Add Wife…Have Life…

***

Q: Would you die for your new religion, Mr. Nollora?

Q: If you would die for your new religion, why did you allow that your faith be indicated as Catholic when in fact you were already as you alleged  “Muslim” to be put in your marriage contract?

Q: Under your Muslim faith, if you marry a second wife, are you required under your faith to secure the permission of your first wife to get married?

Q: Did you secure that permission from your first wife, Jesusa Nollora?

“xxx (W)itness Jesusa Pinat Nollora xxx testified that she and accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. met in Saudi Arabia while she was working there as a Staff Midwife in King Abdulah Naval Base Hospital. Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. courted her and on April 6, 1999, they got married at the [IE]MELIF Chruch [sic] in Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan (Exhibit ‘A’). While working in said hospital, she heard rumors that her husband has another wife and because of anxiety and emotional stress, she left Saudi Arabia and returned to the Philippines (TSN, October 4, 2005, page 10). Upon arrival in the Philippines, the private complainant learned that indeed, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. contracted a second marriage with co-accused Rowena P. Geraldino on December 8, 2001 (Exhibit ‘B’) when she secured a certification as to the civil status of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. (Exhibit ‘C’) from the National Statistics Office (NSO) sometime in November 2003.

17120907_BG1Upon learning this information, the private complainant confronted Rowena P. Geraldino at the latter’s workplace in CBW, FTI, Taguig and asked her if she knew of the first marriage between complainant and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. to which Rowena P. Geraldino allegedly affirmed and despite this knowledge, she allegedly still married Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. because she loves him so much and because they were neighbors and childhood friends. Private complainant also knew that Rowena P. Geraldino knew of her marriage with Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., because when she (private complainant) was brought by Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. at the latter’s residence in Taguig, Metro Manila and introduced her to Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.’s parents, Rowena P. Geraldino was there in the house together with a friend and she heard everything that they were talking about.

Because of this case, private complainant was not able to return to Saudi Arabia to work as a Staff Midwife thereby losing income opportunity in the amount of P34,000.00 a month, more or less. When asked about the moral damages she suffered, she declared that what happened to her was a tragedy and she had entertained [thoughts] of committing suicide. She added that because of what happened to her, her mother died and she almost got raped when Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. left her alone in their residence in Saudi Arabia. However, she declared that money is not enough to assuage her sufferings. Instead, she just asked for the return of her money in the amount of P50,000.00 (TSN, July 26, 2005, pages 4-14).

Prosecution witness Ruth Santos testified that she knew of the marriage between the private complainant and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., because she was one of the sponsors in said wedding. Sometime in November 2003, she was asked by the private complainant to accompany the latter to the workplace of Rowena P. Geraldino in FTI, Taguig, Metro Manila. She declared that the private complainant and Rowena P. Geraldino had a confrontation and she heard that Rowena P. Geraldino admitted that she (Rowena) knew of the first marriage of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. and the private complainant but she still went on to marry Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. because she loves him very much (TSN, October 24, 2005, pages 3-5).  Read More>>>>  Supreme Court Decision re: Bigamy : G.R. No. 191425  

Related Postings CLICK here :  SUPREME COURT – OFW CASES 

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Novel way of misusing labor law

Novel way of misusing labor law

Exit Re-entry Visa Stamped in the Passport

Legal experts will be watching closely a case in Jubail in which a expatriate worker leaving the Kingdom for good discovered his former employer had skirted a new Saudi labor law by giving him an exit/re-entry visa instead of a final exit visa. The difference may, to the untrained eye, seem inconsequential. However, according to the new Saudi law, an exit/re-entry visa instead of the required final exit visa will block an expatriate worker from returning to the Kingdom on a new employment visa.

Under the revised law, the no-objection certificate previously required of companies for departing employees was eliminated, if they had a proper final exit visa on their passports. By cleverly substituting an exit/re-entry visa for the final exit, companies make it appear as if the employee has not left in good standing. This can preclude the worker from returning to the Kingdom for years in some cases. The final exit visa on one’s passport is seen by Saudi missions abroad as proof that the person has left the company with a clean slate.

