The latest news stories from the major news organizations in Cebu and Manila in the Philippines, the US and other countries.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 12, 2010 Major News Stories

DOLE issues pay rules for Eid'l Adha holiday on Nov 16

The Department of Labor and Employment on Thursday night issued pay rules for Tuesday, which President Benigno Aquino III had declared a regular holiday.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz reminded employers in the private sector to follow these rules and core labor standards on Tuesday, which marks Eid'l-Adha.

"President Aquino, by virtue of Proclamation No. 60 he issued last Tuesday, declared Eid'l Adha as a national holiday citing Republic Act (RA) No. 9849," the DOLE said in an article posted Thursday night on its website.

In his proclamation, Aquino noted Eid'l Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice among Muslims, is "one of the two greatest feasts of Islam." (See: Aquino declares November 16 a non-working holiday)

Baldoz said the rules protecting workers during the observance of the nationwide regular holiday on November 16 are as follows:
  1. If the holiday falls on an employee's regular workday:

    • If worked, the employee is entitled to 200 percent of his (or her) basic wage on the first eight hours and, for work in excess of the eight hours, to an additional 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on the said day.
    • If unworked, the employee is entitled to 100 percent of the regular daily rate, provided he was present, or was on leave with pay, on the workday immediately preceding the holiday.

  2. If the day is the employee's rest day:

    • If worked, the employee is entitled, on the first eight hours, to 200 percent of his daily rate plus 30 percent of said rate or a total of 260 percent for the first eight hours.
    • In excess of eight hours, plus 30 percent of his hourly rate on said day.
    • If unworked, the employee is entitled to 100 percent of his or her regular daily rate, provided he was present, or was on leave with pay, on the workday immediately preceding the holiday.

  3. In case the day immediately preceding the holiday is a non-work day in the establishment, or is the scheduled rest day of the employee:

    • the employee shall not be deemed on leave of absence on that day, in which case he or she shall be entitled to the holiday pay.
The DOLE said feedback and inquiries may be forwarded to the DOLE Call Center at Hotline 2917 from Globe or TM mobile phones; 908-2917 from landline phones; or text (SMS) at 2910.

Nov. 29 a non-working holiday—Palace

November 29 is a non-working holiday in observance of Bonifacio Day, a Malacanang official said Thursday.  The public holiday actually falls on November 30 but the government's holiday economics policy pushes its observance as a non-working day to the nearest Monday, said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte.

Philippine revolution leader and Katipunan founder Andres Bonifacio was born on Nov. 30, 1863.

The announcement was made by Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a text message to reporters. 

The holiday was also announced on the government's Twitter account.

Bonifacio Day actually falls on November 30.

However, Proclamation 1841, issued in July 2009, moves the celebration of the said holiday to the nearest Monday. 

A regular holiday means it is a "non-working" day. Special holidays, such as the Eid'l Adha, or the Islam feast of sacrifice, on November 16 this year, can also be declared as non-working days. 

Andres Bonifacio

Bonifacio Day is commemorated for Philippine hero Andres Bonifacio (November 30, 1863–May 10, 1897), a Filipino nationalist and revolutionary. 

Bonifacio was the son of Santiago Bonifacio and Catalina de Castro. His name, Andres, comes from Saint Andrew, whose feast day falls on November 30. 

Bonifacio was a founder and later the supreme leader of the Katipunan movement.

The Katipunan sought the independence of the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule and started the Philippine Revolution.

Cry of Pugad Lawin

Bonifacio was one of the leaders of the "Cry of Pugad Lawin" (Unang Sigaw sa Pugad Lawin) also known as the "Cry of Balintawak" (Unang Sigaw sa Balintawak).

The Cry of Pugad Lawin was a historical event in August 1896 involving Katipuneros or Filipinos belonging to the Katipunan, a secret Philippine revolutionary society founded by anti-Spanish Filipinos in Manila in 1892.

The official revolutionary name of the Katipunan is "Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan." (In English: High and Honorable Society of the Children of the Nation, and in Spanish: Suprema y Venerable Asociación de los Hijos del Pueblo). The society is also popularly known by its acronym, K.K.K..

During the Cry of Pugad Lawin, on August 23, 1896,Bonifacio, founder and leader of the Katipunan, and his comrades tore their cédulas in the hills of Balintawak (now Balintawak, Quezon City). 

The Cry of Pugad Lawin is generally regarded as the beginning of the Philippine Revolution from 1896 to 1898.

Although there have been other revolutions in the past, this particular revolution, also called the "Tagalog War" by the Spanish, eventually resulted in the secession of the Philippines from Spain.

The Tagalog War was an armed military conflict between the Filipinos and the Spanish colonial authorities. 

Major turning point in history

November 30 is sometimes confused as National Heroes' Day. However, this holiday is celebrated every last Sunday of August by virtue of Republic Act No. 3827.

According to the website of the National Historical Institute (NHI), August was chosen as the month to honor our nation's founders because the Cry of Pugad Lawin in August 1896 is believed to be a major turning-point in the country's fight for independence against Spain.

The Philippines was under Spanish rule from 1521 to 1898. August 1896 became a turning point in Philippine history because the Katipunan, a secret society, was discovered that month; the exact day is popularly believed to be August 19.

