2008 Independence Day celeb

June 28, 2008

Youtube dance number videos from Independence day celebration 2008 at Sheraton Hotel Ikeja.

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many thanks to Lawrence Lo.

Also, see photos at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naijapinoy/

Members only.

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Pinoys in top 10 foreign populations of 16 countries

June 28, 2008

By Madelaine Joy A. Garcia
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:27:00 06/27/2008

A recently-released report by the World Bank has identified Filipinos among the top 10 foreign populations in 16 big and small countries in the Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America.

The WB’s Migration and Remittances Factbook 2008 says that Filipinos lead the number of foreigners in Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, Cyprus, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Oman, Palau, Saudi Arabia, the Solomon Islands, and the US.

Five of these countries are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The World Bank revealed data on the estimated number of migrants – or what it calls “immigrants” – based on the 2005 United Nations Population Division report.

The tiny island of Palau some 800 kilometers east of the Philippines, a diving haven and home to some 20,000 people, hosts the most number of Filipinos among the foreigners.

Data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) show that there are 4,495 Filipinos in Palau. Twenty-one of them are considered permanent residents; some 4,434 are temporary migrant workers. CFO estimates that the rest are undocumented.

Meanwhile, Filipinos are now the second biggest foreigner group in Malaysia, Brunei and the U.S., according to both the World Bank report and CFO estimates.

The US, the top source country of remittances to the Philippines, has some 38.4 million foreigners, says the WB. Filipinos are behind the US neighbor, Mexico, in terms of numbers there, and CFO estimates that there are now 3.4 million Filipinos in the US.

Of Malaysia’s 1.6 million foreigners, 100,233 are Filipinos, the WB report showed. CFO’s June 2007 data confirms this.

Brunei for its part has some 124,193 foreigners, with 22,939 of them Filipino, estimates CFO.

In Korea, 50,165 Filipinos in a total 551,193 foreigners make them the third largest number of foreigners. The Marshall Islands in the western Pacific Ocean have a thousand Filipinos, also making them the third biggest group in an estimated total of 1,667 foreigners.

The Solomon Islands have some 3,279 foreigners among some 489,000 people. CFO estimates 758 Filipinos there.

Filipinos are the fourth-biggest group in Italy, which has roughly 2.5 million foreigners. Some 119,083 Filipinos are estimated to be in Italy, says CFO.

An estimated 1,016,820 Filipinos in the work force make them the fifth biggest immigrant group in Saudi Arabia according to the CFO. This Muslim nation of some 24 million has some 6.36 million immigrants.

Filipinos are the fifth-largest immigrant group – an estimated 313,291 among 2.05 million foreigners in Japan – according to the World Bank report.

In Cyprus, estimated to have some 116,137 immigrants, Filipinos are ranked sixth. CFO data show 12,406 Filipinos there.

Filipinos – 33,000 of them – are the sixth-biggest group in Oman, which has some 627,571, by CFO estimates.

In Canada, with a total of 6,105,722 foreigners, Filipinos are the seventh-biggest group (789,943). Seventh largest (1,400) is also their ranking among Iceland’s 23,097 foreigners, according to CFO.

The eighth-biggest group of foreigners among Australia’s 4.1 million and Cambodia’s 303,871-immigrant population are Filipino, estimated to number 232,447 in the former, and 1,572 in the latter country.

–OFW Journalism Consortium

For comments, email of wjournalism@gmail.com and editor@ofwjournalism.net


News: Payroll system for OFW remittances opposed

June 18, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – Some leaders of overseas Filipino
workers’ groups frowned on the proposed return to the Marcos-era
payroll system in sending remittances which compels migrant workers
to directly remit up to 70 percent of their monthly salary through
the banking channels.

Edgar Cadano, secretary general of Riyadh-based group Kapatiran sa
Gitnang Silangan (KGS), deemed the system as very dictatorial, saying
it is tantamount to “stealing” from OFWs the right to decide on how
to spend their money.

