768 OFWs ARRIVE FROM LYBIA 

Filipino workers get meal packs upon arrival at the NAIA from Libya yesterday. RUDY SANTOS MANILA, Philippines - A total of 768 overseas Filipino workers from Libya arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on two chartered Philippine Airlines (PAL) flights on Saturday night and early Sunday, bringing the total number of repatriated OFWs to 2,727. The first batch of 419 OFWs arrived at the NAIA Terminal 2 at around 10 p.m. Saturday. They were welcomed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Rebecca Calzado.

The second batch of 349 OFWs arrived at NAIA-2 at nearly 4 a.m. yesterday, and were welcomed by Baldoz and Calzado. Baldoz and Calzado also briefed the displaced OFWs on the various government programs aimed to mitigate the impact of their sudden job loss. Both flights originated from Malta, where a Philippine-chartered ship ferried Filipinos from the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Misrata. Malta is an island in the Mediterranean Sea that is some 300 kilometers away from Libya. Repatriation from Libya is being done by land through the Libya-Tunisia border and by sea passage to Malta. The government is also exploring the use of the Libya-Egypt border as a possible exit point, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said. The DFA raised Crisis Alert Level 4 on Libya last July 20, placing a total deployment ban on the North African country and calling for the mandatory repatriation of all OFWs. As of Aug. 14, the OWWA recorded 954 OFWs availing of the one-time cash Financial Relief Assistance Program (FRAP), 242 availing of temporary shelter at the OWWA Halfway Home, and 769 were provided money for transportation. * READ MORE...

ALSO: BREAKING NEWS: Filipino caregiver in Alaska shot dead by patient

PHOTO: Shooting suspect Paul Miller in police custody. ALASKA DISPATCH NEWS PHOTO
SAN FRANCISCO, California — A 51-year-old resident of a small assisted-living home in Anchorage, Alaska called 911 Tuesday evening, August 12, to report that he had shot his caretaker, a 63-year-old Filipino man. Anchorage police found Paul Miller waiting outside of the home, at 309 E. 24th Ave, with a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun sitting on the railing of the front porch, reported the Alaska Dispatch News. Police took Miller into custody. He was charged with first- and second-degree murder. Court documents say Miller told the 911 operator he “just shot the Filipino,” according to the Dispatch News.
Inside the home, Allison Assisted Living Home, police officers found the body of 63-year-old Eduardo Escalante, who died from multiple gunshot wounds to his neck, arm and torso, said the documents filed in Anchorage District Court. Family members of Escalante said he worked at the assisted-living home with his wife. The couple moved to Anchorage from the Philippines in March. A witness said
that before the shooting, Escalante was watching television in the kitchen. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Mayon ‘overdue’ for eruption  

Mayon Volcano’s activity intensified anew in the last 24 hours as a state volcanologist warned yesterday that it is “overdue” for a strong eruption. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) recorded three rock fall events during the past 24 hours. It also observed moderate emissions of white steam plumes that drifted southeast from Mayon’s crater. Last Friday, Phivolcs raised Mayon’s alert status from Level 1 to 2 due to episodes of slight inflation, increase of sulfur dioxide emission beyond baseline levels, and the appearance of a lava dome. Currently, state volcanologists are closely monitoring the more visible lava dome inside the 200-meter wide crater of Mayon as changes in its size and position to help in the early detection of eruptions. Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs’ Bicol region chief, said 2014 is an “overdue year” for a very strong eruption. Dating back to a hundred-year span, 1897 and 1814 are the years when Mayon recorded its two deadliest eruptions out of 49 big explosions. “This 2014 is a hundred years away from the 1897 Vulcanian eruption and 200 years away from Mayon’s 1814 Plenian explosion. By historical accounts, Mayon had been erupting very violently at least at a hundred years interval. It happened twice. It may happen again,” Laguerta warned. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) New China incursion hit; Aquino sounded alarm: 2 Chinese ships seen at Recto Bank 

President Aquino has sounded the alarm over the presence of two new Chinese vessels near the oil-rich Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea. Citing a military report, the President called attention to the presence of the Chinese hydrographic research vessels at Recto Bank despite a Washington-backed Philippine proposal for a freeze on activities that escalate tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The West Philippine Sea is part of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“What are they doing there? What studies are they conducting? I hope [their presence] will not lead to increased tension between [the Philippines and China],” Aquino told TV5, which had been airing an interview with the President in a series that started on Wednesday night. The network aired the full interview Sunday night.

