Friday, July 31, 2015

ADB Delegates Visit Pag-IBIG Fund During Cross-Regional Forum on Remittance

 Pag-IBIG Fund was one of the three key institutions in the country recently visited by around 37 delegates of the international forum on Promoting Remittance for Development Finance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The event was the first cross-regional forum on remittance attended by delegates from development member countries (DMCs) of the ADB. The site visit, as indicated in the program, is on “remittance innovations in the Philippines.” “We are honored that ADB has chosen Pag-IBIG Fund as one of the three government institutions in the Philippines to be visited by the delegates of the cross-regional forum on remittance,” said Pag-IBIG Fund President and Chief Executive Officer Atty. Darlene Marie Berberabe during her presentation of Pag-IBIG Fund Benefits for Migrant Workers before the delegates at the Pag-IBIG office in Justine Bldg., Makati City. Atty. Berberabe presented to the ADB delegates Pag-IBIG’s programs for OFW members, including access to financial services like remittances and loans wherever they are in the world.

Atty. Berberabe informed the delegates that OFW membership with Pag-IBIG Fund continues to grow, reaching 3.9 million as of December 2014, and remitting a total of P1.7 billion Pag-IBIG membership contributions in the same year.

 OFW members of the Fund represent 27 percent of the 14.8 million total Pag-IBIG membership level. They are one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of Pag-IBIG membership. “In response to the growing Pag-IBIG membership of OFWs, we established an OFW Center at our Justine Bldg. Makati office that provides an integrated service for OFWs,” Atty. Berberabe added.

 In partnership with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), the OFW Center offers services such as membership registration, remittance of member’s savings and loan payments, issuance of Overseas Employment Certificate, pre-departure orientation, investment center for modified PagIBIG 2, and acceptance and release of housing and short-term loans, among others. “We recognize the sacrifices and efforts of our OFWs in order to give their families a better future. It is only right that we give them the best service,” Atty. Berberabe added. The ADB delegates conducted a site visit for them to learn about public and private support activities for migrants and remittances.

PhilHealth XI Joins Serbisyong Tatak RMN

LHIO Tuguegarao City Moves to New Location

PhilHealth and the Press: Moving Towards Universal Coverage

Back-to-back PhilHealth SHInES in Laguna Province

THE Philippine Health Insurance Corporation recently conducted back-to-back Social Health Insurance Education Series (SHInES) at the El Cielito Hotel in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for the benefit of the local media and Local Chief Executives (LCEs) of various municipalities in the province.
“It’s good to empower the media to make them PhilHealth advocates for our members to have correct and timely information regarding their program whenever possible,” said Dr. Shirley B. Domingo,  PhilHealth’s Vice President  for Area II which covers Lucena, Laguna, Cavite and Quezon province.
At least 20 media practitioners and information officers from several media outfits and government offices in the provinces of Quezon and Laguna attended the activity.
The SHInES for Media was immediately followed by the SHInES for LCEs of the different municipalities of the province led by Mayor Ronald Sana of Mabitac and Mayor Remona Muramatsu of Famy. Also present were representatives from Nagcarlan, Paete, Pakil, Pagsanjan, Pangil, Pila, Rizal, San Pablo City, San Pedro, Siniloan, Sta. Rosa, Victoria, Majayjay, Magdalena, Liliw, Cabuyao, Los Baños, Lusiana, Biñan, Baet, and Alaminos.
Alberto C. ManduriaoOIC-Vice President for Member Management Group discussed the Membership Program, while  Dr. Jennifer Raca,OIC-Senior Manager and  Dr. Marvin GalvezMedical Specialist III of the Benefits Development and Research Department presented the New and Enhanced PhilHealth Benefits. Vergil De ClaroOIC-Division Chief of Corporate Planning Department talked about the National Health Insurance Act of 2013 while Dr. Edwin OriñaRegional Vice President of PhilHealth Regional Office IV-A tackled the important role of the LCEs in support to the NHIP. Amelita ButedOIC-Division Chief of the Corporate Communication Department discussed the role of media in advocating the NHIP.

