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“The gradual processing is no longer in effect as the Governing Board now allows the resumption of the processing and deployment of Filipino workers to Libya,” Baldoz said.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

March 29, 2011

By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 08:04:00 03/29/2011

MANILA, Philippines—Saudi Arabia said it would stop the processing of employment contracts for Filipinos household service workers (HSWs) until further notice, Carlos Cao Jr., Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief, said Monday.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs relayed this information in a note verbale to the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh on March 12.

According to recruitment industry officials, the ban was connected to the new Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act which requires prior to deployment a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) certification that the rights of domestic helpers would be adequately protected.

“There was a note verbale from the Saudi Foreign Ministry saying that they will no longer cooperate in the verification of contracts,” Cao said in an interview.

The government “is studying the matter very carefully” because it does not want the issue to affect an estimated 1.5 million overseas Filipino workers in the kingdom, he said.

“We will respond to the note verbale and there is now an immediate policy study being done. It is a very sensitive matter. We do not want to add fuel to the fire,” he added.

Cao said that as of November 2010, there were 80,656 Filipino HSWs with an estimated 9,000 Filipino domestics deployed in Saudi Arabia last year.

He said officials from the DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) were meeting to come out with a “unified position” on how to reply to the note verbale.

“We can already sense that there is a certain degree of slowdown in the deployment of HSWs but as a matter of policy, we are still processing this,” Cao said.

A labor official, who requested anonymity, said the Saudi ban might have been caused by the need for DFA certification on rights protection.

Under the new Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act, OFWs can be sent only to countries where their rights are protected.

The DFA is tasked to certify which countries meet this criteria. This certification will then have to be approved by the POEA governing board.

Cao said the DFA had issued a certification for Saudi Arabia but he declined to say if this included domestic helpers, adding only that POEA was asking for “further clarification” from the DFA.

Recruitment industry consultant Emmanuel Geslani said the certification issue was one of the reasons behind the Saudi ban.


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?


Special envoy Amb. Roy Cimatu visited Nigeria: Ban soon to be lifted..

March 8, 2009

dsc01532After the visit of Gen Cimatu last week, it seems like the ban in Nigeria will soon be lifted.

As it is, Mrs Derpo spoke at length with Gen Cimatu as he arived in Nigeria on March 4, 2009, before proceeding to Abuja.

On March 5th, Gen Cimatu is said to have met wth the Foreign Affairs minister of Nigeria to discuss security situation of OFWs. The Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister reportedly told Gen Cimatu that everything is okay with filipinos in Nigeria, except in Oil areas.

Later in the day, Gen Cimatu went to the compound of Julius Berger Construction company, where majority of expat employees are Filipinos. Gen Cimatu was guided by Engr Lito Nocum, the head of Filipino association in Abuja, in touring the accommodations for Filipinos.

Gen Cimatu quipped that he’d never seen so many cars outside the embassy belonging to OFWs. He compared Nigeria to Lebanon. To which an OFW said in jest, “walang pong DH sa Nigeria kasi”.

dsc01558Gen Cimatu wrapped-up his visit to Nigeria with a meeting with Filipinos in Ikeja, Lagos. He was met by the Philippine Barangay Society in Nigeria (PBSN) chairperson (and Banaag 2008 Awardee). Mrs Esperanza Derpo in the airport, and to the PBSN clubhouse in Ikeja.

The meeting with PBSN, emceed by Veronica Bernas-Snoxell, started with the singing of the Phil National Anthem. Father Doury, a long-time Filipino priest in Lagos gave the invocation. Mr. Tito Villaruel, VP of PBSN gave the welcome remarks.  Consul General Alex Lamadrid introduced Ambassador Cimatu, after that, Mrs Derpo presented the Naija Pinoys appeal via a power point presentation. – as reported by Marix Tajo.

Gen. Cimatu reiterated his observation that he was impressed at the job positions of Filipinos (managers and supervisors), and the salary/ accommodations they have in Nigeria.

When asked what would be his recommendation to the President, Gen Cimatu gamely said that it’s obvious from his “body language” that he will recommend for the lifting of the ban.

Gen. Cimatu was accompanied by Consul-Gen Alex LaMadrid on his trip to Abuja and Lagos.

Con-Gen Lamadrid stayed in Ikeja until Sunday so he could attend the March Family Day gathering in Ikeja.

Nigeria is home to almost 5,000 OFWs employed in oil & gas, telecoms, construction, manufacturing and services sectors. Filipinos have been in Nigeria since the early 70’s.

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OFWs in Mideast join protest vs. hike in passport, other fees

February 17, 2009

02/17/2009 | 11:04 AM

MANILA, Philippines – An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East warned Tuesday that the impending 25-percent increase in passport fees and other consular charges could spark international protests.

Migrante-Middle East, claiming to be the largest OFW group in that part of the world, said the fee adjustment is unjustifiable.

