Tuesday, May 31, 2011
By E. Angsioco
This is something that only few of us know: the Philippine Roman Catholic Church is a multi-billionaire religious and business organization. Yes, the Church is mega-rich.
We have always known that the Church, to which at least 80 per cent of Filipinos belong, is rich. Its properties like cathedrals and other big churches, expensive private Catholic colleges and universities all over the country, private hospitals, big buildings and huge tracts of land for their seminaries, etc. are there for people to see. We have always thought this as a given, normal. After all, the Church has been here longer than any of us.
No one really cared to approximate how rich the bishops really are and what the church can do if it really wanted to help poor Catholics.
We know that Catholic schools are the most expensive that only children of the rich can attend. And, yes, Catholic schools are among the best in the country. In effect, children belonging to rich families generally receive better quality education than those of poor Catholic families.
We also know that Catholic hospitals are good. Though they are not the most expensive, still, these are private hospitals that ordinary Catholics can hardly afford. Thus, these hospitals care more for those who are better off than the millions mired in poverty.
Quality education and healthcare are two of the most urgent needs of the people, and we are, as the Church claims, mostly Catholic. Yet, we never question why the Church mostly serves those who are, in the first place, able to fend for themselves.
On top of these properties and service-oriented institutions that earn by themselves are the business holdings of the various Catholic organizations in the country’s biggest business corporations. This, I think, is something that people do not know about. After all, churches are not expected to be business corporations at the same time.
Very recently, news organizations have bannered Catholic Church holdings in at least two big corporations —Philex Mining Corporation and the Bank of the Philippine Islands.
Chamber of Mines head Jerry Brimo said that as of March 31, Catholic entities owned a substantial number of shares in Philex. The Archbishop of Manila owned 3,221,135 shares; the Religious of the Virgin Mary-B with a total of 4,216,804 shares; and the Archbishop in Zamboanga owned 1,116,147 shares.
According to the Philippine Stock Exchange, as of 27 May 2011, each Philex share is valued at P20.45. This means that the Catholic Church’s holdings in the company are valued at P65,872,210.75; P86,233,641.80; and P22,825,206.15 respectively, or a total of P174,931,058.70.
In BPI’s list of its top 100 stockholders as of 31 March 2011, at least eleven were obviously Catholic entities. The worth of these stocks amounts to many billions of pesos (computed at P57.05 per share according to the 27 May PSE Market Information). These were (according to ranking and number of stocks owned):
• 4 Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila with 222,843,681 shares worth P12,713,232,001;
• 8 Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila (Real Casa de Misericordia) with 41,408,841 shares worth P2,362,374,379;
• 13 Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila (Hospital de San Juan de Dios) with 22,072,182 shares worth P1,259,217,983;
• 15 Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila (Hospicio de San Jose) with 6,016,624 shares worth P343,248,399;
• 17 Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila (Hosp de San Juan de Dios) with 4,285,572 shares worth P244,491,882;
• 21 Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila (Mayordomia dela Catedral) with 2,664,266 shares worth P151,996,375;
• 26 Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila (St. Paul’s Hospital) with 1,772,418 shares worth P101,116,447;
• 49 Carmel of the Divine Infant Jesus of Prague, Inc (Filipino) with 726,819 shares worth P41,465,024;
• 60 Superior dela Corporacion Filipina de Padres Agustinos Recoletos, Inc. with 551,382 shares worth P31,456,343;
• 64 Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jaro with 491,385 shares worth P28,033,514; and
• 74 Corporacion de Padres Dominicos with 380,307 shares worth P21,696,514.
The staggering amount of RCC money in BPI alone totals P17.3 billion pesos. Add its Philex holdings and the total is 17.5 BILLION PESOS. This huge amount in only two corporations! It will not be surprising if the Catholic Church has a lot more money in other big corporations.
With this alone, the Roman Catholic Church already becomes the 9th richest in the country dislodging Emilio Yap, Manila Hotel and Manila Bulletin owner and Oscar Lopez of Benpres Holdings Corporation.
Let’s imagine what this kind of money can do.
