To our flag carrier, our sad farewell…


The Philippine Airlines country manager in Riyadh, Mr. Reynaldo Garcia announced today that the country’s flag carrier will be suspending its flight operation between Manila and Riyadh effective 01 April 2011 due to commercial issues.

Philippine Airlines Advisory – 007  dated today 8th February 2011 said that the  PAL management convey with extreme regret about the decision.  Dispositive portion of the mentioned advisory says, “nonetheless, rest assured that this did not come without due consideration of the painful effect it will have on our customers, generous business partners and wonderful friends in the industry”.

To our flag carrier, our sad farewell…

PAL first flew to Riyadh on March 1, 1987 and it was recalled that PAL has reduced its presence in ceasing flight to Dubai and Jeddah in 1998, then Dammam in 2001 and stopped  its flight operation to Riyadh on March 2006.  

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Congress-Riyadh, the OFW Congress-Eastern Region, Kasapi Congress-Western Region and other community groups were among the prime movers requesting the then GMA administration to help resume its flight back to the Kingdom.

In response to the clamor of more than two million Filipino Overseas Worker (OFW)communities in the Middle East, the flag carrier resumes back its service to Riyadh on  March 28 of last year, after four years of absence, but unfortunately for a mere year of  operation it dropped its flight  to Riyadh – again for commercial reason.

To our flag carrier, our sad farewell

DOLE Reform agenda for OFW sector


DOLE Agenda 2010-2016

The implementation of R. A. 10022 is a challenge that puts the DOLE at an even bigger forefront in pursuit of the goal of  President Benigno S. Aquino III  to reinvigorate labor and employment in the country and strengthen workers welfare and protection  both in the country and Filipino contract workers overseas.

According to DOLE’s Report on President agenda’s on Labor and Employment 2010-2016,  the department is crafting policies and reforms to respond to the current labor and employment situation. These reforms are structured in four key areas; 1) employment facilitation 2) workers welfare and protection, 3) labor relations 4) governance.

Overseas Filipinos welfare and protection reforms falls on Agenda 9 to 12 of the report such as;  review the continued deployment of workers to countries, which are high-and medium-risk areas, and the continued deployment of workers in high-risk occupations. Policy reform in agenda # 9 focuses on reducing the deployment of low-skilled workers in countries where work prone to abuse and exploitation.

Agenda # 9  can only be realized if the Government will once and for all  impose a ban in the deployment of Filipina Household Service Workers to countries where there are proven and ducumented rampant maltreatment, sexual harassment and abused.   

Reform Agenda 10 focal points are employment opportunities and social protection. Areas of reforms are the creation of an efficient “one-stop” for processing applications for overseas work and seeking redress for grievances such as; the establishment of OWWA-NRCO Reintegration Centers or PESO and the creation of develop one-stop centers that can be used to help Filipinos find jobs in both the domestic and international scene.

On Agenda # 10, OWWA-NCRO or PESO are usually found in the city like Capitol building and offices located in provincial capitol or regions,  PESO (Public Employment Service Offices)  should also be visible or can be found in all Local Government Units in every municipality. 

OFW grievances can be addressed by intensifying  grievance mechanisms for OFWs in which this could be responded by  24/7 hotlines in partnership with telecommunication companies and the presence of migrant workers desk in different destinations.

In KSA alone, OFWs can not feel the presence of 24/7 hotlines. Although Philippine Embassy, Consulate and Philippine Overseas Labor Office  announced the 24/7 telephone service  for those OFW in needs of emergency help and those with grievences –  WE still heard reports from OFW distressed callers that  government officers are uncaring and  unresponsive to OFW calls for help and support.  

Migrant Workers Desk?  Try at least one in Batha, Riyadh and one in Balad, Jeddah.   

Agenda 11 is to audit the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to rationalize the management of its funds, in terms of the benefits provided as well as how the funds are invested. In response to the program, the department will see to it that the board of trustees is a multi-sectoral group that will truly work towards the protection of the interests of their respective groups.  

As long as the  criterion in terms of the nominee contribution to OFW sector is only 40%, WE, OFWs are not properly represented in the POEA and OWWA governing boards. We need a PRO-OFW who can truly serve the OFWs by heart.  

Lastly, the Agenda 12 is to work with the DFA to transform Philippine embassies, consular offices and POLOs into centers of care and service for overseas workers by assigning more foreign service officers to posts where there are many OFWs and train them in the needs of the communities they serve. And to adopt a more holistic approach in ensuring the welfare and protection for OFWs.

Very simple and  in other words, “make sure that there will be OFW-centered diplomatic posts and POLO offices worldwide.”

The succeeding agendas are more on reintegration (social welfare services, investment and savings program, skills training, etc.) and the Government’s comprehensive  response in the implementation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

Wanakosey.

