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Friday, July 31, 2009

SuperFerry announces Turistang Pinoy promo

photo caption: Bacolod crowd in recent Biyaheng Bayan Caravan concert featuring Kamikazee and Tuesday Vargas. Last leg of the concert will be held next month in Cagayan de Oro.  

SuperFerry announces Turistang Pinoy promo.

A ticket from Manila to Palawan and Visayas now sells for P588; while a ticket from Manila to Mindanao now sells for P888.

The buying period is up until August 5. The sailing period is from August 18 - September 30.

Fares are inclusive of fuel surcharge, security fee and VAT.

"SuperFerry makes travelling affordable to all Filipinos. After all charges are paid, SuperFerry fares remain substantially lower than other alternatives," says Andrew Deyto, SuperFerry AVP for Sales & Marketing.
"On top of that, customers continue to have the benefit of a free baggage allowance up to 50 kilos," Deyto said.

Tickets can be delivered right at your doorstep when you book through SuperFerry hotline, 528-70000. SuperFerry delivery is available in Metro Manila and selected areas in Luzon.

SuperFerry is the first carrier to offer ticket delivery and accept ticket payments over the internet using the ATM PIN.

For more information, call (02) 528-7000, Type SFTEXTyour message and send to 2327 for Globe and TM subscribers or 0917-890-2327 for Smart, Talk 'N Text and other networks. Visit or email

PGMA to inaugurate newly rehabilitated Patapat Viaduct

Department of Public Works and Highways reported that the Patapat Viaduct in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte is set to be inaugurated by Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on August 9, 2009 coinciding with the province's celebration of "Ablan Day".

DPWH Region I headed by Regional Director Mariano R. Alquiza has been directed by DPWH Secretary Hermogenes E. Ebdane Jr. to strictly monitor the restoration of the 1.128 kilometers stretch reinforced concrete structure viaduct comprising of 76 spans that runs along the seashore beneath the steep slopes of the Patapat mountains in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte and form part of the Laoag-Allacapan Road Section.

Restoration works of the viaduct is now 90.11% complete. It is being implemented by the DPWH-Philippine Japan Highway Loan-Project Management Office with a contract amount of Php.219,101,258.42 under the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway Loan.

Scope of work includes the construction of reinforced concrete seawall gravity wall, concrete blocks and other related structures for pier foundation against sea wave action, rehabilitation/restoration of selected damaged spots of the viaduct at spans 57 to 61, the construction of additional slope protection structures in the rockslide areas, removal and disposal of rocks/boulders along the old road and the repair and improvement for catch wall structures.

The viaduct was constructed by Hanil Development Co. Ltd. under the overall management of DPWH-PMO-PJHK and was completed and opened to traffic in October 1986. It piers rest on spread footings founded on outcropping bedrock. In February 1991 a major rockslide occurred above the viaduct after a heavy rainfall and caused a major damage to three spans including the bridge component, however, it was rehabilitated in October 1991. Five years after its completion, super typhoon 'Trining' struck the coast with a maximum wind velocity of 280 kph and passed directly across the viaduct. The Signal number 4 typhoon brought strong sea wave action hit the weathered rock beneath the viaduct footings, causing several pier foundations to be undercut and exposed.

Based on the KEI typhoon damage investigation, typhoon 'Trining' adversely affected 51 of the viaduct's 71 piers. The investigation report categorized four priorities based on the urgency, scale of damage and budget constraints. In 1993 priority-countermeasures were carried out covering only 16 piers out of the 51 piers affected were given a limited fund of PHP20.0 million. Only those piers that were considered in critical condition received rehabilitation work based upon an emergency classification of the damages.

In October 2001 a major rockslide with an estimated volume of 7500 cum occurred during a rain storm causing major damaged to four spans of the existing viaduct from pier 57 to pier 61. Boulders up to 5cm in size weighing up to 300 tons punched through the deck destroying the viaduct's girders and deck slab.

Pls. Refer to Ms. Beth Pilorin (OIC-Chief, PID)
Tel. 3043280 E-mail: <> <>

DPWH to Construct Classroom-Cum-Calamity and Evacuation Centers

With classrooms becoming the last refuge for people
fleeing floods, calamities and wars, a DPWH official has proposed the
construction of school buildings that can double as evacuation centers
in times of emergencies.

              In batting for the construction of the "Home for
Education and Evacuation (HEE) Type School Building ," Undersecretary
Bashir D. Rasuman said it is time for the country to face up  the fact
that it is a calamity-prone area.

            "Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. wants us to
be pro-active and not merely reactive in responding to natural and
man-made calamities, the HEE building is our way of giving quick and
practical relief to those affected by all forms of calamities," said

              Rasuman, who handles the Mindanao operations of the
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), said the HEE buildings
could also accommodate people evacuating from conflict-prone areas.
Rasuman knows such problems too well, being a native of Marawi.

            As proposed by Rasuman, the two-storey, two-classroom HEE
buildings will be constructed slightly "elevated" from the ground and
will have "water and sanitation facilities to include adequate
toilets, bath, washing areas, kitchen, waste disposal areas etc."

            "Disasters are first and foremost a 'local' phenomena.
Schools are often used as emergency shelters in times of calamities.
As such, our school buildings should be resilient to natural hazards,"
he said in a memorandum to DPWH Bureau of Design Director Danilo
Manalang. Rasuman has asked Manalang to prepare a "special building
plan" for the HEE building.

            Every year, about 20 tropical cyclones enter the
archipelago and leave damaging effects such as floods and landslides.
On the other hand, of the 200 Philippine volcanoes located along the
seismic belt, 22 are classified as active.

            When there are no calamities or peace and order problems,
Rasuman said the HEE buildings "can be used as home economics
(building), mess hall or school canteen with additional features like
kitchen, lavatory etc."

            Rasuman plans to pilot-test the HEE project in "typhoon
and flood prone areas" like Malabon, Navotas, San Mateo , Rizal;
Albay; and other areas in Mindanao .

