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2 Pinoy health workers denied UK visa


Two Filipino health workers who allegedly made false claims about their funds have been denied student visas to enter the United Kingdom (UK) and may now have to wait for a decade before applying again, a migration official disclosed Sunday.

Diana Rose Bron and Jezel Camacho were refused permission after the UK consular office-Manila was unable to confirm the authenticity of their bank certifications, said Emmanuel Geslani.

“This should serve as a warning to all health workers who will be submitting false documents because they will not only be refused entry but also barred from going there for a period of 10 years,’’ he said.

Citing records he culled, Geslani said the bank certifications of the two students were issued in a province in Northern Luzon although they are residents of Bicol.

He said the consular office was unable to verify the authenticity of the funds claimed by the students, and, thus was declared outright that their bank documents were “fraudulent.”

Geslani said that bank certifications are needed to show that applicants for student visas have the financial capacity to live in the UK, pay for their tuition fee and living expenses such as accommodation, food and transportation for a period of nine months.

Depending on their UK location, he said the recommended amount for each student ranges from P450, 000 to P650,000. “This amount should be deposited in the accredited bank which issues the certification to the applicant. The certificate is one of the documents that has to be submitted by the student to the UK embassy in Manila,’’ he said.

The students were assisted by the International Student Advisors (ISA), a consultancy office, who admitted to have affirmed the certifications since these were issued by the bank.

According to him, the ISA had expressed belief there was nothing wrong with the students’ applications, except for their funds.

Meanwhile, Geslani bared that Filipino nurses migrating to the UK has now surpassed deployment of nurses to the United States.

The official attributed the decline in deployment of foreign nurses to US to its stringent immigration policies.

“Filipino nurses hoping to work in the US may have to wait 5-7 years for H 1-B working visas and 2-3 years for EB 3 (immigrant visas) before they can enter the US while those interested in improving their academic qualifications can enter the UK under a study and work program introduced fours years ago by a leading international consultancy office within six months,’’ he said.

Citing 2007-2009 data from the UK Borders and Immigration Agency, he said the annual average of Filipino nurses who have left for the UK under a study and work program was pegged at 7,000.

Figures from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), on the other hand, showed that from 2003-2009 there was only an annual average of less than 300 Registered Nurses (RNs)  who were allowed entry to the US using H1-B work and EB-3 immigration visas.

Moreover, Geslani said that nurse deployment to Saudi Arabia continue to be high with an average of 8, 000 yearly.

The annual deployment to the Kingdom is more than half of the yearly average of 13,000 nurse deployment by the POEA to various countries including the US, he said.

Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner, Overseas Jobs,

POEA warns of fake Net job offers


The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) advised Monday desperate job hunters hoping to work abroad to use their judgment and common sense when applying for a job on the Internet to avoid being scammed or fooled.

Hanz Cacdac, POEA deputy administrator, said many fake job offers posted on the Internet, particularly those for overseas employment come from sites in the United Kingdom, specifically London, and Canada and the United States.

“Meron tayong monitoring sa POEA on things posted on the Net. If you noticed doon sa mga violations, nag-i-issue tayo agad ng advisory para mapalinawagan agad ang publiko about these bogus job offers,’’ Cacdac said in an interview.

“Job seekers should really assert their selves before getting duped by scammers on the Net. They have to ask lots of questions or check the agency if it is licensed or accredited with us,’’ he said.

Cacdac said job offers sent via email seeking for addresses, personal numbers and money without any contract should be considered outright as a scam.

Asked if the phenomenon is alarming, the official said the agency will not take lightly the illegal work of recruitment agencies and will instead intensify its campaign against these bogus agencies.

He said this is also the reason why the POEA has partnered with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to track down violators.

“We have an ongoing briefing with the NBI on how to track sources of Internet post and e-mail. Traceable naman talaga siya and we do plan to have an operation lalo dun sa mga fraudsters na nandirito,’’ according to Cacdac.

As of last year, data received by the POEA from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in London showed than over 200 mails from job applicants and local recruitment agencies were recorded requesting for verification of the legality of the job offers they received through the Net.

Most jobs being offered on the Internet are those for professionals and skilled workers, including engineers, caregivers, hotel staff, store managers and salesperson.

