Overseas Filipino News
Thursday, 23 May 2013
The Senate Judiciary Committee accepted by unanimous voice vote the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification amendment introduced by Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono (D) on May 21, 2013 late afternoon.
After a 4-minute discussion, the chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), called for a voice vote. There was no opposition.
Sen Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) also recognized the sole Filipino American WWII veteran who was present and witnessed the vote. Mr. Celestino ALMEDA, 96, stood up to be recognized and was thanked by senators. Almeda saluted the senators in front the TV cameras despite his difficulty in hearing and walking.
The committee later approved the amended Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill to be sent to the Senate floor for a full debate and vote next month.
"Our veterans have earned it. They paid a high price. Thank you very much," Almeda told Sen. Hirono after the final votes of the committee.
Almeda is the spokesman for the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, an national advocacy Washington-based organization. He was accompanied by Angelyn Tugado-Marzan, a daughter of a disabled WW2 veteran, who attended the five days of committee meetings with him.
Adult children of living or deceased Filipino American WWII veterans who have approved petitions and have been waiting for more than a decade to immigrate will have immediate priority in getting visas once the CIR bill is passed by the Senate and the House and then signed by President Obama.
"We won the first round, thanks to Senator Hirono's untiring leadership. We extend our gratitude to the senators of the judiciary committee, Democrats and Republicans, by unanimously passing our amendment. We now have hope for the children of our comrades. Some of them have waited 22 years to live in America," said Franco Arcebal, 89, vice-president of coalition who watched the proceedings on cable television in Los Angeles. "We fervently hope the Republican majority in House will vote for the CIR including our amendment," Arcebal added.
See below text of Hirono Amendment No. 1 to S. 744 CIR bill.
The coalition estimates 20,000 visas could be issued to the sons and daughters of Filipino American WWII veterans if the CIR is made into law.
------------Hirono Amendment #1 to S. 744-----------
AMENDMENT NO. __ Calendar No. __
Purpose: To exempt children of certain Filipino World War
II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES—113th Cong., 1st Sess.
To provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for
Referred to the Committee on llllllllll and ordered to be printed
Ordered to lie on the table and to be printed
AMENDMENT intended to be proposed by Ms. HIRONO
1 At the end of subtitle C of title II, add the following:
2 SEC. 2320. REUNIFICATION OF CERTAIN FAMILIES OF FILI-
3 PINO VETERANS OF WORLD WAR II.
4 (a) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the
5 ‘‘Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act’’.
6 (b) EXEMPTION FROM IMMIGRANT VISA LIMIT.—
7 Section 201(b)(1) (8 U.S.C. 1151(b)(1)), as amended by
8 sections 2103, 2212, 2307, and 2402, is further amended
9 by adding at the end the following:
10 ‘‘(O) Aliens who—
2 EAS13437 S.L.C.
1 ‘‘(i) are the sons or daughters of a citizen
2 of the United States; and
3 ‘‘(ii) have a parent (regardless of whether
4 the parent is living or dead) who was natural-
5 ized pursuant to—
6 ‘‘(I) section 405 of the Immigration
7 Act of 1990 (Public Law 101–649; 8
8 U.S.C. 1440 note); or
9 ‘‘(II) title III of the Act of October
10 14, 1940 (54 Stat. 1137, chapter 876), as
11 added by section 1001 of the Second War
12 Powers Act, 1942 (56 Stat. 182, chapter
photographer for ACFVets
Wednesday, 22 May 2013
A new study at the government-run Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has noted a growing phenomenon of migrant workers getting positions lower than their educational attainment or experience.
Called “deskilling,” the practice is “damaging” and causes “unnecessary burden” to migrants, which governments of both countries of origin and destination of the workers play critical roles in addressing, the study said.
PIDS Director for Research Information Sheila Siar said in a discussion paper titled “From Highly Skilled to Low Skilled: Revisiting the Deskilling of Migrant Labor” that “from a macroeconomic perspective, deskilling is a double jeopardy for countries of destination and origin.”
“It represents a loss for destination countries as they are not fully utilizing the skills and talents of their skilled migrants. At the same time, there are also negative consequences for origin countries when they lose a significant number of their skilled workforce,” she added.
Deskilling, as defined in the study, is the “deployment to positions lower that the migrants’ educational attainment, training, or experience, owing to the non-recognition of their overseas qualifications and the bias for education acquired in the host country, local experience, cultural know-how, and English proficiency.”
Siar said that while many traditional immigration countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have strong preference for migrant workers with higher education, skills, and professional training, it is still not unusual for migrants to be relegated to lower status or to have lower paying jobs.
