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Artemis ladies squeak past all-Pinay softball team Fate, 12-11

Posted on 26 November 2020 No comments

By Emz Frial

Fate's just too happy to be back on the pitch despite the initial setback
 

Filipino softball team Fate set the pace as they returned to the Shek Kip Mei pitch on Sunday afternoon, Nov 22, against local squadron Artemis, but luck eluded them as they lost 11-12 in their first game after a long lay-off.

The 3pm match followed a 10-month closure of the pitch as one of several safety measures the Hong Kong government had imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Fate’s all-Filipina domestic helper team were full of enthusiasm when the Hong Kong Softball Association reopened the field for the 2019-2020 season.

Siera May Tebia, batting for away team Fate, started the game with a fly ball that was caught by local pitcher Mok Yin Yau. Second batter Maribel Sitchon then hit a short infield ball that allowed her to run to the first base.

Daisy Maano also struck an infielder for a dash to first base as base runner Sitchon ran to the second. Then an error by Artemis’ catcher drove the two base runners to the next base.

Fourth batter Chelo Garbo also sent the ball flying, but she was caught on a pass ball by the Artemis pitcher to the first baseman. Sitchon sprinted to the third base when Josel Ondrade whacked the ball and ran to the first base.

At Percy Jayme’s turn, she smashed an outfield ball that took her safely through the first and second bases while base runners Sitchon and Ondrade ran safely to the home base.

Jayme was the third Fater to run home on hits by Jonalyn Cupag and Belinda Ganitano.

Bambee Abadilla hit a long ball for a dash to the second base that sent Cupag running to the home base. Ganitano was stuck on the third as the inning ended with Fate ahead 5-0. 

The locals took their chances when new Fate player Garbo took the pitching stand in their first inning. They scored four home runs courtesy of Pang Po-mau, Lai Wing-suan, Siu Wing-chi and Mok Yin-yau to end the inning 5-4 for Fate.

In the second inning, Fate gave their opponents no room to score. 

Before Artemis started their inning, Fate captain Don Gaborno called for substitution and reshuffled her players. She took over pitching and caught two locals standing out with her fast ball.

Still, Artemis managed to add three home runs through Pang, Siu and Mok that put them ahead of the Filipinas, 7-5, at the close of the second inning. 

In the third inning, Fate added five home runs through Garbo, Ondrade, Jayme, Gaborno and Tebia, while they limited Artemis to two courtesy of Ho Ping-ting and Cho Suet. Fate was back in front, 10-9, at the end of the inning. 

Fate took their last chance to nail the match in the fourth, but Jayme scored a run. The locals then scuttled the Filipinas’ tight defense to add three runs via Leung Wing-yau, Yeung Tan and Ho Pai-ting that ended the match 12-11 for Artemis. 

 

CE says universal testing may be held anew as 85 new Covid-19 cases reported

Posted on No comments

By The SUN

 

The CE says mandatory testing for all is not a practical option

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has announced a plan to hold another round of voluntary Covid-19 testing for anyone who wants one.

She made her announcement as part of her policy announcement on Wednesday, Nov 25.

At a press conference held afterwards, the Chief Executive however, dismissed suggestions of a universal mandatory testing and a full lockdown to make the anti-coronavirus measures work.

“We have to ask ourselves, is it based on science? Is it based on evidence that it is a good arrangement?,” the CE asked."We also have to look into the practicality of doing this."

She said testing each one of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million would require a lockdown of beween four to eight weeks, in addition to the closure of the airport and land borders. 

The calls for stricter measures were made as Hong Kong’s Covid-19 cases continued to mount, with 85 new infections being reported.

As in the past few days, the new cases came from the dance cluster. An additional 63 new coronavirus cases were added Wednesday, pushing the total tally to 250.

There was only one imported case, the lowest on record for the past several months. It involved an 18-year-old female returnee who flew in from the United Kingdom.

There was also one patient who had come from Shenzhen, but the 44-year-old woman was classified as a locally acquired case as she was found to have lived while under home quarantine in Sham Shui Po with another infected patient, a 52-year-old female.

