Protection of OFWs, especially domestic workers, urgently needed


July 28th, 2016: The Center for Migrant Advocacy is urging the current administration to look into the still widespread exploitation and abuse of Filipino women migrant workers, in particular those working as domestic workers, as noted by the recently released concluding observations of the 64th Session of CEDAW (UN-Convention On the Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women) on the Philippines.

While CMA welcomes President Duterte’s plans to place OFWs as a priority labor agenda, the current plight of OFWs, especially domestic workers, needs urgent action.

Last July 5, the Philippine government, as a state party to the UN Convention, had a constructive dialogue with the CEDAW Committee to report on the state of all human rights of all women in the country, including Filipino women migrants.

http://interaksyon.com/ file photo

Filipino Domestic Workers (http://interaksyon.com/ file photo)

The UN Committee welcomes the adoption of the amended Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 2010 (Republic Act No. 10022) to protect migrant workers working in the State party, but expressed its concerns on the widespread abuse among Filipino domestic workers abroad, and the insufficient support system to reintegrate returning women OFWs. The Committee also added that the protection of migrant workers under the ASEAN migration policies does not cover unskilled migrants, who constitute the majority of Filipino women OFWs.

It recommends that the country enhance its efforts to effectively protect the rights of Filipino women OFWs abroad through bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding with countries and regions to which Filipino women migrate in search of work.

The UN body also encourages the country to strengthen its regulation and inspection of recruitment agencies for migrant workers and the sanctions in case of breaches of relevant regulations, including the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators of exploitation and abuse of women migrant workers under its jurisdiction.

The CMA believes that while providing a significant portion in the annual multibillion dollar remittances, the domestic workers are among the most exploited subgroup within the Filipino migrant workers, hence, the need to provide gender-responsive support to returning women migrant workers for their reintegration.

(Original title: Statement of the Center for Migrant Advocacy on the Concluding Observations of CEDAW on the Philippines and the recent SONA of President Rodrigo Duterte 26 July 2016. Contact: Ms. Ellene Sana Contact No: 0915 178 1308)

Source:  Global Nation Inquirer.net

Stranded OFWs – The Truth Behind 


We lauded the personal visit of DOLE Secretary Bebot Bello, POEA Administrator Hans-Leo Cacdac and other government officials in Saudi Arabia to look deep into the matter of the reported stranded OFWs of Saudi Oger Co. Ltd., and Saudi Binladdin Group; and so with the alleged negligence of the Philippine mission in Saudi Arabia to act on the issue at hand.

What is absolutely true is that the problem of unpaid salaries or delayed salaries, and keeping of OFWs passport by their employers and many other complaints have been there for many years now.

056379cde844ea95584b72ea3ce2ad58The POEA should give more teeth on the Rules and Regulations for the accreditation of Saudi employers to hire OFWs. Likewise, the recruitment agencies should be more cautious in selecting Saudi employers and crafting recruitment agreement with more favorable conditions in the interest and welfare of aspiring OFWs bound for Saudi Arabia.   

I believed that our Philippine Overseas Labor Office, the OWWA and Philippine mission in general are doing their job of negotiating those companies involved in the said disputes, to come up with a comprehensive solution to the workers’ grievances.

Saudi Oger Co., Ltd., and the Saudi Binladdin Group are big companies in Saudi Arabia and was established many decades ago. These companies employed thousands of Filipino workers way back in the 70s, 80s and 90s during the blooming period of construction and infrastructure projects in Saudi Arabia. There were many OFWs returned home who had benefited working in these companies. Though, like the huge companies in other parts of the world, Saudi Arabia today  faces economic challenges. We cannot blame those companies to have their internal situation be remedied first to be able to deal with their respective worsening financial problem.

On the other side, some of our stranded OFWs refused to go home exploring the possibility of reaching a settlement agreement with their employers and collect those unpaid salaries, end of service benefits, among others. For them, waiting is the best option rather than go home without nothing to bring to their families back home.

In Saudi Arabia, expatriate workers can only leave their employers once the exit clearance is issued. In the present situation, the Philippine government should request through a special arrangement with Saudi Immigration and Deportation to issue a block exit visa for all those stranded OFWs who wants to be repatriated. For those who refused, the government should convince them to go home and all those repatriated should be provided with livelihood opportunities.

The Philippine Labor Office should continue and exert more effort in the negotiating table with their employers until such time that a settlement is reached. The monetary settlement of their delayed salaries and End of Service Benefits will be sent to the OFWs once available.

