Saudi Arabia-based OFWS need help asap

>> Friday, January 7, 2011

Probing abuses of Saudi Arabian employers on Filipino migrant workers had long been overdue. With a number of mysterious deaths, rape incidents, and many OFWs languishing in jail, one will be exasperated on the inaction of the Philippine government to address these issues and give a helping hand to the number of OFWs working in Saudi Arabia. This recent action of some congressmen to do an investigation, is worth the praise that they deserve. We pray that such will be followed up with more concrete action to help migrant workers who continue to give remittances to their families and to the Philippine economy.Here's an update:

A four-member congressional delegation will fly to Saudi Arabia on Saturday to investigate the unusually large number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) being detained or awaiting trial for various offenses in the oil-rich kingdom.

Members of the House committee on overseas workers, led by chair Akbayan party-list representative Walden Bello, will be visiting distressed OFWs in Saudi from January 8 to 13.

“There have been numerous reports of OFWs being abused, maltreated and jailed in the Middle East,” said Bello.

“We are going on a mission to determine their living conditions and the quality of assistance that offices of the Philippine government provide for them,” he said.

In Riyadh, 313 have been convicted, 300 are awaiting trial, on trial, or under investigation; and 50 are detained prior to deportation, according to Bello.

More here


OWWA and DFA alerted to extend help to slain OFW in Iran

>> Friday, July 9, 2010

The body of dead migrant worker Mark Lloyd Carmen is still in Iran and awaiting help from the OWWA and the DFA for his remains to be flown back home. Iranian authorities are also urged to conduct an autopsy on the body. Details here:

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - A Filipino migrant worker was stabbed dead on July 1 by a Sudanese national in an undisclosed location on Kish Island, Iran, a migrant worker group said Friday.

The victim, Mark Lloyd Carmen, 24, was "waiting for the issuance of his reentry visa to the United Arab Emirates when he was killed," according to the Riyadh-based OFW group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME).

Citing reports from OFWs who witnessed the incident, John Leonard Monterona, M-ME regional coordinator, told the Inquirer "a companion of the killer had challenged Carmen to a fistfight."

Carmen "ignored the suspect who later slapped him several times, prompting him to fight back. Suddenly, another Sudanese national pulled a knife and stabbed (Carmen) on the chest."

The victim was "rushed by fellow OFWs to the Kish Hospital but was declared dead on arrival at around 8 p.m.," said Monterona in an e-mail to the Inquirer.

Carmen's remains have yet to be repatriated to the Philippines, according to Monterona.

"His wife and two children are currently based in General Santos City. We are trying to get in touch with them, as well as his close relatives in the UAE so that we would provide them the necessary assistance and guidance," said Monterona.

M-ME plans to "ask the victim's family to issue a statement authorizing (Iranian authorities) to conduct an autopsy on his remains."

"The autopsy report would be used as evidence in the criminal case to be filed against the two suspects," who have been detained by the Iranian police, said Monterona.

Monterona called on the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on Friday to assist Carmen's family for the repatriation of his remains to Manila.

He also asked OWWA to "provide (Carmen's family) the financial assistance due them."

At the same time, Monterona urged the Aquino administration to "address the deplorable plight of many OFWs, including the undocumented ones and victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking."


OWWA assumes $12K repatriation cost for OFW body

>> Sunday, June 27, 2010

QUEZON CITY - Finally, the month-old frozen body of Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Benjamin Yango, English teacher in Harbin, China was flown to the Philippines on June 23, 2010.

This, as Overseas Workers and Welfare Administration (OWWA) Chief of Advocacy and Information Division, Overseas Operations Coordinating Service Director Ed Bellido, speaking in behalf of OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon, said that “OWWA shall assume the repatriation cost in the amount of US$12,260.00.”

Bellido added that Yango, as an active OWWA member at the time of his death, is also entitled to P120,000.00 representing death and burial benefits from the government agency.

