Archive for the ‘laws’ Category

RP listed by G20 as an uncooperative tax haven

April 4, 2009

The G20 finance ministers and central bank governors who convened in London yesterday came up with countries which don’t comply with the international openness demanded to halt the shady banking secrecy practices which works against the world economy— by spuriously affecting the value of global assets.

Philippines, Uruguay, Chile, and Malaysian Territory of Labuan were blacklisted by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for failure to follow rules on financial transparency. The citation makes these countries among those which provide cover for tax avoiders who hide money from their home countries. Tax avoidance helps weaken the economy of the world especially those of the poor countries.

The incompatibility of the current Philippine laws to the international agreements is blamed for non-compliance. Faced with possible sanctions, the government is just about to work on reconciling local laws —something it should have done much earlier.

In 2001, Republic Act 9160, a money laundering law was passed, but was quickly revised to give protection to corrupt individuals who stash money away to avoid taxation.(Photo Credit: London Summit) =0=

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“To make a man and prepare him as a good citizen” in a Bicol town, circumcision is required

January 24, 2009

In Camarines Norte, there was laughter during the deliberations of the “Tunay na Ulirang Lalake Ordinance” aka TULI or Real Model of Manhood Ordinance.

The piece of legislation was on its second deliberation to make male circumcision in that place mandatory. It was uncertain whether those considering the ordinance were serious or just joking.

According to its author, Provincial Board Member Joeffrey B. Pandi, the circumcision law is important “to enhance the physical well being of a boy or pre-teen, preparing him for early manhood and as a good citizen of his community.”

Really?

There is practically no dissenting opinion against Pandi’s odd proposal. The ready acceptance is a reflection of how we regard circumcision today. Many of us still adhere to the old tribal idea that the surgical removal of the prepuce covering the glans penis is a passage to manhood. Without acrimony, we accept a parochial belief that the uncircumcised deserves to be a butt of jokes, short to being a subject of continual humiliation. In our town, to be uncircumcised is to be identified as “half a man.” As a result, many children grow up in trepidation, believing the myth which their families and friends hand down to them.

Our society to this day still exerts strong pressure against being “supot” (uncircumcised) even if it infringes on our freedom to decide on what to do with our bodies. The TULI ordinance perpetuates myths, indirectly encourages intolerance, and curtails our right of choice even if we fail to see it that way.

How will the law be enforced? What punishments will the lawbreakers get? Who will pay for the procedure? Are we ready for the physical and psychological complications which go with surgery?

There are many conflicting justifications for or against the penile operation. An ordinance to force boys to have the procedure disregards the contrary arguments against it. The minor cutaneous surgery comes not without risks; complications like bleeding, tetanus, infections among others do occur in circumcision. Fortunately, the risks are minor compared to the benefit of keeping genital cleanliness (hygiene,) the usual valid reason for the operation.

It has been argued that circumcision lessens the incidence of HIV, HPV (warts,) and penile cancers. The skin removal is part of the religious traditions of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Upon the introduction of the “germ theory” at the turn of the 20th century, the Western World adopted circumcision to keep infections away. Primitive tribes in the Africa and the Pacific, consider it an important cultural milestone towards manhood.

So we know the myriad reasons why most of us agree to circumcision. We consider factors like hygiene, medical reasons, religious beliefs, cultural norms, and individual choice in our decisions. A personal matter which causes no harm on others, the minor tampering of our sexual organs is OK. It goes without saying that going against it is also OK.

But the lawmakers of Camarines Norte might be half-serious. The TULI ordinance unwittingly undercuts our basic liberty to choose. Although it appears, the ordinance gets easy support from the community, I don’t think the “funny” ordinance will benefit us in the long haul. Photo Credits: The Passing Strange; Snaphappy4)=0=

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Abortion issue in Obama’s administration, the pro-life vs. pro-choice controversy, & the 50 million unborn babies killed

January 23, 2009

January 22, 2009 is the 36th anniversary of the controversial Roe vs. Wade when the Supreme Court ruled against all state and federal abortion laws, making termination of pregnancy legal and leading to the indiscriminate killing of about 50 million unborn babies. Since 1973, pro-life groups have relentlessly campaigned in defense of the unborn with some success:

“Laws have been passed in 46 states that protect the right of conscience for individual health care providers. Laws in 27 states protect the right of conscience for institutions such as Catholic hospitals. The Hyde Amendment restricts federal funding of abortion. The partial birth abortion ban was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007. “Mexico City Policy” has barred the use of federal tax money to pay for abortions in other countries.” —St. Gianna Respect for Life Committee, Immaculate Conception Church, Astoria, NY (01/09 Tabone, P)

Yet, with the Obama administration, the fight between pro-lifer and pro-choice may change in favor of abortion supporters. Obama expresses his approval for the pro-choice advocates saying that government need not intrude on private family matters.

