EOW should delve deeper to improve services

The Consular Outreach Missions or “Embassy On Wheels” popularly known as “EOW” that are currently implemented by our Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and Philippine Consulate in Jeddah is an effort to bring its services closer to OFWs. The services include  Passport Services (new, renewal, releasing, extension), Notarials, Authentication and Certifications, Police clearance Endorsement, Civil Registry and among others.

The EOW provides services to those OFWs in far flung areas in the eastern and the western Region of Saudi Arabia where there are many OFWs.  Main cities in this regions are chosen as venue for the EOW and the online appointment was set up to avail the services.

However, our blog received numerous negative comments about our fellow OFWs expectations when in comes to the online booking appointment for passport related services.

Let us just be considerate that Saudi Arabia is hosting almost a million OFWs and the lack of bigger venue may be the reason why our consular outreach program cannot accommodate those OFWs wishing to have their passport renewed. A quota or a number of confirmed appointment is necessary and that is why the schedule for consular outreach through online appointment is usually full for about two to three months in advance. In my understanding once it is full,  the online appointment system is block for those who wish to avail the system.  


There were also confusing announcement through media that appointments for consular outreach services or “Embassy on Wheels” (EOW) will be made available five (5) days before the actual schedule.  The actual schedule is announced in advance through the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Consulate websites.

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh alone extends 183,484 consular services in 2015 and most of it are passport related services. While the effort is very laudable, implementing it efficiently using the online appointment system is a whole different ball game. Our DFA/Embassy/Consulate should find solutions both the online appointment and the actual scheduling. Perhaps delve deeper how to improve its outreach program and introduced a larger venue and or setting an online system that could accommodate a greater range of available slots based on the scheduled appointment dates.

Fellow OFWs should also be aware of their passport expiration dates and book appointment online six months prior to its expiration and check our Philippine Embassy (http://riyadhpe.dfa.gov.ph/) and Philippine Consulate (http://jeddahpcg.dfa.gov.ph/) websites for update and change of EOW schedules. Also note that our Embassy/Consulate is doing their job and continue their unwavering commitment to serve the Filipinos in Saudi Arabia.  – BongA


Stranded OFWs – The Truth Behind 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Finding Out Who Among Them – 2016 National Election

In Philippine May 2016 National Election, registered Overseas Absentee Voters should focus on finding out who among in the national candidates for President to Vice President and Senators  worthy of our vote.  

The OFW sector should be well represented by those legislators who are really concerned with issues in relation to the general welfare of Overseas Filipinos or OF. Please note that I referred Overseas Filipinos as Filipino Immigrants with dual citizenship, Filipino migrant workers and land based and seafarers.

Sad to say that there are few OFW supporters in the legislative body  of our government.  In the 16th Congress, the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs are comprised of  35 members, the 4 among them are identified as OFW advocates.  Bills authored and co-authored by those OFW advocates are still pending or referred to another house committee for evaluation. Some of those bills even lasted for 2 to 3 years on their shelves. Undoubtedly, it will never be deliberated or acted upon or even reach on the second reading or be included in the order of business.  Remember, that every House Bills are still subject of Senate action which undergoes the same legislative procedures.

Would the above scenario be corrected? Yes! Why not? The legislator who is an OFW advocate, an author or just a co-author of the bill can influence the members of the committee being referred, to speed up the process by conducting  immediate public hearings on the proposed legislation.  Non-government organizations, expert on migration, OFW/Seafarers organizations (overseas and at home) or individuals whose advocacies focused on the main issues and concerns of OFWs should likewise be pro-active to pressure the members of the committee to move to the next level of the process.  Sorry to say that some of our OFW advocates in the House and the Senate are busy focusing on other matters in their other areas or field of expertise. Some of those bills can be included in the lists of the “Silliest Proposed Laws Philippine Lawmakers Tried to Pass.” 

According to “The Action Guide for Advocacy and Citizen Participation”, Policy advocacy is an initiative to focus exclusively on the policy agenda and a specific policy goal. These advocates usually assume that policy change will produce real change on the ground.

So, in the coming national election, I arrived into a simplest form of identifying those politicians in line with our cause by rating them on how they managed to support on certain OFW issues at the House and the Senate. Others can be identified on how many bills they authored or co-authored during their incumbencies.  How many of those bills signed into law, how many resolutions they filed for the general welfare of Filipinos overseas.   

