Daily Archives: December 1, 2007

Senate President Calls Curfew Not Necessary

by Momar Visaya/Asianjournal.com

MANILA — Senate President Manny Villar called the government-imposed curfew in Metro Manila and the provinces in Southern and Central Luzon from 12:00 midnight to 5:00 am early Friday “unnecessary, uncalled for and unconstitutional.”

“I’m personally against it. I don’t see any merit why the curfew was imposed,” Villar told the Asian Journal in an interview at the Manila Hotel after the conclusion of a global parliamentary meeting on HIV/AIDS.

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno announced the curfew during a press conference moments after Sen. Antonio Trillanes and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim surrendered to authorities after a standoff at the Manila Peninsula Hotel.

Describing the curfew as a “necessary inconvenience,” Puno called for the cooperation of the citizenry.

Checkpoints were placed in various critical parts of Metro Manila and Southern and Central Luzon to further root out the possible elements involved with the Manila Pen siege.

“I was surprised. Hindi ako sumasang-ayon sa paraan na kanyang ginamit,” Villar said.

The Senate President also expressed caution on the issues of curfew and the arrest of media men who covered the uprising.

“Parang tinatakot na tayo. Yung pagkakaaresto sa mga media at yung curfew kagabi, dapat nating tingnan ang mga ito nang sabay, hindi separate,” Villar explained.

He added that the government seemed to be “testing” the public. “Nakakakaba, kasi baka tine-test nila kung hanggang saan ang limit ng publiko kapag nag-impose sila ng curfew,” Villar said.

Necessary

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, like Puno, believes that the imposition of a curfew was needed, but he was quick to say that the nation is not under martial law.

“I think it is reasonable that the government takes this measure. The President can take the necessary measures to make sure that the rebellion stops. This is not a curtailment of the rights of the people,” Teodoro said in an interview.

“If this were martial law, we wouldn’t be here,” he added.

Teodoro asked people to stay at home as police look for the other people who are involved in this uprising.

“Kailangan nating gawin ito para masugpo ang kung ano pang natitirang kaugnay ng rebelyong ito,” he added.

The curfew was lifted early Friday morning.

Media people arrested

After the surrender of Trillanes, Lim and the Magdalo soldiers, media men were rounded up outside the Manila Peninsula and brought to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan for processing.

Puno said that the questioning was necessary.

“This was done because of the media men’s refusal to leave the premises. We asked them to leave the hotel at 2:30, 3:00 and again at 3:30. The media men were in between the police and the people that the police were going to arrest,” Puno added.

Officials of ABS-CBN, led by the head of their news department said that the arrest of media people was uncalled for.

“These moves are draconian and they pose serious threats to press freedom. There is no reason why journalists who are just performing their jobs must be arrested,” Maria Ressa, head of ABS-CBN News said in a television interview.

The National Press Club and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas has denounced the questioning of the media practitioners.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Villar Gears Up for 2010 in NP Centennial

by Momar Visaya/Asianjournal.com

MANILA — The Nacionalista Party marked its 100th anniversary Wednesday night, Nov. 28, with a gathering of national and local party leaders at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Senate President Manuel Villar and the party president called on his party-mates to continue their fight for nationalism and against poverty.

“As public servants, we should keep in mind our motto – Ang Bayan Higit Sa Lahat (The Nation Above All Else) – as we go along with our responsibility to provide a better future for our people,” said.

Villar also unveiled a new book, entitled “Building the Nation: First 100 Years, Nacionalista Party 1907-2007” to mark the party’s centennial.

“It tells us a story of how past party presidents – Sergio Osmeña, Manuel L. Quezon, Jose Yulo, Eulogio Rodriguez Sr., Gil J. Puyat, Jose B. Laurel Jr., Salvador Laurel – navigated through the colonial, neo-colonial, and independent stages of the country, producing in the process six presidents,” Villar said.

The book, which explores the early days of the organization to the present, details how the party flourished and struggled through the days of glory and trials of the Filipino people in building the nation in the last century.

