Fil-Americans victimize Pinay school teachers

It was way back in 1982 when Ali Muddish, an editor of a Saudi newspaper, candidly told me that Filipino labor recruiters were behind the exploitation of Filipino overseas workers in the Royal Kingdom. This was when I dropped by his office in Jeddah.

And over the years, I had my eyes trained on how our local labor recruiters have been victimizing our own "hapless and helpless" jobseekers. Often at a very atrocious cost. Like, for example, a Negrense girl recruited to Lebanon, who until now has yet to receive her back salaries, having left that country sans her pay.

Carla Gomez of the Visayan Daily STAR came out yesterday with a story of how Filipino teachers "exported" to a Texas school district, including four mentors from Negros Occidental, are reportedly waiting for the verdict of the El Paso, Texas federal court on the alleged while-collar smuggling.

The case reportedly stemmed from the recruitment of some 200 teachers from the Philippines. They were promised jobs in Texas four years ago. But when they arrived in that state, there were no jobs waiting for them.

The case reportedly involves Omni Consortium based in Houston. The three respondents are Noel Cedro Tolentino, his wife, Angelica, and his mother, Teresita Florita Tolentino.

Carla quoted the El Paso Times as saying that the jury trying the 40-count charge, including conspiracy to smuggle aliens and money laundering, will reportedly return on March 19 to hear the defense.

The case against the Tolentinos included alleged junkets to the Philippines of US school administrators who were expected to offer Filipino recruits teaching jobs in Texas.

The defense, however, reportedly contended that the junkets were working trips.

A former superintendent of the Socorro Independent School District of Texas was reported to have pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor of failing to report gifts, including trips to China and then the Philippines. He was reportedly sentenced to one year of probation.

Anyway, the most important thing is that Fil-Americans were the ones accused of having exploited Filipino teachers and are now facing the charges filed against them by the US government.

Actually, according to one of the teachers, the US Immigration and Naturalization Service is actually the one which has been helping them.

The US government, the teacher reportedly said, "helped us, giving (us) food, shelter and clothing."

They were also given employment authorization cards and deferred action letters which provided them the chance to work while awaiting the results of the trial against the Tolentinos and Omni.

But the funny thing, it seems the Department of Foreign Affairs or the POEA seems to be unaware of what has been happening to the 200 Filipino teachers victimized by their own compatriots.

Even if already late, the Philippine diplomatic mission is supposed to look into the status of these teachers in El Paso and extend help to them to prevent their having to beg for a living.
Tension in Estancia, Iloilo
No one has yet owned up to having fired that gun inside the Sto. Rosario Parish Church in Estancia last week. But tension has already reached torrid heights as reelectionist Mayor Rene Cordero and mayoral bet Restituto Mosqueda traded barbs about the series of incidents after the second Sunday Mass.

Mosqueda, incidentally, had been tagged by Sandra Cam as the alleged bagman of jueteng payola in the Bicol region. He is a retired PNP regional director.

Mosqueda is contesting Mayor Cordero’s reelection bid.

Estancia is 135 kilometers from Iloilo City. It has been classified by the Commission on Elections as an "area of immediate concern," after noting the intense political rivalry there.

Mosqueda claimed that the security men of both sides in the controversy had legitimate papers exempting them from the Comelec gun ban.

According to Mosqueda’s version, he disarmed a man, supposedly a bodyguard of Cordero, after the latter attempted to draw his gun while he was shaking hands with some supporters outside the parish church after the 8:30 a.m. Mass last Sunday.

Inside the church, somebody fired a gun. Aside from Genes Cabale, Mosqueda later claimed that he also disarmed Jojo Porras, purportedly another bodyguard of Cordero.

It was while disarming Porras that the gunfire was heard inside the church. This sent the Estancia parish priest, Fr. Raul Dayaday, scurrying back from the convent to see what had happened.

The parish priest later invited Mosqueda and his family to the convent.

Estancia police chief Ramir Gallardo said their invitation showed that when Cordero was shaking hands with people outside the church after the Mass, five unidentified men went over to the mayor and tried to block his way.

What is happening now in Estancia shows that for some people, elections have become a source of troubles and problems. And some are even ready to kill or be killed in the process.

So far, fortunately, nothing untoward has happened in Western Visayas.
Biron defies Kampi trend
Rep. Fredenil Biron (second district, Capiz) seems to be bucking the trend among local politicians. He reportedly took his oath as member of the Lakas-CMD before former Capiz governor Jose "Ting" Borda, Lakas provincial chairman. The usual phenomenon is an exodus to Kampi.

Castro was former national spokesman of the Liberal Party before it split into two factions – the Lito Atienza wing and that of former Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Castro was also named district chairman of the Lakas with the authority to issue Lakas nominations for aspirants to local positions in the May polls.

Borda himself announced that he may run for congressman in the first district of Capiz.

But what about Gov. Perez?

Antique Gov. Sally Zaldivar-Perez has come out strongly denying that she no longer belongs to any political party.

Perez disclaimed the allegations by Lakas-CMD-Kampi chairman Rep. Exequiel Javier that the recent Comelec decision recognizing the Drilon faction of the LP, left her and her allies with no party to speak of.

Perez was regional chairwoman of the LP-Atienza wing.

But Perez claimed in a radio interview that during her recent trip to Bacolod City, she was appointed by Nationalist People’s Coalition head Eduardo Cojuangco as provincial chairwoman of the NPC.

Javier, however, claimed that he had talked to Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco who allegedly said that it was impossible because of the coalition between the NPC and the Lakas on the national level.

Perez also said she was also appointed chairwoman of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) of Sen. Edgardo Angara and also chairwoman of the LP-Atienza wing.

But whichever party she is with, Gov. Perez is certain to give whoever her challenger may be a run for his money in the forthcoming local polls. She has teamed up with retired Gen. Roberto Delfin who is running for Congress against Rep. Javier.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas has revealed the final lineup of the ruling Lakas-CMD party, which he described as a "nice mix" of incumbents and aspirants. The lineup’s congressional bet is Rep. Raul Gonzales Jr. For Treñas, his vice mayoralty bet is councilor Jed Mabilog. The councilors are Jose Espinosa III, Eduardo Peñaredondo, Erwin Plagata, Armand Parcon, Jeffrey Ganzon, Ely Estante, and Julienne Baronda. The newcomers are lawyers Antonio Pesina, Eldred Antiquera, Bobby Divinagracia, Lyndon Acap and businessman Edward Yee… In Capiz, the end of the term of Mayor Roberto Saulog has presented the town of Sigma in Capiz names vying for the mayoralty post – Vice Mayor Lemuel de Pedro and Pete Bidiones. In Tapaz, Rosemarie Gardose, widow of assassinated Mayor Victor Gardose, is challenging board member Ronaldo Exmundo for the mayoralty post.

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