Instead of automatically remitting up to 70 percent of their salaries
back home, Cadano proposed that a “free remittance system” be
implemented.

“This should not be too difficult to develop by concerned government
and private agencies with the modern communication technology
available at present. Capitalists should no longer gain profit from
sending our money back home after everything has been sweat out of
our labor in the global market,” Cadano said in a statement on Monday.

Private recruiter Lito Soriano, president of LBS E-Recruitment
Solutions, proposed the revival of the pay-rolling system and
asserted that it will dramatically reduce the costs of remittance,
while increasing and speeding up the flow of remittances into the
local banking sector.

According to the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development,
then President Ferdinand Marcos signed into law Executive Order 857
(Forced Remittance Law) in the early `80s, which required migrant
workers to remit 70 percent (for land-based migrant workers) and 100
percent (for sea-based migrant workers) of their earnings through the
legal banking channels.

Migrant workers failing to surrender the mandated percentage of their
salaries back home faced sanctions such as losing their rights to
renew their contracts and passports and banning them from the list of
eligible workers for overseas employment.

Using non-banking channels such as “padala” system was strictly
prohibited.

The order was greeted with widespread protests in the Middle East,
Hong Kong, Japan and Europe. A coordinated campaign was launched
between migrant-related groups inside and outside the Philippines
which resulted in the suspension of the EO.

Cadano explained that the real issue faced by OFWs in the midst of
the continued appreciation of the peso against the dollar is the
price increases of basic commodities back home such as food, which
further depreciate the value of their remitted money.

“Gas and oil and transportation costs are all going up while our
incomes are being squeezed with the unfavorable exchange rate against
a growing inflation rate being experience in our host countries,” he
said.

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona saw
the pay-rolling system as a sure failure especially among Arab
employers who are not keen on spending extra time to arrange for the
remittance of an OFW’s salary.

Remittance centers, which are non-banking channels, would also not
approve of the system as it would translate to a loss to their income.

“For Mr. Soriano’s information, it is not the attitude of foreign
employers, especially Arab employers, to spend time arranging for the
sending of its employed OFW’s salary. Likewise, remittance centers
and banks abroad would not surely agree to what he said as ‘one-time
charge’ to be collected from foreign employers. For them, it should
be business as usual. More OFW-remitters means more charges it can
collect,” Monterona said.

“The intent of Mr. Soriano’s proposal is highly dubious as it gives
leeway to recruitment agencies for possible misuse of OFWs’
salaries,” he added.

According to Monterona, recruitment agencies could take advantage of
the remitted money such as withdrawing and re-depositing the amount
and “take advantage of the volatile dollar-peso exchange rates.”

“Implementing the ‘pay-rolling’ system is like ‘using OFWs money’ for
profit of unscrupulous recruitment agencies; we are not surprised
that this absurd proposal is being proposed by a recruiter who is
earning a lot from OFWs,” he said.

– Mark J. Ubalde, GMANews.TV


Philhealth thumbs down proposed hospital for OFWs

June 15, 2008

The head of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. rejected on Wednesday proposals in the Senate to put up a hospital exclusively for overseas Filipino workers and their dependents.

Lorna O. Fajardo, acting Philhealth president and chief executive officer, said at a joint public hearing of the Senate committees on health and labor that it would be more sensible to use the money intended for the proposed hospital to augment existing medical facilities run by the government.

“Another hospital that cannot be fully equipped will just add up to the number of ill-equipped hospitals, “ Fajardo pointed out.

Besides, she stressed that the needs of OFWs and members of their families are no different from those of ordinary Filipinos, and that they should not be accommodated separately.

Fajardo said there are around 700,000 OFWs enrolled in Philhealth, each contributing P900 membership fee before going to their destination countries.

While Fajardo acknowledges that there are certain peculiarities in the OFWS’ cases, she said Philhealth does not support putting up a separate hospital exclusively for migrant workers.