Source: DOLE on President’s Agenda on Labor and Employment  

Who, Where and When?


S S C

Last week the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) announced that they are now on its way to accept nominations for representatives of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to their respective governing boards.

The Screening and Selection Committee (SSC) composed of POEA and OWWA officials was created and given the task to screen and select who among the nominees will be given a hand to represent women, land-based and sea-based OFWs in the round table.

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NGO’s or Non-government organizations protecting the rights and welfare of OFWs are likewise given the mandate to nominate. (Who are they???).
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NGO’s should see to it that their nominees are true bloodied OFW who has the on hand knowledge of what is exactly going on site. Those who witnessed the real situation of the distressed OFWs, more particularly in the Middle East. A nominee who has  experienced  how to fight in the actual arena, a pro-OFW who can truly serve the OFW sector by heart.
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The 40 % criterion in terms of the nominee contribution to OFW sector is not enough for the nominee to become a member of the board. Make it, at least 75% man lang po (passing grade).

***

The  criteria include at least 3 years experienced as an OFW.  What? 3 years lang? Saan  bansa galing? Sa mga maraming inabusong OFW? Katulad ng Contract substitution, maltreatment and abuse? Make it 5 years man lang. How can he protect us if he is not the right man for the job?
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OWWA mentioned that the selection process includes, conducting consultation meetings with the women, land-based and sea-based sectors. Where? When? Who are these land and sea-based sectors?

From the beginning, POEA and OWWA never consulted OFWs about who will be the right men and women to the board. The right man who has our say on how our funds will be used and  the right person to have a say in where our money goes.

***

Well…well..well…part of SSC job is to establish a massive information campaign on the application and selection of nominees. Saan po? Sa diyaryo? Okey, sige wait nalang po kami kung sino na ang uupo. Just remember, OWWA funds are from the pockets of  OFWs. Therefore, Overseas Filipino Workers should be truly represented by legitimate OFW and must be given full rights to be heard in the round table; at least in POEA and OWWA Board man lang tsaka na sa Hall of Congress.

Dream Big Dreams – A Gadfly’s Wish List


Dream Big Dreams – A Gadfly’s Wish List
By: Romie Cahucom (former OFW in Riyadh)

Dream big dreams; only big dreams have the power to move men’s souls”, the great Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius once said. Before the mania of the New Year season finally ends, I will hasten to add a couple of big dreams or wistful thoughts for the OFW sector.

And so, folks, bear with me for a short moment of wistful thinking. Let us dream of bigger things for this year 2011. Maybe some time this year a stroke of luck may bring us closer to the fulfillment of our desires. Or some of those in a position to act will act for us.

I only have two big dreams or wish list for the OFW sector and this concerns the ideas or line that I am most concerned about: investment literacy.

The first of this wish list is related to the last article I posted which is entitled, “A Gadfly’s Proposed OFW Resolution Calling and Urging Congress to Craft Legislation on OFW Economic Reintegration”. The dream is simply that Congress passes a law creating a specific body tasked with OFW economic reintegration. Or at least, a legislation along this line is crafted in either or both houses of Congress.

I have written about this in the last post and will elaborate on the compelling reasons and the possible structure or set up of this body in future posts. Hence, I will not dwell much about this issue in this post.

Just one last note: the body to be created by the law should be something similar to POEA and OWWA but specific to OFW economic reintegration. We leave the other aspects of reintegration (psychological, redeployment, and so forth) to DOLE. That is their line of expertise.

The second item on the wish list concerns the OFW organizations of which a myriad exists practically everywhere there is deployment – a testament to our gregariousness as a people. There are as many types as there as subsectors or interest groups: sports, social-civic, professional, regional-provincial ethnic and so forth. A small number are business and/or investment-oriented.

All these organizations, once registered with the Philippine Embassy, are officially called Accredited Community Partners or ACPs. At least, that’s what I know in the place where I used to work. Maybe other worksites have different names for the same thing.  read more>>>> 

Note: Romie Cahucom was a  former Senior Relationship Manager of a major Saudi bank, a  former long-time financial analyst and one-time Legislative Officer and  Executive Assistant of a  Senator. He finished Business Management from the University of the Philippines. He is at present engaged in financial consulting work.  

Let us know who they are…


I received an invitation letter  from Philippine Embassy Charge D’ Affaires, Honorable Consul General Ezzedin Tago informing the community leaders that Philippine lawmakers particularly members of the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs of the Philippine House of Congress will be visiting Saudi Arabia on the 8th to 13th of January 2011. It also mentioned that the lawmakers are going to meet two representatives each from various Filipino organizations in Riyadh.

