Libya Under Review: Deployment Of Filipino Workers To Iraq

Yesterday Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz  stated that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) might amend the previous non-certification of the two countries.

The remaining 19 countries yet to get approval from the POEA governing board required under the Amended Migrant Workers Act, Libya and Iraq are among them.

Sending of Filipino workers to countries without certification as a safe destination by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is restricted by law.

Baldoz said the DFA has certified these countries following the recommendation of the Congressional Committee on Overseas Welfare Affairs.

Under the qualification, the POEA may continue to deploy OFWs to these countries, while the DFA continues to negotiate for the better protection of household service workers.

Of the 203 countries hiring OFWs, the DFA has certified 184 countries.

Previously, the DFA declared 41 hiring countries including Iraq as non-complaint, but eventually withdrew the non-certification and sought a three-month deferment in the implementation of the deployment ban.

A new requirement for a host country to be considered compliant is for it to have an existing bilateral agreement with the Philippine government.

Early this year, however, the government allowed deployment of returning workers to Libya.

source: philstar.com

Navy Monitors 79 Chinese Boats Near Shoal

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday that China has already positioned close to a hundred numbers of vessels within the Philippine territorial waters for about 124 nautical miles from our mainland Zambales, to further heightening the territorial row in the area.

Reports coming from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) were forwarded to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) showing that in the present times, there are already 5 Chinese vessels within the vicinity of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal on top of 16 Chinese fishing boats that have been situated 56 utility boats for their ongoing fishing operations.

In addition, it has already added 2 additional Fishery Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) vessels in Panatag, harmonizing the first fishery vessels.

Nevertheless, China’s foreign department refused such number of vessels in the area. It was said that it was only 20 fishing boats that were present in Panatag, the usual; number during May in past years.

Raul Hernandez, DFA spokesman, stated that China has sent the vessels while conversing with the Philippines on how to resolve tensions in the area.

At around 7 p.m. of May 21 the 5 Chinese vessels were monitored near the shoal which corresponding names, namely Chinese Maritime Ships (CMS-71) CMS-84, and FLEC 301, FLEC 303 and FLEC 310.

2 of the Chinese vessels were considered as the most advanced Chinese vessels, FLEC 301 and FLEC 303 respectively, it’s the latest addition in the disputed shoal against the 2 Philippine civilian vessels positioned in the area just to symbolize the country’s territorial ownership.

Last Tuesday, Hernandez mentioned that there were still 16 Chinese fishing vessels and that the number of utility boats rises up to 76.

“It is regrettable that these actions occurred at a time when China has been articulating for a de-escalation of tensions and while the two sides have been discussing how to defuse the situation in the area,” Hernandez said in a press briefing.

He added that the Philippines even objected for these actions of China as clear misruling of Philippine sovereignty and authority over the shoal and sovereign rights over the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that covers the waters around Panatag Shoal or also known as Bajo de Masinloc

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) showed it sincere concern over these continuous actions by China that worsen the tension in Panatag Shoal in a note verbale dated May 21, 2012  that was sent to the Chinese government through the Chinese embassy in Manila.

Hernandez cited that the actions of China are also in violation of the ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea, specifically paragraph 5, which calls the Parties “to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.”

Phl demands pullout of Chinese vessels

Despite China’s self-imposed fishing ban it was said by the FCG reports that reached the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), that Chinese fishermen have still been running fishing in the area aside from reaping giant clams and other endangered species inside the shoal.

Moreover, the PCG report to the DFA also highlighted the 16 Chinese fishing boats in which 10 of them were inside the lagoon fishing while the 6 others were outside. It was monitored that it arrived last Monday evening escorted by a Chinese vessel.

“The increase in the number of China’s vessels in the area imperils marine biodiversity in the shoal and threatens the marine ecosystem in the whole of the West Philippine Sea,” Hernandez said.

He as well said that the Chinese fishermen have unlawfully scoured the area and dishonestly garnered giant clams and corals.

