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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

ILO Global Employment Trends 2010 - Unemployment reached highest level on record in 2009

MANILA (ILO News) - The number of jobless worldwide reached nearly 212 million in 2009 following an unprecedented increase of 34 million compared to
2007, on the eve of the global crisis, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said in its annual Global Employment Trends report.  Based on IMF economic forecasts, the ILO estimates that global unemployment is likely to remain high through 2010.  

The South-East Asia and the Pacific region, which includes the Philippines, has a number of economies that are highly dependent upon foreign trade and investment flows. Accordingly, among the Asian regions, it has been the hardest hit by the crisis in terms of reduced economic growth.  

"In the Philippines, the unemployment rate in 2009 only increased slightly to 7.5 per cent.  However, it could have been worse without stimulus
measures taken by the government, workers and employers," said Director Linda Wirth of ILO Manila. 

"The report warns us of a W-shaped recovery.  It is possible for the economy and employment to grow but the rate of growth is likely to slow or dip, so it is crucial to have job protection policies in place," added Wirth.

The report says that coordinated stimulus measures have averted a far greater social and economic catastrophe; yet millions of women and men around
the world are still without a job, unemployment benefits or any viable form of social protection. 

The number of workers in vulnerable employment in the South-East Asia Pacific region is estimated to have increased by up to 5 million since 2008. The
regional unemployment rate rose by 5.6 per cent in 2009, and is expected to remain steady in 2010.  More than half of all workers in South-East Asia and the Pacific live on less than USD 2 a day, with around a quarter living on less than USD 1.25 a day. 

"The issue is not just open unemployment but vulnerable employment, underemployment and a rise in the number of working poor as income shrink.  We
see workers living on the margin and at risk of falling further into poverty. Many workers who have lost their jobs in export-oriented industries cannot
afford to remain unemployed and instead will take any form of employment in the informal sector to have some income, perhaps in farming or street vending,"  said Wirth.  

The ILO report says that it is urgent to establish wide coverage of basic social protection schemes to cushion the poor against the devastating
effects of sharp fluctuations in economic activity.

The ILO also warned that the number of unemployed youth worldwide increased by 10.2 million in 2009 compared to 2007, the largest hike since 1991. In South-East Asia and the Pacific region, young people remain far more likely than adults to be unemployed, with the region*s youth unemployment rate
reaching 15.3 per cent in 2009, versus a rate of only 3.4 per cent for adults.  Young workers already faced substantial difficulties accessing decent and
productive jobs prior to the economic crisis and the situation for youth has worsened as a result of the economic downturn.

Other key findings in the ILO Global Employment Trends report:

    *  The global unemployment rate rose to 6.6 percent in 2009, an increase of 0.9 percentage points over 2007. However, it varied widely by
region, ranging from 4.4 per cent in East Asia to more than 10 percent in Central and South-Eastern Europe (non-EU) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CSEE & CIS) as well as in North Africa.

    *  The global youth unemployment rate rose by 1.6 percentage points to reach 13.4 percent in 2009 relative to 2007. This represents the largest
increase since at least 1991, the earliest year for which global estimates are available.

    *  The overall impact of the economic crisis on women and men is far more important than the differences in impact between these groups.

    *  Preliminary estimates of growth in labour productivity, measured as output per worker, indicate that productivity levels fell in all regions except
East Asia, South Asia and North Africa. The largest decline in output per worker occurred in Central and South-Eastern Europe (non- EU) & CIS, - 4.7 percent, thus reversing part of the gains that were made in the first half of the decade.

    *  As a result of declining output per worker, working conditions are deteriorating especially in regions where labour productivity was already low
preceding the economic crisis, such as in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    *  To address these issues, the ILO constituents (governments, workers and employers) which represent the *real economy* have agreed on a Global
Jobs Pact in June 2009 that contains a balanced set of tried and tested measures to promote a robust response to the employment challenge.  These focus on accelerated employment generation, sustainable social protection systems, respect for labour standards, and strengthening social dialogue. The Pact has received strong backing from the G20 heads of state and from the UN General Assembly. Rethinking financial and economic policies, with respect to their impact on employment and social protection is essential because we will not get out of the crisis by applying the same policies that led to the crisis in the first place.

