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Walk-In Passport Application For First Time OFWs Soon As Per DFA

February 12, 2018
OFWs are currently enjoying their privilege in courtesy lanes at any Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Offices nationwide. Yes, that priority is a good thing however, how about those aspiring OFWs that are yet to have this perk?

Image: Wikipedia

Nowadays, jobs to different countries require a job offer and that would be a hassle to first-timers.

The walk-in OFW passport application program is a project of the DFA that would be in effectivity soon. Under this policy, Filipinos that are to travel for work; those that have a job offer should easily be accepted for a passport without any appointment.

With this, overseas recruitment agencies can easily endorse applicants without a sweat. In calculation, this would accommodate over 1, 500 applicants per day in all 32 DFA regional offices.

"The recruitment industry is inclined to accept this proposal as a temporary solution to their problems of securing passports for their applicants who have to be deployed as soon as possible to avoid the expiration of visas and as required by their employers," they said.

Although the DFA has not yet disclosed when this program will start, Filipinos can now look forward to it. On the other hand, the organization is currently looking at complaints that revolve around "unreasonable, irrelevant, and filler requirements" for identification cards. As per the DFA, they were able to receive these complaints from employers in different parts of the archipelago: Zamboanga, Legaspi, and Davao.

On one end, these requirements set by the DFA caused frustration and annoyance to aspiring Filipinos. This led to many frustrations sometimes discouragement to people who want to work abroad.

These requirements are not originally and finally set by the main DFA; these are set by the DFA Regional Offices and applicants in those regions said that these are "over an above the minimum requirements that ordinary applicants need." 

At first, you may think that this planned program of the DFA is easy to accomplish. In reality, there are tons of Filipinos aspiring to work overseas for the first time; accommodating all of them in one go is not an easy task. The Department of Foreign Affairs is trying their best to push this through because this program will not only make things easier, it will also promote the welfare of working overseas.

BPO Subsector: Special Tax Rate Removed?

February 07, 2018
One of the reasons or possibilities that make doing business costly in the Philippines is the special tax rate. Moreover, there are recent news about this important matter given out by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), scrapped off the special tax rate that helped a subsector of the BPO or Business Process Outsourcing industry for a very long time.

There was a tax advisory released last January 31 of this year with BIR Commissioner Ceasar Dulay stating that employees are now bound to regular income tax rates if they were employed by regional operating headquarters and regional headquarters (ROHQs/RHQs).

Before, employees are obliged to pay 15 percent of their gross income but now rules were different and changed since President Duterte has already signed and passed the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law last year December.

Ever since, a lot of uncertainties showed up putting thousands of jobs at risk. As a matter of fact, last year before December ends and before this advisory was given, there was a risk or danger for the fate of roughly 5, 000 workers who much appreciated the Preferential Tax Rate or PTR.

According to the TRAIN law that was passed December of last year, the industry was allowed to maintain the PTR only if the ROHQs and RHQs were established before 2018. Upcoming companies or businesses who are willing or would like to invest in the Philippines beginning of this year will not be allowed or granted of this claim based on the law.

A few days after the TRAIN law was processed and submitted, President Rodrigo Duterte authorized the tax claim and many gave their sides or comments about it. Tax experts and the industry itself are giving out specific problems that might occur in the future because of this claim and many got confused about the interpretations of the claim. Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc. (PAMURI) then stated that the status quo must be retained as it was said in the TRAIN law.

Establishers of these ROHQs and RHQs are the Multinational companies (MNCs) with the purpose of catering to branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates in the global market. MNCs are actually a great help to the Philippines for it gives a lot of opportunities and jobs to its citizens. Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc. (PAMURI) recently gave a statement about the MNCs; “MNCs relied heavily on the PTR in making their business decision.” Thinking that having a different tax rate for this 2018 will really give a huge impact on the business decisions of these MNCs.

The Philippines is just almost the same as of Hong Kong’s tax rate which ranges from 2 percent to 17 percent personal income tax. Singapore, whose tax starts from 0 percent up to 22 percent personal income tax, and Philippines being at 15 percent personal income tax.

