FILIPINOS IN U.S. URGED TO SEEK KERRY'S HELP RE TPS (TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS)

Filipino-American community leaders have urged members and their friends, even non-Filipinos, to appeal to Secretary of State John Kerry to recommend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the Philippines, a move that could benefit as many as 300,000 Filipinos in the United States currently out of status. They set March 27 as a Call for Action Day and said everyone, regardless of their immigration status, should telephone the State Department and urge Kerry to recommend TPS for the Philippines to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Philippine government formally requested Washington in December for immigration relief measures to allow eligible Filipinos to stay and work in the United States so they could support the country’s long-term recovery efforts in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda which killed more than 6,000 people. Under US immigration law, the secretary of the DHS, upon the recommendation of the secretary of state, may designate a country, or portions of a country, for TPS when conditions exist – such as an ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster – that temporarily prevents the country’s nationals in the US from returning safely.

ALSO: Groups set March 27 for mass phone-in to Kerry to back TPS for Filipinos

• Grant of protection awaits US State Secretary’s recommendation to Homeland Security • TPS approval could protect thousands of undocumented Filipinos • Other calamity-hit countries have been granted TPS. SAN FRANCISCO, California –A coalition of community groups designated Thursday, March 27 as “Community Call to Action Day” to mobilize telephone calls to the US State Department urging Secretary of State John Kerry to recommend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the Philippines to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The coalition provided (202) 647-6575 as the telephone number to call on March 27. The coalition agreed on the call to action in a national telephone conference call held on March 15 to discuss the status of the campaign to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the Philippines, a move that may benefit as many as 500,000 Filipinos in the United States who are currently out status. Arnedo Valera of the Migrant Heritage Commission, the Washington D.C. group, which initiated the call for TPS last November, reported that Philippine Desk Officer David Arulanantham at the US Department of State confirmed that the favorable recommendation for TPS for the Philippines is now on the desk of Secretary John Kerry, awaiting his review and signature. “This positive development is the result of our community’s unified campaign to lobby the State Department,” said Loida Nicolas-Lewis, national chair of US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG), who moderated the March 15 national conference call.

ALSO: Santiago to PH gov’t: take caution in recognizing Crimea

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago cautioned the Philippines on Friday from taking a position whether or not to recognize Crimea but said the country may have a “working relationship” with the newly independent state. With the absence of “customary” international law that should govern secession, Santiago said it would be prudent for the country not extend official recognition to Crimea. “What is international law on secession? There is no answer to that question because at this point, there is no customary international law that governs secession so international law is neutral…” she told reporters after speaking before the International Youth Leadership Conference in Taguig City. “In the case of the Philippines, the better part of prudence dictates that we must leave for the moment the question of whether we shall recognize Crimea,” she said. “If it’s necessary, we can have a working relationship with Crimea if this becomes absolutely necessary. But we don’t have to extend official recognition to it because even now the Philippines does not extend official recognition to Kosovo…” the senator pointed out Santiago, chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said international law ”neither prohibits nor promotes secession.” “The major consideration is mainly political, and this decides the issue whether a state will recognize the new independent state,” she said in her speech.

ALSO: Ukraine, Russia, Crimea: How the story evolved

PHOTO CREDIT VIKTOR DRACHEV: Months of violent protests. Ukraine's president flees. Russia's president goes on the offensive. Crimea votes (debatably) to join Russia. What is going on in Ukraine? And, more importantly, why should we care? Earlier this month, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the standoff in Ukraine the "biggest crisis in Europe of the 21st century." Here are answers to some of your biggest questions on the ongoing crisis: I've been hearing about Ukraine for months. How did this all start? In November, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's government announced it was abandoning an agreement that would strengthen ties with the European Union. Yanukovych said he was seeking closer cooperation with Moscow. Many in Ukraine were not happy, and protesters took to the streets. What exactly were they protesting?.....CONTINUE READING BELOW-

PHOTO: Is Vladimir Putin the ultimate man?

Photo- Russian President Vladimir Putin fishing in the headwaters of the Yenisei River of the Russian Tuva republic on the border of Mongolia. Time magazine named President Vladimir Putin its 'person of the year' 19 December 2007 in recognition of the Russian leader's role in making Moscow 'a critical linchpin of the 21st century. The award, which is not considered an honor so much as a recognition of the most powerful forces shaping the world, was awarded for Putin's role in reshaping a country that Time's Managing Editor Richard Stengel said had 'fallen off our mental map.'


