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PCG to meet Filcom end of Mar on preps for overseas voting

Posted on 21 March 2019 No comments
Photo from 2016 presidential ballot in Bayanihan

By Vir B. Lumicao

The Consulate plans to meet with Filipino community leaders on Mar 31 on preparations  for the month-long overseas voting for the Philippine midterm elections starting on Apr 13, a PCG officer said.

Consul Robert Quintin, who is in charge of holding of the elections for the more than 87,000 registered Filipino voters in Hong Kong, told The SUN that the meeting will coincide with the training of volunteers for the Special Board of Election Inspectors.

All but two of the 18 volunteers for the nine SBEIs that will be set up for the elections have been selected as of this writing. Each SBEI will have two members from the community and be led by a Consulate staff.
Most of the SBEI volunteers, who are all Filipino residents of Hong Kong, had served in the previous election, Quintin said. 

Quintin said trainers from the Commission on Elections are expected to arrive in the next few days along with the computerized vote-counting machines similar to those deployed in the 2016 national elections.

“We will be definitely meeting with the community but we cannot do that yet,” Quintin said, adding that Comelec has started sending out its trainers to various OFW destinations and those assigned to Hong Kong should be arriving soon.
He also said there are some administrative preparations they still have to complete.

Voting will start at 9am on Saturday, Apr 13, at the Bayanihan Center in Kennedy Town and will close at 6pm on May 13. Latecomers who are within 30 meters of the polling precincts will still be allowed to vote.

About 50% of the 87,441 overseas voters registered in Hong Kong are expected to turn out to elect 12 new members of the Senate and one party-list representative.
Quintin said the next two weeks will be very busy for the Consulate as preparations will have to be crammed into a short period.

These will include installing and testing the vote-counting machines as well as securing the boxes of ballots that will be kept at Bayanihan.
Quintin said the canvassing of votes from Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China will be consolidated in Bayanihan as in the 2016 elections.

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Sanhi ng kanser ng mga OFW, nasa mga gusali?

Posted on No comments

Ni Vir B. Lumicao

Tila marami sa ating mga kababayang kasambahay dito sa Hong Kong ang nagkakasakit ng kanser na hindi malinaw kung ano ang dahilan.

Nitong mga nakaraang araw, may mga kaibigan o kakilala tayo na nagpapagamot sa ospital dito dahil tinamaan sila ng nabanggit na sakit, o di kaya ay umuwi na sa Pilipinas dahil nasa mga huling yugto na ang kanilang kanser.

May halos 10 buwan na ang nakalilipas nang banggitin sa amin ng isang opisyal ng Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, o OWWA, na nababahala siya sa dami ng mga kasambahay na Pilipinang dinadapuan ng kanser sa lungsod na ito, kumpara sa iba pang mga destinasyon ng mga OFW.

Wala pang natitipong estadistika ang OWWA sa bilang ng mga OFW dito sa Hong Kong nagkasakit ng kanser o nasawi dahil sa na kanser kaya hindi natin nakikita ang tunay na larawan ng pananalasa ng sakit na ito sa ating mga manggagawa.

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May mga kuru-kurong ang dahilan ng pagkakasakit ng kanser ng maraming kasambahay dito ay ang “stress.” Ito ang presyon o parating pag-aalala o pagkabahala sa kanilang mga gawain, trabaho, pera o pamilya na nagiging mitsa ng pagkakasakit nila ng kanser.

Sinasabi naman ng iba na ang sanhi ng pagkakasakit ay nasa kinakain ng mga katulong. Ang iniisip nila marahil ay sagana sa pagkain ang mg katulong. Sa totoo lang, marami sa mga kasambahay dito ang umaangal na kakaunti o walang ibinibigay na pagkain ang kanilang mga amo.

Sa paghahanap namin ng maaaring sanhi ng kanser sa mga nakatira sa lungsod na ito ay isang pananaliksik na isinagawa ng mga taga-University of Hong Kong noong 1993 ang pumukaw sa aming interes.

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Ang pananaliksik na ito ay ukol sa masamang epekto sa kalusugan ng tao ng radon gas, isang “radioactive gas” na hindi nakikita at walang amoy na singaw ng biniyak na batong granito at kongkreto.

Ayon sa mga gumawa ng report, napatunayan ng mga pag-aaral sa ibang bansa na ang pagkakalantad sa radon at mga produkto ng pagkakabulok nito ay nakararagdag sa pagkakaroon ng kanser sa baga.