            Ebdane had earlier ordered the formation of permanent
disaster preparedness teams in the DPWH's 174 district engineering
offices to attend to emergency situations all over the country, which
is known as one of the world's most calamity-prone areas.

            Instead of having ad-hoc and temporary disaster
preparedness teams, Ebdane said the DPWH should have
``institutionalized teams and plans'' to respond to calamities and

DOLE forms committee to hasten settlement of labor disputes



The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has set in place a mechanism to facilitate the settlement of all labor disputes and subsequently the delivery of labor justice and assistance to needy workers.


Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said a committee in charge of the DOLE speedy and efficient delivery of labor justice (DOLE SpeED) has been constituted to hasten the resolution of labor and employment disputes lodged at concerned DOLE regional offices, bureaus, and attached agencies.


Roque said the "DOLE SpeED Committee" is tasked to monitor case dispositions and make necessary interventions to ensure the speedy and efficient dispensation of labor justice and assistance to workers involved in these cases.


He said the committee would observe the Single Team approach and the use of conciliation-mediation as the first and preferential mode in the settlement of all labor and employment disputes to ensure speedy disposition of the cases.


The committee, he said, is chaired by the DOLE Undersecretary for labor relations with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) as vice-chair. 


Committee members include the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), National Conciliation Mediation Board (NCMB), Employees Compensation Commission (ECC), Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR), Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC), DOLE's Legal Service (LS) and Regional Offices in the National Capital Region, Regions 3 (Central Luzon), 4-A (Calabarzon), and 7 (Central Visayas).


Roque said the NCMB will act as the committee's overall secretariat.


Meanwhile, 7,622 workers received a total of P208.6 million in back wages and other benefits following settlement of labor disputes from January to June 2009. 


A report from NCMB showed that the labor disputes included 396 labor cases which were settled under the single entry approach (SENA) that benefitted 524 workers who received an economic package totaling P7.6 million.   


At the same time, collective bargaining deadlock settled by NCMB under preventive mediation benefitted 761 workers who received a total of P47.5 million in CBA benefits.  Another 379 workers received separation and restitution packages amounting to P9.5 million.


The NCMB also facilitated the settlement of CBA deadlock involving workers and companies which filed notices of strikes and lockouts with the board in the first six months of the year benefitting 5,254 workers who received a total of P134 million in CBA economic benefits.  Another 704 workers received a total of P10 million in separation and restitution packages


The NCMB also reported that it received a total of new 139 notices of strikes and lockouts (NS/L) since January to June this year, 29% lower than the 195 cases during the same period last year. The board disposed 127 NS/L cases that included cases pending at the end of 2008.

Thursday, July 30, 2009



Geneva, 29 July -- Rising unemployment as the global recession worsens is damping flows of migrant workers and many are returning to their home countries, experts said at a one-day meeting on "the contribution of migrants to development." 


But steps taken nationally and internationally could stem these economic and personal losses and labour migration could function as a "tool" for recovering from the worldwide financial crisis, high-level officials on migration and economic development issues said.


"The crisis will be impacting quite significantly on the flow of migrants, especially in terms of unemployment," UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told the opening session of the meeting.  He said global unemployment will continue to worsen this year, with an estimated 60 million put out of work by end of 2009.  That would bring total unemployment caused by the worldwide recession to an estimated 240 million.


Sectors affected by significant job losses include some that employ numerous migrants, such as construction and manufacturing, Mr. Supachai said.  For women, the impact will likely be felt in declining employment in health care, education, and domestic services.   


Mr. Supachai said there is a "great need" for multilateral agreements, including through the World Trade Organization General Agreement on Trade in Services, and a need for partnerships and "diaspora networking" not just to regulate migration fairly and humanely but to harness migration for development, and to ensure that knowledge and technology and "circular migration" help to advance the economies of the sending countries, and to avoid the negative effects of the so-called brain drain on such countries.


Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA), said current trends indicate that the total number of international migrants could reach 214 million by 2010.  But he said that excluding refugees, there has been a deceleration in the growth of the number of migrants in recent years, and high unemployment will likely dampen future migration flows.  It also appears that the growing feminization of the international migrant stock -- a trend apparent over some years -- has ceased, and the proportion of women among migrants has declined slightly.


William Swing, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration, said the flow of labour is a "neglected element" of the globalization process.  There are many agreements dealing with free flows of money, investment, and goods, he said, "but migration policies haven't kept pace.  And migration today is overwhelmingly about labour mobility.


"Legal migration channels are inadequate," Mr. Swing told the meeting, "and that opens doors of opportunity for those who traffic in human beings."  Meanwhile, "remittances are falling, jobs are being lost, and we fear that levels of ODA (official development assistance) and FDI (foreign direct investment) may decline.  Remittances may drop by 9% in the current year."


And Marielza Oliveira, Associate Director of the Governance Unit of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Chair of the Global Migration Group, said migration has social, economic, and environmental impacts and affects such concerns as security, social cohesion, and many aspects of human development.  There is a "win-win potential" to effectively linking migration and development, she said, "but enhanced dialogue and the sharing of ideas and practices" is vital, especially in times of crisis.


Topics discussed over the course of the day included "migration trends and the impact of the economic crisis;" "trade, investment, and development linkages;" and "policy frameworks to enhance migrants' contributions to development."


The one-day meeting results from decisions at the 2008 UNCTAD XII quadrennial conference that the organization should "conduct research and analysis on the potential benefits and opportunities of trade, investment and developmental links between migrants' countries of origin and their communities abroad;" and that UNCTAD should "analyze the potential of migrants' remittances to contribute to development."



Global OFW remittances to approach US$17-b in 2009 -- DOLE

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said that as the current trend sustains, the global remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) may likely reach, if not surpass, the US$ 17 billion mark for the entire 2009.


Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque affirmed the projection even as the distinctive global preference for the OFWs continues to complement the worldwide efforts to dispel the lingering effects of the global financial crisis.


In particular, Roque pointed to a report of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that OFW remittances, underpinned by a steady global demand for OFWs, reached US$6.98 billion in the first five months (January to May) of 2009.  The five-month figure, averaging almost $1.4-b per month, represents a growth rate reaching 2.8% compared to the level previously registered in the same period in 2008.


Earlier, a stronger-than-expected level reaching US$16.4 billion in 2008, representing a growth rate of 13.7% compared to the figure in 2007, had been remitted by the OFWs to the country's economy, at the same that global OFW deployment attained a new record level reaching 1,376,823 (+27.8%) in 2008, compared to 1,077,623 in 2007.


Subsequently, preliminary figures furnished by the DOLE's Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) indicated that the growth trend had sustained, as the total global deployment of OFWs grew by another 27.3 percent to 283,348 in the first two months (January to February) of 2009, compared to the same period in 2008. 


The Labor and Employment Secretary affirmed that the global crisis' effects had been counterweighed effectively by the strength of continuous DOLE bilateral missions, which assured continuing opportunities for OFWs, while activating interventions to dispel the crisis' impact, and push back displacement in vulnerable overseas economies.


As a result of such bilateral efforts spurred by the country's network of Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) in strategic areas worldwide, the Labor Chief said that RP had forged successful accords leading to increased opportunities for OFWs.


Roque said that the favorable "agreements include those forged between the Philippines and the OFW-host nations of Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, and between the Philippines and Australia,  Canada, and Japan."


At the same time, Roque confirmed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) had been successfully entered into by the DOLE with its counterpart in South Korea in May, which would prospectively engage up to 5,000 OFWs in that country's manufacturing and other industries.

In Tripoli, Libya, meanwhile, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office also began bilateral efforts with the Libyan Health Ministry towards the prospective engagement of 4,000 OFWs in that host country's healthcare sector.


Furthermore, the Labor Chief affirmed that the DOLE's relentless bilateral thrusts had significantly resulted in the deceleration of the number of OFWs in vulnerable overseas economies negatively affected by the global economic crisis through displacement -- while simultaneously ensuring the necessary welfare interventions to assist and ease the plight of any affected OFWs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Migrants group to Obama: What change?


A global alliance of migrant Filipinos dubbed the Obama-Arroyo meeting as another raw deal- in- the -making that will guarantee continued assurance for the United State's interest in the Philippines in exchange for President Arroyo's way out from the wrath of the Filipino people.

"President Arroyo's main agenda in meeting President Obama is how she will be assured of her safety from prosecution once her term ends in 2010. Such assurance could include the US nod to her plan to be prime minister through charter change after the election," explains Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Martinez expects that President Arroyo will in turn assure that US interest will continue to be its prime concern. The deal, Martinez alleged, will include not only the revisions in economic provision in the Constitution favoring foreign businesses but also of its continued support to the US War on Terror through the Visiting Forces Agreement and its Anti-Terrorism Law.

"President Obama has made change his mantra along with the calls for respecting human rights and abhorrence to despotic leaders. For him to shake hands with President Arroyo, who represents  all that is opposite to his alleged principles, means only that much is at stake for the US.  In this looming shady deal, only one thing is certain:  the Filipino people who will once again be left in the losing end." declared Martinez.

Migrante added that there is no way that President Obama can come out clean after the said meeting. The group suspects that President Arroyo has already prepared a spin on how she will politically benefit after the photo opportunity with President Obama.

"President Arroyo is a shrewd political opportunist. She will shamelessly capitalize on the said meeting as her shroud of protection and blessing for her diabolical plans. This is the very same reason why she made her SONA so vague on her political plans," Martinez added.

Despite its avowed pessimism of the meeting, however, the group still stated their message to President Obama on his meeting with President Arroyo.

"The change we want is for the US domination in the Philippines to end so that we can finally chart our own future as a genuine sovereign nation. The change we want is for us to harvest the wealth of our nation and rebuild a society where families are not broken up by force migration. If President Obama is not ready to accept this kind of change, then the only change that will be revealed in the near future is the change on his true political color," Martinez concluded. ###

RP’s employment gains in 8 years are factual

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today clarified that the total
8.095 million in employment gains registered from 2001 until April 2009 are
based on the annual average total of the National Statistics Office's Labor
Force Survey (LFS).

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque made the clarification in
response to unfair criticisms and reports questioning the veracity of the
figure attributed to the DOLE.

Roque made it clear that the cumulative gains in employment from 2001 to
2009 are based on the annual average rate as reflected meticulously and
consistently by the National Statistic Office (NSO), a major agency of the
National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

However, the Labor and Employment Secretary made the point that while the
gains in the country's employment are not DOLE-generated results, the
NEDA-NSO's periodic Labor Force Survey (LFS) is an international
standards-based measure or indicator that provides an accurate picture of
the country's employment situation.

"Indeed, its veracity is affirmed by the time-honored acceptance of the NSO
survey as the main and most authoritative source of employment data
obtaining in the Philippines among the major sectors and stakeholders
whether it be among labor, management and employers or the private sector,
the government itself, the academe, international investors and
institutions, and others."

He contended that the 8.095 million jobs generated under the Arroyo
administration since 2001 were not just mere figures but derived from the
annual average of four LFS being conducted by the NSO in January, April,
July and October of every year.

"As far as I remember since the 1980s, what the NSO does is that it gets the
average of the four quarter surveys, once every quarter, and that is what
you call the employment generation data for the year," Roque noted. "And
since the past administrations I have seen, it has consistently been the
source of our employment data."

Based on NSO data, the annual average of employment created from 2001 to
2008 are: 1.704 million in 2001; 906,000 in 2002; 573,000 in 2003; 978,000
in 2004; 700,000 in 2005; 323,000 in 2006; 924,000 in 2007; and 1.458
million for the first two quarters of 2009.