Monday, January 18, 2010

‘Repatriation without Compensation’ Trend Hit



"The Arroyo administration, once again, has allowed notorious employers and recruiters off the hook by merely negotiating for the repatriation of distressed OFWs without them receiving any just compensation." 


This was the claim made by Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.


The group revealed that OWWA and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh has recently brokered a deal with Annasban Company to send more than 80  OFWS on a hunger strike back home without paying for their compensation. Complaints of delayed salaries and deplorable working conditions were reasons for the strike.


"Why in the world will  labor attache Rustico de la Fuente broker such a deal? Why send those OFWs home penniless and cheated out of their just compensation? Sila na nga ang nadehado at inabuso, tapos palulusutin lang ang Annasban?" Martinez questioned. "There is more than meets the eye here and this must be investigated at once!"


Martinez explained that the workers should get the full payment for the unexpired portion of their contracts including compensation for forcibly detaining them and other forms of maltreatment.


The migrant leader notes that that this is not the first time that the government has allowed or worked for the repatriation of distressed OFWs without just compensation. "In fact, we believe that this government, as it has proven time and again that it will wilfully sacrifice its citizens for money, has made unscrupulous and exploitative recruiters and employers even more bolder in exploiting and abusing our kababayans," Martinez continued.


"This is a disturbing trend. Coming home penniless after being indebted to pay for the recruitment process is clearly an additional injustice to OFWs like the workers in Annasban Company," Martinez concluded.


The group reiterated that Annasban Company be banned forever from recruiting Filipinos and an investigation be held on recruiters and government officials, such as Labor Attaché Rustico de la Fuente, who facilitated the lifting of the suspension order against the said company.


Friday, January 15, 2010

A friend has shared their Allvoices news report

ofwjournalism ( has posted an interesting news report on and has shared it with you.

The news report Gov?t awardee says few options for OFW families in Maguindanao can be found at

Comments from : Take a look at my news report on!

We look forward to seeing you on allvoices!

The Allvoices Team


In compliance with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's order to all government agencies to prepare for the coming El Niño phenomenon, the Department of Public Works and Highways intensifies its activities on rainwater conservation.

DPWH Secretary Victor Domingo said that in order to conserve the supply of water, the DPWH Task Groups for Rainwater Conservation will check and monitor the installation of rainwater impounding tanks in all DPWH regional and district engineering offices.

Headed by DPWH Undersecretary Rafael C. Yabut, the Task Group for Rainwater conservation was created last March 2009 in compliance with Executive Order No. 774 also known as Reorganizing Task Force on Climate Change.

" In National Capital Region our district engineering offices has already installed the water tanks to collect rainwater which will be used in concrete cement mixing, equipment cleaning, roadside maintenance works and to water roadside ornamental plants" Yabut said.

Meanwhile, Secretary Domingo, who is also the Chairman of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System, also said that they are now forming a technical team that will check all existing dams and plug leaks, if any before summer to prevent seepage.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Migrante calls for banning of deployment to Saudi Firm Annasban

"Annasban Co. must be banned from recruiting more Filipino migrants!"


This was the reaction issued by Migrante chairperson Garry Martinez upon receiving the news that the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh will start repatriation proceedings on January 17 for 88 Filipino women who went on a hunger strike to demand repatriation in protest of numerous and continuous contract violations of Annasban Co. 

Though expressing jubilance over the news, the women OFWs who are on their 2nd day of hunger strike were also wary about new promises made by the Philippine government  regarding their plight.


"When we talked to them early this morning, they felt victorious. But they also said they will not stop the hunger strike until Ambassador Villamor himself shares to them the official result of the negotiations with Annasban," reported Martinez, referring to a phone conversation with Eppie Bellarma, spokesperson of the protesters. "The protesters are ready to continue the strike once repatriation is not done on the 17th."


According to Martinez, this is the first time a concrete response from the Philippine government was issued.  On October 12, 2009, three (3) separate groups of OFWs numbering to more than 80 working for Annasban Co. decided to stop working in protest of gross violations in their employment contracts – reduced wage rates, prolonged hours of work and non-issuance of various benefits. Since then, they have been locked-up by the company in crowded and unhealthy accommodations provided by the company.  Negotiations started in November. In dialogues conducted by families with the OWWA in the Philippines, OWWA officials mentioned that all that was needed were exit visas.  It is only now that the DFA has given a concrete response to their demand for immediate repatriation.


