No Filipinos hurt in Papua New Guinea quake—DFA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 8, 2019   •   3295

Courtesy: USGS

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has reported that no Filipinos were hurt during the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Papua New Guinea on Tuesday (May 7).

There are approximately 36,000 Filipinos living in Papua New Guinea.

According to the Philippine Embassy in Port Moresby Chargé d’Affaires Mary Grace Villamayor, they are currently coordinating with the Filipino community in the affected cities of Lae and Kokopo.

“The Embassy continuously monitors the situation and stands ready to provide the necessary assistance,” The DFA statement said.

PH to send organic rice to Papua New Guinea

Marje Pelayo   •   September 13, 2019

File photo: A farmer harvesting rice

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is set to export a total of 5,000 MT of rice from Mindanao, according to Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chief Manny Piñol.

Piñol said the variety of rice set to be exported to Papua New Guinea is organic and of premium quality.

The former Agriculture secretary noted that even though the Philippines cannot compete with Vietnam and Thailand on the price of ordinary rice, the country is at par when it comes to special variety that is very much export quality.

“Saan ba galing ang Jasmine rice ng Thailand? Iyan ay ang ating milagrosa na kinuha nila at ni develop at ginawang Jasmine rice, (Where did Jasmine rice originate? That is our Milagrosa rice which they developed and named Jasmine rice),” Piñol said.

The official said the exportation will be a big help to Mindanao farmers who are also affected by the staggering price of rice as a result of Rice Liberalization Law.

Piñol said MinDA will serve as the coordinating body between farmer cooperatives in Mindanao and foreign markets throughout the program.

After Papua New Guinea, MinDA is also eyeing possible exportation to Hong Kong, the Middle East, and the US.

Piñol added that it is time that Filipinos change their rice preference and patronize locally grown organic rice that is chemical-free.

“Not only will they be consuming healthy food, they will also be helping our Filipino farmers,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture expressed support to MinDA’s programs.

“Magandang balita iyan kung totoo (That’s good news if it’s true). They have to coordinate (to get more support) naman para mas masuportahan pa tayo,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar respond. — MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DFA reiterates warning vs online job offers in Iraq

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019

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.

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