I personally categorized the following 2016 aspiring candidates at the national level into four (4) categories:        

  1. PRO-OFW – A politician who advocates, argues, defend, participate or justify policies in relation to the general welfare of Overseas Filipinos/ OFWs.
  2. CONSIDERATE –  A politician with a specific position on certain issue or concerns in relation to the welfare of Overseas Filipinos.
  3. MODERATE – A politician whose legislative agendas focused on another field of advocacies and rarely participate on issues and concerns of OFWs. 
  4. UN-RATED –  To be rated or categorize later on.


CLICK HERE for the Official candidates for Senator in the May 9, 2016 national elections.

CLICK HERE for the organizations participating in the 2016 party-list elections.

Fabricating OFW Distress Call could face serious consequences

There are many kinds of OFW Distress call or information, those in need of immediate assistance through rescue effort and or a formal complaint in form of a letter or email or personal visit to our Philippine Embassy, POLO/OWWA as may believe proper under such any given circumstances.

In an imminent danger to an OFW in distress, a form of a rescue is sought. But a call or an information from an OFW in distress and or a third-party should be cautiously investigated prior to a plan rescue. Our diplomatic corps or the concerned agencies mentioned above will verify the veracity of any given distress calls. Though a frightening, frantic, desperate or threatening circumstances must be acted immediately.

Some distress calls may also be through a formal letter or email complaint addressed to our Philippine Embassy, POLO/OWWA. It can be relayed from a representative like friends, wife, husband, brother, sister,  relatives or from  NGO on behalf of the OFW in distress.

Our Philippine Embassy, the Philippine Overseas  Labor Office, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration are there to assist when OFW distress call or information is receive as mandated by R.A. 10022, the Migrants Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act as amended.   

However, may I remind our readers and fellow OFWs that fabricating stories, claims or complaint just to gain sympathy from the concern government agencies could face serious consequences, not only to the so-called OFW in distress but also to the one who give false information. Criminal liability awaits to those OFWs or to the third-party involve who make up accusations against their employer, if proven otherwise.   

There are many OFWs out there who are truly in need of an immediate help, therefore misrepresenting and or a mere allegation to make a complaint could hamper other genuine distress calls that our Embassy/POLO/OWWA may attend to.  

lovers quarrelTo those OFWs with marital problems, like non remittance of salaries and philandering OFW spouses, my post “hold departure order” can give you an insight on what to do. But make sure that you have the legal right to file a formal complaint against your spouse. If you and your partner are not legally married, talk to your lover in the lover’s lane, open up with each other, try to solve the issue of lover’s quarrel and close the matter amicably. Lastly, don’t disturb others’ lives because there are more people in desperate and in difficult situation that in need of more attention to deal with.   – BongA

 related posts:




Saudization right under our noses


In Year 1993 as I step Saudi Arabia for the first time, the echoing whispers of Saudization were the first I heard among many issues in the circles of the expatriate community.

Between 1995 and 2000, Saudization had been already the talk of the town, even before the appointment of the late Saudi Labor Minister Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, the father of the national strategy of Saudization. Though the rumored started to circulate among the Filipino community in Jeddah many expatriates in various nationalities shrugged off the idea and treated it as a mere hearsay because most expatriates at that time were employed in building and construction sector. Menial jobs such as laborer and construction workers often not the type of jobs the Saudis want to do.

As usual like rumors, that whispers started to wither into the horizon and expatriates realize it’s not a threat at all. Why? Because the jobs created were in the field of construction, trade, agriculture and service workers, which commonly occupied by expatriates. It was not until the late Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi was appointed as Saudi Labor Minister.

In 2000 again a rumor came out that the host country starts campaigning to trim down the number of foreign workers in the Kingdom which was estimated at 6 million of that year and 500,000 of those estimated figures were Filipinos.

Y2K was the year the government started to become serious on their crusade by wrapping out economic and labor policies emphasizing the creation of jobs among the Saudi populace. Alarmed by the bulging population of foreign workers, thus – the creation of the Seventh Development Plan for the year 2000-2004 which focuses more on economic diversification and a bigger role of the private sector in the Saudi economy and new jobs for Saudi nationals as well.

Al-Gosaibi focuses on modernization of the Ministry, creating a new women’s sector in the labor market. His agenda tackles issues such as unemployment of women and reducing the number of low-skilled foreign workers and training Saudis to take over expats jobs.