Senate President Protempore Jinggoy Estrada filed in July Senate Bill 421, or the Migrant Workers Hospital Act of 2007, to ensure availability, accessibility of comprehensive health-care services to all migrant workers and their dependents.

Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. and Sen. Lito Lapid also filed separate bills for the construction of an OFW medical facility.

Vilar’s bill appropriates P5 million as government’s contribution for the initial operations and maintenance of the “OFW Medical Center.” It also provides that the government would “contribute the necessary land, building equipment and facilities” to the hospital.

Estrada, who chairs the Senate labor committee, asked resource persons invited to the public hearing on Wednesday if putting up a 50-bed hospital for OFWs would be a better option than accrediting existing medical facilities to cater to migrant workers’ health needs.

The OFW hospital is proposed to be supervised by the Overseas Workers Welfare administration (OWWA) and will initially serve OFWs who have paid their dues and their legal dependents.

It was intended to complement the existing package of services under the Medical Care Program (Philhealth) so as to include preventive, promotive, diagnostic, curative and rehabilitative programs.

“We can’t take for granted the indispensable role played by our modern heroes. Aside from their skills and experiences, an important capital that they have possessed is their health,” Estrada said in justifying the proposal.

In the course of the discussions, Estrada said having an OFW hospital would no longer be necessary if existing government hospitals would be willing to attend to the health needs of OFWs and their dependents.

The proposed hospital, he said, could be built using funds from OFWs’ contributions through OWWA. “We can even establish the hospital in the compound of the Veterans Medical Memorial Center,” Estrada said.

“I know the place very well, having stayed there for two years,” he jested, referring to his detention there in 2001 until he was allowed to post bail in 2003 as a co-accused of his father in a plunder case.

For her part, Sen. Pia Cayetano, who chairs the health and demography committee, said the proposed hospital could serve as a “processing center” to check on health needs of OFWs for referral to other Philhealth-accredited hospitals.

But Cayetano said she has strong reservations against putting up a new hospital for OFWs, considering that most OFWs are not based in Manila where the medical facility is proposed to be built.

Rhodora Abaro of the Center for Migrant Advocacy said about 50 percent of OFWs and their relatives come from Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon), the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), and Central Luzon, while the rest are spread in the Visayas and Mindanao.

She suggested that the intended beneficiaries be properly consulted on the proposal, noting that it would be their money that would be used to build and operate the facility.

“It’s the OFWs’ money, they should be consulted about it,” Abaro said in an interview with GMANews.TV.

While the benefits of the proposed OFW hospital can only be availed of by documented workers, Estrada suggested that undocumented OFWs should also be entitled to its services.

“Like documented OFWS, these undocumented workers also send money to the country,” he said.

Estrada said that he would organize a technical working group to look into the prospect of addressing the needs of undocumented OFWs. – Mark J. Ubalde, GMANews.TV

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02/27/2008 | 11:10 PM


Justice sought for death of female OFW in Saudi Arabia

June 15, 2008

So how many more DH in KSA will die before the government implements a total ban against sending of DH, caregivers, and nannies to Middle Eastern countries??

This is madness…

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Justice sought for death of female OFW in Saudi Arabia
JANESS ANN J. ELLAO, Bulatlat

It has been two years since Lilibeth Garcia has seen her sister Eugenia Baja who left to work in Saudi Arabia in May, 2007. Their long-awaited reunion should have been joyous and full of significance being on June 12 Independence Day and just five days since Migrants Day. But there was no cause for celebration in Baja’s much awaited return and the day lost its significance to Garcia and her relatives; because they were in grief and mourning as they waited in the cargo area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for the remains of her sister Eugenia Baja.

Baja left the country for Saudi Arabia last May 6, 2007. Her employment abroad was facilitated by the Aisis International Manpower Inc. which has its office in Malate, Manila. She signed a contract stating that she would be employed as a patient server in Saudi Arabia. However, she ended up being a domestic helper.