Martinez also said that the families felt the same and are also prepared to take the protest right at the door of the DFA once the repatriation is delayed. "The OFWs and their families will not take anymore promises. They are determined to pursue their cases not only against the Annasban but against conniving arrogant and irresponsible government officials involved." 


Ban Annasban, Remove Colluding Officials in POLO and POEA


 Martinez wondered why Annasban is able to continue such illegal and inhuman treatment of its Filipino workers despite the numerous complaints against it. They claim that this multi-million company has a notorious record of victimizing thousands of Filipino workers.


Records of Migrante International – MAC (Migrants Assitance Committee) show that there have been waves of complaints against the Annasban, always involving contract violations and unfair labor practices.  Since 2006, Migrante International has been handling requests for repatriation from OFWs  needing to be rescued from the company.


Martinez said that "contract substitution is their main modus-operandi, wherein they force Filipino OFWs to sign new employment contracts with provisions that are entirely different from the one they agreed to in the Philippines. Since it is rampant, we believe they are able to do so with the collusion of government officials at the embassy and at the POEA. "


He cited that in November 29, 2005, Annasban was already disqualified to participate in the POEA Program because of  a growing clamor against the company.  It was temporarily banned to hire Filipino workers until it obtained clearances from POLO's in Saudi Arabia. The Order was only lifted in 2008 based on a so-called positive report by Labatt  Restituto de la Fuente."


But Migrante's records show that hiring continued even during the ban as numerous cases against Annasban from 2005 to 2008 continued to be filed during the ban.

Martinez continued, "This happened under the very noses of  POEA and DOLE  officials.  A positive report on Annasban was provided by embassy officials DESPITE the filed complaints. There is something really fishy here and it warrants a rigorous fishing expedition by honest officials. Indeed, there is a need for a transparent and thorough investigation here."


"Annasban must be stopped! Conniving government officials must be punished! Migrante intends to take steps to see these through!, Martinez concluded.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Filipina caregive's remains to arrive in Manila

With no help from RP Gov`t

Migrante-Alberta demands assistance to dead OFW, familyA Filipina caregiver`s remains will arrive in Manila tomorrow without the help of the Philippine government.

Migrante-Alberta, Canada insists that it is the responsibility of the Philippine government to assist Filipinos in and out of the Philippines, dead or alive. Thus, the migrant group believes it should help in the repatriation of a Filipina caregiver`s remains and provide assistance to her two children.

``The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should help repatriate Merlinda Agos` remains back to her family through the agency`s repatriation fund, without any alibi,`` said Migrante Alberta coordinator Gina Martirez Doblado after the Philippine officials in Canada refused to assist in the repatriation of Agos' remains. She cited the case of slain caregiver Jocelyn Dulnuan in Ontario which the DFA, upon pressure from migrant groups, helped repatriate in October 2007.

Agos, a 49 year-old nanny in Haddow Drive, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, collapsed on January 3 at a retail store where she was sending money to her family in Cabangcalan, Negros Occidental, a province in the Visayas reion. She was sent to the University of Alberta Hospital and was diagnosed with brain aneurysm, a condition where blood vessels going to the brain bulge and rupture.

Maria Cristina Mangulabnan, a fellow nanny, said that Agos was already in a state of comatose when she and some friends arrived at the hospital. Agos succumbed to death past 11 p.m. of the same day after her family in the Philippines, in a phone conversation with the doctor, decided that the respirator supporting Agos's life could already be removed.

Mangulabnan also said that Philippine representatives in Canada refused to provide assistance for Agos'repatriation. On January 5, Agos's case was brought to the attention of Philippine embassy in Vancouver by her third employer. The employer was referred to the local consulate based in Edmonton. But Agos' employer was told that since her benefit membership with the [Philippine] government was expired, it is now the employer's responsibility to send her body to the Philippines.

Mangulabnan and fellow nannies sought the help of Migrante Alberta, a non-profit group for Filipino migrants, in exposing the Philippine representatives'neglect of OFWs in need .