In his message, PhilHealth President and CEO Alexander A. Padillasaid that the activity is very important for PhilHealth  to discuss the needs of the LCEs in their respective localities “We wish to really have good working relationships with you (LCEs) because we also want to provide better service to your constituents,” Padilla said.
Questions raised during a two-day activity touched on  double membership, enrollment under the National Household Targeting System (NHTS), enrollment of senior citizens who are not included in the NHTS, inclusion of barangay volunteers such as bantay bayan and day care workers in PhilHealth coverage, frequency of availment of benefits by dependents, package inclusion for subdermal implants and availment of benefits for senior citizens who are not yet registered with PhilHealth under RA 10645. (END)  
 Reference:  Dr. Israel Francis A. Pargas
                      OIC-Vice President, Corporate Affairs Group
Photo Captions:
Photo1: The LCE participants expressed their affirmation on the recently conducted SHInES as they make their okay signs together with PCEO Padilla(seated at the middle) and other PhilHealth Officers.
Photo 2: A thumbs up from the press for a successful orientation on the NHIP.
Photo3: Mayor Remona Muramatsu of Famy (seated 4th from left) and Mayor Ronald Sana of Mabitac (seated 4th from right) joined the PhilHealth President, officers and staff for a group picture.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How foreigners have transformed Subaru’s hometown in Japan

OTA, Japan - Afghan children studying at a madrassa, Catholic mass in seven languages, workers from over sixty countries.
It's not New York, but Ota, a town north of Tokyo with an economy powered by Japanese automaker Subaru. It's here that Subaru's parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, got its start building engines and the Hayate fighter plane for the Imperial Army in the 1940s. A recent influx of foreigners has transformed the Subaru hub, making it a rare example of multiculturalism in a country stubbornly resistant to immigration.
Drawn by the prospect of jobs in factories supplying Subaru's export-driven boom, Ota's foreigners —many of them asylum seekers and indebted trainees—work long hours for low pay. Some have established communities centered around mosques and churches. But others feel alienated by punishing work schedules and scant assistance with Japanese language from the town's authorities, they say in interviews.
Ota's history with foreign laborers dates back to the late 1980s, when a short-staffed Subaru invited descendants of Japanese immigrants to Brazil to fill its busy production lines under a special visa category. They took jobs that Japanese workers shunned, including many at Subaru's factories.
Around the same time the Brazilians were arriving, Asian migrants also came to work in Japan, entering on tourist visas and staying without papers. A crackdown on visa overstayers cut the number from 224,000 in 2002 to 59,000 in 2014, according to government data.

A global crossroads; Pinays in bars
Since 2012, the foreign population of Ota and neighboring Isesaki has grown to over 18,000, almost three times the national ratio of Japanese to foreigners. The town, with a population of 222,000, is home to 63 nationalities, municipal data show.
In Ota's center, a rundown concrete grid south of Subaru's main plant, a remittance store does brisk trade wiring money to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
A few streets away is the town's kilometer-long red light district. Over 10 percent of Ota's foreigners are women from the Philippines, many of whom work in the clubs and bars advertising "newly arrived" women that line the wide street.
There is little interaction between Ota's newcomers and its Japanese residents. "All the workers do is go back and forth between their dorms and the factories," Ota mayor Masayoshi Shimizu told Reuters.
The center of Ota is quiet six days a week. On Sundays, for many their only rest day, foreign workers mill around the train station, or congregate at churches and mosques. Ota's Catholic church offers mass in Tagalog, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Spanish, English, Japanese and Korean. Its pastor, Father Kim, is from South Korea.
In Ota's auto industry, labor brokers and a manager at a Subaru supplier said ethnicity plays a part in how workers are placed: Japanese workers are at the top of the chain, followed by Brazilians of Japanese descent, who have been in the country longer under a special visa category and can speak the language. They're followed by South Asians, many of them asylum seekers, and lastly, African workers at the bottom of the pyramid.
An executive at one local manufacturer said he favored asylum seekers from Nepal, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh, who he said are more willing to take on difficult jobs for lower pay.
"We carefully examined the matter and confirmed that this was not the case," Subaru said in a written response to questions from Reuters.
On the outskirts of the town, men in traditional Islamic dress spill out of the Darussalam mosque after prayers, heading to a halal cafe for a meal of chicken with saffron rice. Afghan women in burqas take their children to a madrassa next door.
A community of Muslims from countries including Mali, Yemen and Afghanistan has taken root around the mosque, said Abdullah, its Japanese imam.
"Many here don't speak Japanese or each other's languages," he said. "But we pray, sleep and cook together." Reuters

Kuwait authorities probe alleged rape, robbery of Pinay by 'detective'