P17.5 billion pesos is more than half of the total budget of the Department of Health which is P31.8 billion. The department’s budget is supposed to serve more than 90 million Filipinos. We can only guess how many hospitals can be better equipped, how many doctors and nurses can be hired, and eventually, how many lives can be saved if only the Church decides to put this money in people’s health —even only in Catholic people’s health.
The National Statistical Coordination Board estimates that there are about four million families living in poverty and each needs P7,017.00 monthly to stay out of poverty. Instantly, the Catholic church is in a very good position to remove about 2.5 million families from poverty!
The Church positions itself as the vanguard of morality. Yet, while it sits on at least P17.5 billion, it continues to solicit donations from the poor instead of helping them have a better life. The Church proclaims itself as the protector of life. Yet it doesn’t use its billions to save the Catholic poor from hunger, sickness, and death.
Why don’t we see anything wrong with the bishop in all his finery standing beside the Catholic beggar? Is it really acceptable that cathedrals are in the same community of Catholic slum dwellers?
When will the Roman Catholic Church realize that as the multi-billionaire church of the millions of poor Filipino Catholics, it is its moral responsibility to substantially help its flock?
Monday, May 30, 2011
MANUEL MOGATO, Reuters
MANILA - The question of whether deposed Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos should be buried in a cemetery for national heroes is one President Benigno Aquino feels he cannot make for the nation that elected him to lead it.
So instead, people can SMS their opinion on where Marcos should be buried, like voting for an American Idol contestant, to help decide the government's position. And it's not the only decision Aquino seems to be having trouble making. PERHAPS. PRES. AQUINO NOW KNOWS WHO KILLED HIS FATHER, RATHER WHO MASTERMINDED THE KILLING - NOT MARCOS?
A reluctant president who won office in a landslide last year, Aquino has never really got out of campaign mode, fixated on pursuing the former administration PURSUING, PURSUING, NEVER CATCHING ANYBODY FOR ANY MATTER AT ISSUE and talking of major reforms STILL TALKING, EVERYONE IN HIS APPOINTED STAFF without yet delivering a substantive agenda, STILL TALKING KUNG WALANG KORAP WALANG MAHIRAP. MARAMI LALO ANG NAGHIHIRAP!!!.
The danger is that this becomes yet another lost opportunity for the Southeast Asian nation, as investors' initial optimism on Aquino fades and his main political strength of high personal support weakens.
The government is looking to raise billions of dollars WE HAVE NOT HEARD THOUGH HOW THE GOVERNMENT PLANS TO DO THIS to upgrade infrastructure around the nation of more than 7,000 islands, and says it will make the country more attractive to foreign investors HOW ABOUT US ALREADY LIVING HERE HAVE TO TRAVEL THE MUDDY, ROUGH GRAVEL AND SAND WATER-FILLED ROADS FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS i SPEND MOST OF OUR RETIREMENT YEARS IN A REMOTE BARANGAY THAT HAD NOT SEEN ANY IMPROVEMENT - LET ALONE THE CONDITION OF THE ROADS IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF BADIANGAN, PROVINCE OF ILOILO WHERE I SPEND TIME IN RETIREMENT but details are yet to fully explained.
"Aquino never really seems willing to expend any political capital WHAT FOR EXAMPLE YOU MEAN WHAT HE STANDS FOR? HE DOES NOT STAND FOR ANYTHING!! on what he believes in or claims to stand for," said Scott Harrison, managing director of risk consultancy Pacific Strategies & Assessments.
"Whether this is apathy or just another manifestation of his laziness, aversion to work and the rough-and-tumble of politics remains to be seen," WE ARE SEEING THAT NOW CAN'T YOU??? 'The said, although he did credit Aquino for instituting some ethics in governance.
The stakes are high. Asian Development Bank data shows foreign direct investment in the Philippines last year trailed well behind neighbours Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. VERY COMPLICATED REQUIREMENTS FOR FILING PERMITS TO DO BUSINESS IN THE PHIL.
