Give donation to Consortium

Thursday, March 31, 2011

ILO press conference to spotlight child labour in the Philippines - 5 April 2011, Quezon City

Manila (ILO News): As the school year ends and millions of children in
the Philippines look forward to their summer vacation, there are
hundreds of thousands who will get no holiday - child labourers. These
children - who are mostly from rural areas - have no choice but to keep
working and earning to help their families, even if their workplaces are

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is organizing a press
conference to draw attention to the plight of children who are forced to
drop out of school and to keep working because of poverty, on Tuesday, 5
April 2011 11:00-12:00 at the 3F Occupational Safety and Health Centre,
North Avenue corner Agham Road, Diliman, Quezon City.

In the Philippines, the dropout rate for elementary students is still
increasing; rising from an average of 5.99 per cent in 2007-2008 to 6.28
per cent in 2009-2010. The most cited reasons for children dropping out
of school are a loss of interest in education and not enough money in
the household to support their education.

The ILO press conference will highlight conditions of child labourers
through a personal testimony of a former child labourer and an overview
of the child labour situation in Quezon Province, Masbate, Northern
Samar and Bukidnon. It will give details of current initiatives to help
child labourers and their families that are part of the Towards a Child
Labour Free Philippines project funded by the United States Department
of Labor. These include initiatives designed to help seasonal pupils,
child labourers in sugar farms and agriculture and children from
indigenous and tribal groups - who often have to walk 10 kilometres or
more every day to go to school.

The ILO*s 2010 Global Report on Child Labour found that while child
labour continues to decline, it is doing so at a much slower pace than
before. The report also warned that the global economic crisis could
*further brake* progress toward the goal of eliminating the worst
forms of child labour by 2016. In 2010, the Philippine Government also
issued a Progress Report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
which found that poverty and education are two of the key areas where
not enough progress is being made. The Progress Report warned that the
country was unlikely to achieve universal access to elementary education
(MDG2) if factors such as child labour were not tackled.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Philippines is third country most frequently hit by disasters in 2010

The Philippines ranked third in the list of countries most frequently hit by natural disasters in 2010, the Citizens' Disaster Response Center reported.


Carlos Padolina, CDRC's Deputy Executive Director, cited the records of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) which showed that the Philippines was hit 14 times by natural disasters last year, competing closely with India and China.


However, this number was down by as much as 46% compared to the 2009 data -- from 26 (year

2009) to 14 (year 2010). The Philippines used to top the list in 2009.


CRED also ranked the Philippines 5th in the top ten list of countries most affected by natural disasters in 2010 with 3.9 million people affected. The People’s Republic of China topped the list with 145 million people affected. In 2009, the Philippines placed 2nd on that list, with 13.6 million people affected.


CDRC is a partner of CRED, a World Health Organization collaborating center based in Brussels, Belgium, which maintains the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT: The International Disaster Database).


However, Padolina said, if human-induced disasters like armed conflict were included, the total number of disaster occurrence in 2010 will reach 202, a slight increase from the previous year's 191. CDRC maintains its own disasters database, monitoring both natural and human-induced disasters.


Padolina added that these natural and human-induced disasters combined killed 239 people, and affected more than 1.29 million families or 6.75 million people, and caused over Php 25 billion in economic damages.


But Padolina admitted that human impact was indeed lower last year even if natural and human-induced disasters were combined, with only 6.75 million persons affected compared to the 13.6 million in 2009. This is a 50% decrease from the 2009 figures.


Padolina said that this can be attributed primarily to the fact that the country did not experience disasters as destructive as TS Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng of 2009.


Padolina said that despite the obvious decrease in disaster figures last year, the challenge to slide down from the top ten list of countries most affected by natural disasters still remains.


“We shouldn't be content with just a slight decrease in the number of affected population. We should in fact strive to be taken off the list completely,” Padolina stressed. "And we can do this by being prepared."


CDRC is a non-government organization that pioneered and continues to promote community-based disaster management in the Philippines. It operates nationwide through a network of regional centers and people’s organizations.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

National IP Summit culminates with commitment-setting



INDIGENOUS peoples (IP) and IP organizations from around the country are calling on the government to immediately suspend the processing of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and issuance of Certificate of Pre-conditions (CP) for major projects such as mining and infrastructure on grounds that these have violated their rights to self-determination.


