January 5, 2012
In the United Arab Emirates where more than 200,000 Filipinos reside, seven new rules will be implemented, a report of Gulf News said.
The report said the new rules include:
(1) ID cards now a must
Gulf News said the card is now mandatory across the UAE except in Dubai. The card will be used to access Ministry of Interior services including that of the Traffic Department.
The rule began in four emirates — Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah in November 2009. Dubai will implement it in mid-2012.
The report said Emirates Identity Authority started issuing cards to Emiratis in 2006 and to expatriates in 2008.
October 31, 2011 was the deadline for renewing all identity cards expiring on that date. The delay attracts a Dh20 fine per day, up to a maximum of Dh1,000.
(2) Child safety campaign
A safety awareness campaign is being implemented to protect children in high-rise buildings because of the rising number of child victims who figured in such accidents.
The Municipal Council of Sharjah said local authorities will soon launch a safety awareness campaign to protect children in high-rise buildings.
The report said the UAE government is also considering setting new set of construction and safety codes to promote child safety.
3. Traffic fines
A discount will be given to traffic violators who will pay in full their accumulated traffic fines.
The deadlines set are the following:
When: Abu Dhabi: no deadline set
Dubai: by January 12
Sharjah: by April 30
Ajman: by February 29
Ras Al Khaimah: by April 30
What: The International Bank Account (IBAN) number, is a 23-digit long, internationally recognized code, required for conducting any local or international transactions.
The IBAN number is mandatory for all UAE bank account holders
This aims to ensure efficient and speedy payment transactions and lessen the risk of transcription errors in cross-border transactions, the report said.
5. Rent registration
Tenants in Dubai are required to register rent contracts with the Dubai Land Department (DLD) through Ejari.ae.
Gulf News said this will be a pre-requisite to accessing other government services.
The failure to comply will result in a penalty.
6. Unified car purchase contract
Gulf News said the new unified auto purchase contract states the rights of the customers and dealers' obligations in terms of warranties, after-sales service and maintenance, among others.
Officials expect disputes between car dealers and consumers to drop by 30 percent when the unified contract is implemented.
Gulf News said the new ruling will help the UAE's automobile sector by making buying and selling activity more transparent.
7. Fake mobile phones
Gulf News said UAE telecommunication service providers etisalat and du will suspend all services to mobile phone subscribers who use counterfeit mobile handsets.
Officials say fake phones could be hazardous as they may not meet safety standards.
The users of fake mobile devices will be contacted by their service providers and all phones that are not type approved will be disconnected from all telecom services, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said.
January 4, 2012
Majority of Filipinos in strife-torn Syria are undocumented, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez said Tuesday.
In a text message to GMA News Online, Hernandez said "90 to 95 percent" of the 4,557 Filipinos in the Middle Eastern country are working there without proper documents.
"Many of them went there with wrong information provided by illegal recruiters," he said, adding that most of the undocumented Filipinos are household service workers.
Statistics from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) show that 710 Filipinos were deployed to Syria in 2010—a significant growth from only 200 in 2009.
Out of this number, nearly 550 were women who fell under the “domestic helpers and related household workers” category.
In a separate interview over radio dzBB on Monday, Hernandez said the government will help repatriate the undocumented Filipinos but they may not be entitled to the benefits it will provide.
Hernandez told GMA News Online that the average cost of repatriation—including refund of deployment cost—is around US$3,000 (or over P131,000).
Asking Syrian officials’ help
After raising the crisis alert level in Syria to "4"—which demands mandatory repatriation—the DFA is currently intensifying its efforts to send home all the Filipino workers there.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario arrived in Syria on Monday morning to personally oversee the repatriation efforts there.
He also tapped the Syrian government for assistance in updating the database of the Philippine Embassy in Damascus.
"This is in order to supplement the determination of the exact location and other information of other Filipinos deployed throughout Syria's 13 governorates," the DFA said in a statement.
Last week, Del Rosario appealed anew to the Filipinos remaining in Syria "to remove themselves out of harm's way while there's still time by getting themselves repatriated back to the Philippines."
