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National Newsbits for May 8, 2014

Angry teachers

A group of public school teachers yesterday expressed rage with the government’s pronouncement that “there will be no salary increase for public school teachers and government employees” for this year. The Quezon City Public School Teachers Association (QCPSTA) said members were “aghast” to hear President Aquino say there is no budget for salaries when they know that a lot of government money went to ghost, anomalous and corrupt projects. Dr. Priscilla Ampuan, QCPSTA president, said that for the Fiscal Year 2014, “around 1.1 trillion pesos is allotted under pork barrel” allegedly “under the control” of Aquino. But she said “the DBM needs around 3.2 billion pesos only every year to cover the proposed pay increase based on the premise that around 75 percent of the teaching force is Teacher I,” Ampuan said. (Ina Hernando Malipot)

JV signs report versus Jinggoy

Unfazed by blood ties, Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito-Estrada yesterday signed the Senate committee report recommending the filing of plunder and graft charges against his half-brother Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and two other colleagues. Nine other senators signed the report, including Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III and Senators Sergio “Serge” Osmena, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, III, Loren Legarda, and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV. So far, Ejercito is the only member of the Senate minority who signed the report. (Hannah L. Torregoza)

Reds told: Use formal channels

Government of the Philippines (GPH) chief negotiator Alexander Padilla is questioning the sincerity of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) in achieving lasting peace when they detailed their proposed terms for the resumption of talks through the media. During a forum organized by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform held at the Remedios Jubilee Mission Center in Manila, Padilla said that if their counterparts from the CPP/NPA/NDF are sincere in talking peace with the government, they should do it through the proper channel and not to members of the press.  (Francis T. Wakefield)

POEA suspends erring recruiter

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) slapped a 40-month suspension on a recruitment agency for neglecting its duty to repatriate its distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). POEA Administrator Hans Cacdac said they issued the sanction against A.B.U. Talent Management Incorporated when it abandoned its duty to send home 10 of its OFWs. The workers were part of the 14 OFWs, who stopped working for their Saudi employer, Shabakat Al Toorq, after it failed to pay them for six months. This prompted the parents of the group of OFWs to request for repatriation from ABU.  Cacdac said the erring agency was only able to send home four of the OFWs. (Samuel P. Medenilla)

Heritage Month

United States President Barack Obama has proclaimed May 2014 as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in celebration of the accomplishments of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, including Filipino Americans, in the US. In his proclamation, Obama noted that during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the US “reflects on the many ways they have enriched our Nation.” “Like America itself, the AAPI community draws strength from the diversity of its many distinct cultures–each with vibrant histories and unique perspectives to bring to our national life,” said Obama. (Roy Mabasa)