Some hapless employees only discover this as their passports are often delivered to them at the airport as they depart; some might not even notice the misuse until reaching their home countries.

Electronic Exit Re-Entry Visa

The reason this deceit has come to light is because a 33-year-old Indian pipe technician who had been with the same company for 13 years discovered the wrong visa at the airport’s immigration counter and went back to his former employers to correct the “mistake” and then return to India with his wife and two children. It was only after speaking to his employer that he learned this was not a mistake but an underhanded way to keep him from coming back to the Kingdom for future employment.

“I never had any complaints against the company,” said the disgruntled pipe technician who has been stranded since October in Jubail with his family, unable to work and unable to leave. read more>>>>>

 By SIRAJ WAHAB | ARAB NEWS Published: Dec 27, 2010 23:58 Updated: Dec 27, 2010 23:58 DAMMAM:

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”

The story behind the scene

The story behind the scene

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

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

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

Behind the Scene

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

The law and reality of your contract

The Contract

The Contract

Expatriates working in Saudi Arabia are in an unenviable situation. All of us have fixed term contracts which we sign before taking up an assignment in the kingdom. We just assume that once the contract is extended, we have another term of stay in the kingdom.

I have mentioned in the past the importance of going through your contract terms and conditions very carefully before signing it. What protects you once you land here is only the contract and nothing else. Note that all the important things which matter to the expatriate, your job title, family visa, end of service benefits, virtually all of your benefits and obligations of your sponsor, are all based on your contract.

My attention was drawn to an interesting article in today’s Arab News. This is a question by one of the readers to a lawyer about the status of his contract. The question relates to a “time bomb clause” in the contract by which the employer can terminate the contract at any point of time by giving a month’s notice despite a contract to the contrary. The reply given by the lawyer is 100% correct and I have no reason to dispute it, given that the learned lawyer is a well-respected one in his profession. What I would like to focus in today’s post is what is NOT mentioned in the reply.

For those of us expatriates who have continued to stay beyond the “initial” contract which was signed after entering the kingdom for the first time, you must be careful on what you sign while extending your contract. Clever employers use the word “extension of contract” rather than just “contract”. Expatriates working in Saudi Arabia must be aware of their rights and obligations while extending their contract with the above words. What this means in simple language is explained below.
 
Excerpt of the above entry  was taken from : ExpatGuru the author of the blog “Working in Saudi Arabia“.

OFW’s opposed newly appointed OWWA Board

OFW’s opposed newly appointed OWWA Board

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

OWWA BOT

OWWA BOT

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

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

The Petition demands includes:

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

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

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

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

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

The current OWWA Board of Trustees are:

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

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

Members:

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

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

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

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

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

The same People…

Migrante at DFA

Migrante at DFA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sen. Mar ROxas with MIGRANTE

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

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

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

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

DARNAAA!!! Kumakatok lang Po! Distress Call

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

FHSW "Darna in Real Life"

FHSW “Darna in Real Life”

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

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

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

Nowhere to Go…Where are They?

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

Darna "GMA's Super Maids"

Darna "GMA's Super Maids"

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

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

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

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

Air Ticket

Ofwempowerment blog reader sent me a notes through comment portion of our blog asking  clarification re: air ticket.

Air Ticket

Air Ticket

He said: I started my work here in KSA Nov. 29 2003 and I get already 2 vacation and this is my fifth year and I file my resignation. I didn’t sign any contract except for the first contract 2yrs that I already fulfilled last 2003 end of 2005 Nov. and I just extend until now and I plan to go to Nov. 29 2008 the exact finish of my eqama and exactly 1 yr me already here since vacation last December. I inform already our personnel  not renew my iqama. Then I call labor law of Al khobar then they told me that the company will pay my ticket for one way to Philippines. Just I need a big help to have a copy of that article that mention the company will shoulder of that ticket. Please can you email me as soon as possible.

