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DFA cautions Filipinos in Libya amid armed clashes

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, 18 January 2019 12:04 PM

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday (January 17) cautioned Filipinos in Tripoli in view of renewed armed encounter in the district of Qasir Ben Ghashir and the continuous buildup of military in the area.

In a report, the Philippine Embassy said there were at least six people already killed and 20 others wounded since the clashes began on Wednesday (January 16).

Chargé d’Affaires Mardomel Melicor urged Filipinos in Qasir Ben Ghashir as well as Wadi Al Rabea, Tariq Matar, Esbea and adjoining districts in Tripoli to move to safety and monitor the situations in their areas.

They are advised to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary travels and prepare for immediate evacuation should the fighting reaches their locations.

The Embassy calls on Filipinos to report to the hotline numbers +218 91 824 4208 for assistance.

There are some 1,800 Filipinos currently residing and working in Tripoli, according to the Embassy. – Marje Pelayo

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No need for birth certificates in renewal of passports — DFA

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, 16 January 2019 08:14 AM

Philippine passport

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs issued a new order removing the submission of birth certificates in the renewal of passports.

In a tweet, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. said that the presentation of the old passport is “more than sufficient” when applying for a new one.

The new directive comes amid the data breach controversy hounding the department wherein its former passport printing contractor allegedly ran off with the personal information of passport holders.

The new DFA order however, states that presentation of birth certificate is still required for the following conditions:

  • First-time passport applicants
  • Applicants whose names appear on the DFA’s watchlist
  • Renewal of lost or damaged passports
  • Renewal of passport due to name change
  • Renewal of brown passports, green passports, machine readable passports (maroon) or any older passports

In an interview, Sec. Locsin asked for the public’s understanding while the department is sorting the data breach issue.

Locsin posted on Twitter that passport data is not “run-away-able” but made inaccessible.

He added that the current passport printing contractor, APO Production Unit Incorporated, assured him that they were able to access the data but most of it are already corrupted.

Former DFA secretary Perfecto Yasay had earlier said that Locsin was “misinformed” and his accusations against the former contractor are false and malicious. — Joan Nano | UNTV News and Rescue

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Relatives of 7 Filipino seafarers detained in Libya call for gov’t help

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, 15 January 2019 06:11 PM

An image of the detained seafarers presented at a press conference

MANILA, Philippines – In August 2017, seven Filipino seafarers were detained in Libya over accusations of oil smuggling.

Seventeen months later, their families are still crying for the government to help bring home their loved ones to the Philippines.

Crystal Allera was emotional while calling for President Rodrigo Duterte’s action on the plight of his husband and six other overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

“Now we are appealing to our President to please help us…to please assist us, to please give us your immediate help, assistance para po makalaya po ang mga mahal namin sa buhay,” said Crystal.

“Sana po ma transfer sila to another facility po. Iyong safe na facility. Iyon po iyong cry po namin,” she added.

“Ang hirap pong magpalaki ng mga bata ng walang mga tatay sa tabi nila. Nagtatrabaho lang po sila tapos they are in a place where the situation is very hostile. Sana matulungan po kami agad ni Presidente,” called Donna Marie Malapad, a representative of Captain Arthur Soria, one of the detained men.

Crystal narrated how her husband described their situation inside detention in Libya.

“Mahirap po ang kalagayan nila dahil iyong space po na nandoon sila is parang 3 by 4 square meters… parang 12 square meters. Tapos lately, sabi 27 sila sa loob so practically half square meter lang po sila doon. Iyong pagkain po nila salu-salo and no drinking water, medical aid. Scarce po,” she said.

Labor Secretary Sylvestre Bello III, meanwhile, said he plans to fly to Libya by mid February to check on the condition of the detained Filipino seafarers.

Bello confirmed that there are private firms who wish to help the detained Filipinos.

“May development doon na made to the effect na I may go to Libya and work for the release of the 7 seafarers,” Bello said.

“By law, iyong benefits ng detained seafarers naibibigay regularly ng manning agencies,” he added.

The seafarer’s kin are coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to further explore other means to help the detained seafarers and eventually process their repatriation. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

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Passport data theft, a threat to national security – PNP

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, 15 January 2019 12:17 PM

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) considers the recent passport data breach in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) a threat to the privacy of every passport holder and the national security.

PNP Chief DG Oscar Albayalde said that even though the DFA has not yet coordinated the investigation of the incident with them, he assured the PNP’s support in the resolution of the case once the agency seeks their services, especially because the PNP’s Anti-Cybercrime Group is very active when it comes to cases of identity theft.

“We are very much willing to help them. Sabi ko nga it can be a threat to the national security and to the privacy of the individuals concern,” the PNP Chief said.

“We have the ACG at ITMS na pwedeng tumulong and of course, the CIDG kung kinakailangang magkaroon ng active police operations,” he assured.

It can be recalled that DFA Secretary Teddy Locsin confirmed that the private contractor responsible for passport production ran and “took away” the passport applicants’ data after its contract was terminated. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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