The Philippine government has repatriated 490 Filipinos from Syria since March 2011, 56 of which arrived over the New Year weekend.
The 56 Filipinos arrived in two batches at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last Saturday, a report over radio dzBB said on Monday.
Del Rosario said they expect to repatriate at least 200 more Filipinos in the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, the DFA said the hotline of the Philippine Embassy in Syria is 00-963-116-132626. Families may also e-mail their requests and concerns through the Embassy's e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org, it said.
In Manila, the DFA also activated hotline numbers for families of Filipinos based in Syria, at 834-3245 and 834-3240.
October 17, 2011
Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - A number of jobless and undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia are selling their own blood to hospitals just to survive, according to Migrante-Middle East (M-ME).
M-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said undocumented OFWs who had previously sought assistance from the group confirmed to him that they had to sell their blood either to raise funds for their daily sustenance or to send money to their families back home in the Philippines.
Monterona cited the case of 30-year-old "Roy" from Tondo, Manila, who arrived in Saudi Arabia in 2009 to work as a glass cutter.
"After months of working and not being paid his salary, he was forced to run away from his employer and has since become undocumented," said Monterona in a statement.
Monterona said that like many other undocumented OFWs, Roy was jumping from one part-time job to another.
"It's hard because I have no permanent job, it's hard to be a TNT (tago ng tago). That's why every month, I sell my blood just to have money which I can send to my family back home," Monterona quoted Roy as saying.
Miko, another OFW, also had the same experience, Monterona said.
Miko, 38, used to work as a store merchandiser in Riyadh. But he was forced to resort to blood-selling when he was terminated from his job and could not find another one for three months.
Monterona said there was nothing wrong with donating blood. "It is in fact a noble and humanitarian act," he said.
He noted that some hospitals in Riyadh had urged Saudi nationals and expatriate workers to donate blood. In return, donors receive an "honorarium."
May 8, 2011
The Filipino engineer kidnapped in Yemen last month was released by his abductors Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Saturday.
In a statement, the DFA expressed appreciation to Yemeni authorities for their help in facilitating the release of Ramon de Castro.
The 46-year-old Filipino is now with his employer Aggreko-Yemen, and his departure from Yemen is being arranged, the DFA said.
“[We] are making arrangements for his wife and brother-in-law to proceed to and meet him in Dubai," the department also said.
De Castro, together with his Sri Lankan colleague, was abducted by a local tribe group on April 18, while on their way to Sana’a – Yemen’s capital – for a vacation.
De Castro was based in the province of Ma’arib, where this employer’s power plant is located. Ma’arib is 200 km east of Sana’a.
Aggreko-Yemen, an international power generator rental company, learned about De Castro’s abduction two hours after the incident.
The abductors demanded from Yemen some government services such as jobs, schools, and electricity supply, the DFA said.
During his visit to Yemen last April 30, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario sought the assistance of the Yemeni government for De Castro’s release.
At the time, Al-Sadi Group of Companies, the local agent of Aggreko-Yemen, assured Del Rosario that it is doing everything for the Filipino’s release.
Also, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Qirbi told Del Rosario that Yemeni’s security forces will spare no effort to facilitate the Filipino’s release and ensure his safety.
The DFA said the Yemeni government, some tribal leaders in Ma’arib, and other provincial leaders helped convince the local tribe to release De Castro.
May 4, 2011
MANILA, Philippines - A migrant workers' rights group has called on the Aquino administration to release the P24 million for the airfare of over 1,000 overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia.
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Monterona said the promise of Vice President Jejomar Binay to work on the repatriation of the 1,084 stranded OFWs in Jeddah might only be lip service.
Last April, Binay visited stranded OFWs at the Al-Mina hajj terminal which serves as a temporary shelter to waiting for the formalities of their repatriation.
During the visit, Binay vowed to work for their repatriation and upon his return to Manila.
“Majority already have their travel documents ready. What’s preventing them to be repatriated is that they don’t have airplane tickets,” Monterona said.