Weak employment THERE ARE NO JOBS CREATED LOCALLY ONLY JOBS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES SUCH AS MAIDS AND HOUSEKEEPERSAS THOUGH THAT IS ALL FILIPINOS ARE BEING EDUCATED TO WORK AS SUCH MINDING FOREIGN PEOPLE'S HOUSEHOLDS and productivity growth means THE FILIPINOS ARE BY NATURE INDOLENT NOT KNOWING WHAT IT MEANS TO PRODUCE EVEN OWN VEGETABLES IN THEIR EMPTY BACKYARDS the country relies on exporting workers overseas, whose remitted income accounts for about 10 percent of gross domestic product. It also means poverty levels are rising, an anomaly in booming Asia.
The country ranks below most Southeast Asian countries, its main competitors for investment funds, on measures such as competitiveness, ease of doing business THERE IS CLASSIC BUREAUCRACY TO TRANSACTBUSINESS WITH GOVERNMENT, ANY LEVEL, THERE IS RED TAPE ALL OVER and corruption STILL THE MEANS OF LIVELIHOOD FOR MOST IN GOVERNMENT POSITIONS..
"Against this backdrop, one key policy challenge is for the government to sustain the higher level of investor confidence built up last year by pushing ahead with policy SIMPLIFICATION OF PROCEDURES and governance IMPLEMENTING AUTONOMOUS reforms, WITHOUT THE INTERFERENCE OF NATIONAL LEVELS IN THE HIERARCHY OF GOVERNANCE. THAT LGUS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO INSTITUTE THEIR OWN REFORM AGENDA TO SIMPLIFY PROCEDURES NOT BE STRAPPED AND STRANGLED BY RULES AND REGULATIONS FROM THE HIGHER LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT" the ADB said in a report last month.
"Another is to raise state revenue AS LONG AS PEDDLERS ARE NOT PAYING TAXES ON INCOME FROM THEIR COLORUM ACTIVITIES, NO REVENUES ARE FORTHCOMING. THE VENDORS, THE PEDDLERS, THE RETAILERS WHO PLY THEIR TRADE FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE, DOOR TO DOOR DO NOT FILE INCOME TAXES ON WHAT THEY GENERATE FROM THEIR TRADE - INCLUDING MEDICINES, GRAINS, FISH PRODUCTS, FARM PRODUCE, POULTRY PRODUCTS, ETC. MOTORCYCLE OPERATORS ARE NOT LICENSED TO TRANSPORT PAYING PASSENGERS so as to fund the social > development and infrastructure programsrequired to reduce poverty EMPTY TALK EVER SINCE AND NOT A DENT HAS BEEN MADE and underpin a stronger private sector." NO INCENTIVES OR GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES.
Aquino is limited to a single, six-year term. He was elected in May 2010 and took office at the end of June.
But it wasn't until February that a committee to plan the government's agenda and prioritise bills over its term met -- and the eventual list did not include bills Aquino had championed, including reproductive health and freedom of information CONNECTING BARANGAYS TO THE INTERNET DOES NOT EVEN ATTRACT GOVERNMENT SUPPORT AND ATTENTION - IMAGINE WHAT BARANGAYS ARE MISSING JUST AS YOU WILL MISS READING STUFF LIKE THIS MINE IN THE INTERNET!!
"Aquino wanted to do a lot of things, but he has not done anything to carry out these things," said Earl Parreno, analyst of Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms. HE'S GOT THE DESIRE BUT NOT THE WILL TO DO IT OR LACK THE IMAGINATION TO TRY WHAT WORKS AND DON'T!
"Now is the time for action, and yet the people has not seen anything concrete from his government. There's a growing public perception that nothing has changed from the past administration to his government."
Aquino has been dogged in his campaign to investigate his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo, and has made some headway with the resignation of the ombudsman, which will allow him to appoint his own graft investigator. THIS IS FOR THE COURT TO PURSUE AND LEAVE TO DECIDE BECAUSE THE LAWS ARE ALREADY THERE AS TO WHO TO PROSECUTE, WHO TO SPARE. WHO DOES IT?
But he seems to have backtracked or lost focus on other issues, and his public opinion ratings have fallen.
Apart from the budget, no major legislation has passed. Each week since July, tax evaders have been named at a weekly press conference, but so far only seven of 45 complaints have made it to court -- and no trials have begun.
Last November, Aquino told a conference of potential investors the government would put in place mechanisms to protect their contracts in infrastructure projects, which the government planned to put out from tender from early 2011.
