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Philippine News Digest 5

October 15, 2001 · 

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Contents:

  • Shabu worth P1B seized in Quezon
  • Unliquidated cash advances total P34B/Foreign debt up by P9.2B in 2002
  • Overseas Filipino Workers unfazed by anti-terror war
  • Lumads air peace proposals in Davao rituals
  • Suicides among young in Asia mounting
  • Addiction to “rugby” rises among children in Davao
  • Japanese NGO gyps Filipinos
  • Bar girls in Angeles City found with HIV

Shabu worth P1B seized in Quezon

A government ambulance was stopped on the National Highway on Real, Quezon on October 15, and yielded 498 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride more popularly known as shabu. The haul was packaged in ready-to-sell one kilo packs and has an estimated street price of P1 billion. Another vehicle with a commemorative license plate marked “mayor”, which followed the ambulance was also stopped by members of the Philippine National Police narcotics group and the National Bureau of Investigation’s narcotics division. The team had arrested Panukalan Mayor Ronnie T. Mitra and three others who were passengers of the ambulance car. They are Willie Yao, a Chinese national; Ruel Dequialla; and driver Javier Morilla. In line with this, Gov. Wilfrido Enverga had instructed the police to put all coastal areas of the province under close surveillance. At the House of Representatives, Congressman Gilbert Remulla filed House Bill 806 that seeks to reduce the quantity of drugs required for imposing penalties. Remulla said possession of 5 grams of shabu, and not the current 200 grams, should be made a non-bailable offense. Source: Delfin Mallari Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer, 15 October 2001.

Unliquidated cash advances total P34B/Foreign debts payments up by P9.2B in 2002

The unliquidated cash advances of all government agencies reached P34.16 billion as of December 31 last year, which reflects the national government’s poor handling of its finances, the latest report from the Commission on Audit said. This amount is even bigger than the government’s combined budget for agriculture and housing last year, which amounted to only P27.4 billion. Ironically, due to global recession, the government may have to shell out P9.24 billion more a year to service its foreign debts. It is scheduled to pay $1.28 billion on the interest and $1.8 billion on the principal of its foreign debts. The amount in Philippine pesos to cover such payments was based on a P50 to a dollar exchange rate. Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, 15 October 2001.

Overseas Filipino Workers unfazed by anti-terror war

Eagerness to work abroad remains the general attitude among overseas Filipino workers despite the anti-terrorism war waged by the United States against “nations who harbor terrorism”. In region III, Overseas Workers Welfare and Administration officer-in–charge Mamerto Mercado said the number of OFWs in the region reached 28,672 at the end of 1999. According to the regional office of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the average of 500 daily applicants for visa declined by only 5 percent. After two weeks, it returned to its regular 500 figure. There are at least 1.526 million OFWs in West Asia and 18 percent of them hails from Central Luzon’s six provinces. Presently, there are about 600 OFWs in Pakistan. Source: Tonette Orejas, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 11 October 2001

Lumads air peace proposals in Davao rituals

Lumad leaders in Mindanao presented their list of proposals in resolving the armed conflict in Mindanao in a symbolic ritual last October 6 and 7. The seven proposals are contained in a position paper given to the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panels, which are set to meet for the third round of talks in Kuala Lumpur. The proposal includes the following: 

 -full recognition and development of ancestral land; 

 -full recognition, protection and promotion of lumad right to self-determination;

– recognition and promotion of lumad participation in the peace talks;

– recognition, support and respect of the peace zones declared by the lumads throughout Mindanao;

– recognition and support of lumad definition of ancestral domain,;

– recognition of lumads as productive forces in their representation to consultative bodies of all development processes and;

-special attention to lumad communities affected by the war.

A government of the peace panel witnessed the ritual said she would raise the cause of the lumads before the panels. Source: Anthony Allada, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10 October 2001.

Suicide among young in Asia mounting

Suicide is a rising health problem in Asia, particularly among the young people, a the World Health Organization reported on October 9. Among the causes cited for suicides were changes in socioeconomic status including employment and living conditions, easy access to poisons and guns, crisis’s such as the loss of loved ones, and mental disorder such as depression and schizophrenia as well as drug and alcohol abuse. The WHO recommended restricting access to agricultural pesticides or guns to deter suicide and also called for improved treatment of mental disorders in the region.

Addiction to “rugby” rises among children in Davao

Authorities in Davao City expressed alarm over the growing number of minors, as young as 7 years old, who are hooked on rugby. Police have arrested 453 youths caught sniffing glue from July to September this year. The City Social Services and Development Office said there is a city ordinance that prohibits the sale of the substance to children but it is difficult to catch stores in the act of selling. The modus operandi of vendors is to repack the substance and sell it for P5 per pack. Children caught buying rugby would easily reason out that it is to be used for shoe repair. Source: Ayan Mellejor, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2 October 2001.

Japanese NGO gyps Pinoys

An estimated 600 Filipinos who went to Japan last year to train under a Philippine-Japan technology transfer program were allegedly duped by a Japanese non-governmental organization- Green Life and Forest Foundation (GLFF). Green Life allegedly asked the applicants more than P12,000 in surety bonds, test payment and checking account. They were issued fake employment certificates by the Manila Technology Development Center to qualify them for the program. They were required to issue P2.2 million in checks, with their parents acting as guarantors. When the trainees reached Japan in November last year, they found out that they were not sent to train but to work in computer companies, doing odd jobs like packaging computer diskettes, sometimes lasting up to eight hours. Most of them are engineers. Beegee Gregorio of the Kanlungan Center Foundation said Green Life violated Republic Act 8042 or the law on recruitment. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said Green Life is not authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment. Kanlungan will ask the Japanese embassy in Manila to temporarily stop the program so that Green Life would not be able to send more Filipnos in Japan. Source: Cher Jimenez, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2 October 2001.

Bar girls in Angeles City found with HIV

Angeles City- Two female commercial sex workers were found positive for HIV, which could develop into the Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome in this city. This is in addition to the 58 HIV and AIDS cases that have been monitored since 1983. Mayor Carmelo Lazatin said his administration has implemented a comprehensive anti-AIDS program that includes surveillance, testing, prevention and advocacy. The City Health Office records show that there are 1,600 registered sex workers in the city, but a non-governmental organization says the number increases to 6,000 during the months of September to December when foreigners frequent the city. The city government classifies workers in the entertainment industry as either registered or unregistered commercial sex workers. About a third of the commercial sex workers here, including minors, are unregistered making the CHO figures unrepresentative of the actual situation. A separate news article reported that there are at least eight full blown cases of AIDS in the city, on top of the 50 other HIV positive cases that are being monitored by the City Social Hygiene Clinic. Souce: Jun Malig, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 3 October 2001.

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