The deployment ban to Iraq has been lifted. However, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reminds all Filipinos who are interested to work in Iraq not to apply in these four “no go zones”: Anbar, Ninewah/Ninevah, Kirkuk (Tamim, Al Tamim, At-Tamim) and Salahuddin/Salahaddin.
The POEA said the “no-go zones” were determined during the 7th Philippines–Iraq Joint Commission Meeting in Baghdad last month.
Moreover, the lifting of the ban in Iraq now allows processing and deployment of returning workers or rehired in Iraq but not for new applicants. The Philippines and Iraqi labor officials are still discussing and finalizing bilateral labor agreement before they open application for all Filipino workers to work in Iraq again.
Posted on: May 22, 2013
It is just unbelievable that modern day slavery exists in some families, not all. Some families in the Kingdom believe that it is their right to treat the domestic helps as they wish as if they own them body and soul after paying for their visas.
Sometimes seeing the way they treat domestic helps, known as maids or servants, is beyond belief as they impose tasks that are totally downgrading to the maids and sometimes depriving them of their right as human beings. They will eat only when they are told to eat. They will sleep only when the master tells them to sleep. They will speak when the master tells them to speak. How different is that from slavery?
There are many horrifying stories of maids being abused by their sponsors, whether Saudi or expatriates sponsors, in the Kingdom. While there are cases of maids running away after all the troubles that their sponsors had undergone is another story. For here we are dealing with the inhumane treatment of maids by sponsors.
Many sponsors take advantage of the maids’ poor situation and their need for money to abuse them and enslave them. What is more alarming is that such cases of abuse are on the rise and there is no sign of increasing awareness among such families on how to treat their maids nicely. While the reported cases of maid abuse are on the rise, what is increasing alarming is that many such cases go unreported — and in greater number.
I am sure that if the maid has a choice she would definitely decide not to come to Saudi Arabia and work as a household help. I am sure that if she has the courage to speak against the inhumane treatment from her sponsor without the fear of retaliation, she will speak out. Often she is forced to suffer in silence because she has a family back home in need of her financial support, and to meet that need she has to endure the abuses in silence. Silence becomes a virtue if they are paid on time.
Maids are extremely important in every household. Families are totally dependent on them, especially for a wife who needs help to carry out the daily household chores. But how many of these maids who come to work for families know their job descriptions? It is agreed upon that maids are supposed to work for certain hours in a day, carrying out known tasks within her ability.
But most families ignore this job description that they themselves had agreed upon and overburden the maids with additional tasks, including taking care of infants. They work for long hours without rest, and are not given a day off. Some families treat them like machines and load them with improbable tasks while expecting them to finish their work quickly.
I remember some of the sad stories relayed to me by maids. A maid from Indonesia said she was locked up for more than three months in an apartment and was forced to work non-stop for 15 hours a day. The poor maid was given only half a sandwich a day for meal. The family forced her to sleep in the balcony since there was no room available in the apartment. For three months she was not paid. She endured all that in the hope that she would be paid later. But when she felt that she would be short-changed, she planned her escape and fled while the family was asleep by climbing down from the balcony.
Another maid told me that her employer did not pay her for eight months. His reason was to keep her salary as insurance so that she would not escape, which is totally unjust because she had a family back home to feed. If he was concerned, he could have sent the money back home himself but he did not, which betrayed the dark side of his heart.
When she got sick and tired of being unfairly treated, he paid her salary for three months and then asked her to look for another sponsor, practically leaving her in the lurch, while exploiting her inability to find a new sponsor in a quick time. I have also heard of cases wherein a maid face sexual abuse from her sponsor and his sons.
I remember one maid who was found wandering on the street barefoot and crying, with bruises all over her body. She had escaped from her sponsor who had repeatedly beat her and even accused her of stealing while her sponsor had not paid her a single halalah. A Saudi family gave her shelter until the police came to take her and settle the issue. There are many other stories of abuse — too many to relate.
Ironically, it is our treatment of maids that have caused the current problems with countries refusing to send their women to work as maids in the Kingdom. Ironically, it is our maltreatment of maids that gave gangs the opportunity to entice maids to run away from their sponsors and to work illegally for new employers.
Maids have feelings, they have dignity and they have pride. Their silence toward abuse only means one thing: they need the job and the money so they can feed their families back home. They deserve mercy and good treatment like they are an extended part of the family.
There are good Saudi sponsors who treat their maids well like they were part of their own families. And they reaped rich rewards when their maids reciprocate their kindness. They give their maids the right amount and kind of food, not leftovers, allowed them to call their families back home and allowed them a day off a week. Most of all maids are required to work only for eight hours a day and carry out talks specified in their contracts. The maids then give their total loyalty to the families they are serving.
Since maids are living in the same house with the family, they should be treated as an additional member of the family. They should be given good food, not overworked and should be given a decent salary that matches the work they are doing. They should be provided with good accommodation and good medical care. If these are followed, I do not see any conflict arising between the sponsors and their maids. I also believe that this will dry up the black market for maids if the sponsors take some good measures in providing dignity to their maids.
