in Middle East
||OFWs in the
Middle East can stop worrying about packing their bags
and leaving on a jet plane for their beloved Philippines.
The estimated 1.4 million land-based OFWs there will not
be shipped out if the US attack on Iraq escalates into
a regionwide conflict.
Retired Gen. Roy Cimatu, chief of the newly formed Philippine
Crisis Management Team, which is tasked with ensuring
the safety of OFWs in the Middle East, said Filipinos
will just be relocated from areas affected by war to safer
locations within the region.
After the team’s last-minute visit to Saudi Arabia
and other countries with Filipino workers, the group decided
relocation is the most practical solution to the crisis
two Pinay commemorated the 9/11 attack in front of the
US Embassy in Manila by bringing flowers and calling for
by Lito C.Ocampo
of the huge cost of flying all OFWs out of the region.
Besides, many OFWs who have made Saudi Arabia their second
home prefer to stay and continue working there than end
up with no job and income back home. There are an estimated
800,000 OFWs in the kingdom alone.
The previous contingency plan prepared by an inter-agency
committee led by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) involves
three stages of evacuation depending on the severity of
the situation. Ferdinand Victoria of the office of the
DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs explained
that the plan is basically to move out Filipinos away
from conflict areas. The first stage is moving OFWs within
the country where they work. The second stage is to move
them to another country in the region. The last stage,
which considers worst case scenario, is the full evacuation
of Filipinos from the entire region.
Victoria said there is a crisis manual that identifies
what necessitates transfer, relocation and full evacuation.
For example, if the conflict is full blown and all telephone
lines break down, full evacuation is necessary.
The relocation plan has a similar principle of moving
people away from hotspots. For example the 160,000 Filipino
workers concentrated in the Saudi Arabian cities of Alkhobar,
Damman and Dahran in the Eastern Province shall be relocated
to the capital Riyadh in the Central Region.
Iraq fired Scud missiles to the Eastern Province during
the 1990 Gulf War because Saudi Arabia joined the international
coalition that freed Kuwait from Iraqi troops. It is expected
to be the target of Iraqi missile attacks again because
of the oil fields, naval base and desalination plants
If the situation gets worse and Riyadh be placed in danger,
the workers shall be relocated farther to Jeddah in the
western part of the kingdom.
For Filipinos in other parts of the region near Iraq,
particularly Kuwait, they may be transferred to Cyprus,
Jordan, Lebanon, Iran and Oman.
However, the 121 Filipino workers and embassy personnel
in Iraq were transferred to Amman, Jordan on the second
week of September. From there, they were flown to Manila
via commercial airlines.
of illegal aliens in Italy, Korea on
all undocumented Filipino migrant workers in Italy. You
can legalize your stay in Italy by applying for amnesty
at local labor offices and paying a 300 euro fee (about
P15,440). The Italian government is giving foreign caregivers
the chance to apply for a regular working permit until
Nov. 9. The deadline for registration of illegal domestic
helpers was Oct. 9.
Caregivers who will register will be given six months
to find a job and if they get one, they will be issued
a permit to stay. But after the amnesty deadline, undocumented
foreign migrant workers will be arrested and deported.
Italy would pay for the deportation expenses.
The amnesty program was launched in accordance with a
recently passed immigration law that provides that “only”
foreigners with existing work contracts will be granted
permits to stay. The law also ensures the rights and benefits
of foreign workers.
Up to 80,000 of the 150,000 Filipino migrant workers in
Italy are believed to be undocumented. Undocumented Filipino
workers in South Korea have more time to legalize their
stay than those in Italy. The Seoul government offered
the 230,000 illegal aliens staying in the country, including
17,000 Filipinos, until March 2003 to regularize their
stay to avoid deportation.
crackdown against entertainers in Japan
Tessie Aquino-Oreta can now heave a sigh of relief after
the DFA assured that immigration authorities are not rounding
up Filipino entertainers in Japan for deportation. The
Philippine Embassy in Japan reported that Japanese authorities
are raiding nightclubs not to harass the entertainers
but to ensure that its owners are not forcing their foreign
workers into prostitution.
