SAUDI’s are basically good at heart


It is just like, all Germans are as bad as Adolf Hitler,  but we know they are not.

People have wrong idea about  Saudi’s  because of  what we heard and read;  but to tell you frankly SAUDI’s are basically good at heart.  – Bong Amora

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Marilou Lorenzo Ramirez with her sponsor Khaled A. Abdul Qader, Philippine Labor Attaché David Des T. Dicang and two nurse escorts at the King Fahd International Airport in Dammam on Saturday. (AN photo by Sadeq Al-Ahmad)

ALKHOBAR: Although there have been many cases of housemaid abuse reported over the years, a vast number of household helpers across the Kingdom are treated like family members.

Such is the case of Marilou Lorenzo Ramirez who likely will lead a longer life thanks to the generosity and concern of her Saudi employer.

The 41-year-old housemaid was hired in the Philippines two years ago by Khaled A. Abdul Qader, a senior planner at Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) in Jubail. Ramirez worked in the household for a year and won the hearts of Abdul Qader’s family with her dedication and hard work.

Five months ago, a brain hemorrhage paralyzed Ramirez. Abdul Qader first took her to Al-Mouwasat Hospital where he bore the complete costs of her treatment. Realizing the gravity of her illness, Abdul Qader requested the Ministry of Health to get her treated at a government-run hospital.

read more>>>>> 

PhilEmb should take Bashir Ayob into their custody


PhilEmb should take  Welfare Officer Bashir Ayob into their custody pending investigation on his case by Saudi authorities.

Bashir Ayob is an acquaintance way back  2007 and as a Filipino community leader whenever I asked for a status about Filipina runaways in the custody of Bahay Kalinga, he was always available in the other line every time I called.

WelOf Bashir Ayob (wearing black t-shirt) next to WelOf Umag during our visit to Bahay Kalinga distributing goods for our Female distressed OFWS.

Mr. Bashir Ayob is a welfare officer assisting overseas Filipino workers in distress in Saudi Arabia particularly in Riyadh. He is assigned at Bahay Kalinga as officer in-charge whose job includes follow up status of cases of our Filipina distressed OFWs at the Saudi Welfare Administration or SWA, a   female deportation shelter run by the Ministry of Social Affairs. Bashir as well is  the only one allowed to handle the processing of exit visas for those Filipina distressed OFWs finally scheduled to leave the Kingdom.

[If an undocumented Filipina worker is caught by the Saudi authorities, she will be sent to SWA where she will stay for 60 days or more, depending on her case and cooperation of her employers. If Philippine mission in KSA was the one who first found the Filipina worker in distressed, she will be in the custody of Bahay Kalinga until such time that distressed OFW will be forwarded or transferred  to SWA for deportation schedule.]

Now my friend Bashir is needing an urgent help not only from the Government that he served for 17 years (1993 with POLO/OWWA) but also to Filipino Community leaders who knows him well as an OFW servant  who is always there in time they need information and whereabouts of Filipina runaways.

Bashir started to work in 1980 as a contractual employee with our Philippine Embassy.

Bashir on June 12 while performing his duty at the Deportation office (SSWA) to process an exit visa for a Filipina cancer patient, he was arrested and held incommunicado up to this writing without any charges.

It was later known that he was arrested over the death of a woman on May 22, 2010 on which his name was mentioned as the one who brought a pregnant woman believed died of massive bleeding.  But according to Al Shumeissy Hospital the husband was the one who brought the bleeding pregnant woman at the hospital. However, there was no record that could prove it was not Bashir but the husband brought the woman to the mentioned hospital.

Janet the wife of Bashir cries for help and believed that his husband is a fall guy and alleges that powerful Saudi officials are behind his continued detention even in the absence of formal charges against him. Janet, a 39-year-old nurse, joined Bashir in Riyadh in 2003. They have a five-year-old son.

Upon hearing, the ordeal of our friend Bashir Ayob, the OFW Congress-Riyadh is requesting our Philippine Embassy to exert their best effort to take custody of Bashir pending the outcome of the investigation. So with the OUMWA (Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs) to immediately release the SR 50,000 needed for attorney’s fees.