The number of cases in the dance cluster keeps growing

Among the local cases linked to the dance cluster was a 75-year-old female doctor at Union Hospital in Tai Wai who also works in a private clinic in Ma On Shan.

One of her close contacts studies at Victoria Shanghai Academy, a private school in Aberdeen. The school has been advised temporarily while

Of the 21 other new local cases, there were 16 with unknown sources, including a cleaner who works at AsiaWorld-p Expo, but not at the temporary medical facility there.

As in the past few days, the untraceable cases involved people from all walks of life who live in various districts across Hong Kong. They included a 21-month-old baby boy who lives in Yuen Long. A relative is said to have tested preliminary positive.

There was also a security guard, several people who were not working, a retiree and a housewife. They live in areas as far apart as Shatin, Tai Wai, Tuen Mun, Tai Po, Fan Ling and Yuen Long in the New Territories; North Point, Quarry Bay and Causeway in eastern Hong Kong; and Ngau Chi Wan, Diamond Hill, To kwa Wan and Sau Mau Ping in Kowloon. There was also a 41-year-old man in Discovery Bay.

More than 60 others have tested preliminary positive, including a nurse who works at Gleneagles Hospital and a worker at Siu King Home for the Elderly in To Kwa Wan.

Health officials say the care home staff had no contact with elderly residents at the facility, but 30 of his co-workers and about 20 residents there had tested negative for the virus.

Another preliminary case is a student in a secondary school who was a close contact of the 15-year-old student at Kiangsu and Chekiang school in North Point who was among today’s confirmed infections.

Health officials have advised the second school to close for disinfecion.

Unbeaten Divas cites team spirit and luck in HK cricket campaign

Posted on No comments

By Vir B. Lumicao

 

Divas players after their triumph on Nov 22

All-Filipina team SCC Divas scored 75 runs and lost 1 wicket as they beat India Club Women in just 6.5 overs in their first encounter this season in the Main League of Hong Kong Cricket Women’s T20 League tournament last Sunday.

The latest triumph at the Po Kong Village Road pitch was Divas’ fourth straight victory in the league’s 2020-2021 season that began on Oct 4 as the first Filipina cricket team world-wide attracted global publicity glare this past week.

“Bale every game feeling positive lang talaga kami at na-feel talaga namin na mananalo kami. Hindi naman kami magagaling pero lucky lang talaga. (We’re just feeling positive that we’ll win each time we have a match. We’re not good, but just lucky),” said Josie Arimas, the 52-year-old co-founder and captain of the team of domestic helpers.

In December last year, Arimas and seven of her Divas stalwarts helped form the Philippine National Team that played but lost to Indonesia in their first international tournament in Dasmariñas City. She is also the captain of that team. 

Divas team manager Kulkarni and captain Arimas 

Last Sunday, their opponents India Club Women scored 74 runs and lost 9 wickets in 15.1 overs in the first innings of their 16-over match. At the Divas’ turn to bowl in the second innings, the Divas overtook ICW’s score in just 6.5 overs.

Divas player Jona Eguid led the team’s scoring with 32 runs, Romela Osabel added 9 runs and D. Lovino 3 runs, while the team earned 31 extras when they batted in their abbreviated second innings.

In their three previous matches this season, the Divas scrubbed the Lantau Ladies on Oct 11, defeated USRC on Oct 25 and overran the HKCC Cavaliers on Nov 8. In addition, Divas won back to back matches along with its newly formed team SCC Pinay on Nov 15 in the Women’s Development League.

The Divas’ winning streak did not escape international media attention with French wire service Agence France-Presse covering its match against the veteran Cavaliers and dispersing its print and television report globally.

Until today, various print, TV and online news organizations are publishing the AFP report with the headline “Cleaning up: domestic workers taking Hong Kong cricket by storm.”

In its feature story on Divas, AFP said team manager Aminesh Kulkarni, formed the team with Arimas to provide a positive pastime for domestic workers on their day off.

“The Filipinos have that gathering culture. So if one comes, a few come. One player started spending time here, and now we have 32,” Kulkarni told AFP.

He said “my aim is finally about 200. It is going to happen in the next couple of years.”