This was one of the key recommendations issued by the IPs and IP groups and organizations in a resolution finalized at the close of the three-day summit on indigenous peoples that gathered over 140 participants from 56 tribes and organizations to craft a common legislative and executive agenda for indigenous peoples.


Aside from the call to suspend the processing of FPIC, the IP groups likewise urged the government to immediately revise the guidelines for the granting of the FPIC in consideration of their claims to their ancestral domain and their desire to live peacefully according to their own culture and traditions.


The FPIC is required by the government before mining and dam projects, for example, can push through. IP groups claim, however, that many of these multi-billion peso projects have managed to go ahead despite their stiff opposition to the encroachment to their ancestral domain.


This is also why the resolution recommended that the Mining Act of 1995 be repealed and that alternative mining bills that provide for rational management of minerals and upholds the rights of indigenous peoples be passed.


The IP groups also urged government to declare a moratorium on large-scale mining and strictly regulate small scale mining.


The resolution also recommended that a mechanism be established to ensure that the IPs themselves can take part in the selection and appointment of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), which is the main government agency mandated to implement the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.


At the same time, the IP groups and organizations also asked for a review of all programs on basic social services to consider the ethnic variabilities and cultural appropriateness of the delivery programs, particularly the 4Ps program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.


For his part, Roque Agton, chair of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, said he agreed that there was a need for FPIC guidelines to be amended and that the NCIP seeks greater participation from civil society organizations and IP groups to come up with effective guidelines.

Agton likewise said that the NCIP was committed to transparency and that he also sees the need to improve the guidelines on the issuances of the Certificates of Ancestral Land and Domain, as well as the guidelines on the disposition of royalty payments.


Rosalina Bistoyo, undersecretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform, meanwhile, said that the DAR will concentrate on private and agricultural lands, not areas covered by the ancestral domain titles, so as not to trample on the rights of the indigenous peoples.


This was just one of the moves, she said, that the agency was committed to doing to contribute to the development of the indigenous peoples.


Ambassador Jorge Domecq of the Embassy of Spain in their commitment for IPs in the Philippines said that active policy issue of indigenous peoples is paramount to development and fight against poverty. Philippines is our priority country in Asia and we would continue to give priority to projects related to indigenous people.


Nick Taylor of the European Union Delegation to the Philippines stated in his speech that IPs are an integral part of the EU’s human rights policy. Fundamental to this is the respect for the right to indigenous self development. EU Philippines was able to establish a strong portfolio for IPs and we expect further increase this year in the portfolio of projects through our facility called the Non-State Actor and Local Authorities in Development which works througha call for proposal in the aspect of poverty alleviation of IPs and improved capacity of IPs in local governance.


Tess Matibag of ILO stated that the UN Philippines established its Inter-Agency Technical Working Group (IATWG) on IPs to support the country team members for the promotion and protection of IP rights. She further committed that they will continue to support the empowerment of IPs in the country.


Secretary Teresita Deles of OPAPP meanwhile said that the IP concerns are in the heart of President Aquino as embodied in his agenda for one is to make sure that NCIP is functioning as it is. She further clarified that OPAPP is playing an oversight function on NCIP and that until the time that the IP community embraces NCIP she will not recommend that NCIP sit in the Cabinet directly.


With regards to the resolutions of the National IP Summit, she committed that they will sit down with NCIP to identify key government actors in each case. She and Cong. Baguilat can take turns in reporting the work progress in relation to the various resolutions.


She concluded that the institutions in place have to work accordingly and that NCIP, particularly, should be made to work for IPs.