Many foreign diplomats I met when I was working in a Saudi government institution says “the most hardship posting they have been is in Saudi Arabia.” How much more to a Labor Attache who takes care of thousands if not almost a million of their nationals? To be fair, those Philippine Labor Attaches’ in Jeddah and Riyadh are experienced and seasoned labor attaches’, they have been posted back to Saudi Arabia several times after the end of their tour of duties in other countries. They solved many OFWs grievances and complaints unrecognized but it is in the Filipino nature that we forget the good deeds for one honest fault.

For me, to address the problem of our stranded OFWs is not by recalling our Labor Attaches who knows the real situation at hand, but to order them to prioritize our distressed OFWs grievances and come up with a concrete solution at the earliest possible time. We couldn’t solve the entire problem by replacing our current labor attache’s to a new ones who are not familiar with the situation. Perhaps, we will give them the opportunity to do something or to prove their worth as our representative overseeing the plight of our OFWs – at least for now, prior recalling them back home.

Nonetheless, I should say that the Philippine mission in Saudi Arabia should be reprimanded for failing to provide to our stranded OFWs with monetary aid, food and shelter on time of their needs. – BongA 

DFA Sends Rapid Response Team to Assist OFWs Stranded in KSA


18 July 2016 – Last June 2016, the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) sent a Rapid Response Team (RRT) to assist OFWs stranded in work camps throughout Saudi Arabia. The DFA RRT found that at least 11,000 OFWs in several large Saudi construction and maintenance companies and their sub-contractors were not paid their salaries on time, ranging from 2 to 6 months. Some OFWs were also no longer receiving food allowances and were threatened with eviction from their accommodations. The DFA RRT provided immediate humanitarian assistance to these OFWs, and brought their situation to the attention of the senior officials of these companies, and with the Saudi government authorities.

Stranded OFWs

Stranded OFWs in KSA

Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Ziyad Alsaigh and Saudi Foreign Affairs Deputy Undersecretary for Consular Affairs Ambassador Tammim Al Dusairi assured DFA RRT that the Saudi government will look into the situation of the OFWs and provide necessary assistance. The DFA also brought the situation of the OFWs to the attention of the Saudi Embassy in Manila. The DFA, in coordination with DOLE and its attached agencies, will send a high level delegation and composite rapid response teams to Saudi Arabia in the coming days to ensure assistance to the OFWs soonest.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr. recently approved the release of funds for the repatriation of 171 OFWs stranded in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The DFA will also provide them with legal assistance to pursue their claims for unpaid wages, and other benefits before the Saudi labor courts.

The DFA will continue to closely monitor the situation of OFWs in Saudi Arabia and other countries, and to provide necessary legal, humanitarian and other consular assistance to OFWs in distress. END.

Source:  http://www.dfa.gov.ph/

List of Passport Applicants for EOW in Al Khobar, 15-16 July 2016


The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh announces the list of passport applicants for the “Embassy on Wheels” (EOW) in Al Khobar on 15-16 July 2016 to be held at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Al Khobar.

EOW List of Appointments for 15-16 July 2016 Al Khobar
# Date Start End Name
1 15-Jul 8:00 AM 9:00 AM Felindo Artiaga
2 15-Jul 8:00 AM 9:00 AM Jeanifer Eufre Eraste
3 15-Jul 8:00 AM 9:00 AM Rudy Tumamac
4 15-Jul 8:00 AM 9:00 AM Henry Yamsuan
5 15-Jul 8:00 AM 9:00 AM Arnelio Bayan Tiglao
6 15-Jul 8:00 AM 9:00 AM Ruben Guevarra Mabilang
7 15-Jul 8:00 AM 9:00 AM Tristan John De Leon
8 15-Jul 8:00 AM 9:00 AM Gilbert Cunanan
9 15-Jul 8:00 AM 9:00 AM Ernie Gavica
10 15-Jul 8:00 AM 9:00 AM Noel Daliva Perante

To view the full list of applicants for the above mentioned dates, please click here>>>>>>>>.  

On how to avail the “Embassy On Wheels Consular Outreach Services,” kindly click here>>>>>>>.   

philippine-passport-philippines-map-background-26782512.jpgAccording to the Philippine Embassy  PR-112-2016 dated June 10, 2016,  the embassy implements a Passport Appointment System for all passport applicants, except for:

a. Infants who are aged six (6) months and below;
b. Pregnant women;
c. Senior citizens who are aged 60 years old and above;
d. Physically-challenged applicants; and,
e. Applicants whose passports have been declared lost, damaged or mutilated.

Applicants who require assistance will be allowed to bring one (1) companion inside the venue. Those who do not have any appointment or transaction during the consular outreach mission will not also be allowed inside the venue.

