Saturday, April 30, 2011

Drug Mules are part of the Syndicate, not victims of the syndicate

Marami na naman pong concerts sa Toronto. Mukhang hot na naman po ang market for concerts. The big one is Gary Valenciano and Martin Nievera Part 2. Well, there is actually another one. Iyon po ay ang Martin  Nievera  and Sarah Geronimo concert.  If it happens, it will be a repeat of their very successful Valentine concert that happened sa Pilipinas. Lito Ronquillo announced the Martin-Sarah tandem sa facebook with no place and date yet. Then, the Maalihan’s announced the Gary-Martin with a date and place afterwards. Hmmm… mukhang mainit ang concert talaga. We welcome them all.  Pero, tuloy pa kaya ang Martin-Sarah concert? We hope so. Sarah’s last concert was sold-out.   

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is in the top 10 worse airports list. According to columnist Ramon Tulfo,  that is not news. If it was included in the best list, then it will be earth-shaking news. I agree with him. We do not know how to take care of our facilities. In fact, the only reason we let it become as bad as it is now is because we believe that the only people who use it are OFW’s on the way out and in, and balikbayans. Therefore, people like us  who have no choice. We already know that tourists will not come to our country in big numbers like in Thailand and Vietnam even.  Therefore, we do not care anymore. Tayo-tayo lang namang mga Pilipino gagamit, so bakit kailangan pagandahin pa? Iyan ang attitude natin.  Hay naku.

If  every Filipino who is caught transporting drugs, why does everyone always assume that they are innocent victims?  Everyone seems to talk of West African syndicates victimizing Filipinos. But if you willingly transport those drugs, doesn’t that make you part of the syndicate? If mules do it long enough, they get promoted, hindi ba? Iyon nga lang, kapag nahuli ka sa China, tepok ka na. No more promotion. If everyone na mahuhuli will point to someone above who recruited them, does that mean they should not be charged? If we follow that logic, wala na tayong ikukulong, hindi ba?

Are the Liberals in trouble? It seems that they may be. They brought in Montreal Liberal Justin Trudeau to make an appearance for Ruby Dhalla’s campaign in Brampton. During the Toronto election for Mayor, he also made an appearance on behalf of George Smitherman, even though the municipal level does not have any party affiliation. George Smitherman lost. If Ruby Dhalla loses Brampton, he better stop making appearances because it will not look good for his reputation anymore. He will start looking like the TV character Jessica Fletcher in the TV show “Murder, She Wrote.” The character of Jessica Fletcher, played by actress Angela Lansbury,  is a murder mystery writer and whenever she is on a location, somebody dies.  

People work for years to get promoted. Then, one month after they get promoted, they resign to go to another company. If they go to another company when they were at their old position, mababa lang ang suweldo na makukuha nila. Pero dahil mataas na iyong position nila when they left, mataas nga naman ang makukuha nilang salary doon sa new company.  Huh! I did not know that. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Caregivers Taken for a Ride

"Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true, and you might get a worse deal than what you have before."

Naghangad ng kagitna sansalop ang nawala

For Immediate Release
26 April, 2011

Canada's Live-In Caregivers can't vote in the elections, will vote on the streets

Toronto -- Dozens of members of the Caregivers Action Centre will take to the streets in Toronto's largest immigrant rights march on the eve of Federal Elections (May 1, 2011) starting at Queen Street and Jameson Street at 1pm to condemn Harper Government.

The Conservatives have consistently lied to migrant workers who have been demanding status on landing for hundreds of thousands of migrants in Canada.

"The Conservative government says that Live-In Caregivers can get immigration status after four years in Canada," explains Catherine Manuel, a worker leader with the Caregivers Action Centre. "But the reality is that the documentation requirements the processing delays at CIC, the so-called discretionary second medical exam, all make it really difficult to get status."

The estimated retention rate (ERR) for Live-In Caregivers between 2003-2007 was 53%, that means of the 19,072 live-in caregivers entering Canada from 2003-2005, only 10,043 attained permanent resident status by 2007.

"Live-In Caregivers are internationally trained workers, that take care of Canada's most precious possessions - the sick, the elderly, children and those with special needs", says Pam Grio "and instead of the honor and recognition we deserve, we face wage theft, abuse, deplorable work conditions and harassment from recruiters".

