RP no longer UN’s model-country in OFW protection

April 27, 2009

04/27/2009 | 04:37 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The United Nations Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers has stricken out the Philippines as model state for its failure to fulfill customary duties under the UN standards, migrants group based in Europe has said.

Grace Punongbayan of Migrante Europe chapter said the Philippines was deleted as a model state at the meeting of the Steering Committee for the Campaign For Ratification of the Migrants Rights Convention presided by Ms. Carla Edelenbos, secretary of the Committee on Migrant Workers, at the UN headquarters in Geneva last April 8.

The document being referred to, where the Philippines was deleted as a “positive case study of state ratification and implementation” is the “Guide on Ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and members of Their Families.

The steering committee approved the deletion after Rev. Cesar Taguba of the Ecumenical Ministry for Filipinos Abroad and Migrante-Europe cited several instances wherein the Philippine government failed to meet its obligations under the Convention.

Present during the meeting, among others, were representatives from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Labor Organization (ILO), International Catholic Migration Commission, and the World Council of Churches.

Meanwhile, Migrante International, at the opening of the 10th session of the United Nations Committee on Migrant Workers held April 20 in Switzerland, called attention to the violations by the Philippine government of the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and its non-compliance with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (UNCPMWMTF).

Among the countries under review by the UN steering committee were Azerbaijan, Colombia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Punongbayan, together with a representative of Migrante Switzerland, both member organizations of Migrante International, gave oral interventions in behalf of the Manila-based international alliance.

Migrante International earlier submitted a written report before the start of the 10th session to the Committee that was distributed to the members of the Commission and posted on the website of the UNCMW.

In the report, the group noted that in 2005, the deployment of documented OFWs breached the one million mark. It said the average number of workers sent abroad daily was 3,000 making the Philippines top-three among migrant-sending countries.

“Approximately a tenth of the population live and work in 194 countries and territories around the world, with concentrations in North America, Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Europe. This migration which started by waves in the course of Philippine history has become an almost daily phenomenon since the government initiated its labor export program (LEP) in the 1970s. What was initially meant as a temporary measure to address the country’s unemployment problem has become a regular fixture, massive and systematic in scope, and bruited about as a tool for national development,” Migrante International said in a statement.

Remittances from migrants have kept the Philippine economy continuously afloat. From $659 million in 1984 remitted OFW money hit a staggering $16 billion by the end of 2008.

“These remittances were earned at tremendous costs to Filipino migrants and their families who had to endure long years of separation and suffer from various forms of exploitation, abuse, discrimination, violence and terrorism,” Migrante said.

During the question and answer portion of the UN committee discussion, Punongbayan stressed that despite the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 8042 and the ratification by the Philippine government of the UNCPMWMTF, the government on many occasions violated the rights of OFWs and is guilty of non-compliance with the provisions of the said convention of which the country is a signatory. – GMANews.TV



‘Deployment ban to Gulf of Aden risky, ridiculous’

April 22, 2009

04/20/2009 | 12:48 PM

TROUBLED WATERS. French commandos on Wednesday intercept a small vessel suspected of Somali carrying pirates. AP

MANILA, Philippines – A Manila-based seafarers’ group found it impossible for the Philippines to implement a deployment ban of Filipino sailors to the Gulf of Aden and instead called the government’s recent action to curb high-seas kidnappings ‘ridiculous.’

The United Filipino Seafarers (UFS) strongly opposed the deployment ban Malacañang ordered after the number of Filipino sailors held captive by pirates in Somalia rose to more than 100, saying that ship owners would face a logistical nightmare once the ban is imposed.

In a news release posted in the Office of the Press Secretary’s website on Saturday that the Labor department issued a ban “on commercial ships “against the travel to the Gulf of Aden or within 200 nautical miles or 300 kilometers from Somalia.”

But UFS president Nelson Ramirez stressed that the deployment ban would put at risk the jobs of thousands of Filipino seafarers since almost 40 percent of merchant vessels pass through the Gulf of Aden, an important waterway for international trade.