Cong Teddy Baguilat meanwhile stated that he is giving his full support to the resolutions and policy agenda affirmed by the participants of the Summit and that the National Cultural Communities Committee of the Congress that he is spearheading already initiated some actions some of the points of the IP Policy Agenda

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'Voluntary repatriation at OFWs own expense' hit

An alliance of Filipino migrants group in the Middle East today scores the
Government's declaration on voluntary repatriation at OFWs on expense saying
this is a disservice to the sector that is helping the economy afloat
through their billions of remittances and fees and exactions imposed by the

"Voluntary repatriation at OFWs own expense is but a disservice to OFWs; it
is state responsibility to secure the well being and safety of our Filipino
workers abroad especially under adverse situation like wars and disasters or
natural calamities and any burden should not be passed on them," said John
Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

The Department of Labor and Employment announced, citing the assessment
issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that raised the alert
status to level 2 (restriction of movement) from alert level 1 (heightened
alertness), that OFWs could be repatriated if they want to avail voluntary
repatriation at their own expense.

The DFA announced that it will be sending a team to Bahrain to assess the
peace and order situation and continuously study the viability of its
contingency measures in evacuating OFWs in case the situation in Bahrain

Monterona said there were OFWs in Bahrain who called him yesterday asking
for assistance as they are worried on their situation as they are relatively
near Pearl Round-about where the security forces tried to disperse the

"One OFW called and informed me that yesterday the van driven by their
Indian driver was stopped by anti-government protesters and attempted to hit
them, but they were eventually allowed to pass after pleading," Monterona
said, quoting the OFW who requested not to be named.

"He also cited the 40 OFWs working for Al Areen palace and spa at Sanaad,
Bahrain and the 10 OFW-nurses working for Orthocare, asking for assistance
as well as they manifested their intent to be repatriated."

"I explained to them yesterday that the PH govt. is still mulling to
announced voluntary repatriation, but this would be at their own expense,"
said Monterona.

The OFWs countered: "We don't have money that's why we are asking
for assistance to be repatriated."

Monterona said these OFWs are active members of OWWA, thus in case they
would like to be repatriated, the government must provide their airfare.

"We are certain there is 100-M repatriation fund in OWWA, why not used t=
His to provide airplane tickets for those who wanted to be home because
worried of their safety," Monterona suggested.

Monterona calls on OWWA administrator Carmelita Dimzon to account
the OWWA funds and the 100-M OWWA repatriation fund and furnish the
information to OFWs stakeholders who are contributing US$25 yearly.

"These are OFWs money, thus it should be spent on OFWs welfare programs and
services," Monterona said.

Ochoa: EOs seen to boost tourism and investments


President Benigno Aquino III has issued two executive orders reorganizing the Philippine air panels and allowing them to pursue the administration’s international civil aviation liberalization policy, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Thursday.


“These executive orders reaffirm the President’s commitment to pursue policies that will promote tourism and spur investment in the country,” Ochoa said.


“Our goal is also to provide a competitive environment for the airline industry by allowing foreign airlines to come in. More airlines mean more choices for flyers, and, consequently, lower fares and better services to entice the flying public,” Ochoa added.


Executive Order No. 28 creates the Philippine Air Negotiating Panel (PANP) and the Philippine Air Consultation Panel (PACP); and Executive Order No. 29 authorizes the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and the two panels to explore discussions with foreign carriers.


He said that granting third, fourth and fifth freedom rights as well as unrestricted capacities and frequencies to foreign air carriers, among others, through the liberalization policy in international aviation, will enhance the competitiveness of Philippine domestic carriers considering that the Philippines is under Category 2 of the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Union.   


A Category 2 status means that the Philippines is not allowed by the United States and the European Union to increase its flight frequencies to these countries.


EO 29, on the other hand, provides guidelines to the two Philippine air panels in the negotiation of Air Services Agreements (ASAs).


It said the PACP and the PANP, to be collectively known as the Philippine Air Panels, should put forward the following in the negotiations:


·The need to promote domestic tourism by providing travelers more and varied choices of access to the Philippines through improved and increased aviation services;


·The need to promote investment, trade and employment generation in the Philippines through aviation;


·The need to spur competition in the Philippines aviation industry by enticing the entry of more players therein for the greater benefit of travelers; and


·The need to enhance competitiveness of Philippine domestic carriers.


EO 29 allows the PANP to offer and promote third, fourth, and fifth freedom rights to the country’s airports other than the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) without restriction as to frequency, capacity and type of aircraft, and other arrangements that will serve the national interest as may be determined by the CAB.


