Locsin calls for restoration of ‘status quo ante’ in Myanmar amid military takeover

Marje Pelayo   •   February 10, 2021   •   628

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin on Tuesday (February 9) called for the “the complete restoration of the status quo ante” in Myanmar following military take over and detention of democratic leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a tweet, Locsin said “The Philippines has been supportive of Myanmar’s progress towards a fuller democracy.” 

“The realization of this democratic process can only be achieved through the complete restoration of the-status quo ante,” he added.

Police have responded against escalating violence in protests against the  military takeover of the government and the detention of the deposed civilian leader and other elected lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the DFA said it is preparing for the repatriation of 252 Filipinos who have signified interest to leave Myanmar.

Suu Kyi was arrested along with other democratically-elected lawmakers in a pre-dawn raid on February 1 by Myanmar military.

Philippines, Japan sign 2nd tranche of loan package for Metro Manila Subway project

Marje Pelayo   •   July 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —  Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko on Tuesday (July 27) signed the exchange of notes for the official development assistance (ODA) loan for the Metro Manila Subway project.

The loan was an additional amount of JPY253 billion or P116 billion loan package to finance the project’s construction.

This second tranche of the project’s ODA loan has an interest rate of 0.10% per annum, payable for 40 years with  a 13-year grace period.

This follows the first tranche amounting to JPY104.530 billion or around P64 billion of the ODA loan for the subway project.

The first tranche was signed on November 13, 2017.

“The Metro Manila Subway will be a shining monument, better yet a state of the art working system attesting to the deep friendship between the Philippines and Japan. Japan holds a pre-eminent role in our government’s infrastructure development agenda, which is a priority of President Duterte’s administration,” Secretary Locsin said.

Locsin lauded the cooperation of various government agencies in the project which include the Department of Finance (DOF); the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA); the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The signing of the agreement coincides with this year’s 65th Anniversary of the normalization of Diplomatic Relations and 10th Anniversary of Strategic Partnership between Japan and the Philippines.

“This signing will deepen and strengthen the cooperation and partnership of both countries, and I am happy to sign this Exchange of Notes today,” Ambassador Koshikawa said.

The 33-kilometer Metro Manila Subway Project will have 17 stations and aims to cut travel time from North Avenue in Quezon City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from 1 hour and 10 minutes to just 35 minutes.

It will traverse the cities of Valenzuela, Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Parañaque and Pasay.

The line will have an initial capacity of up to 1 million passengers per day.

The Metro Manila Subway system is a Build Build Build flagship infrastructure project of the Duterte Administration.

Healthcare workers with existing contract abroad allowed to leave — POEA

Marje Pelayo   •   June 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said Tuesday (June 8) that Filipino health workers who have existing contracts abroad are still allowed to leave the country.

During Tuesday’s Laging Handa public briefing, POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia clarified that the country is not barring healthcare workers from leaving as long as they have an active job abroad.

This was after the government announced that the 5,000 cap for Filipino nurses deployed abroad has been reached.

This means, there will be no new deployment of healthcare workers abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the agency will no longer issue new overseas employment certificates (OEC) for Filipino healthcare workers until the end of the year.

“Noon pong June 1, 2021, naabot na po natin ang 5,000 [na cap] dahil binibilang po natin ang na-i-issue na Overseas Employment Certificate,” Olalia said.

“Exempted po rito [sa 5,000 cap] ang mga returning workers dahil mayroon silang existing contracts at may babalikan silang employment,” he clarified.

Olalia added that workers set for deployment to the United Kingdom are allowed to leave as well as those hired under government-to-government procedures in fulfilment of the government’s obligation under bilateral agreement.

Meanwhile, Olalia said there is an existing temporary deployment ban to Myanmar due to the ongoing civil unrest there.

However, only those with existing contract or returning OFWs to Myanmar will be allowed to leave.

“May kaunting kaguluhan sa Myanmar ngayon kaya ang POEA Governing Board po ay nagpatupad at nagpalabas ng isang board resolution kung saan nakalagay po doon na level 2 ang state of alertness doon sa nasabing bansa,” he noted.

“Kaya bawal po ngayon ang mga new hires. Ang pinapayagan lang nating ma-deploy sa Myanmar ay ang mga balik manggagawa natin. Mga direct hires at agency hires na bago po ay hindi papayagan dahil alert level 2 po ngayon ang bansang Myanmar,” Olalia said.

At least 8 killed in Myanmar during protest against military coup

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 3, 2021

At least eight people were killed during another protest against the military coup in Myanmar, a news agency reported.

Myanmar Now, an independent news service, reported that the junta’s security forces shot and killed at least eight people during some protests on Sunday (May 2).

Communities in Myanmar launched coordinated demonstrations which organizers called “the global Myanmar spring revolution.”

The armed forces of the military have arrested and fired rubber bullets, live ammunition, and grenades at civilians in order to stop the said protests.

One person was killed and at least 20 were injured in the jade-rich town of Hpakant, Kachin State. Three people were killed in the central town of Wetlet.  Meanwhile, two were killed in different towns in Shan State.

It was three months since the military took over the authority from the elected government. Thousands of residents have already been displaced and thousands were killed, according to an estimate of the United Nations. -AAC

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