“If the proposal is pushed through, that would mean lost opportunities for many Filipino seafarers,“ Ramirez told GMANews.TV in an E-mail.

Ramirez also opposes the plan to let Filipino seafarers disembark at the nearest port before passing through the Gulf of Aden and let them on board again once the vessel safely passed through the “danger zone.”

“No shipowner in his right mind, would even think of disembarking Filipino seafarers before his commercial vessel enters the Gulf of Aden…simply put, it is a ridiculous proposal,” he added.

Ramirez believes that the ban is nothing more than an offshoot to the the daring but successful rescue operations made by US Navy Seals to rescue American skipper Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates on April 12. [See: Kidnapped US captain freed; snipers kill 3 Somali pirates]

“Just to prove that they’ve done something they would impose the ban. [Well], their solution is not a solution [but] creates chaos and confusion,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez explained that except for UN-sanctioned vessels that usually bring in food and relief goods to the lawless African state of Somalia, there are also no commercial vessels going into or out of that country.

“So the ban cannot be imposed technically,” he said.

“In addition, the Somali pirates are not just operating near the coastal waters off Somalia or Gulf of Aden per se but actually in the waters forming the Horn of Africa, which is about one million square miles,” Ramirez said.


Hypocrisy seen on high seas

April 13, 2009

somalia-mapHypocrisy seen on high seas

What about Filipinos and other hostages?

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: April 13, 2009

MOMBASA, KENYA—The international community is showing hypocrisy by suddenly focusing on Somali piracy because of the capture of one American, a regional maritime group said on Saturday.

Sea gangs from the lawless Horn of Africa nation grabbed world headlines this week when they briefly hijacked the US freighter Maersk Alabama. Its 20 crew retook control, but the gunmen took Capt. Richard Phillips hostage on a lifeboat.

The global media have tracked in great detail each twist and turn of the drama as it unfolds, including a failed attempt to swim to safety by the former Boston taxi driver.

But Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Program said it was a pity similar attention was not paid to the nearly 250 other hostages—all from poorer nations—currently being held by other Somali pirates.

The biggest nationality represented, at 92, is Filipino.

“The media and the international community at large [are] just demonstrating [their] hypocrisy,” Mwangura said in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, where the 17,000-ton Alabama arrived on Saturday.

“Journalists have flooded here from all over the world because of one American captain. What about all the others, from Bangladesh, from Pakistan, from the  Philippines, some of whom have been held now for months?”

Front-page drama

The story has all the front-page ingredients: Buccaneers audaciously try to seize a huge US container ship, its sailors resist, then Phillips apparently volunteers to board the lifeboat with the pirates in return for his crew’s safety.

Meanwhile, a state-of-the-art US naval destroyer armed with missiles, torpedoes and helicopters keeps a watchful eye.

And more warships are on the way.

Mwangura told Reuters, however, that did not excuse the lack of attention given to the scores of other hostages still being held for ransom off the Somali coast.

Media go crazy

“Once again, it has taken American involvement to get world powers really interested,” said a diplomat, who tracks Somalia from Nairobi. “I hope they don’t forget the Filipinos and all the others, once this guy is released.”

Heavily armed gangs from the failed state hijacked 42 vessels last year in thenstrategic Gulf of Aden and further south in the Indian Ocean, and tried to attack dozens more.


The crews of many of those ships are being held hostage near small pirate bases on the coast, where their captors tend to treat them well in anticipation of a sizeable ransom payout.

Mwangura said the same international focus had highlighted the long-running crime wave off Somalia in the past—but only when white people from rich nations were involved.

When the gangs seized the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star last year, everyone paid attention. Not just because it was carrying $100 million worth of crude oil, he said, but because it had two British crewmen on board, too.

“It was the same in 2005. The media went crazy when that luxury cruise liner, the Seabourn Spirit, was attacked with lots of white tourists on board. And they weren’t even hijacked.”