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Pinoys in US urged to seek Kerry’s help


Secretary of State John Kerry

WASHINGTON, MARCH 24, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Jose Katigbak – Filipino-American community leaders have urged members and their friends, even non-Filipinos, to appeal to Secretary of State John Kerry to recommend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the Philippines, a move that could benefit as many as 300,000 Filipinos in the United States currently out of status.

They set March 27 as a Call for Action Day and said everyone, regardless of their immigration status, should telephone the State Department and urge Kerry to recommend TPS for the Philippines to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The Philippine government formally requested Washington in December for immigration relief measures to allow eligible Filipinos to stay and work in the United States so they could support the country’s long-term recovery efforts in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda which killed more than 6,000 people.

Under US immigration law, the secretary of the DHS, upon the recommendation of the secretary of state, may designate a country, or portions of a country, for TPS when conditions exist – such as an ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster – that temporarily prevents the country’s nationals in the US from returning safely.

Once a country receives a TPS designation, nationals of that country residing in the US would not be deportable and may receive temporary legal status that allows them to receive employment authorization and permission to travel abroad.

“We must not let up now. We need to continue to lobby the US government until TPS is approved for the Philippines,” said Jon Melegrito, spokesman of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA).

FROM THE INQUIRER

Groups set March 27 for mass phone-in to Kerry to back TPS for Filipinos INQUIRER.net US Bureau 4:43 am | Thursday, March 20th, 2014

• Grant of protection awaits US State Secretary’s recommendation to Homeland Security
• TPS approval could protect thousands of undocumented Filipinos
• Other calamity-hit countries have been granted TPS

SAN FRANCISCO, California – A coalition of community groups designated Thursday, March 27 as “Community Call to Action Day” to mobilize telephone calls to the US State Department urging Secretary of State John Kerry to recommend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the Philippines to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The coalition provided (202) 647-6575 as the telephone number to call on March 27.

The coalition agreed on the call to action in a national telephone conference call held on March 15 to discuss the status of the campaign to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the Philippines, a move that may benefit as many as 500,000 Filipinos in the United States who are currently out status.

Arnedo Valera of the Migrant Heritage Commission, the Washington D.C. group, which initiated the call for TPS last November, reported that Philippine Desk Officer David Arulanantham at the US Department of State confirmed that the favorable recommendation for TPS for the Philippines is now on the desk of Secretary John Kerry, awaiting his review and signature.

“This positive development is the result of our community’s unified campaign to lobby the State Department,” said Loida Nicolas-Lewis, national chair of US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG), who moderated the March 15 national conference call.

“We must not let up now. We need to continue to lobby the US government until TPS is approved for the Philippines,” added Jon Melegrito, spokesman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).

Under US immigration law, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of State, may designate a country, or portions of a country, for TPS when conditions exist — such as an on-going armed conflict or an environmental disaster in the country — that temporarily prevents the country’s nationals in the US from returning safely.

Once a country receives a TPS designation, nationals of that country residing in the U.S. would not be deportable and may receive temporary legal status that allows them to receive employment authorization and permission to travel abroad.

Community groups represented in the conference call were urged to ask everyone they know, even non-Filipinos, regardless of their immigration status in the US, to call the US State Department Comment Line at 202-647-6575 on Thursday, March 27.

After a voice message is heard, press: 4 for operator, then ask for the comment line, and then leave your message: “Temporary Protected Status for the Philippines must be designated. I urge Secretary of State John Kerry to recommend to the Department of Homeland Security that TPS be designated for the Philippines. My name is (say name) from (say city and state).”

When Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010, the US government granted TPS to Haitian citizens in the US extending them temporary legal status in the US for a period of 18 months. This has been extended several times because Haiti has still not recovered from the damage of the earthquake.

Last year, the US government extended TPS to Syria because of the civil war that is raging in there. Aside from Syria, Sudan and South Sudan were also granted TPS in 2013.

Other countries that have also received TPS designation in past years include El Salvador, Nicaragua, Somalia and Honduras as a resulting of devastating natural calamities that have occurred in those countries.

A bipartisan group of 20 US senators led by New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) sent a letter to Pres. Barack Obama urging him to grant TPS to the Philippines. “Typhoon Haiyan has wrought unparalleled destruction and tragic loss of life in the Philippines,” declared the senators in their letter to Pres. Obama.

