SWS survey: Filipinos give ‘poor’ trust rating to China

MANILA: The recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed that Filipinos have poor trust in China, the country’s leading rival over the territories in the South China Sea.

The June 24-27 poll results released Monday by the SWS showed 51 percent of Filipinos have “little trust” and 27 percent have “much trust” in China, while 19 percent were undecided. This garnered China a net trust rating of -24 percent, which is classified as “poor” by the independent pollster.

The net trust rating is the difference between those who have “little” and those who “much” trust in China. A net rating of +70 percent and above in a public trust survey is classified as “excellent” while a +9 percent to -9 percent is considered “neutral” while a -10 percent to -29 percent is “poor,” according to SWS standards.

The survey, which polled 1,200 adults nationwide and has a margin of error of ±3 percentage points, was conducted about two weeks before the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague ruled on July 12 in favor of the Philippines against China. The ruling junked China’s “nine-dash line” claim over most of the South China Sea.

The survey results, however, showed an improvement over from the -45 percent net trust rating of China in June 2015 and -46 percent in September that year, when reports and images of Chinese island building in the South China Sea areas also claimed by the Philippines were widely reported in the media.

The June survey was part of SWS’s public trust survey in which President Rodrigo Duterte obtained a +84 percent, or excellent, trust rating.

PM Justin Trudeau promotes Filipino culture in Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed up in a barong tagalog in the Filipino-Canadian gathering in Toronto on Sunday, August 20, to promote Canada’s cultural diversity.

The 44-year-old Prime Minister, tagged by Filipino netizens as one of the APEC hotties, attended a Philippine-themed food and cultural festival in Ontario, Toronto arrived greeting the crowd “mabuhay” and “kumusta”. Up on stage, Trudeau began his speech about the value of multiculturalism.

“We all understand that our differences are a source of strength, not a source of weakness. When we learn from our neighbors, when we get to know different cultures and different stories and different backgrounds, our communities get richer, our communities get stronger, and the future that we build for our kids gets better and better,” he told the crowd, as quoted by Rappler.

Trudeau’s official Facebook page posted a series of photos of the Prime Minister joining in the festivities, with pictures of him grilling barbecue while wearing a barong Tagalog were highlighted. The post was captioned with, “Serving up a Taste of Manila with Toronto’s Filipino community today. Mabuhay!”

The barong tagalog he wore was the same hand-embroidered masterpiece by Paul Cabral that he wore to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit’s welcome dinner held in Manila last November 2015.

Photo Credit: Philippine Star

NAIA relocation eyed to help ease Metro Manila traffic

MANILA: The Road Users’ Protection Advocates (RUPA) suggested relocating the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) outside Metro Manila to help solve the long-standing problem of traffic congestion in the Philippines.

The motorists rights’ group RUPA has made an appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to look for engineering solutions to heavy traffic in “traffic magnets” such as shopping malls and other commercial establishments.

“Road congestion will be solved not only by creating more space for vehicles, but also relocating traffic magnets to ease clogging in important road arteries,” RUPA executive director Nick Elman said.

Because of the number of flights scheduled in each hour in each day, people coming from and going to the airport in personal cars or taxi cabs get stuck in a rut. Because of heavy traffic, people get delayed from flights and appointments or take hours before they finally find a cab to get home.

Besides the traffic problem, Elman noted the dangers posed by airport operations to the health and safety of residents living near the airport complex located at the boundary of Pasay and Parañaque cities.

Elman cited the tragedy on the adjacent South Luzon Expressway on July 21, 1989, where eight people had perished when vehicles got hit by a Philippine Airlines jet that overshot the NAIA runway. Five years ago also, a small cargo plane crashed into a populated village near the airport, causing a fire that killed 13 people, mostly children, and engulfed 50 houses.

“These should be enough reason for NAIA to be transferred somewhere where passengers will not be inconvenienced by long drives and rides from Metro Manila,” Elman added.

PH senators weigh in on PH leaving UN

MANILA: A number of senators stated that President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat of withdrawing the United Nations membership of the Philippines should not be taken seriously.

This was after the United Nations questioned the extrajudicial killings allegedly happening due to the president’s war on illegal drugs.

“He is a very intelligent man. Leaving the UN will throw our nation back to the Stone Age. He knows very well that being an isolationist country is not in the best interest of the Filipino people,” Inquirer quoted Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian as saying.

Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Gordon on a phone interview said: “To me it’s a notice to the UN: “Don’t be too quick to judge your partners. It’s his way of telling the UN that he’s doing his work.”

