News Archives 2010

From the Philippines with love From the Philippines with love

OFWs – the Overseas Filipino Workers. Seen in their home country as modern-day heroes.

Soldiers in a battle against poverty. Wanting to win the war for their families.

There is no other way to put it.

And like heroes all over the world, many ultimately have to pay for the “honour” with their lives.

Sometimes words are nowhere near enough – so here, in moving images, is the story of two families whose daughters sacrificed everything for a fractured dream http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3nIuShFFYE

Every day some 3,000 more leave the to join the workforce abroad. Already there are some 10 million Filipinos away from home. It’s a nation exporting its best resource to stay afloat. Some so desperate to earn dollars that they are willing to take short-cuts to get placed in foreign jobs faster. They fork out more money than legally required to “speed through” the red tape that the government has put there for the workers’ protection … and end up in debt for much of their lives, or they fall prey to unscrupulous employment agents who dabble in nothing short of human trafficking.

Almost every week there is a new OFW horror story that hits the local news … nurses who are trapped into becoming domestic workers; domestics who end up in prostitution; tales of abuse and violence – physical, sexual, emotional; etc etc etc. The constant curtailment of their basic rights … and most feel powerless to do do anything about it. Thinking they have none in the first place … rights or power.

Thousands are considered “distressed” by the Philippine government and already in the last few months alone, millions have been spent to repatriate such classified OFWs … and there isn’t enough money to help them all, officials cry.

But still they keep going, convinced they have nothing left to believe in at home. That their only salvation lies beyond Philippine borders. That is the true heartache of the whole situation as the video here shows http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bIpcTsb8SE

There are those who are calling for their modern-day heroes to come home … wanting them to place their bets in their own country, and gamble on a shared, brighter future instead of taking a chance abroad.

But for many OFWs, that would take too much work – and the needs of the family are more immediate. And so everyday the exodus continues – with 3,000 more risking it all for love.

Source: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/asia/2010/10/18/philippines-love 
Dec 06, 2010   Australia

ILO urged to work for standard guidelines on domestic help

MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino woman leading an Asian migrants group called on the International Labor Organization to pressure governments, as well as workers and employers group to work for a convention setting international standards for domestic helpers.

“A definitive, coherent, and comprehensive instrument is needed to clearly establish minimum standards and rights for all domestic workers as workers,” Migrants Forum Asia executive committee chair Ellene Sana said in a speech on June 3 to delegates to the ongoing 99th International Labor Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Sana lamented that domestic work has not been fully and widely recognized as work; domestic workers have not been covered by labor laws that protect and promote their rights, welfare, and dignity.

“Despite the significant contributions of domestic workers to their households and employers’ families, to communities and countries (both of origin and destination), and to the industries and economies in which they selflessly invest their time, skills, sweat and tears, these domestic workers have yet to enjoy the recognition they have so long deserved,” she said

She added domestics have been in one of the “most insecure of environments where work is often casual, temporary, sub-contracted or informal, where benefits and conditions are not standardized – no minimum wage, no set working hours, no social security, and no provisions for occupational safety – and where there is little, if any, labor and human rights protection.”

Sana, who chairs the Quezon City-based Center for Migrants Advocacy, said domestics’ work should be valued and respected as one of the essential job sectors that contribute to society’s productivity and development.

“Their conditions of work must be on a par with other job categories including valid work contracts and visas, social mobility, job security and collective labor rights,” she said.

Sana said there should be a separate international pact on domestic workers because the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the 1990 UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families only provided partial coverage of domestics’ rights.

MFA, along with the Asian Migrant Domestic Workers’ Alliance and the International Working Group for Domestic Workers, is pushing for an ILO Convention on Domestic Work that will significantly contribute to the reduction of slavery-like conditions, abuse, violence, exploitation, inequality, and discrimination against women and domestic workers.

“It will help reduce the worst forms of child labor, the stigmatization and criminalization of migrant domestic workers including undocumented workers, and racial and ethnic discrimination,” Sana explained.

The proposed convention would also help provide the minimum basis and standards for the recognition of the status and rights of domestic workers as workers.

“Domestic work is work and that domestic workers must be treated with respect and dignity,” she added, saying domestics themselves should participate in the crafting of the convention.

