Wednesday, June 29, 2005

17.8 % more skilled workers deployed abroad

By Veronica Uy

THE HIRING of professionals and skilled workers abroad went up by 17.8 percent from 78,956 in 2003 to 93,006 in 2004, Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said Tuesday.

She said most of them were medical and health professionals, engineers, teachers, accountants, performing artists, and architects, noting also that 86 percent of them are women.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) indicated that the deployment of overseas Filipino workers increased by an average of two percent annually from 1998 to 2004. This, Sto. Tomas said, is equivalent to an average of 2,558 overseas Filipino workers deployed overseas every day.

Sto. Tomas said the number is expected to grow further as POEA and the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) have been engaged in marketing missions looking for employment prospects abroad especially higher-end occupations for the OFWs.

Also, she said the number of bricklayers, plumbers, stonemasons, tile setters, carpenters, and drivers deployed overseas went up to 62,708 in 2004 from 61,352 in 2003.P

OEA data also showed that more Filipino bookkeepers, receptionists, and stenographers were deployed overseas -- 5,221 in 2004 from the previous year total of 3,965.The greater bulk of the total deployment in 2004, however, consisted of seafarers increasing by six percent from 216,031 in 2003 to 229,002 in 2004. Land-based OFWs also rose by 8.1 percent from 651,938 in 2003 to 704,586 in 2004 with the service workers comprising the majority.

Sto. Tomas also noted that the number of newly hired service workers such as domestic helpers, household workers, caretakers, waiters, and bartenders totaled 112,856 in 2004, of whom 90 percent were females accounting for 36.2 percent of the total deployed newly hired workers.

In terms of destinations, the DOLE chief said the Middle East remains to be the top OFW destination with an estimated 352,314 workers deployed in the region in 2004. This is followed by Asia with 266,609, Europe with 55,116, and the Americas with 37,981. #

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Too Many Myths And Not Enough Reality On Migration Issues, Says IOM's World Migration Report 2005

No. 882 - 22 June 2005

GENEVA - Many concerns that surround migration, such as loss of jobs, lower wages, increased welfare costs and the belief that migration is spiralling out of control, are not only exaggerated or unfounded but contrary to evidence, according to the World Migration Report 2005, released today by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). According to the report, the first ever comprehensive study looking at the costs and benefits of international migration, there is ample evidence that migration brings both costs and benefits for sending and receiving countries, even if these are not always shared equally.

We are living in an increasingly globalized world which can no longer depend on domestic labour markets alone. This is a reality that has to be managed,?says IOM Director General, Brunson McKinley. f managed properly, migration can bring more benefits than costs. The 2005 World Migration Report illustrates this clearly.?br>Migrants represent only 2.9% of the global population.

The UN Population Division estimates the migrant population in 2005 at between 185-192 million people ?up from 175 million in 2000. Nearly half of them are female. However, the socio-economic and political visibility of migrants, especially in highly industrialised countries, is much greater than this percentage would suggest. Migration flows have also shifted in recent years and in some cases, international migration is actually decreasing.

Although Asia, which has traditionally represented the largest international migrant stock, has seen an increase in the number of migrants from 28.1 million in 1970 to 43.8 million in 2000, in real terms, this represents a drop from 34.5% to 25% of the migrant stock in the same time frame. In addition, more and more Asians are finding job opportunities within Asia itself.

In Africa, international migration, usually within the continent rather than outside of it, has dropped over the past 30 years from 12% to 9% of the global stock and this is a pattern repeated in several other regions. Only two areas in the world have seen an increase in their migrant stock ?Northern America and the former USSR.

The perception that migrants are more of a burden on host countries than a benefit is not sustained by research, according to the World Migration Report. In the UK, for example, a recent Home Office study calculated that in 1999-2000, migrants contributed US$ 4 billion more in taxes than they received in benefits.

In the US, the National Research Council estimated that national income had expanded by US$ 8 billion in 1997 because of immigration.

Read more.....

Singapore debates exploitation of maids

By Kalinga Seneviratne
Inter Press Service
Friday, 24 June, 2005

SINGAPORE, Jun 22 ­ A rare passionate public debate on a social issue is
raging in this tiny affluent Southeast Asian nation on how the country
treats the thousands of maids or "foreign domestic workers" (FDWs) here.

While some focus on whether the women should get a mandatory day off per
week, others argue it is more important to clean up the maid agency
industry, which appears to be exploiting poor women from neighboring
countries by charging them exorbitant fees to work here.

