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Palace backs review of PH-Kuwait labor deal

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah sign the Agreement on the Employment of Domestic Workers on May 11, 2018 in Kuwait. Labor Secreatry Silvestre Bello III and other Philippine officials witness the signing. | Courtesy: DFA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday supported calls to review the country’s labor agreement with Kuwait in the wake of the death of a Filipina worker who died from alleged physical and sexual assault.

A group of migrant rights advocates made the call following the brutal killing of household service worker Constancia Lago Dayag in Kuwait.

“I think we should (support the calls) because according to (Labor) Secretary (Silvestre) Bello, there has been a breach in the agreement signed between the two countries,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a media briefing.

READ: Phl, Kuwait sign agreement over OFW protection

The governments of Philippines and Kuwait last year signed a memorandum of understanding to provide greater protection for Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

The deal provides domestic workers with food, housing, clothing and health insurance, and prohibits employers from confiscating their passports. Filipino workers shall also be allowed the use of cellphones and have at least seven hours of sleep and a day-off weekly with pay.

The labor deal was triggered by the spate of deaths of Filipino migrant workers in Kuwait, including Joanna Demafelis, whose remains were found in a freezer.

READ: Murder raps and death penalty await employers of OFW Joanna Demafelis

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) last week reported it is closely coordinating with Kuwaiti Authorities in probing Dayag’s death.

Panelo said that concerned government agencies are now looking into the case.

“He (Bello) is investigating it and DFA is waiting for an autopsy report,” he said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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DND: PH verifying if ship in West PH Sea collision belonged to China

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

The Philippine government has yet to determine if the fishing vessel that hit and sank a Filipino boat near Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea belonged to China, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana clarified on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in Davao City, Lorenzana said he based his report on the statement of involved fishermen and that he is still awaiting the results of the investigation being conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Military.

“I will not anymore add something sa sinabi ko. Hangga’t hindi namin nakakausap ‘yung mga fisherman at tsaka magkaroon tayo ng intel investigation kung sino talaga ang nakabangga dahil madilim ‘yun eh,” he said.

The defense chief earlier said that a suspected Chinese fishing boat hit and sank a Philippine boat in waters off the Reed bank on June 9.

READ: DND: Chinese vessel hit, sank PH vessel in Recto Bank

He had denounced the action of the alleged Chinese fishing vessel for leaving immediately after the collision, endangering the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen.

Lorenzana said the Chinese government has already been informed and an investigation has been launched into the incident.

Malacañang earlier called on Beijing to impose proper sanctions against the Chinese crewmen for their “uncivilized” and “outrageous” actions.

READ: PH wants China to sanction ship crew for sinking Filipino fishing boat

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin has assured that a diplomatic protest has been filed over the collision incident.

Although Malacañang earlier said that the recent incident may mar the warming relations between the Philippines and China, Lorenzana believes this will not greatly affect the two countries’ ties.

“Hindi naman siguro malaking bagay na maapektuhan. We will find out kung ano ‘yung action nila,” he said.

He also advised fishermen who frequent waters in the West Philippine Sea to employ safety mechanisms to prevent any more collision between vessels.

“Siguro, there should be some mechanism, ‘yung mayroon kang ilaw palagi para makikita, ‘yung iba naman they should be very careful in travelling at night,” Lorenzana said.

While Philippine forces are patrolling the area, the defense chief lamented the country’s insufficient number of coast guards and sea crafts to guard its borders.

“Mayroon naman tayong mga patrol dyan, kulang lang kasi tayo ng barko eh. We don’t have enough coastguards that is why we’ll acquire it all para mayroon naman tayong pang guwardya diyan sa ating mga fishermen,” he said. (Correspondent Janice Ingente contributed to this report)

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PH wants China to sanction ship crew for sinking Filipino fishing boat

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Still image of disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea taken from US Navy surveillance video May 21, 2015. REUTERS/US Navy

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana has called for a diplomatic action in relation to the sea collision between a Chinese vessel and a Filipino fishing boat (F/B GIMVER 1) that left 22 Filipino fishermen adrift in the middle of the sea.

“We call for the conduct of a formal investigation on the matter and for diplomatic steps be taken to prevent a repeat of this incident,” Lorenzana said Wednesday (June 12).

The incident happened on June 9 when a Chinese vessel hit and sank a Filipino vessel near the Recto Bank, a territory in dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

Lorenzana said the Philippines denounced the actions of the Chinese crew as they immediately left the scene and abandoned the Filipino crewmen instead of helping them.

Reports said the F/B GIMVER 1 was anchored at the time when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel.

Lorenzana thanked the crewmen of a Vietnamese fishing vessel near the incident for saving the distressed Filipino crewmen in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which was on routine maritime patrol in the area, was sent to rescue the Filipinos.

“We thank the captain and crew of Vietnamese vessel, for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew,” Lorenzana said.

“However, we condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the suspected Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew. This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people,” he added.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, called the Chinese crewmen’s action as “uncivilised as it is outrageous”.

Panelo said, the Chinese crew should have at least saved the Filipino crewmen even despite the existing territorial dispute between China and the Philippines.

“Regardless of the nature of the collision, whether it was accidental or intentional, common decency and the dictates of humanity require the immediate saving of the crew of the downed Philippine vessel,” he said.

“The safety of the crew of the damaged Filipino vessel should have been the uppermost thought and helping them should have been the natural reaction of the crew of the other vessel,” he added.

Panelo joins Lorenzana in calling for an investigation and sanction against the Chinese crewmen for their actions.

“We call on the appropriate Chinese authorities to probe the collision and impose the proper sanctions to the Chinese crew,” he said.                            

Malacañang assured that concerned agencies are now providing assistance to the Filipino crewmen who were rescued from the incident. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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DFA: Hunt on for Kuwaiti cop accused of raping Filipina worker

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday assured it is now working with Kuwaiti authorities for the arrest of a police officer accused of raping a Filipina worker in Kuwait.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, is closely coordinating with Kuwaiti authorities for the speedy arrest of the suspect in the rape case involving a Filipina household service worker in Kuwait,” the agency said in a statement.

The suspect was identified as Fayed Naser Hamad Alajmy, 22.

According to Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Mohd Noordin Lomondot, Alajmy was identified as the one who assisted the Filipina worker for finger scanning registration at the airport when she arrived in Kuwait on June 4.

It was alleged that Alajmy later kidnapped and assaulted the victim.

Lomondot said a warrant of arrest has already been issued against the suspect.

The OFW’s employer is also cooperating with the embassy and local authorities in connection with the case.

“The Philippine Government will exert all efforts to ensure that justice is served,” the DFA said.

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