Aug 30, 2008

NGOs, OFWs to highlight RP’s agenda on migrants’ protection at Global Migration Forum

Key non-government organizations (NGOs), overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),and civil society groups will highlight the Philippines' efforts to strengthen migrants' protection and address the social costs of migration as the country prepares to host a major global event, the United Nations' (UN) 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) with the conduct of a parallel event in October this year, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said that the effort initiated by the groups in linkage with the government, is consistent with the initiative of the global forum to promote best practices in migration and strengthen the welfare and protection of the world's estimated 200 million migrants.

Roque said the 2nd GFMD to be held in Manila in October this year will be participated in by top and senior labor officials from 180 different countries.

He stressed that the selection of the Philippines as host of the said event underscores the recognition of the country's productive role in the deployment of more than one million OFWs annually in more than 190 economies worldwide and its vigorous efforts to promote migrant's rights and protection.

He said the selection of the Philippines as the host of the 2nd GFMD following its global inaugural session attended by about 1,000 government and civil society representatives from 156 countries last year affirmed the country's prevailing leadership role in the global initiative.

The labor Chief had been apprised by the DOLE's Global Forum on Migration and Development (GMFD) Task Force that a "Global Forum Parallel Event" will be staged by three NGOs and OFW groups in partnership with key agencies, particularly the DOLE, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Tourism.

Simultaneous with the GFMD, the parallel event, spearheaded by Atikha (an NGO dedicated to the provision of economic and social services to OFWs and their families), the Philippine Consortium on Migration and Development, and the OFW Caucus, would be held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) from October 26 to 29, 2008.

The program would include the following highlights: (October 26) Awarding of Best Practices on Migration and Development Initiatives of NGOs, Local Government Units and other groups; Memorandum of Agreement Signing with 10 Provincial Governors and City Mayors on the Piloting Program on Leveraging Resources for Development; Awarding of Winners of Program on Mobilizing Diaspora Philanthropy; and Launching of OFW-funded products; (October 27) Set up of booths highlighting OFW Funded Enterprises; (October 28 and 29) Exhibit of Best Practices on Migration and Development Initiatives of Government, NGOs, and Overseas Filipino organizations, and; Exhibit of Products and Services of OFW-owned enterprises.

At the same time, Migration and Development Trade and Tourism will be in focus from October 20 to November 2007, and at various tentative schedules, the sharing of experiences will be made by key speakers on issues/developments such as Feminization of Migration and Addressing the Social Cost of Migration; Strategic Philanthropy and Resource Mobilization; Pooling and Leveraging Diaspora Resources for Development; Financial Literacy and Diaspora Savings and Investment; and Social Investing.

Roque said that as part of the preparations for the forthcoming 2nd GFMD in the Philippines in October, the DOLE-GFMD Task Force had recently convened and tackled the proposed parallel event together with the inputs and recommendations of the Department of Foreign Affairs represented by Undersecretary Enrique Manalo and Assistant Secretary Evan Garcia; the Anti-Money Laundering Council; Philippine Institute for Development Studies; Commission on Filipinos Overseas; the Department of Social Welfare and Development; the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women; and PhilHealth.

The DOLE-GMFD Task Force, which is actively undertaking the preparations for the country's successful hosting of the GFMD, is headed by Executive Director Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III of the National Wages and Productivity Commission with Deputy Executive Director Merliza M. Makinano of the Institute of Labor Studies, who recently represented the Philippines in the First annual Transatlantic Forum on Migration and Integration sponsored by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, as Vice Head; and with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the DFA, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and other key DOLE and government agencies, represented.

Aug 26, 2008

DOLE advises OFWs on UAE rules concerning passports

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today advised overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) seeking or returning to their jobs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to check on the validity of their passports to avoid delay, which could adversely affect their employment in the Emirates.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the UAE government has issued new rules concerning the validity of passports of expatriates and visitors in the Emirates.

In line with the rules, Roque said the Philippine passport must be valid for not less than six months if the OFWs have no UAE residence permit. If the OFWs hold a UAE special entry permit or an employment visa, their Philippine passports must be valid for not less than three months.

The DOLE Chief said that without valid passports, OFWs will not be granted a UAE entry permit or entry visa, which they need in order to enter the emirates and also return to the home country or any country, which issued their passports.

An entry visa indicates the approval to be made on the OFW or visitor's passport/ travel document, allowing him or her to enter the UAE. This visa can be issued by a UAE embassy or consulate in the country of the person who is applying for the entry visa. It can also be issued by the Naturalization and Residency Department in the UAE.

An entry permit is a special document issued to expatriates allowing them to enter UAE. It is issued only by the Emirates' Naturalization and Residency Department.

Roque said OFWs working in the UAE whether alone or accompanied by their families should follow the rules set by the UAE government concerning visas and entry permits to avoid problems that may hinder their jobs in the Emirates.