The exact day of the Cry of Pugad Lawin is being debated. Pio Valenzuela, a close associate of Bonifacio said in 1948 that it happened in Pugad Lawin on August 23, 1896.
A Spanish guardia civil, Lt. Olegario Diaz, said the "Cry" took place in Balintawak on August 25, 1896.

Historian Gregorio Zaide said in his books in 1954 that the "Cry" happened in Balintawak on August 26, 1896.

Other historians said the event took place in Tandang Sora's barn in Gulod, Barangay Banlat, Quezon City. "Tandang Sora" is Melchora Aquino (January 6, 1812, to March 2, 1919), a revolutionary who owned a small store in Balintawak.

'Double-deat' meat a health hazard: NMIS

MANILA, Philippines – The proliferation of "bocha," or meat from animals that died of illness before being slaughtered, threaten public health, an expert warned on Thursday. 

National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) executive director Jane Bacayo said sick animals should not be slaughtered and their meat should not be sold in public markets. 

"Hindi na dapat slaughter ito kasi may sakit ito.  Itong mga may sakit na hayop, usually puno sila ng mga antibiotic treatment na kung saan, ang karne nito, ay aside from sakit na makukuha ng tao, ay magkakaroon tayo ng resistance doon sa mga antibiotics," he explained.

For the remaining 5,000 beneficiaries: Elderly to receive cash aid before year ends

The more than 5,000 senior citizens whose applications for the P4,000 cash assistance were earlier rejected by the city government may already receive their shares before the year ends.

Ex-DSWD head to cash transfer critics: Study program before opposing it

Former Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Esperanza Cabral urged critics of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to know its ins and outs before opposing it.

As DOLE assumes jurisdiction: VECO union scraps strike

The Visayan Electric Company-Employees Union-Associated Labor Unions-Trade Congress of the Philippines called-off their planned strike after the secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment assumed jurisdiction over the dispute between the union and the management of the power distribution company.

DOLE secretary Rosalinda Baldoz in her intervention in the labor dispute has certified to the National Labor Relations Commission for compulsory arbitration.

NLRC will not sit as a judicial court, but as an administrative body charged with the duty to implement the secretary's order.

The NLRC's function in this case is only to formulate terms and conditions of the collective bargaining agreement of the union and the management.

Casmero Mahilum, VECO-EU-ALU-TUCP president said that the assumption order was signed by DOLE Secretray Baldoz on November 10, the day that President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who was in Cebu at that time learned about the labor dispute.

The President referred the matter to DOLE, when it was brought up to him.

Mahilum said that although the order was signed on November 10, which is also the last day of the seven-day cooling off period, it was only given by National Conciliation Mediation Board regional director Edmund Mirasol yesterday during their mediation.

As an effect of the assumption order, the VECO management is left with no choice but to give-in to the demand of the union, which is to reinstate Mahilum, who was terminated from service last October 28 due to lack of trust and confidence.

But Mahilum clarified, he was reinstated only in the payroll. This means he will be receiving his salary from VECO without him actually working.

His status will remain as such until the labor dispute is resolved.

The VECO management on the other hand, happily accepted the order of the DOLE Secretary.

VECO spokersperson Ethel Natera, in a press statement, said that the compulsory arbitration with payroll reinstatement was management's final offer to the union.

Mahilum nevertheless said the will no longer go on its planned strike as they knew the consequence if they will still pursue it.

VECEU-ALU-TUCP filed notice of strike for union-busting with various violations allegedly committed by the management, which includes harassment, suspension of 21 members without following the grievance procedure, and labor-only contracting.

VECO, being the second largest power distributor in the country, is considered an industry indispensable to the national interest.

In its website, the Tantjutco Law Office, it said that the compelling consideration of the Secretary's assumption of jurisdiction is the fact that a prolonged strike or lockout is inimical to the national economy and thus, the need to implement some measures to suppress any act which will hinder the company's essential productions is indispensable for the promotion of the common good.

Commercial complex proposed in Ermita

Investors from Hong Kong and their local partner have approached the Cebu City government expressing interest to develop Warwicks Barracks and Freedom Park in Barangay Ermita into a car park building with a commercial and shopping area.

20 houses gutted down by fire in Mandaue City

Twenty houses were totally burned while five others were partially damaged when a second alarm fire hit Sitio Bildohan in Barangay Looc, Mandaue city at 8:28 a.m. yesterday.

The incident created chaos in the nearby Mandaue City Jail, which immediately took precautions to prevent the blaze from spreading to the facility. 

A jailguard detailed at the roof deck of the city jail was the one who first noticed the fire and immediately told his companions to secure all the inmates.

The place hit by fire is also adjacent to the Land Transportation Office-7.

City jail Warden Jessie Calumpang, upon learning of the incident, immediately put to work his newly created fire brigade composed of some jail personnel and trusted inmates, who helped control the fire by pouring water on the houses located near the jail's firewall.

City fire marshal Rogelio Bongabong said they received the fire alarm at 8:28 a.m. and was controlled 20 minutes after.