Many of our less unfortunate Filipina runaways and distressed OFWs, to proved (3) three of them were fellow town mates of this blogger are now in the Philippines. Bashir Ayob facilitated the immediate processing of their deportation documents. In relation to this, I personally appeal to our government especially to our dear President Noynoy Aquino for the immediate release of the legal assistance fund under Section 18, Section No. 25 of Republic Act. 8042, as amended in order to provide the necessary lawyer in defense to the case of Welfare Officer Bashir Ayob.

The last time I talked with Bashir was last January when I inquire about the status of my runaway townmate (Filipina Domestic Helper now in Manila) who was maltreated and abused by her employer.  He was happy at that time informing me that he  might be posted soon in Dubai, unfortunately he was now posted at Deraa Police Station behind bars.

PCG Advisories


New Labor law in the offing…..


New Labor law in the offing…..

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor unveiled a new bill that would unify contracts in the private sector along with a set of measures that are to be implemented in the future. The new set of measures aims to address workplace relations between the employee and the employer in the private sector.

The ministry’s new measures will focus on reducing labor disputes in the workplace, especially on payment issues. It will also address issues pertaining to job transfers, especially with regard to an employee seeking to change jobs.

Abangan!

The ministry also emphasized that the employment contract has to be made in duplicate with each party retaining a copy of the contract. The Ministry of Labor also said the new measures would include the caveat that no owner of a private sector company in Saudi Arabia’s shall be able to terminate an employee from service due to health problems. Also, the employees can now combine their annual leave to their sick leave.

Business owners will now be required to furnish their employees and workers the termination letter before the actual firing occurs. No owner shall transfer their employees to another location without the employee’s prior knowledge unless it is expressly written into the contract and signed by both parties.

The new bill states that an employee has the right to leave the job if there are any contractual violations, if the employer fails to pay the employee’s salary or subjects a worker to abuse.

Some measures are aimed at streamlining payment of salaries. The Ministry of Labor now states that an employer shall not change their employee’s status from a monthly-based salary to an hourly or daily wage without the employee’s agreement.

The bill also affirms the business owner’s rights to terminate the contract of their workers without compensation in cases of assault or fraud. Employers can terminate employees for disclosing company secrets.

By SULTAN AL-TAMIMI | ARAB NEWS

Published: Jul 9, 2010 23:14 Updated: Jul 9, 2010 23:14

No Gay, No Employment Policy


Tunay na naging mainit sa nagdaang buwan ang usapin tungkol sa deployment ng mga Filipinos na nasa kuwadra ng mga homosexuals pagkatapos lumabas ang recruitment directive na pinadala ng Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia sa mga employment recruiting agencies sa Manila. At kasabay nito, naging mainit din ang naging mga paalala at tagubilin ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno at sanggunian ng Pilipinas tulad na lamang ng Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) sa mainit na isyung ito.

"Aminin"

Sa nakaraang personal na pagbisita ng manunulat sa tanggapan ni G. Mario Tuscan N. Nas, Chief ng Balik Manggagawa Processing Division (Department of Labor & Employment), napag-alaman na matindi ang ginagawa nilang mga paalala sa mga kababayang bading lalu na yung mga bagito na tunay na mag-ingat at igalang ang batas ng Kaharian sa isyu ng kabaklaan. Ayon kay G. Nas, walang tigil ang kanilang mga pagpapa-alala kahit sa mga datihang OFWs na kabilang sa third sex na lubusang sundin ang mga kalakaran ng Kaharian para hindi maharap sa mga problemang moral at malagay sa balag ng alanganin. At kung hindi man makakasunod sa batas na umiiiral ay mabuting huwag nang dumiretso pa sa pagpunta para magtrabaho sa Kaharian ng Saudi Arabia.

Sa ilang ginawang pagbisita sa mga recruiting agencies na tumangging magpalathala ng pangalan, napag-alaman na tunay na sumusunod sila sa “no gay, no employment policy” dahil ayaw nilang magkaproblema sa kanilang relasyon sa Kaharian at maiwasan ang pagbulusok ng kanilang revenue, kasabay din sa kanilang pagprotekta sa kapakanan ng mga Pinoy na kasama sa third sex lalu’t alam nila ang kasalukuyang batas. Isa sa pinagpapasalamat ng mga naturang recruiting agencies ay ang hindi pagkakaroon ng “clampdown” sa mga datihang OFW gays dahil kung mangyayari ito, tunay ding mabubusisi kung saan nga bang recruiting agencies sila umalis papuntang Kaharian.