Authorities in Kuwait are investigating the alleged rape-robbery of a Filipina in Ahmadi town, supposedly by a man claiming to be a detective, a Kuwait news site reported Tuesday.
The Filipina told authorities she was raped and mugged inside her apartment in a complex in Ahmadi, Kuwait Times reported.
Citing a security source, the report said initial investigation showed the woman was in her bedroom while her boyfriend was in the living room at the time of the assault.
According to the Kuwait Times report, someone knocked hard on the door, claiming to be a detective. He kicked the boyfriend out, locked the apartment door, then supposedly pulled a knife. The suspect then ordered the Filipina to open a safe and took KD1,100 (P165,231), then raped her before escaping.   Joel Locsin/ELR, GMA News

Pinoys with immigrant visa told to register online before PDOS, PCP

Starting August 17, Filipinos with immigrant visas will have to register online for their Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) and the Peer Counseling Program (PCP) before they can leave the country, the Commission on Filipino Overseas announced Tuesday.

The CFO said the Filipinos may schedule their appointments using the CFO's Reservation and Registration (R&R) Online system through their website or the PDOS reservation site.

According to the CFO, only those with a "confirmed reservation slot and who have accomplished the on-line registration form, with the corresponding barcode reference number" with the confirmed date and time of the PDOS or PCP will be allowed into the programs.

The PDOS is a two-hour seminar required for Filipino emigrants aged 20 to 59, while those aged 13 to 19 are required to attend two PCP sessions.

Each of the following PDOS sessions has 70 slots open every day:

* USA - Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 10 a.m. to 12 noon; Tuesdays and Fridays at 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
* Canada - Mondays to Fridays at 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon
* Europe - Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. to 12 noon
* Australia and New Zealand - Tuesdays and Friday at 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
* Asia - Mondays and Thursdays at 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

PCP sessions are held everyday for all destination countries from Mondays to Fridays, with 25 slots open for the 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. sessions.

A CFO registration sticker will be affixed to the emigrant's passport upon completion of either program, allowing their departure. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

All-male Pinoy choir wins in Japan chamber chorus contest

An all-male Filipino choir became the first group from the Philippines to win the Takarazuka International Chamber Chorus Contest (TICCC) in Japan, besting 22 other groups last July 25.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)-backed Aleron choral ensemble earned gold prizes in the Folklore and Contemporary categories in the prestigious annual contest.

First held in 1984, the TICCC was initiated "with the purpose of spreading the ‘Chamber Chorus’  widely to the local people, also with the hope of growing international friendship among choirs through the music."

Winners of the TICCC are given the chance to perform at a special concert in Osaka known for the Takarazuka Revue, an all-female musical theater troupe established in the 1910s.

Aleron previously won the grand prize distinction in the 10th Busan Choral Festival and Competition in October 2014 and placed first in the Vocal Ensemble of the inaugural Andrea O. Veneracion International Choral Festival in Manila in August 2013.

Composed of Ateneo de Manila High School Glee Club members, the group will continue to represent the Philippines as a guest choir in the first International Federation for Choral Music World Choral EXPO in Macau from November 12 to 16. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

PHL students win 2nd place in World Sudoku tilt, help set Guinness record

The Philippines bagged two second and one third places in the team contest of the recent 2015 World Junior Sudoku Championship (WJSC) held in Beijing, China.

The Under 15 team, comprised of Jonathan Conrad Yu, Albriz Moore Bagsic and Kirsten Dominique Chan, and the Under 21 team of Kaye Janelle Yao, Natalie Beatrice Dy and Alvin Chan placed second behind host country China.

Meanwhile, Under 18 team members Gerrick Spencer Limsiy, Bryan Russel Esperanza and Jan Vincent Simbol took third place behind India, with China taking the first place.

"We fared better in the team rounds as compared to the individual rounds.. I think we work better together as a team compared to the other countries and that is what attributed to our second place finish,” Yao said.

In the individual contest, Yu finished fourth, Bagsic seventh and Chan eight in the Under 15 category, and Limsiy got fifth, Esperanza eighth and Simbol tenth in Under 18. Yao got fourth place, Dy placed seventh and Chan wound up eighth in Under 21.

The Philippine delegation was accompanied by team leader Robert Degolacion.

The nine Filipino contestants also became part of 200 students who set an official Guinness World Record at the contest for the largest multi-Sudoku puzzle consisting of 200 standard sudoku grids.