Under EO 29, the CAB may grant foreign air carriers increases in flight frequencies and/or capacities in the country’s airports other than NAIA, subject to conditions required by existing laws, rules and regulations, and approval of the President, notwithstanding the provisions of the relevant ASAs.


However, EO 29 prohibits CAB from granting any foreign air carriers Cabotage traffic rights of any kind such as the right to transport passengers and goods between two or more points within the Philippines.


“By empowering the CAB to allow foreign airlines to fly directly to airports other than the NAIA, the government hopes to encourage these airlines to fly to other destinations in the country and make it easier for foreign guests to visit the archipelago’s top tourist attractions,” Ochoa said.















Thursday, March 17, 2011

OFWs, dependents say 'Ouch!' on oil price hikes


Even OFWs and their dependents are not spared from the effect of never-ending price hikes on oil products including gasoline, diesel, and kerosene, and other commodities and social services such as electricity and water.


“We, OFWs and dependents, have been tightening our belt for the past years due to the continuous price increases of oil products, goods and services; these series of price hikes are ‘killing us so gently’,” said John Leonard Monterona, the Saudi-based OFW leader of Migrante-Middle East.


Monterona is reacting on the recent price hikes of gasoline, diesel, and kerosene by major oil companies in the Philippines.


Today, Shell announced that it will raise prices of unleaded gasoline by P0.50 per liter, kerosene by P0.30/liter, and diesel by P.06/liter.


While, Seaoil had also announced that price increase for kerosene is by P.30/liter, gasoline by P0.50/liter, and diesel by P0.60/liter.


Both announced that the new prices will take effect on 12:01 am of March 15. Other oil companies are expected to follow suit, sooner.


“I was told by my wife that these latest price hikes of gasoline, diesel and kerosene had been the nth time this year, and that she is struggling adjusting her budget, implying that my remittance would not be enough,” Monterona averred.


“I am quite certain that not only I and my family will feel the crunch of oil price hikes –the majority of OFWs too, who are only receiving meager wages ranging from P15,000 to P35,000 a month amid better appreciation of peso against the dollar,” Monterona added.


“How about the local workers in the Philippines who are barely receiving a wage of P420 a day -they will be hit hardest by the recent price hikes on oil products; worker’s demand for P125 wage increase across the board nation-wide has not been listened by the Aquino govt.,” he continued.



Monterona added as one could observed when there is price hikes on oil products, prices of other goods and services will eventually have to increase too.


“What is quite alarming is that the Aquino govt. seems not bothered by these recent price hikes as it rejected the proposal to abolish the imposition of E-VAT on oil products to lessen the impact to consumers,” Monterona averred.


Monterona said the Aquino govt. outright refusal to stop imposing E-VAT on oil products is an indication that it will not heed on the proposal to review the Oil Deregulation Law and take a strong position on regulating the oil industry that has long been exploited by major oil companies by merely setting speculative prices, thus accruing billions of profits, associating it to political instability in the Middle East where oil-producing countries like Libya and Saudi are now under siege by internal political strife.


“To be in control of the prices of oil products, the Aquino govt. must move towards the nationalization of the oil industry by crafting a sustainable oil resources acquisition and have its own eco-friendly oil exploration in the country to the benefits of its own people as consumers,” Monterona opined.


“To do this, the Aquino govt. must cut its own dependency to major oil companies, multi-national and trans-national corporations, and ultimately shun away from liberalized, privatized and deregulated economic structure in favor of a well planned socio-economic base and policies,” Monterona ended.


FW: 16 Mar.2011 Press Release: OFWs in strife-torn Bahrain, Yemen undecided over voluntary repatriation


“It will be hard for OFWs to leave their work even under adverse situation,” thus said today by an alliance of Filipino migrant rights group in the Middle East.


John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator who is a Saudi-based OFW said: “OFWs need jobs that offered relatively higher salary compared to what they would be receiving for a contractual job in the Philippines. In fact, jobs scarcity pushes us to find work overseas amid worsening economic situation in the Philippines.”


Yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued an advisory raising the alert level in strife-torn Bahrain to level 2 (restriction of movement) from alert level 1 (heightened alertness). It also urged OFWs to voluntarily leave Bahrain amid the worsening peace and order situation.


“It’s not that easy to leave our work here; where I would get money to survive my family in the Philippines,” said Myra A. Segundo, an OFW in Bahrain.


Another OFW, who requested anonymity, conveyed to Monterona during phone conversation yesterday evening that he is worried if the peace and order situation in Bahrain becomes worse just like what happened in Libya, “I could not yet decide if I will go home or not, but for now I think of how I could continue earn a living for my children in the Philippines,” the OFW added.


Monterona recalled that last week the travel ban imposed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) sometime on February 21 has been lifted citing the assessment on the peace and order issued by PH embassy in Bahrain.


Few weeks since the travel ban to Bahrain had been imposed, many returning OFWs have demanded to President Aquino to lift the travel ban so that they could return to work. Some of the returning OFWs claimed they were given an ultimatum by their employers to return for work, otherwise they’ll be fired.


Monterona opined the call to voluntarily leave Bahrain or even in Yemen by the PH govt. will not be heeded on, at least for now, by our fellow OFWs knowing fully that by doing so they would end jobless back in the Philippines amid soaring prices of oil products, goods and services.


“The Aquino govt. must seriously focus on local jobs creation, jobs that offer decent pay and fair employment package so that OFWs will be encourage to work back in the homeland,” Monterona averred.


He said creating jobs would entail getting away from the conventional tenets of neo-liberal economic policies.


“Pres. Aquino is facing a tall challenge of implementing genuine agrarian reform program and nationalization of basic industries that will serve as our economic backbone and foundation towards the desired economic development,” Monterona ended. # # #



John Leonard Monterona

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator

Mobile No.: 00966 535 921228








Clarify if travel ban in Bahrain is in effect, migrant group urges PH govt.



A Filipino migrant group in the Middle East today asks the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to clarify if there is a travel ban imposed to vacationing and hired OFWs going to Bahrain.


Earlier, a DFA official announced that the alert level in Bahrain has been raised to level 2 (restriction of movement) from alert level 1 (heightened alertness).


“We want to know if raising to alert level 2 status would mean imposition of travel ban for returning OFWs who’ll be back for work in Bahrain,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.


Monterona recalled that last week the travel ban imposed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) sometime on February 21 has been lifted citing the assessment on the peace and order issued by PH embassy in Bahrain.


Few weeks since the travel ban to Bahrain had been imposed, many returning OFWs have demanded to President Aquino to lift the travel ban so that they could return to work. Some of the returning OFWs claimed they were given an ultimatum by their employers to return for work, otherwise they’ll be fired.


“To properly guide our fellow OFWs especially those who are schedule to return to Bahrain for work, the DoLE-POEA must clarify the alert status level 2 raised by the DFA –if returning OFWs will be allowed to leave,” Monterona added.


Meanwhile, Monterona urges the DFA and the DoLE-POEA not to rely on the evacuation plans of OFWs employers and recruiters.


“Like what happened in Libya, there were employers and recruiters who had abandoned their hired OFWs during critical times; OFWs were left at their camp sites struggling how to get out of harm,” Monterona averred.


“During such critical situation, the PH government must take full responsibility securing the safety and well-being of its Filipino workers and such state responsibility could not be passed on to employers and recruiters,” Monterona ended.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Repatriation of stranded OFWs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


13 March 2011


To:     Hon. Jejomar C. Binay

         Vice President, Republic of the Philippines




Subject: Repatriation of stranded OFWs in Jeddah



Dear Sir,


Warm greetings!


We would like to formally endorse to your kind attention, in your capacity as the Presidential adviser of OFWs concern, the repatriation of stranded OFWs in Jeddah.


To this date, there are still more than 500+ stranded OFWs inside the Jeddah deportation center. We have attached herewith some of the 

names of the stranded we have gathered. While there are about more than 500+ staying at the Al-Mina hajj terminal.