Sa umiinit na kaganapan, ang tunay na nasapol at tinatamaan ng naturang recruitment directive ay ang mga homosexuals na lantaran ang pagiging bading. Isa sa hindi maitatatwang katotohanan ay tunay namang napakahirap matukoy kung sino nga ba ang bading (at hindi) sa gitna ng mga Pinoy gays bunsod sa bagong kalakaran (gay trend) sa makabagong henerasyon nang mga bading kung saan mas gusto nilang mgmukhang mga tunay na lalaki dahil ayon sa kanila ito ngayon ang uso.

Samantala, ayon naman sa ilang grupo ng mga bading na nagpahayag nang kanilang punto de vista, kanilang sinabi na hindi naman lahat talaga ng bading na Pinoy ay mga “sakit ng ulo” ng Kaharian lalu na’t marami sa kanilang bilang ay naghahangad lamang na makapagtrabaho sa kanilang mga piniling propesyon at kumita ng pera para matugunan ang mga pangangailangan ng kanilang mga naiwang pamilya. At para naman sa kapuwa nila bading na lantaran ang pagpapakita ng kanilang pagkatao sa napaka-konserbatibong lipunan ng Kaharian, ang tangi nilang hiling ay huwag lamang sariling kapakanan, ‘kalandian’ at kagustuhahan ang isipin bagkus ang kapakanan, reputasyon at magandang hangarin ng lubos na nakakarami na maaaring tuluyang maapektuhan. – (J. Nava Cruz, an OFW, is a writer-documentarist. E-mail at bashamel007@yahoo.com)

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sun 4th July 2010, J. Nava Cruz Saudi Arabia

MY PRESIDENT


SAMA SAMA NATING ITULOY ANG LABAN!

JUNE 30, 2010

Today is Noynoy Aquino’s inauguration day as the new President of the Philippine Republic. It is not only an occasion of victory but it is Noynoy’s most sacred oath, a dedication and consecration under God to the highest office in service of the Filipino people.

Now, the ever-increasing burdens are in his shoulder, the Filipino people has spoken, giving him the mandate for a real change.

Nevertheless, WE, the Filipino people have contributed to the recovery and progress of the nation. The recent election proves that democracy works and Noynoy’s victory has given a renewed hope and courage to all who have faith in government. But we should keep an eye on him, his action, especially the people that surrounds him, in other words we will guard him from the devil’s whispers and the wicked hands.

Today is a very important day, I am proud to be part of the new era of Philippine democracy, I am so proud I voted Noynoy as My President.

In his tenure….

My President…

WILL re-establish the vigor and effectiveness of law enforcement and entire machinery of justice, the redistribution of its functions, the simplification of its procedure, the better selection of judges, and the more effective organization of our agencies of investigation and prosecution that justice may be sure and that it may be swift. Reform, reorganization and strengthening the whole judicial and enforcement system, both in civil and criminal system.

My President in his tenure WILL … read more

Amended R.A.’s signed by the out-going President


AMENDED REPUBLIC ACTS SIGNED BY THE OUT-GOING PRESIDENT

14th Congress

(From June 17,  2008 to March 17, 2010)

S U M M A R Y

  • · RA 9504 – Amendments to the Individual Income Tax
  • · RA 9505 – Establishing the Personal Equity and Retirement Account (PERA)
  • · RA 9501 – Amendments to the Magna Carta for Small and Medium 
  • · RA 9500 – Amendments to UP Charter 
  • · RA 9510 – Credit Information System Act
  • · RA 9511 – National Grid Corporation
  • · RA 9513 – Proposed Framework for the Development of Renewable Energy
  • · RA 9520 – Amendments to the Cooperative Code of the Philippines
  • · RA 9576 – Amendments to the PDIC Charter
  • · RA 9593 – National Tourism Policy
  • · RA 9646 – Real Estate Service Authority
  • · RA 9648 – Exemption of Secondary Trading of Stocks from the Documentary Stamp Tax
  • · RA 9679 – Strengthening the Home Development Mutual Fund
  • · RA 9728 – Creation of Bataan Special Economic Zone
  • · RA 9729 – National Framework on Climate Change
  • · RA 9829 – Instituting a Pre-Need Code
  • · RA 9853 – Amendments to the Customs Brokers Act
  • · RA9856 – Real Estate Investment Trust
  • · RA9994 – Expanded Senior Citizens’ Act
  • · RA 10001 – Exemption from Documentary Stamp Tax and Premium Tax of Life Insurance
  • · RA 10021 – Exchange of Information on Tax Matters Act
  • · RA 10026 – Income Tax Exemption of Local water Districts
  • · RA 9996 – Mindanao Economic Development Authority – February 17, 2010
  • · RA 9999 – Free Legal Assistance – February 23, 2010
  • · RA 10022 – Migrant Workers – March 8, 2010