“Increase in passport fees and other consular charges by the Arroyo administration … could not be justified especially in time of global financial crisis and price increases of basic commodities and services,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Migrante chapters in Europe last week showed strong opposition to the increase in fees, citing the “drastic drop in the local currencies vis-a-vis the US dollar.”

“We join hands with our fellow OFWs in Europe in denouncing the impending increase in passport fee and other consular fees as it only an additional burden. Fellow OFWs and their families are already bleeding dry due to numerous government fees and charges collected before they could be successfully placed abroad by recruitment agencies which also collected exorbitant placement and processing fees,” Monterona said.

He enumerated some of government fees and charges collected to an OFW from the required authentication of birth certificate, NBI clearance, OWWA membership fee, Medicare, Overseas Employment Certificate, Artist Accreditation Certificate, Passport Fee, authentication, renewal, that would reach to not less than P20,000.

“This is not to include the placement fee the recruitment agency would ask, which is equivalent to one-month salary,” he continued.

He said the Arroyo administration is again using an old squid tactic to implement first the increase of passport fee and other consular fees in RP posts in Europe, testing the waters first, then if there is no opposition other posts would follow suit.

“That’s why as early as this (time), OFWs and their families must strongly register their collective opposition and not to wait until the 25% increase in passport fee and other consular fees would be implemented in all RP posts abroad, first in Europe, Asia-Pacific, then in the Middle East and Africa,” Monterona added.

Migrante chapters in Europe already started conducting consultations and readying for massive protests.

OFWs in the Asia-Pacific would certainly follow, and OFWs in the Middle East will conduct consultations among OFWs and their organizations if passport fee and other consular fees have already been increased by Philippine Embassies and Consular offices in the Middle East, he said. – GMANews.TV


PDI Editorial : Kidnappings most foul

February 15, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: February 12, 2009

While it is keeping tabs on the situation of the three aid workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross abducted in Sulu province on Jan. 15, the public should not lose sight of the reality that there are other people held hostage by bandits there and elsewhere. Other people with as much dedication to service as Mary Jean Lacaba of the Philippines, Andreas Notter of Switzerland and Eugenio Vagni of Italy, with their work similarly left hanging, and their families as gripped by a now enduring anguish.

As local officials and military and police authorities plot, plan and position to wrest the Red Cross trio from the bandits’ clutches, so also must efforts (not necessarily military) be expended to rescue Janette de los Reyes, Freires Quizon and Rafael Mayonado, all teachers of the Landang Gua Integrated School who were snatched on Jan. 23 while on a motorboat and are now being held in Muhammad Ajul, Basilan.

Think likewise of Leah Patriz of the Kasanyangan Community Development Foundation Inc., who was abducted on Feb. 3 in Sumisip, Basilan, while she and her colleagues were heading back to their office after collecting loan payments for their microfinance organization.

As well, spare a thought for businessman Diong Hin Que, snatched in Sulu on Feb. 2, and nameless others (including a 9-year-old boy kidnapped in Lamitan, Basilan, on Feb. 1) — ordinary people suddenly flung into extraordinary circumstances, at the mercy of time and the elements, the perverse arrogance of banditry, and the politics of greed.

We must remember their names if only to prevent their lapsing into mere statistics and indicators of the configuration of violence in specific areas. We must imagine, to the extent possible, the state of the health of 68-year-old Que, Patriz in fear and trembling, the nine-year-old child crying for his mother.

It is imperative that we stay connected to their personal details — for example, that teachers De los Reyes, Quizon and Mayonado had to take a motorboat daily to get to their students. We must ever be moved by each life shattered and rudely put on hold, if only to keep the outrage fresh. (And we must applaud Eleazar Gumera, a midwife snatched on Jan. 28 in Akbar, Basilan, who walked and swam to freedom on Feb. 7.)

The fact is that the rash of kidnappings in the South shows the authorities’ astounding inability to keep lawlessness in check. (If proof were needed, consider the kidnapping of Patriz and her colleagues while the top dogs of law enforcement, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, were being given a situationer by the crisis management committee in Zamboanga City.) Or can it be that authorities are in on things as they happen?

That question became a conclusion in many observers’ minds as early as the late 1990s, when issues on the culpability of military officials, local executives and Joseph Estrada’s negotiators, to speak nothing of the suspected sharing of huge amounts of ransom between bandits and officialdom, were swept under the rug and left to fester. But as in a boil that comes to a head sooner or later, the simmering question ultimately surfaces.

Fatmawatti Salapuddin of the Bangsamoro Women’s Association has made a chilling disclosure of the extent of the crime and the impunity with which it is being committed: Many abductions have gone unreported, “with ordinary people paying as much as P200,000” for their freedom. It serves to confirm the long-running suspicion that kidnapping for ransom is a protected industry in a down economy, trading on human emotion, and earning untold profit for the perps and their patrons.

“It’s all because of money,” Salapuddin has said. Indeed, it is. Then as now, her question, which she directs at the military and police, rings true: “Why is it that nobody has been arrested in connection with the kidnappings?”