As of what was said in the upper portion of this article, the TRAIN law has only two claims that could be granted of PTR, the first claim that permitted the special tax rate, and the second claim with ROHQs and RHQs that existed before the TRAIN law was approved and that’s before 2018.

Frustrations in this discussion according to PAMURI, was the president of the Philippines (Duterte) who only authorized a part or portion of the said provision. Question is, will the allowed special rate still be applicable if President Duterte only authorized a portion of it?

According to Pamuri’s last statement, “In order to give effect to [the provision] that still remains in the law as well as the veto message, the correct interpretation should be that ROHQ/RHQs registered before January 1, 2018 shall continue to be entitled to the PTR,”

Would this be a good strategy for the economy of the Philippines? Or would this be a saturated claim that would eventually lead to the downfall of both the Philippine System and its countrymen? With this law, workers of the BPO sector must pay their taxes accordingly. The law does not exempt their industry in this reform. Like all other workers in the country, the BPO subsector will soon start to experience "real tax" as some of Filipino workers would say.

Source/s: Inquirer, Interaksyon

Students And Alumni, San Beda College Is Now A University!

February 07, 2018
After more than a hundred years of maintaining its status, San Beda just recently got the university status. It was officially given this status last Tuesday, 6th of February 2018 after having its bid approved by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). As per the newly renowned university, the Commission En Banc approved its application at 11:43 A.M.

Image: Twitter

Since it was able to comply with the memorandum imposed by CHED (Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 46 series of 2012), they can now enjoy the benefits of being a university. In simpler terms, the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) of BEDA has proven to be of great excellence and service; which is why they truly deserved the title of being a university. Taking it from the CHED

Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 46 series of 1996, an HEI "must have a Level III accreditation (or the Commission's equivalent) for at least four (4) of its undergraduate programs (one of which must be in the Arts and one in the Sciences) and for two its graduate programs."

"San Beda is expected to produce experts, knowledge, and technological innovations that can be resources for long-term development processes in the globalized context," said CHED in a press release. 

"As a university, San Beda College-Manila is expected to contribute to nation-building by providing highly-specialized educational experiences to train experts in the various technical and disciplinal areas, and by emphasizing the development of new knowledge and skills through research and development," they added.

 Moreover, CHED announced that San Beda is the 2nd private higher education institution to be granted the university status taking from the CMO No. 46 series of 2012. The Mapua Institute of Technology was the first one to be granted university status in May of last year.

San Beda College was founded by Benedictine monks in the year 1901 and continually improved in the fields of education, research, and development. Besides the establishment in Mendiola, Manila, San Beda also has two other sites in Alabang, Muntinlupa, and in Taytay, Rizal.

 San Beda also produced a number of notable identities namely President Rodrigo Duterte himself. Moreover, President Duterte also appointed a few members of his administration which are graduates of San Beda themselves.

Last 2016, there were reports stating that San Beda is running an application to be granted the status of a university. 2018 is a good start for the institution as it opens a lot more doors and opportunities for them to mold future leaders of the country.

Sources: GMA, Rappler

Certificate Of Good Conduct For OFWs in UAE

February 06, 2018
Beginning the 4th of February, 2018, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are attempting to get a job in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would be required to pass a Certificate of Good Conduct for them to be issued or granted a working permit.

In accordance with the reports of UAE Coordination Committee, aspiring OFWs would either need to get it from their country or the country where they’ve resided in the previous years. Moreover, this would deem good moral and eligibility to work in the UAE.