For the  amended features or text of the law,  read more>>>>>>>> 

Want to read important Philippine Laws? Please click  image below…. 

The LABOR CODE of the Republic of the Philippines ( click for full text )

Regulating Recruitment Agencies in the Philippines


Costs of Private Recruitment Agencies for Migrant Labor Sometimes Outweigh Benefits, MPI Study of Philippines-UAE Corridor Finds

WASHINGTON —Private recruitment agencies manage much of the flow of the 200,000 Filipino workers who head annually to the United Arab Emirates, which is the third-largest destination for Filipino migrants after the United States and Saudi Arabia.

While the recruitment agencies, which are located in the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates, provide critical services such as logistical support and information about visa policies and living and working conditions, some abuse their clients by charging exorbitant fees or violating basic human rights.

In a new report, Migration’s Middlemen: Regulating Recruitment Agencies in the Philippines-United Arab Emirates Corridor, the Migration Policy Institute examines the recruiters’ practices as well as their regulation by the Philippine and UAE governments, finding room for significant improvement.

“While the two governments have regulated recruitment agencies’ operations for nearly three decades, there is a policy mismatch between the two regulatory systems that, coupled with difficulties in enforcing regulations, has led to inadequate protections for migrant workers as well as a continuing flow of unauthorized workers,” said the report’s author, MPI Policy Analyst Dovelyn Rannveig Agunias.

The result is a three-tier labor migration system for the nearly 600,000 Filipinos working in the United Arab Emirates (and comprising close to 12 percent of the UAE population):

  • A documented and organized labor migration based on written contracts following strict regulatory guidelines of both countries.
  • A labor flow based on shifting arrangements that typically result in a lower wage, a different job, and reduced benefits compared to those originally promised to migrant workers by recruiters.
  • An unregulated, unauthorized flow of workers who bypass the recruitment system altogether and migrate to the United Arab Emirates with a visitor visa.

The report was informed by 44 in-depth interviews with government, recruitment agency, employer, and NGO officials in the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines, as well as focus group discussions with 86 Filipino migrant workers in Dubai and Manila.

Click Cover Book for the full report

While both countries are considering more stringent regulations for recruitment agencies, the report cautions that both governments must first commit to fully funding and creating capable and effective institutions to jointly harmonize, enforce, and closely monitor the impact of current and new regulations. “Otherwise, regulatory changes could open the door to unintended effects, including increasing abuse and corruption and making illegal channels more attractive for prospective migrants,” Agunias said.

Kathleen Newland, who directs MPI’s Migrants, Migration, and Development Program, said: “The findings of this study are relevant beyond the Philippines-UAE corridor. They serve as a vital point of reference for other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere as they attempt to balance the need to create a flexible and dynamic labor migration system with the obligation to protect workers’ welfare in an increasingly transnational and interconnected global economy.”

The report also makes the case for new initiatives to empower migrants – who fill jobs as domestic workers, engineers, office assistants, and nurses, among other occupations – including a core set of rights and meaningful mechanisms for representation.

The report is available at www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/FilipinoRecruitment-June2010.pdf.

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The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels.

OWWA honors outstanding OFWs of Eastern Visayas


Tacloban City (June 9) — The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Region 8 led by Director Juliet Tan, spearheaded this year’s Migrant Workers Day celebration dubbed as “Araw ng Pasasalamat.”