"There are nearly 300,000 temporary migrant workers in Canada each year, we work in people's houses and in factories, we pay all kinds of taxes, but are barred from accessing full health care, social services, education and the right to vote," says Pura Velasco, who came to Canada as a Live-In Caregiver in 1991. "We need status on landing for migrant workers; we need respect for the work we do."

Conservative Government’s attacks on migrant workers under the Live-In Caregiver Program:

Following the death of Juana Tejada, Minister of Immigration and Citizenship Jason Kenney said that Live-In Caregivers will not be forced in to a second medical exam. But the regulations give immigration officers discretionary powers to compel Caregivers to undergo a second medical exam.

Following the completion of the 24 months “live-in” work requirement and the first stage approval of the permanent resident application, Live-In Caregivers are entitled to an open work permit. However several members of the Caregivers Action Centre report waiting up to 13 months without this permit.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has instituted new documentation requirements (such as confirmation of employment from all employers) which only increases the Caregiver’s dependency on employers for their status and make it more difficult for a caregiver to leave an abusive working environment. Further, Caregivers are also being asked to provide financial documents from the previous 24 months before being granted permanent status - not only does this requirement create further burden on caregivers to provide more documentation, it is also highly intrusive into personal privacy.

Effective April 1, Canada will now subject temporary foreign workers to a four-year cumulative duration limit. This means that temporary foreign workers in Canada, including live-in caregivers, may only work for a maximum of four years. After reaching this limit, temporary foreign workers must go back to their home countries, wait for another four years to lapse before re-entering Canada again as temporary workers.

The new regulations regarding the waiver of the second medical examination is not applicable to pending applications for permanent residence under the Live-in Caregiver Program. This means caregivers who already submitted their application before April 1, 2010 are still required to undergo the mandatory second medical exam and if they fail they are inadmissible to Canada. Therefore, medical inadmissibility is still making it extremely difficult for some caregivers to unite with their families after the completion of their employment.

The Caregivers Action Centre (CAC) is a worker-based organization of live-in caregivers, newcomers and their supporters, advocating and lobbying for fair employment, immigration status and access to settlement services through self-organizing, research and education.

- 30 -

For more information,

Pura Velasco, Organizer, Caregivers Action Centre

647 782 6633 -

Friday, April 22, 2011

Do you still like Jason Kenney, Minister of Immigration?

Does every caregiver like the changes that Immigration Minister Jason Kenney made? It seems there is something backhanded in the “reform” he made. Are all caregivers voters anyway? It seems he alienated the voters that matter -  the Canadian families who have to pay the fares now for Filipinos - read, non-voters - to come here. Hmmm...will those families vote for him?

Below are the changes he made to the rules regarding live-in caregivers.

The proposed changes include that employers will have to cover the costs of the caregivers’ travel to Canada, their workplace safety insurance and any recruiting fees owed to third parties as well as the cost of their medical insurance until they are eligible for provincial health coverage. Applicants will also no longer have to receive a second medial examination.
Foreign live-in caregivers or nannies will also now have up to four years to complete the two years, or 3900 work hours, necessary to gain landed status as opposed to the previous three. Ten per cent of their overtime hours will also be included in this calculation. A caregiver hotline as well as emergency processing of work permits when a change in employment is urgently needed have also been created.

Then, there are the changes that he made regarding temporary 
foreign workers below.

Also, temporary foreign workers face restrictions οn hοw long thеу саn work іn Canada, allowing thеm tο work inside Canada fοr four years οf work, thеn required tο stay out οf Canada fοr six years tο bе eligible tο work іn thе country again.

How do you like Jason Kenny now?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No Holy Week Truce

A truce, whether unilaterally declared or not, has never been good for anything. We always hear news of our soldiers being ambushed by rebels during a truce. The rebels spokesman will then claim that the soldiers were in their zone or whatever. Since when did rebels have a zone, or an area they claim as their own? 