The Visiting Philippine Legislators

The visiting Philippine legislators are Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs Chairman, Rep. Walden Bello, Vice Chair, Rep. Ma. Carmen Zamora-Apsay, Rep. Cresente Paez, and Rep. Emmeline Aglipay.
Like in the past, members of the Philippine Congress used to visit Saudi Arabia either for consultations or to review issues that are affecting the Overseas Filipino Workers and to decide how to resolve them. Upon their return back to their bench in the Hall of Congress they’re armed with ideas, present it to the Committee involved in crafting laws or policies for the good of the OFW sector in general. Therefore, they are important visitors because they are our voice, friends and advocates for the betterment of the Overseas Filipino Workers. So, I post this entry for us to know about them a little.
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Rep. Walden Bello is a political analyst and a professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He became a political activist following the declaration of Martial Law by then-President Ferdinand Marcos.  Bello serves as the second nominee of political party list group Akbayan and chaired the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs.
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Rep. Ma. Carmen Zamora Apsay represent the 1st district of Compostela Valley, Davao. She is in her first term and hold the Vice Chairmanship of the Committee on OFW Affairs.  She is the daughter of former  Compostela Valley 1st district representative Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora who became famous for biking his way to Congress.  She  was a two-termer provincial board member in Compostela and President of the Lady Local Legislators of the Philippines (Four-L) and the National Vice-President for Mindanao of the National Movement of Young Legislators (NMYL).
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Rep. Cresente Paez, a second termer in the House of Congress is a sectoral representative of COOP-NATCCO (Cooperative NATTCO Network) whose party-list gathered 944,864 votes in the last election paving their way to have two seats in Congress.  Rep. Paez is the Party President of COOP-NATCCO Party list, the political arm of the cooperative sector. The party is focused on policy and legislative advocacy for comprehensive agrarian reform, rural development, housing reforms, cooperative development and local government autonomy. He graduated Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, major in agricultural engineering, University of Southern Mindanao, Kabacan, Cotabato, (formerly Mindanao Institute of Technology).
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Rep. Emmeline Aglipay also in her first term as a sectoral representative of party list group DIWA (Democratic Independent Workers Association). DIWA garnered 239,029 votes in 2010 Philippine election which is  0.8026 % of the national votes allowing them to have one seat in Congress. When the Congress adjourns last month, Rep. Emelline Aglipay was one of those honored for having  perfect attendance or completed 45 session days in the 15th Philippine Congress. But not only that – she is at present the number 8 in the list as prettiest Pinay politician (click the list).  And as member of the Committee on OFW Affairs in Congress, she has the following pending House Bill: HB03193: AN ACT TO EXPEDITE THE PROCESS OF REPATRIATION OF FILIPINO MIGRANT WORKERS, pending with the Committee on OVERSEAS WORKERS AFFAIRS since 2010-09-21.

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Joining them is Ms. Ellene Sana, Executive Director of Center for Migrant Advocacy,  a strong advocate of women ‘s issues and she was Akbayan party-list nominee in the 2010 election. She  is currently the Chief of Staff of Rep. Walden Bello in Congress. -end-

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Source: Wikipedia, Philippine House of Congress Web site. Minda News, DIWA Website and MindaNews.

Bagong Bayani Medical Center


MANILA, Philippines—They keep the economy afloat and so deserve a medical facility of their own.  Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her son, Camarines Sur Representative Diosdado Arroyo, have proposed the establishment of a special hospital for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their dependents.

B B M C

 With many of them sick or ailing when they return to Manila, overseas workers would best be served in a special hospital, they said.

“Many OFWs are in immediate need of medical attention or hospital confinement due to various physical or mental illnesses sustained abroad,” the Arroyos said in House Bill No. 1474.
They proposed to name the facility the Migrant Workers Hospital and leave its control and supervision to the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (Owwa), the government agency overseeing overseas workers’ needs.

The Arroyos said the hospital would complement the package of health services provided by Owwa to OFWs and their dependents.

It would provide comprehensive health care services to workers who are Owwa contributors. Even would-be overseas workers who had secured approved job orders would be served by the hospital.
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Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted January 04, 2011 04:41:00
TJ   Burgonio

Novel way of misusing labor law


Novel way of misusing labor law

Exit Re-entry Visa Stamped in the Passport

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

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

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

Electronic Exit Re-Entry Visa

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

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

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

KSA to Washington DC, USA…


KSA to Washington DC, USA…

According to Kabul Press on their March 2010 online article under Kabul Press Reveals said that the U.S. Department of State has labeled virtually every non-European country a “hardship post” for American diplomats and that include Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. However, they can’t refuse if their next tour of duty will be in the Kingdom, why?  Because of the extra pay to compensate the new posting. They will earn 20% extra pay as “hardship differential”.

