2 Filipino workers killed in Saudi fire

admin   •   May 22, 2018   •   7968

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Two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were killed in a blaze that struck their  construction site in Saudi Arabia early Sunday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement released Monday.

The victims were identified as Jessie Alata Pacetes and Reynaldo Barroga Castro, both heavy equipment drivers and operators employed by a major Saudi construction company that was working on a road project in Najran.

Consul General Edgar Badajos said the two victims died in their sleeping quarters at their jobsite located some 60 kilometers from Najran.

The Department of Foreign Affairs expressed its sympathies to the families of the victims.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of our two kababayan who lost their lives in the tragedy,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said after he was informed of the incident.

He added that the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah has sent a team in Najran to work out arrangements with the employer for the immediate repatriation of the remains of the victims and secure whatever benefits that are due them.

Although the fire was believed to have been caused by faulty electrical wiring, the Philippine Consulate is seeking confirmation from local authorities on the real cause of the fire. — UNTV News & Rescue

Duterte urges Congress to expedite creation of agency concerning OFWs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 28, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to expedite the creation of a new agency that will cater to the welfare of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“So I proposed in the coming months, and I hope to come up with a Department of Overseas Workers,” he said.

Duterte said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has so much burden to focus on OFWs.

The President also said the new agency will address the persistent woes encountered by OFWs. There is also a proposal to create another agency for seafarers.

“So iyan ang ano ko sa mga kababayan ko na naghihirap sa labas, (So that is what I can provide for our fellowmen abroad) that there will be a more thorough review in policies for your protection and that somebody should look after you,” he said.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go in 2019 filed Senate Bill 202, or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019 in support of President Duterte’s advocacy. AAC

12th batch of distressed overseas Filipinos in Saudi Arabia arrives in PH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 16, 2020

The 12th batch of distressed Overseas Filipinos (OFs) from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) arrived in the Philippines on Thursday (October 15), according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

A total of 341 distressed OFs arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The repatriates already underwent COVID-19 RT-PCR testing and will be staying under hotel quarantine until their test results come out negative.

The DFA began its mass repatriation efforts in February to assist OFs affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The DFA has already repatriated more than 4,200 Filipinos from Riyadh and the eastern regions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. AAC

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Ex-PhilHealth official reveals ‘fake receipts’ being issued to OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   September 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A former senior auditing system analyst of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has revealed that there is indeed a syndicate within the agency that takes advantage of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) premium contributions.

In his expose during the House committee hearing on Wednesday (September 2), Ken Sarmiento said he discovered the modus operandi of this alleged syndicate when he was assigned in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

He said this alleged syndicate issues fake receipts to OFWs. Based on information gathered by the Committee, there is an estimated P1.2 billion worth of unremitted OFW premiums.

“Napansin namin dalawa ang modus na nangyayari – isang retail fraud. Retail meaning isa-isang binibigyan ng fake receipt ang OFW (We noticed that there were two schemes happening, one of which was retail fraud. Retail meaning, each OFW was given a fake receipt),” he said.

May napansin din kami isang level na wholesale na dito may involvement na ang hiring agency na ini-instruct nila ang local officer nila na huwag nang magbayad o mag-remit ng premiums sa PhilHealth (We also noticed another wholesale level wherein the hiring agency instructs its local officer no to remit to PhilHealth, ” he added.

With new irregularities surfacing during the hearings, the Committee plans to amend the law on PhilHealth’s OFW premiums.

PhilHealth membership was optional for OFWs until the enactment of the Universal Health Care law in 2019 which classified overseas Filipinos as “direct contributors” thereby requiring them to make premium contributions to PhilHealth. 

READ: PhilHealth’s 3% mandatory pay hike amid global pandemic draws public ire

In May, PhilHealth’s announcement of premium rate hike for OFWs drew public ire among Filipinos here and abroad saying such a rate adjustment is a clear form of injustice especially during a pandemic. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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