When the OFWs get a hold of this certificate, it will then be assessed or checked by the UAE Diplomatic Missions or Overseas Customer Happiness Center at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

So a lot of questions revolved around this topic and to set the expectation, not all would have an answer right away.
  • What is this?
  • What can OFWs who are already in the UAE do to have it?
  • Lastly, aspiring OFWs who are looking to work in the UAE; what can they do to acquire it?
In the heat of discussion for this proclamation, the Consul of Dubai, UAE, and Northern Emirates which is General Paul Raymond Cortes gave a statement regarding the instructions or tips on how to easily obtain it.
He posted a short video in his social media page giving his share of information and knowledge about this. He stated that the certificate of good conduct will be the “no criminal record” or the NBI Clearance that can be given by the consulate. Below are the instructions on how to obtain it:
  • OFWs in Dubai must go to the consulate and get a form number 5.
  • Fill up the form correctly and carefully.
  • The OFW then needs to go to the closest police station for fingerprinting.
  • The form then will be sent to the Philippines with a Special Power of Attorney or SPA (that can also be acquired in the consulate), which will be needed to authorize the representative of the OFW in the Philippines.
  • Lastly, the representative or designated person of the OFW must bring it to the DFA for authentication and then bring it to the UAE Embassy in the Philippines.
Consul General Cortes lastly said in the video that they will be releasing more instructions or guidelines in the next few days to help or inform OFWs more about this important matter.
As per other Middle Eastern countries, there are no news yet if they would be issuing the same requirements as the UAE.

DFA Announces To Temporarily Suspend One-Day Processing Of Authentication Documents

February 01, 2018
We all know that one better way of submitting documents is through DFA's authentication and certification. More commonly known as "red-ribboning," this process certainly authenticates a certain document or record. In a previous article we've written, we discussed what this process is and its importance.

DFA Red Ribbon

But to give you a quick refresher, the process of red ribbon documents is existent for many reasons. Whether you'd be needing it for education, employment overseas, or legal claims, some organizations and authorities require documents to undergo the process. Overall, the entire process is simple: you just have to submit your document to the Department of Foreign Affairs, submit it for validation, pay the fees and voila! You just now have to wait for it to be released.

After all, the red ribbon process is something that would display authenticity of the said documents.
Yesterday, a public advisory from the Department of Foreign Affairs - Office of the Consular Affairs was released. The announcement said that the one-day processing of red-ribbon documents would temporarily be suspended starting the 15th of February. Moreover, the suspension will run for a few days.

Verbatim from the office of the DFA:

DFA Red Ribbon Notice

The Department of Foreign Affairs–Office of Consular Affairs (DFA-OCA) wishes to inform the public that expedited (one working day) processing of documents for authentication (“red-ribbon”), and same-day release of documents issued by other government agencies will be suspended on 15 February and 19 February 2018 due to system maintenance and upgrade.

However, regular processing of documents for authentication (four working days) will still be available.

Online verification of issued authenticated documents by DFA-Aseana through the Authentication Verification System or AVS will also be unavailable during this time.

DFA-OCA apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause the public.
Operations are expected to return to normal by 20 February 2018.

That is the public advisory given out by the DFA to all people who are looking forward to doing the process of red-ribbon. As said in the advisory, the regular processing, which takes about a few days will still continue. This is a good heads-up for people in preparation of the red-ribbon processing. Although the DFA announces that the regular turnaround time for normal processing takes about 4 working days, it's still safe to expect it within 5-7 business days; not bad, eh?

In another news, the DFA also mentioned that they will be opening more slots for passport application this year. The reason for this suspension might be to make way for passport applications since thousands of Filipinos pay a visit to the DFA everyday.

"Super Blue Blood Moon" To Be Visible On The 31st Of January

January 25, 2018
The start of this year is a bit magical as three rare lunar events are to happen on the 31st of January. A lunar eclipse, a blue moon, and a supermoon will all occur at the same time; scientists refer to this occurrence as "super blood moon." Witness these magical events on the 31st of January; as for the specifics, we thank the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA).

As per the organization, the moon is said rise at around 5:42 P.M. Yes, the moon will start to be visible in the late afternoon which is slightly earlier than the norm. Moreover, the eclipse will begin at approximately 6:49 P.M., Philippine Standard Time (PST). The eclipse will end at 12:09 A.M., which is the 1st of February already.