“Riyadh City at Night”

How about Filipino diplomats? I mean the Filipino contingent as member of the Philippine mission in KSA? Well of course the Philippine government should compensate their hardship in taking care of our OFWs in distress not to mention that there are estimated 1 million Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia under their watch. How much? That I do not know, but for sure after all the hardship – they deserve to be posted from KSA to Venice, Italy. I mean… after sakit sa ulo, after all the kunot noo, lagas ng buhok, and batikos from the press – to recompense all of the above, will be a good posting and shining moments somewhere in the 10 best cities in Europe.

I haven’t got a chance to see some of the new members of the diplomatic corps at our Philippine Embassy more particularly POLO-Riyadh Labor Attaché Albert Valenciano, kasi hindi naman po niya binigyang-pansin ang aking formal letter asking for appointment. I don’t know if he receive it or not or baka naman busy siya dahil hindi naman ako nakatanggap ng sulat paumanhin na siya at sampu ng kanyang mga welfare officers ay busy sa mga problema ng ating mga distress OFWs.

Philippine Embassy, Washington, D.C.

But this morning, I’ve just read an online news item  that the officers and members of the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME) complained against the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh (POLO-Riyadh “read l.c.”)  for rebuffing them when they visited the Bahay ng Kalinga (BK) to offer donations for the wards staying there.

I tried to look back in the past who among my friends from Labor Attache’s Sodusta, Rasul, Roldan and Dela Fuente snubs such good deeds from Filipino organizations in Riyadh most especially coming from a Professional group? “Parang wala pa akong naririnig, lalo na pag donasyon (gamit at pagkain) ang pinag-uusapan” considering that it is very beneficial to our Filipina OFWs in distress at Bahay Kalinga.

According to Labor Attaché Valenciano, the shelter is not officially allowed to be very visible to the public especially where large gatherings of opposite sex are noticeable.

Isip ko naman, not unless the Philippine Ambassador is present (siyempre) in such gatherings (private residences).

Well, Labor Attaché Valenciano is a Career Executive Service Officer and before his assignment as Labor Attaché to Riyadh, he was Director IV of OWWA and was posted as Welfare Officer in Tel Aviv, Israel and Labor Attaché in Rome, Italy and he was one of the few pioneers of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. He was there when OWWA was created and I just hope that his action is based in an opinion of choice – not just an informed decision.

Siguro mas maganda ang Washington DC posting compared to Rome, Italy.  

Kaya mga igan na Labor Attache’s and Welfare Officers, we need your assistance, we need your caring hands to our distress OFWs. We all knew that mahirap maging pogi pag ang posting ninyo KSA; pero may magandang sikat ng araw sa bahaging kanluran na naghihintay po sa inyo.

Before I forget,  Peace on Earth and Happy Holiday!

OFWEmpowerment Blog- 5 years of existence


OFWEmpowerment- 5 years of existence

Like any other anniversaries, today marks a new year to a new beginning and my further commitment to serve the OFW sector.

"AKO Pilipino Taas Noo Saan man Dako sa Mundo"- Babalik AKO Bayan Ko

Five years of existence is a symbol that increases in value or in strength with each passing year that reflects what this blog has made in the partnership of my fellow OFWs. As what I’ve said in my previous entry “I am not perfect but it’s quite relieving that someone out there believes in you.   

Today is a significant milestone for this blog and time to pause, to reflect, and to celebrate what has been accomplished in a relatively short span of years. Though this blog started  just for fun to ease the homesickness of the blogger far away from home and his loved ones; yet it is very fulfilling that it became a home to our fellow OFWs who needs answers to their unanswered questions.  

I came to realization that what I am doing is not enough, because with you as my partner, together – WE can do many things to help each others in times of needs and for us to lend a hand to those who needs us.

And as long as I am the writer, the editor and publisher  of this blog, I will remain your humble servant. I will try my best to keep this blog alive, to hear your sad stories, inquiries among others. I will also try to give all the information you need beneficial to the OFW sector.

To all my readers, visitors, friends and fellow community leaders, I have been deeply moved and heartened by your unwavering support and encouragement. I am gratified by the wholehearted endorsement of so many to read and subscribed “OFWempowerment” blog.

Today, WE still exist because of   YOU out there. You are the bedrock upon which OFWEmpowerment existed; you are the foundation that will sustain OFWempowerment towards a new years’ to come.

OFWempowerment 5 years of existence is also dedicated to my dear friend the late OFW Farmer Claro Ybanez  of  Davao and to his family. Wherever you are now  Nong Claro, I want you to know that –  We continue to exist because of  you and you are my inspiration.

To my brothers  Doods  and Bebs who believes of what I am doing, to my family, to my close friends, to OFW Congress-Riyadh and to all of you in the cyber world – THANK YOU So much!

Happy 5th Year Anniversary.

December 13, 2010

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The busiest day so far in the Year 2010 was  Wednesday, December 8, 2010.  

596 views on your busiest day, December 8, 2010

Pageviews: 596

 

Top 10 Posts & Pages

These posts on your site got the most traffic.

