Monday, December 11, 2023

Delivering Stories of Progress


FIRING LINE: Don’t be fooled by China jobs

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Okada Manila
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The Manor at Camp John Hay
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Taal Vista Hotel
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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

This week, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) sounds a crucial alarm: beware of human traffickers promising jobs in China without the necessary visas. Recently, the repatriation of Filipinos lured by these scams highlights the risks they face. 

These victims were enticed by the allure of high-paying jobs in various roles, from hotel staff to private tutors. It sounds like China’s investment pledges and unreliable commitments for Official Development Assistance (ODA) at double-edged interest rates. 

As for these jobs, the reality was starkly different – overwork, underpayment, and even imprisonment. Now, Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco is advising jobseekers to follow the legal process for overseas employment applications, underlining the perils of trusting strangers offering lucrative opportunities. 

In short, if the job offer is in China, Pinoys better be suspicious!  

Housing boost: Hope or hype?  

The adjusted socialized housing price ceiling is a game-changer for the Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino (4PH) Program, claims Housing Secretary Jose Rizalino L. Acuzar. The enhanced pricing structure offers a golden opportunity to reduce the housing backlog and stimulate economic growth, so says the housing czar. 

Acuzar touts higher price caps as the savior for the housing backlog. Why so, when the maximum price for socialized subdivision units is increased to P850,000 from the previous P580,000 for a 28-square-meter floor area, while condominium price ceilings now range higher — from P933,320 to P1.8 million? 

The truth is that the adjusted price caps make socialized housing more expensive, but what it does is draw private sector investment since the government cannot bankroll the Marcos administration’s goal to cut the housing backlog by six million units at the end of the President’s term in 2028. 

So much for the hype and the hope!  

SC acts on prisoner woes  

Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo is championing reform in the justice system with a focus on benefiting prisoners. The National Jail Decongestion Summit is in the works to address critical issues like overcrowding in jails, lower bail amounts for indigents, and expedited inmate releases. 

The Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government are collaborating to identify the root causes of prolonged detention. This initiative aims to streamline the processing of criminal cases, alleviate jail congestion, and ensure humane prisoner management. 

Last July, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla stopped admitting new inmates to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). It was a bold step, even though it was desperately called for due to overcrowded jails and prolonged detentions plaguing the justice system. 

Reducing overcrowding isn’t just about space; it’s about human dignity. The move to accommodate certain inmates in Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facilities for lesser offenses was a positive shift. 

Recently uncovered incidents like murder conspiracies and suspected executions of inmates in the guise of fatal COVID-19 infections inside the NBP serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need for change. Kudos to the Chief Justice for initiating reforms and making the justice system work better. 

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