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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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.

A Christmas gift from POEA

December 21, 2009

For Naija Pinoys, it’s always a stressful experience coming from a vacation in the Philippines. With all the hassles and expense we have to endure with the Philippine immigration just to be allowed to get back to Nigeria.

Although we are secretly thankful to the immig boys for being more “understanding” to our situation, more than the other “supposedly” concerned government agencies who couldn’t make up their minds about the total travel ban indefinitely imposed against Nigeria OFWs.

In October 2009, there were news from vacationing Naija Pinoys that POEA started issuing the much-coveted Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). The OEC provides an OFW clearance to travel overseas without challenge from immig. This piece of paper also provides exemption from the payment of travel tax..

Those Naija OFWs who got the OEC were kind enough to post and share their experience in the naijapinoy yahoogroup.

As my own vacation neared (mid-November), I was already getting stressed at the thought of spending 2-3 days in Manila just to renew my OEC.

So instead of taking Qatar Airways via Cebu, I have to take Emirates via Manila and thus spend a lonely night in Manila, before flying to the province the next day. I was planning to get an OEC from the POEA main office in Ortigas. That would mean 2-3 days in Manila, on my way back to Nigeria.

A week before my travel to Manila, i decided to visit the regional office of POEA in Cagayan de Oro. I wasn’t really optimistic about getting something from a regional office. Just the same, I made sure I had photocopies of my passport, visa pages, and my CERPAC receipt.

After I identified myself as a Naija OFW, i was shown by the POEA staff a memo from Chief Manalili about Nigera OFWs. It was the same memo circulated by the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria. I was thinking that, this is it, the expected red tape…

But to my surprise, the regional manager gave her go-signal for the OEC processing. I was told to go to Philhealth office where i paid my contribution. They took one set of the photocopies. Then I went to OWWA office to make payments for the OWWA insurance.

Going back to POEA, i was still unconvinced that I will be given the OEC. But after i paid a hundred pesos, I was finally issued an OEC. The entire process just took 2 hours to finish.

Yes! I really got an OEC from the regional office.

I texted another Naija OFW, who’s going back to Nigeria the next day, that I was issued an OEC in the POEA Regional Office.

Since he’s taking an afternoon flight, he decided to go to POEA in the morning. And as i have experienced, he also got an OEC that same morning…. After he boarded the plane, he texted me that the OEC worked like magic– it gave him a hassle-free exit from the country – for the first time in three years he’s been in Nigeria.

I came back to Nigeria this second week of December. And i’d say the issuance of OEC was a timely gift by the POEA to Naija OFWs.

I was told that the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), led by Ellen Sana had a hand in the change of travel advisory to Nigeria.

In behalf of Nigeria OFWs, i would like to thank POEA Chief Jennifer Manalili, the CDO regional office and the CMA for finally lifting the heavy burden imposed on Naija OFWs.

I surely would like to get the Multiple Travel Exit Clearance (MTEC) on my next vacation this March 2010.

A Merry Christmas and a – hopefully – Prosperous New Year to all….

Good news to NaijaPinoys – Pagkuha ng OEC

August 28, 2009

Kamakailan lang, marami nang bali-balita na meron ng mga Naija Pinoys na nabigyan ng OEC. Sa umpisa, ayaw natin maniwala, pero sa dami ng feedback at pagbibigay ng proseso ng mga nakakuha na, atin nakumpirma na namimigay na nga ng OEC ang POEA para sa Nigeria-based OFWs.

Ang Overseas Employment Certidicate (OEC) ay isang patunay na ang isang mangagawa ay lehitimong OFW sa isang bansa. Kapag meron ka nito, wala kang babayaran na Travel Tax at di ka mahaharang ng immigration.

Mula ng ipataw ang ban sa Nigeria, hindi binigyan ng POEA and mga naija pinoys ng OEC.

Subalit sa panibagong patakaran, tinatanggap na ng POEA ang letter of exemption para sa mga Naija OFWs na nagbabakasyon at binibigyan na ulit ng OEC.

Ating malaking pasalamat kay Ginoong Claro Santos sa pagbigay impormasyon para sa kaalaman ng ibang Naijapinoys na magbabakasyon at balak kumuha or magpa-renew ng OEC.

Ayon kay G. Claro, ito ang mga kakailanganin ng Naijapinoys para sa OEC.