Treat them nicely and do not abuse them, verbally or physically, and forgive and teach them if they make a mistake. How many of us do that? Let’s start doing it. A small hand of humanity from our side will go a long way in sustaining the relationship. Let’s try it out and see the results.
The writer can be contacted at email@example.com.
Posted on: May 10, 2013
Overseas Absentee Voting has officially started last April 13, 2013. Filipino registered voters abroad can now go to Philippine embassies to vote for senators and partylist. However, voting in Riyadh will start by April 15-16 due to some delays.
According to Commission on Elections (COMELEC) there are an estimated 915,000 registered Filipino workers abroad. Middle East has the highest number of voters with 281,372 followed by Asia Pacific with 228,309. There are about 125,604 voters in America while Europe has 75,666.
The COMELEC clarified that not all areas will conduct automated election due to the limited Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines. The government agency said that only Hong Kong , Singapore, Kuwait, Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in UAE will use PCOS machines due to the number of voters in these areas.
The government unit wishes Filipinos abroad to exercise their rights and vote wisely.
Posted on: Apr 17, 2013
MANILA, April 16 -- Vice President and Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Concern Jejomar C. Binay reminded OFWs in Saudi Arabia to always go through legal channels and file the proper documents to avoid complications.
In a statement, the Vice President renewed his call for Philippine Embassy officials in Riyadh to fast track the processing of exit papers for undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia.
“I am asking the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh to expedite the processing of exit papers of undocumented Filipinos who want to go back home,” Binay said.
He also called on embassy officials to immediately provide shelter to some 80 OFWs who are currently camped outside the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah.
The Saudi government recently gave a three-month reprieve for illegal workers in their country.
Saudi King Abdullah delayed for three months the raid of illegal migrant workers in the kingdom, which has led to thousands of deportations, to give foreigners the chance to sort out their papers.
The drive is part of the Saudi government’s so-called Saudization policy (nitaqat), which aims to put more Saudi nationals into private sector jobs.
The Arab country is currently home to over a million OFWs, making it the most popular OFW destination.
Meanwhile, the Vice President clarified that the three-month grace period is meant for foreign workers who work for employers who are not their sponsors, meaning they have violated Saudi labor law.
“For workers affected by the Saudization policy, they need to be able to legally transfer from their original sponsors to their current employers,” he said.
Binay added that workers who have long run away from their original sponsors and no longer have valid residency permits or passports meanwhile are in a different category altogether. Theirs is an immigration problem and no longer a labor one.
He said the remedies for immigration law violators are different from those affected by the Saudization policy.
There is currently no amnesty in effect for foreign nationals illegally staying in Saudi Arabia.
“Please respect the labor laws of your host country. Remember that you are our ambassadors as well, so your actions also reflect on our country,” Binay reminded OFWs.
Posted on: Apr 17, 2013
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and Globe/Touch Mobile now make the campaign against human trafficking much easier because it would allow one to report human trafficking activities by simply sending an SMS (short-messaging service).
Those interested to know more about Globe and Touch Mobile subscribers can text <1343(space)HELP> or
The CFO said, “It is hoped that by making 1343 Action Line available through texts, more cases of human trafficking will be reported and resolved.”
The anti-human trafficking action line is 1343.
To report human trafficking, just call or text 1343.
Those who are outside Mtero Manila can call (02) 1343 or report through their website at www.1343actionline.ph
Posted on: Mar 26, 2013
An advisory from the POEA warns nurses and other medical workers against the proliferation of overseas job scams that are being offered via email. Previous advisories from POEA informed that there are email scams that offer non-existent jobs for medical workers in countries like Canada, Australia, United Kingdom and United States of America.
To lure nurses and caregivers, Cacdac said that in the past emails, the scammers are using the names of famous hospitals overseas such as Queensway Carleton Hospital, Stevenson Memorial Hospital, Shouldice Hospital, and Fraser Health in Canada; Sydney Adventist Hospital in Australia. The latest advisory revealed that email scams are also offering jobs in Singapore.
The POEA Chief, Hans Leo J. Cacdac was informed of this new email scam through Mr. Tan Zhiyi, the Human Resource Division of Singapore General Hospital which reported that they have received a number of inquiries from Filipino workers who are verifying job offers sent through the following email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org, singaporegeneralhosp @ojooo.com and email@example.com.
According to Cacdac, Tan said that they are not using the email addresses mentioned because their official emails use the internet address sgh.com.sg.
In the said email, the recipient are asked to send Php3,800 through bank deposit as payment for the visa interview. The Singapore-based official also denied that their company owns the bank account mentioned in the email.
Posted on: Mar 26, 2013
Police officials in Pasay City alerted Filipinos who are returning from abroad about a modus operandi operated near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) that targets them. They are advised to be cautious against opening the doors or windows of their vehicles to beggars or streetchildren that might approach them along the streets near NAIA to avoid being hurt or losing valuables. This modus is apparently done by a gang called “gagamba boys,” a group of males which are mostly in their teens.
According to Rodolfo Llorca, the chief Senior Superintendent of Pasay City police, a member of the gang would persistently knock or rap on the vehicles of balikbayans and when the passenger finally opened it, other gang members would proceed to take whatever valuable items that they can get. The poor victims take the risk of being hurt if they resist as there are cases when gang members hit the heads of the victims.