“We are the new breed of Nacionalistas – young, dynamic and vibrant. Guided by the wisdom and virtues of our forefathers, we will continue to move forward towards the realization of our goal to provide a better future for the Filipino people,” Villar added.

House Speaker Jose de Venecia, May 2007 senatorial candidates Ralph Recto and Butch Pichay, party-list representative Satur Ocampo and other politicians joined their Nacionalista colleagues in the anniversary celebration.

The NP’s centennial anniversary also marked the launched of Pondo sa Sipag – Puhunan sa Tiyaga, a nationwide project aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and providing livelihood opportunities.

“A nation of entrepreneurs will have a winning chance in the economic arena of the world,” said Villar, a successful businessman who rose from poverty prior to his entry to politics.

Through the Sipag at Tiyaga Livelihood Caravan, Filipinos from all over the archipelago will be provided with livelihood and skills training. Those who excel in their respective fields will then be provided with a gift of P100,000 to help them in their own businesses.

Villar hopes that the project will produce the next breed of entrepreneurs who would lead the country to economic recovery.

Among the Nacionalista Party stalwarts who attended were Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano, party spokesperson Gilbert Remulla, Laguna Rep. Justin Chipeco, Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto Guingona III, Las Pinas City Rep. Cynthia Villar and family members of former Vice President Salvador Laurel.

The party has produced the most number of presidents of the Philippines, among them Manuel Quezon, Sergio Osmeña, Jose Laurel Sr., Ramon Magsaysay, Carlos Garcia and Ferdinand Marcos. The party presidents before Villar were Osmeña, Quezon, Jose Yulo, Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez, Gil J. Puyat, Jose B. Laurel Jr. and Salvador “Doy” Laurel.

The NP’s centennial celebration came just two days after its archrival of yore, the Liberal Party crowned its 2010 standard-bearer, Sen. Mar Roxas, who was installed party president. His election was seen as a major step toward clinching his nomination as the LP standard bearer in the next presidential election.

Pundits are already pitting Roxas and Villar as the top contenders in the 2010 presidential elections.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Sexual Battery Lawsuit Between FilAms a Mistrial

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon declared a mistrial in the civil suit filed by Filipino Remy Jimenez against retired Dole Asia Senior Vice President for Manufacturing and Logistics, Felipe Dabdoub. The suit includes sexual battery, sexual harassment and other allegations.

The jury could not reach a majority decision on four of the nine issues of the case. The jury found that Dabdoub failed to pay Jimenez a minimum working wage and that her acceptance of monies for the defendant’s admitted sexual misconduct was not tantamount to extortion. However, the jury could not agree whether sexual battery had indeed occurred.

Jimenez’ lawyer, Browne Greene considered the mistrial a victory. The trial began on October 9.

“We feel confident that we will win with the next jury,” said Greene. “We only needed one more vote to win the case.”

The court will set a new trial date later in the week.

Originally from Mindanao, Jimenez began working for Felipe and Evelyn Dabdoub in 1992. She was 22 years old at the time. She was one of ten live-in nannies and housekeepers for the Dabdoub’s home in Davao City, Philippines. During her employment, she became the primary caregiver for the Dabdoubs’ three children for 13 years.

In 2001, she moved with the Dabdoub’s to Westlake Village in California when Felipe Dabdoub was transferred to Dole’s corporate headquarters.

Jimenez alleged that throughout her employment, Dabdoub repeatedly raped, sexually assaulted and molested her. He also allegedly made threats against her and her family in the Philippines if she told anybody about the abuses. He also used Jimenez’ love for his children to compel her not to report his alleged unlawful conduct, according to Greene.

Jimenez filed an employment complaint suit against Dabdoub in September 2005, five months after she quit. Along with the allegations of sexual and physical abuse, she also alleges that Dabdoub failed to pay her wages. She is seeking more than $300,000 in punitive damages.

“[The alleged rapes] began in the Dabdoub’s home in the Philippines,” said Greene. “When she began working there he allegedly raped, and sexually harassed her. He treated her like a rag doll.”

Jimenez testified that she was raped as often as once a week and Felipe paid her $280,000 to keep her from telling his wife.

