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.


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 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 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.

The latest POEA Memo (daw)

March 7, 2011

Check the memo, folks.

Whose signature is it?

Isn’t there a new POEA Administrator already since Nov 2010?

Fiesta sa Apapa culmination

September 28, 2009

2009 Fiesta sa Apapa


First Naijapinoy Basketball Tournament 2009 Champion

Team Agbara

1st NaijaPinoy Basketball Tournament Champion - Team Agbara

MVP of the Tournament (100 USD)

Intermission number by Ben as Bebe Gandanghari

Kuya Manny Figueroa, Apapa stalwart, given a Plaque of Appreciation (Community Service) by the Philippine Embassy led by Consul Alex LaMadrid..

Yet another intermission number.Shiela Mae and company...

Blacklist abusive employers, not runaway Pinoys in KSA – group

June 26, 2009

06/24/2009 | 08:45 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Instead of blacklisting runaway overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), abusive employers in Saudi Arabia should be barred under the new employment policy there, a migrants’ advocacy group said.

In a letter to Philippine officials in Saudi Arabia, Migrante’s Middle East chapter said the new policy puts the blame wrongly on foreign workers instead of employers who are subjecting these workers to various forms of maltreatment and labor malpractices.

“It should be erring and abusive employers that need to be blacklisted in hiring our workers, not the other way around,” said Migrante regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona.

Based on Migrante Saudi Arabia’s records, there were 1,793 cases of OFWs requesting repatriation as of December 31, 2008. Of the total, 566 ran away from their employers, while 1,019 were in various “distress” situations.

“We believe running away from abusive employers is the only way out for our distressed OFWs to save their lives. They should not be punished as they are the victims here,” Monterona added.

A GMANews.TV source in Saudi Arabia explained that under the new policy, all entering expatriates will be scanned for fingerprints for the kingdom’s database. Employers could no longer ask immigration officials to take a foreign employee’s name out of the blacklist. The SR2,000 fine for blacklist removal is also not applicable.

Deportees are required to take a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight out of the country, “”but the deportee will surely be delayed in his return because of the long process and difficulty in booking a (Saudia) flight,” said the source, who has assisted many workers in the Middle East in leaving abusive employers.

Welfare Officer Romualdo Exmundo of the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah said some runaway OFWs have even left the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration shelter at the consulate in Jeddah to join other expatriates who are staying under an overpass in Khandara District, in the hope that immigration police would arrest and deport them.

The other runaway workers are from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Indonesia.

But the GMANews.TV source said trooping to the Al Khandara bridge can only expedite the deportation of runaway maids, and not males or skilled workers.

Police records would have to be checked first for runaway men and skilled workers before they get deported. They also need their employer’s go-signal before they are allowed to leave the country, the source warned. – GMANews.TV