The debate started over two months ago when local newspaper Today began
publishing letters from FDWs complaining about ill treatment and lack of
off days.

It gathered steam three weeks ago when Association of Employment Agencies
(AEAS) President Angland Seah said in an interview with the paper that his
organization would like to see a provision for four off days a month
incorporated into all new FDWs' job contracts.

Since that call was made, Today claims that employment agencies have been
deluged with calls from maids who want the weekly off day incorporated into
their contracts immediately, while many employers have threatened to take
their business to agencies that are not AEAS members. There has been a
mixed response in letters to newspapers here.

Maids are slightly lesser breed?

"For goodness sake, these people are maids," wrote letter writer Edwin
Wong. "They are from other countries and have willingly accepted our terms
and conditions to be a FDW. We didn't force them."

"For a civilized country Singapore seem to have a disproportionately large
number of maid abuse cases," observed another writer, Stephanie Thio.
"I think this is because Singaporeans have allowed themselves to accept the
idea that foreign domestic helpers are a slightly lesser breed. So we don't
accord them the same standard of humanity that we do to others in our
lives. This mindset needs to be changed," she added.

Recently, courts have started jailing maid abusers (all women) including a
teacher who was sentenced to six weeks. Previously those found guilty only
received fines.

Police say the number of reported abuse cases have dropped from 157 in 1997
to 59 last year because of the court cases. But activists argue those
numbers are only the tip of the iceberg because many FDWs are afraid to
report abuse to the police.

Read more.....

Friday, June 24, 2005

Sri Lanka embassy to assert $150 pay for domestic helpers

By Edgar C. Cadano
The Saudi Gazette

RIYADH -- Sri Lankan embassy officials brushed aside what they allege are discriminatory remarks by a Saudi recruitment official that Sri Lankan housemaids are of low work quality and that they fall short of several requirements compared to women workers from other countries.

Sri Lankan Labor Welfare Officer Mohammed Jiffry said their Sri Lankan housemaid and other unskilled labor have been working in the Kingdom for the past two decades.

If they are not par with other workers of the world, why should Saudi employers keep on hiring them? Jiffry said. He added that around 1,000 to 1,500 Sri Lankan workers are deployed to the Kingdom each month.

There are around 350,000 to 400,000 Sri Lankan workers in the Kingdom, 80 percent are housemaids, the embassy spokesman said.He said the remarks came only after the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) set a minimum monthly wage of $150, for their household helpers and other unskilled laborers to work in Saudi Arabia effective July 1.

Sri Lankan housemaids are currently receiving $100 per month, the lowest salary in the Kingdom for expatriate household helpers.Sri Lankan workers used to get an average of SR400 salary a month since our workers started working here two decades ago.

Until the recent past, it has been adjusted to SR450. But things have changed. Everything is increasing. Of course, there should also be an increment for Sri Lankan workers, amid the increasing prices everywhere, he said.

Read more.....

Only 19,616 OFWs granted amnesty by Malaysian gov't

By Veronica Uy

SINCE its crackdown on illegal aliens in March, the Malaysian government has granted amnesty to only 19,616 overseas Filipino workers, a far cry from the 150,000 to 700,000 OFWs illegally staying in the Islamic state, mostly in Sabah.

Citing a report of the Department of Labor and Employment centers in Mindanao, Migrante chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado said of this number, only 611 were issued visas by Malaysian immigration officers.

Migrante earlier sent a team to an eight-day fact-finding mission to DoLE's one-stop processing centers in Zamboanga City and Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, in Mindanao.Regalado said the amnesty program did not include children of deportees, causing family break-ups.

Deportees also described jail conditions in Malaysia as deplorable. "As many as 300 are kept in cells 30 meters by six meters in size. They're too congested and both adults and children share the same cell," she said.

Read more....

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

RP among top migrant sending countries

By Agence France-Presse

GENEVA--The Philippines is among the top migrant sending countries and its workers among the top for remittances, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Wednesday.

The Philippines ranks third, with seven million Filipinos abroad, behind India, with 20 million, and top-ranked China with a diaspora of 35 million workers in different parts of the globe, the IOM said in its new study, which showed that concerns in Western countries that immigrants cause job losses and increases in welfare spending were not only flawed but contradicted evidence.

Mexico topped the list for remittances, followed by India, the Philippines, Egypt, and Morocco, the IOM study said.