In January this year, Baja’s family was alarmed after receiving a series of text messages from her: the first pleading for help from her brother and a second message telling them that she did not know what her employers were doing to her and that she felt like losing her mind.

Their greatest fear was confirmed when they received news February 27 that Eugenia died three days earlier. But it was only by March 2008 that Garcia received a letter from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) informing them of her sister’s death. Garcia was first told that Baja died from an illness. But DFA officials later told her that Baja committed suicide by hitting her head with bathroom tiles.

At that moment, their long struggle to have Eugenia Baja’s remains repatriated began.

Three painful months

Garcia followed up the repatriation of her sister’s remains with the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs for three months to no avail. When Garcia felt that her pleas were being ignored, she brought along representatives from the 700 Club, a news talk show of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which is being aired locally in QTV Channel 11.

Garcia told Bulatlat that because of the presence of media, OWWA officials immediately promised to give them P20,000 ($450.349 at an exchange rate of $1=P44.41) for burial expenses, a P100,000 ($2,251.745) life insurance policy for her father and another P2,000 ($45.03) for her father’s transportation expenses in going back to their hometown in Bohol.

Garcia said that even Aisis International Manpower, Inc. gave them P10,000 ($225.17) as financial assistance. The OWWA also gave them a direct contact number to a certain Ed Lamparas who is working in the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.

“Nag-iiba sila kapag may kasama kang media. Samantalang dati pinabalik-balik pa nila ako,” (They suddenly changed just because I was accompanied by a media person. Whereas before, they made me come back and forth with no results. ) she added.

On the other hand, through the help of Migrante International, an organization of OFWs and their families, they were able to ask Senate President Manny Villar for assistance. Villar gave money for the plane tickets of Garcia and two other relatives going to Bohol for Baja’s wake. Congressman Edgar Chato of Bohol promised to shoulder the funeral expenses for Baja.

Journey home

“Nawalan na ako ng gana magtanong sa DFA kaya kay Ed Lamparas na lang ako tumatawag sa telepono,” (I lost my confidence with DFA so I called Ed Lamparas directly for updates.) said Garcia. She added that it was Lamparas who informed her that her sister’s remains would be arriving within one week and that they were having a hard time getting a flight back to Manila. Garcia was also informed that her sister’s employer shouldered the expenses for her repatriation.

She added that this was also the first time that someone, either from the government or from the recruitment agency, disclosed the name of the Baja’s employer, Major Abdulasis Alhusim. “Pulis ata yun,” (I think he is a poiceman.) she added.

“Nung nalaman nila na uuwi na yung kapatid ko, yung OWWA na yung tumatawag. Eh dati ako yung nangungulit,” (When OWWA found out that my sister’s remains was scheduled to be sent home, they started communicating with me. Whereas before I had to follow them up persistently. ) Garcia said.

The arrival

The plane that carried that remains of Eugenia Baja landed in NAIA around 7:30 p.m. June 12. Gladys Garcia from the legal department of Senate President Manny Villar was able to negotiate with the NAIA administration to allow the relatives to fetch the casket. Ten people – three relatives of Baja including Garcia, four people from the media, two staff of Migrante International and another from the office of Senate President Villar – went inside the airport to claim the body of Baja.

Garcia and her two accompanying relatives later emerged from the airport hand-in-hand and went to where other people were anxiously waiting. Garcia was crying hard as the rest of her relatives came to hug and comfort her. The night ended with a solemn prayer inside the humble jeepney, which they rode going to the airport.

But their quest for justice has just begun.

In an interview with Bulatlat earlier in the day, Garcia said that they intend to have Baja’s body autopsied here to be able to determine the true cause of her death.

