DBM chief takes flak over scrapping of overseas absentee voting budget, P47-M DAP listed for Joker

September 30, 2014

Abad under fire

DBM chief takes flak over scrapping of overseas absentee voting budget, P47-M DAP listed for Joker
by Mario B. Casayuran & Ellson A. Quismoro (Manila Bulletin)

September 27, 2014

Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, already under fire over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), again took the flak yesterday over his decision to scrap the P89.6-million budget for overseas absentee voting and allocate P47 million in DAP funds to former senator Joker Arroyo.

An irate Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said Abad should be made to explain why the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) dropped the overseas absentee voting registration budget being asked by Commission on Elections (Comelec) given the already dismal turnout of Filipino migrant voters the past few years.
Bello said millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) could be disenfranchise unless the P89.6-million allocation is reinstated in next year’s budget.

“This is a slap in the face… to the lawmakers and the OFWs who fought for this law,” said Bello, chairman of the House Overseas Workers Affairs Committee, during a press conference at the House of Representatives yesterday.
The third-term party-list congressman said the P86.9 million intended for the implementation of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act, as requested by Comelec for its 2015 budget, was “arbitrarily” deleted by the DBM, which Bello cited has been beset with transparency woes.

“I’m glad that the DAP issue has brought to the fore the non-transparency of the DBM,” a visibly angry Bello told reporters.


Arroyo, the executive secretary of former President Corazon C. Aquino, lambasted Abad for allocating to him P47 million in DAP funds. He said this is the same amount he asked Senate to appropriate for his projects but was not included 2013 national budget.

“Abad was being disingenuous. Congress disapproved my proposal for P47-million funding. The budget secretary, in effect, overruled the judgment of Congress and appropriated P47 million to me from DAP,” Arroyo said in his press statement titled, “Abad’s bad DAP.”

Arroyo maintained that he never asked for and received the supposed P47-million DAP fund. However, Arroyo was listed by the DBM as among the recipients of DAP funds.

Abad, “by his lonesome self and at his level, does not have the authority to allocate at his discretion funds for certain projects and assign its disbursement to legislators, LGUs (local government units), and other agencies. This is the core issue of DAP,” Arroyo pointed out.

“Was Mr. Abad’s initiative bore out of altruism? No, it’s evil geniusness. I voted to acquit CJ (Renato) Corona in the impeachment trial. To show that the administration is impartial, Mr. Abad bestowed upon me, for appearances, P47 million of DAP funds to squander even if it did not even pass through me,” he added.

Arroyo said it would do well for the Supreme Court to take judicial notice into the “humungous amounts” involved so see how Abad distributed “with complete abandon” government funds not approved by Congress.
“We are talking of an estimated of P150 million of DAP. Nobody knows the exact figure because DBM has not been forthcoming,” Arroyo said.


Meanwhile, the Overseas Absentee Voting Act, considered a milestone upon its passage in 2003, recognized the right of Filipino migrants to choose their leaders. Amendments to the law in 2013 supposedly further strengthened this right of OFWs.

The Act covers the 10.5 million Filipino migrants spread across 238 countries all over the world.

“We want to make it clear that the right to vote by OFWs is guaranteed by the Constitution. The law only implements it. The original law says the appropriation for the implementation of the Act should be in the GAA (General Appropriations Act),” said OFW Noel Escuera in the same press conference.

Bello agreed with Escuera’s observation, saying “DBM is doing a violation of the law. Abad should be made to account.”


Ellene Sana, executive director of Center for Migrant Advocacy – an OFW rights advocacy group – said many OFWs feel neglected with the turn of events. “Many Filipinos abroad who have heard the bad news feel hurt. They feel neglected by their own country. This is no way to treat our OFWs, who we like to call heroes.”

Sana noted that the implementation of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act has been hampered by the lack of budget, particularly for information dissemination back in the 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013 elections.

Bello said that the turnout for the absentee voters in 2013 was 20 percent lower compared to that of the previous election, which goes to show that “agencies do not have enough funds.”

Escuera, for his part, said the budget deficiency would severely impact the mobile registration program of the government, meaning there would be even less incentive for OFWs to exercise their right to vote.


Meanwhile, Bello called on his fellow legislators to reverse DBM’s “castration” of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act by ensuring the reinstatement of its P89.6-million budget.

“While the Senate has already made assurances in restoring the budget, I expect no less from my fellow legislators in the Lower House to do the same during the period of amendments and during the bicameral meetings,” Bello said.
“Both Houses passed a law recognizing our OFWs democratic rights. Now, both Houses must ensure it is back by sufficient funds for its implementation.”

The House is expected the pass the proposed 2015 national budget on second reading early Saturday morning.


POEA: DFA recommends deployment ban in Ebola-hit countries (sunstar)

September 24, 2014

POEA: DFA recommends deployment ban in Ebola-hit countries
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

THE Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said on Wednesday that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has recommended the imposition of a total deployment ban in Ebola-hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

In his Facebook account, Cacdac related that the DFA has given a recommendation of a “modified total deployment ban” in the three West African countries afflicted with the Ebola crisis.