Conducted on June 7 at the Robinsons Place, the whole day Araw ng Pasasalamat which revolved around the theme: “OFWs: Tagumpay sa Hamon ng Panahon, Kaagapay sa Pagsulong,” was highlighted by the awarding of prizes to this year’s Outstanding OFWs of Eastern Visayas.

The outstanding Overseas Filipino Workers Award is divided into two categories namely, the landbased and the seabased migrant workers.

In the landbased category, there were three awardees, OIC Tan said. They are Alex V. Bello, Engracio B. Custodio, and Rafael Tolibas.

OFW Alex Veloso Bello (during FIlCom Meeting in Riyadh)

Alex V. Bello is an accountant from Imelda Village, Tacloban City who is currently at the jobsite at Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Mr. Bello is the president of the OFW Congress in Riyadh. He initiated the raising of a big amount of money from the OFWs for the Guinsaugon Landslide victims in Southern Leyte through the Secretary of Labor Marianito Roque to OWWA.

Engracio B. Custodio is a plant operator from Sulangan, Guiuan, Eastern Samar, who is now employed at Commonwealth Utilities Corporation in Saipan. He is the founder of the Human Dignity Movement in Saipan which advocates human rights as its main concern. He promoted fair treatment, improvement of status and increase in minimum wage of OFWs, organizing prayer rallies and submission of petitions.

He was given a certificate of appreciation for his skills, professionalism and dedication to his duties to the project that was successfully implemented.

Rafael Tolibas from Barangay Guingauan, Tanauan, Leyte, is the site foreman for Milwright of Consolidated Contractors International Company at Doha Qatar. He was appreciated and recognized by his employer for his dedication and commitment to work.

In the seabased category, this year’s outstanding OFWs are Rafael Apolinar, Francis E. Solvera, and Francis A. Ceballos.

Rafael Apolinar is an oiler from Barangay San Isidro, Palompon, Leyte. He is one of the distinguished company group called worthy Shellbacks. He helped in rescuing employees of a burning oil rig in Conga. His right hand was hit while disentangling the ropes to move out from the burning oil rig.

Francis Solvera, an oiler of the Bright Maritime Corporation’s M/T CM Spirit. This migrant worker from Barangay Cabalawan, Tacloban City is being cited for his bravery ? continuing to serve the foreign ship despite the traumatic experience of being hostaged by a group of pirates in Africa on May 13, 2009.

Francis Ceballos from PC Village, Tacloban City, is reefer repairman of Star Cruise who was cited as the Achiever of the Month by his company in appreciation of his outstanding effort and commitment to the pursuit of excellence.

OWWA 8 through OIC Tan also presented the Physically and Financially Challenged OFW to Olivia Badidles of San Jose, Tacloban City, who while serving as domestic helper in Singapore suffered from a disease called crytogenic liver cirrhosis.

The Most Senior Surviving OFW attendee award was presented to Juanita Llemos of Barangay Sulod, Basey, Samar who at 73 years of age, is a domestic helper in Hongkong. (PIA 8)

PIA Press Release/ 2010/06/09

In your Inauguration Day! An Open Letter for You, Mr. President!


An Open Letter to the President-Elect of the Philippines

Dear President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III ,

The Proclamation

First and foremost, we extend our deepest and sincerest congratulations on your ascendancy to the highest-elected office of our beloved country through a democratic process that every Filipino can take pride in for many generations to come. The first step inherent in the process of transformation is recognizing the need for change – and our capacity to change for the better! Thus, from this point onward, we are hopeful that inspired by your convincing victory and leadership, every Filipino will assume his or her role and responsibility to change the status quo by initiating positive changes towards a better and brighter Philippines, no matter where he or she is, and regardless of what citizenship he or she now holds.

We, the Overseas Filipinos Worldwide (OFW), are a group of Filipinos based abroad and in the Philippines, representing various organizations implementing projects in the Philippines and in our host countries for many years now that are aimed to strategically harness the Philippines’ migration gains into mechanisms for the development of the motherland and our communities of origin.

Migration gains are mainly remittances by overseas Filipinos to their family members, which are now in the region of USD17 billion and are the primary source of livelihood for millions of Philippine households. At 10.8% of the country’s GDP, they are also the third biggest source of the country’s foreign currency reserves and act as primary driver for our economy, shielding us from bankruptcy during the financial crisis in 1997 and the current one.

