Wednesday, April 11, 2007

For Filipinos Earning $6,000 A Year

( - The Bureau of Internal Revenue is contemplating the removal of an income tax perk enjoyed by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who earn at least $6,000 annually.

The proposal, which is a revival of a similar plan in 2004, would remove the income tax exemption enjoyed by OFWs who meet a minimum salary grade. Those who earn less, such as factory workers and domestic workers, are not included in the plan and would still be exempt from paying local income taxes.

For the plan to push through, Congress will need to amend the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, which provides that Filipinos who work and derive income from abroad as overseas contract workers are taxable only on income from sources within the Philippines.

The Department of Finance in 2004 withdrew a similar proposal from Congress after OFWs and their families protested. The government had pushed for the plan as part of initiatives to increase national revenues.

In 2006, some eight million overseas Filipinos remitted $12.76 billion, up from $10.69 billion in 2005. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank) credits higher deployment of workers and better remittance channels for the increase. The bank expects remittances to rise to $14.7 billion this year, Business World reports.

3 Months: Not Enough In New Zealand

( - Skilled immigrants have won a three-month extension to a controversial policy which gave them only six months to find a job in their field.

Migrants granted work-to-residence visas from yesterday will be given nine months to find a job, plus three months to get to New Zealand if they are applying from overseas and need to give notice to their present employers.

But immigration agents, who asked the Government to give the migrants a year to find a job, said nine months "does not go far enough".

And migrants who are already here on six-month visas and have been unable to get jobs in their fields said an extra three months would still not give employers the confidence they needed to offer them skilled jobs.

"Employers say we have been through this before and we lost our employees because Immigration denied them the right to stay," said a Filipino human resource manager who has come here with his wife and 1-year-old baby.

"This six-month work-to-residence visa has never been heard of by employers. What you are given is a six-month work visa. They don't give you any indication on the form that it's a work-to-residence visa."

The work-to-residence visa is granted to "borderline" applicants for permanent residence in the skilled migrant category.

Until December 2005 they were allowed two years to get a job in their field and were then granted permanent residence, but this was cut to six months after the 2005 election in which the Labour Party signed a support agreement with New Zealand First.

More than 1300 Filipinos signed a petition to Prime Minister Helen Clark, Immigration Minister David Cunliffe and Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter in January seeking a reinstatement of the two-year period.

Mr Cunliffe said he had "listened and acted on the considerable feedback from the migrant community", but considered that nine months rather than two years "is a better balance between giving migrants a decent chance to prove themselves while also ensuring that they have what's needed by Kiwi employers".

In addition, migrants arriving from yesterday will be able to get permanent residence as soon as they get a job in their skilled field. Before, they had to hold the job for three months before they could apply for residence.

Labour Department workforce policy manager Lesley Haines said migrants who were already here on six-month visas could now apply for a three-month extension even if they did not yet have a job in their field, and could also apply for residence as soon as they got the right job.

They will have to submit a new application under the skilled migrant category, but will not have to pay the $800 application fee again.

She said migrants granted work-to-residence visas were given letters explaining what the visa meant.

"The person can show this letter to a potential employer as proof they are eligible for residence if they get a skilled job," she said.

But Bernard Walsh, who chairs the immigration agents' Association for Migration and Investment, said a 12-month visa "would provide new arrivals with a more realistic opportunity for exploring the market for their specific skills, and would also make prospective migrants more attractive to employers".

35,000 Filipinos Working In Macau

( - There are already about 35,000 Filipinos working in Macau - doing various things from the usual hotel services to running golf courses or acting as security personnel.

Because of the business boom in Macau and a fast growing middle and a lot of expats, there is also a demand for household help and it may soon follow the experience in Hong Kong.

"With all the feverish construction of new hotels and casinos, it is easy to see why there would be thousands of new jobs available for our work force in this booming Special Administrative Region of China," said writer Boo Chanco.

There are more than 10 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, about 11% of the total population of the Philippines.

Each year, the Philippines sends out more than a million of its nationals to work abroad through its overseas employment program.

American Accused of Abusing 2 Filipino Boys

(SunStar Baguio) - AN AMERICAN teacher was arrested and locked up in jail after he reportedly sexually abused two male teenagers, whom he promised to "grant scholarships" to while still in Mindanao earlier this year. This resulted after he brought the two boys to Baguio for schooling on March 6.