“Just a reminder, Recto Bank is [144 km] from Palawan so it is clearly within our [370-km] exclusive economic zone.” But China, which claims 90 percent of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea, sent the ships anyway and by the Philippine military’s description the vessels were surveying and charting the area. Aquino did not say when the military spotted the vessels and when he was briefed on the matter. But he said the incursion was the latest in what he described as China’s “seasonal” attitude toward its territorial dispute with the Philippines. “Whenever we deal with China, and with all due respect, it’s like [its attitude] is seasonal,” he said in Filipino.
“There’s a season when China’s belligerent. There’s a season when it’s friendly. There’s a time when it goes on a charm offensive. There’s a time when it doesn’t,” he said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: A language war in the time of DAP; removing the Filipino courses in college 

Requiring Filipino as a subject and as a language of instruction in college will be good for Philippine education. For this to happen, the reasons given by the pro-Filipino side in this controversy will have to be robust and compelling. Proponents for Filipino as a language of instruction anchor their stand on two arguments. The first is a familiar one: Filipino has been recognized under the 1987 Constitution as the national and official language for education and communication. The second argument is that teaching Filipino and using it as a language of instruction, especially in higher education, will contribute to its intellectualization.

But here comes the rub. The constitutional provision on Filipino as medium of official communication and instruction is not without conditions. These conditions are contained in the following sections of the nation’s Charter:
(1) “Subject to provisions of law and as the Congress may deem appropriate, the government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.”
(2) “For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.”
(3) “The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein.”

Clearly, Filipino is only one of the country’s official languages. At the grassroots, the local language joins Filipino and English as an official medium in governance and in education. 3 laws --In fact, Congress recently passed three laws that redivided the instructional space among the learner’s first language (L1), English and Filipino. Enacted in 2012 was the Kindergarten Education Act followed in 2013 by the Early Years Act and the Enhanced Basic Education Act.
Now enshrined in law is the country’s language-in-education policy: L1-based multilingual education. Students at the elementary grades will be taught in their first language, but will take up Filipino and English as second language (L2) subjects. *CONTINUE RADING...

ALSO: Pope urges affluent to hear ‘cry of the poor’ in Seoul Mass   

Seoul – PHOTO: LITTLE PHOTOBOMBER (AP) — A child grabs a bit of attention at this moment when Pope Francis prayed before the birthplace of Saint Andrea Kim Dae-gun at the Somoe Sanctuary in Dangjin, South Korea on Friday. Pope Francis beatified 124 early Korean martyrs Saturday at a mass in Seoul and challenged the massive crowd to ask what values they might be willing to die for in an increasingly materialistic, globalized world.

Hundreds of thousands of believers, most of them invited church groups from across South Korea. attended the open-air ceremony, held in hot, humid conditions in Gwanghwamun plaza — the city’s main ceremonial thoroughfare. The centrepiece of the pope’s five day visit, the beatification mass was the subject of a massive security operation, with bridges, roads and subway stations closed, and police snipers posted on the roofs of overlooking office buildings, which had their windows sealed.

The most prominent among those beatified was an 18th century nobleman, Paul Yun Ji-Chung, who became Korea’s first Catholic martyr when he was executed in 1791 after clashing with Confucian officials. According to the Church, around 10,000 Koreans were martyred in the first 100 years after Catholicism was introduced to the peninsula in 1784. Korea’s church is unique in that it was founded not by foreign missionary priests – as occurred in most of the world – but by members of Korea’s own noble classes who learned of Christianity by reading books about it. * READ MORE...