"These figures are based on the surveys which cover 51,000 households, so
far the biggest survey sample that's being taken by any organization," Roque

He added that the employment increment registered during most of the current
decade amounts to a plus or positive factor that has made the country
resilient and able to withstand the onslaught and the worst effects of the
global financial crisis that debilitated other economies worldwide.

During her State on the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, President Arroyo
cited these employment gains, underscoring the utmost importance of
concerted efforts in employment generation, creation and facilitation of
government and all sectors.

The President's speech also positively dwelt upon positive aspects related
directly to the strengthening of employment in the country including
provision of microfinance for the informal sector workers, interventions to
protect and assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) against displacement,
gains in technical vocational education or the training and provision of
productive skills to workers, and the vitality of the country's Business
Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry which is a vibrant contributor to
Filipino workers' employment.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

'After PGMA’s SONA: Beheaded OFWs will haunt her'

The biggest global alliance of OFWs belied claims made by President Arroyo on her SONA saying her administration holds the record for unparalleled exploitation and abuse against overseas Filipinos including the most number of OFWs that were beheaded under its term.


"The daughter of Rey Cortez lost her sanity due to the trauma caused by the beheading of her father last July 13, 2007. The Arroyo administration has turned its back on helping Rey's family to cope with the tragedy. If they heard the President's SONA, we are pretty sure that instead of the 126 times of applause, the Batasang Pambansa would shudder at the thunder of angry voices of OFWs," says Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.


Martinez was reacting to the SONA of President Arroyo when she defended her frequent trips abroad by claiming that these trips were spent to visit and to listen to the problems of overseas Filipinos as well as to talk to the host governments of countries where they are working. She also claimed that she was looking for opportunities for the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos looking for jobs.


"Jenifer Beduya, Miguel Fernandez, Wilfredo Bautista, Antonio Alvesa, Sergio Aldana and Rey Cortez, the 6 OFWs who were beheaded under President Arroyo's term, must have turned in their unmarked graves in Saudi Arabia when she said that the billions of pesos spent in her lavish trips were done in their name. The question now is how many more are going to be beheaded in her remaining trips abroad?" Martinez chided.


Martinez blames the appointment of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo as Presidential Adviser for OFWs in 2001 as a major reason why government failed in saving OFWs from death row. The group asserted that it was during Mike Arroyo's stint that the government applied a new tact in dealing with OFWs facing capital punishments.


"Upon Mike Arroyo's appointment, the government adopted a policy of raising funds for blood money from the business sector instead of providing appropriate legal assistance to OFWs in death row. Paying blood money is tantamount to admitting a crime that relinquishes the innocence of the suspected OFW who was not even adequately defended in the legal process. This has become the signature of the Arroyo administration in its mishandling of OFW cases up to the present," added Martinez.


Migrante even reminded the President that three (3) of her fellow Capampangans are right now awaiting their execution in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The said OFWs are Edison and Rolando Gonzales and Eduardo Arcilla who were sentenced to die by beheading by the Saudi courts for murder.


"The Gonzales brothers and Arcilla were tortured by the Saudi authorities to admit to crimes they have not committed. Up to now, the President continues to ignore the issue of torture perpetrated against the said OFWs. A brazen proof that what she said in her SONA are all self-serving lies," exclaimed Martinez


Migrante likewise claims that the plight of OFWs under the 9 year term of the Arroyo administration has become worse especially the situation of migrant women.


"We found it ironic that at the same time President Arroyo was boasting of her efforts to protect the welfare of OFWs during her SONA, Philippine Labor Attaché Josephus Jimenez was reporting that about 5 to 10 Filipina maids flee from their abusive employers in Kuwait daily. We challenge other embassy officials to belie the claims made by the President during her SONA and expose the real condition of OFWs under her term," Martinez dared.


Recently, Migrante revealed that cases of violence against migrant women have been increasing. An alarming trend of  Filipina maids being abused in groups were also noted.


The group criticized the 9 year term of President Arroyo as a corrupt ridden administration that utilized OFW welfare funds for its own interest specifically during the 2004 presidential election.


"The only legacy that will be left by President Arroyo to OFWs is its shameless pilfering of OFW funds that were used to commit electoral fraud in the 2004 presidential elections instead of utilizing it to give assistance to distressed OFWs. Php530 million of the OWWA funds were transferred to Philhealth upon the prodding of then Philhealth President Francisco Duque. The said fund was later used to distribute free Philhealth cards during her campaign trail. This was done at the same time when hundreds of thousands of OFW contributors were disenfranchised from their benefits upon the imposition of OWWA Omnibus Policies in 2003," Martinez concluded.


Gov’t reiterates ban against deployment of OFWs to Afghanistan, assures humanitarian aid to victims of chopper crash in Kandahar

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today strongly reiterated the existing government ban against the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Afghanistan.


Amidst the development, Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque nonetheless assured that the "utmost humanitarian assistance possible will be extended to the families of the 10 Filipino workers who unfortunately perished in a helicopter crash in that country."


The Labor and Employment Chief said that such assistance shall be in consonance with the one-country team efforts of the Philippine government for the OFWs and migrant workers, particularly to ensure the expedient repatriation of the bodies of the victims in Afghanistan, along with other necessary responses. 


Earlier reports indicated that the 10 Filipino migrants were onboard a civilian helicopter that crashed after takeoff in the Kandahar area.  The aircraft was reportedly carrying 17 passengers and three crewmembers, unfortunately 16 of the passengers, including the Filipinos, perished as a result of the crash.


Nonetheless, a US based firm in the construction sector had reportedly stood up for its responsibility for the 10 migrants who had entered Afghanistan despite the government ban against of the deployment of OFWs in the strife-torn area.  The firm reportedly assured insurance and other benefits for the 10 crash victims, while assisting in the government-coordinated efforts to repatriate their bodies to the Philippines.