“I (felt) ashamed and dirty,” Jimenez testified as reported by KNBC. Jimenez said that she told a friend she wanted to kill herself by jumping off a cliff while they were hiking together.

Greene said his client would often had to fight back the much larger Felipe Dabdoub.

“People ask all the time, ‘well, why didn’t she leave,’” said Greene. “But like all battered women who stay with an abusive husband, there is a large sense of fear and love. He [allegedly] threatened harm against Remy’s family back home in the Philippines. That she would get arrested. But also Remy loved the Dabdoub’s children. She pretty much raised them as her own daughters. She felt she had an obligation to protect these children.”

During the hearing, a taped message Jimenez – who cannot read or write – gave to her family described Felipe as a “maniac” and did not understand why he could not satisfy his sexual needs with his wife.

KNBC also reported that Evelyn Dabdoub testified how her husband, Felipe Dabdoub, broke the news to her concerning the nanny while the couple were together in a car.

“He told me that he had unfortunately made a very stupid and big mistake with Remy,” Evelyn said. “I was in shock. I could not believe it.”

Evelyn Dabdoub said her husband told her the contact between him and Jimenez happened in 2002 in his office. Jimenez offered Felipe a massage.

“Unfortunately, he went along with it,” Evelyn said according to KNBC. “I don’t want to remember anything else, but I did remember that he touched her.”

Evelyn also said her husband paid Jimenez $280,000 “because she (Jimenez) had threatened to tell me.”

The Dabdoubs’ filed a countersuit against Jimenez to try and recover the money. Dabdoub alleged he was the subject of an extortion plan by Jimenez and her boyfriend.

But in her testimony, KNBC reported Jimenez said it was Dabdoub’s idea to pay her the $280,000.

The jury agreed and dismissed the counter suit. Greene said he’s looking forward to a new trial.

“This is a huge international problem,” said Greene. “Countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Ethiopia are among places where the exploitation of young women run paramount.”

“Remy Jimenez’ lawsuit is about modern day slavery in America,” he added. “It is one of the rare cases raising the ugly topic of enslaved domestic workers that has actually gone to trial unlike so many others which have settled out of court in order to avoid public scrutiny.”

Greene said his client has not taken the quiet way out.

“She has bravely stood up for her rights through our civil justice system,” he said. “We appreciate the jury’s efforts as evidenced by its finding substantially in her favor. Now, we move forward in what we anticipate will be a quick, successful retrial on the remaining issues, giving Remy Jimenez her day in court once and for all.”

Phone calls to Dabdoub’s lawyer, John Barber, were not returned as of press time.

Greene said that there is no criminal case against Dabdoub yet.

“I can tell you that my client has been interviewed by the FBI about her allegations,” he said.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Galing Pinoy: Rockin’ the House

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES — Filipino American Disc Jockey (DJ) Rocky Aujero may not receive the same recognition as Apl.de.ap or the other headlining acts he performs with on stage but let it be known that he is just as important.

Aujero better known as “DJ Rocky Rock” in the music scene knows how to pump up the crowd. His keen selection of music and array of unique beats from juggling, scratching two turntables at the same time – makes him one of the top DJ’s in the US and in the Philippines.

At 27, Aujero has already accomplished more than he expected. Besides being Apl.de.ap’s personal DJ, he has opened and toured for rock bands such as Linkin Park, Korn and rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg.

Humble beginnings

Aujero recently sat down with the Asian Journal to reflect on his success as a DJ and as an entrepreneur. He was born in Makati, Philippines and raised by a single mother in the San Jose Area.

“I worked hard to be where I am but this is truly a blessing,” said Aujero.

He started spinning records when he was 12 years old.

“Whenever I went to parties, I was always the guy who went straight to the radio or box [DJ booth] playing one cassette after the other,” he said. “But the moment I saw turntables, that was even fresher. I was like, ‘I want to try this out.’”

It began as a hobby and grew to be an obsession. He worked as a DJ throughout junior high school and high school. His mother, at first, was against his passion.

“She would be saying, ‘DJ, DJ – do your homework,’” he recalled with a smile. “She wasn’t really into that. She wanted me to be a nurse and follow my cousins in other healthcare professions.”

