OFW NEWS: AQUINO PROMOTES RP IN LONDON / GROUP CALLS PNoy 'LIAR'

[PHOTO - WASHINGTON, D.C. – Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III is welcomed by U.S. Department of State Chief of Protocol Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall upon arrival at the Andrews Air Force Base Wednesday afternoon (June 6, 2012) for his four-day working visit to Washington, District of Columbia, and Los Angeles, California, United States of America.Photo by: Benhur Arcayan/Malacañang Photo Bureau/PNA]

MANILA, JUNE 12, 2012 (NEWSTRENDZPH) newstrendzph-admin - With his almost an hour speech in Filipino community there, he highlighted 6.4% economic growth of the Philippines which is the highest rating in South East Asia for the first quarter. Moreover he added that budget for Health increased with 48.5 %, Education with 36.5 %. He is hoping that lack of classrooms will not be a problem next year.

On the impeachment trial, he mentioned that what happened is just a result of check and balance.

He believes that tourist will increase before the year ends. After that he rode in a double deck bus with the logo of Department of Tourism, “It’s more fun in the Philippines”.

Others commented that PNOY mentioned positive news and updates while some reacted for disappointment because he didn’t mentioned any OFW plans.

After that meeting, he will be in business meeting with Prime Minister in London, including Prince Andrew, being in-charge for United Kingdom (UK) Trade and Investments.

FROM GMA NEWS

Migrants' group calls Aquino a 'liar' for unfulfilled promises to OFWs ANDREI MEDINA, GMA News June 8, 2012 4:30pm

On Filipino Migrants Day on June 7, a migrant workers advocacy group called President Benigno Simeon Aquino III a "liar" for his alleged unfulfilled promises to oveseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

During a press conference in Cubao, Quezon City, Migrante International campaign director Sarah Maramag said "we call him a liar" for failing to fulfill three key promises to OFWs:

• generating more jobs in the Philippines

• protection of OFW rights, and

• audit of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

GMA News Online sought Malacañang for reaction but it has yet to reply.

During his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, Aquino said: "Our foremost pledge to the Filipino people was to create more jobs, and we have delivered. In April 2010, the unemployment rate was at 8%; in April 2011, it was at 7.2%."

However, Migrante said there was still a lack of jobs within the Philippines, causing the "forced migration" last year of 1.35 million Filipinos (as October of 2011).

Citing government statistics, Migrante said some 4,500 Filipinos leave the country daily to work as OFWs.

“Kung talagang gumagawa sila ng trabaho dito sa bansa, bakit ang dami pa rin OFW na umaalis bawat araw?” asked Maramag.

Protection for OFWs

Migrante also alleged that “service and protection for OFWs are almost non-existent,” adding that the government is allegedly treating OFWs as cash cows because of the large remittances they send from abroad.

According to Migrante, about 30% to 40% of the Philippine population is "remittance-dependent."

Migrante also said the Philippines is the fourth country that receives the most remittances from its migrants each year, next only to China, Mexico, and India.

“Kung iisipin mo malaki yun (percentage) kasi ilan ba naman ang population sa tatlong bansang yan kumpara sa Pilipinas,” Maramag said.

Migrante also cited the alarming number of cases of abuse and death that have that have allegedly received minimal support from the government, if at all.

High fees?

Meanwhile, Migrante also questioned the changes in fees that the OFWs are paying for during the Aquino administration, noting price increases for e-passport and Philhealth premium fees and mandatory Pag-IBIG contributions, to name a few.

Migrante also said there should be an audit of OWWA funds because according to their estimates, OWWA is earning up to P5 million everyday from the application contracts of OFWs alone.

They also stated that aside from the lack of support and services from government offices overseas, there will be about 10 to 12 Philippine embassies and consulates that would be closed this year.

Migrante thus said, “in the last two years, Aquino had miserably failed.”

Aquino is currently in the United States for a working visit.

"The meeting between President Aquino and President Obama will lay the groundwork for the future of the strategic partnership between the Philippines and the United States," said Jose Cuisia, Philippine Ambassador in Washington.

Before arriving in the US, Aquino was in London for another working visit where he discussed regional and international issues, anti-corruption and good governance practices both in the Philippine and the UK governments amongst other topics.

He also personally promoted the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” slogan while having several business meetings with British investors to encourage foreign investments in the country.

Filipino Migrants' Day

The Filipino migrants’ day also known as "Araw ng Pasasalamat" is celebrated every June 7 -- as a way of celebrating the signing into law of Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act of 1995 according to a press release of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

This day is celebrated in honor of the approximately 10 million Filipinos working overseas, who have greatly contributed to the country in terms of development and nation-building.

The year 2012 marks the 17th annual observance of the Filipino Migrants’ Day. - VVP, GMA News

FROM MANILA STANDARD

OBAMA'S WEAPONS MAY NOT SOLVE RP'S ILLS by Francisco S. Tatad & filed under Main Stories

[PHOTO - TATAD]

President Benigno Aquino III’s lightning trip to the United States may have confirmed him as an eager supporter of US President Barack Obama’s policies and plans for the Asia-Pacific region, but it remains to be seen whether this is what the Philippines needs to enhance its prestige as a sovereign and independent republic or to overcome its offshore problems with the Chinese.

In Washington, D.C., Aquino met with US Senate leaders, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama to reaffirm Philippine-US military alliance. A Senate resolution authored by Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, and calling for “increased military cooperation between the United States and the Philippines,” was unanimously approved by the Senate before Aquino’s arrival.