“In consultation with a coalition of pro-abortion groups, which submitted a 55-page outline of pro-abortion policies to the Obama transition team, the Obama Administration has an agenda designed to repeal many, if not all, of the pro-life policies in place at the state and federal level.

Through their extreme agenda, the Administration wants to fund organizations that perform and promote abortion; force employer health insurance plans to cover abortion; force hospitals and health care professionals to provide abortions; and enact the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” – a bill that would invalidate virtually all state and federal laws restricting abortion, including parental notification laws, and which would make partial-birth abortion legal again.” —www.nrlc.org

With few media outfit willing to cover, a huge crowd of anti-abortion advocates, numbering about 250,000 trooped to Washington DC two days after Obama’s inauguration to oppose the proposed Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) in congress. Obama is a supporter of abortion rights pushed by many liberals in the media and the Democratic party. Pro-lifers have mobilized themselves to fight the new administration’s abortion plan which when implemented is expected to increase terminations of unwanted pregnancy and the killing of more innocent unborn babies.

With the loss of 50 million babies since the “Roes” decided they could ignore moral considerations and rule on abortion, society must ponder on how many Albert Einsteins had been expended in clinics around the country. The sheer number had made people thinking what might have been God’s plan for America’s hapless victims of abortion. =0=

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Hospital: a vacation house or a sanctuary for malingerers?

October 29, 2008


The spectacular show of Jocelyn (JocJoc) Bolante continued at the airport when an ambulance rushed him to St. Lukes’s Medical Center on his arrival on October 28, 2008. The deportee who lost his appeal for asylum in the United States allegedly complained of “chest pains” and hospital authorities are mum about his medical condition

“…as the then undersecretary for finance of the Department of Agriculture, Bolante was the architect of embezzlement of more than P3 Billion (around $64M), including P728M fertilizer fund, that were intended for farmers’ benefits…reports suggest that the fraud-tainted money was used as campaign fund of Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo in the 2004 presidential election.” UP Ibalon.blogspot.com: “Accused of Plunder, Jocjoc Bolante, Returns from US a Deportee’ (10/29/08, Gimpaya, A)

Accused of stealing money from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP,) Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia committed a crime similar to that Bolante is charged of. Both needed some hospital stay. Garcia had himself confined in UST for alleged serious medical problems at the height of his trial only to be found guilty of corruption and acts unbecoming of a soldier.

Convicted child-rapist Romeo Jalosjos had been reported to have sought medical confinement for conditions like cough and high blood pressure that could well be managed on an out-patient basis.

Pres. Erap Estrada used the Veterans Memorial Medical Center as a private detention house until he was brought to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. Later he was put under “rest house arrest” in his cozy villa across the camp on the bases of questionable medical reasons. His supporters were delighted, but the public couldn’t hide their scorn.

Yolanda Ricaforte, the bag woman in the Estrada plunder case also used some medical excuses. She pompously appeared in public in a wheelchair with a personal nurse during an investigation. With eyes shielded by dark sunglasses, she blamed hypertension for her “fragile” health. Her nurse in a white uniform plus a stethoscope on her neck stood by her side as though she could do something in case an emergency arise. After that appearance, Ricaforte surreptitiously rode a plane, skipped Manila to hide as a fugitive in America.

