This might be a comparison between an apple and an orange but if we look closely to a possible link, one might note the difference in the prevailing attitudes in the politics in both countries. Sure there are cynics in Australian politics or public but the general action of most Aussie politicians show that they are united in trying to figure out what is best for the country. From saving the economy from the effects of recession to leading the global talk on climate change–be it the government or the opposition. There are downsides but one can’t help but notice the good sides in Australian politics.
Zoom into Philippine politics, save for a few, a number of congressmen are out to bend almost anything to protect, not the people, but themselves. There are would-be presidents who are mum on issues surrounding their pasts and would-be presidents who are trying to be someone they are not. In the August Hall, there might be some discussions on proposed legislation but, most of the time, the proposed legislation would likely be for the benefit of the few or the elite. Result–on the opposition side? Well, instead of focusing on proposing sound legislation, they are on the ‘attack mode’ to quell any action by the government to continue to plunder and corrupt. There are good sides but one can’t help but notice the bad sides of Philippine politics.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer was blunt in noting that if, indeed, this will be President Arroyo’s last term, the legacy that she will leave is a “legacy of corruption.” There were hints that if the charter change (first thought to be decided on through referendum but was later said to be decided on through a constitutional assembly), which the opposition allege was meant to extend Arroyo’s and her cohort’s term, fails then she might run for congress. Sure there is nothing wrong about Arroyo running for another electoral post but if we believe the assessment of Dr. Benjamin Diokno of UP School of Economics (where Arroyo received her PhD), then I think the Philippines has had enough of her. Will she step down? Her speech has some hint that she might not. This might be a good or bad news, remember when she declared in a previous SONA that she will not run for president but decided to run anyway?
There are a number of uncertainties in the Philippines as there are many uncertainties bugging most of the expats here and around the world. For instance the OAV system, one cannot blame that some of us will never participate, some by choice and/or some by the inadequacy of the OAV system. But for the few who will participate, futile as it may be, but it will be an exercise of our rights and stand that we will never be silenced.
One thing that the Philippine government has succeeded to do is to isolate its people. It has isolated its citizenry to fend for itself, be it in health care, housing or even the basic daily needs. If there are those who will doubt that most Filipinos are lazy and should be working on something for their country instead, they are mistaken. We’ve done our part and we are continually doing so, however, some life principles such as give and it will be given just never becomes a reality.
Call me a pessimist but I do hope that there’s a miracle round the bend.
The recession is real. It has affected not only locals here in Australia but expat workers including Filipinos.
I recently talked to one of the hundreds of Pinoy OFWs working here and he said that they had to assist another OFW who was resigned to just ‘go home’ after the latter’s position was declared redundant. True enough as for most Pinoys here, optimism has its own reward, the OFW was able to find another job just before the expiration of his visa.
The difference between the unemployed here and our OFWs returning to the Philippines without the possibility of employment is that locals have the support of the government. I remember my colleague’s
fiancé who urged her to take it easy in saving. He explained that ‘the government will take care of them.’ It was quite easy for the man to tell his Asian fiancée that it will be alright because they are used to some fallback in times of trouble. Of course, this is not all true all the time but the fact remains that most of the time, it is true that Pinoy OFWs despite their contribution to the economy might find themselves fending for themselves in this time of recession.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has issued a statement lamenting the misnomer on an emerging disease that originated from “a virus circulating in Mexico and the USA and involving person to person transmission.” In a statement, OIE clarified that the there is no evidence to link the cases of influenza in the USA, Mexico and other countries to possible animal cases such as swine. It said that they have not yet isolated the virus in animals.
The OIE said that it was unjustified to call the circulating disease as Swine Influenza or Swine Flu with the absence of its link to pigs. It suggested that the new disease be named as “North-American influenza.”
Some scientists also backed OIEs claim with one article calling to a stop on blaming pigs and “blame simple biology” for the disease mutation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has since corrected its reference to the disease and now calls it Influenza A (H1N1). While the media has yet to pick-up on the correction, it is slowly referring to the disease as just H1N1 in most of its headlines. The US Center for Disease Control now refers to the disease as H1N1 but does not drop swine flu as another name for the disease. The confirmed cases of Influenza A/H1N1 were recently raised to 615 in 15 countries according to a WHO update.