“Victims of Typhoon Haiyan clearly meet the eligibility requirements for TPS, and we urge you to extend this designation as soon as possible. The United States has demonstrated its commitment to assisting the Philippines with the recovery effort through foreign aid, military assistance and relief supplies,” the letter added.

There are at least 500,000 Filipinos in the US who are out of status and would benefit from TPS designation of the Philippines. Their hopes that the Philippines would be granted TPS are buoyed by the fact that Pres. Obama has supported immigration reform that would legalize the status of 11 million people in the US and that he will be visiting the Philippines in April of 2014 and could present the Philippines with a special gift.

“Granting TPS to the Philippines would allow hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in the US to send billions of dollars of their income to the Philippines to aid an economy that was devastated by Supertyphoon Yolanda,” said Dr. Celia Lamkin, a TPS advocate from Saipan who participated in the March 15 conference call.

“For the sake of our mother country, we urge all Filipinos in the US to save the date and make the time to call the State Department on March 27,” said Loida Nicolas-Lewis.

Santiago to PH gov’t: take caution in recognizing Crimea By Maila Ager INQUIRER.net 11:55 am | Friday, March 21st, 2014


Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago cautioned the Philippines on Friday from taking a position whether or not to recognize Crimea but said the country may have a “working relationship” with the newly independent state.

With the absence of “customary” international law that should govern secession, Santiago said it would be prudent for the country not extend official recognition to Crimea.

“What is international law on secession? There is no answer to that question because at this point, there is no customary international law that governs secession so international law is neutral…” she told reporters after speaking before the International Youth Leadership Conference in Taguig City.

“In the case of the Philippines, the better part of prudence dictates that we must leave for the moment the question of whether we shall recognize Crimea,” she said.

“If it’s necessary, we can have a working relationship with Crimea if this becomes absolutely necessary. But we don’t have to extend official recognition to it because even now the Philippines does not extend official recognition to Kosovo…” the senator pointed out Santiago, chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said international law ”neither prohibits nor promotes secession.”

“The major consideration is mainly political, and this decides the issue whether a state will recognize the new independent state,” she said in her speech.

Crimea recently held a referendum where 97% of the locals voted to leave Ukraine and to join Russia.

But the Ukraine government, with the support of the United States and the European Union, protested the referendum as a violation of international law.

Santiago noted, however that at present, there is no principle of customary international law which allows a right to secede from a state.

“Crimea bases its claim on the right to internal self-determination. This is because the Crimea event does not yet constitute customary international law. We have to wait for international practice to develop in the future,” she said.

She said the three main characteristics of customary international law are repetition, practice, and the Latin principle of opinio juris or opinion of law.

“If the Philippines extends recognition to Crimea, in effect the Philippines is saying that Crimea is entitled to a principle of customary international law, most importantly the principle of opinio juris. This is the principle that for a practice to become a rule of customary international law, it must be shown that nations believe that international law mandates the practice. Opinio juris is not based on moral obligation,” the senator explained.

But Santiago said: “I do not think that we have complied with the requirement of opinio juris. Some states will simply recognize Crimea as a state within the orbit of Russia, but recognition by other states will not amount to recognition of a general right to independence by Crimea.”

Reacting to comments that the Crimea crisis should follow the Kosovo case, where many states extended recognition to Kosovo when it seceded from Serbia, Santiago said that “when Kosovo invoked the right to secession, the world had already witnessed serious human rights violations in that area.”

Santiago said the Philippines without necessarily granting recognition to Crimea, may imply proceed to conduct everyday working relations with Crimea.

FROM USA TODAY

Ukraine, Russia, Crimea: How the story evolved Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY 11:23 p.m. EDT March 20, 2014 AFP 528219368


(Photo Credit Viktor Drachev, AFP/Getty Images)

Months of violent protests. Ukraine's president flees. Russia's president goes on the offensive. Crimea votes (debatably) to join Russia.

What is going on in Ukraine? And, more importantly, why should we care?

Earlier this month, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the standoff in Ukraine the "biggest crisis in Europe of the 21st century."

Here are answers to some of your biggest questions on the ongoing crisis:

I've been hearing about Ukraine for months. How did this all start?

In November, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's government announced it was abandoning an agreement that would strengthen ties with the European Union. Yanukovych said he was seeking closer cooperation with Moscow. Many in Ukraine were not happy, and protesters took to the streets.

What exactly were they protesting?

Protesters sought closer ties to Europe and an end to Yanukovych's growing ties with Russia.

When and why did Ukraine explode into violence in February?