SaudizationThe late Labor Minister during the Jeddah Economic Forum in 2008 defended the Saudization policy enforced by his ministry, asserting that businesses and the media unfairly portray Saudi youth as lazy. “Saudi primary and secondary schools need to improve the teaching of English and technical skills in order to better prepare students for a globalized job market” he said.

Of course, the late Labor Minister is absolutely right, for my 20 years as an expat in this country which I already considered my second home, I personally do not agree that Saudis are not suited for the job that usually given to expatriates. I have worked with secretaries, messengers, drivers and ordinary office workers, they are just the same as what other nationalities are capable of doing. I have met Saudis in high level position, they are friendly, smart and I admit they are very professional to deal with and most of all Saudis are very kind people.

SAUDI ARAMCO the biggest oil and the world’s most valuable company was the one who first heed to the call of Saudization under Al-Gosaibi’s turf of leadership in the Labor Ministry. SAUDI ARAMCO as early as 2005 already pursued the Saudization initiatives to their independent contractor. The plan is to employ Saudi national “stage by stage” as their Saudization strategy dubbed as CCS (Corporate Contractors Saudization). The contractor on the other hand had no choice but obligated to meet the employment standard demands mandated by the oil company, the only way to be able to continue their business partnership with the company who owns the world’s largest oil field.

In order to do so, these contractors should see to it that by the Year 2015, Saudi nationals employed as skilled workers in their respective companies must consist of an 80 % workforce and cut down the number of expatriate workers to 20%. (Taken from Saudization planning-Saudi Aramco-CCS).

I realized that Saudi Aramco’s strategy may bring the Saudi nationalization program a success soon before the year 2020 arrives. However, in my opinion government owned corporations and private companies could not come up with the same result overnight not unless there will be a will of their own to seriously train Saudi nationals to menial job they hate to do.

Here comes the Nitaqat program under the now energetic Labor Minister Adel Fakeih. The Nitaqat itself is a challenge from both the government and their constituents. Implementing such crucial plan should be done gradually because the long term impact of a succession plan is to develop human capital. It can’t be denied that the consequences of rushing up to the objectives could be the same tool that could backfire to the long awaited success of Saudization. The existing approach of change should be done in a slow manner, but steadily and under a minimum speed that could come up into a smooth transition of knowledge transfer.

Now, the amnesty program of the Saudi government is obviously a part of Saudization strategy. The just recent mass deportation of undocumented expats and over stayer is in fact a cleansing process which could be an opportunity for Saudi nationals to learn the job vacated by expatriates.

Now, the reality of Saudization is no longer a whisper, it is finally occurring right under our noses.  (BongA)

Related Post:   When the Soil is Ready;  The reality is yet to come   

References:  The Saudization Initiatives ;  Prominent Saudis: Dr. Ghazi Al Qosaibi; Saudi Aramco (Saudization Guide for Contractor Companies)

The reality of Saudization is yet to come


4/11/2013, RIYADH: Why on earth those undocumented Filipino workers in the Kingdom are hard headed enough to comply legalization process under the Saudi government amnesty program and chose to stay in the Kingdom? Does the three months grace period not enough to conform requirements to complete paper works? I don’t think so. There are many remedies waiting for them during those periods;  to rectify their working status or decide to go home for good.

The Philippine Embassy on 10 October 2013 announced in their website that male Filipino worker who wishes to be repatriated before the 3 November 2013 deadline, but lack the required original iqama or passport and thereby have been unable to process exit visa to contact Embassy and labor office. The Philippine Embassy under the Ambassadorship of H.E. Ezzedin Tago   has arranged with the Office of the Emir for the creation of an interagency committee to look into the cases of those with no documents in preparation for their repatriation. The Philippine labor office was even open during Eid holidays to serve their distress nationals who want to avail the Saudi government amnesty program.

There were even separate facilities for mothers with unducmented children whether they are registered or not to proceed to the embassy’s Um Al-Hammam field office and avail the additional few days’ extension for DNA testing as provided by the Saudi authorities.

DNA testing is an initial step prior to processing at the Jawazat for final exit for those undocumented Filipina mother and children.

However, despite of the announcement and notices from various Filipino groups to their members and friends, a few have been heeding the call.

philembassyWhat’s wrong? What’s on the mind of our fellow OFWs? I can’t find any answers to those simple questions that I, myself asked. Are our embassy has failed to reach our fellow OFW in distress? The answer is No either, because the just concluded amnesty program of the Saudi government was not only for Filipinos, in fact it was for all expatriates in the Kingdom. It is a national instruction or order from Saudi authorities to all foreign workers to correct their status or leave the Kingdom for good. I think our Embassy and or our Consulate had exhausted all possible means to help our OFW in  distress. Maybe the three months time extension was not enough or there will be a personal neglect or the “Filipino manana habit” has something to do with it.