This was welcomed the resolution by the Philippine government as a fitting achievement of the two countries’ 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which marked its 60th anniversary last year. But it merely highlighted the failure of the US to help its former colony develop a “minimum credible defense posture” after more than a century of “tutelage” and “partnership.”

Aside from the MDT, the country has an unexpired but non-operational 1946 military assistance agreement with the US. From 1947 to 1991, it hosted Asia’s biggest naval bases, rent-free, for the US Seventh Fleet and the 13th US Air Force. But among America’s Southeast Asian allies, the Philippines alone does not have a credible navy and air force.

The Senate resolution and the Obama-Aquino talks were preceded by the so-called “2+2” Philippine-US ministerial dialogue in Washington, D.C. on April 30 where Secretary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discussed possible military assistance to the Philippines with Foreign Secretary Alberto del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin in the face of the Philippines’ maritime problems with China.

This was followed by reports that the US has decided to double its military aid to the Philippines to $30 million this year, send a second decommissioned coast guard cutter to beef up the virtually non-existent fleet of the Philippine Navy, and maintain a joint “Coast Watch” system along the country’s long coast line.

Nothing has been revealed of any new core agreement between Obama and Aquino at the Oval Office. The most reputable sources, however, had anticipated Obama seeking increased open access to strategic Philippine military and naval facilities to enhance the US forward presence in the Asia Pacific. Panetta had been quoted earlier as saying the US will want to have in the Philippines similar to what it has in Australia, where US forces are stationed in Perth, Brisbane and Darwin, and keep drones on an Australian-controlled island on the Indian Ocean.

The 1999 US-Philippine Visiting Forces Agreement under the MDT allows US troops to conduct military exercises in the Philippines, but only for short periods. Yet these military exercises have tended to overlap one another, so that even before one exercise is ended another would quickly begin, thereby making the “temporary” visit of the US forces virtually permanent. This military presence is particularly noticed in Mindanao. It has come under increasing domestic criticism, but it appears the US would like its troops to stay for longer periods under its evolving policy of engaging China.

Whether Aquino has agreed to such longer stays, and under what terms and conditions, have yet to be made clear. But if he has, he has to submit the matter to a constitutional process, which requires a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate, or if Congress so requires, approved by the majority of the people in a referendum called for that purpose.

With the present composition of the Senate and Aquino’s apparent hold on the chamber following the clearly political conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona in the Senate impeachment trial, the President could probably get a treaty past the chamber without any problems. He could do a better job than his late mother, Corazon C. Aquino, who as president from 1986 to 1992 tried but failed to get the Senate to approve a new treaty that would have extended the US bases by another ten years after 1991.

Nevertheless, the issue of allowing US troops to operate a forward presence in the Philippines, even in a manner that does not recreate the existence of the former bases at Clark and Subic, will have to be submitted to an open and robust public debate. The President will have to suffer some strident and unwelcome voices, which will raise the issue of sovereignty and independence, and not simply listen to the predictable chorus of the pliant political herd and the complicit conscript press.

Aquino will also have to consider China’s possible reaction, which the plenitude of American military and political power may not be able to fully and competently address. Although the threat of a very broad war seems real, there are things that go beyond the conventional ambit of war and peace.

There is a persistent suggestion from one side of the Washington press that the old imperial powers are out to provoke a war with China and Russia, either in the Middle East or in Asia, for the purpose of solving the global economic crisis, by depopulating the world from its present 7 billion inhabitants to not more than 2 billion.

One may dismiss this as a crank thesis coming from extreme right sources represented by a publication like the Virginia-based Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) of Lyndon La Rouche. But regardless of its rhetoric, the EIR is one publication that had preceded everyone else by years in predicting the collapse of the US housing bubble and the ongoing global economic turbulence.

If the Chinese and Russian leaders are reading the same narrative, it may be safe to assume they will do everything to avoid a global war in which everyone would lose, and which not even the bravest US military generals may want for themselves. For its part, the Chinese navy may not want to risk a maritime encounter in the South China Sea that could directly involve the US, and trigger the war that EIR is warning against. China’s reaction to our military moves therefore may not be limited to continued muscle-flexing at Scarborough or the Spratlys.

The government must not forget that China could either be a security ally or an adversary of the Philippines. For instance, in the beginning the Chinese Communist Party was actively supporting the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm, the New People’s Army, in their long-term plan to take over the Philippine government. In 1975, however, President Ferdinand Marcos made the cessation of such support one of the pre-conditions for the establishment of Philippine diplomatic relations with China, and its adoption of the “One-China Policy,” which downgraded the long outstanding relations with Taiwan to purely economic and cultural ties.

The situation prior to 1975 cannot possibly return, but China could influence the economic, not to mention racial, behavior of the Chinese community in the Philippines, which controls virtually every sector of the national economy at this stage. Aquino himself has some China blood; his late mother made a pilgrimage to China to trace her family’s ancestral roots when she was president. Among the local Chinese, the old conflict of allegiance to Beijing and allegiance to Taiwan is no longer as strong; for most of them, China is the cultural homeland, full stop.

For full-blooded Filipinos, it seems obvious enough that the Philippines and China are not meant to be enemies but good neighbors and friends. This is one central fact that should govern any serious rethinking of Philippine relations with China and the US at this point.

(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on /2012/June/11)


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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