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Gov’t inaction in Tacloban: Why?

Published in On Distant Shore

On the second anniversary of the deadly devastation wrought by the super typhoon “Yolanda” on Leyte and nearby provinces last Sunday, President Aquino would rather attend the wedding of the daughter of tycoon Andrew Tan than be with the survivors in Tacloban to reassure them of the government’s support.

 

The President’s nonchalant attitude is symptomatic of the government’s criminal neglect in the rehabilitation of Leyte and other hard-hit provinces, where 24 months later, the people still continue to suffer from deprivation of food, shelter and livelihood.

 

Foreign nations and individuals answered the call of the Aquino administration and the United Nations for donations in cash and in kind, but the government is, for some reason, slow in disbursing them, ignoring the fact that they were emergency funds that needed to be used immediately. Billions of pesos have also been allocated for disaster relief, rehabilitation and preparedness, and yet not much has been spent for these purposes.

 

An audit report by the commission on Audit showed that the Quick Response Fund of the Office of Civil Defense accumulated to a huge amount of P923,153,721 as of December 31, 2014 but “was not utilized as envisioned and became idle, thus, depriving the intended beneficiaries of the benefits that could be derived therefrom and unnecessarily tying up the fund in the custody of the OCD which could have been used to fund other important projects of the government.”

 

The COA report also said that at least P382 million in local and foreign cash donations were locked in the bank accounts of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

 

The COA also said that out of P466 million in foreign and local donations received by the NDRRMC for various disasters since 2008, only P81 million, or 17 percent, had been disbursed as of last year.

 

Sen. Loren Legarda gives an even bigger amount of unspent funds from the QRF. She said that based on Department of Budget and Management records, for 2015 alone, a total of P5.458 billion out of a total allocation of P6.7 billion for QRF remains unspent, meaning as much as 81 percent of the available fund has not been used.

 

In addition, she said, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Fund still has a balance of P10.28 billion that can be used for relief and rehabilitation purposes.

 

“We have more than P15 billion worth of government funds that we can use for Lando victims. Yet many survivors of calamities in recent years are still suffering and have yet to rebuild their homes and regain their sources of livelihood,” she said.

 

The big question remains unanswered: Why?

 

Budget Secretary Butch Abad admitted that only 8.6 percent or 17,641 of the 205,000 housing units programmed for Yolanda survivors has been built. Out of P75 billion allocated for housing resettlement, only P21 billion have been released by the DBM.

Again, we must ask: Why?

The survivors are getting tired of the government’s promises and inaction. Thousands joined a protest rally in Tacloban while close to 10,000 staged their own protests in Roxas City in Capiz, home province of administration presidential candidate Mar Roxas, and in Iloilo and Aklan.

“It has been two years now after Yolanda, but the people are suffering from the bigger disaster that is the Aquino government. Instead of helping the victims, the government pocketed the funds allotted for the victims and paved the way for private contractors and big businesses to profit from the misery of our kababayans,” said Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo.

 

To dissipate the protests, Abad announced that P10.20 billion might be released this month for rehabilitation and recovery programs in badly hit areas and that P46 billion would be included in the 2016 budget, the bulk of which would go to housing and other rehabilitation and reconstruction projects.

But we must ask again: Why only now? Was the planned release timed for the 2016 elections, so that before the presidential campaign goes into high gear, people would see rehabilitation projects going on? Worse, will a chunk of the unspent funds be used for the campaign as suggested by some opposition leaders?

President Aquino, who since giving away bottles of water to the victims a few days after the typhoon has not returned to Tacloban, made the snub even more evident on Sunday when he opted to go to the wedding of Tan’s daughter. At least, during the first anniversary last year, he visited Guiuan in Eastern Samar, the first land to be hit by Yolanda and where the officials are not surnamed Romualdez.