The Filipino diaspora, estimated now at about 10 million working or residing in 239 countries and territories worldwide, send back donations to various humanitarian causes, such as disaster–relief, medical missions, schoolhouses, and other infrastructure. These contributions supplement local and national government deficits and, as of 2003, have already amounted to USD218 million, per BSP figures in that year.

We do not count here the investments made by OFWs in real estate and the education and health of their family members, and the money spent on various goods and services, as well as on construction, food, shelter, and other inflows that support sectors like the airlines, shopping centers, and banks. Yet, after more than three decades of overseas employment, we do not see genuine signs of poverty alleviation, and instead more and more of our countrymen leave for work abroad.

Ironically, the Philippine model of overseas migration has become a model of sorts, for other migrant-origin countries to emulate and even copy. This however does not tell the whole story or reveal the other face of migration that has escaped the serious attention of past administrations, specifically, the social costs that migration has bred since government-managed deployment started in the early 70s and up to the present, where we now see at least 3,000 of many of the best and brightest Filipinos leaving daily to take up jobs overseas, due to local employment deficits.

Other nations like South Korea, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, and Taiwan, who once were labor exporting countries, have been able to get over their migration hump, as a result of their governments’ consciously harnessing their workers’ remittances and investing them to develop local infrastructure, shipyards, factories, and other industries. Convinced of the effectiveness of government programs and also trustful of their leaders’ sincerity, these countries’ expatriates and overseas workers, at great sacrifice, left their high-paying jobs overseas and returned to their home countries to lend their talents and acquired expertise in further helping their respective country’s leap towards developed status even working at low salaries.

India, another migrant-sending country, is also now going in that direction. These examples serve to illustrate the dictum that migration should be temporary, that it must not be used as a substitute for development. The desirable goal of countries wishing to be strong and globally competitive must necessarily be self-sufficiency and the ability to provide its people with necessary components needed for their human development.

The advent of a new administration, especially one under your inspired leadership, is a good time to ask where the Philippines is going regarding migration, and to act accordingly. Shall we continue to send out our people and rely on remittances and without any development objectives in sight? Conversely, don’t we have the talent to formulate a road map towards self-sufficiency over a period of time, in order that the hemorrhage of talents could be stopped, that a crisis in our dysfunctional families and society at large could be averted, and so that our people do not have to take migration as a forced option? If long-term migration goals are set now, the government could in the meantime work on some basic but urgent deployment and migration issues in order to clear the way towards having a genuine and serious program on translating migration gains for use in human development.

In view of this, we humbly suggest starting to look at the following:

• The government must send clear and strong signals that migration and remittances are only temporary measures to help the government prepare for a longer-term goal of self sufficiency, in which Filipinos no longer look at migration as a forced option. This must be integrated in Medium-Term Development Plans, which is currently being formulated by NEDA, and which should also include how in the meantime strategies, policies, and mechanisms for the productive use and investment of remittances could be harnessed to strengthen the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals.

• Create a position for a Special Presidential Adviser on Migration and Development, who will work with a technical working group (TWG) composed of qualified individuals who have a background in migration and development, including knowledgeable and committed migrant leaders. Among others, the TWG could conduct studies, consultations, and discussions, and come up with updated situationers and appropriate policy recommendations on how to effectively translate remittances and migrant resources to develop local economies; and to address social costs, facilitation of return migration, reintegration, mechanisms for the counterparting of funds between Filipino diaspora groups, LGUs, and development agencies for local and countryside development, incentives for OFW investments in agriculture, SME, infrastructure, microfinance, cooperatives, and other sectors that need stronger funding support. The work could take the form of draft legislation for study by Congress’s standing committee on OFWs or form the basis for an Executive or Administrative Order, whichever is appropriate or workable. The committee’s work shall be purely consultative and should not supplant the work of government migration agencies.

• Review and monitor the performance of government agencies in charge of migrant workers, such as the POEA, OWWA, CFO, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, with a view to strengthening these institutions, reducing wasteful and ineffective programs or duplication of work, giving agencies needed resources and funds for effective implementation of programs, and strengthening the capacity of their overseas offices to become centers of service to migrant workers overseas.

