Ramadan Mubarak!

As the crescent moon is sighted…
 And the holy month of Ramadan begins…
May Allah bless you with happiness  and  grace your home with warmth & peace!

Ramadan Mubarak

May This Ramadan be as bright as ever. May this Ramadan bring joy, health and wealth to you.May the festival of lights brighten up you  and your near and dear ones lives.

May this Ramadan bring in u the most  brightest and choicest happiness… and  love you have ever Wished for.

May this Ramadan bring you the  utmost in peace and prosperity.

May lights triumph over darkness.

May peace transcend the earth.

May the spirit of light illuminate the world.

May the light that we celebrate at Ramadan  show us the way and lead us together on the path of

Peace and Social Harmony.

Wish you a very happy Ramadan Mubarak!

From: OFWempowerment WordPress Blog

New OFW regional group sworn into office by Street Sweepers

Tacloban City – Taking oath before a “Street Sweepers” may not be a good idea under Section 41 of the Philippine Administrative Code but that doesn’t stop for a newly constituted organization to take their oath of office administered by street sweepers in the city.

Pagkakaisa OFW & Family in Region 8, Eastern Visayas

PAGKAKAISA OFW and Family in Region 8, Eastern Visayas were sworn in before the Tacloban street sweepers during the association’s First General Assembly on June 18, 2011 held at the Boulevard Restaurant in Tacloban City.

The group comprised of OFWs, active and ex-OFWs and so with their families is a non-stock and non-profit association under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines.

The gathering was witnessed by more than three (300) hundred participants. The affair was honored by the presence of relatives and families of the OFWs from Region 8. The affair had its many firsts, unlike other induction ceremonies, there were neither big names nor fun fare for having celebrities and politicians as its honorary guests of honor.

The association invited three street sweepers from MMDA to induct them into office; they are Mr. Virgilo Bostrillo, Mr. Darwin Balderama and Mr. Francisco Salas.

The officers of  the association firmly believes that the three symbolizes the  true  Filipino values, which is, despite of difficulties and hardships  they’re facing, they are still proud on what they are doing of serving  the public and do everything  to improve their personal living conditions. One of them is a College Criminology graduate.

“The Honorable Street Sweepers” Mr. Virgilo Bostrillo, Mr. Darwin Balderama and Mr. Francisco Salas

The association believes that it’s about time for the OFWs and their families to come together and form a worthy cause that will not only benefit the OFWs and their families but would somehow lessen the alarming poverty rate among the people in Region 8. The group will embark on the concept of  TEAM WORK and synergy among its members as the saying goes: “kung kaya nila, kaya rin namin.”      

The Founding President, Mr. Alex Veloso Bello, the  MOFYA 2010 National Special Awardee in his acceptance speech stressed the need for a strong commitments among its members. He pointed out to achieve the following objectives:

– To conduct an opportunity for its members to gather a liberal discussion on issues involving the OFWs and their families in Region 8.

–  To promote strong unity and machinery and together they will express their own opinions and suggestions on how to further improve the lives of the OFWs and families in Region 8.

–  To create a global network of federal association among other regions through modern technology and communication in coordination with the Philippine government.

–  To formulate and support advocacies and significant bills to the Philippine government concerning the welfare, benefits, education, training, deployment and re-deployment and other related matters that are beneficial to OFWs or ex-OFWs and their families.

Participants (OFWs, ex OFWs and Family)

Bello emphasized that the association’s objectives can only be realized through strong devotion and dedications among its officers and members. “It is the officer’s aspirations to develop its members to become leader’s in the future through proper education and honing their interests” he added.

The group believes that as poverty line of the Filipino people increases, there will be more people suffers from poverty and blaming the government for all of these is not the solution. Pagkakaisa OFW and Families will take part of helping the people in Region 8 to become self- reliant and to motivate them to help themselves.

Bello explained that “it is about time that OFWs like us should think of ways and means to help the government alleviate the living conditions of the people in Region 8. The profile of our Region shows that there are more middle class and lower class families who cannot afford to send their children to school.”

He also reminded the OFW families who are left behind to handle properly the finances being sent by the family member who happens to be an OFW worker and just don’t rely on the remittances being sent.

The newly inducted officers are; President: Alex Veloso Bello, Executive Vice President Noel Sia, Vice President for Northern Leyte: Violeta S. Sabornido, Vice President for Southern Leyte: Leo Quirante, Vice President for Western Leyte: Paul Villamor, Vice President for Eastern Samar:  Angelita Alalim, Vice President for Western Samar: Reynaldo Tuazon, Vice President for Northern Samar Danilo Pancho, Vice President for Biliran: Pablito Cuizon.

