Cebu Pacific heeds Duterte plea, to ferry OFWs home from Kuwait

MANILA - (2nd UPDATE) Cebu Pacific on Saturday said it would send one of its planes to Kuwait to fly overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there who want to return to the Philippines.

The airline said it is already coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait on travel arrangements for OFWs who wish to be repatriated. 


"Cebu Pacific is mounting a special charter flight from Kuwait to Manila for free. This is in response to the call for assistance by the government to repatriate Filipino workers in Kuwait," the airline said in a statement.

"Special arrangements are being made since Cebu Pacific no longer has regular commercial air service between Manila and Kuwait."

Cebu Pacific said it will be deploying a 436-seater plane and will provide food and refreshment, and baggage allowance for all passengers.

This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he would ask local airlines to help in repatriation efforts in the wake of recent deaths of Filipinos in Kuwait.

On the same day, Duterte ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to facilitate the repatriation within 72 hours.

More than 800 undocumented OFWs in Kuwait are scheduled to go home, the DFA said. They will be repatriated in batches from Sunday to Tuesday.

Last year, 103 OFW deaths were recorded in Kuwait, up from 2016 figures at 82.

Facebook-owned app rolls out a 'new payments service' in India ahead of a possible global launch

WhatsApp is testing a new feature that lets you send digital payments to your family and friends like you would a photo or file.

The Facebook-owned messaging app, which has 700 million users across the globe, has begun trialling the new payments service with a limited number of users in India.

If tests go well WhatsApp could roll out the feature to users across the globe.



A similar tool was introduced to Facebook's Messenger app in 2015. 

Based on screenshots shared to Twitter by software engineer Nagender Rao Savanth, testers must verify their phone via SMS to use the feature.

They can then choose from a large list of banks that have signed up to the service.

The option to send a payment is available from the main WhatsApp menu, in the same area you can share a photo, video, contact or location into a chat session.

Both the sender and receiver in the transaction need to have the service activated for it to work.

WhatsApp's support for payments has been highly anticipated in India because of the app's huge popularity there.

India has the world's largest number of WhatsApp users, with 200 million people using the app daily. 

WhatsApp, which has around 700 million users across the globe, has begun trialling the new payments service in India (stock)

WhatsApp has reportedly hired payment specialists in India and the new feature will work off a widely-used digital payments system developed by a consortium of Indian Banks, called UPI.

Pictures first emerged of WhatsApp's planned system in August on the blog Wabetainfo, which showed a screen with 'welcome to WhatsApp payments' on it.

WhatsApp said at the time it would not comment on 'speculation'.

A spokesman added: 'India is an important country for WhatsApp, and we're understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of Digital India.

'We're exploring how we might work with companies that share this vision.'



Parents urged not to buy water gun for celebration

Technical Supervision Department Director and Head of the Rationalization Campaign in the Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) Eng Iqbal Al-Tayar has called on parents to prevent their children from buying water guns to celebrate the national holidays.

According to local report, Al-Tayar made the appeal on the sideline of the awareness campaign.


The administrative court recently issued a verdict by powers of which the cabinet is to issue a decision banning the usage of water guns in National and Liberation Days’ celebrations. The verdict was made in response to a case filed by lawyer Mona Al-Arbash demanding the ban for public interest, on grounds that thousands of water gallons are wasted every year during national celebrations, costing the country – which is already poor on natural water resources – a lot of money. Use of water guns and water cannons during national celebrations have become very popular in recent years after the government banned the use of spray foam for environmental reasons.

The real reason behind the suspension of sending the Philippines to Kuwait

The sister of one of the female Filipino maids, a well-known actress, launched a crackdown on media sites that prompted government authorities to stop sending labor

The Philippine press and media have decided to suspend the sending of their nationals to work in Kuwait in a normal way. The newspaper did not give much attention to the subject, except for one newspaper that published a lengthy report on the subject. 
The Philippines' biggest newspaper, the Manila Times , has just published a small story that did not exceed the decision of the Philippine Minister of Justice and Employment, Silverstone Bello, to suspend sending workers to Kuwait.