Bongabong said that when they arrived at the fire scene, several houses were already gutted by the blaze as they found it hard to penetrate the area, which is located in the interior portion of the barangay. He added some residents were also blocking the road while trying to salvage their belongings from being razed.

Fedelita Patalinghug, one of the residents, said she heard a loud explosion and saw the fire broke out from the second floor of the house of Alfredo Apaap.

Fire investigators believe that an electrical short circuit, caused by an overheated ceiling fan, triggered the blaze.

The fire department pegged the damage at P490,000.

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes yesterday said the place hit by fire is a government owned lot. For humanitarian reasons, he said he will allow the affected families to reconstruct their houses in the area and live there until such time that the lot will be used by the government.

The 1,000-square meter lot is the city's share from the reclamation area which will be used as the future office of the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

"Pwede sila makabalik for the time being for humanitarian reason apan kinahanglan hapsay na, kinahanglan naa na gyu'y dalan," Cortes said.

According to him, the city government will provide meals three times per day good for three days to the fire victims, who will also receive housing materials as assistance from the City Hall.

Del Mar seeks House recognition for Vidal

Cebu City North District Rep. Rachel Marguerite del Mar has filed a resolution before the House of Representatives seeking to recognize retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.

PRO-7 now handling Chief Insp. Ylanan's case

Cebu City Police office director Senior Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe said he no longer has authority over the case of Investigation and Detective Management Branch chief George Ylanan as the Police Regional Office-7 is now handling the investigation.

This after Ylanan was accused of shooting a civilian two weeks ago but Ylanan denied the allegations saying he was sleeping when the incident happened.

It was a bystander who said Ylanan and another policeman on a motorcycle shot Antonio Marabiles, 30, while he was waiting for a jeepney along Katipunan St., Barangay Labangon, Cebu City.   The witness also said Ylanan appeared to be drunk.

The victim was shot in the head, left side of his body and right arm.

Ylanan vowed to go to the crime lab for a paraffin test to clear his name, he also said he could not be drunk since he just underwent a major operation five months ago and he is not allowed to drink.

Based on the Rules and Procedures of the PNP, police personnel accused of a crime and under investigation should be automatically relieved from his or her position.

But Buenafe said he does not have the right to relieve Ylanan since the Regional Internal Affairs office of PRO-7 is handling the investigation and not the CCPO.

Buenafe said that the victim already submitted himself for an interview in the office of PRO-7 director Ager Ontog Jr.

He added that he already sent a report to Ontog based also on the investigation conducted by the Punta Princesa Police Station and he has not yet received any feedback.

LTO to move back to Talisay City Hall

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) has directed the Land Transportation Office to move back its extension office in Talisay City to the city hall.

Court seizes car used by Joy Ouano

The court's sheriff seized Wednesday a car from Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) president and barangay Opao captain Joy Ouano on the strength of a writ of replevin issued by the Clerk of Court IV of the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City.

The white Kia Sportage was in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Simon Eduardo Ho Lim Jr. but it was Ouano, who used it.

The writ was issued after East West Banking Corporation asked the court to seize the car.

On August 16 Judge Generosa Labra of the RTC branch 23 granted the issuance of the writ.

As alleged, banks no longer extend credit to Ouano as a result of her pending estafa cases.

This is the reason why the car was in Mr. and Mrs. Lim's names.

Lim is Ouano's brother-in-law who is married to Babita Ouano, Joy's sister.

Ouano denied she owned the car. She said it belongs to a private person and there was no reason why she should talk about it.

Ouano claimed some people might have planned this to ruin her political life.

"This is a personal matter, which has nothing to do with me because it is not mine and it belongs to a very private person," Ouano said.

'APO tirades desperate, show lack of civility' - De Lima

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday branded as desperate and uncivil negative statements issued against her by members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity in connection with the September 23 post-Bar exams blast where at least 3 APO fratmen are tagged as suspects.

APO asks De Lima: Inhibit from Bar blast case

MANILA, Philippines - The legal team of Alpha Phi Omega (APO) on Thursday asked Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima to inhibit from the September 26 Bar exams blast case that left 50 people injured.

PH ready to discuss botched hostage rescue with China

Malacañang expects China to bring up the August 23 hostage situation if the Philippine side manages to arrange a bilateral meeting between President Benigno Aquino and Chinese leaders on the sidelines of the Apec Summit in Yokohama.

Proponent sees RH bill passed to law soon

by By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - A leading proponent of reproductive health legislation in the country sees the enactment of the National Reproductive Health Law before the end of the first year of the 15th Congress next year.

Raped nurse in Maguindanao can now recall events

MANILA, Philippines - Volunteer nurse "Florence" can now partially remember what transpired before she was snatched and raped at the back of the South Upi Municipal Hospital last September 25.

MNLF leaders hold 1st people's assembly

by By Archad Rangan, ABS-CBN Maguindanao
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Hundreds of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members flocked to Camp Ibrahim Sema in Brgy. Dalican, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao for their first ever people's assembly.

More Marines arrive in Cotabato to prevent kidnappings

COTABATO CITY - More Philippines Marines from Basilan have arrived in Cotabato City to address security issues, especially after the number of kidnapping incidents went up recently.