Agencies usually showcase high salary offers and benefits to convince people to grab the opportunity.

Earlier, former labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas urged job seekers to always double check the job vacancies being offered and ensure that these are authenticated by the POLO or the embassy.

She reminded the public to be always cautious and to follow the proper process of applying for jobs as mandated in the POEA rules and regulation for overseas employment.

“Dalawa lamang ang tamang paraan ng pag-alis upang magtrabaho sa ibang bansa. Una ay sa pamamagitan ng regular recruitment system dito sa atin na siyang ginagawa ng mga licensed recruitment agencies for their accredited foreign principals o di kaya ay through a government-to-government arrangement,’’ she said.

“Ang ikalawa ay through a direct hiring arrangement kung saan ang foreign employer ay deretsahan hina-hire ang lokal na aplikante dito sa atin subalit ang pag-alis ng prospective OFW ay ayon pa rin sa documentation process ng POEA,’’ said Sto. Tomas.

Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner, Overseas Jobs, POEA-Advisory,

Teachers not ready for sex education, prolife group claims

The unpreparedness of teachers to guide pupils on the subject may yet be the biggest snag in government’s sex-education program, a pro-life group claimed on Saturday.

Many teachers themselves grew up in environments where the subject was considered taboo, pro-life group Philippines Foundation Executive Director Marisa Wasan said.

“So how can we make this program successful when the ones who will execute them are unprepared and unmotivated?” Wasan said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines news site.

Wasan urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to reassess its decision to include sex education in schools in time for the opening of classes on June 15.

DepEd, she said, should instead be consistent in its vision of helping Filipino children achieve their full potential in a learning environment suited to them.

She also stressed the primary right to instruct children on sexual matters belongs to the parents or children’s guardians, and not to the school.

“Although schools have the right and duty to assist parents in this undertaking, sexual morality must not be imparted in a group setting while this moral education must conform to the tradition and teaching of religion and culture,” she said.

Wasan cited complaints from her group’s members that teachers supposed to teach the subject are apparently not well trained, “so they ignore the curriculum or do not know how to deal with it.”

Pro-Life also expressed concern the targeted students are as young as 11 years old, and the program includes “videos and sessions [that encourage] use of contraceptives and [show] situations involving decision-making over committing sexual intercourse.”

“If we teach children to use condoms, we tell them in effect that it is all right to have sex thus they gain a false assurance in a situation where they themselves should not be trying out at an early age,” Wasan said.

“Yes, knowledge is power but if they are given to the wrong hands, it could be detrimental,” she added.

She said sex and sexuality, “by their very nature are private and intimate,” so teaching sex education in school would make them “public and open,” because “education is an activity which is essentially public.”

Wasan said she sees no reason for sex education to be taught as a separate subject in school since education on sexuality is already integrated in various programs.

The DepEd, however, said sex education would be integrated in other subjects.

“If sex education is about the anatomy of the reproductive system, sophomores take up Biology and elementary students get a basic glimpse in their Science and Health subjects. If sex education is about personal hygiene, don’t we learn that from our Good Manners and Right Conduct subject? And if sex education is about chastity and delayed
gratification, aren’t those handled already by Values Education teachers?” she said.

On the other hand, Wasan acknowledged the department’s efforts to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and lower pregnancy rates among teens by stressing abstinence.

by  GMANews.TV


Filed under: Department of Education, Education,

DepEd: No more triple shifts in public schools

This coming school year, the Department of Education (DepEd) said it will do away with “triple shifts” in all public elementary and high schools nationwide.

Education Secretary Mona Valisno said 97 percent of 44,114 public elementary and secondary public schools already have “single shift” or “one shift” while there is a remaining 2.18 percent that still practice “double shifts” or “two shifts.” “The double shift is inevitable since we want to accommodate all the children who want to enroll but DepEd is trying its best to eliminate the double shift to ensure quality of education,” she explained.

In an interview, DepEd Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya revealed that compared to the previous years, there is a significant decrease in the number of schools that implement the double and triple shifts. “As much as possible, we don’t want to implement double or triple shifts this school year to maximize learning among students and lessen the burden of the teachers in handling their classes as well,” he said.