• Departing OFWs contribute USD25 each as a requirement for departure and membership in OWWA and entitlement of welfare benefits. The total corpus of this trust fund is already at the level of at least PHP10 billion. The disposition and administration of this fund has been subject of criticisms, as its use has not been transparent and shown susceptibility to mismanagement. Specifically, reforms in OWWA should (1) impose strict criteria in the process of selection of people who will sit in the Board of Trustees, such that only those qualified and are committed to work for their constituents are appointed, e.g., women OFWs, sea-based, land-based, etc. (2) OWWA proceedings should be made transparent and open to public scrutiny, particularly the investment of the trust funds. (3) the incoming administration, for the benefit of OFWs and through the working group, should require from the current OWWA board an accounting of OWWA funds and how they were invested/used. To this end, the most recent COA audit of migration agencies, like POEA, OWWA, DFA, and POLO offices overseas, must be consulted.

• The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) are two small agencies that are doing important work on mobilizing diaspora contributions for development and assistance to OFWs who are reintegrating to Philippine society after working abroad. The CFO, for instance, has submitted recommendations on how gaps and barriers to enhanced diaspora contributions could be addressed, but these have never been acted upon. The NRCO, in the three years it has been created, has given assistance and referrals on livelihood and employment to OFW returnees affected by the global crisis. Their work should be seriously looked into, and whenever necessary, the appropriate level of funds, resources, and support should be given to these agencies.

• Lack of financial literacy or of the ability to use resources and incomes productively and wisely has been highlighted as a major cultural barrier among not only OFWs but also for most Filipinos. It prevents our people from improving their socio-economic conditions, despite years of employment in the Philippines or overseas. This refers to lack of savings or investment mindset and excessive spending on non-essentials. No less than an institutionalized nationwide program on financial literacy will be able to address this and should include not only OFWs but also members of their family.

The BSP has been the lead government agency that has conducted financial literacy seminars for OFWs and families since 2006 in more than 30 Philippine cities and 10 cities overseas. This program could be improved and expanded through an impact assessment of the campaign and which might include providing resources for enlisting the DECS to include financial literacy and migration as part of school curriculum, starting from grade school, or the LGUs, by including financial literacy and social costs of migration in the Pre-employment Orientation Seminars (PEOS) conducted in their territories for intending migrants.

As a final note, while the recommendations above address specific OFW issues, the programs you had avowed to pursue in your electoral campaign on good governance—better access to health, education, employment and livelihood, and business opportunities for all—are all in the right track, constitute the basic elements for self-sufficiency, and provide viable options to our citizens to remain in the country and to devote their talents and resources to developing the homeland. On these, please be assured of our continued support.

Signed:

Doris Alfafara, Habagat Foundation, The Netherlands
Ren Arrieta, USA
Alex Veloso Bello, Saudi Arabia
Marvin Bionat, USA
Ding Bagasao, Economic Resource Center for Overseas Filipinos (ERCOF), Philippines
Jack Catarata, Germany
Basco Fernandez, Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland, The Netherlands
Lorna Lardizabal Dietz
Cristina Liamzon, Italy
Judith Puyat-Magnaye, USA
Mariel Vincent Rapisura, SEDPI Philippines
Leila Rispens-Noel, Wimler Partnership for Social Progress, Hongkong/Contact Person
Dennis Yaun, Luxembourg

Congratulations! AKBAYAN


Congratulations! To Akbayan Party-list  as one of  the  Party-list group winners in the  May 10, 2010 election.

Akbayan’s nominees are:  renowned economist and activist Walden Bello, agrarian reform and women advocate Atty. Arlene Bag-ao, peace crusader Tom Villarin; migrants champion Ellene Sana, youth leader Francis “Kiko” Isaac and peasant leader Ruperto “Ka Uper” Aleroza.

Akbayan is one of the pioneering groups in the party-list system.  In 1998, when the system was first implemented, former congresswoman Loretta Ann Rosales was the group’s first representative and was also represented  by Liza Hontiveros Baraquel in the 14th Congress.

The Constitution allots 20 percent of the seats in the House to party-list groups. For a group to get a seat in Congress, it must win at least two percent of the total votes cast for the party-list system.