Migrants are a key source of income for many poorer countries, the report said. They officially sent home 100 billion dollars in 2004.Another 100 billion dollars is thought to flow home through informal channels, the IOM said.

The world's estimated 185-192 million migrants -- up from 175 million in 2000 -- boost the economies of their new countries and the homelands they leave behind, although the impact of the brain drain on poor nations remains a concern, the IOM also said.

"We are living in an increasingly globalized world, which can no longer depend on domestic labor markets alone. This is a reality that has to be managed," said Brunson McKinley, the IOM's director general.

"If managed properly, migration can bring more benefits than costs," McKinley told reporters at the launch of the 2005 World Migration Report.

Read more..........

Nepal keen on UAE labour agreement

By Nissar Hoath and Sunita Menon,
Staff Reporters
Published: 21/6/2005, 06:13 (UAE)

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: The Government of Nepal is looking into the possibility of a labour agreement with the UAE.

"If successful we would considerably eliminate the middlemen," said Madhuban Prasad, Nepalese ambassador to the UAE, yesterday.King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal is on his first official visit to the UAE.

Accompanying him are senior officials from the ministries of foreign affairs and justice, Islamic affairs and awqaf. A delegation of 45 prominent members of the Nepalese community had an informal meeting with the king in Abu Dhabi.

Among the several community related issues discussed was the growing demand for Nepalese manpower and the need to increase the number of staff in the embassy in Abu Dhabi.

"The number of Nepalese here has increased considerably in the last eight years. In 1997 we were only a community of 12,000, while present figures are close to 80,000," he said."WWe have signed a labour agreement with countries like Malaysia and Qatar. If possible we would like to do the same with the UAE."This will also give us a say on the minimum wages paid to Nepalese workers.

There are about 450 registered recruitment agencies in the Nepal."

Read more.....

Substandard maritime schools blamed for unemployable seafarers

By Alexis Douglas Romero
OFW Journalism Consortium, Inc
Tuesday, 21 June, 2005

Around the Philippines, young people in white starched polo shirts and pants are enrolling in maritime schools this June at a time when rising unemployment among Filipino seafarers is sparking a debate over whether substandard schools or the sheer number of students is to blame for the problem.

To be sure, the number of seafarers being deployed is increasing. According to the deployment statistics of Overseas Filipino Workers from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), there were 209,593 seafarers deployed in 2001, from 204,951 in 2002.

In the Labor Force statistics of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), there were 216,031 sea-based workers in 2003, which increased to 229,002 in 2004.A recent DOLE statement cited that global deployment of seafarers on a quarter to quarter basis rose by 82 percent from January to April this year.

Seafarers' inward dollar remittances also increased by 21 percent to $257 million from January to February alone.

DOLE officials expect deployment of seafarers to hit 250,000 by end-December. And yet, according to government statistics, more than half of Filipino maritime graduates are currently jobless. Not everyone who studies to become a seaman will necessarily become one.

Read more....

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Find Grace' plea by envoy

Gulf Daily News
Monday, 20 June 2005

POLICE have been urged to step up their search for missing Filipina Grace Nodalo.

The 38-year-old disappeared nearly a week ago and police are still working their way through by talking to colleagues and neighbours.

Her husband, July Nodalo, was held for 12 hours after reporting her missing last Tuesday.He is under the custody of the Philippines Embassy and is barred by police from entering the couple's one-bedroom East Riffa flat.

Mrs Nodalo was under investigation by her employers at Bahrain Financing Company over the alleged theft of BD14,000 earlier this year.

The cashier was due at a company meeting on the morning she disappeared. Mrs Nodalo is the second Filipina to disappear in Bahrain in less than eight months.Debt collector Gracie Montibon, aged 42, vanished without trace last November.

Read more......

Monday, June 20, 2005

Over 2,000 OFWs leave each day for work abroad

By Veronica Uy

AN AVERAGE of 2,857 Filipinos left every day for work abroad from January 1 to June 13 this year, up from the 2,724 who left during the same period last year, the Department of Labor and Employment said in a statement Friday.

Citing the figures from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said a total of 468,062 Filipinos left for work abroad during that period, or 4.24 percent more compared to the 449,531 Filipinos who left during same period last year.

She said the deployment of land-based overseas Filipino workers increased by 10,204 from 344,869 to 355,073 and of overseas Filipino seafarers by 8,867 from 104,662 to 113,529.

Read more.....