Six months later, no contracts have been awarded, and there has been no legislation to improve protection against regulatory risk -- and so foreign investors remain wary for now.
Doubts are also emerging locally. NOT JUST DOUBTS. LOCALLY, NO CHANGE HAS BEEN INSTITUTED - THE POOR STILL REMAINS POOR, THE HOMELESS STILL THERE ARE MORE CHILDREN BORNE EVERYDAY THAN THERE ARE JOBS CREATED TO EMPLOY THOSE WHO BEAR THEM.
Aquino's purchase of a second-hand Porsche drew criticism from nearly half of people in an opinion poll, even though he used his own money to buy it.
His poll ratings on areas such as managing the economy, fighting crime and reducing poverty have all fallen, suggesting a broader discontent with his administration.
There could be some change coming. His unsuccessful running mate last year, Mar Roxas, can now join the administration after the expiry last week of the one-year prohibition of losing candidates being appointed to government jobs.HMM ARE WE PINNING OUR HOPES ON MAR ROXAS? ARE WE DREAMINGNOT WAKING UP? Roxas, an experienced operator who has served as a minister under two local media report. That could provide Aquino the political smarts he "Aquino may not be doing anything wrong, but he has also not done anything good," said Bobby Evangelista, a cigarette vendor in Manila's business district. "I haven't seen any change at all. We remain poor and he has a new car." HE NEEDS TRY DRIVE HIS NEW CAR DOWN THE ROAD I TRAVEL EVERYDAY! FOLKS LET'S MOVE TO CEBU CITY!!!!!
May is Healthy Vision Month, established by the National Eye Institute to boost awareness about eye health and undetected vision problems. Follow these tips to sharpen your own vision so you can see your way to a future of longevity.
1. Eat for bright eyesight
Protect your peepers with a vision-ary diet! Our eyes require multiple nutrients to function optimally. Start with these:
• Vitamins A, C, E, and minerals like copper and zinc are essential to eyesight.
• Antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, protect the macula from sun damage. Get these antioxidants from dark leafy greens, egg yolks, yellow peppers, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and carrots--notice any color pattern here? Current research shows that consuming yellow and green vegetables can help prevent age-related macular generation, a leading cause of blindness. Find out more about beta-carotene in the Natural Health Dictionary.
• Foods rich in sulfur, cysteine, and lecithin help protect the lens of your eye from cataract formation. Excellent choices include garlic, onions, shallots, and capers.
• Anthocyanin-rich blueberries, grapes, and goji berries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help improve your vision. Find out more about anthocyanins in the Natural Health Dictionary.
• DHA is a fatty acid found in coldwater fish like wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, and cod. DHA provides structural support to cell membranes to boost eye health.
2. Exercise your eyes
These simple exercises will help you maintain optimal vision and may also keep those annoying eye floaters at bay. Perform these exercises first thing in the morning, before bedtime, or any time your eyes feel fatigued. Make sure that your hands are clean and that your mood is relaxed. Commit to daily practice and you may just see better results within one month.
• Warm your eyes. Rub your palms together to create heat, and then place them against your eyes for five seconds. Repeat this three times.
• Roll your eyes. Start by looking up and then slowly circle10 times clockwise and 10 times counterclockwise.
• Focus. Hold a pen at arm's length, focus your eyes on it, and slowly bring the pen closer until it's about six inches away from your nose. Then slowly move it back, keeping your eyes focused on the pen, 10 times in all.
• Massage your temples. Using your thumb knuckles, massage your temples in small circles, 20 times in one direction and 20 in the other. Repeat the same actions above the mid-point of the eyebrows at the forehead, then below the eyes on both sides of the bridge of the nose.
• Take a mini-nap. Put your head back, close your eyes, and relax for three minutes.
3. Limit Environmental Toxins
External factors can contribute to eye damage. These include fluorescent lights, computer screens, environmental allergens, chlorine in swimming pools, air conditioning and heating, reading in dim lighting, and constant rubbing of the eyes. Do not smoke and limit your exposure to cigarette smoke as it may increase optic pressure. Remember to wear sunglasses to protect your precious eyes from UV exposure.