“Certain professions like medicine, nursing, law, and teaching also require overseas-educated migrants to undergo a ‘bridging’ course or a supervised training and even work as an intern (in the case of doctors), and pass a licensing examination. These requirements may take a few months or some years to complete,” PIDS said.
The study also noted the effects of race, gender, and ethnicity in the deskilling of migrant workers.
“In Canada, for example, there is less chance for migrants to hold a managerial position. Migrant engineers who migrated after the age of 27 and those who were born in the Philippines or in Eastern Europe have the lowest probability of holding engineering or managerial positions,” the study said.
The paper said there are several ways by which countries of origin and destination can help mitigate the negative impacts of deskilling.
Siar said that origin countries must improve the quality of information given to their departing migrants to prepare them for challenges ahead.
“To facilitate successful integration, it is imperative to prepare the migrants while they are still in their home countries so they can anticipate the challenges and plan on how to address them,” the paper said.
“Home countries, particularly their governments, have a responsibility to inform and educate their citizens,” it added.
Siar said that in the case of the Philippines, the government, through the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, conducts country-specific pre-departure orientation seminars which are compulsory for all departing permanent migrants.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration provides seminars for those who are leaving the country on labor contracts.
The PIDS study said that topics covered by these seminars include travel regulations, immigration procedures, cultural differences, settlement concerns, employment and social security concerns, and rights and obligations of Filipino migrants.
“But even if these programs exist, there is a need to continuously improve the quality of these seminars and ensure that they do reflect the real issues that migrants will face overseas and to suggest strategies on how these can be addressed,” it said.
On the other hand, the research author said that governments of destination countries should have a more in-depth investigation of the actual situation of their migrants instead of just relying on statistics and evaluation reports proclaiming the success of their migration policies.
Lastly, the study noted that the mismatch between immigration laws and labor policies must be addressed by destination countries.
“There should be better labor policies and suitable settlement strategies for their migrants to provide them with a positive environment to achieve professional and economic stability with less difficulty,” the PIDS paper said.
Thursday, 09 May 2013
by TED LAGUATAN
Overseas Filipino voters can positively change the quality of Filipino leaders and the quality of Philippine government. In general, overseas voters cannot be bought or coerced. They earn money through honest hard work and hired gun toting goons are not around to intimidate them to vote for certain candidates. As such, given the proper objective information about candidates, they will vote for the best candidates. They are in fact the best voters that money cannot buy.
|The US based US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) chaired by philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis and the Global Filipino Diaspora Council (GFDC), a global organization of community leaders from several countries – are two of the most influential organizations among Filipinos overseas. USP4GG has effectively lobbied with both the Philippine and US governments for policies, decisions and legislation that have benefited Filipinos everywhere. GFDC is recognized by the Philippine Commission on Filipinos Overseas as a global organization of Filipino community leaders from different countries whose goal is the betterment of life for Filipinos overseas and those in the Philippines.|
|Loida Nicolas Lewis|
The lawyers for both groups, Atty. Rodel Rodis and myself, appeared last March before the Comelec and successfully persuaded the Chairman and other Commissioners to reinstate some 239,000 overseas Filipino voters who were disenfranchised for failing to vote twice. Rodis argued that the failure was not out of apathy but because of circumstances beyond their control. I argued that while Congress gave the power to Comelec to remove voters who failed to consecutively vote twice, it also gave Comelec the power not to remove them. In other words, I pointed out that Comelec is not absolutely mandated to remove voters who failed to vote twice – but in fact is given the discretion to remove or not to remove – and suggested that common sense and wisdom factors compel the Comelec to exercise their discretion to reinstate the disenfranchised voters.
To their credit, Chairman Brilliantes and Commissioner Grace Padaca listened to our reasoning and in a subsequent Commissioners’ en banc meeting, reinstated 239,000 disenfranchised overseas voters. I respectfully urge Comelec to continue exercising its good discretion not to disenfranchise in the future overseas voters who fail to consecutively vote twice. They usually fail to vote not out of apathy but because the ballots did not reach them for some reason or another which is not their fault.
USP4GG and GFDC have drawn up a list of Senatorial candidates whom they have endorsed. The list serves as a voting guide for overseas Filipinos as well as for those in the Philippines. Using the same objective criteria, it’s probably not surprising that the candidates endorsed by both groups are a mirror image of the other except for the addition of Teddy Casino in the GFDC list. Both organizations are non-partisan and selections of the endorsed candidates were based on: competence, integrity and a track record of accomplishing observable good results that benefit people.