All passport applicants must also bring their old passport and a photocopy of their passport’s data page as well as the passport appointment confirmation. Passport application fee is SR240.00

All those claiming their new passport should also bring their old passports for cancellation, including the receipt. Those who cannot personally claim their passport must provide an Authorization Letter to the one who will claim their passport, aside from bringing along the other required documents.

For other consular services, applicants will be entertained on a “first come, first serve” basis. Priority, however, will be given to the following:

  1. Pregnant women;
  2. Senior citizens who are aged 60 years old and above;
  3. Physically-challenged applicants; and,

Applicants for other consular services must bring a photocopy of their valid passport and other relevant documents.

Phil. Emb. Statement on the recent bombings in KSA


Press Release
PR-110-2016

Statement Following the Recent Suicide Bombings in
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

philemb5 July 2016- The Embassy of the Philippines in Riyadh expresses deep sorrow for the victims of the suicide bombings which happened in Jeddah, Qatif and Madinah on 4 July 2016.

Saudi authorities are conducting their investigation and security measures have been heightened for the protection of the citizens and residents in the Kingdom. The situation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remains calm as the whole nation prepare for the Eid celebrations. Nonetheless, Filipinos in the Kingdom are advised to be alert and aware of their surroundings at all times.

Organizers of special events where gathering of large number of Filipinos will take place are requested to re-assess the security situation in your area and decide whether it is advisable to hold your event or to postpone it to a more appropriate time. Please coordinate with the police authorities in your locale.

For Filipinos in distress and in need of assistance, you may contact the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh at (011)-4823559 or the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah (0555-219-613) or (0555-219-614).

The Embassy of the Philippines in Riyadh also takes this opportunity to greet everyone Eid Mubarak! May this special day bring you peace, happiness and prosperity. END

Consular Outreach Services


The Philippine Embassy announced the Schedule of Consular Outreach Services for the 2nd Semester of 2016. Click>>>> for the full details of the advisory.    

Except for the cities below: advisory

Likewise the Phil. Consulate in Jeddah announced  Consular Mobile Services in Tabuk on 22-23 July at Al AHamdan Hotel . (click link here >>>>)

PLEASE always visit our Philippine Embassy website ( http://riyadhpe.dfa.gov.ph/ ) and PCG in Jeddah ( http://jeddahpcg.dfa.gov.ph/ )  for change of schedule, new advisories and press releases. 

Revised POEA Rules and Regulations 2016


This blog post is to inform our fellow OFWs  that the POEA rules and regulations governing the recruitment and employment of landbased OFWs have been revised on February 2016.

Some of  the answers to our readers inquires or salient portion of the provisions of the revised POEA rules and regulations 2016 are  herein provided for our guide.

A: Disciplinary Action against Principal/Employer

Salient portions of some provisions that fellow OFWs should note that principals and or employer unauthorized/unjustified collection of fee or illegal exaction from OFWs through whatever means, including salary deduction are serious offense and grounds for disciplinary actions against employers that could lead to permanent disqualification and delisting from the  roster of accredited principal or employer.

POEA Revised Rules and Regulations Governing Recruitment and Employment of Landbased OFWs 2016

POEA Revised Rules and Regulations Governing Recruitment and Employment of Landbased OFWs 2016

In the above provision otherwise, OFWs should be reminded that a placement fee “may be charged against the Overseas Filipino Worker equivalent to one (1) month basic salary as specified in the POEA approved contract”. However, in Saudi Arabia, the employer’s usual practice has to pay the worker  placement fee to the recruitment agency and to be paid by the OFW through salary deduction. There are many employers in the Middle East that are doing this kind of arrangements. It may be allowed with a written acceptance by the OFW. But be noted that the salary deduction scheme is not allowed in other countries of destination.

Permanent disqualification of the principal to hire OFWs includes “substitution or alteration of the POEA approved contract to the prejudice of the Overseas Filipino Worker.” Therefore, OFWs should always be aware that changing of the agreed terms and conditions of POEA approve contract is against POEA rules and regulations.     

B: Disciplinary Action against Recruitment agency

Be aware that that recruitment agencies are subject to suspension of license if found “collecting any fee from a worker without issuing the official receipt clearly showing the amount paid and the purpose for which payment was made.”

Provisions that may lead to the suspension of the recruitment agency’s license in the revised POEA rules and regulations includes:

Substituting or altering, to the prejudice of the worker, a POEA-approved employment contract, from the time of actual signing thereof by the parties up to and including the period of the expiration of the same, without the approval of the POLO or POEA”.

