Non-machine readable passports to be phased out by late 2015 – DFA

January 5, 2014

Non-machine readable passports to be phased out by late 2015 – DFA

The use of all non-machine readable passports will not be extended beyond 31 October 2015 and must be completely phased out by 24 November 2015, the Department of Foreign Affairs said recently.

Citing its own regulations and the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), DFA said all Filipino nationals holding machine readable-ready passports (MRRP, green passports) and machine readable passports (MRP, maroon passports) will no longer be allowed to apply for an extension of the validity of these passports after 31 October 2014.

All Filipinos are told to apply for a new e-Passport as soon as possible before the expiry of their current MRRP (green) or MRP (maroon) passports. Those who fail to do so will likely encounter difficulty at immigration checks when traveling through any ports of entry around the world after October 2015, DFA said.


PH firms in Nigeria ‘doing very well’ – foreign minister

July 30, 2013

By

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/81787/ph-firms-in-nigeria-doing-very-well-foreign-minister

3:39 pm | Monday, July 29th, 2013

Nigerian Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ayodeji Ashiru visits the country to meet with DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario. He expressed satisfaction with the meeting and hopes that the two countries will be able to improve economic ties.

MANILA, Philippines – The Nigerian Foreign Minister expressed satisfaction with his recent visit to the Philippines to meet with his counterpart in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“Very satisfied. We believe this will enable us to develop relations to a much higher level between our two countries,” Nigerian Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ayodeji Ashiru, told reporters in an ambush interview Monday after his meeting with DFA secretary Albert del Rosario.

He said that they discussed improving economic cooperation between the two countries in the sectors of energy, agriculture, and manufacturing in Nigeria.

“We have identified areas where Nigeria and Philippines can best cooperate in this economic level, one of this is power sector. We are already [know of a] Filipino company [that established] a partnership with a Nigerian company [and] won the bid for power generation in the south west [region of Nigeria],” Ashiru said.

“We believe this will also propel the Filipino companies to make inroads into Nigeria. Already there are some of them that have established presence in Nigeria and they are doing very well in the manufacturing sector,” he said.

Del Rosario likewise cited the significant contributions of the 7,200 Filipinos in Nigeria.

“Our nationals are contributing to the development of Nigeria in many areas across several sectors,” he said. “There is so much room for improvement in terms of increasing our trade and investment flows between our two countries.”

The DFA said in a statement that, in 2012, Nigeria is the seventh largest trading partner of the Philippines in the African continent and that “it is a market for machinery, chemicals, transport equipment, manufactured goods, food and live animals.”

“Nigeria is one of the top performing economies in Africa. With a population of 174.5 million, it is the second largest economy in the African continent. Like the Philippines, it has been named by Goldman Sachs’ as one of the Next 11 economies to watch out for,” it said.

Ashiru said that he also raised concerns about Nigerian nationals who are in the country but have yet to be issued with residence permits even though they have studied here or running businesses here or even have already married to Filipinos.

“We raised concerns of Nigerians who are here [but] are unable to be issued with residence permits,” he said.

“I requested [del Rosario] to look into this so that Nigerians who are here legally, who have studied here, who are working here, who are doing businesses here, who are even married to your nationals, to have the opportunity to have a resident visa,” Ashiru added.

The Nigerian community in the Philippines is composed mostly of students and businessmen, while most Filipino nationals in Nigeria are skilled, office, and professional workers, DFA said.

To issue of Filipinos being used as drug mules by Nigerian drug syndicates was also discussed, Ashiru said.

“We have to cooperate to stop the illegal trafficking not just of humans but also in the trafficking of drugs, we need to work together so we can stop these illegal activities,” he said.

“We will continue to discuss this when we have the joint commission session between our two countries,” Ashiru added.

Originally posted at 3:07 p.m.

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http://business.inquirer.net/76123/ictsi-bags-deal-to-run-major-nigeria-terminal


DTI blacklists 8 more ‘balikbayan’ box forwarders

March 11, 2013

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InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA – Just two weeks before Christmas, the Department of Trade and Industry-Philippine Shippers’ Bureau revoked the accreditation of a cargo forwarder as well as blacklisted another seven companies.

In an updated advisory dated December 7, the DTI-PSB said it has removed D’ Winner Logistics Philippines Inc from the list of accredited freight forwarding firms after it failed to deliver “balikbayan” boxes to their intended recipients.

The agency advised Filipinos abroad as well as consignees in the country to “refrain from doing business” with the said company, which has violated certain provisions of the “Rules on Freight Forwarding” under PSB Administrative Order No. 6, series of 2005.