The Senatorial candidates endorsed by USP4GG and GFDC are listed below. (Not listed according to priority preference):
1. Loren Legarda 2. Alan Cayetano 3. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. 4. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara 5. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 6. Rosa Hontiveros 7. Bam Aquino 8. Grace Poe 9. Edward Hagedorn 10. Eddie Villanueva 11. Teddy Casino (endorsed by GFDC only)
The Party List endorsed by both USP4GG and GFDC is Akbayan Citizens Action Party.
According to the Philippine Commission on Filipinos overseas, about 11 million Filipinos live and work abroad in 217 countries. Of these, only about 915,000 Filipinos overseas are registered to vote. Many more would have registered if there had been no condition in the Overseas Absentee Voting Act (OAVA) which required them to sign an affidavit promising to return to the Philippines. If they do not sign the affidavit, they cannot register to vote. On the other hand, if they sign the affidavit, they are compelled to return to the Philippines within three years or face imprisonment.
As such, thousands have refused to register because of this oppressive condition. A typical comment among OFWs: “Sure, it’s important to vote, but would I give up my right to stay and work abroad to support my family in just to vote. That would be stupid.”
How did such an onerous provision which clearly infringes on a citizen’s right to vote get included in the OAVA? A certain Congressman named Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin insisted for it to be included. My understanding from those who followed the hearings on this legislation is that Locsin repeatedly questioned the patriotism and loyalty of overseas Filipinos for the simple reason that they left the Philippines to live and work abroad. He insisted that this anomalous condition be embedded in the OAVA.
Knowing the chilling effect of this required “promise to return” condition on potential overseas voters, the US based US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) – embarked on two courses of action: File a petition to nullify this condition in the Philippine Supreme Court – and also get the Philippine legislature to amend the OAVA to get rid of the offensive “promise to return” condition. In both actions, the USP4GG prevailed. The Supreme Court decided in the case of “Nicolas et al v Comelec” that the condition does not apply to Filipinos who have dual citizenships. And just a few months ago, the Congress of the Philippines amended the OAVA where the draconian condition was removed and the word “absentee” was also removed from the title of the law: “We are not absent when it comes to helping the Philippines.” OAVA has now become Overseas Voting Act. (OVA).
President Aquino should sign this into law anytime now. While it’s too late for this new law to have any effects on the elections next week, it certainly will have an impact on the 2016 elections. With the removal of the offensive Locsin condition, more overseas Filipinos will register to vote.
Another reason why many overseas Filipinos are not able to register is because registrations have to be done at Philippine Consulates or Embassies. So many live and work in far flung areas such as in the Alaskan fisheries processing plants, distant oil fields in the Middle East, isolated towns in the US or else work in ships that are constantly at sea.
Even for many of those who have registered, some still cannot vote sometimes as the ballots for voting have not reached them because they have either changed addresses or else work as crewmen.
In order to maximize the number of overseas Filipinos registering and voting, there is little disagreement as to the need to make online registration and voting online. Hopefully, by next year, online registration and voting will already be installed.
While the present number of registered overseas Filipino voters is not yet overwhelming, their numbers will eventually increase due to the changed legislation removing the “promise to return” condition and online registration. Moreover, in a very real sense, their ability to generate more votes eventually will be more obvious when they become more aware that they can influence their Philippine relatives to whom they send financial aid – to vote for certain candidates. As such, aside from the billions of dollars and other currencies overseas Filipinos send to the Philippines – which has improved and sustained the economic life of the country – they will also eventually positively change the quality of government leaders and government in the Philippines – for the good of all.
For OFWs like myself, to see a better Philippines where thousands of talented bright Filipino children can develop to their full potentials as human beings instead of digging through dirty smelly garbage cans for scraps of food just to survive – is a dream that I hope will someday come true.
Ted Laguatan , http://globalnation.inquirer.net , May 09, 2013
Monday, 29 April 2013
Gary Garcia has been working as a seafarer for almost 10 years—and has been a registered absentee voter for just as long. In fact, it’s as long as the existence of Republic Act No. 9189 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Law, which provides for a system for Filipino citizens working or residing outside the Philippines to vote in a national election.
“But not once,” Garcia said, “have I ever been able to vote while at sea.”
One of the 26,808 seafarers who have registered as overseas absentee voter or OAV, Garcia still remembers how excited he was a decade ago when he learned from an orientation session that seafarers and other overseas workers could now vote even if they were outside the Philippines.
“I bought into that,” he said. “But during elections, there was nothing, no one official who could point us to our options.”