Reply:

There are 2 types of contract a) Specified Contract and 2) Unspecified Contract.

A labor contract concluded for a specified period shall terminate upon the expiry of its term. If both parties continue to enforce the contract thereafter (in the absence of new contract) it shall be considered renewed for an unspecified period. (Art. 75-76, NSLL).

If the contract is for an unspecified period, either party may cancel it for a valid reason, subject to giving the other party a (30) thirty day prior notice in respect of workman employed at a monthly rate. (Art. 75-76, NSLL).

With regards to your air ticket, please note that you signed a contract for 2 Years based on your letter above. I just want to make a correction, it seems that you arrived in the Kingdom Year 2001, considering that you spent 2 vacations for the past 5 Years. Am I correct?

If I am correct, your employment with the company is in unspecified period, meaning an automatic renewal of contract.

Now, Al Khobar Labor office is right, the company will provide you an air ticket back to your country of origin, only if they accept your resignation and willing to shoulder your air ticket. Please note that you are employed in unspecified contract in which you are oblige to finish the remaining  year(s) of your employment with your employer to complete the 2 Years contract.

However, if your employer accept your resignation but refuse to shoulder your air ticket, then they have the right not to provide you an air ticket.  

The law is silent with respect to air tickets, therefore we must be aware of the condition written about the air ticket in our contract. What the law requires is that the employer should bear the cost of air ticket on final leave at the end of the worker’s contract (exit visa).

However, it seems that you have a 2 year contract (unspecified) so it means you have still remaining 1 year to finish your contract. In this case, you must bear the cost of your ticket,  if they refuse to provide it. However if you have good record with the company, maybe the company will bear the cost of your air ticket upon your request. Remember, for unspecified period of contract, either party may cancel it for a valid reason. (Chapter IV-Leaves, NSLL).

For more information please (click link ) or visit: Patnubay sa mga Mangagawang Pilipino sa Saudi Arabia and  related provisions about Leaves, (click link) “New Saudi Labor Law“.

How can our Government protect us?

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

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

Case of OFW J. Dulnuan in Canada

Case of OFW J. Dulnuan in Canada

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

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

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

No to Illegal Recruitment

No to Illegal Recruitment

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

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

TY Congen Lomondot & Consulate Staff

Today’s Arab News online “Number of Filipinos Seeking Deportation in Jeddah Swells.”

Our heartfelt gratitude to ConGen for a job well done. It is just a matter of diplomatic initiative that contributes a lot in the on going deportation process for our overstaying compatriots in the Kingdom.

 

To make it clear, the consulate issued statement that “this is not for workers who have yet to finish their contracts,” they added “those being called are Filipinos who have overstayed their visas while in the Kingdom for Umrah or Haj or for those who contracts have been finished.” It means those OFW runaways who have pending cases with their employers for abandoning their job are not yet off the hook. Their plight depends on the employers’ coordination to provide them Exit Visas as prescribed by the host country.  And it depends on how our diplomatic initiative effort works in this particular issue. Reliable sources from the Consulate inform me that they’re working on it. Thank you…

 

Though the main issue here is not the Government-to-Government negotiations to let our OFW in distressed leave the Kingdom but on how to accommodate those OFW runaways that keeps on flooding at our Embassy/Consulate every hours of the day.

 

OWWA Board of Trustees

 

The news item a week ago in which our Consulate personally asking Filipino community, individuals and good Samaritans to contribute something for the needs of our unfortunate OFWs are understandable enough that our Government are short of resources for their needs. This is the question that we keep on asking for many long years now, WHERE are the funds from various Government entities intended for this purpose? Why our Government cannot provide a better place for their stay, enough food to eat and things to use?

 

A million dollar question that keeps on reverberating in my ears as an Overseas Filipino Worker for a quite a time now…

Migrant Workers Day-Nothing to Celebrate

Respect and Protect Human Rights of Migrants

Respect and Protect Human Rights of Migrants

June 7, 1995 the Migrant Workers and Filipinos Act of 1995 or Rep. Act 8042 was signed into law.