  1. Magpunta sa “Balik-Manggagawa” area hanapin si Madame Barbara D. Lamzon, Chief of Balik-Manggagawa Procesing Center at iprisinta ang mga ito:
      • Letter of request for Special Travel Permit/OEC addressed to POEA Administrator Jennifer Jardin-Manalili. Indicate that you want to return to Nigeria from your vacation. Ilagay rin kung ilan taon ka nang nagwo-work sa Nigeria at anong Lugar (Lagos kung maaari.)
      • Attach photocopies of cerpac ID, return visa, employment certificates or other proofs of your employment with the same company like ID, etc.
      • Mas mainam kung naka binder/folder ang lahat para di makawatakwatak.
  2. Kapag okey na kay Madame Barbara, i-endorse ka na kay Mam Jeannete na siyang…
      • magiinterbiyu sa yo
      • magchecheck ng records mo sa computer
      • at gagawa ng approval letter ni Administrator Manal
  3. Tatlong Signatures and kelangan ng papel mo: Si Director Elmira C. Sto, Domingo, si Deputy Admin Viveca C. Catalig at finally si Admin Manalili. Depende sa availability ng tatlo aabutin ang pirmahan ng 1-3 days.
  4. Bago mo lisanin ang mesa ni Madame Barbara, siguruhin mo lang na na-i-transfer na sa office ni Director ang mga papeles mo. Kunin din ang number ng secretary sa bawat station (director, DAdmin at Admin) para alam mo kung kanino magfollow-up.
  5. Ang huling destinasyon ng papeles mo ay balik sa lamesa ni Ma’am Jeannete. Siya na rin ang mageendorse kung saan counter ka magbabayad ng OEC.

Ano-ano ang mga babayaran mo?

OWWA MEMBERSHIP – Php   1,203.68
PHILHEALTH – Php  900.00
TOTAL 2,203.68
Para sa taga probinsya, ganito ang naging kwento nga nakukha ng OEC habang nasa probinsya:
Actually, sa poea bacolod ako nagsubmit ng papers ko (request letter addressed to admin manalili, employment certificate, certificate from the philippine embassy abuja, at lahat ng pages ng current passport ko) thru the regional poea coordinator sa bacolod. then, inifax ng poea bacolod sa poea manila lahat ng papers ko. pinafollow- up ko na lang by phone sa poea bacolod araw-araw kung ano status ng request ko. nung august 17, tumawag iyung poea manila sa poea bacolod na gusto daw ako makausap/maintervie w by phone ng poea manila. tinanong lang naman ako kung bakit ko pa gustong bumalik ng nigeria. then iyung ibang records, chinicheck yata nila sa computer/data base nila.

then, inadvise ako ng poea manila na pumunta ng manila to get the original copy ng travel permit at OEC (kasi baka hanapin daw ng immigration iyung original copy), or pwede rin daw na ipadala nila thru mail, kaya lang pabalik na nga ako ng nigeria, so pumunta na lang ako ng manila for a day para kunin iyung mga papers ko. pagpunta ko ng poea sa ortigas, for signature na lang ni admin manalili iyung papers ko. finallow- up ko lang dun sa office nia, buti naman, napirmahan agad. nagbayad lang ako ng usual processing fee sa poea (philhealth, owwa membership fee, etc…, Php 2,203.00) for the OEC. mabilis lang kasi ready na iyung mga papers ko pagpunta ko ng poea, kaya nung hapon na yun, bumalik na rin ako ng bacolod.

maayos naman pagbalik ko dito. wala naman problema sa immigration.

Sa mga bagong development na ito, parang tutuloy na ito sa tuluyang pag ka alis ng ban sa Nigeria.
Kaya sa lahat ng mga gustong mag pa rehistro or mag pa renew sa POEA, basahin at sundin ang mga proseso na sinabi ni G. Claro Santos.
Mabuhay ang Naija Pinoys!

Lift deployment bans to give OFWs more jobs, gov’t urged

February 12, 2009

02/12/2009 | 02:13 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Amid the specter of tens of thousands of Filipino workers losing their jobs at home and abroad in the face of a worsening global economic crisis, a recruitment consultant on Thursday urged the government to tap an “obvious” alternative: lift deployment bans in other countries.

Emmanuel Geslani said it is now apparent that the government would have to let Filipinos work again in countries which had earlier been deemed unsafe for migrants.