2010-12-08

Title   Views
Home page 129
Iqama Rules, Jawazat Procedures, Repatriation Advisories 91
New Saudi Labor Law 40
KSA Exit & Re-entry Visa 31
Handbook for Overseas Filipinos 23
GCC Labor Laws 22
Iqama System Violations & Penalties 19
Open Letter from Ex-OFW Marge 15
SLL Basic Information 15
Rep. Act #10022 13

OFW from Riyadh chosen as 2010 MOFYA Special Awardee


 Dec. 6, 2010, Riyadh, KSA – OFW from Riyadh was chosen as 2010 MOFYA Special Awardee for “Outstanding Achievement in Community Projects” in 2010 Search for Model OFW Family of the Year Award (MOFYA 2010).
 
 
Philippine President  H.E. Noynoy Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay  hands out the prestigious award to OFW Alex Veloso Bello and his entire family today at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel in Pasay City.  

The search for the Model OFW Family of the Year Award is an award-giving program designed to give recognition to outstanding OFW families, and promote best practices in achieving optimal success in all aspects of life in the face of overseas migration of one or more members of the household.

Alex Veloso Bello is currently working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for 26 years and his wife Evangeline Morden Bello decided to go home for good and put up a small business. Now, the family owns the Lifestyle Beauty Spa & a Gift Shop in Tacloban City which was established from the couple’s earnings abroad.

His wife Vangie was an OFW in Saudi Arabia for 16 years. She worked as staff nurse at King Khalid University Hospital, in Riyadh.

OFW Alex Veloso Bello,  the President of OFW Congress- Riyadh  is a Purchasing Executive for 11 years of ABB-Asea Brown Boveri-Saudi Arabia. He represents Region 8, Eastern Visayas in the National Search for Model OFW Family Award (MOFYA 2010) for land-based  category.

MOFYA is an annual search conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), through the OWWA offices in the regions, where two MOFYA winners, one Land-based (LB) and one Sea-based (SB) are being chosen.  A selection for National Award among all regional awardees will be chosen as the MOFYA 2010.  There are 34 regional finalists, two national winners and two special awardees.

The Bello’s have five children of which one is a registered nurse, and is presently working with King Fahad National Guard Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia who is married to a Filipino Doctor. One is a graduating nursing student studying in Southwestern University in Cebu.

Araw ng Pasasalamat

 

Alex Veloso Bello at an early age experienced hardship in life and in order to go to school he worked as a gasoline boy to make both ends meet. Later landed a job as a hotel bell boy and armed with courage and determination he became Asst. Front Office Manager of the Hotel. 

After he graduated from Divine Word University, Tacloban, he tried his luck in Manila and worked as a project accountant / auditor before he decided to work abroad. He got married at the age of  22 and have  five (5) children, four (4) of their children were born in Saudi Arabia, until he found a good job in ABB Saudi Arabia as Section Head of  the company’s Purchasing Department. Asean Brown Boveri is world’s leading power and automation technology companies. The couple has two grandchildren.

Alex Veloso Bello was conferred by OWWA Region 8 as “The Most Outstanding OFW” land-based category last June 2010 during the Migrant Workers Day celebration dubbed as “Araw ng Pasasalamat.”

To read more about Alex Veloso Bello and his accomplishment as an OFW, please click Alex Veloso Bello A Brief Biography of an OFW Leader”  

President Aquino handed this year’s MOFYA to the following:

Engr. Ermie Lagman Garon and family of Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac, 2010 Model OFW Family of the Year, Land-based category; Victor R. Dela Cruz and family of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, 2010 Model OFW family of the year, sea-based category;

Alex V. Bello and family of Tacloban City, Leyte for Outstanding Achievement in Community Projects; Capt. Gaudencio C. Morales and family of the NCR for Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship.

A Royal Pardon, Long Live the King!


Successful Surgery

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (L) and Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud

The world celebrates after the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah successful surgery for the removal of a blood clot and adjustment of the King’s slipped disk. The King’s health is not only of great importance to the Saudi’s and Muslim world but a global concern as well.  Saudi Arabia under the King’s leadership controls more than a fifth of the world’s crude oil reserves.

Most online news item carries the story of the “successful surgery” done in New York. “May God the Almighty protect the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and grant him good health and a speedy recovery.” Long live the King!

Customarily, the Royal family circle who governs this blessed nation gives thanks to ALLAH by way of sharing HIS goodness to other people. Last year, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah ordered the release of some prisoners held for public rights who do not pose any danger to public security. This was announced after the Crown Prince Sultan, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Aviation arrived from successful medical trip abroad.

Also, September of this year, a royal pardon by His Highness Saudi King benefits illegal migrants, particularly those who violates the country’s residency laws, that includes Umrah, Haj and other holders of visit visa who overstays in the Kingdom. The King ordered the royal pardon after Riyadh Governor, Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud underwent spinal surgery in the United States in August.