Filipinos understand that medical problems are used as props, distractions, and excuses during an inquiry or litigation. Lawyers exploit health reasons for their clients with the cooperation of their doctors. Not negating the need to stay in the hospital if there is true medical indication, the public is usually distrustful whenever people like Bolante goes straight to stay in a hospital suite (not the emergency room?) after his arrival in the airport. (Photo Credits: shashamane; suetortoise) =0=

UPDATE: GMA News reported on October 30, 2008 that Joc Joc Bolante is confined at St. Luke’s Medical Center for medical tests that will take 5 days—rather slow for a VIP. There is no apparent medical justification to keep him in bed in the hospital which can be better used by sicker patients. Many MDs suspect, with Bolante’s “stable” status, such tests on him are better done on out-patient (ambulatory) service.

Banning the words “Muslim” & “Christians” in the media lexicon: ultra-sensitivity & the desire to sanitize reality

October 18, 2008

The Philippines seems to have joined the bandwagon of onion-skinned nations who give lots of thought on words that are otherwise innocuous. Per se, I don’t see anything wrong in using “Muslim” or “Christian” to describe a person, whether he is a criminal or saint. Adjectives make descriptions clear. If one calls a “dirty spade a dirty spade,” then that’s the honest truth. Regardless of whether the spade is sleek clean or dirty, it is objectivity that we desire in communication. Sometimes reality does bite. Risking of minor abrasion, I believe it is better to articulate truth than be restricted from using words that could be helpful in understanding.

The Philippine House Bill 100, now on its way to its third and final reading in congress, proposes to prohibit the use of “Muslim” and “Christian” or any word that indicates religious, regional, or ethnic affiliation. Violators (i.e. newspaper editors using “Muslim terrorists” to describe a convict) are threatened by a hefty fine of P50,000.

Authored by Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara with Reps. Pangalian Balindong, Arnulfo Go, Luzviminda Ilagan, Bienvenido Abante, Justin SB Chipeco, Yusop Jikiri, Raul del Mar and Neptali Gonzales, this bill shows how political correctness has crept into our brain like a neuron-gobbling worm. Why have they become wimpy in describing reality?

The “criminalizaton” of specific words in our media lexicon can be a new road to curtail our basic right for free speech. It is an attempt to sanitize reality and reprogram our way of thinking—perhaps to make as feel good that we don’t offend any religious groups including those who want to harm us— even if nasty, libelous, and more vitriolic words are hurled on us in the media everyday. However good-intentioned these congressmen are, they better be specific with the words they want banned. For fairness and balance, it will serve them well to consider adding more negatively charged words in their list such “discriminatory” terms as lesbian, homosexual, mentally retarded, old, disabled, illiterate, obese etc.

Our legislators say the words “Muslim” and “Christian” create “a sweeping generalization on other members of the race, culture or region” when the words are used to describe a suspect or convict. I don’t think this is true. I believe our rational mind doesn’t think this way, unless certain neutral words are accompanied by qualifying statements that lead to a particular derogatory generalization.

The bill’s stand seems distorted by its own tunnel-vision. There is the desire for political correctness and perhaps an inclination for approval. There is that unexpressed subliminal paranoia that we might want to cast away.

As long as “brandings” only refer to the criminals or suspects, those who are unintentionally linked with them by religious or ethnic associations need not worry. It isn’t the media’s fault. The people who make unfounded generalizations and make unfair conclusions are the ones who are culpable. Guilt by association without evidence is often debunked and doesn’t hold credibility in intelligent news reporting. Our legislators must be mature to understand this.

Congressmen may want this House Bill No. 100 like a comfort Barbie doll for all, but they fail to see that many Filipinos are fair, highly discerning, less paranoid, more considerate, and smarter than they think. Rooting for political correctness and becoming hypocritical in the process, at the expense of truth, is not the way to bring peace in the world. It only adds up to the cumbersome double talk that we are too tired of hearing. In spite of our frailties, let us try to work together to build a more honest world. (Photo Credit: VanLuchi; CiudadanoPoeta)=0=

OJ Simpson conviction: running out of luck and karma takes over?

October 7, 2008


Hall of fame NFL star and movie actor O. J. Simpson, 61, seems to run out of luck when a jury convicted him of armed robbery, conspiracy, and kidnapping in Las Vegas on Friday, October 3, 2008. The verdict is different from his highly- publicized acquittal of double murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman 13 years ago in Los Angeles. With a possible 30 years jail time that could put him locked-up in prison for life, O.J. who is currently detained at the Clark County Detention Center is scheduled to be sentenced on December 5, 2008.