“Kaunting pasensya po muna as we clarify with the DFA and DOH kung ano ang current Ebola health crisis situation at kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng ‘modified total deployment ban’ na inirekomenda ng DFA,” Cacdac said.

Department of Health (DOH) representative Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy said officials of the POEA, DOH and other concerned agencies such as the DFA, Bureau of Immigration (BI), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are set to meet on Thursday.

“The POEA invited us to an inter-agency meeting tomorrow to discuss the latest in the Ebola health crisis,” said Lee Suy.

The move comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed fears that the number of Ebola infections could triple to 20,000 by November.

Present data showed that the Ebola has infected more than 5,800 people, including 2,800 deaths.

Cacdac said that they only want to adopt a preventive action that will prevent OFWs from acquiring the dreaded disease.

“We are doing this as a preventive action for OFW protection and their families, and for the general health and welfare of the public,” said the labor official.

“This is in line with the government policy of preventing any OFW of Filipino citizen from getting the Ebola virus disease,” Cacdac said. (HDT/Sunnex)


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.


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.


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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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:
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.


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

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POEA boss sees writing on wall, starts packing

December 30, 2011

POEA boss sees writing on wall, starts packing
By Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:30 am | Friday, December 30th, 2011

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz declined to comment on Carlos Cao’s departure from the POEA. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
While there has been no official word from Malacañang, the head of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Carlos Cao Jr., said his bosses at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had told him to prepare to vacate his post.

Cao said Thursday, “I was informed verbally a few days ago by higher-ups at DOLE that they want to replace me … but I have not received anything from the Office of the President.”

“Whether I’m finally replaced or not, I continue to believe in and support this administration. I have no rancor. I’m not angry. I continue to pray for this government to succeed,” he said in an interview.

Sources at DOLE last week hinted that Cao was on his way out, with Labor Undersecretary Hans Cacdac expected to replace him on Monday.

Cacdac and Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz declined to comment Thursday on Cao’s departure from the POEA.

“I serve at the pleasure of the President,” Cao said. “I’ve already been here for nearly a year and I’m thankful for the opportunity given to me to serve our overseas Filipino workers.”

Cao said he was not aware of the reason for his impending removal.

“It’s beyond me. By the grace of God and the cooperation of our stakeholders, we have been able to improve the processing of our OFWs here at the POEA,” Cao said.

“When I arrived here, they would still be here up to 7 p.m. I’m now looking at our Balik Manggagawa (kiosks) and it’s only 3 p.m. but there are now only a few remaining people in the lines,” he said.

Cao said that there was also an improvement in the deployment of OFWs this year compared to 2010.

“There’s no issue against me but whatever is the decision of the higher-ups, I will comply. This has been a most cheerful time for me because I find joy in serving the people,” he said.

Cacdac, Cao’s expected replacement, is an old hand at the POEA, having served as deputy administrator in charge of licensing and adjudication from 2006 to 2010.

President Aquino appointed him undersecretary for labor relations in September 2010. Among the cases he handled was the labor row at Philippine Airlines, which remains turbulent to this day.

Cacdac has also occupied various positions at DOLE, among them, as director of the Bureau of Labor Relations and executive director of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board.

A lawyer and multiawarded writer, Cacdac once served as coordinator for the Urban Poor Unity of the Ateneo University-based Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal.

POEA gets new old boss

December 28, 2011

POEA gets new old boss
28-Dec-11, 12:19 PM | Veronica Uy, InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines — There’s a minor shakeup at the Department of Labor and Employment as Undersecretary for Labor Relations Hans Cacdac is moved back to head the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), where he was deputy administrator before his appointment as labor undersecretary.

Cacdac replaces Carlos Cao for still unclear reasons, although sources said the long lines for getting the overseas employment certificates — a subject of many complaints from leaving migrant Filipino workers as well as their recruiters and employers — may have been one of the reasons for his replacement. Cao’s lackluster performance at the height of the repatriation of OFWs during the Arab Spring may have also been a factor.

Cacdac took his oath a week ago, and will assume the post on Monday, Jan. 2, at least two independent sources confirmed to InterAksyon.com. The sources asked not to be identified as they are not authorized to speak in behalf of the appointing authority.

Cacdac, a labor lawyer before joining government service, successfully advocated for the adoption of the International Convention on Domestic Workers in Geneva, among other achievements.

The POEA, together with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), is involved in helping regulate overseas employment. The POEA issues licenses to recruitment agencies.

He will be replaced by Rebecca Chato, a career official who was recently director of the Bureau of Labor Relations

Meanwhile, the Federation of Free Workers lauded the appointment of Chato, saying her “vast experience in social dialogue and her ability to relate to both employers and workers in a just and fair manner will be of great contribution to the DOLE’s effort of promoting industrial peace.”

“Chato deserves this new promotion, She is not afraid of tackling contentious labor relations issues,” said lawyer Sonny Matula, FFW national president.

FFW sees her as a labor advocate who knows the details in the complaints by different Philippine trade union groups at the International Labor Organization against the Philippine government over extra-judicial killings of labor leaders in 2009 and violations to freedom of association and right to collective bargaining.

Matula said Chato is helping craft “more out-of-the-box solutions” in these areas.