Therefore, any alteration or substitution of the agreed employment contract terms and conditions if the case may arise should be approved by our POLO and or POEA.

Withholding or denying release of travel or other pertinent documents from a worker despite demand and failure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with his/her documentation and processing for purposes of deployment, where deployment does not take place without any fault on the part of the worker.”

All the above offense committed by the recruitment agency may result in the revoking or suspension of their license or whatever penalties as to be concluded by the POEA.

C: Disciplinary Action against Overseas Filipino Workers

If there is a disciplinary action to be taken against employers and recruitment agency, an OFW should also be aware that penalties await us if an offense is committed during the pre-employment period.

The number one that we should be aware of is “submitting, furnishing or using false information or documents or any form of  misrepresentation for the purpose of a job application or employment.” The penalties are categorized into three in which could lead to permanent disqualification from participation in the overseas employment program.

Another offense that I found relevant to many of our readers’ inquiries is the “unjustified refusal to continue his/her application after signing an employment contract, or to depart for the work site after all employment and travel documents have been duly approved by the appropriate government agencies.” Penalties could be a “suspension in a certain period of time and permanent disqualification from participation in the overseas employment program.”  

But in this particular scenario the POEA will determine the offense upon review of the complaint raised by the recruitment agency. If an offense is committed, it means unjustifiable reasons for withdrawal of documents or refusal to depart for the work site may result  in disqualification of OFWs in future application to work overseas.

D: Repatriation

Primary Responsibility to Repatriate Overseas Filipino Workers. – Notwithstanding the provisions on compulsory insurance coverage as required by law, the repatriation of an Overseas Filipino Worker or his/her remains, and the transport of his/her personal effects shall be the primary responsibility of the principal/employer and licensed recruitment agency that recruited and/or deployed the work. This entails the obligation to cover repatriation and attendant costs, including airfare and immigration fines/penalties. This obligation shall be without prior determination of the cause of the need to repatriate the Overseas Filipino Worker.

However, kindly be informed that the POEA Revised Rules and Regulations says “after the Overseas Filipino Worker has returned to the country, the principal/employer or licensed recruitment agency may, however, recover the cost of repatriation from the Overseas Filipino Worker if the termination of the employment was due solely to the Overseas Filipino Worker’s fault.”

***

Click here>>> The full text of the POEA Revised Rules and Regulations Governing Recruitment and Employment of Landbased OFWs 2016

Click here>>>  Q and A on Revised POEA Rules and Regulations Governing Recruitment and Employment of Landbased OFW 2016.    

Click here>>> RULE XIII REPATRIATION OF WORKERS (OMNIBUS RULES AND REGULATIONS IMPLEMENTING THE MIGRANT WORKERS AND OVERSEAS FILIPINOS ACT OF 1995, AS AMENDED BY REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10022)

Click here>>>  OFW Compulsory Insurance  or OFWs Mandatory  Insurance Coverage. 

Click here>>> STANDARD EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT FOR VARIOUS SKILLS  (No. 14 : TERMINATION)

Goodbye Maam Rose and Thank you so much!


Like previous heads of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), outgoing Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz will be remembered for their achievements in crafting policies for the general welfare of the Overseas Filipino Workers.

Ougoing DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz

Outgoing DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz

Like former Secretary Marianito Roque’s conceptualization of the assignment of Welfare Officers to Philippine Missions as frontline providers of welfare services to OFWs; Secretary Baldoz will be remembered in shaping the Household Service Reform Package for the protection of domestic workers’ rights; and the comprehensive reintegration assistance, programs  and services for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

For her six (6) year term as head of DOLE, there are many important policies she initiated for the genaral well-being of the OFW sector.

But more than that, Baldoz is a key figure in the International Labor Organization (ILO). She is the first national from an ASEAN country to chair the ILO Tripartite Committee on the Application of Standards.

ILO Director General Guy Ryder described Secretary Daldoz as “wonderful internationalist.”  

Maam, you are one of the many leaders who have come and gone yet your legacy remains, surely you will be remembered by OFWs more particularly those who are in distress that benefited the government’s program under your care.”

Thank you so much and wishing you further success in your future endeavors, may in private and in public service.

IIEE Fellow named PRC’s “2016 Outstanding Professional of the Year Award”


CEBU CITY – Engr. Dominico “Doods” Amora, has been chosen by the Professional Regulation Commission as the recipient of the “2016 Outstanding Professional of the Year Award” in the field of Electrical Engineering profession. “Doods” Amora will be honored at the 43rd Anniversary of the Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC). The awarding ceremonies will be held on June 22, 2016 at the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel, One Rizal Park, Manila.

