^

For Pinoys in US, 2010 a mixed bag

- Jose Katigbak () - December 24, 2010 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – In a flurry of activity before adjourning on Wednesday, the US Congress passed several important bills championed by President Barack Obama and it was a December to remember for the president who only a month ago suffered an “electoral shellacking.”

But for Filipinos here, it was a mixed bag.

Dreams of a better future for undocumented Filipinos in the US and hopes for a US-led revival of the Philippine garment and apparel industries faltered as 2010 drew to a close.

Additionally, the image of the Philippines suffered a hit in the wake of the killing of eight Hong Kong tourists in Manila in a botched rescue attempt by police, prompting the US and major allies to issue travel advisories warning its citizens about traveling to the country because of possible terrorist attacks.

However, all was not gloom and doom for Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in 2010.

There were many reasons to be thankful, chief of which was the $434-million development grant given to Manila by the Millennium Challenge Corp., an innovative US foreign aid program to reduce poverty through economic growth.

American officials described the five-year grant signed in September as a vote of confidence for the Aquino administration and its commitment to curb corruption.

Also, the US Congress in fiscal year 2010 increased assistance to the Philippines from $118.7 million requested by the Obama administration to $135.1 million.

Congress also added an extra $67 million to the original $198-million Filipino Equity Fund to pay off about 17,000 World War II veterans for their wartime service to Uncle Sam – $15,000 for naturalized US citizens and $9,000 for Philippine citizens.

Some 20,000 claim applications were rejected because of questionable documentation and the issue will likely be revived again in 2011, particularly because of a lawsuit filed by some veterans calling the compensation package discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Out-going Philippine ambassador to the United States Willy Gaa said he was generally pleased with how the year went.

Gaa leaves for home and retirement in early 2011 and ambassador-designate Jose Cuisia will have his work cut out for him when he assumes office.

A key test for the Aquino administration will come in June when the US State Department is expected to issue its annual Trafficking in Persons report.

If the Philippines fails to improve its record in combating human trafficking, it could be barred from receiving non-humanitarian, non-trade-related US foreign assistance, including the MCC grant.

In the new 112th Congress which begins its session in January, the Philippines is expected to lobby anew for duty-free status for garments and apparel made from US textiles, fabrics, yarn and cotton wholly assembled in the Philippines.

Known as the “Save Our Industries Act” it is dear to the heart of the Aquino administration because of the 200,000 jobs it is expected to create.

In the last Congress the Save Act was deferred for consideration because of lack of time.

Apart from the Save Act, other measures that failed to pass muster in 2010 that Filipinos backed strongly were the DREAM Act and the WWII veterans family reunification Act.

The bipartisan Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would have allowed children brought to the country illegally before the age of 16 a path to US citizenship, provided they lived continuously in the country for at least five years and completed two years of college or military service.

The Family Reunification bill seeks to allow about 20,000 sons and daughters and minor grandchildren of US Filipino veterans to join them in the United States.

ALIEN MINORS AQUINO CONGRESS THE SAVE ACT FAMILY REUNIFICATION FILIPINO EQUITY FUND FILIPINOS AND FILIPINO-AMERICANS HONG KONG IF THE PHILIPPINES JOSE CUISIA MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with