Repatriation is one of the services Overseas Filipino Workers subscribe to through a membership with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). A $25.00 (US) is paid upon processing of contract and repaid when a new contract is entered into by a Filipino overseas worker.

"Agos worked as a domestic helper in Taiwan before going to Canada. Like her, to the surprise of her fellow nannies, none of them is an OWWA member because they were not informed about this when they moved working to Canada," said Doblado. "The OFWs have been kept uninformed, and now, in the case of Agos, victim of the Philippine officials' negligence!"

Present and previous employers and the Agbuloy Christian ministry contributed to cover the cost of repatriation of Agos' remains that amounts to CAD $7,800. Agos' friends also solicited from their employers and fellow nannies.

"This is an insult to her and to many OFWs who are doing service to our country through our remittances," Mangulabnan said, lambasting the inaction by the Edmonton consulate official Esmeralda Agbulos.

"Our group also demands that assistance to Agos' family in Negros should be provided by the government," Doblado said. "Even if we pay our OWWA membership, we actually get nothing in return in times we most needed it. They have refused to help the dead OFW, and now they will do the same to her children, saying that her OWWA membership already lapsed for her family to avail such benefits."

"We have been sacrificing for the Philippine economy and yet we still get this kind of disservice," said Doblado. Canada has been among the top 5 source countries of dollar remittances in the past few years.  Of the more than US$16 B total remittances in 2008, more than US$1B was from Canada.

"With or without membership or any form of payment, OFWs and families deserve the assistance they needed, anytime, anywhere and from anyone in the government," ended Doblado.

Philippine embassy messed

By Noel Malicdem

in Al-ain, United Arab Emirates


I was at the Philippine embassy in Abu Dhabi, UAE last December 2009 to renew my passport. I had taken a half day leave on my work so that first thing in the morning I could travel from Al-ain to Abu Dhabi. So, I arrive in about 9:00 am and went straight to the embassy. I arrived there full of expectations as this was my first time to visit the embassy since I came here in UAE 3 years ago. Upon entering the premises, I was dismayed to see a toilet beside the  building which is not even screen and it was even built as a temporary shelter just to accommodate my fellow kabayan for public use. As I approach the entrance, a number of memos, notices and announcements are posted on the walls of the building entry (can they not provide a bulletin board) in which I considered it as unpleasant and unwelocoming. Once I step on the receiving hall which I guess has an area more 4 sq.m. a lone kabayan will greet you on his makeshift reception desk located in the left corner. Then he'll ask your purpose of visit, fill up forms, hand over your stub with a manually written number on a hardboard paper (can they not provide even a computer printed stub) and you'll be advised to proceed with next step. Once I entered the main room for the processing, I was in shame to see the place in total disarray and considering that this is supposed to be an example of our country's hospitality and pride. It would really be a shame to write it all  in details but its my fellow Filipino's right to know. Is this how we are going to represent our country in a foreign land? To continue with my story, inside was more unacceptable. A line of tables with different sizes, models and colors in which I considered them as a trash or had been donated by our kababayans, a monoblock chairs and a disorganize space with no proper work designations and work descriptions. No curtains, an old tv monitor and a makeshift counter and a temporary divider wall. We'll in short the place was terrible, disgusting and its not the proper place to represent our country. In my own opinion, an embassy is supposed to be a place to give relief and comfort to our fellow Filipinos working abroad, but with this kind atmosphere you're going to be welcomed, then I guess I just have to finish all the necessary applications and head back to work.


I hope I would not misunderstood on my opinions on what I've witnessed. I went abroad for a reason and not to be influence by culture and character in the place where I choose to work and besides Abu Dhabi is a modern city, so we might as well represent our country in a respectful way. I can't blame other nationalities why they treat us that way, but my point is someone has to stand up and take pride in being a Filipino and we OFW's are the best example. No wonder most of the employer choose Filipinos to work for them because we are the most competitive.


I don't know if the ambassador is partly to be blamed or is he/she aware of what is happening to its area of responsibility or just  busy  organizing parties  and raising funds for no apparent reasons or the government itself for its inability to provide better services to its citizens abroad. Its my right to say this things for I consider myself a major contributor on our economy and I deserved to avail all this services.