Engr. Dominico Amora (PEE)

Engr. Dominico Amora (PEE, FIIEE)

The awardee, known as “Doods” in the industry circle, is a Professional Electrical Engineer (PEE) with 41 years in the electrical engineering profession. Doods work-life have been deeply rooted in the Industry of various sorts where from the lowest ranks, Doods rose himself to the heights of what he is today.

He graduated Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) in 1974 at the Cebu Institute of Technology, Cebu City (now CIT University). He placed 2nd in the Professional Electrical Engineering board examination in 1983. Doods was awarded in 2003 as CIT’s “Most Outstanding Alumnus in the field of Engineering Consultancy”.

He was also a college instructor in EE Professional Subjects (Power Systems, Power Plant Design, Electrical Systems Design, Mechanical & Electrical Equipment) at the University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR-Cebu) from 1989 to 1992.

His five years working experience started at Nasipit Lumber Company/Philippine Wallboard Corporation,  once a large wood-based manufacturing complex in Northern Mindanao (during the wood processing heydays). It was with this company that Doods learned the rudiments of real-life electrical practice. Starting as Trainee Engineer, Doods scaled to the position of Assistant Shift Operations Electrical Engineer for the Power Plant and Wood Processing Factories before he transferred employment.

He was later employed by the Beer Division of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) in 1979, where he spent 15 years in the Mandaue Brewery (Mandaue City, Cebu),  and two (2) years in the construction, commissioning and initial operation of the Davao Brewery (Sta. Cruz, Davao Del Sur). Versatile as he was in various jobs, he did planning, designing and executing projects works, among others. He did as well handle maintenance, operation and asset management as part of his previous function.

In 1994, he was transferred to the SMC Corporate Headquarters in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City, where he earned his promotion as Manager-Electrical & Instrumentation Engineering of the Corporate Technical Services (CTS), a Division under the Office of the SMC President), a position he held until his retirement in January of 2000. For five years in this position he handled & oversaw electrical operation, maintenance, design and construction of electrical systems covering all Philippine Breweries (Polo, San Fernando, Mandaue, Bacolod & Davao Breweries) & Offshore Plants (Hong Kong, Shundie, Guangzhou, Baoding, Indonesia & Vietnam Breweries).

Engr. Doods Amora w/ Hon. Francis V. Mapile (BEE-PRC)

Engr. Doods Amora with Hon. Francis V. Mapile (BEE-PRC)

Along the way while in SMC for 21 years, Doods reaped some 40 awards & citations befitting an outstanding employee. His professional training as well as the application of his experiences revolved not only within the country, but also in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China (Guangzhou, Shundie, Baoding) and Jakarta, Indonesia. Doods also entrusted as a Consultant for Electrical Systems Design, Setting-up Maintenance and Energy Management Systems for other SMC affiliate Plants.

While in SMC, Doods had been a consistent Model Supervisor Awardee, many times a Grand Awardee and, later Hall of Famer in the Corporate innovation Program. He also became a leading personality in the formation, formulation and implementation of best industry practices in Quality, Efficiency and Total Productive Maintenance Programs of the corporation.

In February of Y2000, Doods retired from SMC and joined Lear Corporation, a multinational company, as Plant Manager of Plant 222, located in Mactan Export Processing Zone (Lapulapu City) with corporate offices in Southfield, Michigan, USA. In less than a year, Doods achieved a series of global breakthroughs in automotive wire harness manufacturing, among which was the sought-after ‘World’s Lowest Cost Per Unit Product’ of consistent quality. Leading some 1,350 employees, Doods steered the company to achieve 300% production throughput reckoned from previous plant history’s bests. Doods after a year left Lear Corporation to start his own electrical consulting firm  based in Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines.

For having his forty one years of exemplary service and dedication to the Electrical Engineering profession in the Industry, Engr. Dominico Amora, versatile in various jobs, is multi-awardee befitting an outstanding electrical engineer. On top of being a Consultant in various fields in electrical engineering, he is also deeply involved in Continuing Professional Education where his mentorship and self-written training books in Electrical Design Practices have helped hundreds of young engineers catapult their competencies. Some of them are now Overseas Filipino Workers gainfully employed around the world, mostly in the Middle East, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Kazakstan, UK, Canada and USA.

His notable accomplishments and contributions to the profession amply demonstrates his highest degree of professionalism and leadership when he earned numerous awards of national scope as the IIEE’s “Most Outstanding Electrical Practitioner in the field of Industry,” an award he received in 1996. In 2002, another IIEE National Award was conferred on him as the “Most Outstanding Electrical Practitioner in the field of Consultancy”.