Marines find pirates in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Marine troops discovered pirates in waters just off Maguindanao province Thursday, the military said. 

The Marine Battalion Landing Team 7 (MBLT-7) of the 1st Marine Brigade onboard a naval ship encountered the pirates, who were on board 5 motorized pump boats, near Bongo Island in Parang town.

Col. Dorotheo Jose Jalandoni, MBLT-7 commander, said the pirates could have mistaken their naval ship, LST 501, for a cargo vessel. 

No firefight occurred. 

"Hindi naman nagkaputukan. Nakita kasi sa radar namin. Lalapit sana sila. They were at 600 yards from our ship" Jalandoni said.

The incident delayed the Marines' arrival at Polloc Port in Parang by an hour, according to the military.

The Marine contingent, composed of 300 soldiers, eventually arrived at the port. They were welcomed by Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. and officials from the Army and the Philippine National Police.

The Marines were deployed to the city to boost security measures, following a request made by the Cotabato business community amid concerns on kidnapping threats.

Commodore Philip Cacayan, Eastern Mindanao Naval Forces commander, said that their deployment has nothing to do with terrorism threats. 

"We are very flattered na kung saan man kami pupunta, sumununod naman sa orders ang Philippine Marines. We are here to help government agencies," he said.

Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr., meanwhile, thanked the military for sending the troops. 

"Maraming salamat at tumugon kayo sa panawagan namin. Maraming salamat kay Pangulong Noynoy Aquino. Taos-pusong pasasalamat ang nais naming ibigay sa inyo," Guiani said.

Marine soldiers will be visible in the different areas of Cotabato City. They will be temporarily stationed at Pedro Colina Hill, an area where previous Marine landing teams were based in the late 1990s.

Hundreds of soldiers from the Marine Landing Team-1 will also be arriving in the next few weeks in Cotabato City to reinforce military presence in the region.

They will be deployed to Lebak, Kalamansig, and Datu Blash Sinsuat in Maguindanao.

Aquino: Philippine economy ready for take off

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino has left for the 18th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting with the promise of bringing back home more investment pledges.

Aquino spending P16.34-M for Japan trip

by By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III and his entire 51-man delegation will spend an estimated P16.34 million for his entire five-day trip to Japan for the 18th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said Thursday.

Clinton: World too unequal, unstable to lift poor nations out of poverty

Inequality in global economics and instability in world politics are making it difficult for countries like the Philippines to operate on a level equal to more progressive nations.

Whistleblower in allegedly anomalous telecoms deal testifies

(UPDATE) A key witness in the $329-million telecommunications contract by the government with a Chinese firm testified Thursday that then former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri approved the agreement in exchange for "P200 million."

Abalos 'main proponent' of ZTE-NBN deal, witness tells court

Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos threw his weight around during the negotiations for the $329 national broadband network deal with Chinese firm ZTE Corp. to have his $130 'commission' protected, said Rodolfo Noel Lozada, a witness in the graft case against him, during a hearing Thursday. Lozada also described Abalos as the "main proponent" of the deal.

Gov't: No backroom deals in partnership conference

by By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is seeking to attract more foreign and domestic private capital and expertise in various investment opportunities in the Philippines through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) conference scheduled this month.

'Aquino admin can surpass Arroyo's infrastructure achievement'

MANILA, Philippines - Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima has boldly predicted that the Aquino administration will surpass "by a mile" the achievements of the Arroyo administration in terms of infrastructure development.

No evidence yet vs De Castro in housing mess—Binay

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay said there is no proof yet that could be pinned against former Vice President Noli de Castro over the housing loan mess involving state-run Pag-IBIG Fund and property developer Globe Asiatique.

Military gets backhoes, heavy equipment from China

MANILA, Philippines - The Chinese government on Thursday turned over  about P172 million worth of heavy equipment to the Philippine military to be used for infrastructure projects in the countryside.

'Outsourcing now a fact of life'— labor chief

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Wednesday that "outsourcing is already with us," defending her decision to allow Philippine Airlines (PAL) to spin off three non-core services that would result in the layoff of 2,600 workers.

Citing a global trend, Baldoz pointed out at a public hearing called by the House committee on labor and employment on Wednesday that outsourcing has become an accepted business practice even in the United States.

Baldoz, however, said her October 29 decision giving PAL the go-signal to proceed with its plan to spin off in-flight catering, airport services and call-center reservations had no prior clearance from President Benigno Aquino.

PAL's plan to outsource these services is being protested by the PAL Employees Association (Palea), which has filed a notice of strike.

Baldoz appeared at the House of Representatives upon the invitation of Northern Samar Representative Emil Ong, chairman of the committee tasked with checking whether PAL has been lawfully allowed to engage in contractualization and outsourcing because of losses it incurred in 2008 and 2009.

Ong also invited representatives of both labor and management groups—Partido ng Mangagawa, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Philippine Trade Alliance and Federation of Philippine Industries, among others.

At the hearing, Baldoz was grilled by Ong and Representatives Emmeline Aglipay of the Democratic Independent Workers Association party-list group, Philip Pichay of Surigao del Sur, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, JV Ejercito of San Juan and Bingbong Crisologo of Quezon City.