He said the recent actions of China are also in violation of the United Nations Charter, specifically Article 2.4, which provides that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

“The Philippines, therefore, demands that China’s vessels immediately pull out from Bajo de Masinloc and the Philippines’ EEZ and for China to refrain from taking further actions that exacerbate the situation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea),” Hernandez said.

China: Only 20 vessels

Hong Lei, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said yesterday that the Philippines have taken some offensive actions in the Huangyan Island waters which in is required “China to adopt corresponding measures to strengthen management and control.”

“To our knowledge, now there are about 20 Chinese fishing boats working in that area. This number is roughly the same with that in the same period of the previous years. The way these fishing boats are working complies with the related Chinese laws and the fishing moratorium issued by the Chinese government,” Hong said.

On Tuesday, China said that the involvement of countries in the standoff will meet steadfast opposition from the Chinese government.   Beijing was alarmed that some countries would help the Philippines establish a minimum credible defense posture by providing the country with patrol boats and military aircraft, so as to complement the Philippines’ diplomatic initiative in dealing with territorial disputes with China.

DFA Chief Calls For Patriotism

In the interview yesterday of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, he said that resolving the territorial argument between China would not be easy as he called for a position of “patriotism” among Filipinos and sacrifice if the Philippines is tested.

While the consultations are yet to resolve the standoff in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal which is also called or knows as Bajo de Masinloc, it should be pursued, Del Rosario mentioned that the Philippines should continue to stand up and defeat its sovereign rights over the shoal and the West Philippine Sea in general.

“We need to defend what is ours. We need to stand up even as we look for ways to solve the disputes peacefully. We need to stand for what is ours. In order for us to do this, I think it is not going to be easy – and as you see it is not easy,” Del Rosario said before the Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines.

“We need to get our people to bond together. We need to unite. We need to take a position of patriotism that what is ours is ours and we will stand for it. And it is possible that we may be tested and if we are tested, it is possible that everyone will need to make a sacrifice,” he added.

Del Rosario repeated that the Philippines is looking at different strategies to defend its claims and position in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) in general which includes the legal track of dispute settlement mechanisms, including the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“Do we have to have China with us when we go to this dispute settlement mechanism, the answer is no. There are mechanisms there where we believe we can pursue our objectives without China being with us,” he uttered.

A map was prepared by the USA Armed Forces in 1903 and was given to Del Rosario during his last visit to Washington.

The map included Panatag Shoal as part of the island groups of the Philippines, contrary to China’s claim that it is not included in the Philippine boundaries under the Treaty of Paris.

Del Rosario said that he and the Chinese Ambassador Ma Xeqing had began to discuss the pullout of ships in Panatag Shoal when they were engaged in consultations prior to the fishing ban China announced this week, but the two sides did not arrive at a conclusion or agreement.

US envoy apologizes to DFA ; Palace says no need to apologize to the President

US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr.

US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr.

After stating that 40% of male tourists visiting the Philippines come only for sex tourism, US ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. sent an aplogy text message to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Del Rosario said that he received the text message from Thomas last Friday, October 6, 2011, stating that the US Ambassador is sorry for not backing up with statistics and figures about his statement.

Thomas’ also extended his apologies to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima whose department was tagged as the source of the statistics regarding the sex tourism.

“There are two things involved here: Having no statistics to back it up, we believe that we have confronted… we don’t have a policy of inviting tourists here for sex purposes. Number two, notwithstanding that, we recognize that there are certain people who come here and engage in those services and that’s the reason why we continue to prosecute these people.” Pres. spokesperson Lacierda said.

Sec. Lacierda also pointed out the removal of the Philippines from the Tier 2 watch list in the 2011 State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released by the US government last June.

“The fact that we were able to remove ourselves from the list shows the effort of this present government to combat all these nefarious acts,” he said.

Malacañang also accepted the apology of Thomas and declared the issue closed.