Today is the day to reckon, there will be no excuses. Whether we don’t like it, our own action and by ignoring to follow orders has been substantiated, and therefore we must face the consequences. The theory of flight says “for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction”.

The Saudi authorities will start a massive crackdown to those expatriates who failed to rectify their statuses. There will be a knock on your door at any given time and as what Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Al_Hamzi, Director General of the Passport Department  said “we have plans to deal with overcrowding at correctional facilities and prisons have more capacity and are located across the Kingdom, unlike deportation centers, which have a limited capacity.

A Saudi colleague of mine at work saidafter the crackdown and cleansing period, the increase of crimes that involves foreigners will be lessen and corruption in few offices perhaps be eradicated which year by year became a disease in our system”.  

In a press conference, Deputy Labor Minister Mufrej bin Saad Al-Haqbani said labor inspectors would visit commercial establishments, construction sites, operations and maintenance offices, retail outlets, catering companies, cafes. They will crosscheck workers’ identities with their legal documentation to ensure that workers are legal.

Deputy Labor Minister Al-Haqbani was thankful to foreign workers who have participated in the development of the Kingdom. “We still want you but we want foreigners to remain in the Kingdom lawfully” he added.

The Passport Department and other Saudi government security agencies can now exercise and strengthen its internal security measures against terrorist activities and infiltration; crimes such as drug smuggling, manufacturing and alcohol use, visa forgery, immoral act and back door activities. It can easily solve crimes and prevent those expats or foreigners with criminal backgrounds to return the country with false names or new identity.

Again folks, it is not Saudi government harassment and or violation of human rights, it is for the good of all expatriates, the employers and the country as well; and the last but not the least the reality of Saudization is yet to come”.  – BongA

Related links:

Thousands arrested on first day of crackdown 

Life hit hard by labor raids 

MOI Spokesman announces end of grace period for violators of labour, immigration regulations 

Labor inspectors won’t raid homes

Thousands arrested on Day 2

Labor action pays off

Remittances poised to fall 20% in wake of campaign

Three facets of sexual abuse


Case No. 1 = Silvio Berlusconi

The former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced yesterday to seven years in jail after being found guilty of paying for sex with an underage prostitute Karima El Mahroug. In Italy, paying a woman for sex who is underage is a criminal offense. Karima El Mahroug was 17 at the time of the sex with consent occurred. However, the exchange of sexual services for money in Italy is legal, but organized prostitution like brothels is prohibited and paying a person under 18 for sex is a crime.

Just-Ice Italy prohibits sexual acts to an unmarried person under the age of consent which is 14. If two people engage in sex below the age of consent and in the same age, both can be charged with misdemeanor while if the one is older than the victim, the older person is treated as a sex offender and can be charged with statutory rape.

The 76-year-old former Italian leader and media tycoon, who denied all the allegations, has also been banned from holding public office for life.

Case No. 2 = Name withheld

A man could be convicted of rape even if the woman agreed to have sex, judges have ruled.

He would still be guilty if he did something she asked him not to, a High Court panel led by England and Wales most senior judge ruled.

This is a case involving a wife who claimed her husband broke their agreement by failing to withdraw. The judge’s creed that the man would no longer have the consent because he intentionally ignored the limitations set by his wife before the act was decided.

The judges said, the wife was deprived of choice and her consent was invalid under the circumstances. She agreed to have sex with her husband after the latter promised to withdraw because she was adamant that not to have another child. The couple has four children, two girls and two boys; the youngest is four years old. But the husband went back on his word, making her pregnant.

The judges decided it falls within the statutory definition of rape. Though they informed the public that withdrawal is not a safe method of contraception.

The husband now faces prosecution for rape following the court’s ruling that, if he deliberately ignored his wife’s wish that he withdraw before ejaculation, she had not consented to sex.

Case No. 3 = Antonio Villafuerte

Presumed innocent until proven guilty, that’s the case of POLO Riyadh, Asst. Labor Attaché Antonio Villafuerte. He should be summoned to come home and faced his accuser, to speak and defend himself on the accusations of sexual abuse hurled to him by female OFW in distress.