"We're talking here about outsourcing. May I ask the labor secretary if it is the policy of the administration now to promote outsourcing?" said Evardone.

Baldoz cited business process outsourcing (BPO) as an example of an outsourced activity even from the United States.

She noted that trade unions in the United States were also opposed to outsourcing. "Nonetheless, employers who look at outsourcing as one way of reducing cost to make them competitive, outsource (jobs) to countries like us," she said.

As a result, jobs in the United States have been transferred to countries like the Philippines, Baldoz said. The BPO industry, including call centers, in the Philippines has generated tens of thousands of jobs.

According to Baldoz, the Labor Code allows contracting out jobs as long as it is done by an independent contractor.

She said a labor department previously signed an order providing guidelines on how to do it.

Asked if, given a chance, she would recommend her policy of promoting outsourcing in the country to Aquino, Baldoz said: "For as long as it is done in accordance with the law and unless the law is changed—it is still the (same) Constitution and the Labor Code—then that outsourcing should be recognized in the country."

Asked pointblank if she would recommend this new policy to the President, Baldoz retorted: "Well, if he will ask me, that will be the same answer that I will give him."

Told that she was appointed by Aquino to "protect the interest of labor," Baldoz said: "In this case, we talk of outsourcing always in relation to the different nature of employment—regular, contractual."

She said even regular employees could be retrenched for justifiable causes. "(T)here could be closure, and for as long as the due process requirement of the Labor Code are satisfied and benefits the workers, again, based on law are provided, then that is also allowed," she said.

During a three-hour hearing, Baldoz and PAL management defended the ruling. Palea said 70 percent of its members would lose their jobs because of the Baldoz ruling.

Bataan Representative Herminia Roman reminded Baldoz that the justification for the contractualization and outsourcing at PAL should be "shown by clear and convincing evidence" and that "these losses must also be substantial in nature."

PAL intends to spin off the three non-core services to survive industry competition and stay afloat. It said it lost P13 billion in the past two years.

Explaining her October 29 decision, Baldoz said she was merely affirming the previous order of then acting Labor Secretary Romeo Lagman denying the motion for reconsideration of the ground crew union at the national flag carrier.

She based her decision on the provisions of the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between Palea and PAL "on the exercise of management prerogative and on certain limitations that have been placed by agreement of the parties."

She was referring to Article 24 of the CBA. "The entire decision has been focused on that,'' she said.

Palea president Gerry Rivera, who was present at the hearing, disagreed, pointing out that the CBA only contemplated "temporary" contracting out jobs in case of company restructuring or spin off and joint venture.

Rivera pointed to Section 3 of Article 24 which, he said, was explicit in saying that contracting out regular positions should be temporary.

Still, Baldoz insisted that the whole Article 24 "to my interpretation is more of a permanent measure being done by the company."

She said the only condition required of PAL was to ensure that the mass layoff of PAL employees "has to be done with lawful, just, reasonable and humane manner."

OFW remains returned to PH 10 months after Saudi death

It took nearly 10 months for Philippine government officials to bring home the body of a Filipina overseas worker who allegedly committed suicide in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, because of "paper work."

Recruiter: OFWs will end up paying for 'no cost' insurance premium

Overseas Filipino workers bound for Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Brunei, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore will eventually shoulder the compulsory insurance premium despite government warnings against passing on the cost to OFWs.
"OFWs will eventually pay for the insurance just as they, in reality, pay for the placement costs ranging P50-150,000 – including plane tickets, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) fees, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Membership (OWWA) fee, visas, foreign brokers and local placement costs, among others," recruitment specialist and former OFW Lito Soriano said. 

Soriano claimed that for over three decades, the practice is that OFWs in Asian countries shoulder all the expenses for their employment abroad, even if the Labor Department and related government agencies say otherwise. 

"So, the US$72-100 per annum for the compulsory insurance mandated by the new Migrant Workers Act RA 10022, is just another cost on the shoulders of the OFW," he added.

He said, the Philippine Government must realize that policies regarding "zero" placement fees for various destinations abroad are not followed in Asian countries for the simple reason that 95 percent of employers in these countries, as well as their local recruitment brokers, are not regulated.

The policies the Philippine government has crafted would not be honored in most of these countries, he added. 

Moreover, he said, the government has not initiated bilateral OFW protection agreements to require foreign employers in Asian countries to pay for the recruitment costs including the exorbitant foreign brokers fees that are usually the major component of the total placement cost.

Soriano lamented most OFWs and the general public are not aware of this reality in the recruitment process. 

Compulsory insurance

The insurance premium must correspond to the length of the employment contract and must be paid – "at no cost to the worker" – prior to the release of their POEA overseas employment certificate. [See: Section 23 of RA 10022

With most OFWs on two year contracts, the true upfront cost is between P6,500 to P8,800, Soriano said.

The POEA said insurance coverage requires employers or recruiters to secure a two-year policy coverage for OFWs amounting to a fixed rate of US$144, on top of the premiums. (See: DOLE warns recruiters vs passing on insurance costs to OFWs)

The policy includes benefits of $15,000 in case of accidental death; $10,000 in case of natural death; and $7,500 in case of permanent disablement, including repatriation costs, subsistence allowance benefit, money claims, compassionate visit, medical evacuation and medical repatriation. 