Newspaper the manila times

The same approach was followed by Philippine newspaper " sun star ", which published the remarks of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the Minister of Justice and Employment, as reported by international news agencies, without commenting on the subject or publishing an opinion on the subject.

Newspaper «sun star»

While ABS-CBN published a report on government officials' comments and focused on what the Ministry of Justice and Employment will do for expatriate workers.

Location «ABS-CBN»

Allegations Press : The newspaper « The Daily Tribune » Filipino was published at length about who had been reported, and reported remarks on the tongue Oonisto John Perthes member of the Philippine parliament , a workers ' representative group of Filipinos in Congress, saying: «he is grateful to the President on this decision», claiming that: "Three suicide cases involving Filipino domestic workers occurred between December and January of this year, and at least 300 to 400 domestic workers are fleeing the homes of their employees monthly, and are filing complaints with the embassy," the newspaper claims.

The daily tribune

The cause of the case The newspaper also stated that the reason for the authorities' attention and "allegations of violations" is that one of the maids who came to Kuwait in February 2017 committed suicide by hanging at her residence in Kuwait. This maid is Marif Librada, the younger sister of a female artist A Filipino comedian named Romeo Librada, known as «Super Tekla». 
This comedy artist launched a campaign on social networking sites asking to investigate the death of her sister, which brought the attention and saw this campaign interaction led to the movement of government authorities in Manila.

The Filipino artist known as «Super Tekla»

Super Tekla claimed that her sister-in-law, who worked in Kuwait, "died a few days after her family members were exposed to abuses committed by those who worked for them."

Another image of the Filipino artist known as «Super Tekla»

The newspaper went further in that it re-stated the death sentence that took place in Kuwait on 25 January 2017, claiming that «the execution of the Philippine citizenship Ovo Jakatia Bawa, in Kuwait on charges of killing the daughter of those who work for them, despite the protests against this death, and that the accused Innocent of this charge, "and even stated that" on the day the execution was carried out, another Filipino maid died in a hospital after being severely beaten by her Kuwaiti employer "- baseless allegations.

A video from Super Tekla on the death of her sister

Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that «Philippine employment is a large number, and can not take the cases received by President Douterty to find out the abuse». 
Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid al-Jarallah expressed his regret and surprise at the position of the Philippine authorities, pointing out that . Kuwait has a clear record in dealing with expatriate workers, declaring an investigation into any violations


Filipino workers in Kuwait who want to go home may be repatriated within the next 72 hours, President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday, The President said he would request flag carriers Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific to send the migrant workers home within 72 hours. “So everyone who wants to come home, I said to Secretary Bello, those who want to be repatriated, with or without money, I will ask PAL and Cebu Pacific to provide the transportation. ”I implore you, I am making a plea to all Arabs, the Filipino is no slave to anyone, anywhere and everywhere,’ Duterte said.


Hunt For Employers Of in death of Filipina in freezer

Kuwait Authorities have started their search for the employers of the woman whose body was found in a freezer and fled to Lebanon to arrest them with the help of Interpol, the Philippine embassy in touch with police and forensics to get the results of the investigation, DNA test identified the body as Joanna Daniela Dimapilis, 29 years old from Iloilo City, arrived in Kuwait on 18 May 2014

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Kuwait Cigarette Prices To Rise On Feb 11

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Philippines President Duterte set to visit Kuwait in March


The Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has received an invitation to pay an official visit to Kuwait in March, Akhbaar24 reported.

The Philippine Presidency made the announcement following a meeting between Duterte and Kuwaiti Ambassador to Manila Musaid Saleh Ahmed Al Duawkh.

“Since the President mentioned it, then I can make confirmation although I was told that I should not. But there is a trip in the offing to Kuwait,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a palace briefing posted on the Philippine News Agency.

Duterte held a closed-door meeting with the Kuwaiti ambassador over the plight of Filipino workers Kuwait.