Filipino broadcasters ABS-CBN and its rival GMA 7 also interviewed Arimas, with the latter shooting footages of the team’s latest match on Nov 22 for airing on their channels. 

Arimas attributes Divas’ success that is attracting the publicity glare to its players’ team spirit, their keenness to train and to support fellow players, especially the new ones.

Lahat naman kami naglalaro, nagtutulungan kami sa loob, lalo na sa game (We all play, we all help each other, especially in the game),” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Labatt tells HK agencies, OFW training must be voluntary

Posted on 25 November 2020 No comments

By The SUN 

Dizon (left, with Villafuerte) met with agencies over the training fee issue 

Hong Kong employment agency operators who met with Labor Attaché Melchor Dizon on Tuesday afternoon were told paid training should be voluntary on the part of Filipino domestic workers, according to an industry leader.

The representatives sought the meeting with Labatt Dizon after he said in a recent meeting with Filipino community leaders that Philippine agencies should not charge overseas Filipino workers training fees.

The statement reflected an opinion expressed by Administrator Bernard Olalia of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in July this year that agencies which require Hong Kong-bound domestic helpers to undergo training are breaking the law.

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If accurately reported, Dizon’s assurance to the agencies was a climbdown from his earlier firm stance on the issue because in reality, it is the agency that chooses the training center and compels the worker to enlist there, on pain of not being deployed abroad.

Thomas Chan, president of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, said he and leaders of 10 other groups in the industry attended the one-and-a-half-hour meeting at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in United Centre, Admiralty.

The meeting was attended by Dizon’s two deputies, Angelica Sunga and Tony Villafuerte.

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“Of course, before clarification with Labatt, agencies in Hong Kong worried as much as their Philippine partners” about Dizon’s statement, Chan said.

“However, it is clearer now because we were told and [it was] confirmed that not all … training with payment are illegal activity,” Chan said.

Chan says agencies were assured not all paid training are illegal 

What is unclear, though, is how agencies can prove that overseas Filipino workers voluntarily agreed to the training, or conversely, for the worker to disprove such a claim.

According to the 2016 Rules of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration which Administrator Olalia emphasized in a recent letter to Fred Palmiery, head of an agency group in the Philippines, recruiters cannot by law compel OFWs to undergo training.

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If the employer wants to require the worker to undergo training, then the employer or the agency must pay for it, Olalia said.

He further said that OFWs do not have to enroll in any training course as domestic work is not a specialized skill that one has to be trained for. All that is required is for the worker to pass a skills assessment by Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) and get an NCII certificate.

If the worker is not confident about passing the skills assessment, he or she can opt to go for training, Olalia said. But that decision, as well as the choice of the training center, should be made by the worker.

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Olalia also very clearly warned agencies that they will be violating the law if they compelled OFWs who are in possession of valid NCIIs to undergo training again before being re-deployed.

Chan said it emerged in the discussions that although training is not compulsory in overseas job application, it is allowed if workers choose to attend such course willingly to improve their skills and boost their confidence to do their domestic duties in Hong Kong.

“The key point of the dispute between the workers and training centers is the voluntary basis. If the workers opt for it voluntarily, then it is fine. If they are forced to do it with evidence, they can complain, of course,” Chan said.

He said, in his opinion, not all agencies are involved in illegal training and that the final definition of the activity depends on evidence and investigation. “We don’t jump into conclusion that all agencies are making money by collecting illegal fees,” he said.

As for the general impression that agencies in the Philippines misinterpreted the POEA rules to make money out of compulsory training, Chan said, “I don’t deny some of them might be involved in this way. However, I believe the Philippines is a country with rule of law. If there’s solid evidence, they will be punished by law.”

Some of the OFWs who claim they were charged illegal training fees

Since Labatt Dizon told Filcom leaders that agencies should not require workers to undergo training and that the workers who paid for such training could file for a refund, the industry has been evidently alarmed.

Last Sunday, an initial group of about 30 workers went to POLO to apply for a refund and many more said they would follow suit in the days ahead.

Chan said Dizon told the agency owners about the claims that the workers had filed. 