Invitation to Tianggue sa Apapa

April 9, 2009

Tianggue sa Apapa

Sunday, 12 April 2009
No. 18, Parklane, GRA, Apapa, Lagos


Programme of Activities

8:00 a.m. – Invitational Basketball Tournament
(Teams from Apapa, Agbara, Victoria Island and
an all-Pinoy seamen team)

11:00 am – Easter Sunday Catholic Mass

12: 00 noon – Opening of Food Stalls/Kiosks
– Pinoy Past Times (Sabong, Mahjong, Tong-its,
Kantahan, Tsismisan, Bolahan,
Inuman, atbp.)

6:00 pm – Sayawan at Yugyugan (Live band to provide

Note: A team from the Philippine Embassy will be around to provide Consular Services during the day.

De Castro: OFW ban in Nigeria stays

April 3, 2009

By Cynthia Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: April 03, 2009

Mr. Nestor Derpo, VP Noli de Castro, Esper Derpo, HE Pres Gloria Arroyo, DFA Sec Alberto Romulo, Amb. Roy Cimatu

Mr. Nestor Derpo, VP Noli de Castro, Esper Derpo, HE Pres Gloria Arroyo, DFA Sec Alberto Romulo, Amb. Roy Cimatu

MANILA, Philippines—Vice President Noli De Castro Thursday said the government will maintain the ban on labor deployment to Nigeria, citing the existence of “real dangers and threats” to the safety of Filipino workers.

De Castro, who is presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), made the announcement after his meeting with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo and Esper Derpo, president of the Filipino Community in Nigeria, in Malacañang on Tuesday.

He, however, clarified that for those land-based Filipino workers who have been working for more than 10 years in Nigeria, particularly in the capital Lagos, a special travel permit may be issued.

De Castro noted that this group of Filipino workers who may be issued with special travel permit is employed in safer areas, not in the Niger Delta where there is high incidence of hijacking.

“This is good news to those OFW professionals in Nigeria who have been wishing to take a vacation back home. Their problem before was that once they go home, they cannot go back to Nigeria because of the ban. Now this has been resolved,” De Castro said.



Long-staying OFWs in Nigeria to be granted special travel permits – De Castro

April 2, 2009

Long-staying OFWs in Nigeria to be granted special travel permits
04/02/2009 | 01:48 PM

vpnolidecastroMANILA, Philippines – The deployment ban on Nigeria will not be lifted but overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who have been working for many years in the African country will be granted special travel permits.

Vice President Noli De Castro, who is also presidential adviser on OFWs, on Thursday said that land-based Filipino workers who have been working for more than 10 years in Lagos, Nigeria specifically may be issued special travel permits.

He said the Filipino workers who may be issued with this permit are only those employed in safe areas.

“This is good news to those OFW professionals in Nigeria who have been wishing to take a vacation back home. Their problem before was that once they go home, they cannot go back to Nigeria because of the ban. Now this has been resolved,” said De Castro.

But he said the deployment ban on Nigeria remains because of “real dangers and threats” to the safety of OFWs.

He said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday made the recommendation to maintain the ban because of the latest hijacking incident in Nigeria wherein three Filipino seamen where reportedly held captive.

The DFA said while the hijacking problem in Nigeria is concentrated in Niger Delta, it will be “extremely difficult to control the movement of OFWs” bound for other parts of Nigeria but would still need to pass by the dangerous area.

On the other hand, Malacañang has ordered that the ban on Lebanon and Jordan be lifted.

De Castro said that the lifting of deployment ban to Lebanon and Jordan is still subject to the execution of a labor cooperation agreement between the Philippines and these countries.

This, he said, is to ensure the protection of the rights of OFWs, such as receiving minimum wage, having decent working and living conditions, and reasonable rest periods.

– Kimberly Jane T. Tan, GMANews.TV


Nigeria Pinoys react to news that only Lebanon & Jordan will be lifted

April 1, 2009

Reaction to this news:



Masamang biro po iyan, na di nakasama ang Nigeria…..

Paano baga ang tunay na pangyayari at  ang pinagbasehan, iyong report na dalang dala ni General Cimatu o naging paraffle na lang baga ang labanan o naging palabunutan na po yata.