The story published in Philippine daily newspapers narrated that female OFW in distress named “Michelle” went to the shelter (Filipino Workers Resource Center) waiting for her ticket. According to her the Assistant Labor Attaché Tony Villafuerte told her that an Egyptian will pay her ticket back home in return of a sex act but the Labor Attaché himself started to take advantage of her. But she refused, and also the Egyptian pitied her.

To my readers, please note that no sexual act took place or consummated , the word “take advantage on her” and the “the Egyptian pitied her” are clear enough that nothing happened yet. This is only in the case of Michelle. We don’t know yet if there are other signed complaints from more alleged victim.

The International Association of Women Judges based in Washington, USA says; people who occupy positions of authority and public trust sometimes abuse their power and seek to take advantage of those who are dependent on their favor. When the abuse of power involves a demand for sexual favors, we are naming it “sextortion.”

It is just so sad to think that the people we rely on to be on our side are the ones hurting us. However, we should be concerned about the idea that sometime allegation may be subject to false-accusations. This sits against one of the most important principles in law: a person is to be presumed innocent, until they are found to be guilty.

By: Bong Amora

Is campers action justified? or just an act of stupidity!


Is campers action justified? or just an act of stupidity!

I am not against the campers; maybe I would do the same if I was in their shoes especially if I feel I’m trapped and nowhere to go. However, we can’t justify an illegal action as “an exemption to the rule”. Moral justification by way of obstructing the law of the host nation cannot be moral; a questionable act thinking it is right under the circumstances is not the answer to all of our anxieties.

thereisnothingworsethanaggressivestupidityI would like to remind my fellow OFWs once again that in Saudi Arabia, the workers may it be their nationals or foreign workers are strictly prohibited from organizing, may it be a group of individuals forming an association, more on calling strikes against employers or the authorities. It means social organizing like camping together for a purpose; especially in public places are very much prohibited.

End of last year, the Saudi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced banning any expatriate organization or association in the entire Kingdom. The said statement directed all foreign missions in Saudi Arabia to comply and prevent the creation of community organizations and immediately cancel formation of such and their activities without permit from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Though the mentioned directives raised questions than answers among expatriate communities, the MFA didn’t bother to reason out why there was such an order.

The recent developments reported in Arab News today that about 2,000 Filipino workers are still camped outside the Philippine Consulate to put pressure on Philippine officials to speed up the processing of their paperwork is not the solution to their problems. The advisory on Procedures to Obtain Final Exit for Repatriation announced by the Embassy is clearly set out that there are still steps to follow and needed to be done prior repatriation proceedings. Camping outside the Embassy or Consulate premises is an illegal form of assembly according to their law. The worst case scenario is that the Saudi authority might treat this matter even seriously and massive arrest will happen in the next days to come. Di bali kung hindi kayo arestohin dahil may rasyon kayong natatanggap sa ating Embahada or Konsulado, ang problema kung sa kulungan kayo mapunta, maniwala kayo kabayan ang kulungan sa Saudi mas massahol pa sa kulungan sa Pinas.

 I also don’t believe that the campers are running out of food and water, the Embassy and the Consulate are providing you daily of your basic provisions like water and food.  Hindi nga lang kasama ang hinihingi nyong GOLD, mukha yatang sobra na ang pagka “spoiled” ng mga campers natin, pati Gold kasama sa mga hinihingi. Dito nga sa Embahada masaya ang mga campers, may DISCO pa between eating, napping and sleeping time. 

Acting helpless in order to gain pity or sympathy differs from acting  like stupid to seek attention from others or authorities. – BongA 

One who makes himself a worm cannot complain afterwards if people step on him”  – Immanuel Kant 

If the weeds are removed – is the soil ready?


Been working in Saudi Arabia for almost 19 years now and the Saudization plan was already among the many hot issues way back then, but it’s like seaweed with no roots, it needs a firm surface such as rock to grow on.

Though, like any other country on earth unemployment among young Saudis is a serious problem and like all animal life in the ocean, seaweeds are essential to ocean health.  Job creation on a specific country stimulates economic growth and unlocks young  graduates on its potentials to contribute economic development.

The beginning will always be tiring and difficult, but young people can realize their ambitions if they are persistent and work hard,” said the late  Saudi Labor Minister Ghazi Algosaibi  after his surprised visit in a restaurant in Jeddah serving hamburgers to customers for three hours to encourage young Saudis to take jobs they think menial jobs or are not capable of doing it.