 

While the government is dilly-dallying on its rehabilitation efforts for the victims of Yolanda and other disasters, which even Rehabilitation Czar Panfilo Lacson could not stomach and resigned in disgust, private organizations have been doing an outstanding job of helping the Tacloban folk rebuild.

 

Last week, the France-Philippines United Action (FP-UA) Foundation turned over 76 disaster-resilient houses and a multi-purpose center to Yolanda survivors who relocated to Cebu. The housing projects cost $1.5 million and were financed by leading French companies. The project was implemented in cooperation with the Habitat for Humanity Philippines.

 

The Red Cross, on the other hand, turned over 128 houses built on 1.3 hectares in Barangay Paypay also in Cebu built in cooperation with the Philippine National Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity Philippines.

 

Banco de Oro and SM Holdings, Inc. has donated a two-story, four-classroom building while the US Agency for International Development (USAID) constructed a single-story, four-classroom building, both in Tacloban.

The Rotary Club of Yokohama, Japan, rebuilt two buildings at the Sagkahan National High School in Tacloban that were destroyed by the storm surge. The Red Cross Society of Japan and Taclobanon Elena Sen Lim donated modular buildings that serve as temporary classroom units.

Also last week, I watched a news segment in Aksyon News where scores of volunteers from the US and Europe were seen helping local volunteers and town folks build a barangay hall in Tacloban. For more than two years now, many of these volunteers have been toiling with the local people to help rebuild Tacloban.

 

And yet, the national government that has billions of pesos in allotted and donated funds plus other resources, is dragging its feet to come to the aid of the victims of Yolanda and other disasters, such as the Bicol earthquake, the Zamboanga siege and the recent super typhoon Lando.

 

Until when will we have to ask why?

Atty. Jojo M. Liangco Immigrant's Story Column

Published in Immigration

Atty. Jojo M. Liangco, The Columnist

 

Ang taong 1965 para sa mga Pilipino

 

Ang taong 1965 ay isang mahalagang “panandang-bato” para sa ating mga Pilipino, sa Pilipinas man o dito sa Amerika.  

Limampung taon na ang nakakaraan ng aprubahan ng Kongreso ng Amerika ang batas imigrasyon na nagbukas at nagbigay daan upang maging imigrante ang marami sa atin at ang iba pang mga lahi mula sa Asya.

 

Ito ang Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (o “INA of 1965”) na nilagdaan bilang batas ni Presidente Lyndon B. Johnson noong ika -3 ng Oktubre, 1965 at napagtibay noong ika- 30 ng Hunyo, 1968.

 

Bago naging batas ang INA ay umiiral noon ang batas na naglilimita o naglalagay ng numerical restrictions sa mga visa at nakabatay sa tinatawag na per-country-of-origin quota.  Ang kota noon para sa Pilipinas ay limampung (50) mga visa lamang kada taon.

 

Kaya’t mahalagang naisabatas noong 1965 ang INA para sa ating mga Pilipino dahil ito ang batas imigrasyon na nagbukas at nagpalaki ng bilang ng mga imigrante sa komunidad dito sa Amerika.

 

Pagkatapos ng limampung taon, malaking diskurso at debate na naman ang pagre-reporma ng sistema ng imigrasyon sa Amerika.

 

Mahusay sana kung bago magtapos ang 2015 ay magkaroon na ng batas na ipapasa ang Kongreso at malagdaan ito ni Presidente Barack Obama bilang tugon sa kanyang ipinangakong reporma sa imigrasyon.   

 

Ang Republican Party ang malaking balakid at malakas na puwersang humahadlang ngayon para sa isang bagong batas na mag-aayos sa sistema ng imigrasyon at sa pagkukulang ng “broken system” ng ating batas imigrasyon sa ngayon.     

 

Nakakalungkot nga lamang na sa pagbabago ng Speaker of the House, nagpahayag kaagad ang Republican congressperson na napili, si Speaker Paul Ryan, na hindi siya makikipagtulungan kay Presidente Obama sa pag-o-overhaul o pag-aayos ng mga polisiya sa imigrasyon.