So for this year’s midterm elections, Garcia is hardly optimistic that he and other seafarers who registered can vote since they are at sea three to six months at a time.
|THE SEVEN overseas voting centers listed above are equipped with the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine. Polling places are open from 8 a.m. local time of the host country, and will close at 7 p.m. of May 13. Postal voting is also permitted.|
Low voter turnout
The monthlong voting for a total of 737,759 OAVs started on the second week of this month. If every one of them votes, the number is sizable enough to decide the outcome of the May 13 senatorial elections.
But statistics for past elections show that a significant portion of these voters has not been exercising their right to vote. OAV turnout in the 2010 elections was a measly 25.99 percent, or 153,323 out of the 589,830 registered voters.
Registered OAVs vote in national elections in Philippine diplomatic posts abroad during the prescribed period set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). In some areas where the posts have been closed, postal voting, or casting ballots through the mail, is allowed.
The low voter turnout in the 2010 polls may not have been due to lack of interest. As Garcia had said, no one in or out of government had taken the time to explain to him and many other OAVs the how, why, what, and where of casting votes abroad.
Garcia registered as an absentee voter while applying to become a member of the Associated Marine Officer’s And Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP).
The Comelec-OAV office had set up registration desks at the offices of AMOSUP and Philippine Transmarine Carriers Inc., a crew management company based in Makati.
Setting up more registration centers is one of the initiatives cooked up by Comelec and migrants advocacy groups in the hope of increasing listup turnout not only among seafarers but among all overseas Filipinos.
Comelec has put up similar registration desks at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) consular affairs office, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Commission on Filipinos Overseas and at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
But the convenience offered by more registration centers may not be enough incentive for overseas Filipinos to enlist. The OAV Law requires those who register to sign an affidavit of intent to return back to the Philippines within three years or face up to a year in jail.
|OVERSEAS absentee voting is limited to the senatorial candidates and one party-list representative.|
This provision has been pointed out in a congressional inquiry initiated by then Sen. Rodolfo Biazon in December 2004 as one of the reasons for low registration turnout: only 364,187 registrants in 2004 and even fewer, 132,820, in 2007.
Last February, an amended OAV Law was approved by Congress and is awaiting President Benigno Aquino III’s signature. The amended version removes the provision on mandatory signing of an affidavit to return back to the Philippines.
But registration is only the first half of the process. The second, and more challenging half, is for these overseas voters to actually cast their ballots during the voting period.
Last December, the Comelec announced the delisting of 238,455 overseas Filipino voters who have failed to vote twice in the national elections. The announcement was made through the OAV website, Philippine media outlets and a memorandum to the DFA’s diplomatic posts.
It took two months before leaders from the Global Filipino Diaspora Council (GFDC), a group of Filipino community leaders from various countries, sought a dialogue with Comelec Commissioners Sixto Brillantes Jr. and Grace Padaca.
GFDC representatives from the United States argued that apart from the difficulties that overseas Filipinos encounter in having to travel all the way to the nearest Philippine consular office just to register and then to vote, the provision of the law Comelec relied on to delist the overseas voters was simply discretionary, not mandatory.
On March 5, the Comelec reconsidered its decision and voted unanimously to reinstate the 238,455 overseas Filipino voters it ordered delisted in December.
Comelec Resolution No. 9654 extended the period of filing of the manifestation of intent to vote so those delisted can participate in the May 13 elections. This means that those who failed to vote in the last two elections can cast their ballots this year and will be reinstated in the Comelec’s list of OAV voters.
The resolution also provides for the “immediate publication of this resolution in two newspapers of general circulation.” Two major Philippine publications have since printed the resolution, but very few of the registered OAVs are likely to have read or even heard of the good news.
The proposed amendment to the OAV Law could increase voter turnout. It provides for registration and voting using mail, whether postal or electronic, fax, and other secure online systems. This is a welcome transition to the digital age and does away with the old system where voting beyond the confines of the nearest Philippine Embassy and Consulate is the only option available to OAVs.
But the law and Comelec still need to address other problems.
A financial analyst in Singapore was so surprised to find out that the Philippine Embassy would not release her new passport unless she registered as an OAV.
“I said I had no plans of voting in Singapore, but the woman at the counter said they couldn’t release my new passport if I did not register, so I filled out the registration form and took the necessary biometric encoding under protest,” she said.
The financial analyst became even more exasperated when she learned she could not vote in the Philippines which she is visiting in May because she is registered in Singapore.
The current voting system allows only for one ballot per registrant. That means that even if an OAV is in the Philippines at the time of the elections, he or she may not vote because her ballot has been sent to the diplomatic post where his or her name is registered as a voter.
By Cherry Joy Veniles
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Friday, 26 April 2013
Page 1 of 58