Absconders

While, the world celebrates the King Abdullah’s successful surgery, the Saudi authorities have detained 32 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Eastern Province after conducting early morning raids on various villas and flats in the Thuqba area, Alkhobar, on Wednesday, Arab News reported.

According to the report, 26 of the 32 were women. The Philippine Embassy Charge d’Affaires Ezzedin H. Tago assures that they are closely coordinating with authorities in the Eastern Province to find out what charges will be filed against them and their rights will be fully protected. Those arrested are mostly absconders who ran away from their employers, claiming contract substitution, abuses, maltreatment and other labor malpractices.

The embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office are doing their best to help hundreds of complains from our distressed OFWs. POLO finds ways to talk to employers on their behalf to reach for an amicable solution. In cases where amicable settlement is not possible, the embassy find ways to have them repatriated back home. On the other hand, POLO assists the aggrieved OFWs to file formal complaint with the Saudi Labor Office where the process takes months and even years.

Honorable Khalid Abdullah Al-Dawud, a judge at the Court of Grievances, referring to major reasons that lead to the delays of delivering justice in this country said inaction on the part of any one of these agencies (police, the public prosecution, prison authorities and judges) could lead to prolonged court proceedings, even if the case involves a petty crime and insufficient number of qualified court translators is another reason behind some delays.”  

Sponsorship System and Saudization

Saudi Arabia under the sponsorship of specific employers, the foreign worker is at the mercy of his employer. Even when sponsors did participate in an attempt for a possible settlement or negotiations, kafil or sponsors sometimes bargained for repayment of recruitment fees, visa fees and others in exchange for unpaid salaries; or to provide an air ticket home in exchange for a full settlement of the case. The distressed OFWs again with no choice accept the offer in exchange for home or without the sponsor’s approval, longing for home would be in vain.

This year’s report says that there is an estimated three million illegal residents in the Kingdom in various nationalities. I cannot say that these counts only runaways but the figure is very alarming and the number of such absconders has increased and constitute a real security threat to the Kingdom. Not to mention that Saudi Arabia today has its own problem of unemployment and reining in inflation are the major challenges facing the Kingdom’s economy, Saudi economic experts says.

Arab news item says “the Kingdom also draw attention to the need to extend improved government support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs)  to check the influx of foreign workers in the Kingdom’s job market.”

In the same news, the labor Minister H.E. Adel Fakieh admits that serious efforts is needed to employ qualified Saudis in the place of foreigners who dominate most local sectors.

And why prolong the agony and failure of Saudization? The answer is just very simple – “abolished Sponsorship system” and let the Saudi government or private companies under the supervision of the Saudi government should act as sponsors of foreign workers. In this manner the government can control the flow of foreign workers and give way to its Saudization effort.

If this happens, everybody happy, there will be Saudi’s in all government and private institutions and once and for all eradicate sponsorship (kafala) system that protects employers from legal responsibility to respond to charges of contract substitutions,  non-payment of wages, forced labor, or abuse and maltreatment to expatriates.

Bahrain abolished the system in 2009, and Kuwait reportedly plans to do so by February 2011 and just recently Qatar is considering ending the sponsorship system. Saudi Arabia will soon follow and the rest of the GCC member countries.

A prayer for the King

But how about those three million illegal residents in the Kingdom? My favorite idiomatic expressions is the answer – “separate the grain from the chaffs” and give them a “Royal Pardon”  once and for all; and those found worthless should be totally banned from entering the country.

WE (OFWs) pray for the speedy recovery of His Majesty, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques  and his safe return to the Kingdom and so with the future announcement of the most awaited “Royal Pardon.”  LONG LIVE THE KING!   -end-

By: Bong Amora

What is a Diplomat?


Online news article titled “OFWs in Saudi lobby for career diplomat” caught my attention.  So I decide to post this entry to make a correction about the mentioned article and for everybody to know who among the two Tago’s is the real diplomat?

(A) Abdul Hannan M. Tago

Abdul Hanan Tago

To my knowledge Abdul Hannan M. Tago is a bilingual journalist, who speaks four languages Arabic, English, Maranao and Tagalog.  He obtained his BA in Arabic Literature major in Mass Communication and Public Relations from Al-Azhar University and  M.A. in Political Science  from Arab League Institution, Cairo, Egypt.

He is a community leader and a respected Maranao in the Filipino Muslim community.  His proficiency in Arabic opened the doors to become one of the correspondents  of  Arab News, the leading English newspaper in the Middle East. He joined Arab News in 1992 where he has been working ever since and presently the Executive Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief.

Abdul Hanan Tago is also a regular writer in leading Arabic newspapers Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and Al Eqtisadiah.  