Those who believe in the Buddhist concept of karma have something to think about. Karma, in essence fate, is supposed to be the total effect of one’s actions and conduct which determines a person’s destiny.

In http://www.healpastlives.com, karma is further explained: “as you sow, so also shall you reap” in this and other lifetimes until you understand the complete consequences of all your actions. Karma is the principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, total cosmic justice and personal responsibility.

It’s intriguing to see the rise and fall of the famous black football star who hugged the limelight in the one of the most celebrated murder trials in the 20th century. The lawyers who helped him be exonerated from the murder cases, Robert Kardashian and Johnnie Cochran, died in 2003 and 2005 respectively, the former of esophageal malignancy, the latter of brain tumor. (Photo Credits: Reuters/John Kursinski; http://www.truthout.org; http://www.armeniapedia.com) =0=

What’s common in C-130 plane crash, Sulpicio Lines’ sinking & the “MOA-ancestral domain” controversy

August 31, 2008

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) symbolic coffins of people presumed dead in a C-130 cargo plane crash bring a message. Barely a week has passed that the 9 military personnel went missing. Many think it’s too soon to dismiss them as dead, much more mourn with a posthumous memorial when no exhaustive search for their bodies have been done.

The flag-draped tribute for the brave soldiers was emotionally-moving. (Photo Credit: Philstar) The same day as the Philippine Navy (PN) announced having found the site of crash, the glum spectacle of honoring those who “perished,” went on. Nobody reported having retrieved a body. No one knows from whom the pieces of human flesh found in the crash site belong to. Only a lonely badge of “Armadong Kusog ng Pilipinas,” ID cards, and an assortment of personal effects stand as evidence of death, convincing high-ranking military officers to “close” the grim case.

Declaring a quick closure on missing persons has become too common in the Philippines. When Abu Sabaya was allegedly swallowed by the sea during a bloody confrontation with the military, a pair of sun-glasses was all that was needed to tell the world, the notorious Abu Sayyaf hostage-killer of Christian missionary Martin Burnham with a hefty cash bounty on his head, was dead. Fabled money was exchanged swiftly as the news rolled in, confusing the public with embarrassing inconsistencies in government statements and media reporting.

Many passengers of the Princess of the Stars were presumed to have passed on almost immediately when the ferry ship was found grounded near Sibuyan Islands. Similarly, the Dona Paz collision with tanker Vector brought fast presumption of deaths, including those not included in the ship manifest.

It seems the military authorities rushed beyond their call of duty by presuming these people were all dead. Military bravery and “efficient” swiftness were perhaps what they wanted to project. But they ignored the medico-legal ramifications of declaring a missing person dead—-something reminiscent of the gaffe behind the bungled memorandum of agreement-ancestral domain (MOA-AD,) tossed to the Supreme Court when Philippine peace negotiators (military men involved) didn’t do enough to ascertain the applicability and legality of giving away territorial concessions to the MILF.

The distribution of cash awards to relatives of unverified dead victims of Sulpicio Lines (Princess of the Stars.) was another thing. Without waiting if the “dead” people involved were truly among the passengers in the boat which sank at the height of Typhoon Frank, there were offers to silence the victims’ relatives with cash. For sometime now, the uproar raised by the mishap had died down quickly as the lawsuits that followed.

Certainly, there are laws governing the declaration of death of a missing person. They have serious practical applications which cover diverse issues such as settling of a decedent’s estate, the awarding of inheritance, indemnity claims, insurance benefits, the exercise of a citizen’s rights to vote, accountability for a crime or contracting marriage.

Let us take contracting marriage as an example. To the best of my knowledge the Philippine Family Code stipulates in Article 41 a 4-year wait before a missing person to be declared dead for the purpose of re-marriage. The waiting time is shortened to two years for a spouse, if the missing person presumably passed on in a sea voyage—- like the sinking of the Sulpicio Lines ferry or in a the falling of an aircraft from the sky like the missing persons of the C-130 plane crash.