Benjamin Yango, 33, was found dead in his apartment on May 21, 2010. He is believed to have died of heart attack 2 or 3 days before he was found by the Police. There was no autopsy done on his body. It was learned that Benjamin’s wife, Fely Yango, decided to forgo autopsy of the body to prevent further delay of the body’s repatriation.

Yango’s remains was finally flown home to Baguio after a month of processing repatriation papers and sourcing funds to answer excessive repatriation costs which ballooned up RMB 86,000 or PhP596,000.00. This led friends, relatives, and kaliyans of Yango to solicit from friends and kailyans worldwide to defray the repatriation cost.

An online petition signed by nearly 200 signatories worldwide also called on the Philippine government particularly OWWA, the Philippine Embassy in China and the Undersecretary on Migrant Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in the Philippines to provide monetary assistance for the repatriation of the body.

It was learned that DFA’s undersecretary for migrant workers affairs Esteban Conejos Jr said that the costs and procedural work for the repatriation of a deceased Filipino worker is the responsibility of either the worker’s employer or recruitment agency. Yango did not go through a recruitment process.

It was learned that Yango’s employer paid the equivalent of P14,600 for the cost of freezing of the body for 23 days.

Yango traces his roots from Bontoc, Mountain Province and Benguet./by Gina Dizon


Letter-appeal petitioning the Philippine Government to Immediately Expedite Repatriation of Deceased OFW Benjamin Yango

>> Thursday, June 17, 2010

Consul, Philippine Embassy

Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs
Department of Foreign AffairsPhilippines

Administrator, OWWA

Labor SecretaryPhilippines


In pursuit of protecting the rights of overseas migrant workers who continue to provide millions of remittances to the coffers of the government, respectfully asking your immediate action for the release of financial assistance to expedite release of the body of migrant worker, Benjamin Galap Yango, currently lying in a morgue at Harbin, China,to enable repatriation as soon as possible to the deceased’s hometown in Bontoc, Mountain Province.

Benjamin G. Yango, 33, believed to have died of heart attack 2 or 3 days prior to May 21, 2010 when the Police found him dead in his apartment, has no autopsy and investigation done yet on the body.

Benjamin Galap Yango traces his roots from Bontoc, Mountain Province and Benguet. He is married to Fely Tomino of Kabayan, Benguet and blessed with two children. He is an English teacher at Longdi Primary School in A'cheng, Harbin, China since 2007 to the present when he met his death.

As of now, repatriation fees reportedly cost RMB 86,000 (PhP 584,800) and cost getting higher as the body remains in the morgue.
Concerned government agencies including the Philippine Embassy in China have been repeatedly asked by Benjamin Yango's widow for said agency to provide and/or facilitate monetary assistance to enable repatriation of the body to the Philippines, only to be met by a negative response.

Considering the above, we strongly reiterate prior requests and ask concerned offices to provide the necessary monetary assistance to immediately enable the body of the deceased to be flown to his hometown as soon as possible.

Especially, we call on OWWA to provide and/or facilitate financial assistance for the human remains of Benjamin Yango to be repatriated to Philippine soil as part of its responsibility and duty to provide services for migrant workers.

We also reiterate one of the objectives of the Philippine Embassy “to protect the rights and promote the welfare of Filipinos overseas workers…” and its mission be implemented in a substantial manner to be of concrete service to our brother and sister migrant workers and their families who continue to provide a big part of the economic backbone of the country.

It is therefore urgently requested that the Philippine Embassy, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in their respective capacities fast track the release of monetary assistance which the Philippine government should provide as part of its obligation and duty to protect and support the rights and welfare of migrant workers and their families.

We likewise support Benguet Province Governor Nestor Fongwan in asking the DFA to ask the Philippine Embassy in China to assist in the repatriation of the body as soon as possible.

We likewise urge Mountain Province Governor Maximo Dalog in his respective effort to do the appropriate action for the immediate release of the body of Benjamin Yango in order that the body be flown home as soon as possible.