He noted most of the stranded OFWs run away from their abusive employers whose work permit or visa had already expired.
To be repatriated, a stranded OFW needs to acquire an exit clearance from their sponsor-employer otherwise they will not be allowed to travel without the required travel document.
May 2, 2011
Citing the improving situation in Bahrain, an overseas Filipino worker advocacy group urged the government to review its ban on the deployment of Filipinos there.
Migrante Middle East said Nepal and Sri Lanka had already lifted their respective deployment bans on workers to Bahrain.
“The lifting of [deployment] ban by the Nepalese and Sri Lankan governments have been made on the basis of the recent peace-and-order situation assessment in Bahrain, which is relatively peaceful now and did not anymore pose a great risks on their nationals to travel in Bahrain as compared to last [month's] situation," Migrante Middle East coordinator John Monterona said in an entry on the group's blog site.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs raised the alert level in Bahrain to "2" last March.
Under Alert Level 2, Filipinos in Bahrain were advised to:
* Remain calm.
* Actively monitor ongoing developments.
* Keep communications lines open with the Embassy and with designated community coordinators.
* Inform the Embassy or Filipino community coordinators of their whereabouts.
* Refrain from going outdoors.
* Stock at least a two-week supply of food and water. Prepare needed medicines, flashlights, candles, mobile phones, and radios.
* Make sure that important documents such as passports and driver's licenses are readily available.
* Be sensitive to local culture, customs and traditions, and religious beliefs in Bahrain. Avoid making comments or actions that may be considered politically sensitive.
But Monterona said it may be prudent for the Philippines to follow the cue of most governments sending workers to Bahrain, which he said appeared to have reassessed the situation there.
“If other labor-sending governments have already lifted their self-imposed travel ban on its working nationals in Bahrain, then it would be prudent on the part of the (Philippine) government to reassess the current alert level 2, downgrade it, and thereby allow our OFWs, returning and new hire, to travel to Bahrain," he said.
Last April 22, Migrante-Middle East and OFWs' groups initiated an online signature campaign based on the request from returning OFWs and new hires, seeking a reassessment of the alert level there.
As of April 24, the online petition had gathered 114 signatures.
“Aside from securing our workers’ safety, the government has the obligation to ensure that there are enough jobs to employ mass of workers but since it could not create decent jobs amid grinding poverty, Filipino workers are forced to look for overseas jobs," Monterona said.
April 29, 2011
MANILA, Philippines - A group of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) yesterday demanded the full lifting of the government’s deployment ban in Bahrain to enable more Filipinos to work there.
John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said other countries have already lowered the alert level previously issued on Bahrain, so the Philippine government must do the same and allow new hires to leave.
“The lifting of the travel ban by the Nepalese and Sri Lankan governments has been made on the basis of the recent peace and order situation assessment in Bahrain, which is relatively peaceful now and does not anymore pose great risk to their nationals... as compared to last month,” Monterona said.
He said the government should send a team to reassess the situation and eventually lift the partial deployment ban in Bahrain.
“If other migrant-sending governments have already lifted their self-imposed travel ban on its working nationals in Bahrain, then it would be prudent on the part of the Philippine government to reassess the current alert level 2, downgrade it, and thereby allow our OFWs, returning and new hire, to travel to Bahrain,” Monterona explained.
The government previously banned the sending of workers to Bahrain due to escalating tensions there, but eventually lowered the alert level and allowed workers to return.
According to the OFWs, a lot of Filipinos are now suffering from underemployment and unemployment and the government could address the problem by lifting the partial deployment ban in Bahrain.
An OFW currently working in Bahrain said the situation there is already back to normal.
Monterona said the government should see and understand the dire economic standing of the returning and newly hired OFWs bound for Bahrain who need a job to earn a living for their struggling families in the Philippines.
The government has already reported a decline in deployment of Filipino workers abroad as a result of the political turmoil in several countries in the Middle East.
Source: By Mayen Jaymalin | www.philstar.com
MANILA, Philippines - Filipino workers were stopped from going to Syria yesterday.