“Yung buhay (na stranded OFWs) nga kaya baligtarin, yung patay pa kaya?” (If the testimonies given by stranded OFWs who are still alive are being twisted, how much more


News: ‘Mabuhay,’ says Obama to Filipinos on Independence Day

June 13, 2008

By Veronica Uy
INQUIRER.net

Posted date: June 13, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — Acting very presidential, the United States’ Democratic Party’s presidential nominee US Senator Barack Obama on Thursday (Chicago time) greeted Filipinos “Mabuhay (long live)” on the Philippines’ Independence Day.
“Today, I extend my warm wishes to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the people of the Philippines. Let us join with Filipinos worldwide and Filipino Americans to celebrate Philippine Independence Day. Mabuhay!” he said.

Obama’s statement, available at the website of Asian Americans for Obama, acknowledged the contribution of Filipino veterans who fought in the Second World War.

“During World War II, Filipino and American troops fought bravely together under some of the most trying conditions suffered by any forces during that conflict, forging a historic bond between our two nations and their people. Filipinos displayed great courage alongside American soldiers at Bataan and Corregidor, only to be denied their just benefits by our government,” he said.

He thus urged members of the US Congress to pass the Veterans’ Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 which would honor the service of all US veterans, including these Filipino World War II heroes.

“The Senate passed this bill last April. I urge my colleagues in Congress to take note of this day to honor the heroic service of Filipino World War II veterans by finally turning this important legislation into law,” he said.

Obama recognized the long history and the special relationship between the US and its former colony.

The US Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, who spent some time in Hawaii, where Filipinos make up most of its residents, also recognized the positive contribution of migrant Filipinos to the US.

“On this anniversary, we also must recognize the enormous contributions of generations of Filipino immigrants to building a more vibrant United States of America. Indeed, more than 60 years after World War II, Filipino-Americans continue to serve brilliantly and bravely as members of our fighting forces,” he said.

“I grew up in Hawaii, where Filipinos have had an enormous positive impact on the culture and economy. As dedicated military and civil servants, lawyers and bankers, artists, engineers and entrepreneurs, agricultural and industrial laborers, healthcare providers and customer service workers, caretakers for our elderly and youth, Filipino Americans — four million strong — have enriched our country, embodied our nation’s highest ideals, and reflected the very best that the Philippines has to offer,” he added.

Projecting into the future, the Illinois senator expressed his desire to work with the Philippines and Filipinos.

“I look forward to working with the Filipino people and their government, as part of the global community, to combat poverty and generate wealth, build healthy and educated communities, and change the odds for generations to come,” he said.

The statement, characteristically inspiring, acknowledged the richness of the Philippines and committed to helping it through its many problems.

“But as a nation rich in natural and human resources, with a proud legacy as the first democracy in Asia, the Philippines also holds great opportunities and hope for the future. An ongoing challenge of the 21st century will be to ensure that these opportunities to make a better life are open to all,” he said.

“In part because of our shared history, we cannot ignore the fact that the Philippines continues to confront many difficult challenges, including persistent poverty, natural disasters, and political division,” he added.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/topstories/topstories/view/20080613-142528/Mabuhay-says-Obama-to-Filipinos-on-Independence-Day


For undocumented OFWs in Nigeria

June 8, 2008

I wrote an email inquiry to POEA if there is possibility of OFWS in Nigeria who came in using tourist or business visas to be registered in POLO offices in the Embassy.

This is the reply:
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This has reference to your e-mail dated 13 May 2008 regarding undocumented workers in countries where there is a prevailing ban such as Nigeria and Afghanistan .

Please be advised that there is a Memorandum issued by the Secretary of Labor and Employment wherein there shall be a total ban in the deployment of all workers to the following destination countries:

Iraq
Afghanistan
Nigeria
Lebanon

However, our welfare assistance to workers already in those countries (except for Iraq where there is no significant GRP presence) will continue, or may even be supplemented, as demands of OFW protection may require.

Under these circumstances, there is no way that we can legitimize their status as undocumented since deployment to this country is prohibited.

In short, even these workers will take vacation back to the Philippines , their travel papers will not be processed or allowed by POEA because of the ban.

For your perusal and guidance.

Very truly yours,

ATTY. JONE B. FUNG

Director II

Legal Research, Docket and Enforcement Branch
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