He had been president of IIEE Cebu Chapter in 1986 and later organized the IIEE-North Cebu Chapter which under  his leadership baton had reaped series of honors in IIEE’s “Best Conference Awards.” He was  a former Regional Governor of the Institute of  Integrated Electrical Engineers, Region 7 and was cited as “Most Outstanding Regional Governor” in 2003.

In 2009, Doods was nationally elected as Governor-at-Large and became IIEE’s National Auditor. In 2012 the IIEE College of Fellow conferred him “Grade of Fellow”, a distinction coveted amongst the electrical engineering community of the country.  Doods then became a Member of IIEE College of Fellows since 2012.

He also served as a member of the IIEE Legislation & Legal Affairs Committee (LELAC) in an active role in the drafting and crafting of the proposed new Electrical Engineering Law, now in Congress (HB 5826) and in Senate (SB 2963).

The prestigious Professional Regulation Commission award is the highest award bestowed by the Commission upon a professional who demonstrated high levels of competency, integrity and significantly contributed to the advancement in their field of their profession, and to the effective discharge of the profession’s social responsibility through meaningful contribution/participation in socio-related activities.

The awardee is married to Merlita Rivas Amora, a registered nurse and blessed with two children, Kristine May Amora Zabala, a Cabin Crew of Qatar Airways and Kristoffer R. Amora,   a Sr. Device Firmware Developer at Fortify Technologies Asia, Inc.,Philippines.

DOFW  “even a shot in the dark may win”


Rodrigo Roa Duterte will soon assume office on June 30, 2016, as the new President of  the Philippine Republic,  the day most OFWs are waiting not because we will celebrate this historic day of his presidency, but OFWs is longing for the promises he made, and that to protect the rights and welfare of the Filipino migrant workers.

Duterte won the heart of the OFWs, the reason why we voted him overwhelmingly in the last election.  The OFWs made the choice and perhaps the President should not ignore this very important sector who saved the nation from economic difficulties.

Department of the Overseas Filipino Workers

Department of the Overseas Filipino Workers

The new President’s good intention for the creation of a Department of OFWs is the answer to the woes and the grievances of the Overseas Filipino Workers.

The proposed Department of OFWs shall be the primary agency tasked with the enforcement of the rights of OFWs as provided under the Republic Act 10022 known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act.

Although, President Duterte’s promise is a do-able in nature, but sometimes foreseen political hurdles will go along the tedious process. In politics, there are diversifying ideas against a reasonable and credible proposal, however I believed “even a shot in the dark may win” – all we need is to be united, consensus in our advocacy  and have a concerted effort among our ranks.  

Secondly, the President’s power to directly influence congress to prioritize the pending bills for the establishment of the Department of OFWs may help to make this dream a reality. – BongA

Stop Insulting Expat Workers


An article in a local Arabic daily focused on the increasing control which expatriate workers have over the Saudi retail sector. The writer Saad Al-Dosari “laments the fact” that retail markets are controlled by expatriates and he adds that most expatriate workers are illegal or undocumented workers!

He says that expatriate workers are a “virus” and asks why the campaigns of the Ministry of Interior have not succeeded in eradicating this “menace”.

Khaled-Al-Maeena

Khaled-Al-Maeena

He states that the ongoing control of the retail sector by expatriate workers kills any job opportunities for Saudi nationals and negatively affects the Kingdom’s economy. In observing our Arabic press, I have noticed that from time to time negative and racist comments have been made by some writers against expatriates. It may be that these journalists are suffering writer’s block or that they can think of nothing else to write about. However, it should be made clear to them that the use of a term like “virus” is a racist comment. Perhaps the attitude of these Saudi writers is: “Expatriates are an easy target so why not have a go at them?”

Mr. Al-Dosari does not ask why the retail sector cannot retain any Saudi workers. And it appears that he has made no effort to ask the owners of shops for an explanation. Well, I will tell Mr. Al-Dosari that there is a shop and many others that I know of which closed because the Saudi employees did not turn up for work. At a well-known supermarket in Jeddah, six of eight checkout counter clerks were missing on a recent Friday morning. Probably gone fishing!