ALSO: World’s most expensive power rates await Luzon consumers 

PHOTO: Mindanao power is more expensive than electricity rates in major cities in Asia but Aquino wants the region to pay more to supposedly address its power crisis. The country’s largest labor group yesterday warned that consumers in Luzon will soon have to pay the most expensive electricity rates in the world as the government continues to present “band-aid” solutions to address the power crisis expected to hit the country early next year. In a statement, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Executive Director Louie Corral lambasted the proposal from the Department of Energy (DOE) to tap rented power barges and generator sets to solve the expected power shortage during the summer season next year. He said the measure is not a long-term solution since it will significantly hike local power rates.

TUCP estimated the power generation charge for DOE’s contingency plan will hit between P15 to P18 per kilowatt per hour.  “Every household in Luzon will have to pay P1,600 to P1,800 more on top of their regular monthly electric bill once the energy crisis kicks in early next year,” Corral said. He said this will ultimately have a negative impact on the job security of workers in Luzon as companies struggle to cope with their rising operation costs. “This scenario is a perfect storm for consumers threatening the job security and already-precarious daily survival of low-wage workers even as it is sending a chilling effect to locators and businessmen,” Corral said. The country’s largest labor group yesterday warned that consumers in Luzon will soon have to pay the most expensive electricity rates in the world as the government continues to present “band-aid” solutions to address the power crisis expected to hit the country early next year.

In a statement, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Executive Director Louie Corral lambasted the proposal from the Department of Energy (DOE) to tap rented power barges and generator sets to solve the expected power shortage during the summer season next year. He said the measure is not a long-term solution since it will significantly hike local power rates. TUCP estimated the power generation charge for DOE’s contingency plan will hit between P15 to P18 per kilowatt per hour. “Every household in Luzon will have to pay P1,600 to P1,800 more on top of their regular monthly electric bill once the energy crisis kicks in early next year,” Corral said. He said this will ultimately have a negative impact on the job security of workers in Luzon as companies struggle to cope with their rising operation costs. “This scenario is a perfect storm for consumers threatening the job security and already-precarious daily survival of low-wage workers even as it is sending a chilling effect to locators and businessmen,” Corral said. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

768 OFWs arrive from Libya


Filipino workers get meal packs upon arrival at the NAIA from Libya yesterday. RUDY SANTOS

MANILA, AUGUST 18, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  By Helen Flores and Rudy Santos- A total of 768 overseas Filipino workers from Libya arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on two chartered Philippine Airlines (PAL) flights on Saturday night and early Sunday, bringing the total number of repatriated OFWs to 2,727.

The first batch of 419 OFWs arrived at the NAIA Terminal 2 at around 10 p.m. Saturday.

They were welcomed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Rebecca Calzado.

The second batch of 349 OFWs arrived at NAIA-2 at nearly 4 a.m. yesterday, and were welcomed by Baldoz and Calzado.

Baldoz and Calzado also briefed the displaced OFWs on the various government programs aimed to mitigate the impact of their sudden job loss.

Both flights originated from Malta, where a Philippine-chartered ship ferried Filipinos from the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Misrata. Malta is an island in the Mediterranean Sea that is some 300 kilometers away from Libya.

Repatriation from Libya is being done by land through the Libya-Tunisia border and by sea passage to Malta.

The government is also exploring the use of the Libya-Egypt border as a possible exit point, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

The DFA raised Crisis Alert Level 4 on Libya last July 20, placing a total deployment ban on the North African country and calling for the mandatory repatriation of all OFWs.

As of Aug. 14, the OWWA recorded 954 OFWs availing of the one-time cash Financial Relief Assistance Program (FRAP), 242 availing of temporary shelter at the OWWA Halfway Home, and 769 were provided money for transportation.

* Calzado said the OWWA has released P9.54 million for FRAP beneficiaries and many of those are from Calabarzon.

The OWWA Welfare Regional Offices also extended other services to OFWs, including the Balik-Pinas, Balik-Hanapbuhay Program, Reintegration Program; livelihood assistance; scholarships and training, and job referrals.

The DFA continued to appeal to all Filipinos still in Libya to avail of repatriation services offered by the government.

To register for repatriation, Filipinos can reach the embassy in Tripoli through telephone numbers (00218) 918-244-208/914-370-399/945-348-481 and e-mail addresses tripoli.pe@gmail.com and tripoli.pe@dfa.gov.ph.

