Archive for Philippines
Aside from Philippine government offices, the embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom were forced to close their offices amid the torrential rains and severe flooding brought by the Southwest Monsoon strengthened by Tropical Storm “Maring.” In separate advisories, the US and UK embassies said the move is important in ensuring the safety of both their employees as well as the public amid the rains and floods. “All consular appointments scheduled today are cancelled,” said the UK Embassy in its Twitter account. The British embassy added that those looking for further information regarding their consular appointments may send an email at Cons.Manila@fco.gov.uk or call phone numbers (02) 8582200. “The US Embassy will be closed Monday, August 19, 2013, due to severe flooding in and around Metro Manila,” said the US Embassy in its Facebook account. The American embassy said individuals with scheduled visa interviews may contact their visa information service at 02-982-5555 to reschedule their appointments.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has not monitored any threat against its diplomatic missions abroad amid the global terror alert issued by the United States. But Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said its embassies and consulates, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, where al Qaeda may be planning attacks, continue to monitor the security situation in their areas. “They remain vigilant to ensure the safety of our personnel as well as the security of our citizens abroad,” Hernandez told a press briefing on Monday. The US State Department issued a worldwide travel alert warning Americans that al Qaeda may launch attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. In Manila, the US Embassy’s operations remain normal.
President Aquino has appointed nine new ambassadors, including Cecilia Rebong as the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland. Rebong, a former consul general in New York City, previously worked as chief coordinator at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Also appointed were Ambassador Maria Rowena Sanchez to represent the country in Turkey with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Azerbaijan and Ambassador Victoriano Lecaros who will lead the mission in Czech Republic. The President also designated Maria Theresa Lazaro as the country’s ambassador to French Republic with jurisdiction over Monaco; Victor Ledda as ambassador to The Netherlands; and Catalino Dilem Jr. as ambassador to United Mexican States. Other appointees were Narciso Castañeda as Philippine ambassador to Oman, Edsel Barba as ambassador to Iraq, and Vicente Vivencio Bandillo as ambassador to Bangladesh. Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr. has been given an additional assignment with concurrent jurisdiction over Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Haiti, according to deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte. Cuisia already has concurrent jurisdiction over the US Virgin Islands, Granada, and Puerto Rico.
The Visa Office of the Consular Section of the Chinese Embassy will be closed on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, for security reasons, according to the website of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Philippines. The notice was published on both the English and Chinese language versions of the website. According to reports, the non-governmental organizations working in the Philippines announced days earlier that a “global anti-China demonstration” would be held on July 24 to protest against Chinese encroachment on reefs which the Philippines believes belong to them. The demonstration will take place outside the Chinese embassy in Manila. An estimated 5,000 people are expected to attend the demonstration. The Department of State of the Philippines said on July 18 that the demonstration was organized without any government involvement but stressed that the Filipino people have the right to express their opinions freely and peacefully. The government also stressed that it would not interfere with the demonstration.
Malacanang told Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar on Friday to prove claims officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications asked executives of the Inekon Group for $30 million to bag a contract to supply trains for the Metro Rail Transit 3. “Give us the evidence and we will investigate …We are asking the Czech ambassador, as in any allegation, to give us the evidence,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a briefing aired over Radyo ng Bayan. At the same time, Lacierda cast doubs on the statement of Rychtar noting, among others, that the envoy’s claim, which came out in a report in the Philippine Star, that Inekon had been blacklisted for refusing to give in to the bribe demand in July last year was not true. The report said Rychtar, who accompanied Inekon representatives to the DOTC last year, advised them not to engage in corruption. The agency was then headed by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. From the original $30 million demand, the amount was reportedly whittled down to $2.5 million and when the Inekon executives still refused, their proposal was allegedly scuttled.
