• DFA secretary should look into Pinoys’ woes in Italy

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    Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario should immediately look into complaints of the more than 200,000 Filipinos living and working in Italy against our embassy there.

    I was in Rome last week for the canonization of two former Popes, now Saints John Paul II and John XXXIII, when officials of the Filipino community in the “Eternal City” approached me to recite a litany of gripes against the Philippine Embassy, particularly Ambassador Virgilio Reyes.

    Carlito Senicolas, the group’s spokesman, said the embassy removed their middle names from documents, such as work and residency certificates, issued by the mission.

    When they asked Ambassador Reyes the reason for the removal of their middle names, according to Senicolas, they were told that it was the law in Italy.

    Not contented, the group researched on the law but found that it was just a circular from the Foreign Ministry of Italy as requested by the Philippine Embassy, according to Senicolas.

    On the day I left for Manila, Senicolas called me over the phone to inform that two Filipino families who wanted to spend summer here in the Philippines were not given an exit permit by the embassy because they are not members of PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG.

    According to the Filipino community spokesman, these families are permanent residents of Italy and just want to visit their relatives in the Philippines.

    He asked, “Why should they be forced by the embassy officials and staff to be members of Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth when they cannot use the benefits [from the two]agencies because they live and work in Italy already?”

    Senicolas has a point. What’s the use of becoming a member of PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG when you can’t use the benefits from the two offices since you and your immediate family no longer live in the Philippines?

    I hope Secretary del Rosario can start putting some sense in our embassy officials and staff in Italy, particularly Ambassador Reyes, the head of our mission there.

    Actually, the Filipino community there wants Reyes out of Italy.

    * * *

    Advance commission for this NIA official?

    A few days ago, I wrote a piece about this certain National Irrigation Administration (NIA) official who allegedly demands commissions from contractors of his agency’s projects.

    On Wednesday, I received an email and a text message confirming the article that I wrote about the dubious operation of this official, whom I called “Direk Raz.”

    The email sender, who said she is a contractor from Mindanao, claimed that she made a down payment to “Direk Raz” as an advance for a promised several million-peso irrigation project in the area.

    But this “Direk Raz” has been sacked from his post in Mindanao and transferred to the main office and has not been heard of since by the poor contractor from Mindanao.

    The texter, on the other hand, said she also gave a down payment to the same official after she was also promised a project from the calamity fund of NIA.

    Ironically, “Direk Raz,” who is said to be one of the richest officials of NIA thanks to alleged commissions from contractors, is eyeing the agency’s top post.

    Rumor has it that NIA Administrator Claro Maranan may be booted out soon by President Aquino for his alleged inefficiency in running the irrigation arm of the government.

    I am sure that the President will be wise enough not to pick “Direk Raz” to head NIA if he wants an efficient, honest and corruption-free agency under his administration.

    This “Direk Raz” is corrupt.

    etulfo2011@yahoo.com

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