 

Mula sa mismong bibig niya, anya, isang "ridiculous notion” ang pag-aayos ng batas at sistemang imigrasyon “because Obama cannot be trusted on the issue.”  

   

Kung hindi nagtitiwala ang mga Republican kay Presidente Obama sa isyu ng imigrasyon, kanino sila nagtitiwala?  Ano ang gagawin nila sa sirang sistema at batas imigrasyon ng Amerika?  

 

Hindi natin dapat kalimutan ang biyayang idinulot sa maraming imigrante ng Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.   

 

Hindi natin dapat kalimutan na matagumpay na naisagawa ang pagiging batas ng INA sa sigasig ni Presidente Johnson sampu ng kanyang mga kapartido sa Democratic Party sa pangunguna ni Sen. Edward Kennedy at sa pakikipagtulungan at pagsuporta ng mga Republicans noon.

 

Sa eleksyon sa 2016, huwag nating kalimutan ang matigas at baluktot na paghadlang ng mga Republicans sa batas na magpapabuti at magbibigay ng bagong kaayusan sa sistema at polisiyang imigrasyon sa bansa.   

 

Magtiwala tayo na may mga political liders na tulad nina Lyndon B Johnson, Sen. Edward Kennedy, at Presidente Obama na gumawa at gumagawa ng naaangkop na hakbang para ma-reporma ang sirang sistema ng imigrasyon sa Amerika.  

Mahalaga ring balik-tanawin ang taong 1965 sa Pilipinas.

 

Noong 1965 ay nanalo sa eleksyon si Ferdinand E. Marcos laban sa nakaluklok na pangulo ng Pilipinas noon, si Presidente Diosdado Macapagal, sa halalan para sa panguluhan ng bansa.

 

Nahalal o na-re-elect muli si Presidente Marcos noong halalan ng 1969 at tinalo niya ang standard bearer ng Liberal Party, si Sen. Sergio Osmena, Jr., sa sinasabing isa sa mga “maruming eleksyon” na naganap sa poder o panguluhan ni Marcos.  

 

Sa pangalawang term ni Marcos naganap ang mga malakihang protesta ng mga kabataan at estudyante sa Mendiola (malapit sa Malacanang at Plaza Miranda) at ang pagputok ng First Quarter Storm o “FQS” sa pangunguna ng mga makabayang aktibista.

 

Ang isyu ng protesta ay sari-sari--- mula sa pagtaas ng mga bilihin, mababang pasahod, korapsyon sa gobyerno, matinding kahirapan ng mga mamamayan, karahasan at militarisasyon kasama na ang brutal na pag-trato ng militar at mga pulis sa mga mamamayan, pagsupil sa mga karapatang pamamahayag at karapatang pantao, at marami pang iba.

 

Nagdaan ang mga araw at buwan noon at lalong lumakas ang puwersa ng kilusang aktibista hindi lamang sa hanay ng mga kabataan at estudyante kundi maging sa hanay ng mga maralitang taga-lungsod, unyonistang manggagawa, magsasaka, at mga magbubukid.

 

Hindi na  lamang nakasentro ang pagkilos at aktibismo noon sa Kamaynilaan kung hindi maging sa mga malakihang siyudad at bayan-bayan sa buong kapuluan.

 

Sa kaawa-awang kalagayan ng ekonomiya at pangkabuhayan sa bansa noon at sa kawalan ng oportunidad, ang pagbubukas ng imigrasyon sa Amerika na dulot ng INA ang siyang malaking umakit sa hanay ng mga kabataang nagtapos sa kolehiyo at mga propesyonal para lumisan at dumayo bilang mga imigrante sa Amerika.

 

Noong 1972, sa hangarin ni Marcos na mamalagi sa poder at kapangyarihan pagkatapos ng legal niyang termino na sinasaad sa saligang-batas na hanggang 1973 lamang ang kanyang second-term, idineklara ni Marcos ang Batas Militar.

