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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DOLE promotes quality jobs through livelihood, skills training programs

More workers are expected to benefit from the enhanced drive of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to expand its livelihood and skills training programs in creating greater employment opportunities in the country.
 During the recent DOLE-wide planning exercises, Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque directed concerned DOLE offices and attached agencies, particularly those in the regions, to intensify and expand the implementation of DOLE programs such as Kabuhayan Starter Kit, Nego-kart, and other relevant livelihood, entrepreneurial, and skills training programs to bring down the country’s unemployment and underemployment figures.
 The DOLE Kabuhayan Starter Kit or DK Starter Kit is a micro-business enterprise development concept intended for those who prefer putting up their own businesses as an alternative source of income. It consists of a package of priorities and services that will enable qualified beneficiaries to quickly start a livelihood undertaking and become self-employed like simple house-to-house service oriented skills, skills that can be enhanced through short period training, as well as new skills that can be acquired through formal training.
 The Nego-Kart or Negosyo sa Kariton, meanwhile, is a financial assistance program of DOLE aimed at helping ambulant vendors in major cities of the country enhance their current livelihood. Under the program, each beneficiary is provided with P15,000 assistance including a Nego-Kart vending cart and accessory tools worth P12,000 along with P 2,500 working capital and P500 worth of training assistance. Assistance in securing business permit is also provided.
 Another unique DOLE program which pursues computer literacy and internet skills among out-of-school youth, indigenous people, and disadvantaged workers is in full-swing. The Kabataan-ITO or K-ITO project provides IT skills to beneficiaries through the help of volunteer mentors, thereby giving them opportunities to land jobs in the information technology industry. This program targets beneficiaries in the rural areas.
 “By identifying regions where there are high incidence of unemployment and underemployment, we can prioritize areas where we can expand these programs,” Roque explained.
 Citing Albay Governor Joey Salceda’s account that Bicol is the country’s tambay capital, the DOLE Secretary said the observation could be attributed to the region’s being primarily an agricultural area where work is often seasonal. Salceda, referring to an October 2009 NSO report, said that the region has a 37% underemployment rate, almost twice the country’s average underemployment rate of 19%. 
 Roque said the DOLE’s enhanced efforts will promote quality jobs boosting employment and livelihood opportunities in the countryside fit the needs of workers in Bicol. In between cropping seasons, farmers and agricultural workers may engage in livelihood projects for alternative income as these endeavors are year-round. For those not into agricultural work, the DOLE can help train them in industries that may emerge in line with the development plans set for the province.
 He reiterated, however, that DOLE programs are implemented regardless of the economic status of the region concerned as long as there are potential developments for workers and the industries in the area. The idea is to make the available workforce skilled and competent to match the requirements of the industry in their area.
 He cited the BPO sector which is projected to expand and employ 900,000 workers by the end of the year. He in this regard asked the DOLE regional offices to coordinate with the Technical Skills Education Authority (TESDA) in training interested workers in their regions with necessary skills needed by BPOs.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Holders of Passports Bearing Fake Immigration Stamps Liable to Prosecution in Hong Kong

The Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region today called on Filipino tourists planning to visit Hong Kong not to be duped by unscrupulous individuals or companies in the Philippines who promise ease of entry into countries abroad through the use of forged entry/exit immigration stamps.

The warning comes after a Filipino tourist was arrested by immigration authorities at Hong Kong International Airport on 28 October for having in her passport fake entry and exit stamps to falsely show that she had previously traveled to Hong Kong. The Filipino, who is from Batangas province and was visiting Hong Kong for the first time, was on her way back to the Philippines with her family at the time of her arrest. She was brought to Shatin Magistrates’ Court on 30 October and pleaded guilty to the offense of possession of a false instrument. The judge handling the case sentenced her to four (4) months’ imprisonment.

The immigration entry/exit stamps were allegedly forged by a company that peddles the service as a way of bolstering a visa applicant’s chances at getting a visa from certain embassies in Manila.

Filipinos should be aware that these embassies also report fraudulent visa application documents to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The Consulate has made a recommendation to authorities in Manila for the investigation of the case.

Mere possession of a false instrument is an offence under Section 75 of Hong Kong’s Crimes
Ordinance and carries with it a maximum penalty of 3 years’ imprisonment.

Monday, February 15, 2010

No Ban On Seafearers To Somalia

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said it's not necessary to ban the deployment involving Filipino seafarers to international flagged ships because interventions are now taking place to handle the negative consequences of piracy-related situations perilous to them and also to the operations of ınternational shipping.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque believed the troubles that brought on the total ban which was suggested to President Macapagal-Arroyo is being addressed with the implementation of a mutual communiqué or understanding forged between the DOLE and seafarers groups, manning and shipping sectors and the International Labour Organization and International Maritime Organization.

Roque considered the stakeholders signed the communiqué during the Anti-Piracy Summit for Filipino Seafarers held last January 8, 2010 at the Amosup Seamen’s Center in Intramuros, Manila.

“We do not recommend the banning of our Filipino seafarers from working in foreign vessels that ply pirate-infested waters in Somalia as interventions on how to deal with the piracy problem have been identified during the anti-piracy summit,” stated Roque noting that the proposed ban would result in Filipino seafarers losing their jobs that surely will affect their families and the Philippine seafaring industry and the economy as well.

Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) advised to the President the total ban on the deployment of Filipino seafarers to foreign flagships that ply pirate-infested waters in Somalia.

As provided for by the joint communiqué, three measures are now being carried through for the security of the Filipino seafarers against sea piracy. The procedures cover the formulation of anti-piracy regulations, and the conduct of anti-piracy training and psycho-social counseling for seafarers.

Roque considered that above 200 agencies out of 350 manning firms have handed in their own anti-piracy training modules to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The final approval of the explained modules will be based on the standard training module which the POEA is preparing in coordination with the Maritime Training Center (MTC).

Based on the POEA Memorandum Circular No. 02, Series of 2010, “all manning agencies must require seafarers to undergo training on practical measures to avoid, deter or delay piracy/ attacks prior to deployment.” The anti-piracy training is separate and in addition to the regular Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) conducted for departing seafarers. In addition, manning agencies will have to submit to POEA a list of all the trainees each month indicating the name, date of training and name of company.

Apart from the anti-piracy training, the POEA has also approved a resolution permitting the deployment of Filipino seafarers on board vessels transiting in pirate-infested locations provided that the ship owners, principals, managers or manning agencies will make sure the vessel will pass within the maritime security patrol area.

The ship owner and manning agencies will also submit proper security measure steps such as security escorts or joining convoy to all ships passing through identified pirate-infested areas.

On the other hand the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will be providing psycho-social counselling and other support services to the families who will be victims of piracy.