Bello tells OFWs: Be entrepreneurs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 15, 2019   •   428

Filipino household workers who were repatriated from Kuwait arrive at Manila’s international airport, Philippines, 21 February 2018. According to media reports, Cebu Pacific (CEB) airlines provided airlift support for at least 396 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were repatriated from Kuwait.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III has advised seafarers and other Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to go back to the Philippines and start their own business.

This was his message during the 2019 NRCO-ISP Business Plan Competition on November 8. The competition is an annual search for the best business proposals among seafarers.

In his message read by Undersecretary Renato Ebarle, Bello assured seafarers that the government, together with the private sector and non-government organizations, is always ready to help OFWs towards productive reintegration.

The competition aims to provide start-up capital, training, and mentoring for the winners and their proposed businesses.

Seafarer Gary Esguerra was hailed as this year’s winner for his “green” slippers business proposal.

Esguerra aims to replace disposable slippers, commonly provided by hotels and resorts, with ‘greener’ slippers made from abaca residue as soles and by incorporating seeds inside the slippers.

He also said the slippers will decompose easier compared to the regular disposable slippers. Esguerra received P500,000 as start-up capital.

Meanwhile, NRCO OIC-Director Roel Martin announced that a similar business plan competition for land-based OFWs is set to be launched in the first quarter of 2020.—AAC

DOLE reminds employers to give 13th month pay to workers

Robie de Guzman   •   December 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has reminded private employers to release the 13th month pay of their workers on or before December 24.

“This is a reminder to our employers not to forget. The law is clear that you have to give your employees on or before Christmas Day their 13th month pay. It doesn’t matter if you’re earning or not, you are mandated by law,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Wednesday.

“There are other employers who released half of it middle of the year but they should give it,” added.

Under Presidential Decree 851, private sector workers are entitled to receive a 13th month pay not later than December 24. However, an employer may release to his or her employees half of the benefit before the opening of the regular school year and the other half on or before December 24 each year.

Bello also reminded employers that the law on 13th month pay also covers house helpers and workers of small businesses.

He added that the benefit should be given in cash and not in kind.

Bello urged workers who fail to receive their 13th month pay to file a complaint with DOLE regional offices. – RRD (from the report of Correspondent Dante Amento)

BI to install e-gates at NAIA for departing OFWs

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday said it is set to launch electronic gates (e-gates) at the departure area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for overseas Filipinos workers (OFW) departing the country.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said a memorandum of agreement (MOA) has been signed with the service provider for the pilot testing of the e-gates, initially at the NAIA Terminal 2 immigration departure area.

The bureau said the service provider has committed to initially installing and operating two e-gates and biometric machines at NAIA’s Terminal 2 for the exclusive use of departing OFWs and airline crew of Philippine Airlines (PAL).

Under the MOA, the bureau said the provider is allowed to demonstrate the functions and capability of its machines and that “there is no obligation yet on the part of BI for the equipment.”

The agency said it is eyeing to set up the e-gates before the holiday season begins to hasten processing of passengers and reduce queues in immigration counters at the airport.

It will be recalled that the e-gate system was implemented last year in the immigration arrival areas of NAIA’s three terminals and the international airports in Mactan-Cebu, Davao, and Clark.

The noticeable drop in the incidence of long queues at airports has been attributed to the successful implementation of the project.

“We are optimistic that the same success will be replicated when the scheme becomes fully operational in our airports’ immigration departure areas,” Morente said.

He added that the new lanes of e-gates – which are seen to ensure smoother and faster processing – are in recognition of the OFWs’ contributions to the country’s economic development.

The BI said other passengers will continue to undergo regular immigration inspection, although it is studying the feasibility of making the scheme available to permanent residents and other ACR I-Card holders.

The bureau said the project’s pilot testing and demonstration would last for six months.

The agency added that it is targeting to process at least 100,000 passengers before the project could become fully operational.

The project’s entire cost will be shouldered by Ascent Solutions, a Singapore-based IT company that supplied the country’s e-gates.

BSP eases lending process for overseas Filipino workers

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2019

(FILE) Filipino overseas workers from Lebanon inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City south of Manila, Tuesday 01 August 2006. EPA-EFE/MIKE F. ALQUINTO

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced it has enhanced the guidelines on the granting of consumer loans for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in order to facilitate their access to bank credit.

The Monetary Board said it has issued Resolution 1729 approving the enhanced policy expressly allowing banks to grant consumer loans for OFWs without prior approval from the BSP.

The central bank said the move is in line with its financial inclusion and empowerment agenda.

“The revised guidelines likewise liberalize the rules limiting the grant of peso consumer loans to certain types of visa holders,” the BSP said in a statement.

“In particular, peso consumer loans, except residential real estate and housing loans, may also be extended to all eligible foreign nationals with valid visa issued by relevant Philippine authorities,” it added.

Embassy officials and employees based in the Philippines are also allowed to avail of any type of peso consumer loans, the central bank said.

“The enhancements are premised on the banks’ continued adherence to sound credit underwriting practices and effective control measures in managing risks involved in granting peso consumer loans to OFWs and eligible foreign nationals,” the BSP further stated.

“The new guidelines promote greater access to bank financing for these borrowers while expanding and broadening market segment for banks,” it added.

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