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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

RP post welfare officer still detained in Saudi jail; migrant rights group calls anew for his immediate release

More than 2 months from his arrest on 12 June 2010, the welfare officer of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is still detained in Deira Jail, Riyadh and pleading hard for his immediate release.


Welfare officer Bashir Ayob, 47 years old from Takurong, Sultan Kudarat, was arrested on 12 June while he is attending the repatriation formalities of distress OFWs. He is accused and a primary suspect for rushing into a Saudi hospital an OFW woman while she is about to give birth but unfortunately died.


Welof Ayob has been working at the Philippine Embassy since 2006 who was then designated as Officer-In-Charge of the Embassy’s Bahay Kalinga.


According to the reports, on 22 May at around 3:40 p.m. an unidentified OFW woman was rushed to the Shemesy Hospital in Riyadh by an OFW who was not identified; the OFW woman died.


Usually seen assisting sick OFWs at the Shemesy hospital for check-up almost every day, Welof Ayob then became the suspect. 


On 10 June, he was invited by the Saudi police for questioning about the said incident but was later cleared.


On 12 June, he was arrested while attending the repatriation formalities of distress OFWs at the immigration office in Riyadh.


His wife, Bing Ayob who is also an OFW nurse based in Riyadh, first appealed to the Philippine Embassy for assistance seeking for his immediate release from prison as he is innocent of the crime charged against him.


The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) made a public pronouncement that it will be extending assistance to Welof Ayob by hiring a local lawyer for his defense.


Migrant-Middle East, an alliance of Filipino migrant rights group, urged the Philippine Embassy-Assistance to the Nationals Section (ANS) to arrange Welof Ayob released by placing him under its custody.


“More than 2 months now since his detention, the RP post didn’t even bother to issue a certification that Welof Ayob is not the person who abandoned the OFW who died at the Shemesy hospital, and then arrange to place him under the embassy’s custody,” said John Leonard Monterona,  Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.


Monterona said Welof Ayob’s continued detention is greatly affecting the numerous welfare cases he is to attend. 


“Now there are about 120 distress OFWs staying at the Bahay Kalinga, which unlike before under Welof Ayob’s care and guidance there are only about 40 distress OFWs at Bahay Kalinga,” Monterona added.


Monterona deplores the RP post slow action, if there is any, and post indecisiveness attending on Welof Ayob’s case. 


“His immediate release must be given top priority by the RP post as he is contributing a lot in attending distress OFWs cases, while other inept officials are merely sitting inside their air-conditioned offices at the Philippine embassy; these inept embassy officials deserve to be in jail, not Welof Ayob,” Monterona ended.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Abuses, maltreatment swell during Ramadan -migrant group

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East today said the number of run away and distress OFWs especially domestic helpers is rising during Ramadan, where many Filipina domestic helpers and migrant of other nationalities could not anymore bear the difficulties of huge household chores, sleeping late at night but waking up early morning, and are having only a single meal daily.


“Since, domestic helpers are living on their employer’s house practically like an aliping namamahay during Philippine pre-colonial time, it is expected that they too would abide the cultural practices of their respective employers observing the Holy Month of Ramadan and this would be very difficult for them to adjust, coupled with the inhumane treatment accorded to them,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.


Monterona said Migrante chapters in the Middle East have noticed a rise in the numbers of run away and distress OFWs during Ramadan.


Tomorrow, 11 August, would be the start of the observance of Ramadan.


“If during the past months, we normally received an average of 5 cases of run away and distress OFWs daily, we expect to receive 8 cases during Ramadan,” Monterona added.


Monterona said this is the same observations on last year’s Ramadan where the numbers of run away and distress OFWs surged to about an average 8 cases daily as documented by our Migrante chapters.


“Just yesterday, I received an email from a group of Filipino workers working for on a beauty center in Kuwait asking for assistance due to labor malpractice by their employers,” Monterona added.


A portion of the OFWs email said, “We are Filipino workers working in Ms. Raneem Beauty Center, owned and managed by Mr. Mohammad Rebhi Youshief Suleiman a Jordanian citizen and his wife Madame Wafa Al-Awad a Kuwaiti. We would like to take this opportunity to finally raise complaints on them in violating our human rights and even our rights as a worker in this country holding 18visa. Our complaints were listed as follows: Illegal recruitment – almost all Filipino workers were brought in Kuwait as Tourist visa. And when asked to sent them back home, they asked for 100 thousand (Philippine money) in each person as compensation to their expenses in bringing the person in Kuwait, No contract – all of their Filipino workers didn’t sign any working contracts with them. Or had any clear verbal contracts with them, All the passports of the Filipino workers were taken and being kept inside their house in Yarmouk.
- All of the workers in the saloon are not under their names as sponsor or
- Forceful signing in a blank paper.
- Working 12 hours per day or equivalent as 72 hours a week and sometimes more
than. And breaks are less than an hour. No shifting happens as it was written on
the documents from the ministry of Kuwait.
- No overtime pay. No additional pay on the day the workers worked on holidays.
- No sick leave. If it happens that the worker are not able to report for work
she will be considered as absent and it will going to be deducted on their
salary for that month.
- Below minimum salary that mostly the workers are just getting KD 80 to KD 100
a month without any commission.
- Salaries are not fixed. Varies from the amount of their work each month.
- One day off each week from 10am to 4pm. And usually at the last week of the
month were there is lot of customers we are forced to go to work. Without any
added pay.