The Disappeared: Families of Missing Migrants Live in Limbo

News Feature,
Leslie Berestein,
Enlace, Jun 15, 2005

VILLA MORELOS, Mexico, The soft crunch of tires on dirt often rouses Mar燰 L鏕ez from her sleep.

Her body tenses with nervous anticipation as she props herself up in the dark, listening for a familiar footstep, a familiar voice.

Sometimes she hears people talking in the distance, or a dog barking. Then the tires continue rolling down the road, toward the center of this small country town, and there is silence. She lies in a room her son built, unable to sleep.

"I keep hoping there is going to be a knock on the door, and that it's going to be him," says Mar燰, a diminutive widow who habitually wipes away tears with the edge of her dark shawl. "That it's my son, and he's come home."But her son never knocks.

Amparo Calvillo L鏕ez was last seen lying in the southern Arizona desert in September 2003, unable to wake up after having fallen ill the day before. The chunky, 30-year-old father of three was trying to get back to Orlando, Fla., where he worked at an ice cream factory.

He had taken three weeks off to attend his father's funeral.Mexican authorities, who coordinated a search for him in the United States after his mother and wife reported him missing, presume that he is dead.But there is no proof, no body to bury, at least no body that anyone has identified. So his case remains open. And against her better judgment, Mar燰 waits.

In Mexico and other parts of Latin America, people such as Amparo are referred to as migrantes desaparecidos, migrants who have disappeared. Amid the raging debate over illegal immigration, they are but a little-known, tragic footnote.

Read more.....


The Saudi Gazette

DAMMAM/RIYADH -- The policy of reducing Saudi Arabia s dependence on foreign manpower is leading to stiff competition among private companies and business owners for the employment of skilled foreign workers.

A report by Al-Madina, the Arabic language daily newspaper, said that the competition has hiked the salary scale of foreign workers in the labor market by as much as 50 percent.

The retail sector in the Kingdom is badly affected by the new recruitment policy, which is aimed at reducing the importation of the unskilled and semi skilled foreign workers, said Zuhair Al-Sekari, director of the World Food Group in Dammam. This incurred new financial obligations on this particular group.

He said he was forced to offer a monthly SR1,200 salary for porters loading goods. Their salaries earlier ranged between SR700 and SR800 a month. All investors in the retail field are facing pressure from their workers for increasing their salaries, a matter that will reduce the margin of their profits.

He said that the retailers can t replace this segment of foreign manpower with nationals because Saudis rarely accept such jobs.

In addition to these salaries of the sales representatives have increased to SR1,800 compared to SR1,400 in the past, he said.

Nasser Al-Mobtti, director of Al-Mobtti Contracting Company, said, Contactors and business owners are overtly and covertly competing among themselves for obtaining visas by opening new branches for their companies besides competing for the employment of the foreign workers already present in the country.

On the other hand, government agencies have started implementing the recommendations adopted by the team assigned to discuss the issue of unemployment among nationals and the rise in the importation of foreign manpower, he said.

One of the recommendations indicates that the Ministry of Labor send to the Saudi Council of Ministers a detailed report in two years on the results of the enforcement of Saudization and the difficulties hindering the full implementation of the plan .

Read more.......

Friday, June 17, 2005

‘No Changes in Recruitment Policy’

M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News
Friday, 17, June, 2005 (10, Jumada al-Ula, 1426)

RIYADH, 17 June 2005 ­ Waleed Al-Soweidan, chief of the Saudi Arabian National Recruitment Committee, said yesterday that Kingdom had no plans to stiffen laws on runaway workers. He said that the Kingdom had laws that safeguarded the interests of sponsors and their foreign employees.

Al-Soweidan, however, said the labor sector needed to be streamlined in the interests of both the employers and the employees.

“The problems faced by sponsors because of the growing number of runaway workers are being effectively dealt with by government agencies,” he said.

The Labor Ministry is expected to announce some measures to prevent workers from fleeing from their employers without apparent reasons. Al-Soweidan was commenting on a report about Riyadh’s moves to stiffen penalties on runaway workers, which appeared in a section of local press early this week.

He pointed out: “The Labor Ministry or the concerned government agencies are authorized to take punitive measures and to take erring workers to court”.

In many cases, he said, it has been found that a substantial number of workers try to escape and work elsewhere despite the fact that the existing regulations ban such actions. Runaway expatriate workers especially housemaids had often found “excuses,” he added, such as maltreatment or non-payment or delay of salaries, to escape from the employers.