OFW and Families of Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) Founding Chapter

The Executive Officers are; Secretary: Rosario Macapugas, Assistant Secretary: Nida Cortez, Treasurer: Delia Reyes, Assistant Treasurer: Norma Enerlan, Auditor: Floresa Tabuloc, Asst. auditor: Julie Saldana, Marshals: Victor Quimbo and Arturo Bello, Jr.

The Board of Directors are; Tacloban City: Dr. Pantaleon Hobayan (Chairman of the Board), Rogelio Labbarete, Evengeline Bello, Lolita Entong, Tess Contado.

Tanuan: Beatriz Aleta, Dulag: Eugenio Alicando, Alang-alang: Annariza Alve, Ormoc City: Araceli Sevilla (Vice Chairperson), Isabel: Cecila Orsalez, Calubian: Nida Robin, Almeria: Crisanto Calvez, Basey: Flor Lagutan, Calbayog City: Edgar Madeja, Babatngon: Cesar Nacorda, Baybay: Teresita Gabi.

The association Board of Advisers: Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis and 2009 OWWA Land Based  “Most Outstanding OFW Awardee  Engr. Francisco “Jun” Aguilar, Jr.

Although, PAGKAKAISA agreed to develop self – reliance among them but, they are still expecting support from the government and Non Government Organization to start the projects that they started to conceptualize.

The group also encourages other regions in the country to organize PAGKAKAISA OFW and Family and to consolidate their strength  that could eventually bring and empower OFW families into the mainstream of the Philippine society. – end – by: BongA

Report ‘premature’ termination cases to embassy, Saudi OFWs advised

Amid persistent reports on the termination of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia, Filipino workers who receive termination notices from their employers or who have been terminated without valid cause are advised to get in touch with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) nearest their place of work (Riyadh, Jeddah and al-Khobar). POLO officers will provide the necessary assistance to the complainants.

These reports identify the Nitaqat system under the new Saudization policy as the reason for the recent incidents of termination of Filipino workers. The Saudi government has already announced that the Nitaqat system will start on 11 September 2011 and even then the companies who fail to comply with the Saudization targets (red-coded or yellow-coded companies) are given grace periods of 6 months and 9 months, respectively, from 11 June 2011, to improve their situation.

It is noted that the Nitaqat system honors existing work contracts. The sanction for non-complying companies will be the non-renewal of work permits of foreign workers, and not their illegal termination. This is the reason why the work permits of foreign workers in red-coded companies will not be renewed, and that the work permits of foreign workers in yellow-coded companies will be limited to 6 years.

Under the Saudi Labor Law, the employer can terminate the work contract in the following cases: (1) the worker assaults the employer or any of his superiors, (2) the worker fails to perform his essential obligations or obey legitimate orders from his superiors, (3) it is established that the worker committed a misconduct or act of dishonesty, (4) if the worker deliberately commits any act or default with the intent to cause material loss to the employer, (5) if the worker resorts to forgery to obtain his job, (6) if the worker is under probationary period, (7) if the worker is absent without valid reason, (8) if the worker unlawfully takes advantage of his position for personal gain, and (9) if the worker divulges work-related industrial or commercial secrets of the employer.

Affected workers are given the chance to refute the ground(s) for their termination. They can also file a complaint with the Saudi Labor Office for illegal termination.

The Filipino community is advised to regularly visit the Philippine Embassy website [www.philembassy-riyadh.org] for updates on the implementation of the Nitaqat system.

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

Press Release 53/2011

11 July 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saudization: A two-way process

For the past 20 years I have been in the Kingdom, we have seen a number of plans, programs and projects aimed at Saudization of the work force. In fact, the Saudi government has always aimed for a realistic average figure of about 25 to 30 percent Saudization in order to facilitate a smoother and viable transition.

100 % Saudization

Even at this low target, all the previous programs failed miserably, simply because Saudis have not been able to motivate themselves to grab the positions and opportunities offered to them, almost on a silver platter, and to top it all, at double to triple salaries and benefits paid to the expats, working in the same position and carrying out same duties. Other than banks and other essential government services, for which Saudis have been deemed as must, most of the private sector has been constantly struggling to meet government quotas of Saudization fixed by the Kingdom.

Sometimes this pressure on the private companies have led them to resort to illegal ways and circumvent the laws.