Baka naman kaya by alphabet ang naging basehan

Baka kaya ganire din, Jordan Afghanistan Iraq Lebanon Nigeria, at di talaga kasama tayo sa palatuntunan na iyan, saling pusa lamang tayo at wala sa tambiyolo ang ating entry.

Baka din eto nga pala daw ang naging criteria sa pag pili ng mga u.n.g.a.s. (Usapan Na Ginanap Ayon Sa ) BAN sa Nigeria :

progress in the conclusion of a bilateral labor cooperation agreement that will ensure the protection of the welfare of Filipino workers, specifically :

1) mimimum wage

2) reasonable rest periods

3) decent working and living conditions.

Anak ng kagaw, abay nakaka insulto ang mga lintek na eto ahh…

Father Billy, baka kailangan ng sermon ng mga bopols na nag decide nitong mga pangyayari, baka hindi alam ng mga iyan na Washington din ang paswelduhan dito sa Nigeria at di Naira, baka ang pinag basehan nila ay exchange rate ng peso sa currency ng mga bansa. Abay mababa nga naman, pero mali din, kasi, umaabot ang palitan sa ngayon pa lang ng :

1US$ =Naira166.00

1 US$ =JOD70.85 (Jordanian Dinar)

1 US$=LBP1,507.5 (Lebanese Pound)

Sa Rotation naman, ang labanan kapag nasa sa Oil n Gas Company , Engineering, Construction, Offshore, Telecom company ka sa Nigeria ay months, minsan nga ay weeks pa, (6 weeks/2 weeks of; 8 weeks/2 weeks off; 3 months/1 month; 4 months/1 month) hindi taon ang binibilang para ka makabakasyon at makitang muli ang Land of the Servants daw.

Decent condition, oo nga po at madaming ding nag kalat na pulubi sa lansangan at madaming mga pulis na nangongotong tulad sa Pinas, pero andito ang mina ng langis at no.7 sila na supplier, parehas lang ang lasa este presyo ng langis dito sa Jokedan at Libangan na kanilang napusuan kapag ibenenta sa mercado, kahit paputol putol ang supply ng NEPA kuryente dito ay may pangontra namang mga generator, hindi pamaypay ang gamit natin kapag maalinsangan at uso din naman dito ang mga airconditioner,

Ahh, alam ko na po, baka naman ang sinasabi nilang decent condition ay kapag nabihag ka na ng mga kidnapper, tama sila diyan, sa sapa, sa creek sila naka billet , pero nakakapag request din naman ng Indomie, beer at babae pa nga kapag ikaw ay Bitoy at kasama na daw iyon sa overhead ng ransom. Ibang assessment ang napasubmit ni General Cimatu at baka napalitan, parang bidding iyan na nag karoon ng singitan, ang report natin ay doon binasa sa basurahan ng mga komite de peste-jos.

Ay sa siya, kung ganyan po talaga ang lumabas sa tawas, ang Embassy natin sa Abuja ay magpalabas na agad ng kalatas, dapat maging opisyan na iyan at di sa dyaryo po lamang na ang Ban sa Nigeria ay Inay Gyera pa din.

Suggestion ko lang po, kung pupwede ay pasundan na din ninyo ng mga listahan ng mga botante, paki update na lang po ulit kung ang mga tao dito sa buong Nigeria sa listahan na hawak ninyo ay andirito pa, baka kung saan saan na naman baka po mapapunta ang aming mga balota niyan, kami sa Lagos ay andoon sa Port Harcourt katulad noong nag daang election. Gagawin po natin na ma-update ang Master List hanggat maaga pa at hindi iyong isang linggo lamang ang gagawing pag hahanda.

Malalaman natin kung ilang boto ang kanilang ipinag walang bahala, asawa, anak, kamag anak, inaanak at manganganak pa iyan na hindi karapat dapat ang mga nakaupong tagapangalaga ng ating buhay sikmura.

May pag asa pa naman, malayo pa ang election, pero sa ngayon ay walang tibay din pa palang maaasahan.


Fred Borbon