A certificate of cover provided by an insurance company that is licensed and certified by the Insurance Commission is now required before the issuance of overseas employment certificate or exit clearance of agency-hired overseas workers.

A recent advisory from POEA said the accredited insurance providers are Paramount Life and GeneralInsurance Corp., Philippine Charter Insurance Corp., and United Coconut Planters' Life Assurance Corp.

On the other hand, Soriano added that, "already the coverage is going to be extended in new House Bill 3308 seeking to insure all OFWs as they renew their contracts."

Soriano wondered who is going to pay as OFWs who renew their contracts don't go through recruitment agencies, but have to use POEA as their agency. 

"So will the taxpayer pay the bill or will the government pass it on to OFWs?" he said. 

The "no cost to OFW insurance premium" is not realistic, he stressed, adding that even under the POEA-brokered Employment Permit System (EPS) for South Korea, the Filipino worker had to pay dearly.

Citing experiences in the EPS, Soriano said OFWs under the program paid all the costs, including their OWWA membership, plane tickets to Korea, visa fees at the Korean Embassy, POEA fees, medical examinations and training expenses. 

"The POEA is the exclusive recruitment agency under the EPS program, yet the OFW has to shoulder everything."

According to him, a Filipino worker deployed under the program has to pay P20,000 plus, with the additional costs of language tuition, review and the actual KLT (Korean Language Test) in order to qualify for EPS. And when they are on-site, they have to take out "Return and Casualty insurances" and pay for it through salary deductions at 8.3 percent monthly! 

Canceled contracts

Meanwhile, Hong Kong residents have reportedly canceled contracts for Filipino domestic workers, after the Philippine government's implementation of a mandatory insurance coverage for this type of workers. 

Employers, recruiters and workers have scored the new policy, which took effect last Monday, describing it as as unfair and redundant because existing labor laws in Hong Kong already require employers to secure insurance policies for foreign domestic workers. [See story: Mandatory insurance imperils HK hiring of Pinoy helpers]

Reports by Hong Kong-based news sites The Standard and the South China Morning Post said a local organization claimed that over 100 residents have suspended hiring Filipino helpers due to the mandatory insurance.

630 Filipino 'drug mules' in prisons overseas

Dumarami ang mga Pinoy na nakukulong dahil sa pagiging drug courier o tagapaghatid ng droga sa ibang bansa. Sa tala ng PDEA, 630 Pinoy ang nakakulong sa buong mundo dahil sa pagpuslit ng droga, 250 ang nakakulong sa China at 75 sa kanila ay nasa death row. Kanina, nahuli ang 2 suspek sa pagpupuslit ng droga na nagpapanggap pang heneral ng Interpol.

$1: 43.870

$1: 43.870 (P43.40)

Euro 1: 59.7389

G20 leaders kick off stormy summit

SEOUL—The world's 20 biggest rich and emerging powers were locked late Thursday in anguished talks on fixing distortions that threaten global growth, as their leaders kicked off a fractious summit.

Pirates seize Panama-flagged tanker with 31 crew

BRUSSELS—Pirates hijacked a Panamanian-flagged chemical tanker carrying 31 crew on Thursday in waters closer to India than to Somalia, the European Union's anti-piracy mission said.

China set for more shock-and-awe at Asian Games

by Reuters
GUANGZHOU, China - Two years after dazzling the world at the Beijing Olympic Games, China gets another chance to show off its economic and sporting might when the 16th Asian Games open in the southern city of Guangzhou on Friday.

Roach sees quick victory for Pacquiao in Texas on Nov 13

Don't blink when Manny Pacquiao tangles with Antonio Margarito on November 13.

Pacquiao says he remains a hungry fighter

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao maintained that he remains motivated and determined to win against Mexican brawler Antonio Margarito amid reports that he has lost focus while training for Sunday's bout.

Margarito wants to end Pacquiao's reign

MANILA, Philippines – Mexico's "Tijuana Tornado" Antonio Margarito is convinced that he can halt the 5-year winning streak of Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao in their fight on Saturday in Texas (Sunday in Manila).

Margarito mocks Pacquiao trainer Roach in video

by Reuters
ARLINGTON, Texas - Antonio Margarito's trainer Robert Garcia has apologized for a video in which two of his fighters appear to mock the Parkinson's disease suffered by Manny Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach.

3 solons confirm plan to watch Pacquiao fight

MANILA, Philippines - At least 3 lawmakers have confirmed their attendance in the November 13 match of their colleague, Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao. 

Antipolo Rep. Robbie Puno and Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez confirmed they will watch the fight upon Pacquiao's personal invitation.

Alvarez is already in the United States visiting relatives. Puno will accompany his wife, broadcaster Chiqui Roa, who is covering the bout.

Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta party-list Rep. Mark Sambar earlier confirmed he is leaving Thursday to watch the fight.