I feel, and I think most of us do know, that Saudization cannot be a one-way process. No matter what programs or plans are put in place, unless Saudis respond to it through their own motivation and eagerness to work, the government will continue to review and revise old or existing plans to Saudize.

When we will witness many Saudis working as mechanics, landscapers, carpenters and masons, A/C technicians, tailors, salesmen and restaurant workers, then only we will begin to realize that Saudization is taking root. The onus is on the Saudis to grab offers of jobs being made, accept salaries according to the average living standard, and most of all shun all the stigma connected with the idea that working with our own hands is below the dignity of a Saudi. In truth it’s the other way round. Saudization is a two-way proposition. Saudis are the only people in almost the whole world, to be lucky enough to have myriads of opportunities lying at their feet, and a very generous government to give them the chance, if they are willing to accept and work.  (10 July 2011)

Within your reach…

(We are a land-based recruitment agency, registered with the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Concerned with your business’s specialized needs, we provide only competent, highly qualified professionals and multi-skilled workers. We cater our services to businesses of: Healthcare | Information Technology | Education | Construction & Infrastructure |Hotel & Travel | Industrial Sector Globalization is our main thrust and you can rest assured that all your manpower needs will be met. “Man Resources” works closely with institutions whose ethics and values are in line with ours – believing that to strengthen one’s global position and keep it strong, one must start with a competent, well-treated, and motivated work force. “All Access”. Thru phone, email, cable or the internet, we are always within your reach whenever and wherever in the world you may be. “At Home”. Philippines: the site of the best human resources. It is one of the largest and the most globally competitive in the world. “Power Handling”. Our senior management personally handles your needs and our staff is highly competent, that each specific sector’s manpower will be filled expeditiously with the right people. “Tried & Tested”. We are linked to various educational and training centers because our pre-selected applicants get continuous training depending on your company’s requirements. “Legitimate business”. Duly recognized by the SEC and other government agencies,, you can be assured that every transaction and arrangement with us is legitimate and real.)

A well flowered description of a reputable, license and premier recruitment agency in the Philippines where a probable employer’s trust is the main mission of their agency’s profile but not to a prospective OFW applicant.

Our attention has been drawn to this particular recruitment agency in Philippines whom I will not name in this entry, perhaps at this time.

A distressed OFW, now roaming around Batha is a victim of a contract substitution by his employer and probably in connivance with this premier recruitment agency.

This poor OFW signed a two year contract through this recruitment agency in the Philippines as “Electro Steel” with a monthly salary of USD 700.00, equivalent to SAR 2,625.00 or an equivalent to Philippine currency of P 30,445.00 yet when he arrived in Saudi Arabia he was transferred to new employer. His salary was reduced to a mere SAR 1,200, worst he didn’t even receive his salary for nine months. He received a mere SAR 50, SAR 100, SAR 80 and forced to sign a blank paper every time he received such an amount. Worst he was assigned in a remote area near the Yemen border, 50 kilometers away from the nearest town of where he was situated.

Awful, he didn’t work as“Electro Steel” whatever this work is – but instead work as a helper in a small printing press. He was maltreated like an ordinary household worker, and sometimes beaten whenever he made mistake to any job this employer wants him to do.

He told me that every night, he asked to himself “paano kung di ko na makayanan at mapatay niya ako at kung hindi, ako ang makapatay dahil sa galit?” (what if this physical abuse caused my life or reach to the point that I may accidentally kill my employer out of rage?)

This was the question he keeps on asking to himself every time he goes to bed. He always weigh the consequences of what will happen to his family of four at home if he will be in jail forever or worst – beheaded. One day he decides to run-away, “buti na lang po may pumara sa akin na truck sa highway kaya po nakarating ako dito sa Riyadh” he narrated to me his ordeal while his hands was shaking. A decision that he never regrets rather than stay in his employer that he may be feel sorry for the rest of his life, he told me.

ATTENTION to all recruitment agencies in the Philippines, “MAN Resources” in particular, tingnan nyo naman kung sino ang mga kliyente ninyo? Kawawa naman po itong mga kahanay namin na pina-paalis ninyo or dini-deploy ninyo at ngayon nagliwaliw sa Batha at nakikitulog at nakikikain na lang sa kung saan saan. Di na ba kayo naaawa sa mga OFWs na ito? Hindi nyo ba alam na ang Saudi police ay hindi na po nang-huhuli ng takas? Kung hinuhuli man, ikukulong muna ito ng matagal bago e-report sa ating Embahada. Hindi ba ninyo alam na kung hindi magbibigay ng Exit clearance ang magaling ninyong kliyente puwedeng habang-buhay magliwaliw sa Saudi Arabia ang pina-alis ninyong OFW? Magbasa naman po kayo ng diyaryo pagkatapos ninyong maningil ng placement fee sa inyong mga pinapa-alis na OFW!