DOLE Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas said the inspection
of clubs and restaurants, where thousands of Filipina
overseas performing artists (OPAs) work, is also meant
to penalize club owners and foreign workers violating
Japanese taxation and immigration rules. She said Japanese
immigration strictly enforces the rule that duly certified
dancers and singers must perform. OPAs found working without
the permits or sitting with customers are penalized .
Sto. Tomas said at least 100 promoters have been suspended
because of the annual inspection conducted by a reorganized
Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau since last April.
OFWs donate goods for Sabah refugees
of the Alyansa ng mga Samahang Pilipino sa Ibayong Dagat
(Alyansa), which groups 50 Filipino organizations in the
Western Region of Saudi Arabia, donated used clothing,
canned foods and other items for the benefit of Filipinos
deported from Sabah, Malaysia. The donations consisted
of 32 boxes of quality clothing and two boxes of assorted
medicines with a combined weight of 700 kilos. The clothes
were shipped via sea and the medicines via air to the
Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) in Manila for handling
Alyansa also collected more than 500 riyals from different
individuals for the benefit of Sabah refugees and transfered
the money to the PNRC’s account.
The donation drive is still ongoing.
danger for Filipino workers in Israel
caregivers Adelina Cunanan and Rebecca Ruga died instantly
when a suicide bomber exploded on a bus they were riding
in the hills of Galilee in Israel last August. But for
the 20,000 undocumented Filipino workers in that troubled
country, their worse fear is being discovered and repatriated
than getting killed in a suicide bomb attack.
The Israeli government is targeting the expulsion of 50,000
unauthorized foreign workers in the country this year.
Most of the illegal Filipino workers in Israel are caregivers.
The DOLE already issued a warning not to work in Israel
because of the crackdown and violence. But for those who
will be deported, OWWA assured that it would give assistance
whether or not a deportee is a member of the agency.
Filipinos deployed in 8 months
January to September this year, 638,875 Filipino workers
left for work abroad. The POEA reported that 497,577 land-based
workers and 141,298 seafarers were deployed during the
eight-month period. The POEA added that 309,538 of the
deployed land-based workers were rehires, while the remainder,
or 188,039, were new hires.
And if the daily average of 2,618 deployment continues
up to December, the number of deployed OFWs will reach
one million this year, DOLE Secretary Patricia A. Sto.
Sto. Tomas said foreign-based employers continue to hire
Filipino workers because of their competitiveness. Aside
from their highly rated skills, reliability, and productivity,
Filipinos are culturally adaptable and can clearly and
fluently communicate in English, the accepted international
language, Sto. Tomas said.
exam probe holds deployment of deck officers
June was the second instance under the term of Professional
Regulation Commission chairman Antonieta Fortuna-Ibe that
many marine deck officers scored impossible high grades
in their licensure exam. Many examinees scored 94, 95
and 96 in two subjects of the written exam and a “kodigo”
containing many answers to the test questionnaires was
found. So Ibe held the release of the grades until a multi-agency
team finishes its investigation of a possible breach in
the supposedly fool-proof computerized examination. The
holding of the release of the grades forced many marine
deck officers to delay their deployment abroad.
Reminiscent of the July 2001 deck officer licensure exam,
wherein several examinees scored perfectly in one subject,
investigators could not find the people who rigged the
June 2002 exam.
Last year, the National Bureau of Investigation and the
Criminal Investigation and Detection Group also failed
to find enough evidences of a leakage of test questions
and answers to a review center, where the perfect scoring
renewal of passport now available
can now apply for renewal of your passport via the Internet.
The DFA is providing the service at http://www.passport.com.ph.
Through the DFA Passport Direct Online, a passport can
be delivered to your home in six days. Door-to-door delivery
is from Monday to Saturday. The online passport renewal
DFA Passport Direct Online also allows verification of
the status of renewal application.
The service is as convenient as the DFA’s passport
renewal via telephone (DFA Passport Direct Hotline: 737-1000).
No more traveling to and queuing at the DFA.
The service is P100 cheaper than the phone application,
which costs P1,200 - P550 for the service fee and P650
for the passport. It is even cheaper than getting passports
from travel agencies, which charge P1,500 to P3,000.
