Filipino golfer captured Golf Championship Tournament in Riyadh

RIYADH: Riyadh Filipino golfer Resty Sibug scored a victory last Friday when he won the inaugural BMW InterContinental Golf Championship 2012.

Overall champion Resty Sibug, second left, with sponsor and organizers after the awards ceremony. (AN photo)

Sibug secured the overall lead in a 2 under net score of 54 participated by over 100 players of 15 different nationalities. He took home a Callaway RazrX Black golf set and BMW crystal trophy of the championship and bagged the Best Gross prize.

The two day tournament ended successful despite the severe sandstorm that swallowed the city and reduced visibility in the Kingdom’s capital for several days.

Sibug, is a mechanical engineer and area manager at Saudi TKT, Co. Ltd., a Saudi-German Joint  company and one of  the leading contractor in the field of Electro-mechanical Services in the Kingdom.

Engr. Resty Sibug was the past President of  the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME) and currently the Community Relations-Director General of the OFW Congress, representing PSME in the 21-member executive council.


Remittance Is Not the Enemy, Economic Reintegration of Returning OFWs Is


I’ve been advocating OFW issues and concerns in our blog but one issue that I am very keen of, is the creation of an OFW Bank. There are many organizations that I am affiliated with, like in the past  the Bohol-Leyte OFW Cooperative, OFW Cooperative Council, OFWNet, United OFW, and at present Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Manggagawang PilipinoOFW Congress, and even Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino (PPP), the proposed political party of OFWs, all of these groups tackled the possibility of creating an OFW Bank that will cater the real needs of OFWs and their families.  

Also, there have been bills filed in Philippine Congress that seek the creation of a bank for OFWs, the Senate Bill No. 639 by Sen. Manuel B. Villar, Jr.; House Bill No. 723 by Rep. Judy J. Syjuco; and HB No. 1565 by representatives Jaime C. Lopez and Prospero Nograles. Up to this date, the mentioned bills are among those stacked of files found in the dim lit areas of the House of Congress.

There was even a proposal from Vice President Jojo Binay, who is also the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns submitted to the Office of the President but there  are many sectors of government opposed the plan for the creation of an OFW Bank.   

The featured article below by: Romie Cahucom  will give an update on this issue and perhaps – would be solution to the most awaited OFW Bank.


Remittance Is Not the Enemy, Economic Reintegration of Returning OFWs Is

For this post, we get back to the OFW bank issue by offering a sort of brief rebuttal to the first two (2) objections of Bangko Sentral and the Department of Finance on the proposal of Vice-President Jejomar Binay for the formation of an OFW bank way back in 2010.

We recall that Vice-President Binay, way back on November 22, 2010, sent a formal letter to President Benigno Aquino III recommending the establishment of an OFW bank which “will provide an alternative yet viable economic financial and remittance institution for our kababayans at the local and international levels”.

As reports go, the Bangko Sentral and Department of Finance “had advised the Palace against the scheme, citing issues of cost, redundancy, administrative and regulatory unwieldiness, and sending signals that discourage current private-sector competition which, they claimed, already benefits OFWs by way of driving down transaction costs.”

President Aquino then, upholding the position of government regulators, did not approve the OFW bank proposal.

Vice-President Binay, despite the disapproval, vowed to work on with the OFW bank initiative “to encourage savings and investment among OFWs”.

It is presumably in this light that the Vice-President commissioned the Technical Working Group (as I mentioned in previous posts) to prepare a study for the establishment of an OFW Development Bank.

For purposes of this post, I assume that the recommendation of Vice-President Binay is for an OFW bank along the same lines as the following report from dailies:

“The OFW Bank project was first conceptualized in 2006 to consolidate the financial assets and operational capabilities of government financial institutions like the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Philippine Postal Corporation (PPC), together with its subsidiary Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PPSB), as lead entities towards the creation of a financial institution for overseas Filipinos that is less expensive and more focused in its direction and services.”