Noel Malicdem
Senior Designer

For and on Behalf of

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Job prospects in KSA remain bright for OFWs

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said employment prospects for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) will remain vibrant as mega industrial and economic cities will be built across the Kingdom over the next 15 years.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque, citing a report from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),  said the KSA's medium to long-term socio-economic development plans include the development of 12 mega industrial and economic cities across the Kingdom which are expected to employ millions of local and foreign workers until 2024.


Roque also cited a study by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce which estimated that 10 million local and expatriate workers will be needed by the major development projects in the KSA. 

He said the construction of the mega cities is expected to sustain the employment of hundreds of thousands of OFWs in the KSA, adding that the DOLE looks forward to continuous hiring of OFWs in the KSA this year and until 2024.


 He said that with the robust construction activities aimed at making the KSA one of the world's top investment destinations, it is projected that the Kingdom will remain the top OFW destination over the next several years.

The Labor and Employment Chief said OFWs in the construction sector will continue to be in demand in the KSA. 


The POEA data showed that the KSA will be in need of aluminum installers, architects, carpenters, concrete finishers, draftsmen, drillers, electric/mechanical assistants, electricians, engineers, erectors, fabricators, foremen, heavy equipment operators, watchmen, mason, pipefitters, plaster painters, plasterers, plumbers, riggers, safety officers, welders, and mechanics. Oil and gas workers will also be in demand in the Kingdom.


Meantime, the following four integrated economic cities have already been launched in the KSA at a cost of about US$16 billion: 1) King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh, KSA with a potential to create one million jobs; 2) Jazan Economic City in Jazan, KSA which is projected to generate 500,00 new jobs; 3) Prince Abdullaziz Bin Moussaed Economic City in Hail, KSA  which expected to become the largest transportation and logistics hub and supply chain centers in the Middle East; and 4) Knowledge Economic City in Madinah, KSA.


Other economic cities already launched in the KSA are the Hail Industrial City and Al-Mal Economic City.  The Kingdom's development projects also include a US$5.3 billion (SR20 billion) light rail, buses, and sea transport system.


Jeddah, KSA's largest city and gateway of pilgrims to Makkah and Madinah, will also develop housing units and tourist sites that would include the establishment of hotels, malls, transport facilities, and recreational centers.   Multi-billion dollar projects providing for the construction of nine villages with retail and leisure amenities, mosques, and educational and healthcare facilities will also be pursued in the KSA's Eastern Province.

Migrante salutes striking Pinoys in Riyadh, slams “inutile” RP post

A militant alliance of overseas Filipino workers' (OFWs) groups today expressed solidarity with 88 OFWs who staged a hunger strike in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after calls for their repatriation were left unheeded by the Philippine post in the Middle Eastern city.

The 88 OFWs were victims of contract substitution and unjust labor practices of construction firm Annasban Group. They stopped working on October 12 last year after they complained of salary reduction, illegal salary deduction and delayed payment of salary.

November 3 last year, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement that the Philippine Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh have been working for the workers' repatriation "at the soonest possible time." The promised repatriation, however, didn't happen.

"Migrante International salutes the Riyadh 88 for militantly standing up to assert their rights. OFWs the world over join them in their fight for justice," stated Garry Martinez, Chairperson of Migrante International.

"We vehemently condemn the Philippine government, particularly our post in Riyadh, for their gross neglect and indifference to their plight. We strongly urge them to act with dispatch and work for the immediate repatriation and remuneration of the 88 hunger strikers." Martinez said.

The Migrante leader likewise called for the investigation and recall of RP officials in Riyadh KSA for their apparent "inutility and incompetence."

"When OFWs in distress go to the extent of starving themselves just to get the attention of Philippine government officials, there really is something wrong. Such is the case in Riyadh. What we have there are heartless, inutile and incompetent officials who do not deserve their posts," Martinez stressed.

In December of 2003, Martinez said, 16 stranded OFWs also staged a hunger strike inside the premises of the Philippine embassy in Riyadh. Days after, the striking workers were arrested and detained by the Saudi police upon the orders of Philippine embassy officials led by then Ambassador Bahnarim Guinomla.

