reforms – to integrate the dimension of migration in the discourse and identify the gaps in the laws vis realities.

Read Background Information.

Veloso Clan supports OFWC-RUH initiative

Atty. Orlando Veloso Remullo (Board Member of Masbate), OFW Congress-Riyadh President Alex Veloso Bello, Justice Ching Veloso, Rep. Antonio Cuenco, Rep. Matin Veloso Loreto Petilla (1st District, Leyte) and Sandy Javier (owner of Andoks chicken).

Atty. Orlando Veloso Remullo (Board Member of Masbate), OFW Congress-Riyadh President Alex Veloso Bello, Justice Ching Veloso, Rep. Antonio Cuenco, Rep. Matin Veloso Loreto Petilla (1st District, Leyte) and Sandy Javier (owner of Andoks chicken).

 

Veloso Clan supports OFWC-RUH Initiative

In the Board Meeting of the Veloso Clan at Shangrila Hotel, Makati last 31 May 2006, the President of OFW Congress-Riyadh, Mr. Alex Veloso Bello presented a copy to the Veloso Clan the OFWC-RUH 10 Point recommendation submitted to GMA during her visit in Riyadh,KSA. The said recommendations were unanimously supported by the attendees including Rep. Antonio Cuenco of Cebu and Rep. Matin Veloso Loreto Petilla of Leyte 1st District. The members of the Veloso Clan from Government sector assured Mr. Alex Veloso Bello (OFW Sector) that they would look deeper into the concerns and welfare of the OFWs based on the recommendation presented.

Rep. Matin Veloso Petilla Loreto, 1st district and Rep. Carmen Cari of 5th District of Leyte requested Ms. Vangie Veloso Filamor, head of OWWA Region 8 to provide them a copy (data base) of all OFWs in their respective district.

Gov. Icot Petilla of Leyte on the other hand will also launch a project LIBRENG TAWAG for OFW’s & their families in LEYTE in the early part of 3rd quarter of this year.

xxx

Taken from the report (email) of the OFWC-RUH President to OFWC-RUH Sec. Gen

Ten Point Recommendation

H.E. Ambassador Antonio Villamor and OFW Congress-Riyadh Execon member and other Filcom Leaders

H.E. Ambassador Antonio Villamor and OFW Congress-Riyadh Execon members and other Filcom Leaders

The Ten Point Recommendation of Filipino Community Leaders in Riyadh (see related link below Joint Resolution #OFWC06-002)initiated by OFW Congress to be presented in the forthcoming visit of PGMA to the Kingdom was submitted in advance to Special Envoy to Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Tony Villamor yesterday, 5 of May 2006 at Al Mutlaq Hotel, Riyadh.

Various community organizations presided by Alex Veloso Bello of the OFW Congress-Riyadh attended the forum. The said Ten Point Recommendations was read by MAA and was then approved by the attendees by affixing their respective signatures manifesting their support to the Joint Resolution of the 21 Executive Council Members of OFWC and 16 participating groups.

with Francis Oca discussing the proposed OFW Bank

with Francis Oca discussing the proposed OFW Bank

During the meeting, a resolution was also adopted and approved by the majority of the original 21 EXECON members of OFWC, accepting 10 new member organizations. The OFWC will now have 31 Executive Council that would decide in any advocacies the group will undertake concerning vital issues affecting the rights, welfare and economic well being of the OFWs, more particularly in the Kingdom.

The Joint Resolution that was officially agreed is more on the issues pertains to the plight of our distressed OFWs. It urge the President to give more attention for the speedy resolution of pending labor cases as well as early repatriation of those resolve cases of our female and male stranded workers. Other concerns such as Reintegration Program for returning OFWs as well an appeal to the President to reconsider her order for the transfer of 1 Billion Pesos OWWA Fund to Phil. Postal Bank and in lieu thereof, the creation of an OFW Bank that OFWs can call their own, where implementing mechanisms is for the best interest of the Filipino migrant workers sustained by a legislative measure.

H.E. Ambassador Villamor

H.E. Ambassador Villamor

Prior to the meeting proper, Filcom leaders had their breakfast exchanging conversation with the good Ambassador who arrived earlier than expected. A nice indication that -the would be Ambassador- is worthy to his call as the new Father of the OFWs in the Kingdom.

In the meeting proper each Filcom leaders were given a few minutes to introduce themselves as well as what organization are they represented. Each leaders give a warm Welcome to His Excellency in which in return gave his remarks after MAA made a short introduction of who is Ambassador Tony Villamor.

In his message, he made an assurance that problems of the OFWs will be taken care of with utmost attention if ever he will be given the privilege to serve the OFWs in the Kingdom. *** BongA

Senate Bill 639

The issue of the transfer of 1 Billion OWWA Fund to Phil. Postal Savings Bank was opposed by many OFWs. The Overseas Filipino Workers Congress-Riyadh is one of the many groups who believe that the transfer is not in the best interest of the OFWs in general.

One of the several solutions that we proposed is that – if there is really a transfer of fund as what PGMA recently announced, it must be in a form of a legislative measure where we can see the implementing guidelines, rules and its mechanisms.

Last April 16, 2006, the OFWC wrote a letter to Senator Manuel Villar, Jr. on the proposed Senate Bill 639 he authored re: creation of Phil. Overseas Workers Bank for us to evaluate the said bill and in order to determine whether it is for the best interest of the Migrant Filipinos.