At a glance, one can see how often the law is brushed aside. With out following the judicial rules, empty coffins are paraded which seem to perturb the silent public. No one raises any objection— not even the grieving victims’ relatives who took P60,000 (less than $2,000) as “financial” aids for the “death” of their loved ones. =0=

UPDATE: September 2, 2008, a day after the military’s posthumous tribute was held, 7 bodies out of 9 were allegedly recovered. Though not all bodies were complete, waiting for some time was more appropriate so taht the remains of those who perished in C-130 plane crash could be included in the memorial. In keeping with the law, a premature declaraion of death could be avoided.

Menstruation bill and catamenial holiday that make socialists think

August 20, 2008

Party-list representative Narciso Santiago filled House Bill 4888 aka Menstruation Leave Act of 2008 which provides for a one-day holiday each month for working women going through menstruation. Hailed by feminists, welfare adherents, socialists, and hordes of supportive Filipino women, Santiago proposed a half-day salary for the catamenial holiday and violators are threatened with a fine of P30,000 or a jailtime of 30 to 180 days.

Finding inspiration from similar legislations in Korea, Japan and Indonesia, Rep. Santiago makes many Filipino women happy. After all, a large percentage of them suffer from some form of menstruation-related discomfort, a leading cause of job absenteeism in their ranks.

More than 50% of menstruating women experience pain (dysmenorrhea,) most of which aren’t serious though and are treatable by medications. Others suffer from menstrual irregularities—from lack of monthly shedding to excessive flow or more frequent periods accompanied by non-specific complaints of headaches and emotional tensions.

However, about 10% of these women may experience manifestations that can be debilitating. Aside from pain, they harbor signs and symptoms of varying severity—-mood changes, fatigue, and signs of some underlying conditions such as infections, endometriosis, endometrial hyperplasias, ectopic pregnancy, genital tract malformations, cervical, uterine and ovarian tumors.

Menstruation, the time-honored monthly shedding of the uterine lining (endometrium) is a physiologic process. It occurs once a woman starts menarche at puberty and ends at menopause. A normal part of the female function, menstruation is not a disease. For this reason, medicalization of menstruation and allowing catamenial leaves on the job deserve more thinking and consideration. Menstruation holidays raise the questions of medical necessity and it opens up the possibility of indolence, slowing, and discrimination in the workplace.

The intention of the Menstruation Leave Act of 2008 is good, but this may not be beneficial for the country in the long run. With about 50% of Filipino females in the labor force, the budget to pay for a monthly menstrual holiday is enormous. This lowers work dividends and increases the overhead cost of employers. Paid menstruation leaves make women’s productivity lesser than that of men and these can spawn a backlash in the hiring of females in the workplace. The Menstruation Leave Act can drive small businesses into bankruptcy if employers have no money to pay for them.

In South Korea, after the government left the discretion to compensate menstrual leaves on the employers and companies, the courts have been deluged with protests and lawsuits because many have been refused payments. Labor unions fight with the workers for benefits. And employers start investigating who among those who skip work is truly menstruating and who among them have reached menopause which leaves them ineligible for benefits.

In Japan, the decision to request for menstrual leave is left on the worker. According to Japan’s Labor Act, female workers can request for catamenial leaves when menstruation makes it extremely hard for them to function in their jobs. Doctor’s certification may not be necessary.

Following the belief that the government and businesses must provide for most comforts of its citizens, the paid menstrual leave package in Indonesia boggles the mind of capitalists and socialists alike. With a floundering and corrupt economy, Indonesia has generously added two days’ paid leave for parents who have their children baptized, two days’ leave if their children marry, and another two days’ paid circumcision leave for the parents, not for the son. Aren’t all these labor perks wonderful? They are good if governments and employers can afford the expense. Sometimes, the law and reality don’t easily come together that easy. =0=

Terror in Mindanao & the Move to Divide the Nation

August 12, 2008

First, it was 6, 500, then 80, 000, next 100,000 and now 130,000 civilians. That’s the staggering number of innocent people reportedly displaced by the ongoing conflict between Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and Philippine government forces in Mindanao.

“Military planes pounded for the second day yesterday areas forcibly occupied by Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in North Cotabato, raising the number of displaced persons to 130,000.