According to Gordon, the United Nations should instead just take actions to stop the transnational spread of illegal drugs, and advise governments in origin countries to do something about it. Gordon said he would write Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. to issue a note verbale to China demanding an explanation, since it is where most of the illegal drugs in the Philippines are discovered to have originated.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano further defended President Duterte, as quoted by Inquirer. “I’ve always explained the way the President communicates. He always uses argumentum ad absurdum, where you bring the argument to the absurd… My interpretation of what he said, that we should just leave [the United Nations], means that if you [UN officials] cannot be fair, the UN officials and you cannot see what we’re doing to keep the people peaceful and give them security, what is the organizations for?” he said.

Photo Credit: CNN Philippines

Flashing your finger in UAE punishable by deportation

Getting overwhelmed by emotions thus leading to picking a fight is unavoidable, but flashing a middle finger in public is an offence for expats that would lead to deportation.

For several years now, the Federal Penal Law has made it compulsory to deport those found guilty of flashing their middle finger in public. And cases like these continue to arise.

Chief judge Ali Attiyah Sa’ad, a presiding judge at a Dubai Misdemeanors Court bench told the Gulf News: “Unless legislators introduce new amendments to the Penal Laws deportation will remain obligatory and inevitable.”

Chief Judge Sa’ad reiterated that flashing the middle finger in public is an act punishable by the Penal Law that also obligates the presiding judge to hand out a deportation order against the defendant, once incriminated. According to the law, it is considered ‘an indecent gesture in pubic and a crime related to breaching a victim’s pride, privacy and/or modesty’.

“It is true that flashing a middle finger… is deemed as a crime that [impacts] on a victim’s pride and honor. Such crimes are treated with high vigilance due to its awfulness,” Sa’ad said in a statement.

The cassation and supreme courts in the UAE handed out several precedents and landmark rulings in which any form of public indecency — including the act of flashing a middle finger — has been considered and is treated as a crime of breaching a victim’s pride, honor and modesty.

World’s biggest pearl found in the Philippines

MANILA: The world’s biggest pearl weighing a whopping 34kg was found in the Philippines, according to officials.

The pearl was found 10 years ago by a fisherman who was unaware of its value and kept it as a good luck charm, BBC quoted Palawan official Aileen Amurao as saying.

“We were amazed when he brought it to us,” she reportedly told local media.

Officials are awaiting confirmation from gemologists that the find is indeed the world’s largest pearl, the report said.

The pearl is 61cm (2ft) wide and 30cm long and, if confirmed, will easily beat the current record holder, the Pearl of Lao Tzu, which weighs 6.4kg, the news portal added.

PH bars entry of over 700 foreigners

MANILA: As part of its efforts to curb the entry of undesirable aliens, the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) had turned away more than 700 visitors in July for failing to justify their travel to the country.

Most of those barred from entering the Philippines were Chinese tourists, while the rest were from other Asian countries, Jakarta Post quoted the bureau.

In July, 720 aliens were not allowed to enter the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and other ports of entry due to their inability to explain the purpose of their visit, the report said.

BI commissioner Jaime Morente reportedly explained that the foreigners who were turned away “were likely to become public charges.”

Also refused entry to the Philippines were the foreigners who were improperly documented and those on the agency’s derogatory list, the report pointed out.

“Under immigration laws, a foreigner is a public charge if his presence here would constitute a burden to the state, thus he is deemed undesirable and therefore excludable,” Morente was quoted as saying.

The turning away of such foreigners is part of the BI’s intensified campaign to prevent undesirable aliens from coming to the Philippines, said the news portal.

Immigration officers have the discretion to order the exclusion of an arriving foreigner if he cannot satisfactorily answer questions on his travel itinerary, intended length of stay and reasons for travelling to the country.

Morente reportedly said the foreigners were immediately booked on the first available flight to their port of origin, after which they were included on the BI’s blacklist.

Of the 720 aliens, 364 were Chinese, followed by 37 Indonesians, 31 Vietnamese, 27 Koreans, 26 Indians, 19 Taiwanese, 15 Cameroonians, 15 Americans, 14 Uzbeks, and 13 Nigerians.

The BI will be tapping six Chinese-speaking interpreters to be deployed in international airports to help the immigration officers communicate better with Chinese tourists.

Meanwhile, the BI has reportedly submitted a proposal to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to implement an Advance Passenger Information System.

This will require all incoming and departing aircrafts to submit to the BI an advance copy of their passenger manifests, said the news portal.

Mangrobang said this was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to expedite and improve frontline government services.

“This will enable us to screen, vet and pre-clear international travelers prior to their arrival and departure, thus resulting in speedy immigration processing and reduced queuing time at our immigration counters,” the BI spokesperson said.

Dubai-based Filipino first in UAE to get new high-tech PH passport

DUBAI: Filipino expat Blessing Martinez, who applied for a new passport on August 8 after lost it early this month, now claims that she’s the first Filipino in the UAE to get the newly-designed Philippine e-passport.