The HKUEA head said both agencies in Hong Kong and the Philippines are worried about the impact of a wave of refund claims.

“Since February this year, Philippine agencies, because of the pandemic situation, nearly collapsed due to the suspension of business and deployment. If the refund becomes popular activity, then we [fear] lots of them might close. If there’s large-scale closure, workers in the Philippines will lack the channel to go overseas, not only to Hong Kong, but other parts of the world as well,” Chan said.

He said if all agencies collapse, people who need a job will suffer as well, along with their families.

“An agency is also playing a social function while earning money. Don’t treat all agencies as devils, hahaha!” he said in jest.

Left unsaid is that in the past, direct hiring (or without agency intervention) had worked well for Hong Kong-bound Filipino workers, and should be revisited if agencies are found to skirt well-enunciated government policy.

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Bars to close again as 80 new coronavirus cases reported

Posted on No comments

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Bar managers are upset at the order shutting them down again

Bars and nightclubs are to close again starting Thursday as 80 new Covid-cases were reported today, Nov 24.

Fifty-four of the new cases are linked to the outbreak in dance clubs, making a total of 187 cases recorded in this cluster since Friday.

Health authorities fear the number will grow further as there were more than 50 preliminary cases reported today, and some of the infected patients had been to various venues as far away as Sheung Shui.

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Meanwhile, bar owners and managers are up in arms over the decision to close down their premises again, saying the new outbreak is not related to them at all, and they have taken enough preventive measures to keep the virus at bay.

They also said the government’s decision would seriously affect the livelihood of bar staff, most of whom do not even earn much.

This is the third time that nightclubs and bars have been closed since April, when about 100 patrons, staff and musicians had been stricken by the virus. They were shut again in mid-July and mid-September amid fresh outbreaks of the disease.

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To be shut along with the bars are saunas. Also from Thursday, banquets can only be held for up to 40 people.

The new restrictions were announced by Health Secretary Dr Sophia Chan, who also urged people to stay at home and avoid gathering with friends and family, or dining out amid the new wave of infections.

The new cases were reported from various districts across Hong Kong 

Of the local cases reported on Tuesday, 10 were untraceable, involving people who live in various districts across the city such as Sha Tin, Shau Kei Wan, Tai Wai, Tseung Kwan O, North Point, Tuen Mun, Sheung Shui, Shek Kip Mei and Repulse Bay

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They also included 12 imported cases, among whom was a 32-year-old female domestic helper who arrived from Manila via Cathay Pacific flight CX906 on Nov. 20 and showed symptoms.

There were also four returnees from Nepal, two from Turkey, and one each from Ukraine, Pakistan, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.

Among the preliminary cases was a 15-year-old student from the Kiangsu-Chekiang College in North Point, which has been closed, and all its pupils required to undergo tests.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang klwentong Dream Love

Hong Kong’s total cases have now reached 5,782. Of these, 290 are being treated in 19 hospitals of the Hospital Authority, with seven in critical condition, two in serious condition, and 281 in stable condition.

 

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Mission for Migrants calls Charity Raffle Draw 2020 a success

Posted on 24 November 2020 No comments

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Mission board member Linda Chen picks the first prize winner

This year’s fundraising of the Mission for Migrant Workers has been hailed a success by organizers, as nearly all of the tickets were reportedly sold out.

The Charity Raffle Draw 2020 was held on Sunday, Nov 22, culminating months of arduous preparation and ticket-selling that defied the coronavirus crisis to ensure a successful event.

Fr Dwight de la Torre, board chairman of Mission attributed the success of the raffle to supporters of the Church-based NGO for its work to help migrant workers in their struggle for their rights in Hong Kong. 

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“This raffle draw wouldn’t have been possible with everybody’s support, hard work and donation. Let’s continue our work and our ministry alongside migrant workers,” Fr Dwight said.

Board chair Fr. Dwight thanks everyone who supported the much-needed fundraising drive

The Mission’s community relations officer, Johannie Tong, said they pushed through with the charity raffle even with social restrictions in place due to the increased and urgent needs of migrant workers.