No Holy Week truce

April 20, 2011, 7:19pm
MANILA, Philippines -- The government appears headed to breaking tradition after failing to declare a unilateral Holy Week ceasefire with the communist insurgents as of Wednesday.
Various government administrations, including that of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s mother, the late President Corazon C. Aquino, had declared ceasefire with the New People’s Army for eight days commencing on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter Sunday.
While President Aquino acknowledged that a ceasefire would be a “good point,” he said he still has to consult with top military and police officials whether the government will declare a truce with communist insurgents and other rebel groups during the Holy Week.
The President admitted that he has not received any proposal from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the annual suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) with the rebel groups.
If the government fails to order a SOMO, it would be the second consecutive year that no ceasefire is declared.
Senior administration congressman Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara (LDP, Aurora) appealed to the Aquino government to heed the appeal for a temporary truce.
Angara said “there is enough time to enforce a truce that will stretch from Holy Thursday to at least Easter Sunday.”
“A four-day cessation of hostilities is better than none at all. It is never too early or too late to call for a halt in fighting. Hindi pa huli ang tigil putukan (Ceasefire is not yet too late.),” Angara explained.
Angara, chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education, stated that “a pause in conflict” is not a complicated matter on the part of the government.
“All the Palace or the Department of National Defense has to do is simply issue a statement saying it has ordered all its soldiers and policemen not to carry out offensive actions against the New People’s Army from Thursday to Sunday and wait for the other side to issue a similar declaration,” the lawmaker said.
He added: “If it is a unilateral declaration coming from the government then the rebels will have no other recourse but to match it with their own.”
Concerning dissemination of the ceasefire order to the NPA’s and the Armed Forces’ respective units, Angara believes that today’s information technology will ensure that news will reach all the concerned parties fast.
“Let Twitter, text messages, Facebook, 24/7 news TV and radio take care of it,” he said.
Angara added that the government peace negotiators already “know the drill” when it comes to declaring a unilateral ceasefire having declared one from Feb. 15-21 of this year, which coincided with their meeting with National Democratic Front representatives in Oslo, Norway.
Prior to that one both parties also agreed to an 18-day ceasefire which stretched from Dec. 18, 2010 to Jan. 3, 2011.
“If a ceasefire was observed just because two panels were meeting in a faraway land then all the more that one must be in place during the most solemn in this Catholic nation,” Angara said.
Meanwhile, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front (NDF) is calling for support for the peace process with the communist group despite issues of insincerity clouding the talks.
GPH Peal Panel member Ednar Dayanghirang, during a recent forum attended by some 40 masteral students of the Masters in National Security Administration (MNSA) at the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, said it’s important for the people to continue supporting the peace talks despite issues of insincerity.
Some MNSA students raised doubts on the negotiations because of alleged sincerity issues of the NDF in completing a political settlement with the government.
Dayanghirang, however, encouraged them to trust the peace process and stated that the political climate is favorable for the peace talks, adding that negotiation with the NDF “is not just dribbling the ball.”
“We are on track,” he said referring to current progress of talks with the NDF.
Government peace panel Senior Military Adviser Brig. Gen. Reynaldo Ordoñez likewise sought support for the negotiations, saying “Maraming agam-agam sa peace process (there are many doubts on the peace process), but let’s give it a chance.”
“Let us pursue the peace process regardless of the sincerity of the other party. Dialogues open up opportunities which were not there,” continued Ordoñez.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Philippine Government Happy with getting Peanuts

The United States gave the Philippines something to be happy about - chump change (Mga barya na binibigay sa mga pulubi). And we are ecstatic. Remember President Cory Aquino's address to the US Congress? After that, the United States gave us $8M in aid. And we were happy. That is chump change. The United States was not happy about Cory's win in 1986. If they were, that aid would have been a lot bigger. But they had to look like they were happy to have democracy restored in the Philippines because the world was watching. In this case, $132,000. That will not even buy you a house here in Toronto. Sa United States, baka nga dahil maraming mga foreclosed properties doon dahil mas matindi ang tama ng recession sa kanila.



THE United States government yesterday turned over to the Philippines government proceeds from the forfeiture of the property of former Armed Forces  comptroller Jacinto Ligot amounting to US$132,000.