The embassy’s address is KM 7 Gargaresh Road, Abu Nawas, P.O. Box 12508, Tripoli. – With Mayen Jaymalin

FROM THE INQUIRER

BRAKING NEWS: Filipino caregiver in Alaska shot dead by patient INQUIRER.net US Bureau4:41 am | Monday, August 18th, 2014


Shooting suspect Paul Miller in police custody. ALASKA DISPATCH NEWS PHOTO

SAN FRANCISCO, California — A 51-year-old resident of a small assisted-living home in Anchorage, Alaska called 911 Tuesday evening, August 12, to report that he had shot his caretaker, a 63-year-old Filipino man.

Anchorage police found Paul Miller waiting outside of the home, at 309 E. 24th Ave, with a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun sitting on the railing of the front porch, reported the Alaska Dispatch News.

Police took Miller into custody. He was charged with first- and second-degree murder. Court documents say Miller told the 911 operator he “just shot the Filipino,” according to the Dispatch News.

Inside the home, Allison Assisted Living Home, police officers found the body of 63-year-old Eduardo Escalante, who died from multiple gunshot wounds to his neck, arm and torso, said the documents filed in Anchorage District Court.

Family members of Escalante said he worked at the assisted-living home with his wife. The couple moved to Anchorage from the Philippines in March. A witness said that before the shooting, Escalante was watching television in the kitchen.

* Miller was outside on the phone. The man said he did not see the shooting, but heard three to four shots inside the house.

Miller made his first court appearance August 13 at the Anchorage Correctional Complex. For each murder charge, Miller faces up to 99 years in jail and a fine of up to $500,000.

Miller has a lengthy criminal record in Alaska. Between 1982 and 1991, he was convicted of assault at least five times, as well criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, driving while intoxicated and shoplifting.

Miller’s bail was set at $500,000 cash. If he posts bail, he is to stay away from 309 E. 24th Ave. and not possess firearms.

FROM PHILSTAR

Mayon ‘overdue’ for eruption By Cet Dematera (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 18, 2014 - 12:00am 1 11 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Mayon Volcano’s activity intensified anew in the last 24 hours as a state volcanologist warned yesterday that it is “overdue” for a strong eruption.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) recorded three rock fall events during the past 24 hours. It also observed moderate emissions of white steam plumes that drifted southeast from Mayon’s crater.

Last Friday, Phivolcs raised Mayon’s alert status from Level 1 to 2 due to episodes of slight inflation, increase of sulfur dioxide emission beyond baseline levels, and the appearance of a lava dome.

Currently, state volcanologists are closely monitoring the more visible lava dome inside the 200-meter wide crater of Mayon as changes in its size and position to help in the early detection of eruptions.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs’ Bicol region chief, said 2014 is an “overdue year” for a very strong eruption. Dating back to a hundred-year span, 1897 and 1814 are the years when Mayon recorded its two deadliest eruptions out of 49 big explosions.

“This 2014 is a hundred years away from the 1897 Vulcanian eruption and 200 years away from Mayon’s 1814 Plenian explosion. By historical accounts, Mayon had been erupting very violently at least at a hundred years interval. It happened twice. It may happen again,” Laguerta warned.

* Phivolcs already informed local officials of the possibility of a very strong eruption during their June seminar-workshop, which was also held in commemoration of the bicentennial event of the Feb. 1, 1814 Mayon eruption that buried the Cagsawa Church in Daraga, Albay and claimed at least 1,200 lives.

Mayon’s last eruption was from July 2009 to January 2010, but with no casualty recorded.

Lava dome checks

Laguerta said the agency will capture a series of lava dome images to determine whether the dome is continuously increasing in size and protruding towards the surface.

“Because the moment the dome blocks the crater and the degassing is intense, the possibility of an explosive eruption is very high,” Laguerta told The STAR.

He recounted that the same series of events took place during the eruption in 2000 that was dominated by early episodes of strong, towering and cauliflower-like dark ash columns and debris thrown up to 10 kilometers into the air.

He also clarified that an impending eruption is different from the usual abnormal activities of Mayon when a lava dome is present.