Of course, he didn’t follow her mother’s wishes and took DJ’ing more seriously.

“For a year, I didn’t go out,” he said. “I really just trained myself on how to be a DJ as if I was [Manny] Pacquiao preparing for a fight.”

Winning battles

He began to “battle” (common term for DJ competitions) in local record store competitions. He placed in the top three in most amateur competitions and won a few hundred dollars here and there. More importantly, as he continued to compete, he began to earn the respect of his peers.

His career began to flourish when he won a seat representing San Francisco to compete at the International Turntablist Federation Worldwide DJ Competition.

By 2002, Aujero continued to win more local and national DJ competitions that culminated when he placed first and won a 2002 Ford Focus at the first Guitar Center USA DJ Championships.

“After that, my Mom was like ‘wow, you won a car,’” recalled Aujero. “That’s when she knew that I took DJ’ing very seriously.”

Among his other awards were 2nd place at the World Vestax Extravaganza DJ Battle, 5th place at the DMC World DJ Championships, and the WMC/DMC DJ Spin-off in Miami the past two years. He also won $10,000 at a Los Angeles Cool Mix DJ competition. His work was also featured on the soundtrack of the NBA Ballers video game and most recently, in the movie “Surf’s Up.”

DJ school

Aujero said his biggest accomplishment is the DJ school – Mind Music – he helped found in the Bay Area for underprivileged high school kids.

“During that time, I worked with a lot of high school kids in the Bay Area,” he said. “[The school] is about being positive, getting kids off drugs, [and] reaching out to the kids. I would pick these kids up and take them to my studio or teach them at their home.”

“I’m not a selfish guy,” he added. “I know there’s a lot of kids out there that want to do what I’m doing. I want to help them out. Reaching out to these kids inspires me to go on with my career.”

Business ventures

After his uncle’s sudden death from suicide in the Philippines, Aujero decided to do more.

“It made me realize that I needed to go back home to the Philippines,” he said. “My uncle helped raise me along with my Mom like a second Dad. I wanted to go back to the Philippines and do something good.”

In 2004, Aujero played a vital part in bringing the Black Eyed Peas to Manila. During that time, the greater Philippine population did not know the Black Eyed Peas and Filipino artist Allen Pineda Lindo despite their commercially successful album Elephunk being released a year before.

“Nobody there even knew that Apl.de.ap was Filipino,” he said. “Along with their manager, we came up with a marketing plan to make Apl big in the Philippines.”

Aujero along with the Black Eyed Peas started Island Flava, an event production company.

Apl.de.ap then asked Aujero to be part of his music label, Jeepney Records.

Most recently, Aujero’s other production company Bluefizz hosted the official Manny Pacquiao post fight party in Las Vegas, NV.

Now, back in Los Angeles, Aujero performs with Dirty Heads, a new band who recently signed with Warner. He continues to DJ and makes music with Apl.de.ap. He is also associated with a number of companies including Elite Media Marketing Co., and the Rocky Rock project. Among his sponsors are K-Swiss, Ecko, Mackie DJ equipment, and many more.

Despite his success, he continues to strive as a DJ and as a Filipino.

“I can’t take all this for granted,” he said. “This is something that’s going to be passed on. I want to give back to the Philippines and do what I can to help their economy. I’m more focused right now.”

“My Mom, she’s a prayer warrior, she told me, ‘good things are coming.’”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Historic Debate on Filvets Bill Up Before Full Senate

by Joseph Lariosa (Special to the Asian Journal)

CHICAGO, Illinois — When US Senate session resumes after Dec. 3, it will deliberate for the first time, the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill  sponsored by Hawaii Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (Dem.). He is Chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee.

Originally Senate Bill 57, the “Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007” will provide for the first time starting May 1, 2008 a flat rate of $3,600 annually disability pension for single Filipino veterans living in the Philippines; $4,500 annually for married veterans; and $2,400 annually for surviving spouses.

To be eligible, a veteran “must have income below a certain threshold, have served during a period of war, and have a permanent and total non-service-connected disability.”