Authenticator Cheng Dong, an official representative from the Guinness World Records, was present and issued an official certification for the world record event.

Countries that joined the contest are China, Poland, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, India, Russia and the Philippines.

The nine contestants who represented the country in the Beijing contest won in the 9th Philippine Sudoku Super Challenge last January.  —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Pinoys in Kuwait raise $26k blood money for kababayan jailed since 1990s

Filipino groups in Kuwait have raised some $26,000 (P1.183 million) in dia (blood money) for the release of a Filipino who accidentally killed a Bangladeshi co-worker nearly 20 years ago.

The groups turned over the money to Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa and Consul General Raul Dado at the Philippine Embassy in Faiha, according to a report on Kuwait Times on Tuesday.

Expected to benefit from the dia is Joseph Urbiztondo, who a Kuwaiti court sentenced to life in jail for accidentally killing co-worker Azizur Rahman in 1996.

Rahman's family in early 2011 had agreed on the amount of the blood money, but Urbiztondo’s family could not raise the amount at that time.

But now that the amount is raised, the embassy is to deliver the money to Rahman’s family via the Philippine Embassy in Dhaka in Bangladesh.

There, the formal turnover will be done, including the signing of a "tanazul" or letter of forgiveness.

Villa said Urbiztondo may "have to stay in jail for a few weeks or so, and he will be freed soon.”

Filipino communities

Participating in the fund-raising are:

- Alliance of Filipino Organizations in Kuwait headed by Dr. Chie Umandap, KD2,400
- Holy Family Cathedral headed by Fr. Ben Barrameda, KD2,000
- Filcom (Oliver Diong) and LCC (Pastor Allan Dytianquin), KD1,600.
- an anonymous donor contributed KD1,850 through Dado

Villa thanked the Filipino community for raising the money — an effort that took years.

"I am really proud of what the Filipinos could do for their compatriots, if they are acting in unity,” he said in the report.

For his part, Barrameda said the fund-raising was with the permission of Bishop Camillo Ballin.

“To all Filipinos who helped and shared something … thank you. We don’t condone wrongdoing but Urbiztondo already paid the consequence of his action: he has been in jail for almost 20 years. For Urbiztondo, we will wait for your freedom and [the time you will] be with your family,” he said.

Pastor Allan Dytianquin also thanked God for the gift of realization and acceptance.

“Urbiztondo served his prison sentence in the Kuwaiti jail. It is about time for him to face a new chapter in his life,” he said.


Mildred Lacson, one of the coordinators for the Alliance of Filipino Organization, said the money they contributed to the dia stemmed from concerts they organized.

“We collected the amount through a series of concerts called 'MusikaatTawanan.' So, we did not just give Filipinos an outlet to be happy, we also give hope to Urbiztondo,” she said. Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News

Pinoy 9/11 survivor comes home, creates jobs through ice cream business

September 11, 2001 would be a turning point in the life of businessman-banker Frank Cruz, 67.

Frank narrowly escaped his workplace at One World Trade Center. Eight minutes after he got out, the World Trade Center came crashing down.

“My co-workers and I were going down the stairs of the World Trade Center while the firemen were going up,” he recalled. “I remember their faces, young and old, I even gave them drinks from the vending machines as they were carrying their hoses and heavy equipment. All these firemen died while trying to save us and others.”

He made it possible for dirty ice cream to get inside the gleaming malls of Batangas. Photo by Troi Santos/The FilAm
Ten years later and upon his retirement as vice president at Mizuho Corporate Bank, he returned to the Philippines. His wife, Vivian, had been asked to stay another year at her job at the UN. She remains active in the Filipino community through numerous organizations. Their sons, Francis and Matthew, find the time to visit her in the family’s pleasant house in West Orange, New Jersey, nestled among the leafy greens at the end of a sloping road.

Frank was back at Batangas City, his wife’s hometown, where he felt at home with Vivian’s family. There, he rekindled ties with folks and kin he had not seen in the 30 years he has been in America, reflecting on how he would be able to “give back.”

A couple of years later in 2012, he opened an ice cream business, Frank’s Dirty Ice Cream, an enterprise that now provides jobs to a dozen families. It began as a colorful ice cream cart at SM Mall in Batangas City. It has grown into a kiosk in the same mall, another kiosk in SM Lipa, and two franchises. He is eyeing the Mall of Asia in Pasay to be the next stop for Frank’s Dirty Ice Cream.