To protest the arrest of the striking workers in Riyadh and to renew their call for the OFWs' repatriation, Migrante organized a camp out of the relatives and family members of the 16 OFWs outside the office of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Pasay City. The peaceful camp out, Martinez said, was brutally dispersed by the Pasay police upon orders of then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo. Four Migrante leaders, including its Secretary General Maita Santiago, were arrested during the dispersal.

OFWs in solidarity with farmers in historic nationwide caravan for land and justice

Migrante International, representing Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in various countries, today expressed solidarity with the first-ever nationwide farmers caravan for land and justice, which kicked off today in Davao and Cagayan de Oro City, and is expected to culminate with thousands of farmers marching to Mendiola on January 22.


"We hail our farmers for their resolve to travel all the way from remote provinces in order to register their call for genuine land reform, which the Arroyo government has left unheeded. OFWs, majority of whom come from poor agricultural provinces, know what it means to be landless. Landlessness is one of the root causes of migration, and thus Migrante supports this historic protest action," said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.


Migrante, currently campaigning for the repatriation of more than 300 stranded OFWs, said that the misery faced by Filipino victims of human rights abuses abroad can be traced to the lack of opportunities in the country brought about by landlessness and lack of national industrial development.


"For instance, some of the 88 OFWs in Riyadh currently on a hunger strike come from poor farmer families. It is most tragic when OFWs escape hunger here in the Philippines, only to be faced with hunger abroad because of government neglect and indifference to their welfare," said Martinez.


Migrante International will join several groups that will welcome the farmers when they arrive in Metro Manila on January 19. The group will also mobilize for the march to Mendiola on January 22, the 23rd anniversary of the Mendiola massacre.


"Farmers, just like OFWs, are heroes, struggling to survive and fight amidst poverty brought about by the government's neo-liberal policies that serve to benefit big landlords and employers first. They serve as an inspiration to OFWs all over the world," Martinez added.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Crackdown on fake AIDS test certificates

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque has directed the crackdown
of fake AIDS tests certificates which resulted in the deportation of 57
Filipino overseas performing artists (OPAs) from Seoul as of December last

The Labor Chief said that the agency will be sanctioned if found violating
Republic Act No. 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of

A thorough investigation is now ongoing on a certain international
recruitment agency which issued fake AIDS test certificates and responsible
in the deportation of OPAs from Seoul, Korea, DOLE said.

In 2009, Roque said that out of the 57 OPAs, 11 were deported on December 7,
18 on December 4, and 28 deportees from July 12 to 16.

He emphasized that to protect OFWs in both the sending and host countries, a
strict AIDS test should be made a crucial part of the medical examination
required by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on
overseas bound-migrant workers.

One of the OPAs said that their agency in the Philippines prepared and
submitted all the documents including their AIDS test certificates. She
added that they did not undergo a test in the country because the agency and
promoter advised them that the AIDS test will be conducted in Korea.

"We strongly urge the recruiters to adhere to the stringent requirement and
ensure that the credentials and required certificates of OFWs (overseas
Filipino workers) are in accordance with the international standards," Roque

Meanwhile, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Seoul is in the
process of inviting the promoter in Korea to shed light on the incident.

Labor Attaché to Seoul Delmer F. Cruz also recommended that necessary
reintegration assistance should be extended to the deported OPAs in
consideration of their disadvantaged status through DOLE's National
Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) and Overseas Workers Welfare
Administration (OWWA).

On the case of OFW mistaken for a fugitive, Migrante demands an apology



A militant alliance of overseas Filipino workers groups today demanded an apology from Qatari and Philippine authorities after an innocent overseas Filipino worker (OFW) was mistaken for a fugitive and was recently arrested and locked up for seven days in Doha, Qatar.


"What a colossal blunder of the Deparment of Foreign Affairs and Bureau of Immigration officials! This is so typical of the incompetent, erring government officials of President Arroyo's government dealing with migrant issues," declared Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.  


The OFW, Jason Aguilar, a welder from Calumpit Bulacan, is now back in the country after being deported by Qatari authorities. Radio reports mention how he has been traumatized by his experience.