“Migrant workers returning from their home countries who are quarantined in hotels lack food and water. More migrant workers need assistance now due to their contract termination because of their employer’s precarious employment,” Tong said.

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“We were concerned about how to go ahead with the raffle despite the social restrictions in place. But it did not mean we were going to forgo it altogether,” she said.

The Mission overcame the challenges posed by the restrictions by putting safeguards in place, like allowing online payments for the tickets through QR codes.

These safeguards were evident in the ticket selling, collection and draw. For the first time ever, online payment through QR codes was made an option for ticket payment.

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In the final collection of payments on the day of the draw, only two people manned the booth at all times. Chairs for those waiting in line to pay for the tickets were arranged some feet apart from each other.

The draw was streamed live on Facebook, to prevent large groups from gathering. Only the essential people and guests of honor invited to pick the winning tickets were gathered for the draw.

Tong opened the program by acknowledging everyone who participated, whether they were ticket buyers or sellers, helped in promoting the activity, or supported in other ways.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang klwentong Dream Love

Mission intern Tariro Mufute, event host, introduced the guests of honor. 

Surati Adriano of Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers drew the first five consolation prize winners. Dolores Balladares Pelaez, chair of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, then picked the remaining five. The consolation prize winners each won a gift certificate. 

Sringatin of the Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Union picked the winner of the third prize, an Apple watch. Fr. Dwight drew the second prize winner who took home a Lenovo Thinkpad laptop. Finally, the winner of the top prize of iPhone11 was picked by Lynda Chen, an advisory board member of the Mission.

Fr. Dwight closed the event with a touching message.


List of winners

First prize:  016838

Second prize:  003650

Third prize:  013090

Consolation prizes:

1. 004327

2. 005210

3. 016666

4. 006246

5. 003377

6. 002951

7. 003144

8. 014723

9. 009797

10. 011997

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Two Filipina helpers on stealing spree in Causeway Bay mall plead guilty

Posted on No comments

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The 2 Pinay DHs took items from branded outlets in Sogo without paying

Two Filipina friends who went shopping without paying on Nov 7 in Sogo department store in Causeway Bay pleaded guilty today in Eastern Court to four counts of theft.

Domestic helpers K.C. Cagaanan, 31, and J. Cacacho, 39, who were on bail, admitted the offenses today, Nov 24, before Magistrate Bina Chainrai.

The magistrate convicted them and scheduled their sentencing for Dec 8 pending a background report. She ordered them remanded into custody until that date.

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The duty lawyer assigned to the two pleaded for leniency, saying both defendants had pleaded guilty, were remorseful and had clear records.

The lawyer said Cagaanan, who came to Hong Kong in 2017 to work for a family in Chong Yip Centre, Sai Wan, was fired by her employers after the incident.

Cacacho, who was accompanied to the court by her female employer from Metro City in Tseung Kwan O, had a letter from the employer stating she was reliable, honest and had  never stolen money from the family, the lawyer said.

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When the lawyer said the six items they stole were just a few pieces of garments, Chainrai rebuked him, saying the value of the stolen goods was more than $5,000 and that the offenses were a joint enterprise and premeditated.

The prosecution said that at 5:40pm on Nov 7, a male plainclothes guard of Sogo saw Cagaanan and Cacacho enter the Calvin Klein Jeans shop on the third floor of the mall.

The guard allegedly saw Cagaanan take a black backpack from the shelf and the two left the shop without paying for the item. The guard followed them and saw Cagaanan put the stolen item in a pink bag and gave it to Cacacho, who tore off its price tag.

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Cagaanan then went to a Fila shop on the fourth floor and bought a pair of sport shoes. She then took a blue long-sleeved T-shirt and left without paying. The guard allegedly saw her put the shirt in a paper bag containing the shoes and handed it to her friend.

The pair then went to the third floor. Caganaan went to a Tommy Jeans shop where she allegedly took a gray sweater, one blue and one black long-sleeved T-shirts, then left without paying. She put the shirts in a white shopping bag which she gave to Cacacho.

From there they entered another Calvin Klein Jeans shop where Cacacho allegedly took a black T-shirt before they left. She then put the shirt in the white bag.