“All I really wanted to do was help people,” he said in an interview with The FilAm.

How does a 9/11 survivor end up conjuring an ice cream business?

On his return, he joined a nephew who set up a string of franchises for spiral potato fries. That business lasted only a year when the price of potatoes began to climb, clipping into profits.

Coming out of church one day, he saw two ‘sorbeteros’ ringing their ice cream carts. His memory drifting back into his boyhood, Frank helped himself to a scoop. He liked the flavor and thought: Why is dirty ice cream always out on the streets and never inside a mall? A Divine sign? He’s not sure, but it became the seed of his business model.

He learned all he could about the business, applied for a license to operate, purchased his equipment, and hired one of the ‘sorbeteros’ to work for him. In 2012, the dirty ice cream was able to crack the forbidden Batangas malls, and Frank’s paved the way.

Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Cuisia has noted an affirmative trend among young Filipino Americans returning to the family’s roots and staying in the Philippines for good. They are, in the words of the Commission of Filipinos Overseas, “buying a one-way ticket back to the Philippines.”

Boomers like Frank do not seem to register on the radar screen because FilAms his age are seen as belonging to the ‘retirement generation.’ It is anticipated that at some point many of them will be coming home for good.

But retirement is not what Frank had in mind when he came to his decision. He wanted to help by providing employment to Batangueno families. He knew enough smarts to set up a small business and when that fails, to get up and start all over again. The franchise for spiral fries and an insurance company were dry runs. Dirty ice cream appears to be taking off, paving the way for a coffee shop he named after his wife of 35 years. Café Vivian opened in February and employs a staff of 6 to 8 people for now.

“One of the challenges is finding trusted people,” he shared.

The food retail business is a cash-only business, he said, and money invariably passes the hands of employees. One of his workers had been caught stealing a large amount. Although he was very disappointed because he had helped this person and his family in so many ways, Frank did not press charges.

“I always tell my employees to work hard and not just do their jobs well. They can offer suggestions on how to run the company. I don’t see a lot of that,” he said, but it’s probably because his Filipino workers are also getting adjusted to his managerial style that is a little bit American.

His long-term outlook is for his workers to become co-owners of the company.

He said, “My goal is to be able to help people by giving them jobs, and I tell them you have to love this job because it gives you security and a chance for a better tomorrow.” —The FilAm

Bangladeshi gets 3-year jail term for groping Pinay in UAE

A Bangladeshi grocery delivery man was sentenced to three years in jail for groping a Filipina in the United Arab Emirates last May, a United Arab Emirates news site reported Monday.
The Bangladeshi, 23, was accused of groping the Filipina when he delivered items to her flat, Khaleej Times reported.
He was also ordered deported by the Fujairah Criminal Court once he serves his prison term.
The report said the Bangladeshi admitted to groping the Filipina.
Court records showed the Filipina, 28, told police that the Bangladeshi groped her while she was paying for the grocery items. Joel Locsin/ALG, GMA News

Human trafficking still persists in PHL —US report

Human trafficking remains pervasive in the Philippines under the watch of President Benigno Aquino III although a number of convictions sparked hope that reforms are in progress, the US State Department said in an annual report released on Monday.
While the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report cited increased law enforcement efforts to address the problem, it noted several instances that allowed human smuggling conditions to persist.
“The Philippines is a source country and, to a much lesser extent, a destination and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor,” the US Embassy said in a statement issued in Manila with the report, which is an assessment of how 188 states tackled modern-day slavery, sex trade and other forms of abusive labor.
“The Government of the Philippines does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” it said, an indication that Aquino, with barely a year in office as he steps down in June 2016, should bolster his administration’s attempt to combat the global scourge.
The State Department tried to strike a balance by stating that Manila is “making significant efforts” to address trafficking with recent convictions of perpetrators of human smuggling.
The government convicted 54 traffickers—an increase from 31 the previous year—and took steps to expedite prosecutions, it said.
Since 2011, the Philippines has been retained in the Tier 2 category.
The country was on a dreaded watchlist from 2009 to 2010 and would have ended up in a more severe blacklist that entails sanctions that include the withholding of millions of dollars of American aid had it not taken drastic measures to address the problem.

