News from home: China’s ‘disgraceful statements,’ Marcos-Duterte high approval rating

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
News from home: China�s �disgraceful statements,� Marcos-Duterte high approval rating
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STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines – From the Chinese ambassador’s so-called “disgraceful statements” to the promise to resolve unpaid wages of overseas Filipino workers previously working for Saudi-based construction firms — these were among our headlines and news stories from the past week we think you should know if you’re a Filipino based abroad.

Overseas Filipinos

  • Migrante International, a coalition of OFW groups and their families, has condemned the statement of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian in a forum last week, where he “advised” the Philippines to “unequivocally oppose ’Taiwan independence’” instead of adding fuel to the flame by allowing US access to Manila’s military bases “if [the Philippines cares] genuinely about the 150,000 OFWs.”

    Sen. Risa Hontiveros has called on the Palace to urge Beijing to recall the Chinese ambassador over his “disgraceful statements.”
  • The Department of Migrant Workers said the Philippines and Saudi Arabia are in the “final stages” of closing the issue of unpaid wages of OFWs who were employed by bankrupt construction companies. The Saudi government has requested a list of claimants and affected OFWs are urged to reach out to the DMW.
  • The United States raised the processing fee for non-immigrant visas, which will be implemented beginning May 30. For example, processing fees for business and tourist visitor visas (B1/B2) will face a $25 increase to $185. Some visas for temporary workers will also see a $15 increase in their processing fee. 

Work and the economy

  • The unemployment rate went up in February, with 4.8% or 2.47 million Filipinos logged jobless according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. This is an increase from the 2.37 million unemployed recorded in January. 
  • Cashless transactions continue to be the popular choice among Filipinos. Consumer credit service Digido noted in its report that over 58 million e-wallet users in the Philippines spent 4.4 million hours using e-wallets in 2022.

    Digido analyzed usage of 14 e-wallet applications that are available on iOS Apple Store and/or Google Play.
  • As the Philippines continues with its efforts to comply with international maritime standards, the Commission on Higher Education admitted that it needs more personnel to help with the monitoring of maritime programs in the country. It is currently reviewing all the maritime schools in the country to check the quality of their programs. 
  • Results of the 2022 Bar examinations are out and the passing rate stood at 43.7% out of the 9,183 law graduates who took the exam. The Philippines will soon welcome 3,992 new lawyers who will take their oath and sign on the Roll of Attorneys on May 2. 
    This year’s batch of new lawyers will be the first to take the oath with a new lawyers’ code that includes guidelines on social media behavior and a pledge “to do justice or to even ensure access to justice."

Politics and the nation

  • The majority of the population still approves of the Marcos-Duterte leadership. A Pulse Asia survey conducted in March showed President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. still scored a 78% approval rating and an 80% trust rating. 

    Vice President Sara “Inday” Duterte, meanwhile, got an approval rating of 83% and a trust rating of 85%.

    However, 52% of respondents of the same survey say they are critical of the government’s efforts to control inflation as commodity prices continue to rise.
  • The Department of Health said it is now waiting for the implementing guidelines for the second booster against COVID-19 for the general population. This means most of the Filipino adults will soon get their second booster against COVID-19, as the first go-signal was only given to health workers, immunocompromised individuals, and senior citizens.
  • Arrest warrants have been issued against ex-Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag and former BuCor deputy for security Ricardo Zulueta over the murders of radio broadcaster Percy Lapid and the middleman in the case, inmate Jun Villamor. The charges they face are non-bailable. 
  • Balikatan, an annual joint military exercise for simulated war games, kicked off its iteration for 2023 this Tuesday. This year’s exercises will see the participation of over 17,000 troops from the US, the Philippines and Australia to test and help develop interoperability in cybersecurity defense and other military drills using various assets

You can view last week’s rundown here or sign up for the newsletter here

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