The stranded have been at the deportation center for almost three months. According to PH consular officials in Jeddah, they have already requested airfare tickets for the stranded, but this has been the same reply we have received since 2 months ago when we followed the stranded OFWs repatriation.


In this regard, we are requesting that the concerned agencies like DFA-OUMWA and DoLE-OWWA will be reminded to arrange for the needed travel documents and airplane tickets of the stranded so that they will be repatriated without further delay.


We would like to convey our appreciation in advance for your affirmative action on this request from the stranded OFWs.


Thank you and best regards,


John Leonard Monterona

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator







Letter from the Saudi Ministry of Interior




In lieu of the issued statement by the Saudi Ministry of Interior (see picture) in regards to staging protests in the Kingdom, We would like to inform and urged our fellow OFWs to stay away from demonstrations or protests planned by some political dissenters so as not to be implicated on any demonstrations which the host government strictly prohibits. 


If there are planned activities scheduled on March 10 & 11, and on March 20, we are urging our fellow OFWs, their leaders and organizations to postpone it and instead re-schedule their activities.


We call on every OFWs in Saudi Arabia to be vigilant and secure their well being. 


To fellow OFWs leaders, we seek your cooperation to relay the same advice to your members and fellow OFWs.



-John Leonard Monterona (signed)

Migrante-Middle East 






ES Ochoa tells gov't agencies to save and conserve energy


Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on Wednesday urged government agencies to put in place power conservation measures and cut down fuel consumption of government vehicles in the wake of rising petroleum prices brought about by the political uncertainties in oil-producing countries in the Middle East.


According to Ochoa, this is in line with the Government Energy Management Program (GEMP) under Administrative Order No. 110, which calls on government personnel to observe energy efficiency in their offices.


“Public servants must lead by example in the general campaign for energy efficiency and conservation. This is a proactive response of the government to cushion the adverse effects from such price increases,” the Executive Secretary said.


To ensure compliance of government agencies, Ochoa ordered Herminio Alcasid Sr., chairman of the Energy Audit Team, to submit to the Office of the President a summary accomplishment report to date and a plan of action detailing improvements or amendments to the existing GEMP framework.


At the same time, the Executive Secretary appealed to the public to help in the campaign to save and conserve energy, saying, “Energy efficiency is the shared responsibility of every citizen, and when everyone does their part to conserve fuel and electricity, all of us benefit.” 


“A collective response is necessary to address a national issue like energy efficiency. All of us have to do the little things to conserve electricity and fuel because when you combine all these small initiatives––like turning off lights when not in use or carpooling––these will impact significantly on energy consumption,” Ochoa said.


A good start, he said, is taking part in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) “Bright Now! Do Right. Be Right.” campaign, which promotes awareness and people’s participation in energy utilization management and conservation.


The DOE campaign provides the public measures that will cut down fuel consumption like carpooling, ensuring correct tire pressure at all times, clustering of destination, avoiding idling of vehicles and avoiding abrupt acceleration of vehicles.


According to the energy department, carpooling at least once a week will save a vehicle owner at least P320 per month, which be used to pay for the car’s tune-up every three months, while correct tire pressure translates to five to 10 percent savings on daily gas consumption, or around P164 per month which can buy a whole chicken or four kilos of rice.


Clustering of destination to maximize the use of the vehicle could save money and time as well. The DOE said that for every liter of fuel saved from traveling is equivalent to P6, which can be used to buy cell phone load.


For every hour a vehicle is idle leads to an additional consumption of two liters of fuel consumption, according to DOE’s computation. A liter of fuel saved is equivalent to two dozens of pandesal, so the agency advised public to turn off their vehicle if it is going to be idle for more than three minutes. 


The DOE also explained said that a liter of fuel could go a kilometer farther if a vehicle will not be abruptly accelerated right after its activation. This means a P7-saving on fuel consumption per day, which could provide for the daily multivitamin supply of the car owner.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

DOLE seeks tripartite efforts to boost global demand for Filipino seafarers

To sustain the country's status as manning capital of the world, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will push for tripartite efforts to immediately address various issues and difficulties confronting the Philippine maritime sector, especially in expanding the sea-based sector as source of overseas employment for Filipinos.