Meanwhile, the US upgraded Malaysia to Tier 2 from Tier 3, despite calls by human rights groups and nearly 180 US lawmakers to keep the Southeast Asian country on a list of worst offenders for failing to suppress trafficking.

Although Philippine officials say the government is stepping up efforts to curb illegal human trade, the State Department lamented that “public officials, including those in diplomatic missions abroad, law enforcement agencies, and other government entities, are said to be complicit in trafficking or allow traffickers to operate with impunity.”
It cited reports that some corrupt officials accept payments or sexual services from establishments notorious for trafficking, accept bribes to facilitate illegal departures for overseas workers, downgrade trafficking charges, or overlook unscrupulous labor recruiters.
“Some personnel working at Philippine embassies abroad reportedly sexually harass victims of domestic servitude, withhold back wages procured for them, subject them to domestic servitude for a second time, or coerce sexual acts in exchange for government protection services,” it said.
The US report cited conditions that allowed human smuggling to continue, such as “endemic inefficiencies in the judicial system” and “pervasive corruption” that undermined government efforts to combat trafficking.
Investigations of potentially complicit officials did not lead to criminal convictions and in some cases even failed to secure administrative punishment against offenders, it added.
Other problems, the report said, is the lack of effort on the part of the government to provide all trafficking victims access to specialized services; minimal protection for male victims; and the continued demand for commercial sex acts.
The State Department also expressed concern on women and children—many from impoverished families, typhoon-stricken communities, and conflict areas—being subjected to domestic servitude, forced begging, forced labor in small factories, and sex trafficking in Manila, Cebu, Angeles, and urbanized cities in Mindanao.

Child sex trafficking
Child sex trafficking also remains a serious problem, it said. 
“Child sex tourists include persons from Australia, New Zealand, and countries in Northeast Asia, Europe, and North America. Filipino men also purchase commercial sex acts from child trafficking
victims,” the State Department said.
It also expressed alarm that organized crime syndicates transport sex trafficking victims from China through the Philippines en route to other countries.

Hold officials accountable
The report urged the government to increase its efforts to hold government officials administratively and criminally accountable for trafficking and trafficking-related offenses through criminal prosecutions, convictions, and stringent sentences. 
It also recommends expanding the continuous trial mechanism to increase the speed of trafficking prosecutions, developing and implementing programs to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, and increasing the availability of shelter and protection resources for trafficking victims, particularly males.
The US Embassy assured that Washington is committed to working with the Philippine government and its people to prevent trafficking activities in the Philippines, to prosecute perpetrators, and to protect victims.
“We recognize the government of the Philippines’ progress on trafficking in persons and we look forward to continuing our close cooperation to tackle this regional and global issue,” it said. —KG, GMA News

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

5 YEARS OF PRES. AQUINO’S ADMINISTRATION: Deepening and Broadening the Culture of Impunity; Unchecked Networks of Command Conspiracy

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) acknowledge and appreciate the passage of human rights laws in the civil and political arenas, among others, the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Anti-Torture Law, the law on Compensation of Human Rights Victims during Martial Law, the law on Anti-Enforced Disappearance, law on the International Humanitarian Law, since Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s became Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief as steps in the right direction to break through impunity and well within his pronouncement that human rights would be central to his governance.

But such initial steps did not make any significant dent into the prevailing culture of impunity, much less to sufficiently limit its influence in the different branches of government.  In fact, the consequent and concomitant actions not only stymied the gain obtained in making some of its human rights obligations into laws but even deepened as well as broadened the environment and ground for impunity in civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.  One of the main factors for this impunity is the unchecked networks of command conspiracy.

Command conspiracy is the dark side of command responsibility.  Command responsibility focuses more on the individual military Commander who must ensure that everyone under her/his subordinates are aware and act according to the rules of war and of law as well as their obligations to implement human rights.  Command conspiracy is the collective act or collusion of a superior or officer with personnel under its command, authority, control or responsibility to commit by commission or by omission one or several human rights violations or the rule of law.  Command conspiracy is an act that encourages, incites, tolerates or ignores human rights violations and/or acts with criminal liabilities.  Such networks of command conspiracy breed impunity.  They can exist not only the institutions of our security forces, but also within our civilian bureaucracy.