4. R & R for your eyes
Getting enough sleep is essential for eye health. Sleep time allows your eyes to fully rest, repair, and recover. Insufficient sleep may weaken your vision, so shoot for eight hours of sound sleep a night. Give your eyes a break once an hour during your workday: rest your eyes 10 minutes for every 50 minutes spent reading or in front of the computer. If your eyes feel overly tired, lie down and place cooling cucumber slices over your eyelids.
I hope that you maintain excellent eye health well into the future! Many of the above defined terms were adapted from my newest Kindle book, The Natural Health Dictionary, a comprehensive guide that answers all your questions about natural remedies, healing herbs, longevity foods, vitamins, and supplements.
I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Sunday, May 29, 2011
OF COURSE, PINOY STYLE. . . Maybe oldies but still goodies..
1st year masaya.
After 5 years: tanggalin ang A = SAWA na
After 10 years: tanggalin ang S = AWA na lang
Sa susunod na taon tanggalin an A = WA na
Mrs: Sa palagay mo, mahal, ilang taon na ako?
Mr: Kung titignan kita sa buhok 18 ka lang, kung nakatalikod 16 ka lang, kung sa kutis 22 lang. Bale total ay 56 sweetheart.
Maliit na duck - panduck
Tirahan ng maliit na duck - Pandacan
Mataas na duck - bunduck
Nagulat na duck - nasinduck
Photogenic na duck - kodak
Malaking duck sa Ilocos - duckil
Madaldal na duck - dakdak
Pantakip sa bibig ng madaldal na duck - duck tape
Manggagamot na duck - ducktor
Musikero na duck - konducktor
ERAP (Old jokes but still patok)
Erap went to Starbucks...
Erap: Isang kape nga!
Barista: Decaf po ba?
Erap: (angry) Aba op kors, alangan namang de plato!
Tumatakbo si Erap galing computer room na sinusundan ng staff:
"Sir, Bakit ka tumatakbo?"
Erap: Tatakas ako, sabi kasi ng computer "press Ctrl then Escape."
Erap: Pareng Ronnie, akyat ka sa puno, pisilin mong mangga kung hinog na.
FPJ: (umakyat at pinisil ang mangga) Oo pare, hinog na.
Erap: Sige baba ka na, sungkitin natin.
FVR: Erap may gift ako para sa yo; galing pa sa India. It's a 10 ft. snake.
Erap: Ows, niloloko mo naman ako e, 10 ft? Hoy di ako ganun ka tanga! Ang snake walang FEET.
Erap delivering speech at the mental hospital.
Inmates shouting: Mabuhay si Erap!
PSG seeing one guy not cheering: Bakit di ka sumabay sa kanila?
Guy: Di ako sira ulo. Janitor ako.
Spanish teacher: Class, use 'fuera' in a sentence.
Student: Mis maestras son bonitas (my teachers are beautiful).
Teacher: Oh, that's very flattering but where's fuera?
Student: "Fuera ka."
PERFECT HEAVEN: Having American salary, British home, German car, Chinese food, and Pinay wife.
PERFECT HELL: Having Korean car, British wife, German food, American home, and Pinoy salary,
Mare 1: Naku mare, ang gaganda ng mga anak mo!
Mare 2: Talaga mare! Hay naku, kung asawa ko lang ang inasahan ko, hindi sana mangyayari yan.
Letter to OFW dad:
"Luv, thanks sa padala mo, happy si Nene kasi Toblerone ang baon sa school, yung Nike suot na ni junior, next time wag ka na padala ng NIVEA MILK, di nila type, pait daw, ako tuloy ang umubos."
MISTER: Ano ang pagkain natin?
MISIS: Nasa mesa, bahala ka nang pumili.
MISTER: Isang pirasong tuyo? ano pagpipilian ko?
MISIS: Pumili ka kung kakain ka o hindi
Long distance call from US:
HUSBAND: Honey, kumusta ang tindahan?
WIFE: Department store na!
HUSBAND: Ang tuba-an?
WIFE: KTV bar na!
HUSBAND: Ang mga trikad?
WIFE: Taxi na!
HUSBAND: Ang dalawa kong anak?