A substantial number of foreign workers are reported to go job hunting immediately after landing in the Kingdom despite their contractual obligations. Many of them simply run away after receiving residence permits (Iqama).

Read more....§ion=0&article=65523&d=17&m=6&y=2005

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Hiring of RP seamen opposed

Published at ABS-CBN News.Com
by AFP

ROSCOFF, France - Angry seamen at the northwestern French port of Roscoff on Monday stopped passengers disembarking from an Irish ferry to protest against the company's decision to take on cheap labor from eastern Europe and the Philippines.

The Normandy was forced to wait at idle in the harbor with some 750 people on board, after protesters blocked the walkway used to connect the ship to land.

Around 1,300 people were waiting to board the ferry for its return trip to Rosslare in southern Ireland.

Read more......

POEA officials living it up with OFW-OWWA funds

First posted 01:09am (Mla time)
June 10, 2005 Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A16 of the June 10, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

LIKE what we have been suspecting all along, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's coterie of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) officials have been living the high life.

The painful thing for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) is: These officials have rewarded themselves with so many unnecessary perks paid for with funds from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).The POEA's illegal withdrawal of P24.048 million from the OFW trust funds at OWWA to grant "incentive allowance" to the agency's top bureaucrats does not in any way help OFWs and their families.

The Commission on Audit has said that such use of OWWA funds is unauthorized. POEA officials have the gall to do this because President Arroyo dispenses perks that easily, too.POEA executives were issued mobile phones and they downloaded about P796,000 worth of games, ring tones, picture messages and other unauthorized items.

The POEA incurred other charges amounting to P308,747.58 in the use of the mobile phones, in addition to the fixed charges of P400,002.80 for subscription to Globe lines or plans.Other charges, personal and easily incurred and billed due to the nature of line subscription, included share-a-load and its processing fee, GPRS such as Globe games, photo messages, polyphonic ring tones, digital postcards, photo album, cinema and magazine covers, premium java download, instant messaging and catxtcism, etc.

Read more.......

Unpaid worker sleeps at bus station

By Samir Salama,
Bureau Chief Ahmed Kutty
Gulf News
Published: 11/6/2005, 08:40 (UAE)

Abu Dhabi: Desperate and penniless, an unpaid worker ended up sleeping on a bus terminal bench.

With no money left to travel between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Enrique Milagrosa resorted to such measures while in the process of presenting a complaint to the Dubai labour office.Enrique Milagrosa and Eleuterio Mercado complain about non-payment of salaries. "I had to submit my complaint to the Dubai labour office because my visa is obtained from Dubai.

I was turned away eight times by the Labour Relations Department in Dubai," Milagrosa, a Flipino steel fabricator, said.He said although he told officials at the Labour Relations office that he had run out of money and could no longer afford travelling between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, they kept telling him to return the next day."I was left with no option but to sleep on a bench at Bur Dubai bus terminal for three nights," Milagrosa, 41, said.Determined to present his case, he said he joined his Abu Dhabi-based construction company on February 1.

"I was offered in the Philippines a monthly salary of $450 or about Dh1,640. But as I arrived in the UAE, I was asked to sign a job contract which states that my salary is just Dh1,000. I refused to sign the contract and the company has not paid me ever since.

"Eleuterio Mercado, 51, an excavator operator in the same company, says he was turned away three times by the Abu Dhabi labour office, before his complaint was accepted on June 7.Mercado's employer will be summoned to the labour office on June 13.

Read more.....

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Philippine ambassador who compared Israeli immigration to Gestapo recalled

The Star, Malaysia

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The Philippine ambassador to Tel Aviv who angered Israelis by comparing local immigration officials to the Nazi secret police will return home for "regular consultations,'' the Philippine foreign affairs department said Tuesday. Spokesman Albert Asuque said Ambassador Antonio Modena will return to Manila for "regular home office consultations,'' which will include the status of Filipino workers in Israel.

He stressed that Modena wasn't being recalled and would return to his post in Israel, adding his trip was approved before the controversy over his remarks. Modena on Monday apologized to Israeli Foreign Ministry officials for a newspaper interview last week in which he compared Israeli police tactics during arrest sweeps of illegal workers - including Filipinos - to those of the Gestapo. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it accepted the apology and considered the matter closed.

"He is coming to Manila for regular home office consultations,'' Asuque said. Meanwhile, a pressure group for Filipino overseas workers, Migrante, called for the Israeli government to apologize for the treatment of Filipino workers.

