The Daily Roundup: 21 February 2011

Women drug mules pay as Philippines fails on jobs

Maid in the Philippines” was how its top export commodity used to be known, with millions of women from the impoverished country hired abroad as domestic workers.

But as menial jobs vanish in the global recession and opportunities fail to materialize at home, more and more desperate Filipino women are resorting to something far more dangerous—smuggling drugs as mules.

Three convicted Filipino drug smugglers, including two women, on Friday saw their executions in China postponed after Vice President Jejomar Binay made a frantic dash to Beijing to plead for their lives.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

79 Pinoys on China death row” by Michael Punongbayan

Apart from the three whose execution has been deferred, there are 79 other Filipinos awaiting their fate on China’s death row, an overseas workers group said yesterday.

Migrante International said more than 120 other Filipino workers are also facing death sentences in other countries.

The group lauded the efforts of President Aquino in successfully halting the execution of the three Filipino workers in China.

Read more at The Philippine Star

Year of revolution: From EDSA to Tahrir Square” by Amando Doronila

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS ago tomorrow, a military mutiny broke out in Camp Aguinaldo, triggering what is now widely recognized as the first bloodless people power revolution in postcolonial history. Most Filipinos are not celebrating that event.

We are celebrating its ideological consequence—the turning point in the struggle for the return of democracy to the Philippines.

The mutiny sparked a mass movement in the streets that led to the overthrow of the 14-year dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos. Actually, Marcos ruled for 21 years until he fled the country to escape the wrath of the people in the streets.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Jimmy Ongpin, Angie Reyes” by Arthur Aguilar

Jimmy Ongpin and Angie Reyes had very few things in common. The differences between them were numerous.

The compelling similarity of course is that they took their own lives in an act that they must have considered to be the only way out after an intense period of service to our people. Both had Harvard post-graduate degrees, an MBA for Jimmy and an MPA for Angie. They both worked for female Presidents but on this, the similarity ends. Only future historians can analyze the roles played by the two female Presidents in shaping their terminal states of mind. Or maybe by facts to be revealed by memoirs yet unwritten.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Aquino at PMA Homecoming: Corrupt Officials and Cohorts will pay” by Zaff Somerin and Marilou Guieb

President Benigno Aquino III yesterday vowed all persons involved in the military fund mess, including their cohorts, will have to pay the price for what they had done in ruining the integrity of the military institution.

“If there are opportunists, I’m sure there are also cohorts. It’s unbelievable they were that old enough to be forgetful,” said Aquino in connection with the ongoing investigations surrounding the corruption issues rocking the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Mr. Aquino was the guest of honor during the 63rd Alumni Homecoming held at the grounds of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) at Fort del Pilar, Baguio City.

Read more at Business Mirror

BOP surplus widens to $1.6B in January

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) over-the-weekend said the country’s balance of payments (BOP) surplus widened to $1.606 billion in January from $1.232 billion in December last year.

“The surplus can be traced mainly to proceeds of the national government’s global peso bond issuance, BSP’s forex operations and income from operations abroad,” BSP governor Amando Tetangco said.

He said monetary authorities expect higher forex inflows to continue this year, although at a moderate pace.

Read more at Malaya

Gov’t seeks donor support

AQUINO ADMINISTRATION officials will meet with international development partners this Saturday in a bid to muster support for the government’s priority projects.

The Philippines Development Forum (PDF) — an annual gathering of bureaucrats and donor agency representatives as well as members of the business sector — will tackle the 2011-2016 Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) and other government priorities.

“We will present to them the main ideas of the development plan and hopefully, we can urge them to give as much as support as they can for [us to attain] our goals,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano W. Paderanga, Jr. said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Read more at Business World

DILG: Informal settlers now barangays’ problem” by Dona Pazzibugan

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo has given barangay officials the primary responsibility of addressing the problem of squatter communities in their areas.

Robredo issued a memorandum to all governors, mayors and barangay captains ordering them to adopt measures to curtail the proliferation of squatters and mendicants in their communities.

Robredo was instructed by President Benigno Aquino III to address the problem of informal settlers.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Protection of OFW dollars eyed” by Fernan Marasigan

A LEGISLATOR has asked the country’s banking institutions to provide hedge facilities that would enable overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families to convert their future US dollar remittances into pesos at preset exchange rates, following forecasts of a stronger Philippine currency.

The move, according to Party-list Rep. Arnel Ty of LPG Marketer’s Association (LPGMA), is one practical way to help migrant workers and their families cope with the rising peso, with the fewer pesos they will be getting for every dollar.

Ty said that the hedging schemes would be particularly helpful to overseas workers who send home dollars to pay for fixed monthly expenses, such as apartment rental, amortization of a new home or car, or school tuition installments.

Read more at Business Mirror

Follow US House, CBCP official tells lawmakers

An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged Philippine lawmakers to look to US Congress’s example by defunding contraceptive use.

Fr. Melvin Castro of the CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life said the US has realized its mistake for funding contraception and the country can avoid it by rejecting the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

“If the US Congress defunded such entity, we ask our Congress to reject the RH bill which has the same effect of allocating people’s money against what they believe in,” he said.

Read more at CBCP

Con Yap