DFA reiterates warning vs online job offers in Iraq

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019   •   277

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday reminded the public that the deployment ban to Iraq has not been lifted, reiterating its warning to Filipinos against online announcements for job offers in the Middle Eastern country.

The DFA issued the statement after some online announcements claim that the existing ban on deployment to Iraq has been lifted.

Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) Governing Board Resolution No. 6, s. 2018, which suspends the deployment of newly hired workers bound for Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, remains in effect,” the DFA said in a statement.

“Furthermore, household workers who are already based in Iraq are also banned from returning to Iraq should they go on vacation to the Philippines,” it added.

The DFA further warned all Filipino travelers that Iraq imposes hefty penalties for persons without the proper visas or with expired visas.

“Filipinos who are temporarily vacationing in Iraq or are residing and working before the deployment ban are advised to take note of their visa validity dates,” it said.

The DFA also reminded Filipinos to take note of the following early warning signs of human trafficking if they receive job offers overseas:

  • applicants do not possess their own identification documents such as IDs or passports;
  • passports are confiscated;
  • applicants are advised to inform authorities that they are just visiting a particular city, like Dubai, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok;
  • applicants are advised of particular immigration lanes to choose or given nonverbal cues to lookout for during departure from Clark Airport or the Ninoy Aquino International Airport;
  • agency has no permanent address; and
  • agents do not reveal their full names and contact details.

The department also advised the public to comply with pre-departure formalities being implemented by Philippine immigration authorities.

“These formalities are intended to ensure the safety of Filipino travelers and prevent the occurrence of illegal recruitment, people smuggling, and human trafficking cases,” the DFA said.

Joana Demafelis’ employer found guilty of murder

Robie de Guzman   •   September 9, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The female employer of Filipino household worker Joana Demafelis has been found guilty of murder by the Syrian District Criminal Court, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

The DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs reported that Mouna Ali Hassoun was handed the guilty verdict for the killing of Demafelis, whose remains were found in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait in February 2018.  

Hassoun was in Syria where she had been in custody since last year.

Her Lebanese husband, Nader Essam Assaf, is also facing a murder charge in Lebanon.

Demafelis was reported missing in 2016. Kuwaiti authorities discovered her remains inside a freezer where she was believed to have been kept for more than a year.

Based on the autopsy report, Demafelis suffered internal bleeding and sustained several broken bones.

The discovery of her remains prompted the previous deployment ban of new Filipino workers to Kuwait.

“DFA will continue to provide legal assistance to the family until justice is served,” the department said.

DFA: Tugboat manned by Filipino crew seized in Persian Gulf

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 9, 2019

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that a tugboat manned by 12 Filipino crew was seized in the Persian Gulf due to alleged oil smuggling.

Ambassador to Iran Wilfredo C. Santos said the tugboat was seized on September 7 and that an investigation is on-going.

“He [Santos] said that Coast Guard authorities relayed that an investigation is on going on the alleged oil smuggling of the crew, and once this has been established, the matter will be referred to the local court,” the DFA bulletin reads.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Department is awaiting further updates on the issue including the condition of the 12 seafarers. The department is also prepared to provide assistance when needed.—AAC

Comatose OFW in Macau back in Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   September 5, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who fell into a comatose state in Macau has been repatriated to the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a Facebook post, the DFA said the OFW was brought home from Macau on August 29 and was accompanied by San Lazaro Hospital ER head Dr. Alexis Dimapilis during the flight.

“The Department of Health (DOH)–Migrant Health Unit sent San Lazaro Hospital ER head Dr. Alexis Dimapilis to Macau to serve as medical escort of the Filipina during the flight onboard Philippine Airlines (PAL). Dr. Dimapilis also accompanied the transfer of the patient by ambulance to her hometown in La Union,” the DFA said in a statement.

The Filipina, whose identity was withheld, fell into a comatose in April. She was confined since then at Centro Hospitalar Conde de São Januário (San Teng Hospital). Her daughter, who also works in Macau, referred the case to the Philippine Consulate General in May.

The Consulate General worked closely with officials of San Teng Hospital, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to facilitate the transfer of the Filipino patient from hospital to Macau International Airport.

Philippine Consul General to Macau Lilybeth Deapera thanked all agencies and officials involved in the successful repatriation of the patient.

“The work to ensure that our kababayan is repatriated to the Philippines required close coordination among several officials from different agencies based in Macau, Manila and La Union. The Philippine Government will extend all efforts across all borders in promoting the welfare and well-being of our kababayans anywhere in the world,” Deapera said.

“I also extend my sincerest appreciation to the management, doctors and nurses at San Teng Hospital for the professional and humane care extended to our kababayan throughout her confinement. I also thank PAL for providing utmost assistance in the repatriation. Finally, I thank the Protocol, Public Relations and External Affairs Office of Macau SAR for their invaluable assistance in coordinating with airport, immigration and customs authorities for the smooth conduct of the repatriation,” she added.

The DFA said the medical repatriation for overseas Filipinos is part of the government’s unified medical repatriation assistance (UMRA) program.

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