The Labor Chief said that while the Philippine mission in Afghanistan is on top of the repatriation efforts, proximate Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) in the Middle East, as appropriate, will extend the necessary assistance to the efforts.


As this developed, Roque emphasized that for obvious reasons, the ban against the deployment of OFWs to Afghanistan remains in place, and will continue to be strongly reiterated and enforced by the Philippine government.


"We thus warn OFWs against defying the ban to their own disadvantage and peril, at the same time that we urge them to seek and avail of the legitimate opportunities available to our overseas workers, through the POEA and licensed recruitment agencies, in more than 190 host destinations worldwide."


Roque said that the ban took effect after the DOLE's Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) recommended it by virtue of POEA Governing Board Resolution No. 08, Series of 2007, issued on December 17, 2007.


Roque said the government, through the particular POEA resolution, had imposed a total ban on the processing and deployment of Filipino workers not only for Afghanistan but also for Nigeria, while at the same time maintaining a total ban on the processing and deployment of Filipino workers bound for Iraq and Lebanon.


In pushing the ban, the POEA emphasized that the peace and order situation in these countries continue to remain unstable, adding that, "there is a need to ensure the continued security and safety of our OFWs by suspending the processing and deployment of Filipino workers bound [for] these countries."


The Labor Chief said that the issuance of the ban was consistent with the provision of Section 5 of Republic Act No. 8042, or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act, which "authorizes the government… when the public welfare so requires, to at any point impose a ban on the deployment of migrant workers."








Department of Labor and Employment

July 28, 2009


More job fairs, DOLE service caravans scheduled in regional areas

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today bared more forthcoming schedules of Job Fairs and DOLE Regional Service Caravans in several regions nationwide for the benefit of job seekers and new graduates searching for productive job opportunities.

This developed as a preliminary report reaching Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque indicated that Job Fairs, now reinforced by DOLE Regional Service Caravans, have rendered continuous assistance to job seekers across the country by providing job search, placement, and other necessary job-and-skills matching assistance onsite to new graduates and job seekers.

"The DOLE Regional Service Caravans complement and reinforce the positive impact of job fairs by bringing closer to jobseekers in the countryside available opportunities and relevant services, in effect lessening their inconveniences in the quest to land productive jobs."

In a preliminary report, the DOLE's Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) said that in the first quarter of this year alone, some 316 job fairs have been conducted under the supervision of the DOLE's Regional Offices (ROs). In cooperation with the country's Three Plus (3+) Social Partners (labor, management, government and other sectors), the fairs successfully facilitated job search, placement, or other pertinent assistance to some 178,946 job seekers in the country's 16 regions.

In 2008, the BLE said, some 1,091 job fairs were conducted nationwide, altogether providing more than 1.4 million vacancies, and assisting 589,934 registrants, with 37,259 jobseekers hired on-the-spot by the numerous participating companies, along with 41,970 placed/deployed.

The DOLE earlier indicated that the nationwide three-day job fairs in celebration of Independence Day from June 12 to 14, 2009 facilitated emergency employment to some 56,453 persons. In addition, some 10,000 applicants were hired on-the-spot during the nationwide Jobapalooza '09 job fair in celebration of Labor Day last May 1.

According to the BLE, the  job fairs/DOLE Regional Service Caravans for the third quarter of 2009 are scheduled in convenient venues among various regional areas as follows:  (For the month of July 2009)  REGION 4-A (CALABARZON):  July 13, 2009 - Angono Gym, Angono, Rizal, Local/Overseas job fair c/o of the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) of Rizal;  July 16-17, 2009 - SM City, Lucena City, Local/Overseas fair c/o of the Lucena City PESO; REGION 5 (BICOL REGION):  July 14-15, 2009 - Ocampo Sports Complex, Ocampo,


Camarines Sur/ Local/Overseas fair c/o the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Ocampo; July 20-21, 2009 - Libmanan Covered Court, Libmanan, Cam. Sur/ Local/Overseas fair c/o LGU of Libmanan;  REGION 9 (ZAMBOANGA PENINSULA):  July 22, 2009 - Ipil Municipal Plaza, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay/ Overseas fair c/o the DOLE Zamboanga Sibugay Provincial Office and Ipil PESO; REGION 10 (NORTHERN MINDANAO):  July 1, 2009 - Provincial Gym/ Local/Overseas fair c/o the Iligan City PESO;  July 3, 2009 - Mindanao Civic Center (MCC), Tubod, Lanao del Norte, Local/Overseas fair c/o Provincial PESO; July 16, 2009 - Talisayan Municipal Gym, Local/Overseas fair c/o Talisayan PESO; July 22, 2009 - Claveria Municipal Gym, Local/Overseas fair c/o  Claveria PESO; July 29, 2009 - Magsaysay Municipal Gym, Local/Overseas fair c/o Magsaysay PESO; July 30, 2009 - Kaamulan Theater, Malaybalay City, Local/Overseas fair c/o Provincial PESO and DOLE Bukidnon;  CARAGA REGION:  July 10-12, 2009 - Mangagoy, Bislig City, Surigao del Sur,  Overseas fair c/o PESO-Bislig;  (For August 2009)  REGION 4-A (CALABARZON): August 28, 2009 - Yñares Center, Antipolo City, Local/Overseas fair c/o T3 Global Wealth Access Corp;  REGION 5 (BICOL REGION):  August, 2009 [tentative] - Tiwi Covered Court, Tiwi, Albay, Local/Overseas fair c/o LGU of Tiwi; CARAGA REGION:  August 28, 2009 - Surigao City, Surigao del Norte, Overseas fair c/o PESO-Surigao City; (For September 2009) CORDILLERA ADMINISTRATIVE REGION (CAR):  Sept.28-30, 2009 - Baguio Convention Center, Local/Overseas fair c/o LGU-Baguio;  REGION 4-A (CALABARZON): September 7, 2009 - Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall, Cainta, Rizal, Local/Overseas fair c/o PESO Rizal;  REGION 5 (BICOL REGION):  Sept. 3-4, 2009 - Labo Sports Plaza, Camarines Norte,  Local/Overseas fair c/o LGU of Labo, Camarines Norte;  September 5, 2009 - Daraga Sports Plaza, Daraga, Albay, Local/Overseas fair c/o LGU of Daraga; September 26, 2009 - Vinzons Municipal Hall, Vinzons, Camarines Norte, Local/Overseas fair c/o LGU of Vinzons; CARAGA REGION:  Sept.10-11, 2009  - Tandag City, Surigao del Sur, Overseas fair c/o PESO-Tandag City; Sept.22-23, 2009 - Lanuza, Surigao del Sur, Overseas fair c/o PESO-Lanuza.

The schedules of nationwide job fairs are accessible 24/7 at the Phil-Jobnet's Internet website simply by clicking the Jobs Fair Schedule icon at                                                                    






Information and Publication Service (IPS)
6th/F DOLE Building, Muralla St., Intramuros, Manila
Tel. Nos. 527-3000 loc. 621 to 627
Fax: 527-3446

IPU taps Drilon to monitor trial of Cambodian opposition MP


Former Senate President Frank Drilon was designated by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a worldwide organization of parliamentarians, as its representative and observer in next week's trial of Cambodian opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Mu Soncha who is facing a defamation suit filed by strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen.


Drilon was informed of his designation by Anders Johnson, IPU secretary general, and Ingeborg Schwarz, secretary of the IPU Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians, who said IPU was closely monitoring the celebrated trial of Mu Soncha, a member of the Cambodian National Assembly and a known advocate of women and children's rights.


Mu Soncha, a one-time Nobel Prize nominee and a former Minister of Women Affairs, was in the forefront of the campiagn against the sex and human trafficking trade in Cambodia and was vocal against the Hun Sen government's alleged failure to crackdown on offenders.


She will to undergo trial Friday in Phnom Penh on a defamation countersuit filed by Hun Sen in retaliation to an earlier suit she filed against the prime minister. The case against Hun Sen was earlier dismissed by the courts.


Mu Soncha claimed the courts were biased and that no lawyer in Cambodia was courageous enough to represent for fear of reprisal from government.  "I intend to put the (Cambodian) justice system on trial," she was quoted as saying recently.

Phay Siphan, a Cambodian government spokesman, dismissed Mu Soncha's claims that the courts were biased. But the accusations have gained traction among international human rights groups, as well as donor countries, which pledged almost US$1 billion in foreign aid to Cambodian last year.

Reports said the Cambodian government launched at least nine criminal lawsuits against politicians, journalists and activists recently. Critics such as Human Rights Watch accuse the ruling Cambodia People's Party of using the legal system to silence opposition voices.

Johnson and Ingeborg informed Drilon that he was chosen as IPU trial observer and representative in his capacity as former chairman of the IPU Human Rights for Parliementarians Committee and as a former justice secretary in the Philippines.

In July 2006, Drilon was elected chairman of the IPU committee, a prestigious international body that investigates violations of human rights of lawmakers. He is the first Filipino legislator to be elected to the position since the IPU was established in 1889.

The IPU, the oldest multilateral political organization, brings together 146 affiliated parliaments and seven associated regional assemblies. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It serves as a Permanent Observer at the United Nations. The IPU Committee of Human Rights of Parliamentarians was established in 1976 and was created to ensure that the human rights of the world's parliamentary community - composed of more than 40,000 members - are respected.

In 2005 Drilon was elected assembly president of the 112th General Assembly which was held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila and was attended by over 1,500 parliamentarians from over 45 countries. Prior to his election as president of the IPU assembly, Drilon was also a member of the IPU Executive Committee.




Monday, July 27, 2009

Deployment ban in Afghanistan violated


Migrants group calls for investigation on Afghan crash


Migrante International, a global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations, demanded an investigation on the recent chopper crash that killed 10 OFWs in Afghanistan.

"As far as we know the government has never lifted the ban in the deployment of OFWs in Afghanistan. How come a certain Flour Company was able to hire ten Filipinos and sent them in harms way despite the said ban?" asked Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

The group specifically wants to know how much does the Department of Foreign Affairs knew of the existence of OFWs working in Afghanistan, or if the company that hired the OFWs had even asked permission from the Philippine government.

"It was the DFA who advised the DOLE to implement the ban in 2007. The Secretary of Labor Arturo Brion issued a memorandum to make a ban of the deployment in Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Lebanon official," Martinez added.

Migrante quoted the memorandum for the total ban on 4 countries including Afghanistan that was issued by DOLE last December 17, 2007, which was signed by the then Secretary Arturo Brion. The group asserted that the said memorandum even instructed POEA to take criminal and administrative actions against recruitment agencies that will violate the said ban.

"We call on the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment & Human Resource Development headed by Senator Jinggoy Estrada to spearhead the investigation. We are afraid that with the intensified US war of aggression in Afghanistan more OFWs may be put in harms way," appealed Martinez.

Martinez likewise criticized the DFA for allegedly being inattentive in implementing the deployment ban and even accused the agency of putting blind eyes on companies that were violating the ban.

"Last year, we have already informed the DFA of the incidence where 100 OFW truck drivers were being hired by Al Jassim Trucking Company to deliver goods from Kuwait to Iraq. Despite the clear violation of the ban however, the DFA has not taken any action on the case. It seems that we have underestimated how desperate the Arroyo administration is in marketing OFWs even in war torn places. Unless irresponsible officials are held liable, more OFWs lives will put in danger even in countries where deployment ban are supposed to be enforced," Martinez concluded.


Chiz lauds intensified drive to register new voters in Saudi Arabia


Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday lauded intensified efforts by Philippine embassy and consular officials to register new voters in Saudi Arabia for the May 2010 elections. 

More than 500 Filipinos registered as new voters last week in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, and more are expected to sign on in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar in the next few weeks, embassy officials reported.

