Community Fights Doctor's Deportation

Friday, November 16, UPDATED: 6:01 p.m.
By Norm Jones

In just seven days, a long-time central Pennsylvania doctor and his wife may be deported back to the Philippines.

Click for larger image
Dr. Pedro Servano and his wife, Salvacion, do paper work as they await their deportation.

Dr. Pedro Servano and his wife, Salvacion, got the notice last month that they'd have to report to homeland security officers.

At the end of their ropes, they are pleading with federal lawmakers to stay here in the U.S.

Dr. and Mrs. Servano have been living in the United States for nearly 25 years, more than ten of them spent in the Selinsgrove area.

"We've been here for the last 24 years. We have paid our taxes, our dues and obligations. We raised four loving kids. All of them are doing excellent in school," said Dr. Servano. "(It's) an honest mistake. It was not intended to circumvent any kind of law."

The Servanos appear to be at the end of a 17-year immigration battle, one that started over what the Servanos call an honest mistake.

When they filed for visas in 1978 they weren't married, but by the time they were granted those visas in 1982 and 1984, they had wed and didn't mark the marital change on citizenship documents.

"This mistake should pale, pale in comparison to 24 years of community service and good, Christian family values and kids that are performing in school and model examples of what good American education should put out," said Christina DeHaven, the Servanos' niece. She and others are working with federal lawmakers to get a special reprieve for the doctor and his wife. "Time is of the essence. We're putting this into the hands of Congress with such a short window of time. We need to do everything we can to push the issue."

Community leaders are also speaking out in support of the Servanos.

"And our whole parish is enraged. You know they really are. Here's an outstanding family. A good portion of our parishioners are treated by Dr. Servano," said Father Ted Keating of St. Pius X Catholic Church. He added the Servanos have been model parishioners at the church in Selinsgrove for at least five years.

For 12 years. Dr. Servano has practiced medicine for the Geisinger Health System, providing care for at least 2,000 patients and their families.

Sunbury's mayor said the Servanos are also helping to revitalize Sunbury.
They renovated the old YMCA into office space. They even run an ethnic food store just down the block.

"They're an important piece of this community. I think they have great community support here. They have been productive people, while they're not citizens of Sunbury. They're investors in the city of Sunbury and are helping us with the revitalization of the city," said Sunbury Mayor Jesse Woodring.

The community leaders said it's time for federal immigration officials take a hard look at their policies.

"And I think we need to have some sort of openness or allowances for a little mistake that happened years ago," Fr. Keating said.

A spokesperson for U.S. Senator Arlen Specter said the senator is working with immigration officials in Washington D.C.

The Servanos are scheduled to report to immigration officials the day after Thanksgiving.

Pinoy nurses in NY get $25K legal aid from RP gov't

A group of Filipino nurses facing criminal charges in New York has received $25,000 in legal assistance from the Philippine government to pursue legal actions against their employer.

Twenty-seven Filipino nurses quit their jobs in April 2006 from the Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. They accused SentosaCare group of companies of breach contract after they were assigned to work outside the scope specified in their contract upon arrival in the US.

Eleven of them, including medical board top placer Elmer Jacinto, have been accused of conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children in a pediatric ventilator unit after leaving their posts in April last year due to labor row.

The US justice department, Civil of Rights Division, dismissed the case on Aug. 31, 2007 for “insufficient evidence of reasonable cause to believe the injured parties were discriminated."

In the sidelines of her New York trip last September, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo privately met four representatives of the group, known as Sentosa 27++ .

“After hearing the plight of the nurses and upon their request, the President committed to help them in their litigation expenses," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday.

Philippine Consul General to New York Cecilia Rebong handed over the amount to 10 representatives of the Sentosa nurses last October 30.

There are now about 38 Filipino nurses involved in various administrative, civil and criminal cases against SentosaCare group of companies.

Their cases arose from alleged breaches of contract and discriminatory acts by SentosaCare. The Sentosa 27++ Legal Defense Trust was then set up to pursue their legal remedies.

The DFA previously provided legal assistance funds to 10 of the nurses who were criminally charged for alleged endangerment of patients.

A similar case of alleged abandonment of patients was earlier filed by Sentosa against the Filipino nurses before the Office of Professional Discipline of the New York State Education Department. This administrative case was duly dismissed for lack of merit.

The Suffolk County District Attorney indicted the 11 Filipino nurses last March for allegedly endangering the lives of their patients.

The decision of the US Department of Justice - Office of the Special Counsel dismissing the discrimination charges filed by the nurses also led to the dismissal of several cases filed before the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) where the nurses charged Sentosa Care of illegal recruitment, misrepresentation and contract substitution.

POEA Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz, in a 30-page ruling signed in September, asserted that in the case “no regulation on overseas employment was violated by the respondents in the recruitment and deployment of the complainants to its principal in the United States." The case was dismissed for “utter lack of merit." - GMANews.TV

UAE relaxes visa rules on Filipino nurses

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has relaxed its policy on Filipino and other foreign nurses entering the country on visit visa.

Dr. Abdul Ghaffar Abdul Ghaffor, assistant undersecretary for Curative Medicine Department at the UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) said the decision to relax the policy is primarily to address the growing shortage of nurses in the country.

"We'll allow nurses on visit visas to sit in the nursing examination of the MoH, to take up jobs in the private sector," says Dr. Ghaffor.

He said both private and public hospitals in UEA are now beset with the shortage of nurses but he stressed that "the problem is more acute in the private sector."

Aside from allowing the entry of nurses using tourist visa to work in the private hospitals, the official said the ministry is also looking at reducing the number of years mandatory for expatriate nurses to serve at public institutes after their graduation.

"We are planning to reduce it (mandatory period of public service) to two years," he added.

At the moment, foreign nurses are provided free education at nursing institutes affiliated to the MoH, but they are required to serve for three years at one of the MoH-affiliated hospitals immediately upon completion of the study. - Marie Neri, GMANews.TV