At what time will this super blue blood moon be totally visible?

Total visibility of the occurrence will be at approximately 9:29 P.M. given that the skies are clear enough to be seen by the naked eye. Of course, this occurrence will be resonating through the heavens and will be seen the most clearly in Manila.

If you're unaware, a blue moon is a rare lunar occurrence that regularly comes with a second full moon in a month. These happen once in every two to three years; it gives the moon a bluish hue color which will then scatter through the skies; it's what makes the public excited about all of these.

Another thing is that a supermoon is about to occur as well. Supermoon is the phenomenon when the moon is at its closest point to the Earth which then makes it appear a little bit more bigger.
Lastly, lunar eclipses does not happen as frequent as well. Also known as blood moons, these eclipses give the moon a reddish hue.

Imagine all of these occurrences happen in one single go. Blue + Red + the moon being bigger, skygazers, photographers, and superstitious people will surely be prepared.

OFBank Now Open For OFWs and Filipinos Abroad

January 20, 2018
Since the late 70's, a promise made by the government to OFWs was still on the way. Now, under President Rodrigo Duterte's term, this promise will be at hand. Before we get to that, let me first tell you what this promise is. The OFW Bank or most commonly known as OFBank was an institution strategized by the government to help Filipinos working abroad.

OFW Bank
Image: Sunstar

“Itong bangkong ito ay isang pangako noong late 70s pa,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello told The Filipino Times Online.

OFBank is a subsidiary of Land Bank which had the directions from the President through Executive No. 44, which he signed last September to acquire the Philippine Postal Bank. The Philippine Postal Bank was later then converted to the OFBank that we know now.

“Ngayon lang ito maipatutupad dahil sa political will ni Presidente Duterte. Even from the very start of his administration, he directed me as Labor Secretary to see to it that the OFW Bank will be established sooner than later. And it has materialized today,” he added.

In one statement, President Rodrigo Duterte said, "Through the Overseas Filipino Bank, we gave back what is due our kababayan abroad through a bank specially dedicated to servicing their banking and financing requirements," he said.

Last January 18, Duterte led the unveiling of the OFBank logo together with OFBank chairman and Land Bank President & CEO Alex Buenaventura and cabinet members.

Duterte really knew what was going on. In fact, it was one of his ideals prior to starting his term. The President then gave thanks to the Land Bank of the Philippines, Secretaries Carlos Dominguez of Finance, Silvestre Bello III of Labor and Employment, and BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla for the idea and the hardwork that would provide for the needs of our OFWs. Why do you think the

President did this? Well because one of the drivers of remittances for our country are the OFWs. With over Php26.9 billion in remittances last 2016 with the exponential growth of 5.5% higher as the years progress.

“It would not be enough to pay tribute to a large segment of our society that is almost responsible and a constant factor in our Gross Domestic Product,” Duterte said.

The OFBank, which is a savings bank of LandBank will offer the following services:
  • Deposit Product/s: ATM Savings (Peso), checking accounts, time deposit, Future Need Savings Plan
  • Loan products
  • Investment Product/s: Trust Funds
  • Easier and more efficient payment services for:
    • PhilHealth dues
    • OWWA
    • SSS
    • Credit Cards
    • Telephone and Water bills
    • Insurance Premium
    • Housing and Business loans
    • Tuition Fees for beneficiaries of OFWs
Domestic operations of the OFBank will operate in one location in NCR. The branch will be in Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila. However, there will be 423 LBP branches and extension offices nationwide for the same concern.
Who knew that after all these years, OFWs will be able to get their chance of a lifetime? Would this be a good investment for both OFWs and the Philippines' economy? Would this be an advantage for those OFWs who are having a hard time with their remittances? Whatever the answers are, this institution clearly justifies one purpose: that is to aid OFWs and Filipinos abroad with their remittances and their finances in-and-out the country.