A man died after being hit by a UV express vehicle in front of the United States Embassy in Manila before dawn Thursday. Witnesses said a UV express vehicle hit the unidentified man who was crossing Roxas Boulevard at around 5 a.m. No identification card was recovered from the man, who appeared to be in his 40s. The victim wore a blue T-shirt and jeans. The UV express sped off and turned to UN Avenue. Shattered glasses, supposedly from the vehicle’s headlight, were found at the accident site. The police said the closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera installed in front of the US embassy may have captured the incident. They said they will ask the embassy if they could have access to the footage.
A group of Filipino workers overseas demanded that the government recall Ambassador Ezzadin Tago and two other embassy officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for allegedly asking Saudi officials to arrest desperate Filipinos who were demanding repatriation. Aside from Tago, the Migrante sectoral party demanded the recall and dismissal of labor attache Adam Musa and welfare officer Abdullah Umpa. “We demand the Aquino administration their immediate recall and initiate swift dismissal proceeding against the 3 Saudi-based officials. MIGRANTE sectoral Party vice chairman John Leonard Monterona said the incident stemmed from a peaceful sit-in demonstration that 40 stranded OFWs held at the Philippine labor and welfare office in Riyadh on July 2. Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez told inquiring journalists that embassy officials did not seek police assistance and the OFWs were only arrested after Saudi police “noticed” their sit-in demonstration. On Saturday, Hernandez declined give further comment.
The Australian government issued a travel advisory prohibiting its embassy staff in the Philippines from traveling to three cities in Mindanao — Davao, Cotabato and Zamboanga — due to “security reasons.” The advisory, issued by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said travel to these cities by embassy officials and personnel are cancelled “until further notice.” The embassy then reiterated its previous travel warnings against central, western and eastern Mindanao. “We continue to strongly advise you not to travel to central and western Mindanao, including the Zamboanga Peninsula and Sulu Archipelago, due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping, violent crime and violent clashes between armed groups,” the advisory said. “We continue to advise you to reconsider your need to travel to eastern Mindanao.” “We continue to see reports indicating that militants based in the southern Philippines are planning to kidnap Westerners. If you are in central or western Mindanao, you are strongly advised to leave immediately,” the advisory said. It said that foreigners have been kidnapped from coastal and island tourist resorts, dive sites and live-aboard dive boats. “If you decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance,” the advisory added.
The embassy of Japan in the Philippines issued a notice to the public on Thursday clarifying the issue regarding the Japanese visa for the Filipinos. Reports circulating over the internet said Japan has lifted its visa for the Philippines, but the embassy clarified to the public that Japan has not lifted the visa exemption for the Philippines. However, Japan has opened multiple-entry visas to Filipinos. In celebration of the 40th year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, the government of Japan has decided to begin issuance of multiple entry visas for short-term stay to Filipino nationals (ordinary passport holders) who reside in their home country from July 1. Those who have fulfilled certain conditions and who have an ordinary machine-readable passport meeting International Civil Aviation Organization standards or an ordinary IC passport can stay in Japan for 15 days. The multiple-entry visa is valid for three years.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) consulted 13 heads of posts in the Middle East and Africa after allegations of the sex-for-fly scheme preying on distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) surfaced last week. The DFA said the consultations over the weekend are aimed at validating the sex trade allegations and to come up with punitive and preventive measures on such offenses allegedly perpetrated by overseas labor officials. The recommendations also include the improvement of intelligence-gathering efforts on sex offenses and the review of the existing rules and standard operating procedures governing the overall management of the Filipino Workers Resource Center and capacity-building for Foreign Service Posts to effectively handle sex-related offenses. Last week, Akbayan Party-list Rep. Walden Bello disclosed that three labor officials in the Middle East are allegedly involved in pimping distressed OFWs in exchange for a ticket back to the Philippines. At least four female OFWs have since surfaced, claiming that they were forced to have sex with labor officers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and were also offered to foreign nationals. Labor attaché to Jordan Mario Antonio, one of the accused, has denied the allegations. He claimed that he has a clean track record and urged the public to wait for the results of the probe and not pass judge on him.