"From segregating Filipino travelers at the back of aircraft on flights to Tel Aviv, the confiscation of cell phones and night raids of overseas Filipino workers' homes, the Israeli government ... should be the one to issue an apology, not Ambassador Modena,'' Migrante chairman Connie Bragas-Regalado said.

Read more.......

Labor Ministry Forms Panel to Streamline Foreign Recruitment

P.K. Abdul Ghafour
Arab News
Tuesday, 7, June, 2005 (29, Rabi` al-Thani, 1426)

JEDDAH, 7 June 2005 ­ A high-level committee has been set up at the Labor Ministry to approve applications for the recruitment of foreign manpower and investigate complaints by companies whose recruitment applications have been rejected.

Labor Minister Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi made the decision to set up the recruitment affairs committee. It will be chaired by the undersecretary for labor affairs and the members will be the undersecretary for planning and development and two assistant undersecretaries.

“The panel will look into recruitment applications arriving at labor offices and will make appropriate decisions after studying actual requirements. It will also listen to complaints of applicants,” Al-Gosaibi said, adding that the committee would begin work in two weeks.

The panel is significant as it will streamline recruitment of experienced and skilled foreign manpower which is required by companies. Some foreign investors have complained that they have been unable to start their projects because of a lack of qualified personnel to operate them.

“We have set up the committee in order to understand the actual requirements of businessmen and allow them to discuss their problems,” Al-Gosaibi said, adding that the committee would consider a company’s compliance with Saudization regulations as well as its contribution to the national economy when studying its applications.

Read more.....

Saturday, June 04, 2005

5,168 jailed OFWs abandoned

Cristina Lee-Pisco
Friday, June 03, 2005 / 7:30:42 PM

THE Migrante International yesterday staged a protest rally in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Roxas Boulevard for neglecting the plight of 5,168 jailed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) all over the world, 19 of whom are on death row.

The Migrante also lambasted the Arroyo administration for playing a 'deaf, dumb and blind' to the problems of the OFWs abroad. "When it comes to OFWs in trouble, the Arroyo administration clearly plays 'deaf, dumb and blind' to their plight.

We demand she take decisive action and immediately intervene in the cases of imprisoned OFWs, especially those on death row.

It's completely unacceptable that she simply allows them to rot in foreign jails," Migrante International secretary general Maita Santiago said. Figures released by Migrante showed of the 5,168 jailed OFWs, 1,115 are in Saudi Arabia and of the 19 on death row, 13 are in Saudi Arabia.

Four of the 13 on death row have already been executed last March, the Migrante said. The Migrante cited the case of Bicolano Rey Cortez who was sentenced to death by a Saudi Arabian court after the family of a Pakistani cab driver he allegedly killed on May 2002 refused to accept the blood money.

Santiago explained the case of Cortez should have been raised by the President when Pakistani President Perez Musharaff visited the country last month. The other day, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo ordered the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh to exhaust all legal options to save Cortez from death sentence.

Romulo also instructed embassy officials in Islamabad, Pakistan to convince the family of the Pakistani victim to accept compensation or blood money to commute the death sentence against Cortez.

Read more.......

Friday, June 03, 2005


By Edgar C. Cadano
The Saudi Gazette

FAHAD Reynaldo Cortez, a Filipino car body technician, who killed a Pakistani taxi driver was sentenced to death by a Riyadh high court last Monday. Cortez, who is in New Malaz Jail in Riyadh, told The Saudi Gazette Wednesday that his death sentence was read to him Monday by the judge through a Filipino court interpreter.

Cortez, a 39-year old Bicolano and resident of Guagua, Pampanga, is appealing to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to use her good offices with Pakistani President Pervez Musharaf to help him plead with the relatives of his victim to forgive him and accept blood money.Under Shariah law, as regards private right, the victim's family has the option of pardoning the killer and accepting blood money, in which case the death sentence can be annulled.

The murder took place on May 17, 2002 when Cortez, who was working at Al-Aslah Car Workshop in Riyadh's Sinaya District, flagged down a taxi and got into a heated argument with the taxi driver.I took out a knife from a toolbox that I had inside my bag, Cortez told The Saudi Gazette.

But the driver was able to grab the knife. In the ensuing fight Cortez said he was stabbed twice in his right leg but he wrenched the knife back and plunged it into the chest of the taxi driver.Seeing the Pakistani driver out of the taxi and down, Cortez said he panicked and jumped into the car to escape from the scene.He said he wanted to commit suicide by crashing the taxi into a bigger vehicle.