By extracting seaweeds it can generate billions of dollars each year by people for food, stock feed, fertilisers and medicines.

Perhaps, the Saudi government for all these years haven’t yet build the foundation that Saudis can hold on. Famous and respected journalist Elham Ahmad of Saudi arabic daily Al-Yaum newspaper said, Despite this, shouldn’t we test the soil before implanting the seeds? We have to wait and give this young generation a chance to learn.”

Today, under Labor Minister H.E. Adel Fakeih, Saudi Arabia is very serious in their mission by creating 1.12 million jobs for Saudis in 2014,  3 million jobs by 2015 and 6 million by 2030;  the reality about  “Nitaqat and Expat Fees   is to get rid of expatriate employees by the end of 2014.

My personal question to Mr. Elham Ahmad, Sir, after six years since you wrote the famous article “Failure of Saudization” –  if the weeds are removed – is the soil ready?” – BongA  


related links

Failure of Saudization   

Saudi Arabian minister serves burgers to get nationals to work 

Firms with more expatriates than Saudis to pay fees 

Prince Alwaleed endorses SR 2,400 expat fee

Standard Employment Contract for HSWs bound for KSA


RIYADH, KSA 19/11/2012: After The Saudi government decided to lift the ban on the hiring of Filipino household service workers (HSW’s), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued last October 1, 2012 the Memorandum Circular No. 8, Series of 2012, the new guidelines on the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and POEA registration of SRA (Saudi Recruitment Agencies) hiring Filipino Household Service worker to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In the guidelines, it is clear that SRA’s should be accredited by our POLO before the Philippine Recruitment Agencies (PRA) in the Philippines can hire or deploy FHW in the Kingdom. However, according to my friend Mr. Hassan Khalil, the Contract Verification Officer of our Philippine Embassy/POLO, in his email dated 11 November 2012 informed me that the lacking document so far was the standard POEA Recruitment Agreement between the Principal/SRA and PRA.

The good news is that the Royal Saudi Embassy has already come up the final version of the Standard Employment Contract between the FHW/PRA and the Employer/SRA.

The following provisions are included in the standard employment contract:

1)  Contract Duration: Two (2) years effective   from the date of departure of the worker from the Philippines. The monthly salary shall start upon actual reporting to work.

2)  The Household Service Worker and the employer agree on a monthly salary of     US$ 400.00 which is in accordance with the laws and regulations prevailing in both countries.

3)  The employer shall open a bank account  for  the HSW  in  KSA, subject to SAMA rules and regulations and shall deposit regularly every  end  of  the month the salary of  the HSW to the  said  account.  The passbook or deposit slip or their equivalent shall be given to the HSW   and remain in his/her custody.  The employer   shall   help   the   HSW   to remit his/her salary    through    proper   banking channels.

4) The   Household  Service  Worker  shall   be provided  with  continuous  rest  of  at least  (8)  hours  per day.

5) Rest Day: At least one (1) rest day per week.

6)  Free transportation to the site of   employment and back to the point of origin upon expiration of contract and ensure the worker’s timely repatriation. In case of termination for reasons not attributable to the worker, the employer shall bear the cost of repatriation of the worker to the Philippines.

7)  The employer shall provide the Household Service Worker, suitable and sanitary living quarters as   well as    adequate    food   or equivalent   monetary   allowance.  

8)   For acceptable medical reasons, the HSW shall be allowed to rest and shall continue to receive his/her regular   salary. The employer shall    shoulder   the medical expenses.  

9)  The  HSW  is   entitled  to  return  to    the Philippines to spend his/her paid  vacation leave   of  thirty  (30)  days  for  every   two years of service with a round-trip economy  class   ticket. In case of his/her desire to continue working    with    the    employer, he/she    is     entitled     to   an    additional one-month salary.

10)  In case  of   death,  the  employer   is responsible   for  the  repatriation  of   the  HSW’s remains  and  personal  belongings to the Republic of the Philippines as  soon as   legally   possible   and   without undue delay. In case the repatriation of remains is  not  possible,   the same  may  be disposed of after obtaining   the approval of   one   of   the   HSW’s   next   of   kin or by the Philippine Embassy.

11)  In case  of  dispute between the employer  and the HSW, the  two contracting parties may  refer  the dispute to the appropriate Saudi  authorities  for  conciliation  and/or resolution.