WIFE: LIMA na!
Lovers watching the sky...
GUY: Ano ang horoscope mo?
GIRL: Anong huruscup?
GUY: Yun bang kapalaran mo, katulad ko, CANCER.
GIRL: Ah, sa akin ALMURANAS.
TITSER: Who can make a sentence, then translate it in Tagalog?
PUPIL: My teacher is beautiful, isn't she?
TITSER: Very good, now translate it in Tagalog.
PUPIL: Ang guro ko ay maganda, maganda nga ba siya?
DONYA: Bilang bagong katulong, tandaan mo na ang almusal dito ay alas 6 empunto!
MAID: Walang problema, Donya. Kung tulog pa ako sa oras na yun, mauna na kayong mag-almusal!
FOR SALE BY OWNER:
Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica, 45 volumes. Excellent condition. $1000 or best offer. No longer needed. Got married last month. Wife knows EVERYTHING.
3 to 8: years old: paramihan ng toys
9 to 18: pataasan ng grades
19 to 25: padamihan ng chicks
26 to 35: pagandahan ng asawa
36 to 45: palakihan ng income
46 to 55: padamihan, pagandahan, at pabataan ng kabit
56 to 70: padamihan ng sakit
71 and above: pabonggahan ng LIBING!
ESSENCE OF SMELL IN LIFE:
Lotion for babies
Cologne for the 20s:
Efficacent oil for the 40s
Bawang and luya for the 60s
Beyond 60s...FORMALIN na
DIFFERENT PRAYERS OF SINGLE WOMEN:
At 15: Lord give me superMAN
At 18: Lord give me a cute MAN
At 20: Lord give me the best MAN
At 30: Lord give me a good MAN
At 40: Lord give me a MAN
At 50: Lord give me sino MAN
At 60: Lord maawa ka naMAN
SO, DID THESE TIDBITS MAKE YOUR DAY OF LAUGHTER AND JOY????
I BET YES !!!!
Mississippi trafficking case reveals expansion of trafficking syndicates’ operation, says COWA Report
A report submitted to the House of Representatives Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) on Wednesday morning on the case of 11 Filipinos trafficked in Mississippi, USA, revealed that trafficking syndicates have expanded operations in the United States and appear to be abetted by high-level officials at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
The report by Committee Chairman Walden Bello also expressed concern that “traffickers may be working with supposedly reputable US companies and may have developed connections within the US Embassy in Manila.”
Bello carried out his investigation of the trafficking case in Los Angeles, where the 11 victims are currently residing, and in Washington during the congressional recess. His mission stemmed from a COWA resolution to assign high priority to the case following a privilege speech on the trafficking incident delivered by Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada.
The 11 Filipinos were recruited by Adman Human Resources Placement and Promotions, Inc., to work for a hotel in Virginia, their temporary work (H2B) visas sponsored by a US-based global services and staffing firm Aramark. Some of the workers claimed to have paid placement fees worth over P300,000 only to find out that the initial work contract would not be honored. They were instead made to work at a small hotel in Mississippi called Royal Hospitality, required to clean 14-16 rooms a day and were paid only $4.75 per room, a far cry from the $7.50 an hour that was originally stipulated in their contracts.
Responding to outrage both in the US and the Philippines to the trafficking case, the POEA has cancelled Adman’s license. Adman, however, has appealed the case, and continues to hold on to the exorbitant sums it extorted from the victims.
According to Bello, his investigation brought him in touch with officers of the Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement Division of the Department of Homeland Security, who assured him that their agents in Mississippi are carrying out an investigation of Aramark, which denies having sponsored the workers. Bello asserted, “It is very difficult to get forged papers past the US Department of Labor, which authorizes requests for H2B visas. I do not find Aramark’s denial convincing.”
Along the same lines, the role of the consular division at the US Embassy might merit investigation, said Bello. “In our talk with FBI Agents with the agency’s Anti-Trafficking unit in Los Angeles, C1 visas (allowing transit in the US) are very difficult to get, yet an unusual number holders of C1 visas issued in the Philippines have figured in a number of trafficking cases involving Filipinos entering the US,” the COWA chair claimed.