As for the absence of Saudi women in the retail sector, the writer should be well aware that the mere thought of women working in retail makes the self-appointed guardians of our morals scream and shout. To them the sight of a woman at the sales counter is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. read more>>>>

Stop Insulting Expat Workers : By: Khaleed Almaeena (Editor-at-Large / Saudi Gazette)

Automated Overseas Voting Successfully Starts in Riyadh and Al Khobar


OFW Libao, the first to Vote

OFW Libao, the first to Vote

(Riyadh, 09 April 2016) – The Philippine Embassy successfully started today the first day of automated elections for Overseas Voters (OVs) at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the International Philippine School in Al Khobar. Over 1000 overseas voters cast their votes on the first day of automated elections in Riyadh.

Overseas voting began as scheduled today at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the International Philippine School in Al Khobar (IPSA). Men, women and their families came early at the designated voting venues in Riyadh and in Al Khobar to cast their votes.

Mr. Romel P. Libao, 28 years old, and an OFW from Buraidah, Qassim was the first voter to cast his vote at the Embassy. “Nag-biyahe po ako nang maaga upang makaboto sa unang araw ng eleksyon. Mahalaga po ang bawat boto,” said Mr. Libao.

Buraidah in Qassim is located around 400km north of Riyadh.

Over 1000 overseas voters cast their votes on the first day of automated elections in Riyadh.

Ambassador Ezz Tago

Ambassador Ezz Tago

Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ezzedin H. Tago, also cast his vote on the first day of automated elections. He urged all registered Filipino in Saudi Arabia to exercise their right to vote. “I invite all kababayans to come to the Embassy in Riyadh or IPSA in Al Khobar, cast their votes and let their voices be heard. Kasali po tayong lahat dito,” said Ambassador Tago.

Saudi Arabia accounts for 216,662 out of the 1.376 million registered Filipino overseas voters for 2016. There are three voting venues in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has 113,985 registered voters under its Certified List of Overseas Voters (CLOV) while Jeddah has 68,751 and Al Khobar with 33,926.

The following are important details regarding overseas voting:

Venue:

A) Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh

B) International Philippine School in Al Khobar (IPSA), Al Khobar, Eastern Province

Who may vote:

Registered overseas voters whose names appear in the CLOV under Riyadh PE; registered seafarers
See  http://riyadhpe.dfa.gov.ph/index.php/component/content/article/114-overseas-voting/2325

Registered overseas voters whose names appear in the CLOV under POLO Al Khobar; registered seafarers

See http://riyadhpe.dfa.gov.ph/index.php/component/content/article/114-overseas-voting/2326

Period: 09 April to 09 May 2016 (Daily including weekends and holidays)

Daily schedule: Daily 8:00AM to 5:00PM Weekdays: 12:00NN to 8:00PM

Weekends: 9:00AM to 5:00PM
Last day: 09 May 2016 from 8:00AM to 12:00NN*

*Per COMELEC Res. 10087, the requirements:

ANY of the following may be presented to the SBEI:

1)Original PHL passport
2)Voter’s ID
3)Any PHL-issued ID
4)Iqama
5) Seaman’s book (if seafarer)

Reminders:

  1. Inspect your voter receipt and drop it in the receipt receptacle. Do not leave voting area with the voter receipt. 
  2. Taking photographs of the ballot or the voter receipt is an election offense.
  3. CAMPAIGNING INSIDE THE EMBASSY IS PROHIBITED

The Philippine Embassy  wishes to remind the voting public that the conduct of any political or partisan campaigning or propaganda for or against any candidate at polling areas at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh or the International Philippine School in Al Khobar within the voting period is strictly prohibited .

The Embassy invites the voting public’s attention to the following provisions under Article X of COMELEC Resolution No. 10052 on election offenses and prohibited acts:

Under Section 261 of Batas Pambansa 881

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“k. Unlawful electioneering – It is unlawful to solicit votes or undertake any propaganda on the day…of election, for or against any candidate or any political party within the polling place and with a radius of thirty meters thereof.”

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“2) On candidacy and campaign:

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f. Any person who solicits votes or undertakes any propaganda, on the day of election, for or against any candidate or any political party within the polling area or within a radius of thirty meters thereof”

The wearing of T-shirts, ballcaps, jackets, wristbands, bandanas or any other campaign-related material or paraphernalia, or, possession of said materials, is strictly prohibited inside the Embassy in Riyadh or the International Philippine School in Al Khobar within the voting period from 09 April to 09 May 2016.

Any person or group who wishes to enter the premises of the Embassy or IPSA, to cast their votes or avail of any services of the Embassy, will only be accommodated once they remove such items from their person, change into other clothes or have the prohibited clothing worn inside out.

Recorded CCTV footage may be submitted to COMELEC by the Embassy if required by law. END

No to Vote Buying!