The suspected pedophile was identified in a report to Baguio Police Chief Moises Guevarra as David Wayne Stonecypher, 44, a teacher from Charles City, Iowa, USA, who temporarily resides along Central Fairview.

Stonecypher's alleged victims were described to be 15 and 18 years old and residents of Bislig City, Surigao del Sur.

The victims said they traveled with the suspect from Butuan City and arrived at the Manila Domestic Airport on March 6. From Manila, they went up to Baguio on board a Victory Transit bus and lived with him in Central Fairview until they decided to file formal child abuse charges against him.

They said they charged Stonecypher with alleged violations of Republic Act (RA) 7610 or the Child Abuse Law, after the suspect reportedly subjected them to fellatio and anal sex ever since they were still in Mindanao earlier this year.

The suspect was detained at the Baguio City Jail.

26,000 Former Pinoys Can Vote!

(The Manila Times) - SOME 26,000 former Filipinos have already regained their Philippine citizenship since the Bureau of Immigration (BI) started implementing the dual citizenship law three years ago.

“As a result, these former Pinoys are again enjoying their rights and privileges, including the right to vote, as citizens of the Philippines,” Immigration Acting Commissioner Roy Almoro said Tuesday.

Almoro said that of the total applications approved, 12,000 were processed at the BI main office in Intramuros, while the rest were filed with the various Philippine consulates abroad.

It was in 2003 when Congress passed Republic Act 9225, or the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act, but the immigration bureau started processing only in April 2004 after MalacaƱang designated the bureau as the lead implementing agency for the law.

Under that act, also known as the Dual Citizenship Law, former natural-born Filipinos who later became naturalized citizens of other countries are declared not to have lost their Philippine citizenship.

The law was enacted in line with the thrust of President Arroyo’s administration to encourage former Filipinos now settled overseas to return to the motherland, buy property and invest in business ventures or simply enjoy their lives as retirees.

Filipina Harvests Medals in Beijing Ice Skating

(ABS-CBN News) -An 11-year-old Filipina returned home Tuesday night after her victorious campaign at the 2007 Ice Skating Institute "Skate Beijing 2007" held April 6-8 in Beijing, China.

Ana Isabel "Isay" Villafuerte won eight gold medals in different skating categories. She emerged victorious among 300 ice skaters from five different Asian countries that participated in the event.

She arrived shortly before 6 p.m. aboard a Philippine Airlines flight from Beijing with her mother.

Raped Filipina Domestic Helper Now Pregnant

( Bahrain - A FILIPINO housemaid, who claims she was raped whilst escaping from an abusive employer, has found out she is four months pregnant. Philippine Embassy officials are now investigating the 20-year-old maid's claim after tests conducted at the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) confirmed the pregnancy.

She told the GDN in her first Press interview yesterday that she didn't inform embassy officials of the rape because she was "too afraid and embarrassed".

"But now that I know I am pregnant, I had to say something. I really didn't know what to do," she cried.

The maid, whose identity is being protected by the embassy, said she left her Bahraini employer on November 19, nine days after arriving in the country from the Philippines.

Claiming physical and verbal abuse from her female employer, she said she sneaked out of the house at about 3am and walked "for a very long time" until a car with two men inside stopped and asked her where she was hoping to go.

"I told them I was going to the embassy and they said they would drive me there, so I got into the car," she said.

"I know now it was a stupid thing to do because they didn't take me to the embassy, they took me to a flat and one of them forced me to have sex with him."

Hiding her face and tears behind her long hair, she said she was threatened repeatedly by her rapist.

"He said if I screamed or fought him off, he would call the police and I would go to jail," she said.

"He also said he was going to kill me if I told anyone. I was so scared. I really believed he was going to kill me."

She also recalled how the other man had pleaded with the rapist to stop harming her.

"(The two men) argued because one of them wanted to let me go," she said.

"He asked (the rapist) to not harm me and that what he wanted to do was wrong.

"They argued and the other man eventually left the flat.

"I begged for the man who raped me not to harm me, I told him I was Muslim too and to remember that I am someone's daughter, someone's sister.

"But it didn't matter to him.

"He raped me and I couldn't fight him off."

The maid said she was a virgin before the rape and denied suspicions that she may have gotten pregnant while she was still in the Philippines... full story here