We are calling your attention to please investigate the situation we are
involved in. We are almost 60 Filipino workers in here, living inside the
accommodation. And hopefully, this suffering that we are into that we have since
we came here would end. We are already frustrated and helpless with our current
situation; our lips are sealed with fear that we cannot bear anymore to have
another day in this place, to know who had been hit again from our fellow
Filipinas. We had enough. And now we are willing to put an end on Mr. Suleiman’s
oppression. Not just for us here but for the coming batches that would be
tricked also by their words,”
the workers said on their email to Monterona sent yesterday.


Monterona said Philippine labor department should be seriously working with counterparts host government to ink a pact providing protection mechanism for OFWs that would ensure that their well being and rights as migrant workers will be protected and guaranteed.


“We are yet to see what actions would the Aquino government to take in protecting deployed OFWs in the Middle East where most cases of abuses and maltreatment have been recorded yearly,” Monterona ended.




Monday, August 09, 2010

Murdered OFW's body arrives at NAIA





Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez today accompanied the family of Mark Lloyd Carmen, an overseas Filipino worker murdered in Iran last July 1, 2010, to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to fetch his remains.


Carmen went to Abu Dhabi last April 4 via tourist visa hoping to find work. He eventually got employed in one of the hotels there but had to leave before his visit visa expired. He left for the nearest exit point in Kish Island on June 11 to await the release of his working visa that was still being processed by his employer.


On July 1, Carmen bled to death after a Sudanese national stabbed him with a metal nail polisher. His roommates were unable to immediately bring him to the hospital as, under Sudanese law, only local authorities were allowed to take him. He died ten minutes after he arrived at the hospital, two hours after the stabbing incident.


Upon learning of his death, Leila Gonzaga, a relative residing in Abu Dhabi, went to Kish Island to claim his remains. The management of the hotel where he was staying paid for the hospital expenses and airfare for the transfer of his body to the Philippine embassy in Tehran.


Gonzaga was then told by embassy officials that it was the family’s responsibility to shoulder the cost of autopsy and airfare for the return of his remains to the Philippines amounting to almost half a million pesos. Sought for help, the Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (DFA-OUMWA), informed Carmen’s mother that they had to pay USD8,000, or approximately P360,000, for the repatriation of her son’s remains.


On her visit to the morgue, Gonzaga was also shocked to learn that, apart from Carmen’s, at least a dozen more bodies of OFWs remain unclaimed in Iran morgues.


“This is cause for national outrage. The DFA was claiming that one of the main reasons for the delay in the repatriation of Carmen’s body was because many more bodies were being processed,” Martinez said.


He added, “The DFA should have no reason to justify failure to ship back the remains of OFWs when it has P100 million in repatriation funds. Saan na napunta ang pondong ito? Bakit ipinapabalikat sa mga pamilya ang expenses? We demand that the remains of OFWs in Iran be transported to the Philippines with haste and not a minute to lose.”


Martinez said that in the case of Carmen, it was not even the DFA that shouldered and processed the repatriation.  Carmen’s family sought the help of Taguig Rep. Freddie Tinga who brought the case to the DFA’s attention. “Kung hindi pa sa tulong na naman ng third party malamang ay pinagpasa-pasahan na naman ng DFA ang pamilya,” he said.


Martinez criticized the DFA for its “grave neglect” and called on the Aquino administration to give appropriate attention to the immediate return of the remains of OFWs in Iran morgues.


He also said that the Aquino administration should also prioritize the repatriation of at least 10,000 OFWs stranded in Kish Island. “Huwag na naman sanang hintayin ng gobyerno na maging malamig na bangkay na rin ang ating mga kababayan doon bago pa sila mapauwi rito.”


Carmen’s remains were brought to Western Taguig for his wake. He is survived by his wife, Baican, and two children.



Migrant group stands by the information about starving of jailed OFW



After exposing to the media the deplorable plight of a jailed OFW in Saudi prison few weeks back which the RP post in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia denied based on its issued statement, Migrante-Middle East said it stands by the information that OFW Joselito Zapanta has been starved in Malaz Central jail.


“Upon hearing the miserable plight of OFW Joselito Zapanta as his family sought our assistance, we have urged the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh to visit him, look unto his condition and provide the necessary assistance. We stand by the information given to us by his family that he has been starved after being beaten few weeks ago,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.


Monterona said that his group in fact investigated the report of his miserable condition inside the jail as OFW Zapanta has been telling his family via short messages and long distance calls that he has been manhandled and that not given food inside jail.