The idea of slavery is not anymore happening in the 21st century; however, it is also hard to imagine that the remnants of it still exist in some areas of the Middle East and perhaps in the other part of the globe.

We are here working legally under the protection of our government as a documented OFWs. However, sometimes OFWs like me find just the very opposite, we find ourselves abused, isolated and exploited. Sometimes no one else can turn too, not even the government agencies stationed in the receiving countries that are supposed to protect us from further humiliation. The same government agencies that says “magpahuli ka na lang para ma-deport or di kaya’y magtrabaho ka na lang kahit walang work permit para makaipon ka ng pamasahe pauwi or pambayad sa tinakasan mong employer para bigyan ka ng exit clearance dahil hindi mo tinapos ang iyong kontrata”.

Para saan po ang OWWA mandatory membership? Para saan po ang mga binabayaran namin bago makakuha ng OEC? Saan na ang tinatawag ninyong Bagong Bayani?

Ngayon pa lang Madame Mai Anonouevo of ATIKHA at 2010 Model OFW of the Year winner for the land-based sector Kagalang-galang Mr. Ermie Garon, kung totoo po na maging isa kayo sa mga bagong Board of Trustee ng mga government agencies na ito, isama nyo na po sa inyong listahan ang mga problemang ito upang mabigyan ng pagbabago ang takbo ng mga ahensyang ito at  maging sulit po ang binabayad namin sa mga nakatagalang Board of Trustees  sa mga ahensya ng gobyernong dapat kami ay pangalagaan.

MAN Resources, I challenge you now – tulongan nyo po na makauwi ang OFW na ito dahil kung hindi ipa “All Access ko kayo thru phone, email, cable or the internet, IWAGAYWAY ko po ang inyong pangalan sa google search. Kung may tanong kayo I am always here  within your reach.”

By: Bong Amora (10 July 2011)

Nitaqat: Firms face Sept. 10 deadline

The new emblem of the Ministry of Labor that was officially released on Monday. The ministry is currently spearheading a program to bolster the Saudization process. (SPA)


Published: Jun 20, 2011 01:15 Updated: Jun 20, 2011 01:57

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor has given private companies and establishments three months to comply with the Nitaqat program, which aims to improve employment opportunities for Saudis.

Ministry spokesman Hattab Al-Anazi said companies would have until Sept. 10 to ensure they are fully compliant and added labor offices would continue to provide all services to them as usual during this period.

He said companies employing nine people or less would not have to adhere to the program, but would be treated according to the directory of foreign manpower recruitment that will be published later on the Nitaqat website.

The spokesman asked private establishments to amend their data in such a way that they conform to the Nitaqat program.

He said companies should make sure their data are consistent for the benefit of recruitment offices, the Ministries of Labor and Interior and the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).

The spokesman asked establishments which have not registered at the GOSI to do so. He also said all Saudi employees of the organization should be registered on the “Tameenat Online” website.

Data for the Nitaqat program can be obtained from the GOSI’s database to find out the number of Saudi employees and the Ministry of Interior to find out the number of the foreign workers. -End-

Tidbits: the Nitaqat and POEA FDP

The Nitaqat

Many expatriates are afraid of what would be the outcome of this new Saudi policy, and some says it can create chaos among OFWs that will be affected on it. For me, there’s nothing to worry, I don’t even agree that our low skilled and semi skilled OFWs will be displaced. You know why?  Under the Nitaqat system an expatriates or a foreign worker will be given a free hand to transfer to another sponsor without even asking for the original sponsor’s consent.  This category falls under the Yellow and Red categories.

To those fellow OFWs who wrote in our blog asking if their employer’s move terminating them is legal – my answer is No! Under the Nitaqat system those companies belong to Yellow and Red categories will not be able to renew their foreign workers’ visas – it means, the worker still have the chance to complete their contract till his/her work permit expires (unspecified period) or contract expires (specified period).  If your sponsor terminates your contract, don’t panic, don’t sign any documents accepting the termination, tell them that you understand the  point and instead  submit a letter of non-renewal of contract. In this manner, the worker can receive all the benefits under the law.