Guessing game on for solons watching Pacquiao bout

Just who among the lawmakers at the House of Representatives are flying to the United States to watch the fight of Saranggani Congressman Manny Pacquiao?

Reporters covering the House have been getting information from various sources, and the leadership of the chamber has yet to verify them.

In a text message, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said, "As of now, 14 [congressmen] have been issued TAs [travel authorities] to the US."

They are: Representatives Peter Unabia (Misamis Oriental) from November 9 to 20, Patricio Antonio (Agbiag! Timpuyog Ilokano) from November 9 to 20, Cesar Jalosjos (Zamboanga del Norte) from November 11 to 15, Dakila Carlo Cua (Quirino) from November 10 to 22, Mark Villar (Las Piñas) from November 11 to 15, Gina de Venecia (Pangasinan) from November 8 to 14, Amado Bagatsing (Manila) from November 10 to 20, Rodel Batocabe (Ako Bicol party-list) from November 9 to 16, Alfredo Garbin, Jr. (Ako Bicol partylist) from November 11 to 19, Joel Duavit (Rizal) from November 2 to 15, Roberto Puno (Antipolo) from November 10 to 17, Albee Benitez (Negros Occidental) from November 8 to 17, Renato Unico, Jr. (Camarines Norte) from November 8 to 19, and Czarina Umali (Nueva Ecija) from November 12 to 22.

"Some possibly will simply go on their own," he added.

In an interview last week, Belmonte said at least 50 congressmen sought travel authorities, although he could not confirm whether all of them were US-bound.

A separate Philippine Daily Inquirer report said that 54 congressmen would watch based on a list provided by the camp of Pacquiao in the US.

Several lawmakers such as Palawan Representative Antonio Alvarez left in late October during recess, but stayed in the US for the fight.

Alvarez, in a phone interview, confirmed he was in San Francisco and would fly to Dallas for the Pacquiao bout.

Antipolo Representative Robbie Puno said he accompanied his wife, newscaster Chiqui Roa-Puno, who would cover the bout.

Representative Mark Sambar of the PBA partylist also confirmed that he would watch the fight.

Pacquiao will pay for the tickets of lawmakers who would watch his fight against Mexican Antonio Margarito for the super welterweight title at the Cowboy Dallas Stadium on November 13 (November 14 in Manila).

Congress resumed session from a month-long break last November 8. Its first agenda was the proposed P1.645-trillion budget for 2011, which was approved on third and final reading.

Belmonte said the congressmen who would watch the bout would miss the session on November 15, if they returned immediately to the country.

November 16 was declared a special non-working holiday.

Melinda de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), said the public should be informed who among the congressmen were going.

"I don't think Congress is in recess, it's a working day for them so where the taxpayers' money is going is a matter of public concern," she said in a phone interview.

"Even if they say that they're spending their personal money, their salaries are paid for by the people, and it's also a reflection of Congress as a body," she added.

De Jesus also said that Pacquiao should consider giving up his boxing career now that he has been elected a lawmaker.

"The basic question is why elect a person who can't serve full time. I am supportive of all his efforts for this bout, but if he can't give up his career, then maybe he should reconsider," she said.

Spurs extend mastery of ailing Clippers (AP)

When Richard Jefferson opted out of a lucrative contract this summer, he signed a new deal paying him more like a sidekick than a star. Compared to last year, the Spurs are getting a bargain. Jefferson scored 22 points -- his third 20-point night in the last four games -- and the San Antonio Spurs won their fifth straight with a 107-95 win over the banged-up Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

Durant, Westbrook help Thunder hang on (AP)

Thabo Sefolosha stood on the sideline, with just 1 second to make a play that would keep the charging Philadelphia 76ers at bay. With a crosscourt lob to Russell Westbrook for a banked-in layup, the Oklahoma City Thunder's lead was safe until Kevin Durant could provide the finishing touches on a 109-103 victory on Wednesday night.

Wizards' Wall gets first triple-double (AP)

With Magic Johnson watching, Wizards rookie John Wall put on some showtime of his own. He got his first professional triple-double with 19 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds to lead the Washington Wizards to a 98-91 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. Johnson's 138 triple-doubles were second only to Oscar Robertson in NBA history.

Lee's 28 in MSG return help Warriors win (AP)

Golden State Warriors ' Stephen Curry , top, passes the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks , Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, in New York. The Warriors won the game 122-117.

David Lee scored a season-high 28 points in his return to New York, Dorell Wright made two huge baskets in the final two minutes, and the Golden State Warriors improved their best start in 16 years to 6-2 by beating the Knicks 122-117 on Wednesday night.

Cavs' Williams injured in loss to Nets (AP)

New Jersey Nets ' Brook Lopez , left, and Travis Outlaw celebrate after the Nets' 95-87 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, in Cleveland. The win snapped the Nets' five-game losing streak.

Mo Williams stared blankly toward the far wall in Cleveland's locker room, his eyes glazed and distant. The Cavaliers' starting point guard is hurt again. Williams, who missed most of training camp and the season's first three games with a right groin injury, suffered the same injury to his left side on Wednesday night in Cleveland's 95-87 loss to the New Jersey Nets.