Based on the reports of DepEd, there is a steady decline in the number of schools engaging in double shifting and triple shifting. In fact, last year, there were only 100 schools that implement the triple shifting. “But for this school year, we are finally eliminating these last 100 schools,” he said.

Malaya also noted that the schools that engage in double and triple shifts are those located in Metro Manila and in other urban areas nationwide. “Those schools in the provinces, majority of them have been implementing one shift already,” he explained.

Data released by the DepEd-Physical Facilities and Schools Engineering Division (PFSED) revealed that 3,613 additional classrooms are expected to be completed before the classes start Tuesday, which will augment the 429,390 existing classrooms. Malaya said that the Department is looking at a total of 10,000 new classrooms to be completed before this year ends.

Overall, Malaya concluded that the opening of classes in the elementary and secondary level in public schools next week is more manageable. This, according to him, was made possible by the accelerated construction of classrooms by DepEd in partnership with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

For Susan Lambino, mother to incoming third year high school student Michael and incoming freshman student Liza, the elimination of triple shifts is a very good news. “My son used to belong in the 4 to 9pm shift when he was in second year. It was so hard to force him to go to school since it is already late in the afternoon,” she explained in Filipino.

In the triple shifting, classes start at 6 to 11 a.m.; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. while in the double shift, classes start from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) national chairman Benjo Basas said that it would be more ideal to have one shift in all grade and year levels. “We are one with DepEd in accommodating all children who wish to go to school but we would also want to remind them that quality of instruction should be the utmost priority,” he said.

TDC said that with the elimination of triple shifts, teachers will be forced to accommodate more students in the morning and afternoon shifts. “We have to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate all the enrollees while ensuring that quality of learning will be given to them as much as possible,” Basas explained.

Currently, there is 1:45 classroom to student ratio but it is expected that there will be 1:60 ratio because the estimated enrollees for SY 2010-2011 are around 23.43 million compared to 22.39 million in SY  2009-2010.

Filed under: Department of Education, Education,

Think tank probes issues on OFW migration to UAE

By Jun Burgos/

MANILA, Philippines—A probing study on Philippine labor migration to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was recently released by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank based in Washington DC, analyzing the movement of people worldwide.

Entitled “Migration’s Middlemen: Regulating Recruitment Agencies in the Philippines-United Arab Emirates Corridor,” it is authored by Ms. Dovelyn Rannveig Agunias, MPI Policy Analyst focusing on temporary and circular migration and diaspora policy.

The study was informed by 44 in-depth interviews with officials from the UAE and Philippine governments, recruitment agencies, and non-government organizations as well as with employers, and including focus group discussions with 86 Filipino migrant workers themselves.

It examined private recruitment agencies’ practices as well as their regulation by the Philippine and UAE governments, and notes room for significant improvement in this aspect.

The study utilized Philippine government data, which showed, among others, that there were some 600,000 Filipino workers in the UAE as of 2008 consisting of domestic workers, receptionists, and engineers, among others, making up nearly 12 percent of the population there, and with an annual OFW inflow of 200,000.

The author acknowledged that private recruitment agencies manage much of the flow of Filipino workers to the UAE, which is the third largest destination for Filipino migrants after the United States and Saudi Arabia, but noted that the costs of the services of these agencies for migrant labor deployment sometimes outweigh benefits for the workers due to the exorbitant fees they collect and even their violation of the rights of the workers they deploy.

According to the MPI report, “While the recruitment agencies, which are located in the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates, provide critical services such as logistical support and information about visa policies and living and working conditions, some abuse their clients by charging exorbitant fees or violating basic human rights.”

It added, “While the two governments have regulated recruitment agencies’ operations for nearly three decades, there is a policy mismatch between the two regulatory systems that, coupled with difficulties in enforcing regulations, has led to inadequate protections for migrant workers as well as a continuing flow of unauthorized workers.”

The MPI said this resulted in a three-tier labor migration system such as:

* A documented and organized labor migration based on written contracts following strict regulatory guidelines of both countries;

* A labor flow based on shifting arrangements that typically result in a lower wage, a different job, and reduced benefits compared to those originally promised to migrant workers by recruiters; and,

* An unregulated, unauthorized flow of workers who bypass the recruitment system altogether and migrate to the United Arab Emirates with a visitor visa.