“Even the FBI is alarmed at the ease by which visas are provided to Filipinos who end up being trafficked,” Bello said. “Ibig-sabihin nito, lumalaganap ang operasyon ng mga sindikato sa US. Have the traffickers succeeded in penetrating the US Embassy?”
Dismal performance in efforts against trafficking
From the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 the Philippines is listed under Tier 2 Watch List, or as a country “whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards, AND: a) the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing; b) there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or, c) the determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.”
“Noong 2006 to 2008, Tier 2 tayo. Nakaka-alarma dahil malapit na rin tayong bumaba sa tier 3, kung hindi natin mai-improve anti-trafficking efforts ng pamahalaan,” Bello pointed out. “The case of the LA 11 is an example of how the government needs to intensify the crackdown on government employees who play accomplice to trafficking syndicates.”
According to the report, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency’s (POEA) allowed the recruitment agency Adman to continue operations despite the fact that 31 cases had been filed against Adman. In the 10 cases that have been decided, Adman was shown to be in violation of recruitment regulations. “Adman’s license has now been cancelled owing to the LA 11 case,” said Bello. “But with its very negative adjudication record, its license should have been cancelled way back.”
The report also revealed that corruption at the higher levels of the POEA may have led to the toleration of and weak action on illegal recruitment. In fact, in January 2011, a complaint was filed at the Department of Justice against five high-ranking officials of the POEA for abetting human trafficking and corruption who had been able to weather an earlier attempt to remove them. Even after the case was brought to the Department of Justice, some of the officials remain at their posts.
“The case of Adman is one out of so many cases of trafficking that may involve government personnel. The government has to act urgently and find out who are protecting these recruitment agencies, and heads must roll,” Bello said. “As the State Department rightly notes, “the Philippines has still to secure a conviction for labor trafficking.”
“The alarming picture that emerges from the Adman case is collusion among syndicates, transnational corporations, personnel within the Philippine government, and possibly even plants within the consular division of the US Embassy,” Bello said. “The best way we can save Filipinos from being victimized by the syndicates is through speedy prosecution and conviction, especially of government officials complicit to these deals.”
The report made a number of recommendations, including the following:
1. Dismissal of Adman’s appeal of the cancellation of its license and the POEA order to return to the 11 trafficked victims of the money it illegally extorted from them.
2. The Department of Justice should move swiftly on the case of the five high POEA officials accused of abetting trafficking. While their guilt or innocence is being determined, POEA Administrator Carlos Cao should place the accused on preventive suspension. This move is needed not only to root out corruption at the agency but also to serve as a signal that the Philippine government is willing to take the tough measures against trafficking that will prevent it from falling into the US State Department’s Tier 3 status on human trafficking. The government, warns the State Department, still has to a secure a conviction for labor trafficking.
3. OWWA should retain Welfare Officer Donn Duero on its overseas staff but not compel him to return to the Philippines while the threats to his life remain credible. Mr. Duero’s tour of duty in North America has come to an end, but his energy and commitment to the welfare of OFWs would be an asset in other critical overseas postings, for instance, in the troubled Middle East.
4. DOLE should add another labor attache and at least one more Welfare Officer to cover the 23 countries in North and South America covered by its staff posted with the Washington, DC, Embassy, with the two additional personnel to be based in the West Coast of the US.
5. POEA must verify that job vacancies really exist and have not been filled before it posts them on its website.
6. DOLE must review the direct-hire policy and seriously consider phasing it out if it is found to be prone to abuse.
7. The US government should grant T (Trafficked) visas to the OFW victims in the trafficking incident that would allow them to reside permanently and work in the US.
8. The US State Department should launch an investigation of possible connivance in trafficking by personnel connected with the consular division of the US Embassy in Manila.
Senior Legislative and Media Officer
Office of Hon. WALDEN F. BELLO
AKBAYAN Party-list Representative
House of Representatives
Quezon City, Philippines
Jose Ma. Montelibano
Almost two ago ago, Corazon Aquino passed away after a lingering bout with cancer. As she approached her final days, the nation prayed. When she died, the nation wept. That sorrow and the accumulated pain and frustration of a people punished by the corruption, the lies and cheating of their own leaders merged into one sentiment - Noynoy for president. Yes, it was an emotional moment, an emotional trigger, but it gave our people and the world a glimpse of what emotional moments can cause.
