by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019
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.
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.
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Friday, June 21st, 2019
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.
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)
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019
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.”
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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