However, Labor Undersecretary Danilo Cruz said the deployment ban only covers newly hired workers, not those returning to their previous employment.
“Since it’s just an alert level 2, returning workers are still allowed to leave the country,” he said.
Cruz said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has already ceased from processing the deployment of workers to Syria.
“With the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) already raising the crisis alert to level 2, the POEA immediately issued the advisory restricting deployment of workers to Syria,” he said.
Cruz said POEA is now checking recruitment agencies that have deployed a large number of workers so they could help locate Filipinos working in Syria.
“We need the help of the agencies to locate the Filipinos, as well as in shouldering the cost of repatriation in case the need for it arises,” he said.
Cruz expressed confidence that the government would be able to work out a plan for their immediate repatriation.
However, as of yesterday the POEA has not received any request from Filipinos in Syria for repatriation, he added.
Based on government records, over 800 out of the estimated 17,000 Filipinos in Syria are members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
A majority of Filipino workers in Syria are undocumented.
The DFA raised yesterday the crisis alert level in Syria to alert level 2, which entails restriction of movement in Syria, avoiding large crowds and areas of protest, and encouraging Filipinos to voluntarily relocate or leave at their own cost if they have no pressing need to remain.
Non-essential and non-urgent travel is discouraged, including travel for tourism purposes.
Only returning workers will be allowed to fly to Syria.
The Philippine embassy has been closely monitoring developments in the country.
It has briefed the Filipino community on the embassy’s contingency plans.
Ambassador to Damascus Wilfredo Cuyugan said they have asked Filipinos in Syria to actively monitor developments.
“Keep their communication lines open with the embassy and their community coordinators, and inform them of their whereabouts, as well as restrict their movements only to those which are necessary,” he said.
“We also asked them to stock up on basic necessities such as food, water, and prescribed medicine, as well as have flashlights, mobile phones and radios available and in good condition. They should also have important documents such as passports and money handy.”
Around 17,000 Filipinos are in Syria.
The embassy has updated contingency plans for community members.
These plans can be readily activated during times of crisis.
Source: By Mayen Maylin | www.philstar.com
April 28, 2011
A Filipino expatriate couple in Saudi Arabia is appealing to the public for help for their 12-year-old son who is suffering from leukemia.
According to a report of Arab News, John Andrew Jacinto, born in Riyadh, was diagnosed with leukemia in March 2010 and needs a bone marrow transplant that will cost SR900,000 (P10.364 million).
“It is heartbreaking to see our son patiently waiting, praying and wishing that God sends him good Samaritans to come to his rescue," said his mother Elenita, a Filipino nurse at the Prince Sultan Cardiac Center in Riyadh.
The report said more than SR500,000 (P5.758 million) had been spent on John’s treatment and his insurance coverage ended last month.
She said John has been absent from school due to his illness.
Elenita, who has four other children, said a charity group shouldered the cost of her son's treatment from March to May this year.
“Our worry now is what happens when that is over? We have to raise money to keep his chemotherapy going uninterrupted to prevent him from relapsing," Elenita said.
“If he relapses, the chances of remission will be minimal according to his doctors. We are stretched to the limit and I am pleading to those compassionate and generous people to help our son beat this disease," she added.
The Arab News report said the prognosis for John is good, with a more than 80-percent chance of survival as he is young. His younger sister is a full-match donor.
His parents hope that the transplant can be done at the King Fahd National Guard Hospital where he is currently being treated.
A Filipino restaurant supervisor and two others linked to the food poisoning deaths of two children in 2009 received an extended bail from a United Arab Emirates (UAE) court as they maintained their innocence.
The prosecutors had charged the 33-year-old Filipino along with a 46-year-old Iraqi woman doctor and a 25-year-old Nepalese cook with negligence leading to the deaths of two children: Nathan D'Souza, 5, and his sister Chelsea, 7.
On Tuesday, the three accused persons denied before the Dubai Appeals Court that they had anything to do with the deaths of the children, the news site Khaleej Times reported on Wednesday.