“I think the statement of Ambassador Thomas clearly showed that he was not able to back up the statistics and hence he apologized to Secretary Del Rosario and to our government.” Lacierda said.

“We, in fact, thanked the ambassador for his statement.” Lacierda said.

Lacierda also said the Ambassador’s remarks did not affect the strong relations between close allies Philippines and the US.

PH and PHL is the new initials for Philippines

I was listening to Anthony Taberna’s radio show in DZMM called “Dos Por Dos”. He said that Philippines will be no longer called RP, but PH and PHL according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

RP stands for “Republic of the Philippines”, but I thought that it should be PH or PHL because the initials of other Asian countries (e.g. Taiwan = TW)  came from 2 consecutive consonants of each countrys’ name itself.

I read Yahoo! News regarding this issue, and DFA  said that the move complies with the country codes set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Now that Philippines will be called PHL or PH, foreigners can easily distinguished if they read the initials PHL or PH — it’s Philippines.

DFA confirms 2 fatalities in Haiti’s earthquake.

Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the death of two Filipino’s in the magnitude-7 earthquake that devastates Haiti last week. The two Filipino’s were known as Jerome Yap, a UN Staffer in Haiti and Pearlie Panagui, a clerk in the Office of the Force Commander at Minustah.

Yap’s body, along with the body of Luis Carlos Da Costa, which Yap served as executive assistant, were both found in buried in the building of UN Stabilization Mission that collapsed caused by the earthquake.

While Navy Petty Officer3 Pearlie Panagui was in the 2nd floor of Christopher Hotel where her remains found by rescue operators.

Lieutenant Colorner Romeo Brawner Jr. said there are Filipinos’ still missing, namely Air Force Sergeant Janice Arocena and Army Sergeant Eustacio Bermudes Jr.  Another Filipina, Geraldine Calican, is still trapped in the Caribbean Supermarket. On the other hand, two Filipinas, Grace Fabian and Aurora Aguinaldo, were saved from the Supermarket.

Only 165 FIlipinos out of 700, including 172 are confirmed safe and alive. And Lt. Col. Brawner said all efforts are being done to rescue those who are still missing and hoping more lives will be save.

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Remains of Filipino UN staffer in Haiti found

MANILA, Philippines—The remains of a Filipino United Nations staff member have been recovered, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

The DFA identified the fatality as Jerome Yap, who was from Pampanga, served as executive Assistant to Luis Carlos da Costa, the deputy special representative of the UN Secretary General, who was also killed in the collapsed building. They both served with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah).

The department expressed “regrets to inform the public that the Philippines lost one of its own in last week’s earthquake that struck Haiti with the recovery of the remains of Mr. Jerome Yap at 5:15 a.m. (Haiti time).”

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RP-based ring trafficking Pinoys to Bahamas – DFA

A Manila-based ring is trafficking Filipino workers to the Bahamas via Cuba, and has yet to be stopped despite having made at least four such trafficking attempts since 2008, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.

The DFA said the information came from the Filipino Association in the Bahamas, which alerted the Philippine Embassy there of the ring’s operations.

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‘Survivor’ TV show latest RP come-on for tourists from Israel

MANILA, Philppines — The reality television show “Survivor” is one of the latest come-ons for Israeli tourists to visit the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

An article on the DFA website (www.dfa.gov.ph) said Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano mentioned the television show during a promotion of the Philippines as a tourist destination.

“Secretary Durano made special mention of ‘Survivor Israel’ which was recently filmed in the Philippines and will begin airing in October 2009. The series, consisting of 40 hours of airtime, would show different locations that could match the special interests of Israeli travelers,” the DFA said.

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Malaysia acquits alleged Pinay drug mule

MANILA, Philippines – A Filipina worker who was accused of trafficking drugs in August 2008 was acquitted by the Malaysian High Court and is set to go home, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Victoriano Lecaros said Armah Candelario was acquitted last June 25 and will be repatriated to Manila.

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