The DTI-PSB likewise warned the public against dealing with unaccredited freight forwarders that have been issued formal charges by the agency. Added to the previous 28 in the November 23 advisory were seven companies, namely:

- D’ EEC Freight Forwarder and Logistics;

- Diaz Cargo Services;

- Forex Cargo Philippines Inc;

- Sir2Go Forwarders;

- Skyland Brokerage Inc;

- The Filipino Cargo International; and

- UMAC Forwarders Express Inc.

The Filipino Cargo International servicing Filipinos in Kuwait was likewise included in the blacklist of foreign principals/cargo consolidators that have been blacklisted because of undelivered “balikbayan” boxes.

Sir Cargo Forwarders (Saudi Arabia), meanwhile, has been removed from the blacklist after it delivered the cargo that was the subject of the complaint against it.

The DTI-PSB continues to enjoin consumers and consignees with complaints concerning damaged, pilfered or lost “balikbayan” boxes to report or file a written complaint to the agency through fax (02)751-3305 or e-mail dti_psb@yahoo.com.ph or call DTI Direct (02)751-3330.

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http://www.interaksyon.com/article/55044/4-more-cargo-forwarders-blacklisted-because-of-undelivered-balikbayan-boxes

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/56866/advisory–3-more-cargo-forwarders-join-blacklist-because-of-undelivered-balikbayan-boxes

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/52636/dti-recommends-estafa-case-against-3-cargo-forwarders-on-undelivered-balikbayan-boxes

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/48969/dti-enlists-help-of-embassies-in-warning-ofws-of-erring-balikbayan-box-forwarders

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POEA lifts deployment ban to Nigeria, Libya, South Sudan

November 12, 2012

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March 21, 2012 6:50pm

Philippine labor officials on Wednesday lifted the ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to three countries — Nigeria, Libya, and South Sudan.

In a news release, Labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) governing board issued three separate resolutions on the lifting of the deployment ban.

POEA records show there are 2,152 OFWs in Libya; 1,691 in Nigeria; and 1,941 in South Sudan.

Nigeria 

POEA Governing Board Resolution No. 4 fully lifts the ban on the deployment of OFWs to Nigeria based on the recommendation of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), noting the improved security situation in that country.

The ban on the deployment of OFWs to Nigeria was imposed on January 22, 2007 following kidnappings due to unrest in Nigeria at that time.

On March 13, 2007, the ban was partially lifted to allow the re-deployment of OFWs in Nigeria who were on vacation and were returning to the same employers.

However, it was reimposed on January 31, 2008 and the ban also covered Filipino seafarers onboard ships entering Nigerian ports.

A partial lifting of the reimposed ban was made on August 12, 2009.

Libya

Resolution No. 5 fully lifts the ban on the deployment of OFWs to Libya following the approval by the Office of the President of the recommendation of the DFA last Feb. 23 to lower the crisis alert level in Libya from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 1.

The POEA Governing Board suspended the processing and deployment of OFWs bound for Libya on February 22, 2011 because of heightened political unrest there.

On December 20 last year, the Governing Board issued Resolution No. 10 which allowed for the gradual processing and redeployment of returning workers in the medical and oil sectors only, subject to proof of existing employment as determined by the POEA.

“The gradual processing is no longer in effect as the Governing Board now allows the resumption of the processing and deployment of Filipino workers to Libya,” Baldoz said.

South Sudan

In the third resolution, Resolution No. 6, the POEA Governing Board lifts the ban on the deployment of OFWs to South Sudan, which was imposed on March 30, 2005 in all of Sudan, except Khartoum and the Kenana Sugar Plantation in the White Nile, because of the unstable peace and order situation in that country.

On January 13 this year, the Governing Board issued another resolution, Resolution No. 1, imposing a total ban to South Sudan and deferred the processing and deployment of OFWs there until its political and security conditions have normalized.

“The decision to lift the ban in the deployment of OFWs to South Sudan was made in the wake of the DFA’s recommendation lowering the crisis alert level in South Sudan from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 1,” said Baldoz. - VVP, GMA News

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http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/252250/pinoyabroad/poea-lifts-deployment-ban-to-nigeria-libya-south-sudan

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OFWs LAUNCH GLOBAL WEBWIDE PROTEST TO STOP PHILHEALTH PREMIUM INCREASE

November 12, 2012

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JULY 20, 2012 – Overseas Filipino Workers will use Facebook and Twitter to protest the impending plan of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) to increase its premium. Dubbed as Global Webwide Protest to Stop Philhealth Increase which will run from July 20 – 25, 2012 in different social media platforms, the online protest was initiated by Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards founding president Kenji Solis who is based in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has now adherents from 67 countries majority are OFWs from the Middle East or Gulf countries, followed by Singapore and Hong Kong.