Now for the brief general rebuttal on the first two (2) points raised by the government regulators (We shall take up the rest of the objections in a future post).

The Issue of Cost 

Forget about the previous (2006) proposal involving Land Bank, DBP, Philippine Postal Corporation and the Philippine Postal Savings Bank. The solution is simply to buy an existing savings or thrift bank to jumpstart and start the OFW bank rolling. This is not a big deal as I am sure it is not difficult to find a small bank up for sale which should be based in Metro Manila or nearby.

Read more >>>>>>

Nitaqat is the name of the game


The guidelines are clear; in order for foreign workers to transfer their iqamas from “red” or “yellow” companies to “green” companies”, they have to meet the four conditions set by the Ministry of Labor.

Click to Check your Company Category

First, you must have been in the Kingdom for over six years. Second, you must have completed at least two years of service in the company that you wish to leave. Third, your transfer is possible only after the expiry of your work permit. Fourth, you are eligible to transfer to the “green” zone company only if your employer is still in “yellow” or “red” category.

What comes next is just paperwork. Once you have met all the above four requirements, you need to produce a request from the new company seeking your service to the labor office to finalize transfer procedures. The new system is supposedly designed to protect the rights of both foreign workers and employers.

Well, what is all this noise about color designations?

Companies in the “green” and “premium” categories are both lucky and happy; they abide by Saudization rules and enjoy a lot of benefits and incentives. They will be able to recruit foreign workers unless they fall below the “green” level and do not apply for such visas more than once every two months. Premier companies will also be allowed transfer of visas and change of profession of their foreign workers, but the service would be available only once every two months. In addition, they can get the transfer of visas of employees from other companies, without fulfilling the condition of completing two years with the first employee. Furthermore, “green” companies can hire any worker from “red” or “yellow” companies without their consent. Is this good or what?

On the other hand, companies in the “yellow” zone would be given a grace period of nine months, but they would not be able to extend their foreign employees’ work visas beyond six years.

“Red” zone companies are in serious trouble; they would be granted six months to improve their status by hiring more Saudis before facing punitive actions and will not be able to renew their foreign workers’ visas. For example, if a construction company does not have 10 percent Saudis on its payroll then it would end up in the “red” zone. That’s not all; companies in the “red” would be banned from change of profession, transfer of visas, issuance of new visas and opening files for new branches. I have a feeling that “red” companies hate change and love it at the same time; they want things to remain the same but get better.

Will this ultimately lead to the nullification of sponsorship system all together? It probably would, otherwise the five years spent by the Ministry of Labor to complete the study would go in vain.

The Good news and the bad news…… read more>>>>>>>>>>

Pinoy on Death Row “Blood Money not yet settled” – PhilEmb

Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Clarifies Status of Filipino Reportedly Spared From Death in Saudi

Press Release No. 053-2012, 16 April 2012

Starting on 12 April, there have been articles quoting a thank you letter by Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza, a Filipino detained in Dammam, alleging that he has been spared from death in Saudi, ending with “at last, my ordeal comes to an end”. An NGO also made a statement based on the same letter.

These circulating articles also shared on blogs have given the impression that Mr. Lanuza’s freedom is official and he will be soon freed.

After the media reports on the alleged settlement of the case, Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mr. Ezzedin Tago personally called the representative of the family on 12 April and confirmed that the victim’s family have not yet received the blood money settlement nor submitted their “tanazul” (forgiveness and desistance) to the court.

Blood money not yet settled

Since the victim’s family has not yet received the blood money settlement nor made their forgiveness officially in court, the Embassy stresses that such statements are premature.

It is also not accurate that “a reconciliation team led by former Ambassador Antonio Villamor was responsible in convincing the aggrieved family to formally accept the blood money”.

The truth is that the victim’s heirs signified their willingness to accept blood money as early as 27 February 2011. With the efforts of the Saudi Reconciliation Committee and a relative of the family, Ambassador Tago (then Charge d’Affaires ad interim) and DFA Undersecretary Rafael Seguis met with the victim’s father and brothers in Dammam. On the advise of the Saudi Reconciliation Committee and to respect the victim’s family, this matter was not divulged to the public.

