News from home: Evacuating Filipinos in Sudan, Marcos off to US again

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
News from home: Evacuating Filipinos in Sudan, Marcos off to US again
This photo shows Philippine Ambassador to Egypt Ezzedin Tago and overseas Filipino workers crossing the border from Sudan to Egypt.
DFA release

MANILA, Philippines — From the country’s plans and operations to evacuate Filipinos in Sudan amid the conflict there to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. going to the United States for an official working visit — 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

  • The Philippines’ evacuation of Filipinos in Sudan is underway, with the Philippine Embassy in Egypt and the Department of Migrant Workers coordinating to get them out of the conflict-ridden country. The Department of Foreign Affairs is handling everything related to their cross-border travels such as consular services, while the DMW is in-charge of welfare assistance. 

    The DMW is providing a $200 financial aid to all overseas Filipino workers and it is also working on a job assistance program for all displaced OFWs. The Philippines is already working on flight arrangements to bring them back home and the first batch of 17 evacauees arrived Saturday afternoon. 

  • There are still some OFWs who went home due to the pandemic who have yet to receive their P10,000 financial aid, Migrante Philippines said. The OFWs went to the DMW this week to file a petition for the quick release of the financial assistance. 

  • Ahead of Labor Day, migrant workers are hoping that the government can sort out issues related to the financial aid programs, unpaid wages of OFWs who used to work for construction companies in Saudi Arabia, and the release and freedom of Mary Jane Veloso.

Work and the economy

  • Marcos Jr. on Tuesday last week approved a 90-day extension to allow more SIM card users to register as 18 to 20 million have yet to sign up with their respective telecommunications providers. 

    The Department of Information and Communications Technology said they are studying to limit some services – such as social media access – to those who do not register by the end of the 90-day extension, but the National Telecommunications Commission is unsure if the suggestion is legal.

  • Five of the country’s biggest tycoons are proposing a P100-billion rehabilitation program to improve the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

    Tan-led Alliance Global Group Inc. and Infracorp Development Inc., Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc., Ayala-led Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Gotianun’s Filinvest Development Corp., and the Gokongwei’s JG Summit Infrastructure Holdings Corp are teaming up with US-based Global Infrastructure Partners to revamp the country’s biggest airport. 

Politics and the nation

  • Marcos Jr. is off to the US again as Manila hopes to secure “greater economic engagement” with Washington. Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez said the chief executive’s four-day visit is “packed full” as he meets with business leaders there. In Marcos Jr.’s predeparture speech, he said he will also be meeting with the Filipino community while he’s in Washington DC.

    The US – and in a separate statement, Australia – reiterated its support for the Philippines after another incident with the China Coast Guard in Philippine waters this month.

  • The Department of Education is proposing to update its basic education curriculum. Some of its proposals include starting sexual and reproductive rights lessons beginning Grade 4 and including the West Philippine Sea ruling and red-tagging as a human rights violation in Social Studies (Araling Panlipunan) classes.

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund said confidence in vaccines for children decreased by 25% during the pandemic, putting kids at risk for catching severe diseases. The Philippines also has the second highest “zero-dose kids” or the number of unvaccinated kids in the East Asia and the Pacific region, with around one million.

  • The Philippines detected its first case of the “Arcturus” COVID-19 subvariant, a version of Omicron that drove a surge of infections in India. The Department of Health said “currently available evidence for XBB.1.16 does not suggest any differences in disease severity and/or clinical manifestations compared to the original Omicron variant.” 

    The country is seeing an increase in COVID-19 infections, with OCTA Research noting that Metro Manila’s seven-day positivity rate increased to 12.3% on April 25 from 8.1% last week.

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

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