“It is high time that the government accept the stark reality that despite the ban thousands of Filipinos continue to slip into Iraq and Lebanon after the Philippine government imposed a ban,” Geslani said.

Geslani estimates that between 10,000 and 15,000 Filipinos are in Iraq, most of them work inside heavily fortified US facilities.

“Many Filipinos who finished their contracts in Dubai and Kuwait were actively recruited by these companies and flown in or brought directly to US bases via armed land convoys,” he said.

Geslani stressed that the situation in Iraq has improved in recent months and the government should rethink its deployment ban there especially since the US government is set to fund an $80-billion infrastructure project in the war-ravaged country.

He also reported that several Filipino domestic helpers who stayed in Lebanon after the August 2006 evacuation have now upgraded their skills, working in restaurants and hotels in the country’s capital.

“Figures provided by the Lebanese Ministry of Immigration to Lebanon’s honorary consul general in Manila, Hon. Josef Assad, reveals that more than 43,000 Filipino maids entered Lebanon for the period between 2006 and 2008,” Geslani added.

Enrique Manalo, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) undersecretary for policy, earlier expressed the Philippines’ readiness to supply Iraq with skilled Filipino workers should their safety be assured.

Manalo didn’t want a repeat of the death of Dionasis Saguid, a Filipino cook, who was killed in a mortar attack inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone last June.

The 32-year-old was convinced by an illegal recruiter to defy the travel ban. He managed to enter Iraq via Dubai. Saguid earned $1,000 a month in Baghdad.

Aside from sending a Filipino team to asses the situation in Iraq, Manalo hopes that toward the end of the 6th RP-Iraq Joint Commission Meeting, the oil-rich country could also help provide a clearer picture of the actual situation in the area.

The Department of Labor and Employment had earlier identified the Middle East as the region seen to be less hit by the global economic crisis, offering an oasis for Filipino jobseekers.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said that 5,404 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have been displaced since October 2008, including 4,140 from Taiwan, 298 from the United Arab Emirates, 180 from Canada, 81 from Australia, and 74 from South Korea.

The countries where the remaining number of retrenched Filipino workers came from were not disclosed. – GMANews.TV

Aspiring OFWs being forced to pay OAV registration

February 11, 2009

02/11/2009 | 07:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The biggest migrants’ advocacy group in the country accused the Philippine government of milking outbound overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by forcing them to register for the overseas absentee voting (OAV) prior to their departure.

Migrante International chairperson Gary Martinez told GMANews.TV on Wednesday that they have been receiving complaints from OFWs of the “additional burden” imposed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Citing reports reaching him, Martinez said aspiring OFWs who are applying for passports are asked to pay P75 for the OAV fee.

“It could reach up to P250 on weekends,” Martinez added.

In an earlier statement, Migrante International reiterated that under the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, “the government has the duty to issue passport or any travel document to any citizen of the Philippines or individual who complies with the requirement of this act.”

“Clearly, this government is twisting the thousands of Filipinos who wish to escape grinding poverty here in the country by finding jobs abroad by the arm with this questionable requirement,” Martinez added.

DFA spokesperson Bayani Mangibin denied that the OAV registration was being made a “prerequisite” for those applying for passports.

“We are just inviting them to exercise their right to register and vote, that’s all. But we cannot force them. That’s not our policy,” Mangibin told GMANews.TV.

Mangibin did not mention anything about the alleged fees.

As stated in Section 5 of the law, applicants for a Philippine passport are required to secure the following documents: duly accomplished application form and photographs of applicant; birth certificate; marriage certificate; naturalization certificate (for naturalized citizens); for minors, affidavit of consent from a parent; a copy of the court order of adoption for adopted persons and; travel authority for government employees.
Mangibin countered the allegations, stressing that some groups exaggerate details and misconstrue facts to cast blame on the government.

“Minsan ina-angguluhan na lang para lumabas nga na ganoon [Sometimes they cast a different light on the matter],” he added.

The DFA has formally launched on Wednesday the OAV registration booth for outbound Filipino workers and immigrants at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Mangibin assured that the registration process would only take a few minutes and would not be an added burden to OFWs.

The OAV booth is located at the OFW lounge in NAIA and would be open until August 31. [Click here for additional information] – Mark Joseph Ubalde, GMANews.TV