The report further said, “While both countries are considering more stringent regulations for recruitment agencies, both governments must first commit to fully funding and creating capable and effective institutions to jointly harmonize, enforce, and closely monitor the impact of current and new regulations. Otherwise, regulatory changes could open the door to unintended effects, including increasing abuse and corruption and making illegal channels more attractive for prospective migrants.”

“The findings of this study are relevant beyond the Philippines-UAE corridor. They serve as a vital point of reference for other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere as they attempt to balance the need to create a flexible and dynamic labor migration system with the obligation to protect workers’ welfare in an increasingly transnational and interconnected global economy,” the report concluded.

Indeed, the recruitment industry is generally credited for its major contribution in matching millions of Filipinos to jobs in the UAE and many other countries. The industry’s feat, undeniably, likewise contributes to the economic stability of our country as well as to that of the OFW destination countries including providing for the latter’s labor demand.

But this recruitment industry, understandably the one principally benefiting from OFW migration, should likewise attend to and ensure, alongside its economic interests, the welfare and development of the workers they deploy. After all, a just and equitable sharing of the economic benefits of the migration industry it services would promote more gains for all stakeholders.

Surely, our government, for its part, would find very relevant insights from this MPI study to enable it to undertake necessary measures to improve the procedures, regulations and the overall policy on OFW migration.

Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner,

DENR to develop geo-hazard maps in Bicol

by MS Arguelles

Legazpi City (11 June) — The Department of Environment and natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol was recently commissioned to develop a detailed geo-hazard maps to assist government planners and policy makers in identifying areas prone to natural hazards.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has contracted the DENR to produce a geo-hazard maps detailing hazard areas prone to flooding, landslides, sea level rising, storm surge, volcanic eruptions, lahars and mud flows and other disaster events.

Social Welfare Secretary Celia Capadocia Yangco in her recent visit here said her agency has released to the DENR some P1.9 million funding for the production of geo-hazard maps covering the six province of Bicol.

The funding is intended for the production and reproduction of geo-hazard maps with scales of 1:50,000 and 1:10,000 for distribution to local government units in selected provinces and towns in Bicol, Yangco said.

The agreement between the two departments was in line with DSWD’s “Bicol Recovery Project” supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Yangco and UNDP country director Renaud Meyer recently visited Albay to inspect the core shelter, water and electric facilities projects in the resettlement sites of the province.

According to Yangco, the DENR, through its Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB), has provided some P1.6 million as counterpart fund for the project.

GB is the lead agency for the nationwide Geo-hazard Mapping and Assessment Program, which covers the production of geo-hazard maps for 840 priority municipalities.

Yangco said the technical expertise of the DENR on geo-hazard mapping and assessment, including the production of more-detailed maps, would serve as a database for planners once distributed to towns and barangays.

“The geo-hazard maps will be distributed to the lowest level of governance, the barangays, so that the communities living in these vulnerable areas will be able to manage and cope with the impacts of natural disasters,” according to Yangco.

Under the agreement, the DENR, through the MGB, will produce geo-hazard maps for Bicol’s three key cities, namely, Legazpi, Iriga and Sorsogon.

Geohazard maps will likewise be distributed to nine municipalities in the provinces of Sorsogon, Albay and Catanduanes.

Towns to be given geo-hazard maps include Pilar and Donsol in Sorsogon; Camalig and Guinobatan in Albay; and Pandan, Caramoran, San Andres, Virac, and Bato in Catanduanes. Said areas have earlier been mapped by the DENR.

The production and distribution of the large-scale maps are expected to be completed within twelve months.

Yangco explained the importance of the geo-hazard maps, saying that the capacities of barangay and municipal officers to understand and use geo-hazard maps for disaster preparedness are greatly enhanced with a geo-hazard map that show with relative accuracy ground area, rivers, lakes, roads and distances between features.

Aside from map production, the agreement also calls for the DENR to conduct trainings and information, education and communication (IEC) campaign for municipal and barangay officials, including other members of disaster coordinating councils of concerned local government units, on disaster preparedness and risk reduction.

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

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