We need charter change


We need Charter Change

By: Bong Amora

I : 2010 Election a success

Majority of the Filipino people actively embraced the new voting system, the “Automated Election System (AES)” which basically contributed to the success of the Philippine May 2010 election. It also means that manual election system is now part of the Philippine history. Although there were isolated glitches but rectifying the same would be an overwhelming success in the future Philippine electoral processes.

Congratulations to the winners! Especially to my President. The mandate of the Filipino people has spoken and now Aquino is armed with that mandate. Please don’t disappoint us, the Filipinos is giving you a chance to eradicate corruption once and for all. Don’t tarnish the good reputation of Ninoy and Cory. Keep us out from poverty and fix the problems we so desperately want to fix, the infrastructure, education, energy and health care.

II: The Aftermath

However, the aftermath of election remains unresolved. For each election brought a landslide of garbage. These are the rubbish generated not only by voting the wrong people in public office. These are the waste left in the election campaign of candidates from local to national to village level fighting for elective positions in government – posters, brochures, banners, placards, pamphlets, sample ballots, stickers, calendars, pins, buttons, banners, and other printed materials. Not to mention the billions of Pesos the government spent every election. A taxpayer’s money used to exercise our right of suffrage is a lot of money that instead can be used in other form for the benefit of the poor Filipinos.

Perhaps a two party system is the answer to this problem. It can lessen waste of votes and waste of taxpayer’s money.

III: What is a two party system?

Two Party System

Two Party System

The two-party system is a form of party system where two major political parties dominate in most elections, in part, at any level.

Under a two-party system, one of the two parties in general has a majority of the legislature (the parliament or a house on a bicameral system),  and is determined as the majority party. The smaller parties as the minority party called.

Prominent examples of countries with two-party systems including the U.S., Honduras, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Malta and Japan. Even though these countries are often thought of as two-party states, other parties have little longer, but significant bases and have seen the candidates elected to local or regional offices. In general, a two-party system, a share of the political spectrum in a field right and left parties.

Some governments, certain chambers of a two-party system and the other similar to a multiparty system. For example, the policy of Australia largely two-party (if the Liberal Party and National Party are both parties at the national level because of their longstanding alliance) for the Australian House of Representatives are elected by a ballot of the majority. However, others are more common in the Australian Senate, a proportional electoral system uses more amenable to smaller parties.

IV: Federalism

One of the most complex foundations of the United States is the principle of federalism. This is the idea that the central government does not control all power in the country. States also have the powers reserved for them. Each state is responsible for its own affairs without always relying on the federal government.

I think the form of government that we are now simply too overwhelmed with problems, the services required by the people and other things that need attention. If it decides to somehow transfer the important services closer to people, then at least relieved the national government too much effort. Even the developing countries, the development of sub-economy, and then in different parts of the country is most likely to occur.

If Philippines will embrace a Federal system of Government, we will split into separate regions or states, each with its own autonomy and economics and law. Each region has to manage its own affairs of governance. Maybe, a Governor, the highest chief executive of the region, could head it. Each region will have a democratically elected member of the Senate. We don’t need hundreds of  “districts” lawmakers that will represents in Congress. We don’t need many elected officials. The lesser representations in the Senate or Congress the lesser the corruption in government and could perhaps eradicate rampant vote buying during elections.

Federalism could result in better consultation and cooperation that will lead to improvements in any sector and good management. In the social sector, a federal government can play a key role in ensuring a high quality of life for all citizens in their own regions according to their customs, traditions and beliefs.

The federal region will see to it that the public goods, the supply market is enough and perhaps can compete to other regions in the implementation of infrastructure, learning and training, transportation, healthcare and environment protection.  It will give opportunity for each region, instead of treating them as recipients of services from the national government.

It can also anchor for economic growth and development on a policy of genuine agrarian reform and true industrialization of the regions in the entire country. It will ensure that the Philippine economy produced from all over the country will be competitive in the world market.

The National Federal Government should impartially allocate and encourage foreign and domestic investments among the regions that should translate to the local employment, food on every family’s table, decent housing and medical care, and quality education for all. The delivery of basic social services will always take precedence, as the welfare of the entire nation shall never be sacrifices to gods of the global market.

To the new administration, perhaps it’s about time to think and study a two party political system and a federal form of government for a better Philippines.  But before that, we need  Charter Change. – Bong A.