“This is because the lava dome may block the opening of the volcano, like a cork in a bottle full of soda that once shaken by the escaping magma gases would trigger a powerful blast,” the veteran volcanologist warned.

Phivolcs had the first visible view of the lava dome on early morning of Aug. 13. Volcanologists captured the image through a camera installed in a telescope at least 11.5 kilometers away from the institute’s Lignon Hill Observatory in Legazpi City.

“We need to have at least another image of the lava dome at the opposite side of the crater to precisely determine its size and position,” Laguerta said.

Unfortunately, two aerial surveys conducted via helicopter of the Philippine Air Force failed to capture the needed images of the crater due to thick steam emission and clouds covering the summit.

FROM TRHE INQUIRER

New China incursion hit-- Aquino: 2 Chinese ships seen at Recto Bank By Christian V. Esguerra |Philippine Daily Inquirer12:45 am | Monday, August 18th, 2014


President Benigno S. Aquino III (Photo by: Robert Viñas/ Malacañang Photo Bureau)

MANILA, Philippines–President Aquino has sounded the alarm over the presence of two new Chinese vessels near the oil-rich Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea.

Citing a military report, the President called attention to the presence of the Chinese hydrographic research vessels at Recto Bank despite a Washington-backed Philippine proposal for a freeze on activities that escalate tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

The West Philippine Sea is part of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“What are they doing there? What studies are they conducting? I hope [their presence] will not lead to increased tension between [the Philippines and China],” Aquino told TV5, which had been airing an interview with the President in a series that started on Wednesday night. The network aired the full interview Sunday night.

“Just a reminder, Recto Bank is [144 km] from Palawan so it is clearly within our [370-km] exclusive economic zone.”
But China, which claims 90 percent of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea, sent the ships anyway and by the Philippine military’s description the vessels were surveying and charting the area.

Aquino did not say when the military spotted the vessels and when he was briefed on the matter.

But he said the incursion was the latest in what he described as China’s “seasonal” attitude toward its territorial dispute with the Philippines.

“Whenever we deal with China, and with all due respect, it’s like [its attitude] is seasonal,” he said in Filipino.

“There’s a season when China’s belligerent. There’s a season when it’s friendly. There’s a time when it goes on a charm offensive. There’s a time when it doesn’t,” he said.

* Despite the Philippines’ efforts to resolve the territorial dispute peacefully, Chinese incursions into Philippine waters have not stopped, Aquino said.

He cited the presence of the two research vessels at Recto Bank as the latest case of Chinese intrusion into Philippine territory.

It was unclear when the two Chinese vessels arrived in the area, but their presence there was the first provocative act of Beijing since it rejected the US-Philippine proposal for a freeze in activities that escalate tensions in the sea, which Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario tried to push at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Regional Forum (ARF) in Naypyidaw, Burma (Myanmar), last week.

Three-step plan

The proposal was part of the Philippines’ three-step plan for a peaceful settlement of territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

The two other steps are the conclusion of a code of conduct that would prevent rival claims from erupting into conflict and the settlement of the disputes through international arbitration.

Daniel Russel, the top US diplomat in Asia, was the first to propose the freeze on July 28, but China, which rejects US involvement in the disputes, turned it down, saying the tensions in the region were only being exaggerated by some of the claimants, referring to the Philippines and Vietnam.

The Asean foreign ministers did not discuss the US-Philippine freeze proposal at the ARF because there was already the Declaration of Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea that the bloc and China signed in 2002 to prevent the escalation of tensions over the territorial disputes, the Asean secretariat said.

Competing claims

Besides China, the Philippines and Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also claim parts or all of the South China Sea.
China grabbed Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) from the Philippines after a two-month maritime standoff in 2012. It is reclaiming land on at least five reefs in the West Philippine Sea and is harassing supply ships to stop them from restocking a small Philippine garrison aboard the BRP Sierra Madre, a naval vessel that Manila grounded on Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) in 1999 to mark Philippine territory in the contested Spratly archipelago.

Without military muscle to confront China, the Philippines took the territorial dispute to the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Itlos) last year for arbitration.

China has refused to take part in the proceedings, but the tribunal has ordered it to comment on the Philippine case by Dec. 15.