Guidelines For School Field Trips As Per DepED

January 11, 2018
Educational field trips have always been one of the few things students look forward to in a school year. Not only that it makes students enjoy where they're going, but also because they learn a lot of things. After the incident that took place in Tanay, Rizal, both the CHED and DepED issued a moratorium of field trips at off-campus sites. Although this was the case, this memorandum was lifted by the DepEd; of course, new rules and regulations are following.

DepEd Field Trip New Guidelines
Photo: PhilStar

Education Secretary Leonor Briones issued these guidelines in the effect of Department Order 66. These guidelines state that the following restrictions and rules are to be implemented in the support of K to 12 curriculum.

The guidelines in which all co-curricular and extra-curricular activities will be observing are as follows:

  1. Ensure relevance and alignment with the educational competencies of the K to 12 Curriculum and leadership development of learners.
  2. Uphold child protection principles and that no learner shall be disadvantaged in any form;
  3. Observe the safety and security protocols for all participants before, during and after the activity
In addition, vehicles that are to be used in educational tours are subject to thorough inspection and investigation before utilization. DepEd Memorandum No. 47 series of 2017, which took effect after bus accident in Tanay, Rizal was immediately and effectively annulled by the Department Order.
Prior to this, the CHED also implemented stricter rules and guidelines as regards educational and recreational activities. These include thorough checking the vehicles to be used, mandatory insurance for participants, and making the act voluntary.

"Participation in all off-campus activities is voluntary. Under no circumstances shall of-campus activities place undue financial burden on the learners and their families. Teachers shall not charge their expenses to learners," were the direct words from the memorandum. Moreover, the DepED iterated that schools should not use these educational tours as a platform to gain profit; also not as means of fundraising. Furthermore, students should not be forced to join trips at the expense of failing.

With the following guidelines, schools and institutions should always bear in mind that they are utmost responsible for the well-being of their students off-campus during these tours. What do you have in mind for this new rules?

No-faced 100 Peso Bill Affirmed By BSP, Investigation Ongoing

January 06, 2018
It is the day of Christmas when a netizen justified that hundred peso bills has been withdrawn from an ATM machine which initiated an investigation. Although, the governor of Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas or BSP, Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr., stated on December 27 that the bill with no face is most likely an isolated case. The Central Bank had concluded at first that the so-called “faceless” bills is not all over the place. “It’s clearly looking like an isolated incident at this point,” said Espenilla, after assuring that they are looking into the case at the moment.

Faceless 100 Bill

A transaction was reportedly made on December 25, Christmas Day making a withdrawal amounting to P400 of “faceless” money. This incident happened on an ATM of the Bank of the Philippines Islands (BPI) in its Libis branch.

The photo above is a screenshot of the post that went viral of the netizen who allegedly made a withdrawal of the “faceless” bills. A person named Earla Anne made the upload on Christmas Day that showed four P100 bills not displaying the face of President Manuel Roxas.

The photo above is a closer look of the bill that clearly shows the bill had no face of the former President Manuel Roxas.

The spokesperson of BPI, Owen Camayo, said they have requested BSP to confirm the “faceless” P100 bills. “Let’s wait for the BSP to announce their findings,” he responded. “On our part, we are conducting our own investigation on the matter and validating the concerns of our client-depositor,” he added.

The photo above is a statement from the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). It says that they have initiated an investigation regarding the issue. Despite being posted repeatedly on social media, they emphasized that the case was experienced by a few individuals only.

The mechanical cause of the erroneous printing has also been identified by the BSP and stated that it also has been resolved since. The fact that they print millions of banknotes on a daily basis, there are inevitable cases of machine errors that cause rare misprints.

People who are affected by the incident and acquiring the said banknotes can go to the head office in Manila or its Security Plant Complex in Quezon City to turn-over the banknotes. These will also be replaced by perfectly manufactured bills of the same value.

The BSP also stated that a procedure is done to assure the quality of our money over the years and will continue to provide the same quality.

