OFW deployment ban to Kuwait to stay until 2018 labor pact fully implemented – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2020   •   380

MANILA, Philippines – The total deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait will remain in effect until the labor agreement signed in 2018 between the two countries is fully implemented, Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the labor department’s call for a total ban on deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to Kuwait following the killing of household service worker Jeanelyn Villavende.

“The Palace wishes to inform the public that President Duterte has approved the recommendation of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III on the total deployment ban of Filipino workers in Kuwait,” Panelo said.

He added that the ban will stay until the memorandum of agreement between the two countries is fully honored and “the terms contained therein are incorporated in every labor contract with our OFWs.”

Bello earlier said he recommended a total deployment ban to Kuwait after results of a re-autopsy by the National Bureau of Investigation revealed that Villavende had several missing internal organs and had “clear indications of sexual abuse.”

The re-autopsy was conducted after a certificate released by Kuwait’s Ministry of Health showed that Villavende died of “acute failure of heart and respiration” as a result of shock and multiple injuries.

In a statement on Thursday, Bello said the implementation of a total deployment ban of workers was fueled by the alleged attempt of the Kuwaiti government “to cover-up the true case of death” of Villavende.

He said the re-autopsy on the Filipino worker’s remains was in complete contrast to the report of the Kuwaiti authorities.

Bello also said that another cause for the ban was the failure of the Kuwaiti government to come into an agreement regarding the standard employment contract in accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement in 2018.

“Under the MOU, we were supposed to come up with a standard employment contract in order to provide sufficient protection for our OFWs. That’s almost two years ago of discussing and debating but until now, we have not finalized anything,” Bello said.

The total ban covers the processing and deployment of all household service workers, semi-skilled, skilled workers and professionals including Filipino crew seafarers for Kuwait.

However, skilled workers and professionals who have unexpired contracts or categorized as Balik-Manggagawa, and those who will be cleared by the Secretary of Labor are exempted from the ban.

“Those who will come home for a vacation and has an existing contract are still allowed to travel to Kuwait, however, workers with new contracts will be covered by the ban. This move is nothing less than for the protection of our workers,” Bello said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

ABS-CBN ‘grateful, humbled’ by Duterte’s acceptance of apology

Robie de Guzman   •   February 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Broadcast network ABS-CBN Corporation on Thursday said it was “grateful and humbled” by President Rodrigo Duterte’s acceptance of its apology.

On Wednesday, Duterte accepted the apology of the network’s president and CEO Carlo Katigbak, and assured he will not interfere in the company’s application for franchise renewal to Congress.

“We are grateful and humbled by President Rodrigo Duterte’s acceptance of our apology,” the ABS-CBN said in a statement.

“ABS-CBN remains committed to becoming a better organization and to continue to provide more meaningful service to Filipinos,” it added.

Katigbak, during a Senate hearing on Monday, apologized to the president over the network’s failure to air his P2.6 million worth of political advertisements during the 2016 presidential elections, as well as the airing of former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s political ad against Duterte.

Duterte also said that instead of giving him refund, the ABS-CBN should just donate the amount of his unaired campaign advertisements to charity.

“We will coordinate with the President’s office as it relates to his guidance on donating the refund to a charitable institution,” the network said in response.

Duterte earlier said he will “leave to Congress” the issue on the network’s franchise renewal, and that he has not decided yet whether to sign into law the bill granting ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year license to operate.

Duterte eyes enhanced PH-ADB partnership for infra program

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2020

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses matters with Asian Development Bank President Masatsugu Asakawa who paid a courtesy call on the President at the Department of Finance Building inside the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex in Manila on February 24, 2020. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte met with the new head of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for an enhanced collaboration in various areas in relation with the government’s development agenda, Malacañang said.

In a press statement, the Palace said that ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa on Monday paid a courtesy call on Duterte at the office of the Department of Finance (DOF) in Manila to tackle ways on improving the country’s relationship with the bank.

During the call, the President congratulated Asakawa for his election as new ADB president, and expressed his gratitude for the bank’s continued assistance in different government programs.

Asakawa became ADB’s 10th president in January.

“I would like to express my appreciation to ADB for its unremitting assistance to the Philippines,” Duterte told the ADB president.

The Palace said that during the meeting, the chief executive also called for the ADB’s “aggressive participation” in the Philippine government’s infrastructure program, and asked for its help to improve the government’s capacity to undertake public-private partnership (PPP) projects with increased private sector participation.

“We look forward to ADB’s enhanced support to our Build, Build, Build Program,” Duterte said.

Last December 2019, the DOF signed with the ADB three loan agreements amounting to $623 million in support of the government’s infrastructure push.

Duterte names Eric Distor as NBI officer-in-charge

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2020

The new officer-in-charge of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Eric Distor.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has designated a new officer-in-charge for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Malacañang said Wednesday.

Eric Distor, assistant director for Intelligence Service, was named NBI’s officer-in-charge following the retirement of director Dante Gierran, according to a memorandum released by the Palace on Wednesday.

The letter addressed to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra was dated February 21 and signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

It states that Distor’s new work assignment took effect on February 23.

The Palace said he will temporarily lead the agency until a replacement is appointed or until otherwise directed by the Office.

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