Embassy cautions Filipinos in Paris against massive strikes, street crimes

Marje Pelayo   •   January 7, 2020   •   257

The Philippine Embassy in Paris has issued an advisory to warn Filipinos visiting and living in France particularly in the capital city.

Tensions continue as angry transport workers launch massive protests against the government crippling major transportation across Paris.

Announcements of massive strikes on January 9 and 10 have reached the Embassy thus it advised the Filipino community there to be aware of the situation and prepare for alternative means to go to work as travel disruptions are again expected.

If possible, avoid the areas where the rallies are being held, according to the Embassy.

Also, Filipinos are urged to monitor updates on the transport strikes through the Embassy’s official Facebook page (#PhinFrance).

Meanwhile, Embassy officials also expressed concern over the growing number of Filipinos being victimized by burglars and thieves particularly tourists.

Paris ranked 14th among the countries in the world with moderate to high index of crimes in the past three years, according to the 2019 Crime Rate Index published by research website Numbeo.com.

This has prompted the Embassy to remind Filipinos travelling and living particularly in the capital city to be extra vigilant and alert at all times.

The Philippine Embassy in Paris can be reached through its 24/7 hotline numbers +33620592515 or through its official social media accounts #PHinFrance.

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Eiffel Tower closed as France braces for major strikes

UNTV News   •   January 9, 2020

Paris – The Eiffel Tower will remain closed Thursday as France braces for a fourth consecutive day of major cross-sector strikes against pension reforms.

Teachers, health workers, lawyers and railway personnel are participating in a strike called by unions to demand the total withdrawal of a pensions reform bill which was announced in December.

Transport will continue to be affected by strike action with both the national railway network (SNCF) and the transport in the Paris region offering reduced services.

This will be the 36th day of strike action affecting the transport sector, the longest in history.

The SNCF expects traffic to be very disrupted with more than half of train services cut, as well as the Paris subway.

The French Civil Aviation Authority also warned of disruptions and delays and urged companies to cancel a third of their flights to or from Toulouse (southern France).

In Paris, the Eiffel Tower will be closed on Thursday, according to the company that manages the monument, as some of its workers have joined the strike.

From the first day of action on 5 December, when between 800,000 people (according to the Ministry of Interior) and 1.8 million workers (according to the unions) flooded the streets of France to demand the government to reverse a pension reform bill.

According to a survey published on Sunday by Le Journal du Dimanche, more than half of the population (55%) want the government to withdraw the reform.

However, rejection of the strikes has also grown, the effects of which can be seen in the rail and metropolitan transport sector of Paris.

Thursday’s industrial action is the first mobilization of the year and will serve as a test to verify the support behind the protests after strikes on 10 and 17 December failed to raise the same level of support as the first one.

Trade unions have called for “the withdrawal of the reform project and the opening of constructive negotiations to improve the current regime”.

But the clash over pension reforms has seen one of President Emmanuel Macron’s key policies to transform the labour market come under fire.

Macron has led on several labour reforms in an attempt to create a more flexible market reminiscent of Nordic models, but his move to streamline the complex pensions system under one points-based model has triggered the largest unrest of his presidency.

The largest union in the country, the reformist French Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT), has opposed setting the retirement age of 64 but has backed the move to create a universal system to replace the current one which has 42 different pension plans in place.

The Government is still negotiating with unions until the reform goes to the Council of Ministers on 24 January.

So far, some concessions have been made such as an earlier retirement for professions deemed dangerous, a revaluation of teachers’ salaries, a delay in the implementation of the plan in the railway sector and for the dancers of the Paris Opera, which since 5 December has been forced to cancel more than 60 representations. EFE-EPA


Remains of Pinay killed in France returns home

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 7, 2019

The remains of Janice Cabardo Badr had returned home.

Janice’s remains arrived on Sunday afternoon (October 6) in Panabo City, Davao, a few weeks after she was killed by her husband, Christophe Badr in Maisons-Lafitte in France on September 20.

READ: Kin of Pinay killed in France calls for justice

A funeral service is being held for her at Sta. Teresita Funeral Homes in Panobo City.

According to Janice’s father, Losito Cabardo, the hearing for the custody of their 18-month-old granddaughter who is still in France is scheduled on Monday (October 7).

He is also asking for assistance so they can take their granddaughter home.

Baka patayin na naman niya ang anak niya pagkatapos ng ginawa niya sa asawa niya kaya ang gusto namin mangyari dito ang apo ko sa amin (He [Badr] might kill his daughter too like what he did to his wife. We want our granddaughter to come home with us),” he said.—AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

Former French president Jacques Chirac dies at 86

Robie de Guzman   •   September 26, 2019

Former French President Jacques Chirac

France’s former president Jacques Chirac died on Thursday (September 26) at the age of 86.