The Philhealth Board recently issued Circular No.022 imposing a 150% hike in health premium for OFW members from PhP 900 to become P2, 400; OFWs find this increase extremely exorbitant and inconsiderate because not many of OFWs were consulted. Through its Facebook page Global OFW Voices – the voices of more than 10,000 OFWs, is being mobilized to stage synchronize protest on the different social media platforms of Philhealth, government officials including the President PNOY and other government agencies to air a unified message against the increase.

OFWs globally plead to stop and immediately implement a moratorium on imposing the increase until a comprehensive and genuine consultation with most OFWs and other stakeholders have been conducted. The government has to consider the mobile or transient nature of OFWs, and recognize their unique circumstances where majorities do not directly benefit from the insurance since most of them are already provided with far better and superior health insurances by their companies. In particular, Philhealth should be more sympathetic on OFWs who are earning meager salary like domestic helpers, laborers, janitors, food servers, or those categorized as unskilled workers who find the increase as an added burden to pay before they leave abroad. The said increase is a direct violation of RA 10022, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 that “prohibits increase in government fees for services rendered to OFWs and their dependents.”

It is unfair for OFWs to be treated as revenue mill or as OFWs consider themselves as government’s milking cow. With their dollar remittances that keep the Philippine economy afloat including the strengthening of peso against the dollar, it is unfortunate that the government continue to levy additional fees on this sector. Although OFWs do not oppose government’s plan to provide universal health insurance to the poor, it is immoral to use solidarity to burden the already suffering workers overseas.

The group calls for a comprehensive discussion with Philhealth and other government agencies to agree on an equitable premium among OFWs and stop the increase until a mutual agreement has been reached.

For more information on this protest, visit:
https://www.facebook.com/events/499223546758755/
https://www.facebook.com/PEBAWARDS
http://twitter.com/pebawards
https://www.facebook.com/OFWVOICE
Webwide Protest Against Philhealth Premium increase
Friday, July 20 at 7:00am in UTC+03 at Worldwide

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PH to ban OFW deployment to 15 countries

July 4, 2012

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PH to ban OFW deployment to 15 countries
By Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
8:07 pm | Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
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MANILA, Philippines–The government will ban the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to 15 countries for failing to meet the safety requirements of the amended Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act, the head of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said Tuesday.

POEA chief Hans Leo Cacdac made the announcement on Tuesday as he emphasized that the Vatican and Monaco were not among the list of countries considered “unsafe” for OFW deployment.

“The deployment will be stopped (for the 15 countries) once the GBR (POEA governing board resolution) takes effect 15 days after publication,” Cacdac said in an interview.

In its resolution on June 28, the POEA governing board said that OFW deployment will not be allowed to those countries that were not included in the list of countries deemed complaint with the safety requirements of the Migrants Act.

The 15 countries were Afghanistan, Chad, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea/North Korea, Eritrea, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, Niger, Palestine, Somalia, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe.

The Philippines already has an existing deployment ban to Lebanon and Afghanistan due to safety concerns for OFWs working there.

Cacdac said that the government was also reviewing the certifications for Libya and Iraq. The government had previously lifted the deployment ban to Libya and to Kurdistan, the northern region of Iraq, but the DFA has decided to review again the security situation in both countries.

“With respect to Iraq and Libya, there’s a review especially Libya. Iraq is still subject to a security alert level so there’s still a total deployment ban for Iraq except for Kurdistan,” Cacdac said.

“In Libya, deployment is ongoing so while we are awaiting the review of the DFA, the status quo will continue,” he added.

Cacdac reiterated that the Vatican and Monaco were not among those countries that Manila considered as unsafe for OFW deployment.

He said the POEA was just waiting for the DFA to issue the certifications for the two European countries.

Under the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act, the DFA has to certify countries to determine if they had enough protection for OFWs and this certification should be approved by the POEA board.

To be certified as safe, a country should have “existing labor and social laws protecting the rights of workers; is a signatory to and/or a ratifier of multilateral conventions, declarations or resolutions relating to the protection of workers; and has concluded a bilateral agreement or arrangement with the government on the protection of the rights of OFWs.”

When asked when the DFA would issue those certifications, considering that the amended Migrants Act became law two years ago, Cacdac said: “Well, that is something that the post has to look into but it has nothing to do with the Vatican or Monaco being unsafe.”

“They still have no certification for now. Meaning, they are not definitely in the list of noncompliant countries because we await their certifications,” he said.

“And of course, deployment will continue (for the two countries). There are only a few. In the Vatican, there’s none but for Monaco we have a few … four or five rehires in a year,” Cacdac added.

In its resolution on June 28, the POEA board also approved the certification of 32 countries–including Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait— that were earlier deemed “partially compliant” as “compliant” countries after Congress allowed the move while DFA negotiates agreements with these countries to improve OFW safety.

“The list of compliant countries pertains to labor and employment conditions for OFWs. This does not affect the outstanding deployment ban to Syria on account of the security situation there,” Cacdac said.