Presiding Judge Mahmoud Fahmi Sultan extended the bail of the three defendants, who were earlier fined Dh10,000 (P117,543) each for negligence and mistakes believed to have caused the deaths.
The Misdemeanors Court had also ordered them to jointly pay blood money to the victims' parents.
The doctor's advocate, Mohammad Rashid Al Suwaidi, and lawyer Hussain Al Bannai, who is defending the cook and the supervisor, appealed the judgment and are seeking to acquit them.
According to the arraignment sheet, the cook and the supervisor were charged with flouting Dubai Municipality's public health requirements for hygienic storage of food.
The doctor was charged with negligence in providing medical care to the children when they were admitted to the hospital after eating a meal from the restaurant.
However, Al Suwaidi earlier argued that there was a possibility of foul play in the deaths.
"The forensic doctor who carried out the autopsy confirmed that there was Lidocaine toxicity in the children's bodies. Lidocaine is a form of anaesthetic. The medical reports from the two hospitals where the children were admitted confirmed that they were not given Lidocaine," Al Suwaidi said.
The judge adjourned the case until May 10.
At least 110 Filipinos are living in the conflict-affected area in troubled Syria, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.
But DFA spokesman Eduardo Malaya said there has been no report of any of Filipinos being hurt there so far because they are not being targeted by the warring parties.
“Yung sentro ng kaguluhan ay nasa Daraa, ito ay southern part ng Syria ... Hindi naman karamihan ang mga Filipino doon mismo sa Daraa, ang nasa ating talaan mga 110," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.
He also maintained the government has enough funds to repatriate them if the need arises, noting the DFA’s Assistance to Nationals (ATN) fund has been recently replenished.
The DFA estimated some 17,000 Filipinos are living in Syria.
“Walang Pilipinong nasugatan, nasawi at hindi naman tina-target ang mga Pilipino (So far there has been no report of any Filipino being killed or injured. They are not being targeted)," he said.
Last Tuesday, the DFA raised the crisis alert level in Syria to “2" amid the continued political tension there.
With the raised alert level, the DFA discouraged nonessential travel to Syria and has asked Filipinos there to actively monitor developments and keep communication lines open, and restrict their movements.
Also the DFA advised Filipinos there to avoid large crowds and areas of protest, and encouraged them to voluntarily relocate or leave the country at their own cost if there is no pressing need for them to stay.
Also, the DFA asked them to also stockpile on basic necessities such as food, water, and prescribed medicines, as well as mobile phones, flashlights, and radios that are in good condition.
In a separate interview on dwIZ radio, Malaya said most Filipinos in Syria are female household service workers.
He said the Philippine Embassy in Syria continues to coordinate with Filipino community leaders there.
Meanwhile, he said the Philippine embassy in Syria has “fine-tuned and updated" its contingency plans.
“May pondo sa DFA, kare-replenish ang ATN funds. Ang pagkakaalam ko P200 million uli ang ating pondo (We have funds for that in the DFA," he said in the dwIZ interview.
April 27, 2011
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government on Tuesday called on its 17,000 citizens in Syria to leave, in the face of growing violence there.
"The Department (is)... encouraging Filipinos to voluntarily relocate or leave the country at their own cost if they have no pressing need to remain," the Department of Foreign Affairs said on its online site.
Those who cannot leave or prefer to stay should remain indoors, limit their movements, stock up on food and other provisions and stay in touch with the Philippine embassy in Damascus, it added.
The alert covers all of Syria and not just the cities directly affected by the protests, the department stressed, while adding Manila would start offering them free plane journeys out if the situation deteriorated further.
So far, there have been no reports of any Filipinos being hurt in the violence surrounding the pro-democracy protests in Syria.
More than 13,000 Filipinos fled Libya earlier this year amid the civil war there, while Manila also asked its 1,400 citizens in troubled Yemen to leave.
About 9 million Filipinos work around the world, earning more money in a wide range of skilled and unskilled sectors abroad than they could in their homeland.
Source: Agence France-Presse