According to a United Nations estimate, a vast majority of the 60 million migrant workers in Asia are women and are predominantly engaged in domestic work. Most of them come from Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos and are employed in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Macau, India, Taiwan, and the Middle East.

Sana said domestic workers were driven to engage in domestic work for various reasons – most commonly by the endemic poverty in their homes that made it impossible for them to have job opportunities in other industries or fields of work.

Most of these women left their own countries in the hope of earning better incomes abroad, she said.

Source: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20100606-274227/ILO-urged-to-work-for-standard-guidelines-on-domestic-help
Dec 03, 2010   Australia

BME Roland Blanco – CMA KAKAMPI NG MGA OFW AT KANILANG PAMILYA SA PILIPINAS

Why caregivers in Israel refuse to return to RP

MANILA, Philippines—Since around Israeli aircraft dropped some 100 bombs on the Gaza Strip in December last year, less than a hundred Filipinos have come home, mostly wives and children of Palestinian residents.

No caregivers have come home from Israel.

Even during the bombing of Lebanon in July-August 2006, when 1,000 people perished and thousands more maimed, only a few Filipinos out of the estimated 30,000 Filipinos in Israel and another 30,000 Filipinos in Lebanon evacuated.

Malu, a former caregiver in Israel who hails from Taguig, said she had long wanted to go back. “They paid well. I could even work non-stop with neither rest nor vacation. I still found time to buy and sell anything of value.”

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are 39,000 Filipinos, mostly women caregivers, as of last count in June 2008 in Israel. Some 1,000 are permanent residents, while 31,000 are temporary workers. Around 7,000 are undocumented workers.

There are cooks, bartenders, drivers, diplomatic household staff and nurses, too. Ninety-one percent are caregivers, 80 percent of which are women. There are around 4,000 domestic workers.

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, an average of 7,000 Filipinos went to Israel a year from 2000 to 2006.

Severance pay

This is sufficient proof that many Filipinas go there or dream of going there. Why not, when by law, caregivers should receive a minimum wage of 3,710 NIS or around $914 a month. Less housing and utilities expenses, their take-home pay would translate to around $600 to $700. This is a lot more than what many domestic workers earn in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, or Lebanon, which would be $400 in the maximum.

When an employer likes a caregiver, he sometimes gives her a take-home pay of as much as $1,000.

On top of this, workers are entitled to a weekly day off. An overtime work is paid $50 per day.

Caregivers have paid annual vacation of at least 12 days, recuperation pay of at least five days for $78/day, and severance pay equivalent to a month’s wage, including pocket money and health insurance payments multiplied by the number of years of continuous service with an employer.

In addition, women with valid work permits who get pregnant are also entitled to insurance coverage for hospitalization and a three-month paid maternity leave from the National Insurance Institute.

Filipino caregivers in Israel, especially those who are undocumented, stay there for years. They do not mind working hard because they are well remunerated and they have enough free time, especially those who take care of one or a couple of senior citizens.

On weekends, they usually return to their flats, the rent of which they divide among themselves. There, they cook and eat Filipino food and relax by exchanging stories about their families back in the Philippines. Others eat and shop in Takana, their favorite mall.

There are some who opt to just stay with their employers.

Israel has a cap on how long foreign caregivers can work, usually no more than five years and three months, unless a caregiver is found indispensable especially by the very old, very sick, or disabled employers.

But because of the good pay, many caregivers, especially veteran ones, continue working long after their work visas have expired.

Catalina, a former caregiver, said she was caught by the police thrice, but her Israeli boyfriend was able to bail her out. She was deported the third time, but she didn’t regret it.

Many undocumented caregivers, she said, just work and work and save and save for their families until they are deported because they know it would be difficult, if not impossible, to go back to Israel.

Malu once asked the Center for Migrant Advocacy, a non-government organization helping distressed workers these questions: “Is there no hope I could go back? What if I change my name?” They are willing to go that far to secure a job in Israel.

Problems of caregivers

As of 2008, the Philippine embassy estimated that 7,000 undocumented are living dangerously in Israel. Their mobility, an official said, is limited; they also have to live with the ever-present threat of raids, arrest, detention, and deportation.

But many undocumented workers seem oblivious to such threats. Said Malu: “Their jails are a lot better than ours. Food is a lot better there too.” And even if the workers are not documented, their employer is bound by law to give them their severance pay and other benefits.

But there are good employers and there are bad employers. Said Estrellita, another former caregiver: “Because I once failed to arrive on time, my employer fired me. Well, he couldn’t find any other reason to do so. His family liked my service.”

Fortunately, there are other NGOs that help caregivers there like Kav La Oved in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Beer Sheva.

There is also the Physicians for Human Rights, an NGO that provides medical assistance and gives advice regarding insurance issues to foreign workers like the Filipino caregivers, also in Tel Aviv.

It is possible that an undocumented caregiver has no medical insurance, so this NGO provides workers with at least some medical assistance, especially during emergencies, since it is very expensive to be treated there if one does not have insurance.

Another major problem is the huge placement fee that caregivers pay the agent of an Israeli broker.

Kav La Oved’s research found out that a caregiver who made it to Israel paid as much as $5,000, some on a fly-now-pay-later scheme. Others issued post-dated checks to ensure they would not run away from their loan repayments. This is illegal under both Philippine and Israeli laws, but the practice persists because they believe this is the only way to go to Israel and earn those dollars needed by their families left in the Philippines. Given this attitude, few workers file complaints against people behind the illegal practice.

Another problem is the sexual harassment that comes with the job. But this is one problem some caregivers do not talk about. Only in the course of other work-related or benefits-related complaints can NGO counselors get wind of this.

For many Filipino caregivers, what’s important is to earn dollars for their families and be able to secure a better future for them, all because, they believe, they have no similar opportunity back home.

Souce: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20091108-234947/Why-caregivers-in-Israel-refuse-to-return-to-RP
Dec 02, 2010   Australia

OFWs Warned of Family Breakup as a Social Cost of Migration

MANILA, 7 September 2007 — The costs of Filipino overseas migration outweigh the benefits in terms of social, economic, political and individual losses, a non-governmental organization in the Philippines warned.

Rhodora Abano, advocacy officer of the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), told Arab News that an undetermined number of families are breaking up due to spouse’s taking on another partner while the husband or wife is away. Likewise, most children of OFWs have become “materialistic,” asking for more money to compensate for the emotional absence of one or both parents.

Some of the OFW children have also dropped out of school as they find the school “strict” or “boring,” or resorted to early marriages because of teenage promiscuity, or bore children out of wedlock. Worst problem for OFW children is when they fall into drug addiction, gambling or other vices.

OFW families must do something to prevent further escalation of these social problems, Abano said. She said her group detests overseas migration as a “permanent development strategy” and suggests instead “establishing a vibrant and self-reliant Philippine economy” as it encourages OFWs to invest in businesses whatever savings they can bring home.

She explained that the Philippines’ fast becoming a service economy is a national fate that could have been prevented in this time of global competition had the government been keen enough to strengthen the local economy and looked at overseas migration as only a temporary measure to solve unemployment problems of the country.

According to the Department of Labor and Employment, about a million workers leave the Philippines every year for jobs overseas and the current total is 7.9 million, a big portion of which include nurses and other health workers, seamen, domestic helpers, entertainers and IT professionals.

Abano further said that in order to keep our best and brightest at home, the government must work out a national development program that will effectively harness the country’s human resources and justly reward workers for their labor.

It should be a development program that can compete globally in terms of compensation and working conditions. In due time, overseas migration will have become a choice and not a forced option to Filipinos, she said.

Source:http://archive.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=100927&d=7&m=9&y=2007
Dec 02, 2010   Australia

Issues and Problems in Filipino-Australian Marriages

From 1989-2005, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas provided guidance to 284,841 Filipino partners of foreign nationals. In 2003 Filipino-Australian couples were the third largest grouping, following Filipino-American and Filipino-Japanese couples. Women account for 89% of Filipino-Australian intermarriage.

It is in this context that the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) in cooperation with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) held a Round Table Discussion on Filipino Women in Intercultural Relationships: The Case of Filipino-Australian Marriages at the Heritage Hotel last June 14, 2006. In his opening remarks, CFO Executive Director Mr Jose Z. Molano Jr stressed that to ensure equality, equity and enjoyment of Australia for Filipinos who choose to live there, a collective approach is required of all stakeholders. He hoped the discussion will result in specific initiatives responding to the concerns and interest of women in intercultural relationships. He noted that some Filipinas have been victims of violence and human trafficking.

The resource persons were Ms Jennifer Gonzales, CFO Deputy Executive Director, who spoke about the situation of Filipinas marrying Australians and CFO services; Ms Peta Dunn, Principal Immigration Officer, Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Australian Embassy in the Philippines, on the embassy’s processing of visa applications of Filipina partners of Australian men; Ms Nicki Saroca, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Anthropology, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies of the Australian National University, on the key issues and commonalities that have emerged from her research into Filipino-Australian relationships and families; and Ms Estrella Masigan, who spoke of the violent death of her sister, Rosalina Canonizado, killed in Australia on 13 April 1991.

Ms Masigan related how her sister met her husband in Australia, his trial and acquittal of her murder. She asked why the case has not been reopened since he has subsequently been found guilty of murdering his first wife.

During the open forum, participants from government and civil society raised questions and suggestions for service improvements.

Situation Of Filipinas In Filipino-Australian Relationships

Of the 284,841 Filipino partners of foreign nationals, CFO records at least 23,532 Filipino-Australian couples. The Australian Census surveyed at least 103,990 Filipino migrants as of 2001, 65% women, of whom more than 70% were sponsored as fiancées or spouses of Australian resident men. The embassy receives some 1,500 visa applications year round, of which 400 are for fiancée visas. Ms Gonzales said that the majority of couples were introduced by common friends and relatives but there are also those introduced through the sex industry and via the Internet.

Problems And Issues

Ms Gonzales enumerated the most pressing concerns reported by the migrating Filipinas in their CFO pre-counseling questionnaire: 47% mentioned adjustment to the environment, followed by homesickness and marital adjustment; 33% planned to work and 8% perceived it as a problem; 12% planned to send financial support to their family while 9% plan to petition their family members. Difficulties fed back by settled Filipinas pertained to employment and adjustment to the environment and local culture.

Prior to counseling, only 39.7% claimed sufficient knowledge of Australia, 44.7% had only limited knowledge, while 15.6% said they had none at all. In general, research indicates that exposure to the English language and the dominant culture enables them to better access services and facilitates adaptation to Australian life with lesser stress. However, Ms Saroca emphasized that the support or lack of support of Australian partners may aid or impede the women’s socialization and settlement. Some even object to their partners mixing with other Filipinas.

In relation to this, differing views and cultural values may lead to friction, for example in regard to parenting. While there are Filipino-Australian children, or “Filos” as some describe themselves, who are proud of their Filipino heritage, others distance themselves from all things Filipino, usually where the Australian father denigrates their Filipino mother, her country and her culture. An aggravating factor is the negative stereotyping of Filipinas in the Australian media. The Australian media’s sensationalist racialized and sexualized portrayal of Filipinas as so-called ‘mail order brides’ and prostitutes, as illegitimate wives bought by their Australian husbands, has created a negative perception of Filipina women. Stereotyping promotes a general unwillingness of the Filipino community to acknowledge domestic violence and discourages them from opening up about their abuse.

CFO statistics show a prevalent huge age difference between the Filipina partners who are mostly 20-34 years old and the Australian partners who are aged 55 and up. Prior to the relationship, 87% of the Filipino women were single as compared with only 47% of the Australian men, half of whom were separated or divorced with family obligations from previous relationships. On the other hand, many of the Filipinas include children from previous relationships in their visa application. They want their Australian partners to accept their children.

Working back in the Philippines, many Filipina partners also plan to work in Australia. They often take on more than one job, to support not only the children they brought along but also those they left behind or their other family members. They do not ‘feed off’ or ‘sponge off’ their Australian partners as portrayed in media. For the women, the support they give not only improves the finances of family in the Philippines but also reaffirms the woman’s place in this family. But, the Filipinas’ employment opportunities are limited by the non-recognition of their qualifications in Australia.

The Filipinas’ need to support their children and/or their families back in the Philippines increases their vulnerability to domestic violence, especially when they depend on their Australian partners for their immigrant status.

In relation to this, Filipinas also stay within violent relationships because of their cultural values i.e. “hiya” or shame over being a victim, “takot” or fear of further violence, etc. Some remain to discourage further negative stereotyping of Filipinas, and this endangers these women, other women and children as well. These factors should be taken into account when considering the high representation of Filipino women in violent relationships. Ms Saroca recalled the research of Chris Cunneen and Julie Stubbs [3] that found Filipinas are almost six times more likely to be victims of homicide than other women in Australia, aside from Indigenous women. Ms Saroca noted though that domestic violence is pervasive in Australia across ethnic groups.

There is an emerging concern about the introduction of Filipinas to Australians through the Internet. The CFO has counselled 771 such women. Ms Gonzales stressed that a single Internet search for ‘Filipina bride’ yields more than 100,000 hits containing over a hundred personal and bride-matching websites. Ms Dunn said the increasing role of the Internet concerns younger Filipina visa applicants.

Areas Where Intervention Is Needed

Ms Saroca presented the following recommendations:

1. The documentary shown during SMEF-COW [4] pre-migration orientation seminars for Filipinos migrating on partner visa to Australia should have an Australian focus. There should also be versions in languages and dialects other than Tagalog.

2. While Filipinas should be informed that some Australians abuse their Filipina partners, domestic violence is not the whole picture. There should be a documentary on other aspects of Australian life to give a balanced view.

3. A mentor-like system can effectively provide additional support and information on women’s rights to help Filipinas settle in Australia. The Australian government should compile a comprehensive list of Australia-based Filipino/Filipino-Australian organizations in urban, regional and rural areas that can be distributed during the SMEF-COW guidance sessions. Counselors should emphasize the importance for new arrivals to seek out other Filipinas to develop their support network.

4. The Australian government should fund CFO and SMEF-COW counselors to visit Australia to gain a better understanding of what Australian life is like for Filipinas married to Australians. These groups should liaise with Filipino NGOs like the Center for Philippine Concerns Australia (in Brisbane and Melbourne) and the Filipino Women’s Working Party (in Sydney) as well as key women who can provide referrals to services.

5. There is a need to provide racism and sexism awareness training and cross-cultural communications training for immigration officers, police, judiciary, lawyers, advocates, social workers, educators, journalists and others who come in contact with Filipinas, particularly regarding domestic violence and its manifestations, racist abuse and how to treat those affected with respect and dignity.

Issues Raised In The Open Forum

Ms Gonzales likened Internet introduction agencies to the ‘mail order bride’ catalogs and marriage agencies of the past. CFO refers these to the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime (PCTC). [5] Ms Saroca added however that not all Internet introductions take place in matchmaking web sites and some couples meet in chat rooms, email lists, forums, etc. Also, introduction agencies organised for the purpose of marriage, on the Internet or otherwise, are not illegal in Australia.

Fr. Edwin Corros of ECMI/CBCP [6] noted the negative attitude of some sections of the Filipino community in Australia toward these Filipinas. Priests are oriented to be aware of this form of emotional violence and heal this division in the community. Ms Saroca confirmed that she also found this form of social distancing while researching, but there are also Filipinos who help support and empower women.

To the questions about the success of Filipino-Australian marriages compared with those of other nationalities, Ms Dunn said, without denying there are problems, studies in the 80s and 90s reported these marriages are successful and last longer than Australian marriages. Ms Saroca added that some marriages last because Filipinas work hard to make them successful. There are Filipinas who even stay in violent relationships because of their commitment to the sanctity of marriage and the responsibility of women for the well-being of children and family.

Regarding follow up, the CFO provides feedback forms prior to departure which are supposed to be sent back after three months of settlement, but the retrieval rate is only 8% and around 70% of those say they are in good condition. Ms Gonzalez acknowledged the need to strengthen links with partners in Australia in addition to the existing post-arrival assessment arrangements.

On the issue of privacy protection of Australian nationals, Ms Dunn said Australia’s very strict privacy law protects everyone and limits the circumstances to share information such as criminal history. Under Australia’s privacy law, such information cannot be shared with a partner without the sponsor’s permission, but if either partner is entering the relationship not fully informed and this has a negative impact upon the assessment of the genuineness of the relationship, the embassy may refuse a visa. If there are psychological issues, the embassy looks closely at the sponsorship, especially where children are involved.

Ms Saroca stressed that privacy does not detract from the abusive situation and the abusive partner. She explained that abusive men conceal their violence so a domestic violence situation is an insidious problem. No matter how much legislation is passed, it won’t stop violent men from being abusive. Violent men are responsible for their violence.

Source: http://cpcabrisbane.org/Kasama/2006/V20n3/FilipinoAustralianMarriages.htm 
Dec 02, 2010   Australia

All about overseas absentee voting

MANILA, Philippines—Overseas absentee voters have between April 10 to 6 p.m. (Manila time) of May 10 to pick their choices for president, vice president, 12 senators, and party list.

As with the rest of the ballots cast by Filipino voters in the Philippines, OAV ballots will be counted nonstop and relayed to the Commission on Elections.

Of the 8.1 million Filipinos spread around the world (workers, residents), only 589,830 overseas Filipinos are registered for the May 2010 national elections.

There are a total of 215,546 voters in the Asia Pacific, 66,745 in the Americas, 61,294 in Europe, 225,148 in the Middle East and Africa, and 21,097 seafarers. Sea-based Filipino workers may personally vote at the embassy or consulate provided the Comelec and the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat (DFA OAVS) have identified international sea ports under their jurisdiction.

PCOS only in HK, Singapore 

One hundred two diplomatic posts (embassies and consulates) will have postal voting and 70 posts will have personal voting (voter has to cast his ballot at the embassy or consulate).

For the first time, 127,206 overseas Filipino workers will vote using the new automated voting system in Hong Kong and Singapore, with 95,355 and 31,851 voters, respectively.

Civil society organizations like the Center for Migrant Advocacy have been advocating for the recognition of overseas Filipinos’ voting rights from the late ’80s until the passage of the Overseas Absentee Voting Law in 2003 and until the past two national elections in 2004 and 2007 when it was finally implemented.

Informing voters 

Unfortunately, while voter turnout in 2004 was 65 percent, it plunged to only 16 percent in 2007 for various reasons, including the backlash of the “Hello Garci” scandal of 2004, the lack of information campaigns, the discriminatory and disenfranchising affidavit requirement from Filipino immigrants and permanent residents in other countries to return to the Philippines to establish domicile within three years from registration, voter-unfriendly post staff on top of inaccessible embassies and consulates and fast turnover of staff.

What is urgent now is that all stakeholders help inform and enable the most number of registrants to vote with conscience. The Hong Kong consulate is a model in reaching out to its constituency.

Daphne Ceniza-Kuok, a volunteer of the Special Board of Election Inspectors in Hong Kong, said the consulate has talked with the banks in Worldwide House, located near Chater Garden in Central Hong Kong where Filipino migrants congregate every Sunday, to allow their monitors to show CDs on automated voting. It has also talked to Smart 1528 Barkadahan and Vodaphone to conduct text blasts to inform its around 60,000 subscribers on the location of the polling places. OAV will also be discussed in the three Filipino radio programs. Almost 80 percent (95,355) of Filipinos in Hong Kong are registered voters. It is no wonder that many candidates troop there to court their votes.

Voting by mail 

In Taiwan, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office mailed out information on the elections to its constituency as did the embassy in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, the consulates in New York and San Francisco and other posts. The Comelec admitted that it did not have a budget for information campaigns. Thus, CMA printed 50,000 flyers (separate flyers for personal, for postal and for automated voting) in addition to 1,500 posters. The center disseminated these to its partner organizations abroad like the Geneva Forum for Philippine Concerns in Switzerland, Damayan in Belgium, and Kasapi in Greece. The CMA also sent these to the different Philippine embassies and consulates abroad in partnership with the DFA OAVS.

In comparison, 11 percent of around a million Filipinos in Saudi Arabia are registered voters who have to go to either the embassy in Riyadh or the consulate in Jeddah or the field polling place in Al Khobar, under the supervision of the embassy in Riyadh. OFWs there are hampered by the lack of available mass public transport to go to the polling centers. Women OFWs are particularly affected because they are not allowed to travel alone.

How to get high turnout 

But first, the government has to address key problems revealed in the last two elections to invite more confidence in the electoral exercise and inspire other stakeholders to support its efforts at enjoining overseas Filipinos to vote between April and May. For one, its registration and voter turnout targeting have to be backed with the budget to realize it. The diplomatic posts should be more proactive in reaching out to the Filipino communities and organizations to inform them about the elections, especially in Singapore where the new automated voting system is a very challenging prospect. Who staffs the post has a lot to do with the success of overseas absentee voting there.

Feedback from Filipinos in Japan has it that the posts there are not voter-friendly in terms of both location and personnel as the law is not voter-friendly either. It requires personal registration. In contrast, as evidenced by the registration and voter turnout in Hong Kong, the high momentum of Filipino organizers there complements the consulate’s efforts at making the elections a success.

Using YouTube 

Other stakeholders have to contribute what they can to help government inform and enable the most number of registrants to vote wisely.

Many Filipino organizations abroad reproduce voter information materials out of their own pockets, understanding the urgency of informing kababayans abroad about the mechanics of voting as well as their right to vote and to participate in Philippine governance.

In the Middle East, Patnubay.com in partnership with the CMA came out with a video post for YouTube in time for the start of the overseas voting. In the US, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations and other Filipino organizations have been holding meetings to inform Filipinos in the US about the upcoming elections. In Switzerland, the UP Alumni Association and the Geneva Forum for Philippine Concerns have been active in the information campaign since the voter registration period.

Here in the Philippines, the Scalabrinian Lay Association and the CMA have been reaching out to Balik Manggagawa at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. The CMA and Task Force 2010 try to maximize the use of the media to help inform overseas Filipinos directly and through their families left behind.

Come May 10

But more support is needed during the actual voting up to the counting stages.

In the past two elections, Filipino organizations in the Middle East negotiated with company owners to provide transport to enable their Filipino employees to vote. Both government and civil society can still maximize the use of the multimedia to reach out to kababayans worldwide.

On the part of overseas Filipinos themselves and civil society, proactive citizenship is the call of the times while we continue policy advocacy. In addition, Namfrel also calls on volunteers among Filipinos abroad to help out in its parallel counting and to help in other ways to ensure honest elections.

There is a lot to do still to make overseas Filipino voters a significant voters’ bloc. The law is still new. But for as long as all stakeholders incorporate into succeeding practice what is learned from each implementation of the law, for sure and soon, Filipinos abroad will be a force to reckon with, not only during elections but in the whole of Philippine political life.

OFWs by the numbers 

8.1 million: estimated number of overseas Filipinos around the world (as of December 2008)

589,830: total of registered overseas Filipino voters around the world

1 million: estimated number of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia

111,549: registered voters

155,317: estimated number of Filipinos in Hong Kong

95,355: registered voters

Source: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20100411-263623/All-about-overseas-absentee-voting
Dec 02, 2010   Philippines

post 2010 OAV Reflections

The 2010 national elections marked the third time that the Philippines has implemented OAV. It is also the second time that OAV was conducted in a presidential election. How does it compare to the 2004 and 2007 OAV exercises?
May 13, 2010

CCOFW, migrant rights groups ask President Arroyo to Veto Amendatory Law on RA8042

Migrant rights groups led by CCOFW ask President Arroyo to veto the amendatory law on RA8042, specifically the provision for mandatory insurance and the retention of the discriminatory provision on money claims.
Mar 05, 2010

Mag-abroad ay Di-Biro: A Free seminar on US Immigration Laws

Ang Mag-Abroad ay Hindi Biro: A FREE SEMINAR on US Immigration Laws

WHEN: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, January 31, 2010, Sunday
WHERE: YMCA Phil (Near SM Manila), 7th floor Hotel Indah
Manila, 350 A. Villegas St, Ermita, Manila

RESOURCE PERSON: California-based Filipino Immigration lawyer ATTY. ADOLFO NABOR from Baler, Aurora Province will be the resource person. His areas of expertise are immigration concerns, personal injury and family petitions. website: http://alnaborlaw.com

He will discuss the various facets of US immigration which will be helpful both to those with pending petitions with either the US Embassy, Citizenship and Immigration Services in the US or the Department of State as with those dealing with the CFO on J-visa waiver applications, as well as those planning to file applications like those professionals (e.g. nurses) looking for possible employment in the US.

Atty. Nabor is visiting the country and the free seminar is his modest way of giving back to his roots.