 

Ang rehimen ni Marcos at ang Batas Militar ang siyang tinitignan bilang pinakamadilim na panahon ng Pilipinas mula ng maging malayang republika ito.

 

Hindi natin dapat kalimutan ang sinapit ng bansang Pilipinas at ng mga mamamayan nito sa ilalim ng rehimeng Marcos at ng kanyang batas militar.         

   

Hanggang sa susunod na linggo po!

 

(Si Jojo Liangco ay isang abogado sa tanggapan ng Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. sa San Francisco, California.  Ang kanyang praktis ay hinggil sa mga kaso sa linya ng immigration, family law, personal injury, bankruptcy, business law, DUI cases, criminal defense at traffic court cases.  Ipadala ang inyong mga komentaryo kay Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 o tumawag sa telepono (415) 974-5336).  

Atty. Lourdes Santos Tancinco on Annulment

Published in Round Table

Atty. Lourdes Santos Tancinco, The Columnist

 

Dear Atty. Lou,

 

My cousin entered the United States as fiancé and got married within 90 days. She received her green card last March 22, 2015. They lived together for 9 month until they got into a big misunderstanding and decided to get annulment or divorce.

 

My cousin got hired last July 23, 2015 at Target. The question is after the annulment or divorce is granted is it possible that she can stay and continue working? My husband and I are willing to sponsor her to help her stay. She wants to fight to stay here and continue to work. Thank You!

 

Josie

 

---

 

Dear Josie,

 

Your cousin has a conditional resident status having been married for less than two years.  Since she received her green card on March 22, 2015, she will have a valid status until March 22, 2017.  Hence, her employment with Target is still considered as an authorized employment.

 

Before her expiration of 2017, she should be able to remove conditions of her residence. If she is divorced by that time, she should make sure that she does not obtain an annulment based on “fraud.” There is a difference between the “annulment” and divorce due to irreconcilable differences. Your cousin should make sure that if the U.S. citizen spouse files for annulment it is not based on the fact that the there was “fraud” in the marriage.  If the termination of the marriage is due to fraud, there is a strong probability that the green card status of your cousin will be revoked.

 

 In order to remove the conditions of the resident status and extend the green card beyond March 22, 2017, the non-citizen must prove that she entered into marriage in good faith. This means that the marriage was not entered to circumvent immigration law or simply for the purpose of getting the green card. She has the burden of proving that they intended to live a life together as husband and wife. While there is no hard and fast rule in determining what and how much evidence is necessary to prove a valid marriage, it is important to know what the immigration examiners are looking out for in determining fraud. As per U.S.C.I.S Adjudicator’s Field Manual, there is possible marriage sham if the following exist: (1) separate cohabitation; (2) disparity in age; (3) marriage between relatives; (4) no common language; (5) multiple prior marriages and (6) marriages arranged by third parties.  

 

The fact that there was a break down in the marriage, in itself, is not a ground to deny the grant of the waiver of joint filing. Divorce based on irreconcilable differences will be the appropriate way of terminating the marriage to avoid a finding of fraud.

 

Atty. Lou

 

 

(Lourdes Santos Tancinco, Esq is a partner at the Tancinco Law Offices, a Professional Law Corp. Her principal office is located at One Hallidie Plaza, Ste 818, San Francisco CA 94102 and may be reached at 1 888 930 0808; email atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or check their website at www.tancinco.com or www.facebook.com/tancincolaw. The content provided in this column is solely for informational purpose only and do not create a lawyer-client relationship. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. This column does not disclose any confidential or classified information acquired in her capacity as legal counsel. Consult with an attorney before deciding on a course of action. You can submit questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Atty. Crispin Lozano on Denial of Green Card, Others

Published in Immigration

Atty. Crispin Lozano, The Columnist

 

 

When a person applies for an immigrant or non-immigrant visa, for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident of the United States, or for citizenship or naturalization, a lack of good moral character, a finding of moral turpitude, and certain criminal offenses can result in a finding of inadmissibility, denial of visa, or denial of naturalization.