He was a charismatic figure who dominated French politics for decades and stirred national pride with his opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Chirac, whose film-star looks helped him emerge as a political prodigy in the 1960s and go on to become France’s second-longest-serving president, had long suffered from neurological problems and was rarely seen in public in recent times.

His popularity was based on symbolic gestures and his dignified demeanour after he abandoned a short-lived attempt at reforms early in his 1995-2007 presidency when it triggered a national strike.

Perhaps his most enduring political legacy was to found the forerunner of the opposition UMP party.

Nicknamed Houdini because of his knack for wriggling out of tight spots, Chirac’s reputation even survived a conviction for misuse of public funds in December, which made him the first head of state convicted since Nazi collaborator Marshal Philippe Petain in 1945.

For many, Chirac’s statesmanlike but jocular air personified a vision of France – encapsulating both its rural roots and its central role in diplomatic affairs envisaged by President Charles de Gaulle.

Even after retiring from public office, Chirac drew crowds of journalists and admirers.

One of his last public appearances was at an award ceremony given by his charitable foundation.

The frenetic energy and brashness of his successor Nicolas Sarkozy left many pining for the quieter days of Chirac’s 12-year presidency and the slower pace he set for public life.

Following in the footsteps of de Gaulle, Chirac devoted much of his presidency to defending France’s role as a great nation on the world stage — a worldview he consecrated by opposing the invasion of Iraq at the U.N. Security Council in 2003.

But in France, where Chirac was sometimes best known through his persona as a puppet on a popular TV show, he is also remembered for personality quirks like a taste for Mexican Corona beer, poor command of English and his seeming aloofness.

Chirac’s persona was also a puzzle: he enjoyed Asian art and Japanese poetry but liked to play down his intellectual side.

A commentator once described him as the kind of man who would read a book of poetry behind a copy of Playboy.

Born in 1932 to a middle-class family from the rural central French region of Correze, Chirac began his political career in the late 1950’s after studying at the elite Sciences Po university and ENA civil service academy.

As a teenager, he briefly sold the communist newspaper L’Humanite on Paris street corners.

He also developed an enduring love of America, crossing the country doing odd jobs – including a spell of washing dishes.

Yet his early leanings seemed forgotten when he became an army officer and linked up with the ultra-nationalist Algerie Francaise party – only to change tack again to become a moderate Gaullist and, by 1967, an ambitious junior minister.

He rose fast but also made enemies equally quickly.

He ripped apart the old Gaullist movement in 1974, backing non-Gaullist moderniser Valery Giscard d’Estaing for president.

Chirac was just 41 when Giscard made him prime minister on May 28, 1974 after winning power, but he quit two years later after falling out with Giscard over the extent of his powers.

He dramatically turned his back on Giscard by forming a new Gaullist party of his own, the Rally for the Republic (RPR) in 1976, which then become the Union for a Popular Majority (UMP).

The following year he was elected as Paris’ first mayor — starting an 18-year career at City Hall that would come back to haunt him.

After nearly two decades of investigations, he was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence last year for channelling public money into phantom jobs for political cronies as mayor from 1977 to 1995.

Though eventually convicted, Chirac was excused from attending the trial due to his failing memory.

Supporters would prefer that he be remembered for electoral victories in 1995 and 2002, when he was re-elected after a fraught head-to-head battle with far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen that sent shockwaves through the country.

He secured a landslide victory in that election but that was more vote against Le Pen than a resounding vote of confidence.

Though President Georges Pompidou once referred to him as “bulldozer” for his ability to get things done, Chirac’s presidency is remembered mostly as a time of stasis.

He ended compulsory military service and started moves that reintegrated France into the NATO defence alliance, reversing a policy set in the 1960s.

He sought as president to reduce unemployment and cut public debt, and steered France into Europe’s monetary union, but did little to modernise the economy or the state.

At one time a lover of all things American, he later led France’s opposition to the U.S.-led Iraq war in 2003 which chilled relations with Washington.

Once an anti-European Gaullist, he became one of Europe’s main standard bearers.

He forged an alliance with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder which brought Europe’s two traditional powers closer together but upset some of their European Union partners.

His changing political views earned him nicknames such as Chameleon Bonaparte and the Weathervane.

He is, however, acknowledged as the first French head of state to recognise the role of the Vichy regime in the Holocaust and the first to apologise formally to the Jewish people.

After leaving the Elysee in 2007, he lived a quiet life, living with his wife on Paris’ Quai Voltaire in an apartment loaned by Lebanon’s Hariri family, and working on his memoirs, the second volume of which appeared last summer. (Reuters)

(Production: Ardee Napolitano)


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