PH sovereign rights

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) maintains that the Philippines “has the exclusive sovereign rights over Recto Bank.”
“Recto Bank or Reed Bank is not an island, or a low-tide elevation. Rather, it is a completely submerged bank that is a continental margin of Palawan… It forms part of the [370-km] continental shelf of the Philippine archipelago under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said in July, rejecting China’s complaint about a London-listed company’s drilling operations at Recto Bank.

In his television interview, Aquino recalled that a vessel that belonged to the British company Forum Energy Plc was once driven away by a Chinese ship even if it was operating within Philippines waters.

“Now their ships are in the same area, the Recto Bank,” Aquino complained.

Philippine license

In February 2010, Forum Energy obtained from the Philippines a license for Service Contract 72 (SC72), which covers 880,000 hectares within the Recto Bank basin.

The Philippines’ Philex Petroleum Corp. is the controlling shareholder of Forum Energy.

SC72 has a seven-year exploration period extendible by three years and a 25-year production period that can be extended by 15 years.

The service area includes the Sampaguita gas field, discovered in 1976, and a number of leads identified from earlier seismic evaluation.

Forum Energy has been ready to start exploration in the area, but the dispute between the Philippines and China has been a stumbling block to its operations.

The Philippines, however, has extended Forum Energy’s service contract up to Aug. 15, 2016.

Chinese permit?

But the Chinese foreign ministry insisted that such explorations required permit from Beijing, an assertion flatly rejected by the Philippines.

In March 2011, two Chinese gunboats went too close to a vessel that was surveying at Recto Bank for oil and gas deposits, forcing the Philippine military to send aircraft and vessels to drive the Chinese boats away.

In April 2012, Philex said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange that Forum Energy had a report that was “expected to show an improvement in the resources previously known” in the Sampaguita gas discovery at Recto Bank.

Earlier, Forum Energy said that based on a 2006 study, the Sampaguita field had a potential of up to 566 billion cubic meters of natural gas, more than five times the initial estimate.–With a report from Inquirer Research

A language war in the time of DAP; removing the Filipino courses in college By Isabel Pefianco Martin, Resty M. Cena, Ricardo Ma. Nolasco |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:28 am | Monday, August 18th, 2014


Authors are not persuaded by the rationale in removing the Filipino courses in college, and they join the call for its immediate reinstatement in the general curriculum. INQUIRER PHOTO / LEO M. SABANGAN II

(First of three parts)
MANILA, Philippines–Requiring Filipino as a subject and as a language of instruction in college will be good for Philippine education. For this to happen, the reasons given by the pro-Filipino side in this controversy will have to be robust and compelling.
|
Proponents for Filipino as a language of instruction anchor their stand on two arguments. The first is a familiar one: Filipino has been recognized under the 1987 Constitution as the national and official language for education and communication.

The second argument is that teaching Filipino and using it as a language of instruction, especially in higher education, will contribute to its intellectualization.

But here comes the rub. The constitutional provision on Filipino as medium of official communication and instruction is not without conditions. These conditions are contained in the following sections of the nation’s Charter:

(1) “Subject to provisions of law and as the Congress may deem appropriate, the government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.”
(2) “For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.”
(3) “The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein.”

Clearly, Filipino is only one of the country’s official languages. At the grassroots, the local language joins Filipino and English as an official medium in governance and in education.

3 laws

In fact, Congress recently passed three laws that redivided the instructional space among the learner’s first language (L1), English and Filipino. Enacted in 2012 was the Kindergarten Education Act followed in 2013 by the Early Years Act and the Enhanced Basic Education Act.

Now enshrined in law is the country’s language-in-education policy: L1-based multilingual education. Students at the elementary grades will be taught in their first language, but will take up Filipino and English as second language (L2) subjects.

* The Department of Education will determine when the shift from L1 to L2 as primary and auxiliary language of instruction should be made, provided the shift is gradual and not abrupt.

To us, the key criterion is the student’s competence to receive academic instruction in their L2s alongside their L1.

The ability to transfer L1 concepts to the L2s and vice-versa ensures that the L2s add to the learner’s L1 competence and do not replace nor subtract it.