I posted in our blog a couple of years back how to minimize or eradicate vote buying in our country during elections. One ideal solution is to educate voters how important our right of suffrage is. It is our obligation as a citizen in our country to participate in an honest to goodness election that in the long run could shape up the shattered bits of our Philippine politics.   

According to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, “we can educate voters as much as we can, but we cannot legislate good behavior”.  I totally agree with Mr. Jimenez, but how can we eradicate or perhaps lessen the impact of vote buying and voter behavior?  

picsmeme-conscience-quotes-05Vote buying usually occurs in a hot contested barangay and municipalities where voters are nominal in counts. Poor electorate or poverty stricken areas are more susceptible to vote buying. A single candidate will see to it that voters receive monetary consideration during the election period, spending millions of peso budget for that purpose ranging from PHP 100.00 to a PHP 1,500.00 per voter in the rural communities. Two Million Pesos in a PHP 500.00 each for a mere 4,000 population of registered voters in a small municipality.  

In a partisan politics, usually a party will set aside a certain bigger budget to buy votes in return for a block vote in favor to the members of the whole party. Therefore, a contesting group with huge financial machineries will make sure that the highest bid is realize in favor to their respective parties.  

It is also normal that a monetary favor can influence the result of votes even in areas where populations are of consanguinities to each other. “Money is thicker than blood” shall we say are more important in Philippine election rather than what a sincere relative or a candidate can offer for the progress of their locality in general. Recent elections in the Philippines revealed that at least a major and well organized parties bought votes during election.

The Comelec has a well in place guidelines, punishments and other  prescribed measures to be taken based on the complaints of vote buying, however the sweet smell of victory by any means doesn’t stop politicians from buying votes especially when  automated voting system is introduced in the country. 

Vote buying doesn’t only corresponds of directly offering or accepting cash monies on the spot, it means “Any person who promises money or anything of value in order to induce anyone to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election.”

The Comelec admits in the rappler.com online article that “with the automated voting system in the country, candidates could no longer influence canvassers and teachers on the outcome of the election report, since machines do the work, so politicians and their coordinators had to focus on what they could affect and that’s through vote buying.”

In order to control vote buying, non-government organizations and concern citizen who still believes that our votes are sacred should be vigilant during the election period. Who are those in target for monitoring? Coordinators or individuals connected to political parties or candidates and so with our population at large should be monitored. Report those electoral payoffs and identify those persons involved and file a complaint with the Comelec. Don’t forget to use the high technology gadget in reporting those to be implicated, such as photos of the transaction, taped conversation that can be uploaded to social working sites, blogs and media as well. Politicians mobilize propagandas during campaign periods in networking sites and why we could not mobilize ourselves in exposing politicians who buy votes and voters accepting monies in favor of their votes?

Once and for all, to avoid vote buying, the continuing voter education should be focused at an early school age of every Filipinos. The school is the best venue and student participation in the primary and secondary levels in choosing their student leaders is a must that will represent the student organ in the governance of the Academe; with emphasis on choosing the right candidates that could eventually become the future leaders in our country.   

Politicians choose one form of electoral investment strategy – the VOTE BUYING and the result can affect the lives and welfare of the poor Filipinos and the country as a whole. “NO TO VOTE BUYING! BE VIGILANT, REPORT AN ELECTION FRAUD!”  – BongA

Overseas Filipinos Urge to Vote


According to the DFA-Overseas Voting Secretariat (DFA-OVS), there will be over one million active registered overseas absentee voters (ARVs) for the Overseas Absentee Voting in the May 2016 elections.

DFA-OVS chair Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said that “this is the first time in the history of Philippine overseas voting that we will have over one million active overseas registered voters for an election. Their desire to actively participate in our political process could be a sign that our democracy has reached a new level of maturity.”

Your+Voice+Your+Vote+logoAs a mature voter, this is our turning point to make a difference in who wins in the coming election. This is the time that we will show our unity and to prove that our sector has the strength to change the electoral outcome of Philippine politics. We, therefore, urge our fellow registered absentee voters to  exercise our right of suffrage this coming April 9, 2016 to May 9, 2016 and have our opportunity  to be heard in the ballot.

As we belong to a democratic country, we have our freedom of choice and could not be dictated by anyone. We should look at candidates based on our faith, and supporting the candidates whose values we feel best align with our own.

In today’s Philippine politics, we should not look for a party system, and be identified either of those parties. It’s very important to find out what the candidates stand for the welfare of our sector.

Deuteronomy 1:13 says “Choose some well-respected men from each of your tribe who are known for their wisdom and understanding, and I will appoint them as your leaders.

From: Ofwempowerment Blog