At least 2,000 Army, Navy and Air Force soldiers are being used against some 500 “marauding” rebels from the 105th Base Command under Umbra Kato, said AFP vice chief Cardozo Luna, head of a task force undertaking the clearing operations.” Malaya (08/12/08, Reyes,V)

“The separatist MILF has been fighting for its own homeland in Mindanao for decades. A deal it was to have signed with the government last week on the size of its future territory fell through after the Supreme Court ordered it stopped pending a decision on its constitutionality.

Tensions have arisen as a result, with some MILF men deciding to occupy some villages in North Cotabato, including those that are predominantly Christian.“ Manila Standard Today (08/11/08, Panares, JP; Solmerin, FS.)

Mixing abuse of discretion, ulterior motives, incompetence, and questionable sense of nationhood, MILF leaders and government negotiators have made the Moslem problem worse, in spite of well-publicized maneuvers to bring peace to Mindanao. At the expense of innocent people including non-Moslem ethnic Filipinos and Christians, Islamic rebels demand concessions that are difficult to reconcile with the constitution. To grant them, some say, is tantamount to treason.

Amidst protests from lawmakers and concerned Filipinos and contrary to the law, they nurture separatist ambition whose goal is to establish their territory and break away from the country in total disregard of other Filipinos living in the region. As a result, the signing of the controversial memorandom of agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain (AD) between MILF and the government in Kuala Lumpur has been put on hold by the Supreme Court.

For the erratic handling of conciliation—ineffectual diplomatic moves, on-and-off armed engagements, and unusual appeasements given to the rebels, the government shares the blame of the unresolved conflict. Photo Credit:Reuters

New Immigration Laws Worry Illegal Aliens In Europe

June 21, 2008

After some delay because of differing positions among the 27-member countries, the European Union (EU) has finally set up stricter immigration laws which guide the handling and expulsion of apprehended illegal aliens. This is part of an effort to come up with a uniform European immigration and asylum policy by 2010.

With rising tide of resentments over lack of jobs, crowding, surging crime, and slowing of the economy, EU parliament on June 19, 2008 overwhelmingly passed the tough controversial measure. Here it is at a glance:

European Union Rules on Illegal Aliens (2008)
-Option to leave voluntarily within 30 days of apprehension
-Illegal aliens confined in special detention cells, not jails.
-Provide for basic human rights and access to legal help
-Maximum detention of 18 months (1.5 years)
-Reentry ban for those forcibly expelled
-2 years for governments to implement
-Workplace raids vs. illegal aliens not permitted

The new measure had been criticized by Amnesty International (AI) and other human rights groups asserting that the rules do not guarantee the return and dignity of the migrants. (USA Today, /AP (06/21/08)

Migrante-Europe’s chairman of the board, Rev. Jaime Taguba opined, “”We believe that enforcing these rules on undocumented migrants is counterproductive and would only exacerbate the crises in the EU and the countries of origin of these undocumented migrants because these rules go against social justice and progress, and are inhumane.” Taguba asked the EU to “adhere to conventions, treaties, and agreements, institute measures to de-criminalize the undocumented and take measures to remove the basis of ‘illegality’ by, among others, adopting regularization programs.” Inquirer (06/21/08, Uy,V.)

European Union (2006):
-8 million illegal aliens
-1 million apprehended
-500,000 caught inside EU
-200,000 deported mostly from Spain, Italy, Greece

Philippines:
-124,000 undocumented Filipinos in EU
-40,000 in France, 20,000 in Italy

USA:
-11 million illegal aliens, mostly from Mexico
-273,000 deported in 2007
-Workplace raids permitted

The controversy behind illegal immigration opens anew fresh wounds on countries like the Philippines which depend on overseas workers’ foreign money remittances to boost its local economy. In the short term, Filipinos hail jobs abroad as boon to survival, but as employment abroad grow scarcer, workers are displaced, exploited, and fall prey into a life of illegality. Separated from their families for years, they go through untold suffering and pain. There is little the government can do.

As Rev. Taguba pointed out, the long term solution to forced migration is to “fundamentally address the structural problems of economic backwardness, political dependence and neo-colonial enslavement of the home countries of these undocumented migrants.”

It is clear the Philippines need to make local employment more available so its citizens can resist the lure of going abroad to find jobs. The government must work doubly hard to convince its citizens that there is a future in the country—They can work and build meaningful productive lives while waiting for a chance to immigrate legally abroad. =0=