That said, a language policy for college education must adhere to the same principle of additive education. Instruction should be delivered in a language or languages understood by the learners.

Diversity

The pervasive socio-linguistic diversity throughout the country is another factor to consider in choosing the appropriate language of instruction.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using L1 or Filipino for some subjects, English for others, and even mixed varieties for the remainder, provided real learning is taking place and the course objectives are being met.

But since there is no law or legislation on the language of instruction at the college level, it is best to leave this issue for individual institutions of higher learning to decide.

The intellectualization of the national language is a noble objective, but one that is clearly secondary to effective student learning.

Besides, the new language-in-education policy already provides us with enough space to develop this predominantly oral language into an academic producer and carrier of knowledge in the higher domains of learning.

Decongesting curriculum

The teaching of Filipino subjects in college is a different matter. Before, there were nine units of Filipino that formed part of general education until technical experts banished them to Grades 11 and 12.

This runs counter to the very idea behind adding two years to basic education, namely “to decongest the curriculum.”

A study in 2011 compared the educational systems in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. Curricular time per subject was found to be longest in the country with the shortest cycle—the Philippines.

If our students were cramming in 10 years what students in other countries were learning in 12 years, why congest the program even more?

No guarantee

In the first place, expanding basic education by two years is no guarantee to quality instruction. A literacy survey in 2008, for instance, reported that one out of every five elementary graduates was functionally illiterate.

A second study in 2010 by Dr. Abraham Felipe and Dr. Carolina Porio concluded that our short education cycle could not be blamed for the low science and math scores of Filipino students.

Why? According to their research, there were countries with short cycles having high scores and countries with long cycles having low scores.

In sum, we are not persuaded by the rationale in removing the Filipino courses in college, and we join the call for its immediate reinstatement in the general curriculum.

In case these courses do not qualify under the new definition of general education, then the correct procedure is to revise the courses, and not to remove them.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Ricardo Ma. Nolasco (rnolascoupdiliman@gmail.com), Dr. Resty M. Cena (restycena@gmail.com) and Dr. Isabel Pefianco Martin (mmartin@ateneo.edu) are practicing Filipino linguists and educators.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Pope urges affluent to hear ‘cry of the poor’ in Seoul Mass August 17, 2014 MANILA BULLETIN

Seoul – Pope Francis beatified 124 early Korean martyrs Saturday at a mass in Seoul and challenged the massive crowd to ask what values they might be willing to die for in an increasingly materialistic, globalized world.

Hundreds of thousands of believers, most of them invited church groups from across South Korea. attended the open-air ceremony, held in hot, humid conditions in Gwanghwamun plaza — the city’s main ceremonial thoroughfare.

The centrepiece of the pope’s five day visit, the beatification mass was the subject of a massive security operation, with bridges, roads and subway stations closed, and police snipers posted on the roofs of overlooking office buildings, which had their windows sealed.

The most prominent among those beatified was an 18th century nobleman, Paul Yun Ji-Chung, who became Korea’s first Catholic martyr when he was executed in 1791 after clashing with Confucian officials.

According to the Church, around 10,000 Koreans were martyred in the first 100 years after Catholicism was introduced to the peninsula in 1784.

Korea’s church is unique in that it was founded not by foreign missionary priests – as occurred in most of the world – but by members of Korea’s own noble classes who learned of Christianity by reading books about it.

WHAT WOULD BE DIE FOR?

* In his homily, Francis said the martyrs’ courage and charity and their rejection of the rigid social structures of their day should be an inspiration for people today.

“Their example has much to say to us who live in societies where, alongside immense wealth, dire poverty is silently growing; where the cry of the poor is seldom heeded and where Christ continues to call out to us, asking us to love and serve him by tending to our brothers and sisters in need,” he said.

“They challenge us to think about what, if anything, we ourselves would be willing to die for,” the pope asked.

“They knew the cost of discipleship … and were willing to make great sacrifices,” Francis added. The beatification ceremony gives the martyrs the title “blessed” and marks their first step towards sainthood.

Pope John Paul II canonized 103 martyrs when he visited South Korea in 1984.

Last year, in the first major written work of his papacy, Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality.

