Daily Archives: January 28, 2008

FilVet Organizations Call for Mass Walkout

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – Officials from the American Coalition of Filipino Veterans (ACFV) and Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) are urging the FilAm community to walk out of their workplace on April 9, Bataan Day to show support for the Filipino Veterans Equity Act and Family Reunification Bill.

The two bills are currently stalled in the Senate and House of Representatives. The ACFV hopes a mass nationwide strike of FilAm workers can get the bills much needed national attention to jump start Congress to act on it.

“We [urge] our leaders in different cities to honor the heroism and gallantry of [the veterans]  on Bataan Day by going on strike,” said ACFV Executive Director Eric Lachica. “We’re asking everyone to come out of their offices to honor our veterans.”

Lachica arrived in Southern California last week. He began the ACFV’s grassroots campaign for the Filipino Veterans Equity Act and Family Reunification Bill in Southern California last Thursday January 24. He’ll make similar speeches at the Filipino American Service Group Inc. (FASGI) in Los Angeles before heading to forums in Carson, Long Beach and San Diego.

Addressing a handful of supporters at the Search to Involve Pilipino American (SIPA) headquarters, Lachica reviewed the state of the two pending bills and the need for the community to take action.

“We’re synchronizing our efforts to make [the two bills] happen. All of the factors are in our favor,” said Lachica.

Lachica said that their focus within the next three months is to pass the reunification bill. The bill would reunite an estimated 20,000 children of Filipino veterans, whom many left behind when they arrived to the US. The bill would allow the sons and daughters to gain their US Visa without waiting for a formal petition, which would normally take more than 20 years.

“It’s very important that we get the reunification bill passed as soon as possible,” said Lachica. “As you may or may not know once the petitioner or the veteran in this case dies, the petition to the US for their children dies with them.”

FilVet Equity

Veterans cry that time is running out.  The FilVet Equity bill has been stalled since its passage in the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees in the middle of last year.

Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) has maintained he will try to get at least 60 sponsors of the bill before placing it for open vote in the Senate, according to Lachica.

“There are ongoing discussions with the staff of Sen. Akaka and Republican leaders such as Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) to ensure we have a bipartisan compromise on our family bill and equity pension bill.”

The much-heated compromise is to see whether Filipino veterans in the Philippines deserve as much or less than their American counterpart.

As it stands, Akaka’s bill proposes a $300 flat rate a month for Filipino WWII Veterans living in the Philippines, while their American counterparts will receive full VA benefits.

Resigned

ACFV Vice President of Membership and former WWII Veteran Franco Arcebal said it’s most important to get benefits for those Filipino WWII vets still living in the Philippines.

“We are tired,” he said. “We are disappointed. We are even resigned to not get anything because of that disappointment. We want the US government to put their last efforts to give benefits to those veterans in the Philippines. Those veterans in the Philippines were relegated to nothing. Many are already resigned. We are only going to live for a few more years.”

Arcebal said many veterans have passed on with nothing to show for it.

“Their disappointment is buried with them,” he said.

Arceball added that Filipino veterans might be passing away but its time for new leaders to step up to the plate.

“We realize this is our last push, last chance for us veterans,” he said. “But it is not the last push for Filipinos. I know the young ones will carry on this once we are gone. We want these leaders to take the initiative while we fade away.”

Justice for Filipino American Veterans Coordinator Art Garcia said his organization is planning to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the 1946 Rescission Act on February 18.

“We are conducting an open forum for the Filipino American community so they can know about our veterans and their plight,” he said.

The forum will be held on February 18 at the Lake Street Elementary School in Los Angeles.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Hospital Strike Averted

By Jherlyn Meneses/Asianjournal.com

MANILA — The planned hospital holiday by medical practitioners on Sunday, Jan. 27, will not push through after the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) reached a compromise on Thursday over a contested provision in the Cheaper Medicines bill.

The agreement was made possible by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and PMA President Jose Sabili in a meeting in Quezon City. During the meeting, Duque showed Sabili and other PMA officers a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing 54 percent of respondents who are using generic medicines. As such, Duque said there is no need for the Cheaper Medicines Bill to contain the provision allowing the prescription of only generic medicines.

House Bill 2844 would require doctors to write down only the generic names of drugs on their prescriptions to their patients. The House version aims mainly to lower the prices of medicine by setting up a drug price regulatory board. The Senate version of the bill however focuses on allowing the importation of cheaper medicine to generate competition and bring down local drug prices.