France Is Giving Scholarship For Filipinos

December 13, 2017
Most Filipinos' dream is to go abroad and to start a new life. However, these dreams are only made possible if they work abroad. Another thing is when they have family members abroad who're more than willing to take them. Although right now, there are sources which they can use to aid them in going outside the country. Just recently, the French Embassy launched a program that would accommodate and open opportunities to Filipinos.

France Scholarship for Pilipinos

This opportunity would not only help aspiring Filipinos to go out of the country, it'll also help them develop their studying and carrying out research in France. Of course, with the goals of making contributions to the Philippine society.

In this article, we will be detailing the scholarship that France offers. Moreover, we'll also discuss eligibility and how one can apply!

First and foremost, the PhilFrance Scholarship Program was successful in opening two (2) separate calls for application; this is for academic year 2018-2019.

The first is for professional and Filipino students who yearn to come to France for a master's degree or a doctoral program; the organization accepts higher studies in all fields and courses.
PhilFrance Scholarship benefits for this type include:
  • Monthly allowances;
  • Health care for the student, length would depend on their field of study; and
  • A partial tuition subsidy

Eligibility requirements:

  1. Filipino citizens;
  2. Must be residing in the Philippines at the time of application
  3. Graduates or graduating students of a Philippine higher education institution
    • For applicants to Master’s degree programs: final-year students or graduates of a Bachelor-level degree
    • For applicants to PhD programs: final-year students or graduates of a Master-level degree
The second type of scholarship is open for CHED-recognized institutions staff and faculty who want to pursue master's or doctoral degrees in higher French-associated schools.
CHED-PhilFrance Scholarship for selected candidates would be:
  • A round-trip ticket/travel expenses;
  • Waived registration fees for state-regulated programs (public institutions);
  • Monthly allowances; and
  • Health-care packages

Eligibility requirements:

  1. Must be  a Filipino citizen 
  2. Needs to be an employee; by a CHED-recognized Philippine institution of higher learning
  3. Must be in good health and of good moral character
  4. At the very least, must be holding a Bachelor’s degree (for applicants to Master’s degree programs) or a Master’s degree (for applicants to Doctoral degree programs)
  5. Not be more than 42 years old for applicants to Master’s degree programs and not more than 40 years old for applicants to Doctoral degree programs by the time you begin your degree
  6. Demonstrates strong academic record
  7. Demonstrates knowledge or expertise that would prepare them adequately for successful study and research in a specific graduate program
  8. Have no pending criminal charges; and must not have been convicted for violation of any Philippine Law
  9. Fulfill all the Terms and Conditions of the grant, including a return service obligation

Sciences Po, a worldly-known French institution for social sciences, came to an agreement with CHED in terms of full tuition for Sciences Po’s graduate programs. Meaning, this will be financed as well, on top of all the other benefits offered by the CHED-PhilFrance Scholarships.

Both scholarship programs have a deadline of 13th of April 2018 at 4:00 P.M.
So do you think you are eligible for these scholarship programs? If yes, what are you waiting for? Apply now!

How can I apply if I am eligible?

In the PhilFrance scholarship website, there is a link there that would directly take you to the application page of either programs.

Clicking on the "Apply Now!" button will take you to this page:

As you can see, this is the page where they're asking applicants for their personal information. Furthermore, it's also the part where you'll need to provide your program information such as:
  • Complete name of French Higher Institution
  • Degree
  • Complete Program Name
  • Estimated Tuition fees for the entire program (In Euros)
In addition to that, you'll also be asked to submit copies of your documentation. Just scroll down and you'll be able to see this part:

If you'll notice, you'll be able to see that on the last part, you're asked to submit a copy or a documentation of your proficiency in French. Meaning, you should train for the French language first before you try and apply.

Want to know more about these programs? Visit the PhilFrance website now by clicking here!

Since 2016, approximately 35 Filipino scholars have either been currently pursuing or recently completed, graduate degrees; all in the French language and literature, mathematics, marine biology, environmental and ecological sciences, applied chemistry, engineering,  business, public policy and governance, as well as public health.