"The success of the Overseas Absentee Voters (OAV) registration program hinges on the willingness of our countrymen abroad to cast their votes for their chosen candidates even if they are far from home," said Escudero, who is chair of the Joint Oversight Committee on the Overseas Voting Act of 2003.

"This would not be possible without the active support of the hard-working embassy and consulate officials and staff not only in Saudi Arabia but also in other parts of the world."

The period of registration is from February 1 to August 31 to accommodate the listing of OAVs for the upcoming 2010 elections.

At least two million Filipinos live or work in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and other countries in the Middle East. The government has set a target of one million OAV registrants. 

"The participation of OAVs, whose remittances play a significant role in propping up our economy, will ensure that they count in the selection of our country's leaders," he said.

In 2008, remittances from an estimated 11 million OFWs reached $15.9 billion. Despite the slowdown in the global economy, it is forecast to rise to $18.3 billion this year.




Press Release: No shelter for out-of-classroom students -- Chiz


"I want a school building in every barangay by 2004."

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, SONA, 2001


Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday said that nine years after President Arroyo promised to build a school building in all 41,994 barangays there is still a shortage of 40,000 classrooms throughout the country.

"In 2001, we had a classroom shortage of 30,100. In 2004, we had a backlog of 21,000 classrooms. Today, we lack far more classrooms for our students." he said in his SANA (Sana Naipatupad ni Arroyo) message.

Escudero also recalled that in her 2004 SONA, Arroyo also asked the Department of Public Works and Highways to come up with a prototype design for school buildings at a cost of P250,000.

If the design were created at that cost, government would have needed at least P10 billion to fulfill its promise, he said.

Escudero said if the government decided to scrimp on foreign travels, particularly non-essential presidential trips, then the estimated P3 billion in expenses could have covered the costs for at least one-third of school buildings for every barangay.

It will have also narrowed the current 1:45 classroom to student ratio which is below the ideal classroom-student ratio of 1:25-30 recommended by UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization), he said.

The UNESCO data also indicates the class size in the Philippines pales in comparison to Malaysia (1:31.7), Thailand (1:22.9), Japan (1:28.6), and India (1:40) despite its one billion plus population.

"With enrollment this year reaching 21 million, the Dep Ed has again resorted to double shifting to maximize the availability of classrooms. But this is a temporary solution. It also lessens the learning time of students because they have to give way to another class," Escudero said.

He said schools can be a powerful force in creating community cohesion at a time when families are dealing with the financial crunch, declining peace and order, and political uncertainty.

"Schools create a bond among students, teachers, families and neighbors. They have an important role in teaching young people how to get along despite differences in faith, language, culture and class. We need our children and young people to be able to live and work together and actively participate in society," he said.

Escudero said the classroom shortage could be another reason why the National Achievement Test (NAT) scores are atrocious.

The NAT is an exam given by the DepEd nationwide to all Grade 6 public school students in March to gauge their mastery of lessons learned in the elementary level.

"The current situation is reflective of the quality of education that this government provides. NAT results in both elementary and high school are way below the Mean Percentage Score. This is due, most likely, to the fact that most classrooms are crowded, making it more difficult for students to concentrate," Escudero said.


SANA (Sana Naipatupad ni Arroyo) Totoo Series

(In time for the ninth SONA of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, opposition Sen. Francis Joseph "Chiz" G. Escudero presents his take on her performance in realizing her administration's avowed core agenda – food security, good governance, jobs, and education. In the SANA-TOTOO series of articles (video), Sen. Escudero contends that President Arroyo failed to deliver on her promise in all four key areas.)


More Filipinos went hungry during the Arroyo Years -- Chiz



"…Pagkain para sa masa ang ipagmamalaki ko nang higit sa lahat."

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, SONA, 2001



Instead of ensuring food on every Filipino family's table, hunger rose to record highs among millions of the country's poorest households during the Arroyo presidency, opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero said yesterday.

"There is now a new term to describe an environment where a growing number of Filipinos can afford to eat only one meal a day – hunger climate," he said in his SANA (Sana Napatupad ni Arroyo) message.

"This is deadlier than climate change for its effects are immediate and devastating to millions of families who have no other recourse but to beg, steal, or borrow, as the song goes, because they cannot turn to government for help," Escudero said.

The 39-year old lawmaker from Sorsogon was referring to the description used by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) in explaining the results of its surveys on hunger incidence which it started to undertake in 1998.

Escudero said that the SWS polls show that while the incidence of hunger fell to a certain extent from 1998 to 2003, the number of Filipinos experiencing hunger began to rise from 2005.

"There was as the SWS chief Mahar Mangahas says an unfavorable change in the hunger climate which requires radical changes in the policy and governance environment which this administration has failed to undertake," he said.

Escudero noted that Mangahas pointedly suggested that the rice importation program was the "least effective hunger program" and "four times as costly" as the conditional cash subsidies implemented by the government.

He said the next administration must launch key reforms in the agriculture sector to eliminate hunger, ensure food security, and break the cycle of grinding poverty in the country.

"The fight against poverty will be won in the countryside. We need to focus on programs that will transform our depressed rural communities into growth centers. Then development will radiate from the countryside to our cities," Escudero said.

He said the government must focus on expanding irrigation, build more post-harvest facilities, extend financial and technical support for farmers, and gather data to determine what crops to plant and when and where they should be planted to maximize the use of the country's rich agricultural lands.

Escudero pointed out that while Vietnam and Thailand had expanded the number of irrigated lands to as much as 9 to 11 million hectares, the country's irrigated lands had declined to 1.38 million this year from the 1.4 million hectares in 1986.

"Our population almost doubled since 1986, but instead of expanding the number of irrigated lands for rice, we experienced instead a contraction and became one of the world's biggest importers of an essential staple," he said.

"After winning the peace, the next administration must focus on agriculture from day one so our country and people will overcome the challenges that lie ahead," Escudero said.