Llorca also said that these “gagamba boys” usually schedule their attack around 9 am because they know that this is the usual arrival time of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). It is also a time when traffic is worse so they can freely do their scam.
The Pasay police chief admitted that they are having a difficult time stopping this modus because they cannot arrest the gang members which are mostly minors. They can only turn them over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) which would also release them after a few hours or a few days.
Posted on: Mar 8, 2013
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said there is no deployment ban of Filipino workers to Malaysia despite the tension in Sabah.
“There is no ban. There is no mandatory repatriation…everything will have to depend on the assessment of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) based on the area where there is conflict,” Baldoz said.
Baldoz chief explained that the recent 289 Filipinos who returned to the Philippines were not connected to the Sabah tension.
“I visited Zamboanga City to get the best handle of the situation that might involve our OFWs in Sabah. I was informed by our field officials that the 289 are "regular deportees" who came from all over Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia through regular commercial vessels from Sandakan," she said.
Tension in Sabah
Malaysia's De facto law minister Nazri Aziz on Tuesday said the armed followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III would be charged for murder for their intrusion into Lahad Datu, Sabah.
The arrival of dozens of armed Filipinos into Sabah last month was "intrusion into our sovereignty not a war," Nazri said in a report of Malaysia's The Star Online news site.
A Reuters report on Tuesday said Malaysian troops backed by fighter jets attacked the armed Filipino group on Tuesday, trying to end a standoff in Sabah after violence that killed at least 27 people.
The Filipino group arrived by boat about three weeks ago claiming to be descendants of the Philippines' sultanate of Sulu.
They are demanding recognition and an increased payment from Malaysia for their claim as the rightful owners of Sabah, part of Borneo island and which the sultanate leased to British colonialists in the 19th century.
Malaysia has refused the demands. Manila has repeatedly told the group to put down their weapons and come home.
Malaysia has rejected the group's renewed claim on Sabah, which was leased by the sultanate of Sulu to a British trading company in the 19th century and later absorbed by Kuala Lumpur. Sulu is a Philippine island chain that lies between Sabah and the Philippines' Mindanao island. The sultan's family are traditional rulers, with no formal political powers.
Deportees from Sabah
Meanwhile, DOLE data showed that 195 deportees from Sandakan, Sabah arrived on January 6, while another 109 deportees arrived on January 12, bringing the total number of deportees to 897 for 2013 alone.
Baldoz had ordered the DOLE Regional Coordination Committee to strengthen the One Stop Shop Processing Center (OSSPC), which was also implemented at the height of the Malaysian crackdown on illegal immigrants in 2005.
The OSSPC provides various services to the deportees, including transient stay, passport services, NSO birth certificate issuance, NBI clearance issuance, TESDA training, POEA processing of OEC, OWWA membership, reintegration services such livelihood, capability building, and entrepreneurship skills, and referral for local employment.
"We have the template on how to deal with the arrival of deportees and we are activating it and strengthening it just there will be an influx of deportees,” she said during a meeting of the RCC which was attended by the heads of the DOLE Regional Office, OWWA, POEA, TESDA, and the NCMB.
Malaysian immigration records show that in 2010, there were 57,500 Filipino workers with work permits in Sabah. These Filipinos went to Sabah illegally and did not pass through POEA processing. Another 95,951 illegal workers registered under the Malaysian's Operation Bersepadu in the same year.
Souce: VVP, GMA News http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/298116/pinoyabroad/news/no-deployment-ban-of-pinoy-workers-to-malaysia-dole
Posted on: Mar 8, 2013
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) governing board stated in three separate resolutions that the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Iraq, Yemen and Eretria is now allowed.
The Labor Secretary said in a press statement, The Department of Foreign Affairs has included Iraq in the list of compliant countries under Republic Act 10022, effectively lifting the five-year old ban to the said country.”
The Crisis Alert Level in Iraq was lowered to Level 1 (Precautionary Phase) by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) with mandatory travel restriction to “no-go” zones to be determined by the host country.
The deployment ban for rehires or returning workers was lifted after the Iraqui government submitted the list of areas identified as “no-go” zones. The processing of applications for newly hired (except HSWs) will resume upon the conclusion of a Bilateral Labor Agreement with Iraq and the identification of the restricted zones.”
Meanwhile OFWs can now be deployed in Yemen since the DFA lowered its Alert Level from 2 to Alert Level 1 last January. The POEA Board also allowed the deployment of OFWs in Eritrea because of a certification issued by the DFA on December 21, 2012, that included it in the list of compliant countries.
Posted on: Mar 5, 2013
The Saudi Council mandates all foreign nurses to pass the Prometric Exam before working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In the Philippines, the accredited testing center is THOMSON PROMETRIC, Ateneo Professional Schools, 130 H. Dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City. Telephone No.: (632) 892-0383, Website: http://www.prometric.com
The examination is scheduled Tuesday up to Friday, with a fee of US$90.00. A prometric exam is similar to the licensure exam for nurses given in the Philippines.
Posted on: Feb 20, 2013