Read more......

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Militant groups denounce Duque as new Health chief

Thursday, 06/02/2005

A group of health workers and migrant workers yesterday denounced the appointment of newly-installed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III as they claimed he is the apdog?of President Arroyo.

Jean Esperos, secretary general of Health Alliance for Democracy (Head), said Duque is unfit to become the new Health secretary since he will rally and push for faster implementation to privatize our public health care system, thus the security of tenure of our health workers will be endangered.

He alleged this expected move of the new Health chief will implement the further streamlining of the government's bureaucracy. Sharing the sentiments of health workers, Migrante, migrant workers group,
said they are against the appointment of Duque to DoH because of the alleged irregularities in the transfer of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) fund to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), when Duque
was its president.

Migrante president Connie Bragas-Regalado said, Duque's profit-oriented mindset and bias against the poor will complement the administration's neglect for health and other social services in budget allocation from the national government.

Read more.....

Protesting OFWs may file money claims, says POEA

First posted 05:29pm (Mla time)
June 01, 2005
By Veronica Uy

THE PROTESTING 300 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the sprawling American military base in Camp Cooke in Taji, Iraq may file money claims against their employers and recruiters if their work contracts were actually found violated.

Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration also told Wednesday that their recruiters in the Philippines could be blacklisted.Five of the OFWs were already repatriated, confirmed Baldoz.

They left Baghdad on May 29 at 1 p.m. Iraq time.On May 24, the OFWs initiated a work stoppage to protest excessive working hours and severe working conditions in the facility.An e-mail sent to by one of the OFWs said that their employers, Prime Projects International (PPI) and Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR), responded to their complaints by repatriating the protesting workers one by one.

"Halos araw-araw po ay may umuuwi kahit di nag-re-resign. Kaya po halos lahat dito ay pang nangangapa sa dilim at di alam kung papauwiin kami ng PPI/KBR. (Almost everyday there will be workers going home although they have not resigned.

Almost all of us here are groping in the dark and have no idea whether PPI/KBR will send us back [to the Philippines]," the e-mail said.

Read more.....

Philippine Embassy Cites Big Role of Community Groups

Jun Adriano Mallare
Arab News
Monday, 30, May, 2005 (21, Rabi` al-Thani, 1426)

RIYADH, 30 May 2005

Seven more new Filipino community organizations have registered with the Philippine Embassy, bringing the total number of accredited community partners or ACPs in the Eastern and Central regions of the Kingdom to 105.

According to the embassy, these groups fall under the broad categories of sports, cultural, professional, and advocacy.Included in the category are associations for basketball, ping pong (table tennis), lawn tennis, 10-pin bowling, golf, chess, martial arts, volleyball, biking and darts.

Cultural groups, probably among the most active, present variety shows inside the embassy compound, featuring songs and dances and modern and classical fashion designs. Toastmasters groups are placed under this category.Under the professional category are the associations of engineers, accountants, nurses, and IT specialists.

Like others, they hold regular meetings designed to enhance their professional growth and opportunities for livelihood or small enterprises,?the embassy said in press statement.Grouped under the Advocacy category are the groups whose avowed mission is to fight for the cause of OFWs. hether the issue involves policy questions or protection of the rights of workers or perceived inadequacies in government action on matters affecting the community, absentee voting, executive issuances or legislation, the advocacy groups are in the midst of it all.

In addition to those listed, there are also individuals who volunteer their services during times of emergency as when terrorists carry out attacks in parts of the capital or other areas. They form part of the Embassy network of volunteers ready to spring into action wherever and whenever needed.hose who are able to generate funds from their projects share some to help distressed OFWs in the form of airfare, food or clothing and medicines,it said.

The embassy said it wanted to mention the ACPs in general to show its appreciation for whatever service or assistance they have been giving to the community. They provide entertainment for Filipino families on many occasions. Sports, which we encourage, contribute to the health of enthusiasts and provide them wholesome outlet during their free time, said the embassy.

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Only for the distressed and stranded, Free lodging for returning overseas workers

Alexis Douglas B. Romero
OFW Journalism Consortium, Inc.
Friday, 27 May, 2005

For overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the city, the airport leads to home. But for those who come from the provinces, the airport and the city are like inhospitable foreign countries.