Examine some of the torture cases, mostly from the records of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) involving PNP officers and subordinates in Tondo, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna, Cebu and Saranggani that exposes the painful truth  of command conspiracy which undermines the institution’s efforts for a human rights-based policing.  Despite media focus, none of the alleged torturers has been convicted to date.  Command conspiracy can stymie the resolution of many a case of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances allegedly perpetrated by officers and personnel of the AFP, as in the PICOP 6 of Agusan del Sur, as well as the delay in obtaining justice for the alleged victims of ex-General Jovito Palparan, Jr.
As now witnessed by the people, command conspiracy is entrenched and widespread in our government bodies as exposed, like an iceberg tip, in the corruption and plunder of Napoles-ian scale involving, at this point, opposition legislators.  Government anti-corruption bodies have yet to diligently unearth other networks of command conspiracy plundering the people’s coffers, such as the alleged anomalies in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).  And this administration for all its rhetoric of fighting corruption has not passed the Freedom of Information Bill.

Cases of violations and threats of violations against economic, social and cultural rights could well reveal the workings of command conspiracy, like the collutions of government officials and landlords in the long delays to grant land rights to land reform beneficiaries.  Most of the time, such delays led to violations to a quality of life worthy of human dignity, including the rights to adequate food, water, housing and health, against thousands of farmers.  It is the same collution between some national and local government officials, personnel of security forces and transnational corporations, particularly in the extractive industries, that deprive indigenous peoples of their ancestral lands and/or domains.  Inevitably, resistance to such aggressive intrusions led to armed conflict and loss of lives, as in the Capion massacre as consequent of the Tampakan, Cotabato mining case. 

While boosting of accomplishments in health, this administration and corporations are laying the foundations which could well increase upper respiratory diseases by putting up more than 40 coal plants with corresponding extracting activities for coal supply.

This administration disregarded the need of a National Human Rights Plan from the very beginning. It was later abetted by the 4th Commission on Human Rights.  It complied with human rights obligations when politically expedient or when persistently pressured. 

For this reason, PAHRA calls on all Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) to fast-track
formations of HRDs at all levels to assert and to struggle determinedly with the people to obtain their human rights.


July 27, 2015

Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
53-B Maliksi St. Bgy. Pinyahan
Quezon City, Philippines (1100)
Tel/fax (632) 436-26-33
Mobile : 0906-553-1792
Fb account:   philippinehumanrights 
Twitter :         @PAHRAhr
Skype :           pahra1986

20 Pinoy seafarers repatriated from stranded bulk carrier in Greece

After several months, 20 of the 24 Filipino crew members of a stranded Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier in Greece are finally going home.

The crew members of MV Golden Arrow III have been stranded in Aleveri Port since April 5 after the ship was arrested due to unpaid wages and other financial obligations to the crew members and creditors, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

"They will disembark from Aliaga Port in Turkey, where the crew change is expected to happen in the next few days," the DFA said.

According to the Philippine Embassy in Athens, the seafarers have finally received their unpaid salaries and other benefits from the ship management before the vessel departed from Greece with the help of a lawyer.

The four remaining Filipinos have opted to continue serving with Golden Arrow III, the DFA said.

Prior to their arrival in Aleveri Port in Greece last April 5, the vessel was also stranded in Benghazi, Libya, for three months.

"The crew members expressed their gratitude to the Philippine Government for the invaluable assistance extended to them during their stay in Libya and in Greece," the DFA said. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

2014 unemployment rate is PHL’s lowest in a decade –PNoy

The Philippines had its lowest unemployment rate in the past decade at 6.8 percent last year, President Benigno Aquino III said Monday in his sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Aquino said his administration has generated jobs for Filipinos locally, resulting in a decrease of overseas workers from 9.51 million in 2011 to 9.07 million last year.

"Permanenteng trabaho ang nalikha natin, hindi nag-hire ng mga magwawalis sa kalsada tuwing survey period," he said.

Aquino also said OFWs can now stay in the country and find opportunities in the Philippines instead of searching for greener pastures abroad.

"Noon, makikita sa mga signage 'No Vacancy,' ngayon, 'For Immediate Hiring' na," he said.

He also praised the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the minimal labor strikes in his five years in office.

A total of 15 strikes were held from 2010 to 2015, compared to the 199 strikes during the Arroyo administration, Aquino said.

In addition, only one strike has been held this year so far, the lowest in the history of DOLE, according to the President.

Aquino credited Labor Secretary Rosalina Baldoz for the gains in the labor sector, calling her "Pastora ng Gabinete." —Marisse Panaligan/KBK, GMA News
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