"At the very least, Qatari and Philippine authorities should issue an apology to Jason Aguilar and his family for this serious case of mistaken identity. This blunder has already cost the poor OFW his job, leaving his family who depends on his earnings, with a bleak start in the New Year," continued Martinez.


The Migrante leader likewise "demanded that the OFW be indemnified by the Philipine government authorities for this terrible ordeal and those officials who have bungled up their job should immediately be dismissed from their jobs.


"Migrante International urges the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to undertake the necessary measures so that Aguilar's name will be cleared at the soonest and that he be indemnified for this terrible ordeal," he said.


The organization is also calling on the representatives of the Senate and the Lower House to decisively act on pending investigations on errant and abusive officials abroad.


Migrante mulls boycott of Cebu Pacific


Migrante International, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers' groups worldwide, today said they are contemplating on calling for a boycott of Cebu Pacific after several complaints of discriminatory practices have surfaced against the airline.


Cebu Pacific recently drew flak after it reportedly told a special child and his mother to get off the plane saying that the airline has a policy disallowing it.


"Cebu Pacific must be taught a lesson. There are reports that this is not the first time the airline has done this despicable policy. To protest the airline's discriminatory practices, Migrante International is contemplating on calling for a boycott of Cebu Pacific among OFWs worldwide and their families here in the country; specially if the airline has not done anything to rectify," said Garry Martinez, Migrante International Chairperson.


He said, Migrante fully supports the victim's pursuit of justice. He likewise called on other victims of Cebu Pacific's discriminatory policies to surface. ###


OFWs group deplores labor mission for inaction on referred OFWs cases

A chapter of an alliance of overseas Filipino migrant workers in the Middle East today deplores the Philippine labor and welfare mission based in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia for sleeping on the numerous cases of distress OFWs referred for their attention and action.
Migrante-Saudi Arabia said it is very disappointing that labor and welfare-related cases of several distress OFWs  including a case of mysterious death that were referred to the attention of Philippine Overseas Labor Office and OWWA (POLO-OWWA ERO) in the Eastern region have not been acted until now.
"Our fellow OFWs especially those who are in distress deserves full attention and assistance to their cases especially if their rights are being violated by their  employers; not just lip-service from the RP post that is duty bound to provide assistance for distress OFWs," said John Torres, Migrante-KSA spokesperson.
Torres said Migrante-Al Khobar and Migrante-Jubail chapters have been receiving complaints from distress OFWs and their plea for assistance just fall on deaf ears of POLO-OWWA officials in the Eastern region despite numerous calls and emails for their appropriate action.
Torres said the Labor official who heads the POLO-OWWA in the Eastern Region is on his official leave since last week of December 2009 and Migrante-Al Khobar chapter was informed that he will be back on the 2nd week of January 2010.
"Without their boss, we have observed that several staff of the POLO-OWWA in the Eastern region are only "sleeping" in their offices," Torres continued and likened the situation from a popular proverb "if the cat is away, the mouse will play."
Migrante-KSA estimates there are almost 400,000 OFWs in the Eastern Region including those undocumented OFWs.
On his part, Rodel Makalintal, Migrante-KSA Campaign & Media officer said since the bulk of the numbers of OFWs are from the Eastern region, it is but imperative for the RP labor and welfare mission to double their efforts in providing assistance to the increasing numbers of distress and run away OFWs in the Eastern region.
"Migrante-KSA is in fact supporting the plan of the RP posts in Saudi Arabia to deploy additional labor and welfare staff so that they could attend on the increasing numbers of OFWs cases," Makalintal added.
Migrante-Middle East maintains that it is receiving an average of 3-5 cases daily covering the GCC countries.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Industrial relations climate most peaceful in 2009

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has reported that the country's
strike incidence rate dipped to a new all-time low of only four (4) strikes
in 2009.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the DOLE, through the
National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), managed to further bring
down the incidence of work stoppages amidst the debilitating effects of the
Global Financial Crisis (GFC) resulting in a series of job displacements and
the devastation brought about by the recent typhoons.

"The four work stoppages are one case fewer than those declared in 2008 and
comprise only 1.23% of the 326 notices of strike/lockout handled during the
year," he said.

He further said that two of the four work stoppages occurred in Cebu City
(Region 7), while the other two were declared in Regions IV-A and XIII.