Jazz rally again, complete Florida sweep (AP)

Orlando Magic power forward Rashard Lewis (9) takes a shot over Utah Jazz small forward C.J. Miles (34) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010. Utah won 104-94.

The Utah Jazz rallied again, coming back from a double-digit deficit for the second night in a row. Deron Williams scored 30 points, Paul Millsap added 23 points and the Jazz beat the Orlando Magic 104-94 Wednesday night. A night after a 22-point comeback victory in overtime at Miami, the Jazz went down 18 points in the third quarter but came back to stun Orlando.

Bucks hand Hawks third straight loss (AP)

Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith sits on the bench in the second half against the Milwaukee Bucks during an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, in Atlanta. The Bucks defeated the Hawks 108-91.

Corey Maggette and Milwaukee's reserves led the Bucks to their first winning streak of the season and left the stunned Atlanta Hawks with a three-game losing streak. Maggette and his fellow reserves outscored Atlanta's backups 35-6 in the first half and the Bucks continued their offensive awakening, beating the Hawks 108-91 on Wednesday night.

Bobcats end 3-game skid, beat Raptors (AP)

Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson , right, and guard Sonny Weems , left, can only watch as Charlotte Bobcats forward Tyrus Thomas (12) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010. Charlotte won 101-96.

Stephen Jackson scored 20 points while Gerald Wallace had 19 points and 14 rebounds to help the Charlotte Bobcats beat the Toronto Raptors 101-96 on Wednesday night, snapping a three-game losing streak. D.J. Augustin had 16 and Tyrus Thomas scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bobcats avoid a 1-7 start for the first time since their 2004-05 expansion season.

Beasley's 42 help Wolves end 6-game skid (AP)

Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis , left, drives against Sacramento Kings defender Tyreke Evans during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010.

Although Michael Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves didn't feel he was really shooting the ball well, Sacramento Kings' defenders were collectively puzzled about how to cool him off. As it turns out, the Kings never could. Beasley scored a career-high 42 points and had nine rebounds to help Minnesota beat the Kings 98-89 to snap a six-game losing streak.

'Pacquiao can seek presidency in 2022'

MANILA, Philippines - Manny Pacquiao is too young and will have to wait 12 years before he can qualify to run for president, Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., chairman of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, said on Thursday.

Clinton aide shouts at VP Binay, apologizes

by By Sheryll Mundo, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - A female staff from the Clinton Foundation shouted at Vice-President Jejomar Binay and asked him to leave a VIP area where former US President Bill Clinton was staying before his speech at the Manila Hotel.

Ballsy confirms PNoy-Shalani break-up

Totoo ang mga usap-usapan. Hiwalay na sina Pangulong Noynoy Aquino at Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad. Kinumpirma ito mismo ng nakatatandang kapatid ng Pangulo na si Ballsy Aquino-Cruz. Ayon kay Ballsy, nakikipag-date ngayon ang Pangulo.

Boy Abunda confirms: PNoy, Liz go out on dates

MANILA, Philippines – King of Talk Boy Abunda has confirmed on Thursday that Benigno Aquino III and celebrity stylist Liz Uy and have been going out on dates together.

Liz Uy laughs off 'engagement' with PNoy

MANILA, Philippines – Charming, has a positive outlook in life, and easy to get along with. This is how the 28-year-old presidential stylist Liz Uy, who is romantically linked to President Benigno Aquino III, is described by her friends.

Judy Ann, Ryan enjoying parenthood

by by Boy Villasanta,
MANILA, Philippines - It's fiesta time almost everyday at the Agoncillo house in Muntinlupa.

Star Magic: Kim offered to do a movie with Jackie Chan

by by Reyma Buan-Deveza,
MANILA, Philippines - The camp of Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan has offered a movie project to young actress Kim Chiu, an official of Star Magic confirmed.

Grand Lotto jackpot may breach P400-M mark—PCSO

The jackpot in the 6/55 Grand Lotto may possibly breach the P400-million mark on Saturday, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office said Thursday.

Italian cinema legend Dino De Laurentiis dies—family

ROME—Italy's Oscar-winning film producer Dino De Laurentiis, who brought larger than life characters ranging from King Kong to Hannibal Lecter to the big screen, has died aged 91, his family said Thursday.

Filipino teacher honored in China

MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino teacher who teaches English in China's Liaoning Province was honored by the Chinese government for his outstanding contribution to the economic, scientific, technological, educational and cultural development of the province.

Frederick S. Lomibao received his award from Liaoning Governor Chen Zhenggao for his outstanding contribution to the economic and social development of the province.

Lomibao has been teaching English in China for 6 years, and is now employed at a private school in Liaoning's Yingkou City.

In an email to the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, Lomibao said the award "will not only bring honor to our country but also give inspiration to other Filipinos at home and abroad."

"When I was with the other awardees, I (felt) very proud representing our country (in China)," the Filipino teacher added.

Lomibao joined three other Filipino teachers - Ma. Socorro Rodriguez, Arnel Genzola and Lileth Mesias Reyes - who have received honors from Chinese authorities.

1 comment:

sports said...

Asian Games Medal Tally, 2010 Asiad Games Medal Tally complete information. Asian Games 2010 Medal Tally


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