Philippine delegation visits Kuwait to meet counterparts

admin   •   May 9, 2018   •   4162

(SOURCE: Office of the Presidential Spokesperson)

The Philippine delegation led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello and Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque went to Kuwait Tuesday night.

Bello together with Roque, and other Philippine representatives met with Kuwait interior ministry officials.

Both camps look forward to the normalization of ties and a memorandum of agreement is expected to be signed and agreed upon after the meeting.

It was also reported that Kuwait agreed to create a special unit within the police that the Philippine embassy can coordinate with regarding complaints of Filipino workers which will be available 24 hours.

The meeting also sought for the release of four drivers who are detained after the controversial rescue mission of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

It was also guaranteed that all remaining undocumented Filipinos except with pending cases will be allowed to go home and 150 of them will be joining the Philippine officials in returning to the Philippines. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue

Bello assures there’s no basis for EU’s push to revoke PH trade perks

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 24, 2020

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the European Union Commission has no basis to revoke the country’s trade perks under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).

An estimate of over 200,000 Filipinos could lose their jobs if the trade perks are withdrawn, but Bello explained that the Philippines is compliant with requirements and processes given by the European Union Commission.

“Sa palagay ko, hindi papayag ang Commission diyan kasi binanggit ng EU Parliament na basis for their recommendation to withdraw iyong ating target benefits, walang basis talaga,” he said.

Several lawmakers in the EU Parliament recommended the revocation of the Philippine’s GSP+ plus privileges due to “seriousness of the human-rights violations”. The GSP+ provides the privilege of exporting zero-duty merchandise to member states of the EU.

The Labor Secretary also said the department always assures to protect workers in the country.

“On the record, ang Department of Labor has been very compliant in all the 27 conventions by European Union Commission. Kaya hindi nakikita talaga iyong basis nung decision ng EU Parliament, Bello said. AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Filipino on Kuwait death row gets Amiri pardon, flies home to PH

Marje Pelayo   •   September 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The government of Kuwait has granted clemency to overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Bienvenido Espino after serving 13 years in jail on death row for the murder of his Filipina partner in 2008.

According to Philippine Embassy in Kuwait Charge D’affaires and Consul General Pendosina Lomondot, Espino was pardoned by the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah during the recently concluded Eid season, along with other Filipino detainees at Sulaibiya Central Jail.

“On behalf of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, my deepest and most profound gratitude goes to His Highness The Amir for granting clemency to OFW Bienvenido Espino, and for giving our kababayan a chance to start a new life in the Philippines,” Chargé d’Affaires Lomondot said.

In May 2008, the Kuwaiti Court of First Instance found Espino guilty of murdering his Filipina partner in October 2007, and sentenced him to death by hanging. 

The said decision was upheld by the Kuwaiti Court of Appeals in January 2009, and by the Kuwait Court of Cassation in November 2009.

However, Espino received a tanazul or letter of forgiveness from the family of his late Filipina partner after settling the blood money for the crime. 

The issuance of a tanazul led to the commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment in 2013. 

Lomondot said Espino’s case had been under negotiation since the administrations of Presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Benigno S. Aquino III.  

The embassy official sent off Espino at the Kuwait International Airport on August 30 along with other Filipinos who availed the repatriation flight arranged by the Philippine government for OFWs who wish to return home due to the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Ex-PhilHealth official reveals ‘fake receipts’ being issued to OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   September 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A former senior auditing system analyst of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has revealed that there is indeed a syndicate within the agency that takes advantage of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) premium contributions.

In his expose during the House committee hearing on Wednesday (September 2), Ken Sarmiento said he discovered the modus operandi of this alleged syndicate when he was assigned in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

He said this alleged syndicate issues fake receipts to OFWs. Based on information gathered by the Committee, there is an estimated P1.2 billion worth of unremitted OFW premiums.

“Napansin namin dalawa ang modus na nangyayari – isang retail fraud. Retail meaning isa-isang binibigyan ng fake receipt ang OFW (We noticed that there were two schemes happening, one of which was retail fraud. Retail meaning, each OFW was given a fake receipt),” he said.

May napansin din kami isang level na wholesale na dito may involvement na ang hiring agency na ini-instruct nila ang local officer nila na huwag nang magbayad o mag-remit ng premiums sa PhilHealth (We also noticed another wholesale level wherein the hiring agency instructs its local officer no to remit to PhilHealth, ” he added.

With new irregularities surfacing during the hearings, the Committee plans to amend the law on PhilHealth’s OFW premiums.

PhilHealth membership was optional for OFWs until the enactment of the Universal Health Care law in 2019 which classified overseas Filipinos as “direct contributors” thereby requiring them to make premium contributions to PhilHealth. 

READ: PhilHealth’s 3% mandatory pay hike amid global pandemic draws public ire

In May, PhilHealth’s announcement of premium rate hike for OFWs drew public ire among Filipinos here and abroad saying such a rate adjustment is a clear form of injustice especially during a pandemic. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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