In the same vein, we urge the concerned offices—OWWA, DFA and the Philippine Embassy in China - to intervene/ask/urge Ms. Wang Ying, the school owner-employer of Benjamin Yango to provide the corresponding financial assistance for Benjamin Yango as his employee of the latter’s untimely death.
Your attention is much appreciated.



Thorny rose: Canada’s live-in care program

>> Friday, January 29, 2010

Ana worked in Canada as a caregiver for six long years before she was finally able to gain a permanent residency status and sponsor her family to Canada.

Canada’s Live-In Caregiver (LCP) program requires that a caregiver-migrant worker with a temporary work visa must complete 24 months of live-in work within a 36-month period before she can obtain an open visa and apply for permanent residency.

That means the caregiver has to stay in her employer’s house for at least two to three years and be rewarded by calling her family to Canada.

Otherwise, when she breaks this rule, she will have to work for longer hours to complete the requirement and suffer more the separation. SIKLAB, a Filipino-based workers group in Canada says the caregiver stays as long as eight years to complete the requirement due to change of employers among other reasons including processing delays of the Canadian Immigration Council (CIC) in granting an open permit.

Staying in the employer’s home is an issue by itself. Ana is not happy having suffered the loneliness of not being with her family for 6 years.

‘The mandatory live-in requirement places caregivers under the beck and call of their employers for 24 hours a day. Many women under the LCP work overtime hours for little or no pay, even after formalizing a set of rules about overtime hours on an employment contract, if at all. Despite the myth that caregivers are “members of the family,” the live-in requirement makes it more favorable to the employers to enjoy the cheap labor of these women’, SIKLAB contends.

Much as it is exploitative of cheap labor, the LCP denies the caregiver the universal right to mobility to live outside her employer’s home. Call it modern day slavery; the migrant worker-caregiver endures the stay- in arrangement just to comply with the requirement for a promising ‘future’ of calling her family to join her in Canada.

The 3,900 hours work requirement before one can apply for a permanent residency status is one among the reforms in the LCP program issued by Canadian Minister Jason Kenney last December 12.

The other reforms are: extension of the period of being able to complete the live-in requirement from three years to four years; elimination of the second medical examination when applying for permanent residency; employers covering the live-in caregiver’s travel and medical costs and providing signed contracts that clearly outline work hours, overtime, sick leave and vacation, and that live-in caregivers will be able to obtain emergency work permits within three weeks if they are abused.

Some LCPers are happy of these reforms, yet SIKLAB says Kenney is no Santa Claus to the thousands of migrant caregivers in Canada. At least 96 percent of Canada's Filipino migrant workers are caregivers. “The 3,900 hours is no different from working 24 months. This is, in fact, another way of exploiting the cheap labor that will only benefit the employers,” stated Roderick Carreon, National Chairperson of SIKLAB Canada.

These reforms are “exploitative,” says the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC), SIKLAB Canada (Filipino workers organization) and Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance (UKPC/FCYA). The groups say these changes ‘make the racist and anti-woman LCP more palatable to Canadians in order to cover-up the systemic weaknesses inherent in immigration policies.’

Yet, some caregivers apparently ignore the issue and are still happy that there is LCP. Ana says she is happy that the LCP is there and has made her family life better among other Filipino-migrant workers’ lives. With miserable poverty in the Philippines, a Flipino caregiver would be happy even in suffering conditions abroad in exchange for a promising ‘income’ and being able to sponsor her family finally to Canada after a long wait. Besides, Ana took advantage of the Canadian government’s privatized child/eldercare program and now manages a caregiver home catering to Canadians needing privatized care from Filipino caregivers.

SIKLAB sees this privatized healthcare as the failure of the government to provide social services to its citizens. The LCP is the de facto national childcare program of Canada which shows government’s lack of a universal childcare and eldercare program.