(B) Ezzedin Tago

Min. ConGen E. Tago

The other Tago is no less than Ezzedin Tago, the current Philippine Consul General in Jeddah and currently designated as Charge D’ Affaires of the Philippine Embassy. Ezzedin Tago is also a son of a former career diplomat from Lanao del Sur and who was among the first graduates of the International Philippine School in Jeddah and himself a career foreign service officer. Consul General Ezzedine Tago  was just recently confirmed by the Commission on Appointments  to the rank of Career Minister. (see  ConGen Ezzedin Tago Profile

Among those confirmed are Romulo Victor Israel Jr., and Adrian Elmer Cruz as Foreign Service Officer, Class I and Gerardo P. Abiog Foreign Service Officer, Class II.

Consul Cruz and Vice Consul Abiog was formerly posted in Philippine Embassy, Riyadh overseeing the implementation of the Philippine Overseas Absentee Voting while  Vice Consul  Jun Israel is still in the Kingdom waiting for his new tour of duty.  

If  H.E. President Noynoy Aquino could not appoint a new Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by end of this year, the OFW Congress-Riyadh is planning to hold a general assembly meeting and elect its Executive Council members this coming end of December and at the same time endorse Minister Consul General Ezzedine Tago to the Ambassadorship vacated by former Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor.

There are at least 10 names vying for the position that was already submitted to the office of the President  but until now the President has yet to decide who among  in the list is capable for the job.  

What is a DIPLOMAT?

A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization.  In other words, a person who represents their government.

The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and friendly relations. Diplomats in posts collect and report information that could affect national interests, often with advice about how the home country government should respond. Then, once any policy response has been decided in the home country’s capital, posts bear major responsibility for implementing it. Diplomats have the job of conveying, in the most persuasive way possible, the views of the home government to the governments to which they are accredited and, in doing so, to try to convince those governments to act in ways that suit home country interests. In this way, diplomats are part of the beginning and the end of each loop in the continuous process through which foreign policy is made. http://en.wikipedia.org 

How to become a diplomat?

A person whose career or profession is diplomacy; working as a political officer, monitoring developments in the host country; or representing the country in press and public affairs; in consular and immigration work; or as a commercial officer.

A career diplomat is responsible for formulating, implementing, and supporting country’s foreign policy.

To become a diplomat, a person should need to spend two thirds of his/her working life abroad protecting and promoting the country’s interests as well as assisting its citizens in need of help.

To become a diplomat, a person must have at least five traditional career tracks:  Consular, Political, Economic, Management, and Public Diplomacy.  An individual in any one of these tracks will hold diplomatic titles in the countries in which they serve and, over the course of a successful career, may climb the career ladder to the top rungs, even ultimately becoming competitive for an ambassadorial slot. –  New World Dictionary 4th Edition

The Triumph of Boxing


THE TRIUMPH OF BOXING

by DOODS A. AMORA, PEE

MOMENTS OF DESTRUCTION   What a fight!

It was a classic dismantling of the last Mexican warrior standing – the Great Antonio Margarito…!

And total annihilation without doubt; in a surgical demolition from the very first round to the end…!   

The Triumph

The fight was a confirmation of the testament of PACMAN as the gladiator on top of them all. At an official weight of 144.6 lbs, Pacquaio winning the 154 pound – Super Welterweight Championship Belt (Junior Middleweight in other boxing bodies) is an overwhelming achievement, probably the first of its kind. Remember, Pacquaio was not even supposed to be qualified to the division’s minimum weight requirements!  That made the conquest even sweeter in what history’s unparalleled eighth crowns in eight weight divisions. Oscar Dela Hoya made it as a distant second at six; Sugar Ray Leonard, five; Floyd Mayweather Jr. at three … and the other big names, I can’t recall anymore

The aftermath of the fight saw Margarito suffering a broken bone on the face. Other reports are saying something about a broken eye socket. Whatever it is, Antonio would have to stay longer at the hospital for surgery and more thorough check up. From the looks of it, he may have ended his career this early – and sadly, Margarito will never be the same again.

But then to me, the beatings he got in this lopsided fight may transcend beyond the present obviousness of a broken facial bone, I mean – I’m afraid Antonio may now be treading the path to Parkinson in the near or distant future – himself ending up in what he mimicked on Coach Roach days before the fight.

PACMAN QUITS!

As promised, Antonio Margarito didn’t quit. Robert Garcia, his Trainer, didn’t quit either. Referee Laurence Cole didn’t signal to a quit.

It was the Filipino Destroyer who quit!

In Rounds 11 & 12, Pacquiao took it easy and ceased throwing big bombs at the already devastated foe – but  …. read more>>>>>>>>> 

The Venom of Success


THE VENOM OF SUCCESS

 By Doods A. Amora, PEE

The fight with Antonio Margarito is inching closer – two more weeks of heavy training… the remaining days are for tapering down.