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Source: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/42739/ph-to-ban-ofw-deployment-to-15-countries

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Philippines’ musicians sing their way out of poverty

June 24, 2012

Philippines’ musicians sing their way out of poverty
24-Jun-12, 2:08 PM | Cecil Morella, Agence France-Presse

MANILA – On a mock-up stage in a Philippine music studio, single mom Joanna Talibong is singing for her life.

The former church-choir girl is nervous and struggling to stay on key as she battles through more than a dozen takes of the syrupy Olivia Newton-John ballad “Suddenly.”

If she and keyboard-playing friend Jason Panggoy can get their video-demo right, they stand a chance of securing a series of gigs in South Korea that would enable them to start a long journey out of crushing poverty.

“I did not finish college, so I don’t have many job options… overseas I can earn a lot more,” the carpenter’s daughter tells AFP during a break from singing at the studio in a rundown quarter of Manila.

Roughly nine million Filipinos, or 10 percent of the population, work overseas because there are so few job opportunities in their largely impoverished homeland.

While many toil as largely anonymous maids, sailors, construction workers, and laborers in foreign countries, tens of thousands also stand under spotlights entertaining crowds as singers and musicians.

From high-class hotel bars in the Middle East to Las Vegas casinos, ex-pat pubs in Asia and luxury cruise liners sailing the Caribbean, Filipinos are often found performing near-perfect cover versions of almost any genre.

Talibong is desperate to join them, or she will be forced back to a bar in a small northern Philippine city where for the past three months she and Panggoy have played to tobacco traders and travelling salesmen for $3.50 a night.

Adding to her problems is her nine-month-old son, who has a clubbed foot and lives with his grandparents while Talibong pursues her musical career.

Her manager has lined up a six-month booking for Talibong and Panggoy at bars in South Korea that would pay them each $800 a month, and she knows exactly where her first pay cheques would be be spent.

“My priority is an operation for my son’s clubbed foot. That’s really my goal. That’s what’s pushing me to work really hard,” says Talibong, who is just 21 years old.

But first the duo’s demo tape — which also includes a Taylor Swift and Matchbox 20 numbers — must pass muster with the artist review board in Seoul, a review process that takes about a month.

Their manager, Wilma Ipil, who has been sending an average of two bands to South Korea every month since 2008, concedes the duo may not get the gig, amid growing competition from other Filipino talents trying to make it overseas.

“Previously, even inexperienced musicians got hired,” says Ipil, who sang in Hong Kong, Thailand, and China herself before going into band management.

“But now, with the wealth of talent available, promoters have become more discriminating.”

Nevertheless, the demand for Filipino performers overseas is enormous, according to Jackson Gan, the head of the music studio where Talibong is recording her demo.

“Our only competition is ourselves. The whole world knows that if you have a low budget but need quality, you get Filipino talent,” says Gan, who also acts as an agent for other export acts.

Gan estimates between 25,000 and 30,000 Filipino musicians and singers play in 3,000 clubs, hotels, cruise ships, and restaurants around the world at any one time. The pay generally ranges from $800-1,500 a month, according to Gan.

He says even Malaysian, Indonesian, Australian, and Chinese bands tend to recruit Filipina lead singers.

Gan attributes the success of Filipino performers overseas to the deep roles music and dance have in local culture.

Singing contests are often the highlights of village fairs and beauty contests, while song and dance are a staple of the most popular national television game shows.

Karaoke is one of the country’s most loved forms of entertainment, with guests at weddings and birthday parties expected to be able to belt out songs behind a microphone to entertain their hosts.

Karaoke is also a mainstay at bars, restaurants, and shopping centers.

“Some of my singers were discovered at karaoke joints,” says Gan, a 20-year veteran of the business, whose scouting regimen sees him serving as judge at singing contests in remote villages across the country.

Gan says Philippine musicians are also well-known for their warm audience rapport, a reflection of a general easygoing nature for which Filipinos are famous.

“That is a very important part of the music. It’s not just plain singing,” he says.

However Gan says most performers have a short shelf-life overseas, particularly the female lead singers who often have to end their foreign sojourns when they have babies or for other family reasons.

And although many can copy perfectly the world’s most popular songs, few cover band members will ever get a recording contract.

But there are some inspirational success stories for those who continue to dream of making it big.

The most famous is Arnel Pineda, who for many years fronted Filipino bands in Manila bars and in Hong Kong.

His big break came in 2007 when members of US rock group Journey were looking for a new lead singer and saw clips of him singing the band’s songs on YouTube.

Pineda was hired soon after an audition in the United States, and his first album fronting the band debuted in the top 10 of the American Billboard Charts. Pineda and Journey continue to perform at sold-out concerts around the world.


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