“I could only surmise that the invitation was made during the bilateral meeting. I guess Kuwait wants to assure the President that our Filipino nationals are protected in Kuwait and to see for himself,” said Roque.

President Duterte had said he might ask all Filipinos in Kuwait to return to the country if another OFW (overseas Filipino worker) dies in Kuwait. There are more than 250,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, many working as domestic helpers, according to the Philippine agency.

Other Philippine media outlets said that President Duterte had accepted the invitation, adding that the visit would be next month

Modi to be first Indian premier to visit Palestine

 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Palestine on Saturday — the first by an Indian head of government — is being hailed as a historic moment.

Given the deepening of ties betweeen India and Israel, the visit demonstrates an attempt by New Delhi to also strengthen ties with the Palestinians, analysts say.

 Palestinian Presidency Welcomes ''Grand Guest'' PM Modi Ahead Of Visit

“Palestinians are very keen to build bridges with all [members of the] international community and [with various] international partners,” Mahdi Abdul Hadi, a Palestinian political scientist based in occupied East Jerusalem, said in an interview with Gulf News.

Palestinians are looking to boost their stature in the international community, especially given US President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to recognise Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

“This is a way of ensuring recognition [for Palestine]. The (Indian premier’s) presence in Palestine itself is an acknowledgement, a recognition. [But this does] not necessarily show support or backing,” said Hadi, founder and head of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs.

Modi’s visit follows his trip to Israel in July, 2017 — which was also the first by an Indian premier — and comes just threee weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s six-day visit to India.

While India’s relations with Israel are strong, the country has traditionally been a friend of the Palestinians.

“The fundamental point is that India is trying to de-hyphenate its policy [when it comes to] Israel and Palestine,” said Gareth Price, Senior Research fellow in Asia Programme at London-based think tank of Chatham House.

“India doesn’t want to show it is taking sides,” and instead, show that it can be pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian at the same time, Price told Gulf News.

Moreover, New Delhi would like to show it has an independent foreign policy, analysts said.

While India has very good relations with both America and Israel, it voted against the US decision to recognise occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at the UN in December.

Another example of India’s independent foreign policy is its close relations with Iran, despite the distrust that exists between Tehran and Washington.

Modi, who has visited the US five times since becoming prime minister, is also preparing for three more high-level visits to the Middle East before the end of the year: To Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

While Modi’s visit to Israel focused on security-related issues, his visit to Palestine will focus on international legal issues, Hadi says.

The talks are expected “to touch on the basis of international law, when it comes to the recognition of Palestine at the UN (and to) Jerusalem as a shared city,” he said.

Duterte invited to Kuwait amid OFW deployment ban

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has been invited to visit Kuwait following the suspension of deployment for Filipino workers, Malacañang confirmed Thursday.

On Tuesday, Duterte met with Kuwait Ambassador to the Philippines Musaed Saleh Althwaikh to discuss the deployment ban.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the invitation was probably made during the one-on-one meeting between Duterte and Althwaikh.

Kuwait wants to assure the president that Philippine nationals are protected in Kuwait and to see for himself," Roque said in a press briefing.

The presidential spokesman, however, did not mention the tentative for Duterte's visit to Kuwait.

A few weeks ago, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) suspended the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait following the death of seven Filipinos in that country.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment to stop the processing of overseas employment certificates of Kuwait-bound workers while an investigation on the death of seven OFWs was ongoing.

Bello appealed to those who have pending applications to wait for more time as the government wants to assure that they would be in safe hands once they are deployed to Kuwait.

“We cannot gamble with the lives of our workers. We do not want time to come that we have a fellow Filipino who was raped or abused. You heard our President and his strong words for our OFWs,” Bello said.

The Commission on Human Rights welcomed the decision of the government to suspend the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait as it would provide time for stakeholders to reflect and to adopt necessary reforms to uphold the rights of migrant workers.

“The CHR supports the government’s efforts to promote stronger protection and enhanced welfare mechanisms for our overseas Filipino workers especially those most prone to abuse and exploitation,” CHR commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana said.