“It’s such a blessing,” Martinez was quoted as saying by Khaleej Times. “Aside from the bragging rights, simply put, the Philippine e-passport is really now one of the most visually-striking and highly-secured passports in the world.”

“Flipping through the pages (of the passport), I was really amazed at how designers and researchers put great efforts to come up with a very likeable passport,” Martinez, 29, who works as a cabin crew for a Dubai-based airline, reportedly said.

Philippine consular officials unveiled last week the 44-page travel document which depicts Philippine artifacts, cultural icons, historic places, renowned tourist destinations, and even lyrics of the Philippine national anthem, the report pointed out.

“There’s also a strong sense of patriotism that is rekindled by looking at the passport,” Martinez reportedly said.

“I just was impressed by the prominent display of our national bird, the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), which is one of rarest species in the world and endemic to our forests in south Philippines. Also, the Manunggul Jar which dates back to Neolithic era and the ancient script or ‘baybayin’ all bring a great sense of pride for us, Filipinos,” explained Martinez

But more than the colorful features and pictures of world-class tourist destinations, Martinez is better impressed with the new security features. “The holographic photo and indigo ink used, plus the microchip, microprints and ultraviolet marks will surely make it hard to make a counterfeit copy of the passport.”

And where will Martinez first use her new passport? “I’m travelling back home to get married in October and after the wedding I hope we can go the Maldives for our honeymoon,” she said.

PH cops to lose job, face trial if involved in drug trade

MANILA: About 300 police officers suspected of involvement in the drug trade in the country, would be relieved of their duties and tried in court, Philippines National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald Dela Rosa has told a Senate committee.

More than 700 drug traffickers and users had been killed in police operations since July 1, the country’s top police officer has testified at a two-day congressional inquiry launched to explain the rise in drug-related killings.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte had vowed there will be no letup in his hard-line crackdown on drugs and related crime despite global concerns over the alarming death toll and possible human rights violations, reported CNN Philippines.

More than 1,800 people have died in police-related killings and unsolved slayings often attributed to vigilantes since Duterte took office in late June, according to police statistics.

“The fight against drugs will continue to the last day of my term,” Duterte reportedly said at Malacañang Palace. “The fight against corruption will continue for six years maybe. … Many will be unhappy, but I think the bigger picture is that I would have something to live by for my country.”

Dela Rosa, on his part, said that the police “follow the rule of law” and that there was no shoot-to-kill order despite the growing toll of bodies piling up in the wake of Duterte’s crackdown.

He also reportedly said that the police’s “knock and plead” campaign aims to have 1.8 million drug offenders surrender to authorities over the next six months.

In the “knock and plead” operations, police invite suspected drug users to submit themselves to local authorities for registration.

He said he was aware he had set an unachievable target for the surrender program but believed he could achieve 60 percent to 70 percent of the figure. Already, municipalities across the country have logged around 675,000 voluntary surrenders, Dela Rosa was quoted as saying.

He reportedly said that the statistics would be legitimate. “We can’t force people who are not using drugs to surrender, just so we can reach the target.”

Responding to questioning by Sen. Gregorio Honasan, Dela Rosa admitted that his officers “made mistakes.”

“We are only human, and we can feel frustration …,” he was quoted as saying by CNN Philippines. “We admit we make mistakes, we are not perfect. We hope there is balance when they portray us.”

“I feel it when I go to the field, people hold my hand and say thank you for doing this. They’re happy with what the police are doing,” he added.

Jobs available in Northern Ireland for Filipino nurses

DERRY, Northern Ireland: To cover the acute staff shortage, around 100 international contracts will be offered to nurses from the Philippines and Italy, the Northern Ireland-based Western Trust has said.

The qualified nurses from overseas will be offered the opportunity to come and work in Derry or other health facilities across the Western Health and Social Care Trust area, according to local media reports.

The Italian nurses are expected to arrive and take up their posts over the next few weeks, followed by the Filipino nurses arriving in November, reported Derry Journal.

A lack of nurses in Northern Ireland has led to a regional international recruitment campaign for all of the Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland.

So far, 488 job offers have been made to nurses from the Philippines and 40 to European Nurses.

“We are extremely pleased with how successful the recent international nurse recruitment campaign has been. Our International staff play a significant part in the ongoing care and wellbeing of all our patients in the Western Trust, thus it is strategically important that the Trust explores all nursing recruitment avenues to maintain and develop this, domestic and internationally,” Alan Corry Finn, Director of Nursing with the Western Trust, said.

“I look forward to personally welcoming the staff from the Philippines and Italy soon and have them complement that of all our excellent existing local nursing work force.”

“It is expect the European Nurses to arrive in September 2016 and the Philippines Nurses from November 2016. “Initially the nurses will be employed as healthcare assistants while they complete the necessary registration process with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). “Once the nurses are registered with the NMC, they will be placed across the Western Trust to fill existing vacancies,” he added.