Partly to solve the lack of lodging for temporarily stranded and distressed OFWs, the Overseas Workers?Welfare Administration (OWWA) inaugurated alfway Home?last April 18 at the OWWA Building in F.B Harrison Street, Pasay City.

Located at the second floor, the facility can accommodate up to 40 OFWs who have nowhere to go in Manila and cannot pay for a hotel room. OWWA will provide them with rooms, meals, beddings, and personal hygiene kits for free.

OWWA Administrator Marianito Roque said a reintegration program, which includes assistance from social workers, will also take place in the facility. OWWA members can benefit from the program that includes livelihood loans and family welfare and social services, according to the OWWA website.

OFW transients will be housed following a schedule from the overseas offices. The home office will be notified of incoming workers needing assistance at the airport.

At least three days in advance, we will know our load and our capacity Roque said.In addition, ouse parents from OWWA Repatriation Division will supervise the transients activities and will facilitate the delivery of services like transport and medical needs

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Only for the distressed and stranded, Free lodging for returning overseas workers

Alexis Douglas B. Romero
OFW Journalism Consortium, Inc.
Friday, 27 May, 2005

For overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the city, the airport leads to home. But for those who come from the provinces, the airport and the city are like inhospitable foreign countries.

Partly to solve the lack of lodging for temporarily stranded and distressed OFWs, the Overseas Workers?Welfare Administration (OWWA) inaugurated alfway Home?last April 18 at the OWWA Building in F.B Harrison Street, Pasay City.

Located at the second floor, the facility can accommodate up to 40 OFWs who have nowhere to go in Manila and cannot pay for a hotel room. OWWA will provide them with rooms, meals, beddings, and personal hygiene kits for free.

OWWA Administrator Marianito Roque said a reintegration program, which includes assistance from social workers, will also take place in the facility. OWWA members can benefit from the program that includes livelihood loans and family welfare and social services, according to the OWWA website.

OFW transients will be housed following a schedule from the overseas offices. The home office will be notified of incoming workers needing assistance at the airport.

At least three days in advance, we will know our load and our capacity Roque said.In addition, ouse parents from OWWA Repatriation Division will supervise the transients activities and will facilitate the delivery of services like transport and medical needs

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Dh10 to be levied on each transaction

Published: 31/5/2005, 06:17 (UAE)
Gulf News

Dubai: All transactions at government and semi-government organisations in Dubai will attract an additional fee of Dh10.

The new levy is as per Law No 4 for 2005, issued by His Highness Shaikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in his capacity as Dubai Ruler.

The law imposes an additional fee on each transaction made at government and quasi-government organisations including the authorities at the free zones in Dubai.This is in addition to the other existing fees.

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Labor Visas Will Not Be Renewed

P.K. Abdul Ghafour
Arab NewsTuesday
31 May, 2005 (22, Rabi` al-Thani, 1426)

JEDDAH, 31 May 2005 The validity of labor visas will be restricted to one year beginning June 8, according to Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi. The visa will be canceled after a year and will not be renewed nor will its validity be extended, the Saudi Press Agency quoted him as saying.

However, Gosaibi said, the beneficiaries could request alterations to visas such as changing the name or nationality within six months after issuance.

The new measure has been taken after reports of misusing visa extensions for the purpose of forgery and illegal visa transactions, he added. Any firms have disappeared after receiving visas or their ownership has been transferred to others, Gosaibi said explaining the reasons for taking the new decision, which he added, would prevent duplication of visas.

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Japayuki era coming to an end

May 31, 2005
By Emil Jurado
Manila Standard

TOKYO. This city is truly the most expensive city of the world.

Osaka, another Japanese city, comes close as second most expensive.

Santa Banana, would you believe that even before we reached our hotel at Ginza, the main shopping center of Tokyo, our party of three ?my wife, my daughter, and myself ?had already spent the equivalent of over P14,000 via an airport limousine which took us to the city terminal where we had to take two taxicabs because our luggage could not fit into one.

If you take a cab from Narita International Airport to Tokyo, it would cost you over $100 depending on where your hotel is located. And shopping in Tokyo is a no-no for Filipinos with the dollar at P54.40. My gosh, even coffee here costs as much as $10 to $12 at hotel rates.

You have to look around for coffee shops offering between $2 to $3 per cup. You have to be practical and smart to make your dollar go a long way here, like eating in fast-food chains and along the subways. But, my wife and I have no regrets, Tokyo being our favorite city, where you feel safe and the people are courteous and so friendly.

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