The check was turned over by US Ambassador Harry Thomas, US Department of Justice Attache’ Robert Courtney III, and Customs Enforcement attache’ James Ilusorio to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

The forfeited property, known as the “Buena Park Property” located at 7102 Stanton Avenue, Buena Park in California, was registered in the name of Erlinda Ligot, the wife of the retired general.

In September 2009, under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, the DoJ requested the assistance of US authorities for the return of the proceeds of the sale of a property registered in the name of Mrs. Ligot.

The request was part of governmentefforts  to recover the unexplained wealth of Ligot who along with several other key military officers, were accused of illegally amassing huge amounts of money.

In 2005, the Office of the Ombudsman asked the US Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the forfeiture of the “Buena Park Property.”

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said the US government’s move is a welcome development and a big boost to the government’s anti-corruption drive.

“We consider this development, the first of its kind in the history of our Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, a reflection of the United States’ commitment  to help  President Aquino  act decisively against corruption  aid  our government punish those who have stolen from the coffers of our people,” Ochoa said.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri appealed to the United States government to also look into the other properties of the Ligots in the US which they   allegedly acquired through  illegal means.

“We’d like to thank the Ambassador for that type of response within their jurisdiction. Ang hamon natin sa US government, and I’d like to appeal to the Ambassador, isama na ang bahay, condo at ari-arian sa US (nina Ligot). Kunin ‘yan at i-foreclose (to) speed up forfeiture case,” Zubiri said.

Monday, April 4, 2011


At Large
Complicit victims
By Rina Jimenez-David
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:41:00 04/02/2011

SO FRAUGHT with sensationalism, sentimentality and raw emotion has been the coverage of the three drug mules’ execution in China that it’s been actually painful to behold.
And if it’s been hard for an ordinary media consumer to take, you can imagine how much more harrowing has been the experience for those close to the story. We’re talking particularly here of the families of the executed Filipinos who, in the weeks since the fate of their kin exploded in the headlines, have been hounded by cameras and reporters, their most private thoughts and pained emotions probed and brought to light. I mean, how many times can one answer how one “feels” after the death of a daughter, sister, wife, brother or husband? How many times does the public have the “right” to know how the survivors are faring?
True, this is a story of public interest, human interest in its keenest and rawest form. There has been no lack of drama, with the lives of three citizens at stake, and the compassion of both the Philippine and Chinese governments tested.
But in our concern first, to try to prevent the execution of the three; and then to make sure they have not died “meaningless” deaths, the public reaction – drawn largely from the fervid populist media coverage – seems to have written a script entirely divorced from reality.
* * *
I AM glad a labor recruiter has gone public with his plea to the media that the three not be called OFWs. They did not go to China to find a job, and neither did they desire to stay there for any length of time. They were convinced to travel to China by agents—neither should these folks be called recruiters – of drug syndicates seeking an easy way to smuggle illegal substances into China. The point was to turn over the drugs to the syndicate leaders in exchange for a tempting amount. Easy come, easy go.
Footage of the hometowns of the three drug mules makes it obvious that none of them belonged to the “poorest of the poor.” They owned their own homes which looked to be built of sturdy materials. The coverage makes much of how the three were victims of poverty, since only poverty could have driven them to embark on such a dangerous mission. But could it be their perception of poverty was skewed? Obviously the prospect of earning a large amount as payment for a fairly simple assignment was part of the lure. But they were no innocents, even if their families now say they had no idea what they were risking.
Of course we should go after the Filipino agents who convinced them to take part in drug smuggling. And beyond that, to hunt down the syndicate leaders who have found (and still find) Filipinos easy prey for their operations. Neither should we ignore the complicit role of government agents tasked with regulating the drug trade and securing our airports. Why was it so easy for the couriers to elude the security measures in place in our airport, but so easy for Chinese authorities to detect the drugs they were carrying? Why are our borders so porous?
* * *
STILL, in the end, you design your own life. The decisions you make, after weighing the pros and cons of a course of action, are yours alone, and the negative even dangerous consequences are yours to face.
I can’t quite understand why we are being asked to dive into the bathos of the story, when the three actually brought dishonor to the country. Their crime – of which some 600 Filipinos are charged with in China and other parts of the world—will make the Filipino passport once more a symbol of risk. It used to be that immigration officials suspected every Filipino of wanting to stay illegally in their country. Now all of us – especially legitimate OFWs – are under suspicion of being drug couriers.
If there is one positive development as a result of the media coverage, it may be to drive home the dangers of seemingly innocuous offers of free international travel and even free carry-on bags. It should alert ordinary folk to look with caution and suspicion on offers that seem too good to be true. And might we wish for the gift of discernment between real victims and those complicit in their own tragedies?