Ipinapahiwatig ng iba pang mga pag-aaral na may kaugnayan ang radon sa sakit na leukemia, ang kanser sa selula ng dugo o pagkakaroon ng mas maraming puti kaysa sa pulang selula ng dugo.

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Ang sintomas ng leukemia ay halos hindi halata sa simula, tulad ng pagkahapo, di-maipaliwanag na lagnat, di-normal na mga pasa, sakit sa ulo at labis na pagdurugo, at pagkakabawas ng timbang at madalas na pagkakaroon ng impeksiyon.

Ayon sa pag-aaral ng HKU, may potensiyal ang Hong Kong na magkaroon ng mataas na lebel ng radon dahil nakatuntong ang SAR say batong granito at ginagamit sa pagtatayo ng mga gusali ang mga graba, semento at buhanging nagmula sa giniling na granito.

Mas malamang umano ang pagkakaroon ng radon sa loob ng mga kulob na gusali kaysa sa mga bukas ang disenyo o may sapat na hangin.

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Dahil ang mga tirahan sa Hong Kong ay gawa sa kongkreto, ang mga nakatira sa mga gusaling ito, lalo na ang mga katulong na halos buong araw na nasa loob ng bahay, ay nalalantad sa mataas na lebel ng radon at, samakatwid, mas madaling magkaroon ng kanser kaysa sa mga pinagsisilbihan pamilyang palaging nasa labas.

Sana ay magkaroon ng isang pag-aaral na nakatuon sa posibilidad na ang pagdami ng mga katulong na nagkakaroon ng sakit na kanser ay bunga ng kanilang pagkakalantad sa radon dito sa gubat ng mga bato at kongkretong gusali.

Sa aming sapantaha, maaaring isa ito sa mga sanhi ng kanser ng mga katulong, bukod sa masamang pagtrato ng ilang mga amo tulad ng labis-labis na oras ng trabaho, kakulangan sa pagkain at pagtulog, at kaawa-awa nilang kundisyon.

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Pinay jailed for stealing ex-employer’s $80k Rolex watch to repay debt

Posted on No comments
A Rolex watch costs upwards of tens of thousands of dollars

By Vir B. Lumicao


A Filipina domestic helper who stole the Rolex watch of her Chinese former employer in February and pawned it for $50,000 to settle her debt is now in jail paying for her offense.

Liezel Lacuarta, 49, pleaded guilty in Eastern Court on Mar 21 to one count of theft, with her lawyer saying in mitigation that she was remorseful and was tempted to steal because of her $47,000 debt.

But Magistrate Peter Law sentenced Lacuarta to four months in jail, saying he could not justify a further reduction other than the one-third discount for her guilty plea.

“The case is a breach of trust case and the value stolen is not small,” the magistrate said.
The particular model of the Rolex watch was valued at $79,895.

The prosecution said the theft took place on Feb 10 but was discovered by intelligence officers of the Western Police on Feb 14 during a routine check of pawnshop reports.

The officers noticed that a Rolex watch was hocked by a domestic helper for $50,000 at Kwan Yick Pawnshop in Sai Ying Pun. Suspecting that the watch was stolen from her employer, the police visited Lacuarta at her workplace and took her statement.
Lacuarta told the officers a friend had instructed her to pawn the watch and offered her half of the money as reward. The defendant was arrested after she said she complied because she needed money.
                                                                                                                                                 
Police contacted Rolex and found out the watch was sold to Xiong Ju-jin in November 2012 by Dickson Watch & Jewellery, a shop that specializes in luxury watches.
Xiong was located at his address on Tower 1, The Metropolis Residence, in Hung Hom. It was learned that he employed Lacuarta as domestic helper in his flat from 2012 to 2016 but stopped hiring her when his children had to go abroad for their studies.

Even so, Xiong said his relationship with Lacuarta was good, so, he told her to keep the key to be able to access his flat freely.
On Feb 11, Xiong could not find his watch but did not report to police, thinking that he had only misplaced it.

In a second video recorded interview on Mar 20, Lacuarta admitted she stole the watch and pawned it for $50,000 to repay her debt.

 ===



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Migrant group protests mandatory SSS, insurance for OFWs

Posted on No comments

By Daisy CL Mandap
Image may contain: 4 people, including Dolores Balladares Pelaez and Vicky Casia, people standing
Unifil-Migrante protesters say mandatory SSS will add to OFWs' burden

A group of Filipino migrant workers staged a protest outside the Philippine Consulate offices today, Mar 21, against a new law that requires all overseas Filipino workers to pay for SSS contributions. Republic Act 11199 or the SSS Act of 2018, is expected to take effect next month.