12 Years since it was enacted into law yet the said act has done a little or not much has been done to the Overseas Filipino Workers. The both House in Congress has never given our clamor for amendments of certain provisions that would enhance the protection and welfare of OFWs. 

For instance, Magna Carta for Migrant Workers  of 1995 provision under III: Services, Section 19 Establishment of a Migrant Workers and other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center. – Within the premises and under the administrative jurisdiction of the Philippine Embassy in countries where there are large concentrations of Filipino migrant workers, there shall be established a Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center with the following services…

Emabssy and POLO/OWWA officials with Filcom donations for Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh

Embassy and POLO/OWWA officials with Filcom donations for Bahay Kalinga (Filipino Workers Resource Center in Riyadh)

In Saudi Arabia, there are 3 Filipino Workers Resource Center provided under this provision, each in Eastern, Western and Central Region. The said proviso did not specify male or female distressed OFWs. Our female distressed OFWs are housed in this Center and our male runaways are roaming around without valid work permit or expired iqamas and could be apprehended by the host country’s authorities anytime of the day. Others seek refuge with friends and other kindhearted fellow OFWs unmindful or maybe aware that harboring runaways could put their lives at risk too. 

The establishment and operations of the Center are joint undertaking of various Philippine government agencies overseeing the plight of our Filipino migrant workers, however, facilities and required needs of our distressed OFWs were not being fully provided. Thus help and contributions from Filipino communities, organization and kindhearted individuals are very necessary to sustain their daily needs at the shelter.

Just recently a newly organized SEC registered group of overseas Filipinos named United Filipinos Worldwide for Community Development, UFWCD-Jeddah Chapter visited our distressed OFWs at the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah. Excerpt of the report by UFWCD-Jeddah, VP Jun Macaranas and the shocking revelations inside the consulate:

As I only write what we see/saw, together with my KFSHRC-Jeddah colleagues, upon entering the big gates opened (with a Saudi Police stationed outside the gate), the quadrangle of the Consulate, estimated at 1000 sq. meter wide, LAY OUR KABAYANS, all male, with “improvised beds” to spend the whole night under an open air of the Consulate’s quadrangle improvised beds: cartons, cloth, papers at any site of the sprawling estimated 1,000 sq. meter wide cemented ground, all looking sad, without any smile, ignorantly looking at us, who by their looks, we were all made SPEECHLESS, the first time I have been to the Consulate very late at night with these bodies sprawling at any position they could find convenience at any points on the ground seeing all our kababayans, OFWs at this “nakakaluhang” sight all of them males, numbering at estimated more or less 100 pinagkakakasya ang kani-kanilang mga katawan upang maiprotekta ang sarili sa hamog, sa lamok, at sa ibang kinakaya na lang nilang magiging masamang epekto ng kung anong sakit ang dadapo sa kanilang lahat sa pagtulog sa malamig na semento ng quadrangle ng Phil Consulate Jeddah.”   To read the full report of UFWCD VP Jun Macaranas click this link UFWCD-Hawak Kamay).

OWWA - BOT

OWWA - BOT

Where are the OFWs Millions or Billions of Pesos OWWA contributions? Why on earth our Government cannot provide or rent a better place for our unfortunate kababayans as mandated by the Magna Carta for Migrant Workers of 1995?

Nasaan na ang mga representative ng mga OFWs sitting at OWWA and POEA/DOLE Board? Are you doing your job? Or just receiving salaries doing nothing, sitting at your air-conditioned room while those unfortunate OFWs out there are hungry, no right place to stay and having sleepless nights.     

This is what I always keep on saying, Overseas Filipino Workers should be truly represented by a legitimate OFWs and must be given full rights to be heard in one voice; and these could only be materialized with a broader participation in body politics so that we will be representing our OFWs with equal footing in any legislative agenda for our welfare and protection. 

June 7 – Migrant Workers Day “Nothing to Celebrate”.