"The DOLE will vigorously support its partners in the Maritime Industry Tripartite Council (MITC) not only in addressing common problems in the maritime sector but also in their target of capturing at least 50 percent of the total global requirements for Filipino seafarers in the next six years," Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said, adding "this is part of efforts to expand the sea-based OFW sector amidst the turmoil in the Middle East which has led to the repatriation of OFWs from Libya."

Baldoz initiated the establishment of the MITC early this year to provide the tripartite partners in the maritime sector a venue where common concerns can be addressed to ensure the country's capability to produce competent seafarers and port workers. Members include the Joint Manning Group (JMG), the umbrella organization of manning agencies.

JMG leaders, in a meeting with POEA Administrator Carlos Cao Jr., said the country's seafaring industry is aggressively targeting to increase global requirements for Filipino seafarers from 30 percent at present to 50 percent until 2016. To achieve this, the industry has invested heavily in putting up world class training modules and facilities for Filipino seafarers to enhance their competitiveness and employability in the international maritime industry.

Baldoz thanked the seafaring industry, saying that the DOLE, through the MITC, is prepared to support the industry's efforts in capturing a larger portion of the international market for seafarers.

Meanwhile, the Associated Marine Officers' and Seamen's Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), the largest organization of seafarers in the Philippines and the whole world, has joined the DOLE in tripartite efforts for the advancement of the Philippine maritime sector.

Baldoz said the AMOSUP has declared full support to the MITC as means through which stakeholders can address problems in the maritime industry, particularly those affecting Filipino seafarers and port workers.  

Founded 50 years ago by the late Capt. Gregorio Oca, AMOSUP is internationally recognized leader of seafarers' organizations, being the largest union of marine officers and seamen in the world with around 90,000 members.

"The support of AMOSUP to the MITC is an affirmation of tripartism as an effective means of building consensus and collaboration of social partners in mutually beneficial activities that will drive the growth of the maritime industry and promote the welfare, employability, and competitiveness of Filipino seafarers and port workers," Baldoz said.

AMOSUP president Dr. Conrado F. Oca, son of Capt. Oca, who expressed the AMOSUP's appreciation to Baldoz for jumpstarting the establishment of the MITC, also underscored the importance of tripartism in achieving industrial peace, in protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of seafarers and port workers, and in pushing for the ratification of the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006. The latter provides for comprehensive rights and protection at work for the world's more than 1.2 million seafarers.

"The MITC will be venue for the tripartite partners to craft policies and regulations, including a national action plan for the ratification of the MLC 2006," Baldoz said. End/laa

DFA asked Filipinos in Yemen to restrict their movements

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)  asked Filipinos in Yemen to restrict their movements to only those which are absolutely essential and also to voluntarily depart the country in view of the ongoing tensions in the country.
"We are hopeful that the political situation will stabilize. Nonetheless, precautionary measures necessary to assure the safety of our Filipinos in Yemen," Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael E. Seguis said in a press conference.
He also said that the DFA raised the alert level in Yemen from alert level 1 (heightened alertness) to alert level 2 (restriction of movements), upon the recommendation of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, which covers the said country.
The situation in Yemen has also led other countries to adopt travel advisories in Yemen, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Indonesia.
"We ask them to adopt the following measures: actively monitor ongoing developments; keep their communications lines open with the Embassy in Riyadh and their designated community coordinators; inform the Embassy or Filipino community coordinators assigned to their area of their whereabouts; keep an emergency bag ready which contains clothing, water, canned goods and medicine good for two weeks, for themselves and for their family members, and; have important documents such as passports and money ready and at hand," Undersecretary Seguis added.
He also stated that there is yet no need to raise the level to alert level 3 (voluntary repatriation), where the DFA will make available facilities for their repatriation.
Undersecretary Seguis also assured the public that the Embassy's contingency plan in Yemen is updated and in place, and proactive measures are undertaken, including the conduct of meetings with the Filipino community leaders and members to brief them of the contingency plans.
"An advanced team from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is also in place in the capital Sanaa, and additional officers and staff from the Embassy and the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah are on standby in case more personnel are needed," he said.