While Filipinos continue to migrate to Canada as a promising haven from poverty in the Philippines, and be a rich source of caregivers for Canadian elderly and children, the equal need for this rich and cost saving human resource of the Canadian government needs recognition and given its due: That they not be held captive within their employers’ home unless they want to; that foreign professionals such as nurses and doctors are treated professionally and bring their families along with them when they enter Canada; and that the LCP program be scrapped to avoid more suffering migrant worker-caregivers separated from their families.

From Northern Philippine Times


Filipino caregivers share stories of family separation

>> Sunday, January 10, 2010

Here is some seemingly good news for Filipino migrant worker-caregivers of Canada under its Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). Minister Jason Kenny announced changes to the LCP Program last December 12, 2009. Among the changes in the LCP program are:
1. exemption to taking a second medical test as a pre-requisite to becoming a permanent resident; and
2. application for permanent status after 3,900 work hours or the equivalent of over two years as against the current requirement that a caregiver has to complete two years of work within a span of 36 months or three years equivalent.
The above changes shall be considered final following consultation for 30 days beginning December 19.

For SIKLAB however, these reforms are not solving the separation of caregivers from their families besides being 'exploitative and racist'. Found below is an email printed in Northern Philippine Times from the Philippine Women Centre of British Columbia, Canada, SIKLAB-BC (Filipino Workers Organization), Philippine Women Centre of B.C., Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance and Filipino Nurses Support Group detailing stories of family separation among Filipino caregivers in Canada.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia. -- Two days before Christmas, Filipino live-in caregivers and their children shared their stories of struggle and resistance in a press conference.

Organizers of the conference highlighted the negative effects of family separation during the Holiday Season and throughout the years as women are forced apart from their loved ones because of restrictions of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP).

Despite proposed government reforms to the LCP, the community groups say that the LCP is “fundamentally flawed” and remains a key program that denies the Filipino community as a whole genuine long-term settlement and integration in Canadian society. The proposed changes include changes to the calculation of the mandatory period of work and a waiver of the second medical examination for new LCP applicants.

Inday Suelo, current live-in caregiver and member of SIKLAB-BC, a group that aims to advance and uphold the rights of Filipino workers in Canada, shared her challenges with problematic employers, poor working conditions, below minimum wage earnings, and long delays in the processing of papers.

She explained that the LCP leaves thousands of live-in caregivers, 95% of whom are Filipino women, vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. She left behind her daughter in the Philippines, now fourteen, to work in Canada .

This will be her second Christmas away from her family, leaving her to spend her Christmas with friends here. She said she misses the Philippines and despite her employer offering her a ticket to visit her family, she was unable to go because of delays in processing her work permit.

Gloria Remirata, also member of SIKLAB and former live-in caregiver, shared her experience of being separated from her three children for six years while working in Canada - missing her children’s birthdays, Christmases, educational accomplishments.

The LCP does not allow workers the right to bring their families to Canada causing an average of 8 years of separation, according to research studies.

Suelo and Remirata are Philippine-trained professionals, a midwife and high-school teacher respectively. They shared experiences of deskilling and their concern of a future of economic marginalization and downward labour mobility because of systemic barriers perpetuated by the fundamental pillars of the LCP a mandatory period of work within a specified length of time since entry into Canada ; the employer-specific work contract; temporary immigration status; and a mandatory live-in requirement.

The testimonial of Justin Remirata, Remirata’s son was also read. He shared the hardships in building a new relationship with his estranged mother, the barriers he faced in the education system, and the challenges of being a low-wage worker to support the family’s economic needs.

“For six years we celebrated Christmas without our mother,” said Remirata. “I hope this program is scrapped so that other youth do not have to experience thing I did,” he added.

He said he shared his story for, “those youth who are too far away to tell their stories and for the mothers sending back gifts packed in balikbayan boxes waiting to use overpriced calling cards to call their children back home.”

