PH Immigration implements partial deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2020   •   239

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said it is now implementing the deployment ban of newly-hired household workers to Kuwait following the recent killing of a Filipino worker there.

The government ordered the partial deployment ban of workers to Kuwait after the murder of Filipino worker Jeanelyn Villavende who allegedly died at the hands of her female employer.

The Malacañang earlier said Villavende’s death was a clear disregard of the labor agreement signed between the Philippine and Kuwaiti governments for the protection of Filipino workers.

The Immigration bureau said the ban applies to all newly-hired household service workers recruited to work in Kuwait.

It added that Kuwait-bound Filipino household workers with employment certificates issued before the cut-off date of January 3, 2020 will still be allowed to leave.

Returning Filipino workers and first-time skilled workers to Kuwait are not covered by the deployment ban, as explained earlier by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

The BI said it implemented the partial deployment ban after it received a copy of a January 3 resolution from the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

In the same resolution, the POEA also imposed a moratorium on the verification, accreditation, and processing of individual contracts and additional job orders for household service workers.

However, domestic workers whose overseas employment certificates (OEC) were issued on or before 5 p.m. of January 3, 2020 are exempted from the said restrictions.

The BI also warned agencies that may attempt to circumvent the ban.

“Our system is integrated with POEA’s [system] hence with a click of a finger, we would be able to verify an OFW’s records immediately,” BI acting port operations chief Grifton Medina said in a statement.

Immigration officials also said they are ready to implement any changes in the deployment of Filipino workers to Iraq, Iran and Libya should the Department of Foreign Affairs or Department of Labor and Employment impose any new ban amid brewing tensions in the said countries.

“The government’s primary concern is the welfare of our kababayan, hence the BI is ready to implement any directive regarding our foreign policy or OFW deployment should the concerned agencies sees a need to implement any change,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.

Manila Health Dep’t. says rumored novel coronavirus case just pneumonia

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila City government on Monday, January 27, denied rumors spreading online about a case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippine capital.

In a statement, the Manila Public Information Office (PIO) said there is no confirmed case of the 2019-nCoV involving a Chinese national who was admitted at the Metropolitan Hospital in Binondo.

Manila City Health Officer Dr. Arnold Pangan identified the Chinese national as a 27-year old male who was working at a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO).

Pangan said the Chinese man was hospitalized last January 25, 2020, due to fever and cough. The City Health Officer said the foreigner reportedly resides on the boundary of Pasay and Paranaque Cities.

“Case is a 27-year old male, arrived in the Philippines as POGO worker last January 8, 2020. He is from Obei, China,” Pangan said in his report to the Office of the Mayor.

“MHD Surveillance Team, in coordination with DOH surveillance, and as per investigation, patient has fever and cough but negative on the history of travel to Wuhan, China, and no history of exposure to a host or positive case,” he stressed.

Pangan said the Chinese national was diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia.

“As of the moment, the patient is well and does not have fever,” he said.

“The MHD is in a continuous effort of intensive information dissemination in our public schools and respective barangays regarding precautions on stopping transmission of coronavirus,” he added.

The Manila PIO said “the coronavirus scare on social media has apparently compelled the following schools in the nation’s capital to suspend classes” for Monday.

  • Philippine Academy of Sakya
  • Saint Stephen’s High School
  • Saint Jude Catholic School
  • Chiang Kai Shek College – Padre Algue and Narra branches
  • Uno High School

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso appealed to the public to avoid sharing unverified information on social media to prevent panic or anxiety among the public over the virus spreading internationally.

“Hindi ikinikibit-balikat ang sitwasyong ito. Be vigilant. Huwag kayong maiilang. Huwag muna masyadong mag-alala. Tayo po ay makinig sa mga lathalain, panawagan ng mga tamang tao at ahensya ng gobyerno,” he said.

Mayor Isko also encouraged all citizens to immediately proceed to the nearest clinic or health center if they feel they are suffering from symptoms of the virus, which include cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

“Ngayon naman, sa lahat ng ating mga barangay, nakikisuyo ang ating MHD na kayo’y makipagtulungan by just being vigilant. Kayo rin, tayong lahat, huwag kayong matatakot kapag kayo ay may ubo. Mas maganda magpagamot at magpa-check up,” he said.

The national Department of Health (DOH) has said there is still no confirmed case yet of 2019-nCoV in the Philippines although it is monitoring at least 11 individuals for a suspected respiratory infection. These patients under investigation have been recorded in different hospitals in Muntinlupa and Pasay Cities in Metro Manila, Kalibo in Aklan, El Nido in Palawan, Cebu City, and Camiguin, based on DOH’s data.

Based on the latest report of China’s National Health Commission, the death toll from the novel coronavirus strain has spiked to 80 on Monday with hundreds of new infections despite massive travel lockdown and quarantines in China.

The virus was first detected in the Chinese City of Wuhan and has since spread to neighboring towns and other countries. Confirmed 2019-nCoV cases have been reported as far as the United States, Canada, France, Australia, Nepal, as well as in Asian cities of Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Vietnam.

PH now working on terminating PH-US VFA, says Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed Friday that the Philippines has started the process of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the deal if it does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president issued the termination order Thursday night despite giving a month for the US to restore the senator’s visa.

Panelo said the order has already been relayed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as well as Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

“I just talked with Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, and he said that he will start with the process and he called up already the vice chair and they talked, and Ambassador Romualdez has already been informed, I was also talking to him earlier,” he said.

In a tweet on Friday, Locsin confirmed he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have taken the first step in ending the 1998 deal with the US government.

Locsin sits as the chairperson of the Commission on Visiting Forces while Lorenzana serves as vice chairman.

“Del Lorenzana and I- as Vice and Chair of USVFA – are starting the process of terminating it by first contacting the Senate because it is a treaty on our side, an executive agreement on the US side. I’m leaving for Washington on a totally unrelated matter,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Lorenzana, for his part, refrained from commenting into Duterte’s latest pronouncement.

“Will study it first,” he said in a message to reporters. “No comment muna. Too soon to comment.”

The VFA is a bilateral accord between Washington and Manila that came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Rosalie Coz & Lea Ylagan)

Duterte can scrap PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement without Senate approval – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte can terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States (US) even without the concurrence of the Senate, Malacañang said on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after the president threatened to scrap the VFA if the US government does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

“Because it (VFA) is an executive agreement so he can cancel it without the approval of the Senate,” Panelo said.

Dela Rosa on Wednesday confirmed to media that he is not allowed to travel to the US for now after he received notification about his visa cancellation.

The senator said the exact reason on why his US visa was cancelled remains unclear but he heard reports it might be linked to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs that he spearheaded when he was the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) from 2016 to 2018.

The VFA, signed by Manila and Washington in 1998, is a bilateral deal which outlines the guidelines for the conduct of government troops when they are visiting the US or the Philippines.

Panelo said the US government should not intervene with the Philippines’ internal issues.

The Palace official also believes the president’s threat to cancel the VFA will not affect Filipino workers in the US. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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