Another option is – the worker can transfer his services or can transfer employment to another company even without the original employer’s consent.  So why panic? Stop worrying because we are not affected at all. Many good companies especially those belong to Green and Excellent categories will surely hire our services – Filipino pa! Alam nila kung paano tayo magtrabaho. So, those OFW’s out there, if you sense that your company will surely be affected by Saudization for not complying the recent Saudi government Nitaqat system, it’s time for you to start looking for a new employer but just do it cool and ask for their consent if necessary. (Click this link>>> The Facts About Nitaqat “The Nitaqat System in a Nutshell”)


PHL Recruitment Agencies should be aware of the Saudi’s Nitaqat policy; particularly their clients belong to Yellow and Red categories.  In the same time job seekers should be smart in accepting job offers from Saudi firms nowadays. Find out how long the Saudi employment company has been in business, see to it that the firm’s present financial condition is stable and more importantly, these companies are in line with the Saudization policy.

One more thing, job seekers or applicants who passed interviews from their prospective employers, please do not sign any documents or comply to the recruitment agencies instruction like, to undergo medical examinations, advance payment of placement fees and others without accepting first the employer’s JOB OFFER in accordance with the POEA Full Disclosure Policy.

The following terms and conditions must be written in the mentioned job offer or Full Disclosure of Employment Contract:

1)      Salary per month

2)      Food allowance ( If there is)

3)      Designation (Work Position)

4)      Contract Duration ( includes Yearly/after 24 months with number of days paid vacation)

5)      Free Airfare Ticket (upon completion of contract: 1 Year or 2 Years, it depends)

6)      Probation period (3 months)

7)      Transportation ( Allowance or Provided by employer)

8)      Accommodation ( Allowance or Provided by employer)

In addition, an OFW should always be aware of his/her Visa Category. If the visa category is different from the official work at site, an OFW should acknowledge that he/she is aware about it BUT salary and official designation shall be applied at site. This document should be signed by both the OFW and the Manager or Owner of the recruitment agency.

Upon arrival at site or country of destination, DO NOT sign any documents or new contract in which the basic terms and conditions are not the same in the Job Offer you signed with your recruitment agency in the Philippines. –End-

Philippine Embassy Statement on Visas for Filipino Household Service Workers

Philippine Embassy Statement on Visas for HSWs
Press Release 49/2011
2 July 2011

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh has learned through print media about the Saudi ban on stoppage of work visas for domestic workers from the Philippines which will be implemented effective 2 July 2011 as announced by the Saudi Ministry of Labor.

As of 1 July, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh has not received any official notice on the matter from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Labor.  The Embassy has sought a meeting with Saudi officials to confirm the parameters of this pronounced policy by the Ministry of Labor Spokesperson Mr. Hattab Al Anzi.

The Philippine Embassy has also received questions on whether the new policy would negatively affect Filipino HSWs already working and whose iqamas are subject for renewal or are going on vacation and would return.  The Philippine Embassy shall seek proper clarification on this issue from the Ministry of Labor.

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh clarifies that the processing, verification and authentication of contracts of household service workers has been suspended since March this year following an instruction from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and pending mutual agreement on the requirements for verification and terms and conditions of the contracts.

A Philippine – Saudi joint technical committee met in Manila on 24-27 April this year.  The Saudi delegation was headed by Assistant Deputy Minister of Labor H.E. Mr. Hashim Rajeh.

After the April meeting, the Philippine side agreed to waive requiring the employer’s personal appearance as well as submission of a police clearance, certificate of employment, vicinity map or sketch of the employer’s residence and names of the members of the employer’s family. On the other hand, the Saudi delegation agreed that Saudi employers would hire Filipino domestic helpers through licensed Saudi manpower agencies to be pre-qualified by the labor section of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah.

The only remaining issue to be resolved is the minimum salary.  The Saudi side proposed reducing the minimum salary to 240 U.S. dollars  per month from the existing minimum salary of 400 U.S. dollars per month which was set way back in 2006 applicable to all countries hiring Filipino domestic workers. The Philippine Department of Labor through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), which supervises and regulates the deployment of Filipino workers overseas, decided to maintain the monthly salary at the current level.

Before the reported decision of the Ministry of Labor to stop issuing visas for domestic helpers from the Philippines, the Embassy proposed resuming the talks to further discuss the remaining issue of the minimum salary.

The Philippine Embassy stresses that the requirements for labor contract verification and the terms and conditions of the contract including the $400 minimum salary are not new as suggested by some news reports.  These requirements are part of the HSW Reform Package introduced in December 2006 by the POEA, which have been implemented since 2007 for deployment of HSWs worldwide.  There are a series of POEA Governing Board Resolutions issued in 2006 and 2007 to implement the HSW reform package.  -END-