 

There are permanent and conditional bars to the determination of good moral character.

We will discuss the conditional bars to naturalization in this article.

 

Q: What do conditional bars to good moral character mean?

A:  Conditional bars are not permanent in nature and are triggered by specific acts, offenses, activities, circumstances, or convictions within the statutory period for naturalization, including the period prior to filing and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance. Some crimes bar you from naturalizing for only the five or three years prior to your applying for naturalization. That’s because the law requires a naturalization applicant to prove five years of good moral character as a condition for naturalizing, three years if you qualify under the special rules that apply to certain spouses of US citizens.

 

Q: What crimes are considered conditional bars to good moral character?

A:  Crimes in this conditional bar category include any crime involving moral turpitude, two or more gambling offenses, a drug offense, two or more nonpolitical offenses for which a judge sentenced you to five years’ imprisonment or more, and any crime for which you were confined to prison for more than 180 days. So, if the crime is in this group, but is not an aggravated felony, you can naturalize five (or three) years after having committed the crime.

 

Q:  How can it be determined that an act is a crime involving moral turpitude?

A: Whether an offense is a CIMT is largely based on whether the offense involves willful conduct that is morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong, the essence of which is a reckless, evil or malicious intent. The Attorney General has decreed that a finding of “moral turpitude” requires that the perpetrator committed a reprehensible act with some form of guilty knowledge.

 

Q:  What crimes can be considered crimes involving moral turpitude?

A:  A crime involving fraud or dishonesty is usually considered to involve moral turpitude.

Other crimes the law considers to involve moral turpitude are: arson; assault with intent to kill or inflict serious bodily harm; bigamy; blackmail; bribery; bad check convictions; burglary; counterfeiting; larceny; perjury; prostitution; rape; drug crimes; receiving stolen goods; robbery; and sexual offenses. These crimes may be divided into crimes against a person, crimes against property, sexual and family crimes, and crimes against the authority of the government,

 

Q:  When are crimes against a person considered a CIMT?

A:  Crimes against a person involve moral turpitude when the offense contains criminal intent or recklessness or when the crime is defined as morally reprehensible by state statute. Criminal intent or recklessness may be inferred from the presence of unjustified violence or the use of a dangerous weapon. For example, aggravated battery is usually, if not always, a CIMT. Simple assault and battery is not usually considered a CIMT.

 

Q:  When are crimes against property considered a CIMT?

A: Moral turpitude attaches to any crime against property that involves fraud, whether it entails fraud against the government or against an individual. Certain crimes against property may require guilty knowledge or intent to permanently take property. Petty theft, grand theft, forgery, and robbery are CIMTs in some states.

 

Q:  When are sexual and family crimes considered CIMTs?

A:  It is difficult to discern a distinguishing set of principles that the courts apply to determine whether a particular offense involving sexual and family crimes is a CIMT. In some cases, the presence or absence of violence seems to be an important factor. The presence or absence of criminal intent may also be a determining factor. The CIMT determination depends upon state statutes and the controlling case law and must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Offenses such as spousal or child abuse may rise to the level of a CIMT, while an offense involving a domestic simple assault generally does not. An offense relating to indecent exposure or abandonment of a minor child may or may not rise to the level of a CIMT. In general, if the person knew or should have known that the victim was a minor, any intentional sexual contact with a child involves moral turpitude.

 

Q:  When are crimes against the authority of the government considered crimes involving moral turpitude?

A:  The presence of fraud primarily determines the presence of moral turpitude in crimes against the authority of the government.

 

Note:   This is not a legal advice.