Pilipinas Teleserv, Inc., the company that introduced
phone application of birth certificates from the NSO,
runs the DFA Passport Direct Online and Hotline.
want exclusion from OFW law
Filipino seafarers are throwing the Migrant Workers and
Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (Republic Act 8042) to
the dustbin. Participants to the Filipino Seafarers’
National Convention proposed a separate law that exclusively
protects seafarers and promotes their and their families’
welfare. The convention was held last Sept. 27-28, 2002
at the Manila Hotel as part of the annual National Seafarers
RA 8042 provides policies of overseas employment and a
higher standard of protection and promotion of the welfare
of OFWs, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress.
But the law was seen as favoring only land-based OFWs.
In contrast, the Magna Carta for seafarers will include
guidelines for education and training, licensure, just
wage, safe working conditions, social benefits, health
and safety, dispute settlement, legal assistance, rights
and protection, welfare services and facilities, port
employment, repatriation, reintegration and replacement.
requires pre-employment seminar
leaving for abroad, the DOLE requires an OFW to attend
a pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS). The PDOS orients
OFWs on the culture of their host countries. Now, the
DOLE will also conduct a pre-employment orientation seminar
(PEOS) to orient Filipinos about the dangers of working
abroad without proper documents. The PEOS aims to prevent
a repeat of the deportation of thousands of Filipinos
working illegally in the Malaysian province of Sabah.
The POES, which will be jointly conducted by POEA and
local government units representatives, also aims to protect
jobseekers against illegal recruiters by informing them
the names of accredited recruitment firms. Attendance
to a PEOS will be a requirement before an OFW is accepted
for an overseas job.
issues OFW ID Card to new hires
new hires recruited by licensed recruitment agencies and
POEA’s Government Placement Branch can now get their
OFW Electronic ID Card for free at the POEA main office
in Mandaluyong City. The POEA started issuing the credit
ID card on October 1, 2002.
All pertinent data about an OFW will be loaded in the
card such as name, picture, signature, position, name
of employer, place of destination and OFW ID number. The
card can be used to buy goods or pay services in millions
of establishments around the world. It can be used to
deposit and withdraw cash in any Bancnet and Megalink
ATMs in the Philippines or at any Visa Plus ATMs worldwide
if the holder opens a peso savings account at the Equitable
PCI Bank, an affiliate company of the card-maker Equitable
Card Network. Eventually, the wives, allottees or dependents
of OFWs will be given similar ID cards to withdraw money
from their husbands’ or fathers’ bank accounts.
With the ID, an OFW can easily obtain monetary assistance
and claim benefits just by showing it to OWWA officers.
It can also be used to check details of OWWA contributions
or medical insurance, scholarship and repatriation benefits.
firm ordered closed
warned that the First Gift Global Realty Corporation (FGGRC)
is not authorized by the DOLE to recruit workers. In fact,
the DOLE Region IV ordered the closure of the FGGRC offices
in Sta. Rosa and Biñan, Laguna. Regional Director
Ricardo Martinez Sr. issued the closure order after FGGRC
failed to show proof of authority to engage in recruitment
activities in the said municipalities during a hearing
on September 3, 2002.
DOLE inspectors found out that FGGRC posted fictitious
job vacancies with “unusually” high salaries.
It was allegedly in need of machinists, electricians,
plumbers, engineers, data encoders, office staff, filing
clerks, utility men, construction workers, mechanics,
and welders among others. DOLE said the company was using
houses and makeshift structures as offices and employed
volunteers as staff.
Martinez also ordered the appropriate filing of criminal
charges against the company.
house at Pag-IBIG fair in Jeddah
in the Western Region of Saudi Arabia can have a chance
to buy their dream house in the Philippines at the Pag-IBIG
Fund housing fair on Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 at the Philippine
Consulate General in Jeddah. Ten realty companies will
offer low-cost and middle-income housing units during
the fair. Also, buyers may finalize documentations with
the Pag-IBIG Fund and the housing companies during the
Pag-IBIG Fund representatives will also accommodate membership
applications at the Consulate in Jeddah or the Philippine
Embassy in Riyadh. OFWs who are not yet members of Pag-IBIG
are encouraged to apply so they can loan money to buy,
build or renovate a house anywhere in the Philippines.
BOMB GIRLS. Fourteen boob-tube babes would like
to help fight lawlessness and evil in our crime-infested
communities. How are they going to do it if they have
YOUR COPY NOW