“Two days ago another fellow jailed OFW, Robert Lazarte called me asking for assistance to follow his case with RP embassy staff; I have asked him if he knew Joselito Zapanta. He said he has heard of him complaining too about lack of food, but he belongs to other prison cell, not on cell no.15,” Monterona quoted Lazarte.


Monterona said not only OFW Zapanta is complaining but as well other jailed OFWs inside Malaz Central jail about lack of food and toiletries for their daily used.


Monterona said it is expected that the RP post will strongly deny the miserable condition of OFW Zapanta and the other 70+ jailed OFWs in prison cell no.15. He added there are about more than 50 plus jailed OFWs in other cells at the Malaz Central jail.


Monterona also deplores the RP post by diverting the issue of neglecting jailed OFWs such as Zapanta and Lazarte. The RP embassy on a report said “publicity” will jeopardize Zapanta getting a clemency from the victim’s family.


“We are not discussing the criminal case of OFW Zapanta in public, we are merely asking the RP post to do its job by conducting regular visit so that they should know the deplorable conditions of our jailed OFWs for humanitarian consideration as they complained to us lack of food, water and toiletries,” Monterona added.


Monterona said he will not be surprised if one day the RP post would say that OFW Zapanta and the other jailed OFWs in prison cell are starving because they are now Muslim converts and that need to have fasting.


“Mid-August is the start of the Holy month of Ramadan, then it would be easy for the RP embassy to justify not the give them food and water,” Monterona added.


“We would like to remind our Embassy, Consular and Labor officials that they are duty bound to provide assistance to OFWs especially those who are in trouble, Migrante officers and members are here to remind them and ever ready to even extend assistance to run away, distress OFWs as this is our commitment in serving our fellow OFWs.” Monterona ended. # # # 



Thursday, August 05, 2010

University of the Philippines National Engineering Center Seminars

University of the Philippines National Engineering Center Seminars

 Industrial Lubrication and Tribology

 The National Engineering Center will be conducting a seminar on Industrial Lubrication and Tribology on August 11-13 2010. The course is designed to orient and upgrade the skills of engineers and technicians on effective lubrication management program and at the same time answers the basic concerns of local industries on the area of maintenance. The target participants of this seminar are the maintenance supervisors, engineers and planners, lubrication engineers and facility engineers with background on BS Electrical or Mechanical Engineering or equivalent combination of academic and work experience. Seminar fee is at P13,000 inclusive of course materials, certificate, lunch and snacks. For further details please contact 922-4714 or email us at and/or visit us on our website

 Analytical Methods and Materials Testing

The National Engineering Center will be conducting a seminar on Analytical Methods and Materials Testing on August 17-18, 2010. The training course covers the basic principles and utilization of different analytical techniques used in materials testing and characterization. These techniques include optical and scanning electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction, metallography, hardness testing, thermal analysis, and particle size analysis. The seminar objective is to provide participants with the basic knowledge on the use of the different analytical techniques in materials testing and characterization. The course is designed for people who are directly and indirectly involved in materials science and engineering activities in the academe, testing and analytical services, research and development offices and manufacturing industry. Seminar fee is at P9,500 inclusive of course materials, certificate, lunch and snacks. For further details please contact 922-4714 or email us at and/or visit us on our website

 Materials and Process Quality Control in Construction

The National Engineering Center will be conducting a seminar on Materials and Process Quality Control in Construction on August 24-26, 2010. The seminar aims to 1) discuss the testing procedures for different construction materials 2) provide the participants with concepts of quality control in construction materials 3) Familiarize the participants with the task and responsibilities involved in materials sampling testing.  The course is designed for material testing engineers/Supervisors, quality control engineers/Supervisors, Construction Inspectors and faculty members. Seminar fee is at P13,000 inclusive of course materials, certificate, lunch and snacks. For further details please contact 922-4714 or email us at and/or visit us on our website

Structured Cabling System Design

The National Engineering Center will be conducting a seminar on Structured Cabling System Design on August 246-27, 2010. The seminar aims to 1) become familiar with SCS technology 2) learn understand SCS design guidelines, considerations, and standards 3) Know the steps and procedures in designing SCS and practical application.  The course is designed for B.S degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering, Electrical Engineering or allied fields with experience in inside and outside plant telecommunications systems. Seminar fee is at P13,000 inclusive of course materials, certificate, lunch and snacks. For further details please contact 922-4714 or email us at and/or visit us on our website

Other NEC Seminars this August to October 2010

Online Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Web Mapping August 17-19, 2010

Maintenance of Rotating Machines, September 8-10, 2010

Soil and Land Capability Mapping and Assessment, September 13-17 2010

Project Management in the Construction Industry, October 6-8, 2010

Modern Mapping Technologies for Environment and Natural Resource Management October 12-15, 2010

Energy-Efficient Lighting System Design for Architects and Engineers, TBA

Power Electronics: Switch Mode Power Supply Principles and Applications, TBA