Solon: Kuwaiti gov’t not in position to convict Demafelis’ employers

admin   •   April 4, 2018   •   3464

ACTS-OFW party-list Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz

MANILA, Philippines — ACTS-OFW party-list Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz has expressed fears over Kuwait government’s death sentence against the employer of Joanna Demafelis, the overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) found dead inside a freezer in Kuwait.

The solon said the Philippine government should not be complacent because it might just be Kuwait’s attempt to pacify public rage over her death.

Bertiz cited that the case of  two foreign nationals sentenced to death by the Kuwaiti government in January 2016 but later dismissed due to a conflict in international laws.

This might also happen to the case of Joana since the suspects are not Kuwaiti nationals.

“Apat na bansa po ang involved —  Philippines, Syria, Lebanon, and Kuwait. That death penalty can only be imposed if both countries will  agree to extradite or bring the alleged killer to Kuwait para mahatulan ang sinasabing hatol ng kamatayan,” said the lawmaker.

(Four countries are involved —  the Philippines, Syria, Lebanon, and Kuwait. That death penalty can only be imposed if both countries will agree to extradite or bring the alleged killer to Kuwait to impose the death sentence.)

Bertiz also questioned why the Philippine Embassy in Lebanon and Syria has not received any information up to now.

Based on the report of the Kuwaiti government, it was the Interpol who arrested the two suspects —Nader Essam Assaf and his wife Mouna Hassoun in Syria.

Nader and Mouna were turned over to Lebanese and Syrian authorities respectively.

The lawmaker noted that the Interpol also failed to give a report to the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the arrests.

“This is the reason why I urge our government to form a joint task force of DFA and DOJ para malaman natin kung totoo bang nasa kustodiya ng Lebanon authorities ang suspect na ito,” said Bertiz.

(This is the reason why I urge our government to form a joint task force of DFA and DOJ for us to know it if it is true that the suspects are in the custody of Lebanese authorities.)

Bertiz also called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to study further the deployment ban in Kuwait until death sentence was imposed on the suspects.

“Ang nakakatakot kasi niyan yung mga sinabi na nahuli na tapos wala pala. Ibig sabihin ginagawa tayong uto-uto ng Kuwaiti government. Huwag naman natin madaliin na i-lift agad ang ban,” said the lawmaker.

(What’s vexing is when they say the perpetrators have been arrested and it turns out to be untrue. It means the Kuwaiti government is just leading us on. Let’s not rush into lifting the ban.) — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue


DILG warns of charges vs LGUs that reject entry of returning OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   May 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has warned local government units (LGU) of facing charges for rejecting overseas Filipinos returning to their localities after serving their quarantine period for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Año stressed that non-acceptance of OFWs who wish to return to their hometowns would mean violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and would incur serious consequences.

“Hindi pwede na sasabihin ninyo na: ‘Zero COVID kami kaya hindi kami tatanggap ng OFW.’ Hindi pwede iyan, (You can’t say: “We’re zero COVID so we will not accept OFWs.” That’s not acceptable),” Año said.

“I myself will make sure na hahabulin ko kayo (to go after you),” he warned.

Secretary Año emphasized the importance of proper coordination between the LGU and the national government in ferrying OFWs to their respective hometowns.

With proper communication, the LGU will be able to plan ahead for the arrivals of the OFWs and provide them the much-needed assistance.

“Ang gusto ko may tatlong araw na aabisuhan ang ating mga LGUs bago ang biyahe kasi maghahanda pa iyan ng sasakyan na magsusundo pati ang kanilang isolation facilities ay ihahanda nila at syempre dapat alam nila ang pangalan ng mga uuwi,” Año explained.

(What I want is to inform LGUs three days ahead of the scheduled trip because they need to prepare transportation and they need to set up their isolation facilities. Also, they need to know the names of those arriving.)

Criticisms have been mounting with regard to the government’s handling of OFWs in quarantine facilities as they have been delayed for so long in addition to the hassle of getting their COVID-19 clearance to finally go home. 

One complaint came from Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez who vented his ire on Facebook after a number of OFWs were sent to his locality without proper coordination. MNP (with details from Joan Nano)

Duterte orders PhilHealth to make premium payment for OFWs voluntary

Marje Pelayo   •   May 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has directed state insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to make premium contributions voluntary for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) due to mounting complaints from Filipinos here and abroad.

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

The President wants to ensure that no further load will be added to OFWs at this time of health and financial crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Nag-issue po ng direktiba ang ating Presidente sa Philhealth para gawing boluntaryo ang pagbabayad ng OFWs ng Philhealth premiums, [The President has already directed PhilHealth to make payment for PhilHealth contributionrs for OFWs voluntary,]” Roque confirmed. 

Roque, being one of the principal authors of the Universal Health Care Act during his time as Representative of Kabayan Partylist in the 17th Congress, stressed that there was no provision on his version of the law that orders mandatory additional premium contribution among OFWs.

He added that it was PhilHealth that included such provision as it is the one that crafted the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the said law.

Roque also clarified that PhilHealth premiums will only increase by 0.5%, and not 3%.

“Wala po sa batas na nagsasabi na dapat patawan ang mga OFWs ng karagdagang premiums sa pamamaraan na nais ipatupad ng Philhealth, [Mandatory payment of premium contributions for OFWs was not included in the original version the way PhilHealth wants it to happen,]” Roque.

“Iyan po ay nasa implementing rules and regulations, [They included it in the implementing rules and regulations,]” he added.

Roque also clarified that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) do not require payments of PhilHealth premiums prior to processing of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

DOLE’s one-time COVID-19 cash aid for displaced OFWs faces shortage

Marje Pelayo   •   April 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Sunday (April 26) reported that the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic seeking cash aid from the government has exceeded its target. 

According to DOLE, the government has already received a total of 233,015 requests for cash assistance from affected OFWs.

This figure is far higher than the set target of 150,000 beneficiaries for the P1.5 billion fund of DOLE’s Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program (DOLE-AKAP) program that provides a one-time P10,000 or $200 cash aid to qualified OFWs.

DOLE eyes requesting for supplemental budget to accommodate more OFWs during this time of health emergency. 

Of the total number of requests, 118,134 were received by Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) from workers onsite while the rest were submitted by repatriated OFWs to OWWA and DOLE regional offices in the country.

DOLE has announced that a total of 49,040 OFWs are already set to receive the cash aid after meeting the requirements — some 34,000 of them remain in their respective host countries due to lockdowns while more than 15,000 have been repatriated or have existing contracts but unable to leave for their country of destination due to travel restrictions.

Those eligible for the assistance come from both land-based and sea-based workers, DOLE said.


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