For this proposed Senate bill to take effect, the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should propose to Philippine Congress to repeal a current Philippine law that prohibits Filipino veterans from receiving “pension benefits and medical care” from the Philippine government if they are receiving United States pension.

The closest thing this happened was during the Johnson and Marcos Administrations in mid-sixties when members of the US Congress visited the Philippines and the Philippine Congressional delegation returned a visit to Washington, DC to take a hard look on the grant of benefits to Filipino World War II veterans.

Unfortunately, the recommendations of both congresses did not even go past the committee levels of both the US Senate and the House of Representatives.

Last Nov. 8,  Sen. Dick Durbin (Dem.-IL), Assistant Majority Leader, “propounded unanimous consent agreements” on two bills reported by the Veterans Affairs Committee — S. 1233, the proposed “Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury and other Health Programs Improvement Act of 2007” and S. 1315, the proposed “Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007,” the Senate version of the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill.

In his report to the Senate last Nov. 4, Senator Akaka said both bills will be considered “at any time determined by the majority leader, following consultation with the Republican leader” that also provides that the only amendments that would be in order would be “first-degree amendments that are relevant to subject matter of the bill.”

This means that the Senate will “take up these two bills, ordered reported by the committee in late June and reported in August, at some time with the only exclusion being that no nonrelevant amendments be in order.”

The only senator opposed to the passage of “both unanimous consent agreements,” according to Sen. Akaka, is Idaho Sen. Larry E. Craig (Rep.). He expressed the view that some provisions in the two bills are “controversial enough to merit considerable debate.”

Although, he considers Senator’s Craig’s amendments “relevant,” Sen. Akaka is hopeful the debate on the bills on the floor will “go forward.”

If  the Senate passes the bill, it will be sent to a conference committee, where it awaits the House of Representatives version that will be crafted by Rep. Bob Filner (Dem.-CA), House Veterans Committee Chair. Rep. Filner should also make sure to calendar the bill and have it passed by the House of Representatives.

If Akaka’s and Filner’s bills do not pass both chambers before this year’s end, the Filipino Veterans Bill will be considered dead in this 110th Congress.

Among the provisions of the Akaka’s “Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007” are as follow:

Appropriations for several veterans programs, including disability compensation, pension, burial, life insurance and readjustment benefits at a cost of $178-M for 2008; and $1-billion over the 2008-2012 period.

Payments of $1,200 and $4,100 for funeral and burial expenses, respectively, which would increase annually by a cost-of-living adjustment;

For those Filipino veterans who served “in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines or the Philippine Scouts under the U.S. Armed Forces from July 26, 1941 and July 1, 1946, the estimated 30,000 eligible veterans living in the Philippines will be provided medical care of about $1,700 per person, which would increase to about $2,100 per person by 2012.

While Filipino veterans residing in US are eligible “for full disability compensation” in the amount of $9,600 annually, the Filipino veterans living in the Philippines will get “one-half of the full rate” starting Jan. 1, 2008.

Filipino veterans living in the Philippines applying on or after May 1, 2008 will be eligible for the first time to receive annual payment of $3,600 disability pension for “single veterans”; $4,500 for married veterans; and $2,400 for surviving spouses. To be eligible, a veteran “must have income below a certain threshold, have served during a period of war, and have a permanent and total nonservice-connected disability.”

Filipino veterans will also be eligible for readjustment benefits, including dependent education, specially adapted housing grants, and automotive and adaptive equipment that will cost $11-M over ten years.

Veterans under 65 years old with a service-connected disability may “obtain up to a maximum of $50,000 insurance.” Those 70 and older or those who have permanent and total service-connected disability would not be required to pay premiums.

Disabilities incurred or aggravated during military service should be paid at the same rate regardless of the residence of the Filipino veteran. As Sen. Inouye testified during the April 11 committee hearing of the Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2007: “an injury is just as painful in the Philippines as it is in the United States.”

Survivors who live outside the US, however, will receive DIC (dependency indemnity compensation) and payment for educational benefits at the “reduced amount of $0.50 for each dollar authorized.” DIC’s are paid to survivors of veterans who died of a service-connected disability.

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