News from home: Calls to free Mary Jane, new trafficking schemes and hubs

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
News from home: Calls to free Mary Jane, new trafficking schemes and hubs
This photo shows Cesar and Celia Veloso, parents of detained overseas Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso. The OFW has been behind bars for over a decade now.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, file

MANILA, Philippines — From renewed calls to free a long-detained overseas Filipino worker in Indonesia to a report of new trafficking schemes and hubs in the country—these were among our headlines and news stories from the past week we think you should know if you’re a Filipino based abroad.

Overseas Filipinos

  • Celia Veloso, along with nearly 200 organizations, wrote to Indonesia’s Minister of Women and Empowerment and Child Protection Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati to request to finally free her daughter, detained OFW Mary Jane Veloso after over 10 years in jail over a drug charge. Mary Jane said she was tricked to smuggle heroin into the country in 2010. 

    Hopes for her release sparked after Indonesian President Joko Widodo granted clemency to a woman on death row for similar drug smuggling charges. The Philippines sought executive clemency last year on Veloso’s behalf, during Marcos Jr.’s first state visit.
  • The Bureau of Immigration flagged a new trafficking scheme where victims are told to use religion and have them pretend they would be going on pilgrimage.
  • Majority or 75% of OFWs send money back home, a recent Social Weather Systems survey showed. Migrant workers sent $2.57 billion in February, bringing total remittances to $5.33 billion in 2023 so far. 

    The same SWS survey showed 7% of Filipino households are home to OFWs, another 7% of Filipino adults are looking for work abroad, while 17% or nearly two out of 10 Filipinos are hoping to live overseas.
  • President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said the Philippines is “already preparing the assets that might be involved” in evacuating the Filipinos who are in Sudan amid the conflict there. However, he said they are still waiting to see when it would be safe for officials to bring Filipinos from Khartoum in Sudan to Cairo, Egypt – where the Philippine embassy is. 

    There are currently around 400 Filipino nationals in Sudan, while 86 have already requested to be repatriated. Saudi Arabia said someone from the Philippines were among the 66 foreign nationals it evacuated to the kingdom.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs assured it has contingencies in place to keep OFWs based in Taiwan safe after the statement of the ambassador of China last week raised their safety while discussing concerns with the US-Philippine security alliance.

    The Chinese Embassy in Manila claimed its envoy was “misquoted and misinterpreted,” after Ambassador Huang Xilian’s statement on overseas Filipino workers in Taiwan drew flak last weekend. Marcos Jr. said he will be discussing with Huang “soon” to talk about what he meant. 
  • Guenther Wiesinger, chairman of the Austrian Vienna Association of Healthcare Facilities at the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, recently led a delegation to the country to express interest in hiring more workers from the Philippines—particularly for its health sector. 

    Austria said they will need around 60,000 to 75,000 workers to fill gaps in their healthcare sector in the coming years, while around 200,000 jobs across its local industries will be open.
  • Filipinos in Queensland are asking the Philippine government to allow its consulate there to offer all consular services. At the moment, the Consulate in Brisbane does not offer passport renewal services or applications for dual citizenship. 

Work and the economy

  • The Department of Health warned the public against fishing and partaking in recreational activities in areas around Puerto Galera after high levels of oil and grease contaminants were found in some areas of the known tourist spot.

    Oil tanker MT Princess Empress sank in waters off Naujan Oriental Mindoro end-February, with oil spilling to waters in nearby provinces. Communities and advocates have called on the government to speed up its clean-up efforts to avoid further affecting tourism and fishing sectors in local communities. 

  • Calls for wage increases continue to mount as employees bear the brunt of increasing commodity prices. A lawmaker in the House of Representatives recently filed a bill that seeks to provide an across-the-board nationwide P150 daily wage recovery increase for workers and employees in the private sector. 

    Should it pass, that would total a P750 increase for every five-day workweek.

  • The Commission on Higher Education is considering strictly implementing the “return service” requirement in state universities and colleges as it begins reviewing the country’s education system. 

    CHED Chairperson Popoy De Vera also noted that more students from “relatively higher income households” are enrolling in state schools, saying that public educational institutions should ensure that equal opportunities are given to students from indigenous communities, far-flung areas and marginalized communities.

Politics and the nation

  • Sen. Risa Hontiveros last week claimed the Philippines has been home to cryptocurrency scam hubs, with foreign nationals trafficked to Manila to target those from their home countries. Hontiveros said victims are from neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar to even Africa.
  • Marcos Jr. will be going on an official working visit to the United States and is slated to meet with his counterpart, American President Joe Biden, on May 1 at the White House. The two will discuss bilateral defense and economic ties just days after the annual war games between the two countries come to a close. 
  • Vice President Sara Duterte, concurrently education secretary, is a subject of a complaint filed before the International Labor Organization for a wave of red-tagging remarks made against the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in March. 

    ILO Regional Director Chihoko Asada Miyakawa received the complaint. 
  • Former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario – who played a key role in securing the landmark Hague ruling and is remembered for being a staunch advocate of Filipinos at home and overseas – has passed away. He was 83 years old. 

You can view last week’s rundown here or sign up for the newsletter here

vuukle comment





  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with