Rapid economic growth has made South Korea one of the world’s wealthiest countries, but it has also become increasingly unequal, with nearly half the elderly in poverty.

Kim Jong-doo, a 57-year-old Catholic who attended Saturday’s mass, said the wealth gap is a reality of South Korea.

“Although religious leaders point it out all the time, there is no change. Nothing is working out. Government really needs to take some actions to bring changes but that is not being done here,” he said.

MOVED, IN AWE

“It was so moving. The pope felt like such a caring, kind grandfather-figure,” Lee Young-Hee, a 58-year-old housewife, told AFP.

“My heart is swelling. The weather was hot but all I could feel was happiness,” she said.

During his long procession to the altar, Francis stopped to kiss babies as members of the festive crowd pressed closer. Many in attendance wore t-shirts with an image of Francis on them.

He also stopped to pray with family members of victims of this year’s Sewol ferry disaster. They had gathered under a tent with a sign saying: “We want the truth. You love those suffering, Papa! Sewol families are here!” The pope wore a yellow ribbon, the symbol of tribute for the ferry victims.

One handed Francis a letter and said: “please do not forget.”

The Sewol ferry sank during a routine voyage on April 16, killing more than 300 people, most of them children on a school outing, a tragedy that left the country grieving and outraged at the govt’s handling of the disaster.

Choi Keum-Bok, a construction worker who lost his son in the disaster said “I am a Buddhist but I think the Pope can help us.”

INSPIRED BY FRANCIS

“I’m so thankful that the pope visited South Korea,” said 75-year-old Yu Pil-sang, a Catholic who was trying to get a glimpse of the pope just outside the police barricade. “But I’m so sorry that all the ways to see the pope are blocked. I came to hear at least his voice.”

“I do not know much about Catholics and South Korea’s Catholic history, but it seems that the pope is making sure to reach out equally to everyone,” said Eom Yae-sung, 49, a Protestant who said Francis had inspired her to make changes in her own life.

“I plan to do volunteering and a lot of sharing so that when I look back at my life 10 years from now, I will think that the pope’s visit motivated me to change,” Eom said.

After the mass, the pope travelled to a hilltop community for the sick and disabled in Kkottongnae, around 80 kilometres south of Seoul.

World’s most expensive power rates await Luzon consumers
by Samuel Medenilla August 18, 2014 MANILA BULLETIN


Mindanao power is more expensive than electricity rates in major cities in Asia but Aquino wants the region to pay more to supposedly address its power crisis.

The country’s largest labor group yesterday warned that consumers in Luzon will soon have to pay the most expensive electricity rates in the world as the government continues to present “band-aid” solutions to address the power crisis expected to hit the country early next year.

In a statement, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Executive Director Louie Corral lambasted the proposal from the Department of Energy (DOE) to tap rented power barges and generator sets to solve the expected power shortage during the summer season next year.

He said the measure is not a long-term solution since it will significantly hike local power rates.

TUCP estimated the power generation charge for DOE’s contingency plan will hit between P15 to P18 per kilowatt per hour.

“Every household in Luzon will have to pay P1,600 to P1,800 more on top of their regular monthly electric bill once the energy crisis kicks in early next year,” Corral said.

He said this will ultimately have a negative impact on the job security of workers in Luzon as companies struggle to cope with their rising operation costs.

“This scenario is a perfect storm for consumers threatening the job security and already-precarious daily survival of low-wage workers even as it is sending a chilling effect to locators and businessmen,” Corral said.

* TUCP urged Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to come out with a more feasible solution to the power crisis through a extensive tripartite consultations, where they will present the “merits and specifics of the recommended strategies.”

“There is apparently no real plan or strategy towards 2016 and beyond…To calm fears, we are suggesting that Secretary Petilla come up with a timetable for transparent consultations this month,” Corral said.

He said the DOE should also present the tariff simulation for their plans.

TUCP also called on the government to consider the following recommendation from some financial institutions to address local power woes:

• Temporarily enter the power generation business by building more power plants “until such time that each island power grid has at least 20% power reserve;”

• Remove the expanded value added tax; and

• Use the Malampaya fund to subsidize the price of electricity.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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