The Philippine Medical Association had threatened to stage a hospital holiday over the generics-only provision. They prefer the current system where doctors are required to write down both the generic and brand names of drugs on their prescriptions.

Dr. Geneve Rivera, Deputy Secretary-General of Health Alliance for Democracy (Head), said that while the group fully supports PMA’s stand, it does not compel its members to join the planned holiday, nor sanction those who will join the action. The group, which is composed of individual health practitioners and medical organizations, cannot impose upon its 300-strong members a particular course of action on the issue.

Rivera said it will be unfair to patients if doctors try to make their point at the expense of their patients.

“Categorically, we support the action of the doctors against the ill conceived ‘generics only prescription’ suggested by HB 2844. The ‘generics only provision’ does not give the immediate and effective solution of lowering drug prices,” Rivera said.

“The authors of HB 2844 should examine thoroughly the reasons why drug prices are exorbitantly unaffordable in the Philippines. One reason is that the drug industry is monopolized by transnational and multinational drug companies. Another is that there is no regulation of drug prices,” Rivera said.

“Also the government should not be let off the hook. The ill implementation of the Generics Act, the failure of Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) to evaluate and monitor generic drug manufacture/production which led to the lack of confidence in generic drugs by the doctors and even patients. The issue should be redirected to dismantling the monopoly of the multinationals and transnationals over the drug industry and the lack of resolve of the government to control drug prices,” she added

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, meanwhile, called on “all parties concerned to take into consideration the welfare of our patients, especially the poor patients”.

He said that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was for reducing the price of medicine to affordable levels and pushed for the establishment of the Botika ng Bayan (Pharmacy of the People) outlets, which have been selling affordable medicines, including imported generic brands.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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LA City Attorney Announces Shift in Fighting Crime

By Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES — City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo declared that his office has changed its approach to crime from a demographic to a geographic model to keep up with the changing times. The announcement was made at the Second Annual Media Forum for the Asian-Pacific Islander Community on Thursday, January 24.

“In the past it had been strictly a demographic model:  We focus on the person, where that person lives, what crimes he commits, we find that person and arrest him and put him in jail. That age-old model had its merits,” Delgadillo said.

Today, the city attorney’s approach is more proactive. He and his prosecutors go to the neighborhoods where there is a prevalence of crimes and they attack it from every angle. In the case of gangs, Delgadillo said that they go after the gang’s headquarters, take away the place where they collect and do business because that gives them the opportunity to put the gang out of business for good.

“That’s our goal, and we feel that we are making progress toward that goal,” Delgadillo said.

Two weeks ago, Delgadillo’s team made a sweep of the Alameda and the El Faro swap meets in South LA. The markets were long suspected as centers of activity of the 38th Street Gang.

On that sweep, the city attorney’s team  aided by LAPD officers, arrested two gang members, issued three citations for cigarette sales violations, closed a restaurant that was selling unsafe food, and caught individuals who were dealing with counterfeit DVDs and CDs. The sweep was precipitated by a tip made by a physician who reported that people were getting sick from taking fake pharmaceuticals being sold in the swap meets.

“We are the gang capital of America. We gave birth to them,” Delgadillo lamented. “But we are making a dent.”

He said that when he was elected City Attorney six years ago there were 57,000 gang members in the city. Today, there are 39,000, a number that he considers still “too many.”

As for Asian gangs, Delgadillo said that his office does not deal with a lot of them because most are in the San Gabriel Valley.

“Gangs are not all alike. Members of Asian gangs go to school. If they have tattoos, they are of Asian heritage, which is a proud thing,” he said. “More often than not, they get good grades. So the signs for a parent to identify whether they are involved in gangs are a little bit more difficult to discern.”

“So parents should have a conversation with their kids every day for at least 15 minutes and find out who their friends are, where they hang out. Basic parenting should include this kind of conversation,” he advised.

Looking ahead, Delgadillo said that his office would continue to go after gangs. “We are going to round them up, a challenge, especially now that we have tough budgetary times,” he said. “Environmental protection will continue to be enforced, and we will continue to keep our neighborhoods safe,” he promised. He said that they will focus on keeping schools safe, adding that by making them safe, neighborhoods will likewise be safe.

“I am not saying that I have all the answers. But I know that if I go in there, I would be able to identify the problems and work towards fixing them,” Delgadillo said. Obviously, there are language issues, but I want to encourage the Asian-Pacific Islanders media to help me to communicate to the community that it’s okay to talk to us.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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