12)  In case the Household Service Worker runs away  or   refuses   to work   without  valid  causes, the Philippine recruitment agency  shall  be  responsible  in  having    him/her  replaced  or  in returning the accrued cost of recruitment to his/her employer, as per  agreement   between  the   employer,  the Saudi    recruitment    agency  and  the  Philippine  recruitment  agency.

13)   The  worker  shall  be  repatriated  at  the employer’s  expense  in  the event  of  war,  civil disturbance or major natural calamity, or in case the worker suffers from  serious illness or work injury medically  proven  to render  him/her  incapable  of  completing the contract.

14)  After  the  expiration of  the  contract  and  the HSW   desires  to   return    the  Philippines, the employer shall present the  bank  statement of  the HSW to the Saudi recruitment  agency, and the employer and the worker shall  then  sign a final  settlement. Such bank   statement and proof of settlement may be submitted as evidence in the Philippines and in the KSA.

15)  The contract   may   be renewed   upon the agreement of the worker and his/her employer.  Should    the   contract be renewed, a copy of the renewed iqama shall   be submitted   to   the   Philippine Embassy/Consulate by the employer or Saudi recruitment agency.

16)   The contract   shall    be written in   two original copies in the English and Arabic text, both copies being equally authentic.

Special Provisions in the contract provided below:

– The   responsibility  of  informing   the employer  regarding  the  departure and  arrival  of   the    HSW  in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shall be that of  the  Philippine recruitment agency  in coordination  with   the    Saudi recruitment   agency.

– The employer and his family members, and  the HSW shall treat  one   another with  respect  and  dignity.

– The  HSW  shall  work   solely  for  the employer  and  his immediate household.

– The   employer  shall  not  deduct  any amount from the regular salary of the Household Service Worker. In case  of deductions

Philippine Recruitment Agencies + Saudi Recruitment Agencies

  for  lawful  reasons,   such deductions  must  be reflected  in  the HSW’s  pay  slip.

– The  employer shall pay the cost of the Household Service Worker’s residence permit (iqama), exit/re-entry visa, and final  exit  visa,  including the renewals and  penalties  resulting  from  delays.

– The  Household Service  Worker  shall be  allowed  to  freely  communicate  with his/her family and the Philippine  Embassy / Consulate  on  his/her personal expense or account.

– The passport and work permit (iqama) of the worker shall  remain  in  his/her possession.

– The  employer  shall  explain  to  the members   of  his household    the provisions of this contract and ensure that  these  are  observed.

– Any provision of this Standard Employment  Contract   may be altered,   amended   or  substituted   through  the   Saudi-Philippine Joint Technical Working Committee.

All of the above were perfectly written and the interest of our HSWs are fully protected under the provisions of the contract. However, the rights and obligations of the SRA and PRA is not clearly define as to who are really responsible in case one of the party fails to perform, precisely and exactly, his/her obligations under the contract.

One factor that should be defined of is – who are responsible if the employer had terminate the employment of the HSW when she failed to arrive the employer’s expectation of  his/her work performances. Is it the responsibility of the SRA or the PRA?  Where “she” be housed temporarily while still in the Kingdom waiting for her replacement?

One more thing, the special provision of the contract failed to mention about the role of our POLO and Philippine Embassy in case of termination of employment.  Does the POLO/Embassy should be informed about the termination? In this scenario, it must be emphasized that the POLO/Embassy should be notified at once when this happen.  

If I may recall, there were three termination and runaway cases that I knew that  the HSW  requested to be transferred to POLO or Embassy for her safety.  She was afraid that sexual harassment may occur at the SRA’s custody.

Further, special provisions says; “the passport and work permit (iqama) of the worker shall remain in his/her possession”, I doubt if this provision be realized.

Lastly, there are no provisions about how to validate and confirm that a Household Service Worker  upon arrival at site has a clean, comfortable and decent place to stay and her conditions are in conformity with the above stated provisions.BongA

Update:  15 December 2012

POEA Memorandum Circular No. 13 Series of 2012

Further to POEA Memorandum Circular No. 08, Series of 2012, on the guidelines on the POLO accreditation and POEA Registration of SRA hiring Filipino HSWs for Saudi Arabia, a POEA-prescribed model/standard Recruitment Agreement (RA) between the SRA and the PRA is hereby adopted as per Memorandum Circular No. 13 Series of 2012 signed by POEA Administrator Hans Cacdac.

To read the full text of the Model Agreement  click here >>>>>>> 

Why Overreacting?

