PH to deploy social welfare attachés for OFWs under new law

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2019   •   931

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law establishing the Office for Social Welfare Attaché to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFW), especially those who have fallen prey to illegal recruiters.

Duterte signed the Republic Act 11299 on April 17, a copy of which was made public on Monday (July 15).

The newly-signed law amended the Republic Act 8402 or the Migrant Workers Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 to include the said office.

It mandates the Office for Social Welfare Attaché (SWA) to deploy personnel to countries with large concentration of Filipino workers, as determined in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Under the measure, a social welfare attaché’s duty includes management of cases of Filipino workers in distress, such as victims of trafficking or illegal recruitment, rape or sexual abuse, maltreatment and other forms of physical or mental abuse, and case of abandoned or neglected children;

SWAs are also mandated to undertake survey and prepare social welfare situationer on the OFWs in their areas of assignment; establish a network with overseas-based social welfare agencies or individuals which may be mobilized to assist in the provision of appropriate services.

They should also respond to and monitor the resolution of problems and complaints or queries of Filipino workers and their families; establish and maintain a data bank and documentation of OFWs and their families to provide effective social welfare services; submit regular reports on plans and activities undertaken, recommendations and updates on the situation of OFWs.

The law states that the budget for the Department of Social Welfare and Development while the DFA, DOLE, the Department of Health and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration are tasked to craft the measure’s implementing rules and regulations within 60 days after the effectivity of this act.

Defense chief lauds Duterte order on foreign vessels entering PH waters

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

One of the anti-submarine vessels which docked at Pier 15 South Harbor, Manila.

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to require foreign vessels to first secure a clearance from the government before entering the Philippine waters.

“That is a very good development. At least now we have some authority to enforce our laws within our territorial waters,” Lorenzana said Tuesday.

Earlier, Duterte, through spokesman Salvador Panelo, issued a directive for all foreign vessels to provide notification and get clearance from proper government authority in advance of the actual passage. He also warned foreign vessels that Manila will either get compliance in a friendly manner or enforce it in an unfriendly manner.

READ: Duterte warns foreign ships to get clearance before entering PH waters

When asked to elaborate, Panelo explained that by saying ‘unfriendly,’ it means blocking entry to any foreign vessels intruding in the Philippine territory.

He, however, clarified that the President’s order didn’t mean an automatic use of force against intruders.

“By that it means that we will ask them to move out of the place, that’s unfriendly, because before we never said anything, we just allow them, we just make protest, but this time, we will tell them, please get out of our territorial waters,” Panelo said.

Duterte’s order came after reports of Chinese warships that allegedly entered the Philippine territory, particularly in Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi, without permission from the government.

Lorenzana, for his part, could not say yet the “unfriendly option” the Philippine Military could use to ward of intruders into the country’s waters. The Defense chief said he will defer the matter to the Philippine Navy. (RRD with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

China calls on Philippines to ban all online gambling operations

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – China expressed hope that the Philippine government would ban all online gambling operations following its move to suspend the issuance of new licenses for offshore gaming companies.

Based on an official transcript of a press conference held Tuesday (August 20), China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said it welcomes the Philippines’ suspension of new applications for online gambling licenses.

“We also note the Philippine government’s announcement and appreciate it. We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling,” Geng said. 

“We hope it will further strengthen law enforcement with China and jointly tackle criminal activities including online gambling and cyber fraud. This will help create an enabling environment for our bilateral relations and peace and stability in the region,” he added.

Geng made the statement after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) on Monday announced a moratorium on applications for new Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) over several concerns.

The Chinese official also said that “online gambling is a most dangerous tumor in modern society detested by people all across the world.”

The Chinese Embassy in Manila said that based on China’s laws and regulations, any form of gambling by Chinese citizens, including online-gambling, gambling overseas, opening casinos overseas to attract citizens of China as primary customers, is illegal. 

“The casinos and offshore gaming operators (POGOs) and other forms of gambling entities in the Philippine target Chinese citizens as their primary customers. A large number of Chinese citizens have been illegally recruited and hired in the Philippine gambling industry,” it said.

“In many cases, the employers of Philippine casinos, POGOs and other forms of gambling entities do not apply necessary legal work permits for their Chinese employees. Some Chinese citizens are even lured into and cheated to work illegally with only tourist visas,” it added.

Thousands of Chinese workers were earlier reported to be illegally working for more than 50 online gambling hubs in the Philippines.

Beijing earlier expressed grave concern over Pagcor’s move to transfer Chinese POGO workers to self-contained communities, saying this may infringe on the basic legal rights of the Chinese citizens concerned.

It also appealed to Manila to pay attention to Beijing’s position and concerns and punish Philippine casinos and other forms of gambling entities that are illegally recruiting its citizens.

“The Chinese side also urges relevant departments of the Philippine Government to strengthen law enforcement cooperation with China to jointly combating gambling-related crimes such as money-laundering, illegal employment, kidnapping, extortion, torture, murder etc so as to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, and to promote China-Philippine friendship and cooperation,” it added.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier raised concern over the proximity of POGOs to military installations as these may be used for espionage.

Malacañang earlier said it sees nothing wrong with the location of POGO hubs near military installations and the creation of self-contained communities of foreign workers as long as it doesn’t violate the law.

READ: Malacañang: No risk in POGO hubs near military camps

However, the Palace would defer to the National Security Council to assess any risk being posed by the foreign operated online gaming operations.

Duterte tells gov’t workers to be like Ninoy Aquino; serve with honor, integrity

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

Ninoy Aquino | By president.gov.ph

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday hailed the sacrifice and the important role that the late former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. played in restoring the country’s democracy as the nation marks his 36th death anniversary.

In his message, Duterte said Aquino’s sacrifice altered the course of the nation’s history and still continues to ignite the spirt of heroism among Filipinos.

“Today, we remember Benigno S. Aquino Jr. and his important role in restoring our democratic institutions more than three decades ago. His sacrifice altered the course of our nation’s history and still continues to ignite the spirit of heroism among our people,” he said.

Aquino was a well-known opposition figure and a staunch critic of the then-President Ferdinand Marcos.

He was imprisoned for his beliefs during the Martial Law before he and his family moved to the United States in 1980 to seek medical treatment which eventually led to his self-imposed exile for three years.

Upon returning to the Philippines on August 21, 1983, he was shot and killed at the then Manila International Airport (now named after him) as he was escorted off the airplane.

Ninoy’s death led to protests that sparked snap presidential elections in 1986, which led to the 1986 EDSA Revolution that catapulted his wife, Cory Aquino to presidency.

Duterte also expressed hope that this “auspicious occasion” may remind us of what we had lost “so that we may remain committed to our solemn duty to safeguard the freedoms that we now enjoy.”

“I also hope that Ninoy’s remarkable life as a public servant will move my fellow government workers to serve with honor, integrity and purpose as well as inspire our youth to be of service to their country and fellowmen,” he added.

Duterte also acknowledged that even halfway into his six-year term, there is still much that has to be done to eradicate the problems that plagued the country even during Ninoy’s time.

“Despite our gains in these past three years, there is still a lot that needs to be done if we are to completely eradicate the poverty, corruption and injustice that had plagued our nation even during Ninoy’s time,” he said.

“Let his example guide us as we strive to uplift and protect the most vulnerable in our society and ensure that all Filipinos will enjoy the blessings of freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” he added.

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