So then, Pacman has only two weeks of last hour cramming. Mentally and physically, it’s not enough. Coach Roach is concerned. To his mind, a lot of set maneuvers in sequenced drills have yet to be perfected.

The fans are worried. I too, am anxious.

PACMAN VS. MARGARITO

Again, too many distractions… too many sidetrips.

This time, I’m not sure if the Filipino people can accept defeat. That of course includes those so-called ‘constituents’ of the Politician – the very ‘constituents’ who love him because he is the Congressman.

Yet I doubt that the Filipino nation (me, included), the so-called “Sambayanang Filipino” (in traditional politicians’ over-used flatter) prefers to see their idol in coat & tie, dining & mingling with the elite.

The Congressman

I still would like to believe the “Sambayanang Filipinowants to see their idol’s hands raised in a stunning knock-out victory! That’s Planet Pacman is all about – nothing else.

Sidetrips…? Being a Congressman in Planet Pacman, is icing of the cake. In the highest degree, it is the self-actualization of the man’s long-time hierarchy of dreams. Hence, the congressman in Manny is bonus, at least, in the thoughts of many.

No question about it. That is his…  to read more >>>>>>>>

OFW Ako, Diplomat lang Kayo!


I posted an entry in this blog two years ago titledDiplomat Ako, OFW lang kayo!upon reading an online news that Department of Labor and Employment at home urged overseas Filipino workers to expose discourteous officials from Philippine mission abroad so that they may be punished. The entry was made referring to a top Philippine diplomat based in Riyadh telling to an OFW “diplomat ako, OFW lang kayo!” during altercation on the usage of Philippine Embassy grounds for FilCom activities.

Though a year before DOLE made that announcement, Sen. Manny Villar already filed Senate Bill 1879, to impose penalties on Philippine consular officials and other government personnel for failure to act on complaints of, or to give assistance or render service to migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress. He also filed Resolution No. 248, urging the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to conduct an inquiry on the allegations of bad attitude, negligence and incompetence of some Philippine embassy and consular personnel stationed in various countries in handling cases of distressed OFWs.

The bill as per  Senate web site was substituted by Senate Bill 3286 which failed to become part of the amended provisions of the now Republic Act No. 10022. It is very unfortunate that R. A. 10022 does not reprimand, castigate or penalize any diplomatic corps of bad attitude, negligence and incompetence in attending to the cases of Filipino migrant workers in distress.

That is why our diplomats more particularly our Honorable Labor Attaché’s around the globe knows where they stands. They continue to be rude, indifferent to our unfortunate OFWs, unmindful of their acts, babbling like a parrot, waiting for their new post somewhere in Europe and America. Huh! You should be posted in the war torn Afghanistan instead.

That is also why OFW in distress turns from the help of fellow OFWs and Filipino Community organizations because they’re afraid to visit our embassy, POLO/OWWA offices because of their uncaring, unsympathetic, insensible attitude towards OFWs, more particularly those in need of help.

And now, YOU ask me to shut up and to stop minding these people(unfortunate OFWs) who seek our help?  Atty. Labor Attaché, please be reminded that Section 1. Par. (h) of Section 2 of Republic Act. No. 8042, as amended says “The State recognizes non-governmental organizations, trade unions, workers associations, stakeholders and their similar entities duly recognized as legitimate, are partners of the State in the protection of Filipino migrant workers and in the promotion of their welfare. The State shall cooperate with them in a spirit of trust and mutual respect. The significant contribution of recruitment and manning agencies shall from part this partnership.” 

Hongkong OFW Agnes Tenorio

Bakit mo ako pinapatigil sa pagtulong at pag-refer sa inyong tanggapan (POLO/OWWA) tungkol sa kanilang problema at hinaing?  Kung babaliktarin ko at sabihin sa iyo ang mga katagang ito “OFW Ako, Labor Attaché lang Kayo!” What would be your reaction? You should not treat us like the way Philippine Labor Attaché to Hongkong Romulo Salud treated OFW Agnes Tenorio. Wala kang karapatang patigilin ako. We are the “true unsung heroes” and “the savior of our nation”, don’t you know that – Atty. Labor Attaché?

 I respectfully request the Vice President and Presidential Adviser on OFW Affairs Jejomar Binay in your upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia and so with DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, to please evaluate the individual performance of the members of the diplomatic corps, especially officials from the office of POLO/OWWA to determine the merits of their continuing tour of duty. I am so sure that some of the “wheat should be separated from the chaff” or else kawawa ang mga OFWs na nangangailangan ng agarang tulong sa ating mga magigiting na diplomats.

Salamat po!

related post: https://ofwempowerment.wordpress.com/category/hit-u-hard-a-little/

True or Not, WE deserve to know


True or not, WE deserve to know

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

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

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

Crime against woman: naked realities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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