No show at recruiter hearing

Ah...drug recruiter naman pala talaga. Hindi employment agent. And to make it clear, the three were not OFW's but just "mules." However, they were not innocent drug mules. They knew what they were transporting. And they were not that poor according to an article I read. Their houses were made of strudy materials, hindi tapal-tapal lang. Let us stop calling drug mules who get caught as OFW. it is unfair sa mga tunay na OFW.


Ordinarios no-show at hearing vs recruiter

Posted at 04/04/2011 6:50 PM | Updated as of 04/04/2011 9:29 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Ordinario family was a no-show in the initial hearing for the preliminary investigation of charges of illegal recruitment against Tita Cacayan, the alleged recruiter of Sally Ordinario-Villanueva.
Cacayan has been charged with violating Republic Act 8043, otherwise known as the "Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995" and Republic Act 9208, also known as the "Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003."
The Ordinarios have accused Cacayan of luring Villanueva into being a drug mule. Villanueva was intercepted by authorities in Xiamen, China on December 24, 2008 while smuggling 4,110 grams (more than 4 kilos) of heroin.
Villanueva had maintained to her death that she was unaware of the presence of illegal drugs in her luggage. She was executed last March 30 with two other Filipino drug mules - Ramon Credo and Elizabeth Batain.
Cacayan arrived at the Department of Justice (DOJ) this afternoon amid heavy security from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) under which she is on protective custody for fear of her life.
Asked by Senior State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo if she understood the charges against her, Cacayan said she did not. She also arrived without counsel and was temporarily assigned a counsel in the person of Atty. Florences Sta. Ana from the DOJ's Action Center.
Asked by reporters for a statement on the charges against her, Cacayan said, "Si Lord na bahala sa kanila." She did not issue further statements to the media and refused to face the cameras.
Under Section 6 of RA 9208, talks about confidentiality of human trafficking cases and the right to privacy of the trafficked person and the accused "at any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of an offense" are violations under the Act.
Under its Implementing Rules and Regulations, violations of confidentiality provisions are punishable with imprisonment of 6 years and a fine not less than P500,000 but not more than P1 million.
Cacayan asked for extension of time to file her counter-affidavit, saying she only a received the subpoena last March 31. Her request was granted, considering that the complainants will also have to be served their subpoenas to appear in the next hearing scheduled on April 18.
She also has pending cases at the DOJ for violation of the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002," Kidnapping and Grave Coercion. These charges are also under preliminary investigation.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Family to sue Recruiter

Are they referring to the person who recruited (or employment agency) her to work in China or are they referring to the person who recruited her to be a drug mule?  Because if they are referring to the employment agency, then, that is stupid. If she managed to go to China with a POEA stamp, then, the work is legitimate. However, if she agreed to be a drug mule for somebody else, the employment agency has nothing to do with that anymore.

Family files complaint vs Credo's recruiter

Posted at 04/01/2011 8:44 PM | Updated as of 04/01/2011 8:44 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The family of Ramon Credo formally filed a complaint against his alleged recruiter before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Friday.
Credo’s family is determined to seek justice for his death in China by going after his alleged recruiter, a certain Prescy Evangelista.
“Yun talaga ang desisyon namin na pagbayarin siya para na rin sa katarungan ng pinsan ko,” said Credo’s cousin, Lorraine Bernardo.
Credo, with 2 other Filipinos--Sally Ordinario-Villanueva and Elizabeth Batain—were executed in China on Wednesday for drug trafficking.
NBI Director Magtanggaol Gatdula said they are now coordinating with their foreign counterparts to arrest members of international drug syndicates that use Filipinos as drug mules.
“It will be inter-agency at saka counterparts natin. Nagkaroon na kami ng initial talks with the Chinese police authorities,” said Gatdula.
Meanwhile, the Credo family is now on their second day of the 9-day novena for Ramon.