Below is his reply through the office of his Legislative Officer Reesa Novella and kindly see attached link for the full text of SB 639.

***

villar

28 April 2006

Mr. Manuel Amora
Secretary General
Overseas Filipino Workers Congress
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Dear Sec. Gen. Amora:

We would like to extend our warm greetings to the Overseas Filipino Workers Congress in Riyadh and the entire Saudi Arabia.

We are in receipt of your letter dated 16 April 2006 requesting for a copy of Senate Bill No. 639 or the Philippine Overseas Workers Bank. Attached is a soft copy of the bill which seeks to address the Filipino overseas workers various financial needs and concerns and further enhance their investment potential.

Thank you very much for your interest in the bill. We will appreciate if you could send us your comments about it.

Our office is always more than willing to help our OFWs.

Sincerely:

Manny Villar

GMA Visit

Our organization Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Saudi Arabia (KAKAMPI-KSA) received an official invitation letter yesterday 25 April 2006 from the office of (POLO-Riyadh) Labor Attache Manuel Roldan informing us the arrival of Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the Kingdom on May 7, 2006. Also in the letter it said that PGMA will have an audience with the Filipino Community on the evening of May 8, 2006, 8:30 PM at the Philippine Embassy grounds.

PGMA

PGMA

We all knew that GMA made many plans in the past to visit Saudia Arabia; the last one was of September last year that did not materialize. Now, at last! She will be here for an official visit primarily to discuss with Saudi Government on oil issues particularly in the light of rising crude prices in the world market. Hoping she could achieve positive outcome on her number one mission – to secure affordable oil price.

I believed that the issue about Filipino Expatriates in the Kingdom is in the list of her priorities, considering the fact that for the past few days 7 of our compatriots were implicated in the recent horrible incident in Jeddah where they are deeply involved.

Certainly, she can’t just ignore this problem, after all – she represents the image of the Filipino community in the Kingdom. Perhaps, what she can surely do at this moment is to request the Saudi Government to treat those alleged suspects in a manner where their rights are properly protected under the Saudi Law. Also, I understand that she is expected to appeal for clemency for other six Filipinos facing the death penalty on various murder charges.

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The mentioned letter of invitation is requesting Filipino Community to give inputs and recommendations in relation to OFW issues and concerns. It is going to be submitted today in advance prior to the said scheduled meeting for her consideration.

Well… there are many OFW issues and concerns; in fact a lot of recommendations were already submitted to the proper agencies that oversees the plight of Filipinos overseas.

Some of our concern NGO’s at home made an appeal to the Lower and Upper House of Congress for the possible amendment of certain provisions in the Republic Act 8042 known as Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995. There are also many attempts from our pro OFWs legislators by filing Senate and House Bills intended for the general welfare of migrant Filipinos. Sadly, a number of them were left unattended in the closet of their respective committees pending deliberations and appropriate action.

Last year we even raised the question of the legality of OWWA USD 25.00 contribution to the highest court of our land but unfortunately as of now it is still in the good hands of our esteemed members of Judiciary pending its decision.

All of these were not given exceptional attention from the three (3)branches of our government namely; the executive, legislative and the judiciary.

Where else do we go? Directly to the President? Are there any assurances that the President will give attention to our recommendations? We hope so. Nevertheless, there is no harm in trying.

WE therefore, respectfully submit the following for the Presidents’ utmost consideration:

A) TRANSFER OF OWWA FUND TO PPSB

Remarks:

We strongly opposed the plan to transfer 1 Billion Peso OWWA Fund to Philippine Postal Bank. If there should be a transfer of fund, then it must be governed by a legislative measure where we can see and understand its implementing mechanisms.

Recommendations:

An appeal to the President to act in behalf of the OFW’s to expedite the early discussions and deliberations of the following legislative proposal:

Senate Bill No. 639 authored by Sen. Manuel Villar, Jr. Re: Seeking the creation of the Philippine Overseas Workers Bank to serve the financial and investment needs of the growing number of OFWs worldwide;

And

HB No. 1565 authored by Rep. Jaime Lopez Re: An Act Establishing the Overseas Filipino Bank. This bill concentrates and would specifically authorized to address the banking, economic, financial, and related needs of the more than eight million Filipinos working abroad.

Any of the two above Bills that would be in the best interests of the Migrant Filipinos Overseas, then we hereby request for its passage into law.

B) RECOGNIZE OFW AS A SPECIAL SECTOR

Remarks:

A) The OFWs are not properly represented in the policy formulating boards of the government agencies that oversees OFW’s issues and concerns.

Recommendation:

1) The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Welfare Administration (OWWA) governing board should be well represented by an OFW who comes from the OFW rank himself/herself and not just a mere political appointees whose credentials are not well define as representative to OFW’s.

2) That any such appointees should be consulted or must be recommended by the OFW Community themselves.

3) Dubbed as Modern Day Heroes and economic savior, OFWs should be recognized as Special Sector” and therefore be provided with empowering mechanisms in the affairs of governance locally.

4) OFWs contributed a lot to the progress of local economies and it is therefore recommended that upon their return for good to their respective localities they should be given a place in the affairs of local governance.

5) Former OFW and their families be given a right sustained by executive or legislative measure to participate in the local election of the City or Municipal Council. In this manner the government reintegration plan for the OFWs into the mainstream of our society particularly in the grassroots level will be truly established and rightly implemented. ***  BongA