Noynoy is now P-Noy, thanks to that emotional moment, thanks to people saying, "no more" to what was and who was there. While partisan politics did pull voters to several directions, the least ambitious, the least desirous of the presidency, and the last to prepare for an expensive and bruising campaign did win. And when he did, when he assumed office, over 80% of Filipinos, almost double those who voted for him, cheered for him, approved of him, became hopeful because of him.
That was less than a year ago. It was a moment worth remembering, simply because it was our moment, the people's moment, the moment when everything seemed possible - even the elusive harmony and solidarity of a people long beset by the divisiveness of their leaders. It is a moment that hangs on to the present, less from inspiration and more from sheer desire of something new, something fresh, from the poor aching for relief to the non-poor hungry for integrity and honor.
P-Noy may not be the knight in shining armor anymore to many, but he remains the knight who can easily still be. He is the only knight out there, he is our president. He is not a fallen knight, not a failed knight, but the sheen of the armor has faded somewhat, and the adulation of a people has waned with some disappointment over broken dreams. True, impatience has caused much of the frustration, impatience over a change that cannot happen at the speed and depth of people's expectations. At the same time, governance has been less than sterling, less than inspiring - partly from self-inflicted wounds, and partly from expected demolition jobs.
Still, P-Noy is president and the buck stops with him. He has a destiny to live out, a responsibility to fulfill, and a serious accountability for being the president at a moment when life opens more opportunities for change beyond the ordinary. To whom much is given, much is expected. P-Noy has not been given only the presidency, he has been given a divine opening to lead the Filipino people towards their dreamt destination, towards their nationhood and honor as a race second to none.
It will not be politicians who will bring the people to the state of their aspirations. If politicians were the destined ones, another president will be in Malacanang. It was not politics who delivered Noynoy to the presidency, it was the angst of a people hoping to have someone the opposite of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The hopes and determination of enough Filipinos to carve out their future with an honest and people-sensitive leader delivered the votes of volunteers, not party members. Just as much, then, it will be the conviction and courage of enough Filipinos that will build a nation and a future full of hope. It will not be P-Noy, but he definitely can cause it to happen faster, more explosively.
It will have to wait, though. What we dream of will have to stay in the sideline first because the two most powerful institutions in the country, and have been so for four hundred years, are locked in wasteful conflict. The Church and the State, propelled by their respective leaderships, cardinals and bishops, presidents and Congresses, have turned against each other after playing footsies most of these centuries, after feasting on the wealth and patrimony of the motherland, after grabbing the land of others and holding on to them like stolen goods up to the present. They point to each other with holier-than-thou postures when only they have been responsible for the horrible poverty and corruption of the Philippines.
The RH Bill has taken over the center stage, claiming to be Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, pro-life according to the opinion of the Church hierarchy, and pro-choice according to the leadership of Congress and Malacanang. It is an issue that is using morality and poverty as their major reasons. Yet, contraceptives have been making money over several decades in the Philippines, almost exclusively among the rich, with nary a controversy or public admonition from the Church. And the RH Bill is not a solution to poverty but a distraction with its inference that population is a major cause of poverty.
Pro-Life is not the solution to either immorality or poverty, but caring for one another and model behavior approximating sermons and Biblical verses are. Pro-Choice is not the solution to poverty or reproductive health, but land for the landless, homes for the homeless, and food for the hungry are - plus they symbolize that the State cares and will inspire others to do the same.
In the midst of a special moment when transformation beyond reform becomes possible, when the enthusiasm of enough Filipinos drives them to a willingness for action, for sacrifice and contribution, we are being presented with a conflict instead of a vision. If I am given to fantasizing, I could wish that both Church and State would disappear from the people's sight until they decide to lead by inspiration and by model behavior.
Meanwhile, Filipinos who have remain steadfast in their dreams and determination to be part of the solution will do well to stay away from anything that dampens or discourages their spirit. They must, we must, believe in ourselves, that we are the flock, that we are the citizens - that we are more the Church than them, that we are more the State than them.