"Most worthy to note here is the fact that none of the four work stoppages
occurred in the National Capital Region, the traditional seat of labor
unrest in the country," the Labor Chief further said.

During the anniversary celebration of NCMB, Monday, Roque cited its efforts
in attending to labor disputes that resulted in faster disposition of cases,
noting that NCMB conciliators disposed actual strikes in an average of 20
days, 23 days faster compared to 43 days last year.

"The NCMB also disposed all of the work stoppages to attain a 100%
disposition rate," Roque added.

As of December 31, 2009, the country is strike and lockout free. Productive
mandays lost also declined to 6,560 from 38,711 last year as a result of
fewer strike incidences, despite the increase in workers affected by
strikes, Roque noted.

The vastly stabilizing climate in the industrial front is also reflected in
the declining number of notices of strike/lockout and preventive mediation
cases, he further said.

The NCMB docketed 285 notices of strike/lockout during the year, 21% lower
than those filed last year. The Board also received 479 new preventive
mediation cases, 11% fewer than those filed a year ago.

Efforts of the NCMB to resolve labor disputes resulted in the facilitation
of Php1.66B in monetary benefits for 22,569 workers.

Less government intervention in labor disputes

Roque also revealed that only 12 cases were subjected to his intervention
during the year. The 12 cases, he said, make up a paltry 1.4% of the 850
cases handled by the Board during the year as the Office of the Secretary
continues to exercise prudence in the use of its power to intervene in labor

The Secretary has instructed the Board to maximize conciliation-mediation
processes to explore all possible options for settlement before and even
during the intervention, if the parties are opened to further negotiation.

Some cases with pending petition for the Secretary's intervention were
settled through conciliation-mediation, rendering the petitions moot and
academic, as seen on the cases of Bank of Philippine Islands, Purefoods
Hormel Company, San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corporation, Victor Potenciano
Medical Center, Republic Cement Corporation, Sagara Metroplastic Industrial
Corporation and Toyo Inc. Compounds Corporation.The cases of AFPSLAI and
Clark Development Corporation were likewise settled through

Even while a case is already pending with the Office of the Secretary, the
Board continues to conciliate and mediate between the parties in an effort
to find a mutually acceptable solution. The cases of Foremost Farms Inc.,
Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. - CDO Plant, Columbia Wire and Cable
Corporation and BPI Family Savings Bank were settled through
conciliation-mediation while the same were pending with the Office of the

SENA gains ground

Roque also imparted that the Single Entry Approach (SENA), formerly known as
the Free Legal Aid and Voluntary Arbitration Services (FLAVAS) continues to
gain wider acceptance as an option for resolving labor disputes.

He said, the SENA gives opportunities to non-unionized workers to avail of
the conciliation services of the Board.

In 2009, the Board received 900 requests for assistance under the SENA
Program, Secretary Roque disclosed, saying the successful resolution of SENA
cases during the year resulted in the facilitation of Php23M benefits for
some 1,550 workers.

Proactive activities

Also, through its proactive intervention, the Board assisted in the
conclusion of 18 CBA's, 6 of which benefited the covered workers with some
Php 68, 394,146.90 in monetary benefits.

Voluntary arbitration

The Board, through its accredited voluntary arbitrators (AVA's), received
some 119 cases in 2009, Roque said. He added that the resolution of 73 VA
cases benefited some 564 workers with Php 62M in monetary awards during the

Decisions of AVA's continue to enjoy wide acceptance, with its affirmation
rate in 2009 of 100%.

Proactive programs, key to fewer workplace disputes

Roque also cited the intensified efforts of the Board's regional branches in
promoting the twin programs on Workplace Cooperation and Partnership (WCP)
and Workplace Dispute Prevention and Resolution (GM) mechanisms as having
contributed heavily in stabilizing the relations between labor and

He said, WCP's/LMC's and GM's complement the Board's conciliation-mediation
services in maintaining a peaceful and stable climate in the industrial

To date, there are some 1,504 WCP's and 1,206 GM's nationwide, which
continue to benefit workers and employers in terms of best management
practices, improved productivity, open communication lines, improved
corporate social responsibility and fewer incidences of labor disputes, he