He told the OFWs to ensure that their passports are valid adding that those with expiring passports may apply for renewal with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City or at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Aug 10, 2008

OFWs, travelers to Saudi Arabia told to declare cash, jewelry worth over SR60,000

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today advised overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and other travelers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to declare upon arrival and departure cash, precious metals or jewelry worth over SR 60,000 (Saudi Riyals) or US$16,000 to avoid confiscation or legal penalties.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque issued the advisory upon receiving a communication from the Saudi Embassy in Manila on the matter.

Roque said the Saudi government has enjoined all travelers to their country to strictly follow Saudi Arabia's Customs Department rule on the declaration of cash, transferable monetary instruments or precious metals and jewelry exceeding SR60,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency to customs officials upon arrival or departure.

The labor secretary, quoting a statement from the communication, said the main purpose of the declaration was to prevent "money laundering and some forms of terrorist funding."

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has intensified its efforts to combat money laundering at the national, regional and international levels, the statement said.

"The Kingdom is among the first few countries, which gave special attention to counter money laundering by committing to and complying with many rules and international conventions," said Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf in a statement.

The filing of the declaration was in accordance with Article 14 of the Anti-Money Laundering Law of the Kingdom and "those who do not declare the precious metals and jewelry they possess while leaving the Kingdom have to pay customs duty on them on their return," the statement said.

The statement said declaration forms are available at all of the Kingdom's entry points, including airports and seaports. Passengers should write their names, passport numbers and addresses in Saudi Arabia. They should also state their country of origin and destination, flight numbers, the type of currency they are carrying, the total amount in Saudi riyals, the value of precious metals in Saudi riyals, their source and the purpose of carrying them.

The DOLE has noted that most of the OFWs in the Kingdom are fond of buying precious metals and jewelry for "pasalubong" or for "investment purposes" and it would be to their best interest if they were made aware of this latest developments.

The Labor Chief has called on all concerned sectors, including the media, to help in disseminating the information to OFWs and the traveling public.

Aug 9, 2008

Drive against illegal recruitment, human trafficking strengthened

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque today said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) would vigorously continue to exert more efforts in curbing illegal recruitment and human trafficking in all fronts, locally or overseas.

Roque as DOLE chief and Chair of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Board, made this assurance as recent news reports by a non-government organization (NGO) indicated an increase in human trafficking activities in the Philippines.

Roque said the government has consolidated all its resources and focal agencies into one Task Force that would directly address the problem of illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

Roque said through Executive Order (EO) 548-A issued recently by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the role of the POEA, an attached agency of the DOLE, has been clearly defined and strengthened as mandated by R.A 8042, or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.
The order has amended and superseded the previous EO, which created a task force against illegal recruitment under the supervision of the Commission of Filipino Overseas (CFO), Roque said.
He clarified, however, that the CFO shall be in charged of the task force against human trafficking (TFHT) as provided for by EO 548-A.
EO 548-A, he stressed, redefined in clearer terms the functions of POEA and CFO in the fight against illegal recruitment and human trafficking.
"This shall enable the POEA in coordination with the regional offices of the Department of Labor and Employment to ensure greater focus in fighting illegal recruiters down to the local level," he said.
Roque said that the executive order underscored the on-going campaign of POEA to involve local government units (LGUs) in the fight against illegal recruiters.
He said that the agency has forged agreements with LGUs in Metro Manila late last year, particularly with the city governments of Taguig, Valenzuela, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Las PiƱas, Muntinlupa and Quezon City.
The agreements, he said, called for the active participation of the concerned local government authorities in surveillance and investigation of establishments and entities suspected of engaging in illegal recruitment in their respective jurisdiction.
The labor chief said that POEA is set to forge similar agreements with other LGUs in Metro Manila and other regions this year in line with Executive Order No. 548-A and RA 8042.
Pursuant to the law, POEA shall continue to adopt policies and procedures and implement programs towards the eradication of illegal recruitment. The agency shall also coordinate with the TFHT, along with other government agencies and the CFO which serves as task force chair, in addressing the problem on human trafficking.
As TFHT chair, the CFO shall recommend to the inter-agency council against trafficking (IACAT) policies, programs, and services aimed at eliminating trafficking in persons.
The IACAT is the primary body tasked to coordinate, monitor, and oversee the implementation of programs against trafficking in persons as provided for by RA No. 9208, otherwise known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
"We always believe that the best way to prevent or minimize illegal recruitment or human trafficking is for would be overseas workers to check and verify first with the authorities, particularly with POEA, any offer of overseas job by individuals or entities engaged in overseas employment before dealing with them," Roque said.

The labor secretary added that among the safety nets and measures established by the DOLE to mitigate if not totally eradicate or prevent illegal recruitment and human trafficking is the conduct of Pre-Departure Orientation Seminars, the establishment of Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs) in cities and municipalities nationwide which assist workers for their local or overseas employment; and linkages with various agencies of government charged with migration and travel.

Overseas, the Labor Chief said the 34 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices of the DOLE established worldwide help trace, shelter, assist and repatriate victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking.