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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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OFW falls to death in Morocco after row with employer – DFA

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, June 24th, 2019

A female Filipino worker died after falling from a third-floor apartment in Morocco, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday (June 24).

In a statement, the DFA said the Filipino died from injuries she sustained shortly after falling on Saturday.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs expresses its condolences to the family of a Filipina who fell to her death in Morocco on Saturday,” the department said in a statement.

The Philippine Embassy in Tripoli, which has jurisdiction over Morocco, said the Filipina fell to her death while reportedly trying to escape from her employer’s apartment in Casablanca.

“Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Elmer G. Cato said the victim reportedly had an argument with her employer and then tried to escape using pieces of garment she tied together,” the DFA said.

The department added that authorities have already taken the employer into custody pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation.

A consular team has also been deployed to Morocco for the repatriation of the victim’s remains.

“The Embassy has dispatched a consular team to Casablanca to coordinate with authorities and arrange for the repatriation of the victim,” the DFA said.

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Robredo meets with 22 fishermen in Recto Bank incident

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, June 21st, 2019

Courtesy : OVP

Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday conducted a closed-door meeting with the Filipino crew of the boat which was hit and sank by a Chinese vessel near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea last June 9.

Robredo arrived at the San Jose town in Occidental Mindoro around 10 a.m. to speak with the 22 crewmembers of F/B Gem-Ver 1 who were left floating at sea after the ramming incident but were later rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.

The meeting was held at the residence of one of the fishermen and owner of the boat.

The Vice President’s visit comes after boat captain Junel Insigne retracted his previous statement that the Chinese boat intentionally hit their boat. He changed tune after a closed-door meeting with Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol on Wednesday.

Some Makabayan congressmen alleged that the boat captain was intimidated and pressured to change his statement, which Piñol denied.

READ: Makabayan bloc believes boat captain was pressured to change statements

The Agriculture chief said he only based on the account of the boat’s cook, Richard Blaza, who was allegedly the only one awake when the incident occurred.

Robredo earlier said she wants the Chinese crew to face charges for hitting and abandoning the Filipino fishers at sea.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea requires member-states to mandate ships flying their flag to rescue persons distressed at sea. Beijing and Manila are signatories of the said policy.

A diplomatic protest has already been filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs over the incident.

Investigations are also underway on the boat ramming incident. (with details from Sherwin Culubong)

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Marina, PCG to conduct further probe on West PH sea collision

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019

The joint meeting of the Economic Development and Security, Justice, and Peace clusters was held to tackle issues relative to the West Philippine Sea/Reed Bank incident that resulted in the sinking of the fishing boat F/B Gem-Vir 1.

MANILA, Philippines – The Maritime Authority (Marina) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has been tasked to jointly conduct further investigations into the collision incident involving Filipino and Chinese fishing vessels near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea, a Cabinet official said Monday.

Secretary to the Cabinet Karlo Nograles said the issue was discussed in a Cabinet cluster meeting on Monday afternoon.

Nograles said that during the meeting of the Economic Development and Security, Justice and Peace clusters, it was agreed that Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol would lead the government response primarily focused on assisting the 22 Filipino crewmen who were rescued from the sinking boat.

“Sec. Piñol has been directed to tap all available government resources – including assistance from DA (Department of Agriculture) and DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) – to assist our countrymen, with components of the support package to come from other government agencies,” Nograles said.

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who was also Region 4-B Cabinet officer for regional development and security (CORDS) was designated as co-lead.

Last June 9, 22 Filipinos were left at sea after their boat F/B GEM-VIR 1 was rammed and sunk by a Chinese vessel. They were later rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.

China’s Embassy in Manila earlier said the incident was accidental, claiming that the Chinese vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 was berthed at the vicinity when “suddenly besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats.”

READ: DA-BFAR says Filipino fishing boat ‘rammed’; China says they were besieged

The Embassy said that the Chinese crewmen decided to sail away after confirming that the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued by other Filipino fishing boats.

Nograles said the Philippine government last week filed a “strongly-worded” diplomatic protest as an initial action to the incident.

Initial inquiries have also been conducted by Cusi, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the PCG to determine the extent of the liabilities involved and in order to ascertain the most effective legal means to obtain justice for our countrymen.

Malacañang earlier said it will wait for the results of the investigation before taking further action.

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