During that meeting, the heirs expressed willingness to forgive Lanuza and accept blood money. The Embassy has noted discrepancies in media reports on the exact amount.

The Embassy feels it is inappropriate to discuss the amount publicly, as part of its effort to respect the wishes of the victim’s family.

As far as the Embassy is aware, the efforts to raise the full amount are still ongoing.

Settlement and Forgiveness Through Court

The Embassy also clarifies that settling the blood money must be done through the concerned court and affirmed by the concerned authorities, including the Office of the Emir.

First, the heirs must receive the full amount of blood money agreed upon for the settlement of the private rights aspect of the case. The settlement should be recorded at the court with the family executing a “tanazul” or affidavit of forgiveness and desistance.

The tanazul or forgiveness would manifest that the accused was indeed forgiven by the heirs. The case file is then forwarded to the Emir’s Office for him to issue an order for the release of a detainee.

Thus, Mr. Lanuza is not yet spared from the death sentence until the desistance is formally registered with the court, which then will forward the case to the authorities for the release order.

The Embassy reiterates that Mr. Lanuza is still in prison and the process for his release will only commence once the blood money is settled through the court.

The Embassy requests media to confirm information prior to any publication of statements as inaccurate or premature news may negatively affect the case since the heirs have yet to formally forgive Mr. Lanuza. ###

Press Release No. 053-2012, 16 April 2012


In a statement posted on the blog site of the migrant workers group “Migrante Middle East,” Lanuza said the family of the Saudi national he killed finally accepted the offer of blood money.

Sponsorship system on its way out

14 May, 2012 /RIYADH : Deputy Labor Minister for workers affairs Ahmad Al-Humaidan said that the ministry had started taking practical steps aimed at scrapping the individual sponsorship (kafala) system.

“We have already begun changing some technical terms related with the sponsorship system, like changing the term ‘transfer of sponsorship’(naql kafala) to ‘transfer of services.’ Other steps included preventing sponsors from holding passports of foreign workers and canceling the condition to obtain the sponsor’s approval for workers to bring their families to the Kingdom,” he said.

The deputy minister made the remarks while addressing a seminar on private health firms in Riyadh, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported yesterday. read more>>>>>>


Money transfer to Philippines made easy with ANB-BDO tie-up

A Philippine Embassy official said in Riyadh in 2011 there were more or less 9 million OFWs around the world who had sent remittances worth $20.1 billion last year, representing a 7.2 percent rise over the figure of $18.3 billion registered the previous year.

Welfare Officer Romeo C. Pablo added the number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom is 1,080,662, of whom 985,766 are OFWs and the rest temporary migrants.

Pablo made his statement at the launch of the Arab National Bank’s partnership with Banko de Oro (BDO), who will work on ANB’s TeleMoney initiative to serve OFWs in the Kingdom. The ceremony was held at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and attended by various community leaders and a number of OFWs working in the city.

The event was attended both by officials representing the two banks including Anwar Al-Murshid, head of TeleMoney Business, Shalimar Salomabao, TeleMoney division product manager, Jonathan C. Diokno, senior vice president and head of the BDO Remittance Origination. Tomas Victor Mendoza, first vice president of BDO Remittance Project, was also present. Continue reading

Increase legal channels of remittance

Remittances to Philippines reached an all-time high of over $20 billion last year as demand for Filipino workers remained strong even amid economic and political challenges confronting labor markets in the West and the Middle East.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that remittances of $20.1 billion for 2011 marked a 7.2-percent rise over the $18.3 billion registered the previous year. The growth in remittances came about as job orders for Filipino workers from foreign employers and that includes Saudi Arabia.

The biggest sources of remittances last year were the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Italy, Germany, and Norway.

The Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas said “Cash transfers from overseas Filipinos continued to be a major contributor in stimulating domestic demand”.

Despite global economic crisis, OFW Remittances were credited for helping the Philippine economy grow in 2011 even as exports income weaken amid dwindling demand from countries experiencing economic crisis, including those countries called “economic giants” mainly Europe and the United States.

The Philippines last year is the fourth-biggest recipient of remittances next to China, India, and Mexico.

But despite of this good news there is still impending problem that needs to be rectified. Estimated remittances passing through alternative channels or improper channels had reach from 25 to 70 percent of the total OFW remittances according to BSP. Let’s imagine those percentage if we use the proper channel in sending remittances to our love ones. Thus – the remittance programs for OFWs of  the just concluded launching of Banco De Oro and Arab National Bank Telemoney Remittance Services in the Kingdom and so with other Philippine banking institutions had forged a tie-up arrangements with foreign bank hosting Filipino workers in the promotion of greater use of formal remittance systems by Overseas Filipinos.

To strengthen the remittance programs of our government as well as the private banking sectors and in response to increase legal channels of remittance, We OFWs, reiterated our previous demands addressed to our Government and banking institutions to look into ways for the creation of an OFW Stabilization Fund and or special exchange rate for OFW remittances.  In this way, we can lessen or perhaps eradicate totally the remittances passing through improper means. – by: BongA

Launching ANB Telemoney – BDO Remittance Services


The  Arab National Bank  (ANB), the Kingdom’s leading banking institution and Banco De Oro (BDO) will formally launch  their ANB TeleMoney – BDO Remittance Services in the Kingdom.

It will be held in our Philippine Embassy in Riyadh  (Bonifacio Multi Purpose Court, Diplomatic Quarter) on April 12, 2012 (Thursday) from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

Arab National Bank was established  in 1979, and as listed Saudi joint stock company, it now ranks among the 10 largest banks in the Middle East.  It provides services to retail and corporate customers through its extensive network of 183 branches spanning the Kingdom, including 42 ladies branches/sections.
Banco De Oro or BDO is a full service Universal Bank in the Philippines and member of the SM Group, one of the country’s largest and most successful conglomerates with businesses spanning between retail, mall operations, property development (residential, commercial, resorts/hotel), and financial services.
It was long awaiting business opportunity to onboard BDO within ANB TeleMoney and finally the following BDO services will be available in TeleMoney, kingdomwide.
 TeleMoney-BDO provided Fast and Safe Remittance services to Philippines, can be received within 30 minutes after sending to any TeleMoney Centers
TeleMoney-BDO is the only bank in Saudi that provide FOOD Remittance (Jolibee and Max’s Restaurant) and will be delivered  to the home address of  OFW family in the Philippines
And has a very Competitive Exchange Rates PHP/USD

Ministry completes study on replacing sponsorship system


Arab News  By : GALAL FAKKAR

The Labor Ministry has completed a study on prospects of canceling the individual kafala (sponsorship) system replacing it with recruitment companies. The move may lead to the nullification of sponsorship system all together at a later stage.

The study, which took five years to complete, included the rules and regulations for the new recruitment companies. “The study will be presented to the Council of Ministers shortly for approval,” an informed source told Arab News.

The study proposed the formation of a commission under the Labor Ministry to look into foreign labor issues and put end to the traditional sponsorship system. The commission will be based in Riyadh and will have branches in major cities.

The study advised the government not to hold passports of foreign workers and cancel the condition of obtaining sponsor’s approval for a worker to bring his family to the Kingdom.

According to the new system, an employer would not be responsible for the wrong actions of a foreign worker outside his work. “The new system is designed to protect the rights of both foreign workers and employers,” the source said.

The study proposed introduction of a mandatory insurance scheme to protect financial rights of foreign workers and employers. The scheme, which may act as an effective tool to end the justification for introducing the sponsorship system, would cover the damages caused by a foreign worker, payment of unpaid salaries and provision of air tickets.  read more>>>>>>