The protesters, led by United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-Migrante) said the forced SSS contribution, pegged at a maximum of Php2,400 (HK$356) per month, would impose an additional burden on OFWs struggling to make ends meet.
Unifil chair Dolores Balladares-Pelaez said that if the Social Security System is worried about depleting its fund because of an earlier law that granted an additional Php1,000 to members’ monthly pensions, it should just step up its collection instead of burdening migrant workers.

“Noong isang taon (2017) Php13 billion ang hindi nakolekta sa mga employer, bakit hindi sila ang habulin?”, asked Balladares-Pelaez.
She also said SSS should stop paying fat allowances to its officers to keep itself afloat.

Reports published previously showed that SSS executives had each been paid between Php1.6 million to Php5million a year in salaries and allowances.

“Bakit tayo ang magpapasan sa korapsyon sa SSS?” she asked.
But she stressed that her group has nothing against OFWs who choose to be SSS members, but not all of them should be compelled to pay for membership contributions.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
Mata
SSS representative in Hong Kong, John Lester Mata, said the fear that the monthly contribution would cause a heavy burden on OFWs, especially the new arrivals, may be unfounded.

Under the proposed implementing rules and regulations of SSS Act of 2018, he said an OFW departing from the Philippines for the first time will be charged only a month’s contribution, and it need not be the maximum Php2,400, but only the Php960 minimum.

But OFWs renewing their contracts will be charged three months’ worth of contributions.
Previously, the minimum contribution was Php550 and the maximum was Php1,760.

He said the forced contribution could be implemented sometime next month, after the SSS conducts an internal consultation meeting.

During this time, a memorandum of agreement among SSS, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Foreign Affairs would be signed to ensure the enforcement of mandatory contribution of OFWs.

Asked what assurance he could give to OFWs about the benefits of paying their SSS contributions, Mata said, “As we have said before, wala namang benepisyo na hindi binabayaran ang SSS.”

Mata also reiterated that if revenues are not boosted soon, the SSS fund could be depleted by the year 2027. But with the new measures including mandatory OFW and higher contributions, the fund could be kept intact until 2045.

Meanwhile, the protesters also hit out at a resolution surreptitiously passed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Board on Aug 28 last year, mandating all OFWs to pay for life and medical insurance.

The implementing rules for the POEA resolution have yet to be issued, although Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre confirmed its existence at a public forum last November.

If implemented, each land-based OFW would have to shell out an extra US$144, or HK$1,200 for every two-year contract.

Balladares-Pelaez said mandatory insurance is not necessary, especially for Filipino workers in Hong Kong, because their employers are already obliged under the law to take out insurance on them to cover any untoward incident.

Here's a short clip on her statement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Djl8sVIdQD0

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Overstayed son, abetting mom get suspended jail sentences

Posted on 20 March 2019 No comments
Shatin Court


A Filipino youth and his Hong Kong resident mother have been sentenced in Shatin Court to 16 days in jail, suspended for a year, after admitting guilt for two immigration offenses.

The son, Kei Romar Herrero pleaded guilty to a charge of “breach of condition of stay” for overstaying his visitor visa for eight months.

His mother, Ma Jeminni H. Schneider, pleaded guilty to “aiding, abetting, counseling or procuring the breach of condition of stay”.

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The two, who were out on bail, appeared before Magistrate Winnie Lau on Mar 20 for their scheduled plea-taking. 

Herrero, a Philippine-born son of Schneider, arrived in Hong Kong on a visitor visa on Mar 30 last year and was allowed to stay until Apr 13. But the youth did not go home when his visa expired.

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On Dec 27, Schneider accompanied Herrero to the Immigration Department to apply for a visa extension but officers there discovered that he had overstayed by eight months and arrested him.

On Jan 11, Schneider was also arrested for not reporting that her son had overstayed, the prosecution said.

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Their defense lawyer appealed for a lenient sentence, saying that both mother and son had not seen each other for several years.

Magistrate Lau said that having lived in Hong Kong for many years, the mother should have been aware that the law does not condone overstayers.

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She said she considered the pair’s guilty plea and handed them both a discounted sentence of 16 days in prison suspended for 12 months.

If during the next 12 months they commit any offense, their current sentence will be added to the sentence for their new offense, the magistrate said.   

 ===

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