The groups say the impacts of mothers working under the LCP , “ripples into the lives of the children of live-in caregivers where they become the next generation of cheap labourers rather than achieving upward labor mobility.”

UBC Geography Professor Geraldine Pratt encouraged Canadians to understand the long-term implications of the LCP as a temporary foreign labour program that de-skills members of the community across generations.

Christina Panis, Vice-Chair of PWC, also urged Canadians to understand that the LCP is not “Filipino issue,” but a Canadian issue. She explained that the LCP is Canada ’s de-facto national childcare program and forwards privatized health care that benefits only Canadians that can afford it. She urged Canadians to unite with the call to have a complete overhaul of Canada ’s immigration program, that includes scrapping the LCP , allowing immigrant families to come to Canada with permanent residency, and implementing a universal childcare and healthcare that will benefit the majority of Canadians.

The speakers shed light on the reality of the tinkering being proposed to the program. They explained that the changes are “merely cosmetic and provide only band aid solutions to serious problems.” When asked if scrapping the LCP would remove the “opportunity” for low-skilled workers to come into Canada , Panis challenged Canadians to re-examine the tendency to view Filipino and immigrants of underdeveloped countries as low-skilled cheap laborers.

She explained that the overwhelming majority of women, since the 1960s to the present, entering Canada from the Philippines are in reality highly-educated and skilled workers such as nurses, teachers, mid-wives, and accountants.

Both Pratt and Panis pointed to the larger structural problems of Canada ’s immigration system that fails to recognize the community as highly-skilled workers. Instead Panis explained the NAPWC’s position that women should be allowed to come to Canada as they did 30 years ago as professionals with a choice to have their family alongside them and not funneled into doing underpaid domestic work.

The groups called to, “scrap the exploitative, anti-woman, racist, anti-worker LCP .”

For more information, please contact Leah or Glecy at ph: 604-682-4451 or


Canada to make it easier for live-in caregivers from abroad to obtain residency

Merry Christmas Juana Tejada

Broken Dreams: LCP program


To an individual/organization or other entity with an interest in the future of the Philippines’ banking industry

>> Saturday, January 9, 2010

We, an organization named DEADBOL (Depositors Enabling All Depositors in Banks Of Legacy), thought that it may be of some interest to you to become aware that a huge number of OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers), expatriates currently residing in the Philippines, and other foreigners with financial interests in the Philippines, will no longer trust another peso of their hard-earned money to become part of the Philippines banking industry. They will be depositing their monies in the countries where they now reside or were former residents of, but more importantly, in countries that they trust to secure their financial futures.

Many of the aforementioned mistakenly believed that the assurances posted within Philippine bank premises, along with the same being stated on a government departmental website, were in fact true. What we are referring to here are the PDIC’s (Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation) misleading statements about deposit insurance in the Philippines. Indeed, they actually state that their vision is to be a ‘world-class’ organization in depositor protection and that they actually “exercise complementary supervision” of the banks that they oversee.

These have been proven to be just meaningless words, issued to bestow a false confidence upon a nation of unsuspecting depositors. In practice, PDIC don’t even come close to ‘world class’ and second class would be paying them a huge complement.

Members of DEADBOL, and thousands of others, had the misfortune of depositing their hard-earned monies in banks supervised by PDIC, and are now paying a huge price for believing the statements proudly promoted by this government entity. Many even encouraged family members to deposit into the Philippine economy, only now to rue the day that they gave such encouragement. Family’s have been torn apart by PDIC’s inability to act on its mandated obligations.

It has now been ten months since PDIC supervised banks closed, and more than the mandated six months since claims were finally allowed to be filed. Many claimants have still not heard the slightest murmur from PDIC regarding their claims. Some, admittedly, have received a very small percentage of their overall claims, but this feels like the deployment of yet another confidence trick, nothing but fire-fighting by the PDIC. They are certainly doing nothing to eradicate the inferno.

More here:


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