The purpose of the seminar is

* to give an explanation of the US Immigration process
* help applicants do a self assessment of their chances of migrating to the US
* describe some of the important requirements for migrating, studying, or for working in the US
* give new migrants a clear picture of the challenges they will be facing when they arrive in the US
* give new migrants a clear picture of the challenges they will be facing when they arrive in the US
* desribe some pre-departure decisions, would be migrants should think about
* describe the possible scenarios that could happen to migrants
* give new migrants tips on how they can minimize risks and avoid common mistakes

It is NOT the intention of the seminar to

* provide legal advice – nothing from the seminar should be taken as legal advice
* promote migration to the US – this is not a marketing or sales seminar. If your intention is simply to know more about the US as a country from books or from the internet.

PARTICIPANTS: Slots are limited so we request the participants to pre-register. Preference is given to those who have already lodged their application at the US Embassy or with pending petitions

Please confirm your attendance by sending us an email with your name and contact details at the following offices:

CENTER FOR MIGRANT ADVOCACY PHILIPPINES –
Email: <cmaphils@pldtdsl.net> or ellenesana@yahoo.com or call Tel 433-0684

COMMISSION ON OVERSEAS FILIPINOS
Email: mieo@cfo.gov.ph

Jan 21, 2010   Philippines

CCOFW_short_and_long_statements_2

Migrant rights groups led by CCOFW ask President Arroyo to veto the amendatory law on RA8042, specifically the provision for mandatory insurance and the retention of the discriminatory provision on money claims.
Mar 05, 2010

What was then Temporary now an Official Policy

President Macapaga Arroyo’s administrative Order No. 247 issued in December 2008 tells the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to “execute a paradigm shift by refocusing its function from regulation o full blast market development efforts, the exploration of frontier, fertile job markets for Filipino expartite workers, in the heat of the global economic meltdown when hundreds of Overseas Filipino Workers were being laid off elsewhere.”
Jan 18, 2010

invite_to_seminar_on_US_immigration_version_2

Ang Mag-Abroad ay Hindi Biro: A FREE SEMINAR on US Immigration Laws

WHEN: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, January 31, 2010, Sunday
WHERE: YMCA Phil (Near SM Manila), 7th floor Hotel Indah
Manila, 350 A. Villegas St, Ermita, Manila

RESOURCE PERSON: California-based Filipino Immigration lawyer ATTY. ADOLFO NABOR from Baler, Aurora Province will be the resource person. His areas of expertise are immigration concerns, personal injury and family petitions. website: http://alnaborlaw.com

He will discuss the various facets of US immigration which will be helpful both to those with pending petitions with either the US Embassy, Citizenship and Immigration Services in the US or the Department of State as with those dealing with the CFO on J-visa waiver applications, as well as those planning to file applications like those professionals (e.g. nurses) looking for possible employment in the US.

Atty. Nabor is visiting the country and the free seminar is his modest way of giving back to his roots.

The purpose of the seminar is

* to give an explanation of the US Immigration process
* help applicants do a self assessment of their chances of migrating to the US
* describe some of the important requirements for migrating, studying, or for working in the US
* give new migrants a clear picture of the challenges they will be facing when they arrive in the US
* give new migrants a clear picture of the challenges they will be facing when they arrive in the US
* desribe some pre-departure decisions, would be migrants should think about
* describe the possible scenarios that could happen to migrants
* give new migrants tips on how they can minimize risks and avoid common mistakes

It is NOT the intention of the seminar to

* provide legal advice – nothing from the seminar should be taken as legal advice
* promote migration to the US – this is not a marketing or sales seminar. If your intention is simply to know more about the US as a country from books or from the internet.

PARTICIPANTS: Slots are limited so we request the participants to pre-register. Preference is given to those who have already lodged their application at the US Embassy or with pending petitions

Please confirm your attendance by sending us an email with your name and contact details at the following offices:

CENTER FOR MIGRANT ADVOCACY PHILIPPINES –
Email: <cmaphils@pldtdsl.net> or ellenesana@yahoo.com or call Tel 433-0684

COMMISSION ON OVERSEAS FILIPINOS
Email: mieo@cfo.gov.ph
Jan 21, 2010

What was then Temporary now an Official Policy

President Macapaga Arroyo’s administrative Order No. 247 issued in December 2008 tells the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to “execute a paradigm shift by refocusing its function from regulation o full blast market development efforts, the exploration of frontier, fertile job markets for Filipino expartite workers, in the heat of the global economic meltdown when hundreds of Overseas Filipino Workers were being laid off elsewhere.”
Jan 18, 2010