FDH $ 400.00 minimum wage

I watched the news the other day where hundreds of our Filipina Domestic Helpers protesting the Government required minimum monthly wage of USD 400.00.

While other countries like Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, etc., complains of very low salary aside from maltreatment and abuse.

One thing pops out in my brain cell, most likely the said protest was organized by recruitment agencies opposed to the said policy.

Maid for Sale

Maid for Sale

Ito namang ating mga kababayan sigaw pa ng sigaw sa harap ng DOLE ang lakas pa! Pag dating sa Saudi or other parts of Middle Eastern countries pag may masamang nangyari ayaw ng sumigaw, tatalon na lang mas madali ang repatriation. Kung sisigaw man, galit sa ating gobyerno dahil walang ginawa. Hay naku! Ano ba talaga? Mag isip isip naman kayo! para rin naman sa kabutihan ninyo ito.

Recruitment agencies said that the new wage policy could cause a sharp drop in the deployment of Filipino domestic helpers. So Whatttttt!!!??? Dahil mabawasan kayo ng income. Pag may problema ang FDH ang tagal ninyong mag response. Kayo kaya ang nandito sa lugar namin na halos araw araw nakaka-received ng text at tawag ng mga minaltrato at ni-r…e na mga FDH natin.

I agree with Sec. Arturo Brion that “our maids deserve better treatment not only in terms of decent salary but also in terms of greater respect from their employers. Many have lost their honor and dignity by accepting low wages and succumbing to employers’ abuse and exploitation.”

Kaya lang siguradohin ng Gobyerno na ang pinapadala ninyong FDH ay talagang may alam, baka naman makuha rin sa lagay ang mga sertipikong hinahawakan nila at pagdating dito walang rin palang alam sa trabaho. Hindi malayong mag-ala “Darna” ang ating mga FDH para mapadali ang lipad pauwi sa atin.

FDH: Restrictive Policy

FHSW at NAIA

FHSW at NAIA

According to recruiters, exporting Filipina Domestic Helpers in Middle Eastern countries with the new restrictive policy of USD 400.00 minimum wage a month will surely lessen the dollar remittances to our country’s coffer.

For me, as long as the Government will implement the said policy with strict monitoring authority and see to it those recruitment agencies comply with the rules, then who cares if we lost billions of dollars annually in remittances in exchange for their welfare and protection.

Maltreatment and Abuse (Indonesian maid)

Maltreatment and Abuse (Indonesian maid)

Many runaway maids and those employed in boutiques are minors below 18 years of age and with the help of faked documentations obtained from crocodiles in our country (particularly in Recto), they were able to work abroad as maids and beauticians. Without any experience and don’t know nothing about household chores, etc., they end up beatin and maltreated by their employers.     

With the said policy it may perhaps minimize abused to our FDH by their foreign employers and so with the unscrupulous recruiters asking excessive fees to our less fortunate domestic workers.

I am certain though that not all Arab employers will hire FDH with that wage policy requirement. Thus would lessen the complaints and run away maids in the Kingdom.

Recruiters claim that it could result for illegal means of deployment like disguising them as “tourists” with the aid of “escort syndicates” in the airports. What’s new then?  These crooked individuals in the airport are there “with or without” the said policy.  

It is only on a matter of how serious our Government and the authority to clean this mess once and for all.

The new policy will allow OFW deployment under strict conditions, among them:

1) A minimum salary of $400

2) No imposition of placement fees on the worker by recruitment agencies

3)Issuance of a certificate of competency by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to the prospective OFW and the completion of the pre-departure orientation by the OFW

4) Conduct of a seminar on country-specific language and culture for OFWs

5) Strict contract verification and employers’ pre-qualification procedures

Philippine has been tagged as “worlds capital of domestic workers”. Maybe this time it would be “worlds capital of certified maids“.

I am looking forward that the official list of the above policy includes the minimum age requirement of 21 to 25 years old, or else “total ban of deployment“ in countries susceptible to abuse and maltreatment to our FDH is still the best solution to this problem. ### BongA