Protesters were losing hope when they saw no willingness on the side of Yanukovych to compromise, according to Orysia Lutsevych, a Ukraine expert at the Chatham House think tank in London. Lutsevych said that Yanukovych put people in jail, his government tortured activists and it harassed people. The protesters stopped believing there could be successful negotiations.

What happened to Ukraine's president?

On Feb. 22, Yanukovych fled the capital after government troops under his control attacked and killed 82 protesters in downtown Kiev. The Ukraine parliament, including members of Yanukovych's own party, voted to replace him in his absence. Ukraine's interim government and president, Oleksandr Turchinov, issued a warrant for the arrest of Yanukovych, who escaped to Russia and still declares that he is the legitimate president of Ukraine.

One second I was hearing all about Ukraine, then it was all about Crimea. First, what is Crimea?

Crimea is a region of southern Ukraine located on a peninsula on the north shore of the Black Sea. Crimea is nominally autonomous (it has its own parliament) but has been part of Ukraine since the 1950s and under the federal Ukraine constitution and capital of Kiev.

The Crimean port city of Sevastopol is home to naval bases for Ukraine and Russia, which based a fleet there after obtaining a long-term lease from Ukraine. Ukraine declared independence from Russia's predecessor, the communist Soviet Union, in 1991. Crimea was given certain rights under that declaration, but not the right to secede.

Why is Russia trying to gain control of Crimea now?

After Ukraine's president was ousted, pro-Russian Crimeans demonstrated in the streets to secede from Ukraine. Opponents also protested to remain. Crimean militamen surrounded Ukraine military bases in Crimea, where more than half the population is ethnic Russian. Well-armed assault troops in ski masks who were assumed to be soldiers from Russia took over the parliament building and cut off Crimea from the rest of Ukraine. Elected officials were ordered out of office at gunpoint and replaced with little-known pro-Russia politicians.

The self-appointed leaders announced a referendum to secede, a vote backed publicly by Russian President Valdimir Putin, who had been trying to prevent Ukraine from strengthening ties to Europe.

Putin has said Ukraine and other nations that had been held captive for decades under the now dissolved Soviet Union should return to Russian control.

He has called the dissolution of the Soviet dictatorship, in which he rose up as an official with the dreaded KGB security agency, the greatest calamity of the 20th century.

So Crimea really voted to join Russia?

On March 16, Crimea's election committee said that 97% of voters backed a union between Crimea and neighboring Russia. But the results of the referendum have been disputed. Residents of Crimea were given a choice of either joining Russia or opting for more autonomy from Ukraine under the 1992 constitution. The status quo, in which Crimea is a semi-autonomous region of Ukraine, was not an option. Opponents, such as the minority Crimean Tatar Muslim community, boycotted the poll.

Why does this matter?

The White House and the European Union have declared the referendum in Crimea a violation of international law. Crimea matters, they say, because it throws into disarray the European map that was settled following decades of conflict during the Cold War in which the Soviet Union terrorized Eastern Europe.

When it dissolved in 1991, countries such as Poland and East Germany and the republics of Ukraine, Latvia and others were finally freed and became peaceful democracies. Putin's move reverses that trend, and the fear is that he may do it with other nations, risking war.

What's the latest?

Russia's lower parliament on Thursday ratified a treaty to make Crimea a part of the Russian Federation, ignoring threats from the United States and Europe, which have leveled sanctions against Russian officials the White House says have contributed to the crisis. The merger needs to be rubber-stamped by the upper house and signed by Putin, formalities expected to be completed by the end of the week.

Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard, Anna Arutunyan, Charles McPhedran, Luigi Serenelli, Oren Dorell, Richard Wolf, David Jackson, and Aamer Madhani

CRIMEA

Is Vladimir Putin the ultimate man?


FILES - Picture taken 13 August 2007

Photo- Russian President Vladimir Putin fishing in the headwaters of the Yenisei River of the Russian Tuva republic on the border of Mongolia. Time magazine named President Vladimir Putin its 'person of the year' 19 December 2007 in recognition of the Russian leader's role in making Moscow 'a critical linchpin of the 21st century. The award, which is not considered an honor so much as a recognition of the most powerful forces shaping the world, was awarded for Putin's role in reshaping a country that Time's Managing Editor Richard Stengel said had 'fallen off our mental map.' AFP PHOTO / RIA NOVOSTI / KREMLIN POOL / DMITRY ASTAKHOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images)


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