SANA (Sana Naipatupad ni Arroyo) Totoo Series

(In time for the ninth SONA of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, opposition Sen. Francis Joseph "Chiz" G. Escudero presents his take on her performance in realizing her administration's avowed core agenda – food security, good governance, jobs, and education. In the SANA-TOTOO series of articles (video), Sen. Escudero contends that President Arroyo failed to deliver on her promise in all four key areas.)


Can Diasporas Drive Development as the global economic crisis continues?

Can Diasporas Drive Development as the global economic crisis continues?

The Online Dialogue on Migration and Development concentrates on the
importance of remittances and the role diasporas can play in driving
sustainable development projects in their home communities. As the
financial crises continues and remittance flows to developing regions are
expected to fall in 2009, how can diasporas continue work as a strong force
for development for their countries of origin, through remittances, and
also through promotion of trade, investments, knowledge and technology

To discuss your views, present best-practice examples of diaspora
remittances and read about recent research on these issues, go to the
Online Dialogue website of the CSD/ GFDM Athens 2009 at

Les Diasporas sont-elles en mesure de stimuler le d?veloppement tant
> que la crise ?conomique mondiale se poursuit?
> Le Dialogue en Ligne sur la Migration et le D?veloppement se
> concentre sur l'importance des envois de fonds et le r?le des
> diasporas en tant que forces motrices de projets de d?veloppement
> durable dans leurs pays d'origine. ?tant donn? que la crise financi?
> re se poursuit et que les envois de fonds vers les r?gions en d?
> veloppement devraient, selon les estimations, enregistrer une baisse
> en 2009, comment les diasporas pourraient-elles continuer ? agir
> comme des facteurs de d?veloppement pour leurs pays d'origine aussi
> bien ? travers des transferts de fonds qu'? travers la promotion du
> commerce, des investissements, de la connaissance et des transferts
> de technologies?
> Pour discuter de vos points de vue, pour pr?senter des exemples de
> meilleures pratiques dans le domaine des transferts de fonds de la
> diaspora, et pour lire sur les derni?res recherches sur ces questions,
> connectez-vous ? la section Dialogue en Ligne sur le site web du CSD/
> GFDM Ath?nes 2009
> ?Pueden las di?sporas impulsar el desarrollo mientras contin?e la
> crisis econ?mica global?
> El Di?logo en l?nea sobre la migraci?n y el desarrollo se concentra
> en la importancia de las remesas y el papel de las di?sporas para
> impulsar proyectos de desarrollo sostenible en sus comunidades de
> origen. Teniendo en cuenta que la crisis financiera contin?a y que se
> espera que los flujos de remesas hacia los pa?ses en v?as de
> desarrollo disminuyan en 2009, ?c?mo pueden las di?sporas continuar
> su labor como intensas fuerzas para el desarrollo de sus pa?ses de
> origen, a trav?s de remesas y tambi?n a trav?s del fomento del
> comercio, las inversiones y la transferencia de conocimientos y
> tecnolog?as?
> Para exponer su punto de vista, presentar ejemplos de mejores pr?
> cticas de remesas de las di?sporas y consultar la investigaci?n que
> se ha llevado a cabo sobre estas cuestiones, visite el sitio del Di?
> logo en l?nea de las JSC del FGMD 2009 de Atenas en
> Μπορεί η διασπορά να προωθήσει την ανάπτυξη ενώ συνεχίζεται η
> παγκόσμια οικονομική κρίση;
> Ο Διαδικτυακός Διάλογος για τη Μετανάστευση και την Ανάπτυξη
> επικεντρώνεται στη σημασία των εμβασμάτων και στο ρόλο που μπορεί να
> διαδραματίζουν τα άτομα της διασποράς στην υλοποίηση έργων βιώσιμης
> ανάπτυξης στις χώρες προέλευσης. Ενώ η οικονομική κρίση συνεχίζεται
> και το 2009 αναμένεται να μειωθεί η ροή των εμβασμάτων στις
> αναπτυσσόμενες χώρες, με ποιο τρόπο μπορούν τα άτομα της διασποράς να
> λειτουργήσουν ως ισχυρή αναπτυξιακή δύναμη στις χώρες προέλευσής τους,
> μέσω των εμβασμάτων, αλλά και μέσω της προώθησης του εμπορίου, των
> επενδύσεων και της μεταβίβασης γνώσεων και τεχνολογιών;
> Παρουσιάσετε τις απόψεις σας, βρείτε παραδείγματα βέλτιστων πρακτικών
> που αφορούν τα εμβάσματα της διασποράς, και μάθετε περισσότερα για
> τις σχετικές έρευνες επάνω στα συγκεκριμένα θέματα! επισκεφτείτε την
> ενότητα "Διαδικτυακός Διάλογος" της ιστοσελίδας του Φόρουμ της
> Κοινωνίας των Πολιτών του GFMD της Αθήνας 2009

Telcos can slash down cost of calls further


Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday welcomed an order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) directing cellular phone companies to lower the pulse metering rate from 60 seconds to 6 seconds, but said this can be further slashed down to 3 seconds.

Escudero said the NTC order, barring any opposition from the telecommunication companies, will greatly aid millions of Filipino cellphone users in this time of economic crisis.

"At this point, every centavo counts. Savings from telephone calls will go a long way in coping with the current financial crisis that has affected the country," he said.

However, the senator said that telecommunications companies can opt to slash the price of calls further if they choose to do so.

 "The present technology might be able to accommodate a per 3 seconds charging. Even a per second charging is possible if these companies want to," Escudero said.

The pulse metering rate is how telecommunication companies measure the length of time calls that are charged. On the average, companies charge P8 per pulse, which consists of 60 seconds, also known as per-minute charging.

Escudero said he is currently studying measures seeking to impose a cap on profits of telecommunication companies in order for them to pour in more money in improving their services.

He said a similar legal framework is being implemented in Thailand.