Why Overreacting?

Many of our fellow OFWs especially those in networking sites overreacted to the House Bill 6195 filed by Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David. Let me explain, the said house bill does not mention any paragraph that WE, OFWs require to pay $50 as contribution to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Emergency Repatriation Fund before leaving the country.

The bill intends to provide the necessary measures for the government to carry out its responsibilities to assist distressed OFWs in cases of war, epidemic, disaster or calamities, natural or man-made, and other similar events, and promote their general welfare” according to the 2nd termer, Manila, 4th District Representative  to the House of Congress. Continue reading

Open Reply to my Reader re: OWWA

Paano itinataguyod ng OWWA ang tinatawag na nasyonalismo sa aming hanay ayon sa 1987 Phil. Constitution?

Sa totoo po, wala po akong personal na hinanakit sa OWWA. Ngunit bilang isang lider komunidad ng mga mangagawang pinoy sa ibayong dagat, hindi ko po naramdaman ang tinatawag na nasyonalismo or patriyotismo ng OWWA sa aming hanay. Sa kadahilanang napakaliit lamang po ang nai-ambag ng OWWA sa pangkalahatang pakinabang ng isang OFW. Meron man, maramdaman lamang po namin ito kung kami ay nadisgrasya dahil sa karampot na benepisyong makukuha namin kung kami ay wala ng daliri, paa at hindi na makalakad. Yong iba naman po nating kahanay ay hindi napo naramdaman ang tulong ng OWWA kung nasa kahon na itong darating sa ating bayan. Iyan kung hindi po paso ang aming membership status, dahil wala kang matatanggap sa OWWA kung hindi ka nakapagbayad ng membership fee nito or expire na ang iyong membership.

Patriotism & Nationalism: 12-year old Janella Lelis of Albay after this picture of her was taken by Francisco Pena Lozano while she was saving the Philippine Flag & braving the flood waters brought by Typhoon Juaning.

Nasaan ang Nasyonalismo para sa mga OFWs na dugo at pawis ang pinuhunan para mabigyan ng kinabukasan ang pamilyang naghihikahos sa bansang sinilangan? Nasaan ang pagmamahal ng OWWA sa mga OFWs na naging bayani “kono” sa mga mata ng pamahalaan upang isalba ang ekonomiya ng bansa?

1987 Constitution Section 29.(3) All money collected on any tax levied for a special purpose shall be treated as a special fund and paid out for such purpose only. If the purpose for which a special fund was created has been fulfilled or abandoned, the balance, if any, shall be transferred to the general funds of the Government.

Nasaan ang Nasyonalismo ng OWWA, at ng mga Board of Trustees mismo noong sila ay pumayag o sumang-ayon na mailipat ang milyon-milyong peso ng OWWA Medicare Fund sa Philippine Health Insurance Corporation?

Malinaw po na ang paglipat nito ay illegal at hindi po para sa kapakanan at kagalingan ng OFW ang rason ng paglipat nito. Ayon sa Section 29 ng Saligang Batas: Lahat ng pera na nakolekta sa anumang buwis para sa isang espesyal na layunin ay dapat na itinuturing na isang espesyal na pondo at ang perang ito ay dapat gastosin lamang para sa inilalaan nito.

Sa talumpati ni Pangulong Noynoy nitong nakaraang Bagong Bayani Awards 2011 aniya “Manalig po kayong tinitiyak ng gobyerno na ang pinaghihirapan ng ating mga OFWs ay may pinatutunguhan at hindi nababalewala”. Sana ang namumutawi sa kanyang bibig ay hindi po ningas cogon lamang dahil simula ng kanyang panunungkulan ay hindi pa po namin naramdaman ang totoong serbisyo ng OWWA which is to addressed the needs and concerns of distressed OFWs documented or undocumented ayon sa nakasaad sa Magna Carta R.A. 8042 as amended.

Panghuli, dapat pong magkaroon ng pampolitikal na representasyon o partisipasyon ang aming hanay upang mapakinggan ang aming boses at mabigyan ng pagkakataong makasali sa paghimok at paggawa ng batas o polisiya ayon sa aming tunay na pangangailangan, tungo sa isang makatotohanan, kapakapanibangang serbisyo para sa OFW at sa pamilya nito. Kabilang kami sa sektor ng lipunan at dapat lamang na may karapatan kaming magsalita tungo sa iisang mithiin pangkabutihan para sa aming hanay. -end- By: BongA