 

 

SUCCESS STORIES

  1. On May 22, 2015, we received an approval of I-751 waiver of joint petition based on spousal abuse.
  2. On May 18, 2015, we received an approval of adjustment of status for a client based on marriage with big age gap between spouses.
  3. On May 6, 2015, we received an approval of PROVISIONAL WAIVER for a Mexican national in Ciudad Juarez based on petition by US citizen spouse.
  4. On April 30, 2015, we received an approval from the Immigration Court of I-751 review based on spousal abuse.
  5. On April 20, 2015, we received an approval from USCIS of green card for a client who used three names in her lifetime.  We submitted numerous documents to prove proper identity.
  6. On April 14, 2015, we received approval of naturalization for a client who has three DUI and a civil harassment case.  The DUI and civil harassment has all been cleared before.
  7. On April 10, 2015, we received an approval of immigrant visa for a client who originally confessed marriage is for immigration benefits only but later on had a serious relationship with petitioner.
  8. On March 30, 2015, we received an approval from the Immigration Judge for a waiver of misrepresentation involving marriage fraud that happened at the U.S. Embassy.  The alien subsequently get a green card from a petition by her mother.  She could not naturalize unless a waiver of misrepresentation is granted.  With the waiver she is now qualified for naturalization.
  9. On March 10, 2015, we received an approval from USCIS for an adjustment of status for SAME SEX MARRIAGE.
  10. On February 18, 2015, we received an approval by USCIS of green card based on self petition by an abused spouse.  Her minor children are now qualified to immigrate based on this approval.
  11. On February 10, 2015, we received an approval of green card for a client who entered without inspection.  We first sought an advance parole with USCIS so that she can travel to her country legally and come back to the U.S.
  12. On January 20, 2015, we received an approval of immigrant visa under the Provisional Waiver program for a seaman client.  She successfully arrived to the U.S. without problem.
  13. On January 7, 2015, we received an approval of adjustment of status from USCIS for a client who entered without inspection but reentered on a parole visa.  Parole visa became the basis of legal entry to allow for adjustment of status.
  14. On January 5, 2015, we received two approvals of I-601A waiver under the Provisional Waiver Program.
  15. On December 17, 2014, we received an approval from USCIS of a green card under the Violence against Women Act.
  16. On December 16, 2014, we received an approval of DACA for an alien who has a final order of removal.
  17. On December 11, 2014, we received an approval of immigrant visa for an alien who entered the U.S. as a seaman under Provisional Waiver Program.
  18. On October 7, 2014, we received an approval from the U.S. Embassy in Manila an immigrant visa for a client who entered the US without inspection under the Provisional Waiver Program.
  19. On September 26, 2014, we received an approval from the Immigration Court for waiver of misrepresentation for a client who entered as single but actually married at the time of entry to the U.S.
  20. On September 9, 2014, we received an approval from Immigration Court of adjustment of status for a client who was previously denied an asylum.
  21. On September 8, 2014, we received an approval from USCIS of Form I-601A provisional waiver for two clients.
  22. On September 5, 2014, we received an approval from USCIS for Fiancée visa based on same sex petition.
  23. On September 4, 2014, we received an approval of DACA for a client who has problem in her birth certificate.
  24. On August 28, 2014, we received an approval of green card based on spousal abuse.
  25. On August 25, 2014, we received an approval of green card based on same sex marriage with big age difference.
  26. On August 1, 2014, we received an approval of waiver of joint filing of I-751 based on spousal abuse.  With the approval she was granted permanent residence.
  27. On July 21. 2014, we received an approval of green card based on marriage that was initially denied due to inconsistencies in interview response.
  28. On July 19, 2014, we received an approval of I-751 removal of condition on residence waiver based on battered spouse.
  29. On June 11, 2014, we received an approval from USCIS of green card under Violence against Women Act.

 

 

(Crispin Caday Lozano is an active member of the State Bar of California, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Association of Consumers Bankruptcy Attorneys.  He specializes in immigration law and bankruptcy law. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 1-877-456-9266)

 

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