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The guard intercepted the two as they left at 6:18pm. He checked their bags and found all the six unpaid items. He called the police and the two were arrested.

At the police station, they admitted the offenses around 8:30pm, the prosecutor said, adding the total value of the stolen goods was $5,830. They were charged with theft.

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POEA tells Phl recruiters, you cannot make OFWs pay for training

Posted on No comments

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Olalia's letter to Palmiery says it is illegal for agencies to force OFWs to undergo training

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has categorically told recruitment agencies that they cannot compel overseas Filipino workers to pay for training prior to their deployment.

The statement is contained in a letter sent by POEA Administrator Bernard P. Olalia to agency representative Alfred Palmiery dated June 19 this year, which surfaced only now amid a dispute on what agencies are legally entitled to charge as fees to OFWs.

Palmiery had sought clarification after Labor Attache Melchor Dizon reportedly said in a zoom meeting earlier in the year that OFWs bound for Hong Kong must not be required to undergo training unless they fail in the Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) assessment.

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Palmiery, who heads Sharp (Society of Hong Kong Accredited Recruiters of the Philippines), also took issue when The SUN reported on Nov 12 a remark made by Dizon during a Filipino community meeting that recruiters should not charge fees from OFWs they deploy abroad.

In a letter complaint he sent to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Palmiery raised the issue again, saying that if Dizon’s pronouncements were correctly reported, they could create confusion because they were “incomplete and partially inaccurate.”

In his letter responding to Palmiery’s request for clarification, Olalia cited certain provisions in the 2016 POEA Rules that expressly prohibit licensed recruitment agencies from requiring OFWs to undergo training, seminars or the like, unless the principal (or the employer) shoulder the cost of such training.

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“As can be interpreted from the above provisions of the POEA Rules, the employer (principal) or the licensed recruitment agency can validly require applicant OFWs to undergo training in a specially select training center or facility provided that it (principal or agency) pays for the cost of the training,” said Olalia.

He said OFWs shall pay the cost of training only if they chose the training center themselves.

Olalia went on to say that OFWs need not even undergo a formal training in a training center or facility because “competence in domestic work, which does not require specialized skills, may also be acquired through adequate experience.”

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While the workers may themselves choose to go to a training center to ensure they get the NCII,  “it remains a fact that formal training in a training centre is not a condition for HSWs to take and pass a Tesda skills assessment,” said Olalia.

The POEA head also reminded agencies that they cannot insist on training an OFW who is in possession of a valid NCII (National Certificate for Household Service Workers) issued by Tesda.

The NCII is valid for five years, said Olalia, and within this period, the employer or the agency cannot require the OFW to undergo another training unless the workers is willing, and the employer or agency shoulders the cost of the training.

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Olalia’s letter said that the act of compelling a worker to undergo training is one of those enumerated under Rule X, Section 76 of the POEA Rules as constituting illegal recruitment.

Palmiery (with mic) heads one of the biggest recruitment agency groups in the Philippines

In his most recent letter to Secretary Bello, Palmiery argued Dizon was wrong in saying that agencies in the Philippines could not charge any fees from the OFWs they deploy to Hong Kong.

He cited a list of fees and costs enumerated in the POEA Guidelines that are said to be chargeable to an OFW; however, the only relevant ones to FDWs bound for Hong Kong are the medical examination and the NCII certificate from Tesda.

In addition, the POEA Rules do not specifically state that the OFW should pay such fees to the agency, because in fact, they pay directly to the medical clinic where they were examined, and to Tesda.

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It is unclear if Bello has responded to Palmiery’s letter-complaint.

In the meantime, Palmiery appears to have asked Hong Kong agencies accredited with Polo to rally to his cause. He set up an online meeting with them tonight, on the eve of a separate talk that the HK agencies are scheduled to have with Labatt Dizon.

Thomas Chan, president of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, who joined the online meeting, had nothing to say last night about what was discussed.

He, however, confirmed receiving a copy of Administrator Olalia’s reply to Palmiery’s request for clarification.

Chan said the Hong Kong agency owners were to continue their meeting with Palmiery later tonight after dinner.

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