The OIE and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are monitoring the influenza A/H1N1 situation with FAO sending technical experts to affected areas to investigate if the influenza has some links with the swine population. Scientists admitted that they are struggling to understand this latest mutation of influenza.
This situation has shown that international crises such as SARS, bird flu (H5N1) and influenza A/H1N1 have yet to be coordinated smoothly among international organizations. It has shown some flaws in the international cooperation framework that the UN agencies agreed to abide to. Although these agreements become formal during specific crisis they have previously agreed to exchange information and coordinate actions. This influenza showed that there was no information exchange and panic immediately prevailed.
As a former communications officer for an organization involved in the bird flu (H5N1) outbreaks, I have witnessed how scientist struggled to understand the disease. This has given so much pressure for most communications officers in the Region as they were asked to produce an immediate message regarding prevailing risk behaviors that might promote the spread of bird flu.
Most of the communication messages that were produced dealt on risk behavior relevant to human influenza and not on the source of the disease during that time–avian species. While the behavior change campaigns remain relevant for pandemic preparation, it did not address the continued spread among animals thus putting farmers at risk.
I guess for the zealous scientists (and PR and communications specialists) during the bird flu outbreaks, the pandemic that they’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. The WHO has warned that measures previously implemented for other diseases such as SARS has no effect to the current influenza outbreak (but only to the economy).
However, there’s always the silver lining as WHO Director-General Margaret Chan always claim “the world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history.”
There seems to be a contagious feeling of doubt both here in Australia in the Philippines. While the cases here in Australia might be ‘bigger’ compared to the issues in the Philippines, cases in both countries elicited doubts from many parties.
- Another boat load of refugees tried to enter the country only to meet an accident as their boat was being towed towards a detention facility. The boat exploded killing three people on board. A total of five people are now dead as a result of that accident. The rest of about 49 people on board were either treated for minor injuries or still in intensive care. There were doubts on the government’s sincerity in giving information on what really happened during the accident. At the same time, there were doubts among refugee groups in Australia that the latest incident might have negative repercussions to asylum applications. Reports said that some refugee groups accused the latest asylum seekers as ‘jumping the queue’ to get into Australia. The government is still consulting with its legal team on where the asylum seekers will be confined after they recover from their injuries, i.e., whether they will be an off-shore or on-shore refugees.
- After declaring that Australia is better off, doubters finally realised that it is just a matter of when for Australia. And that time has come. Australia is in recession.
- As the drama unfolds, doubts surfaced on the how one of the country’s top broadcast journalist’s wife died. Lawmakers finally realised (what was long public knowledge) that the police force needed to be professionalized, if not more training is needed.
- There are doubts that the automation of election in the country will result in cheat-free elections. There are acknowledgments that it might not be fool proof but election officials seem to be taking it one step at a time or are they just leaving it just like that so there will still be a window of opportunity to change the course of history?
These are just a few of the issues in the past few weeks in both countries. A lot has been happening that I’ve lost track of most of the important ones. On a personal level, it’s been a trying time for me as I try to write formalize a chapter in my thesis. Wish me luck.
Effective yesterday, Australia is enforcing a new policy in its immigration laws. The changes virtually shuts the door for most foreign workers whose professions are not listed in the critical skills list. The Australian government explained in a fact sheet on its immigration website that the changes “is more responsive to the changing needs of the economy.”
Early last year, Australia, specifically the state of Western Australia, was in dire need of workers from plumbers, farm workers, rangers among others. However, as the world recession took its toll on the economies of a number of countries, both developed and developing, Australia was not spared.
The changes in the immigration policy of Australia will not affect those who have already filed an application. This will only affect people who are applying under the skilled migration program without a sponsor to Australia. If your occupation is not one of the 42 critical skills identified then your application would probably encounter some delays (you must consult with your immigration agent to confirm this). As this new Australian immigration policy was introduced, a Philippine senator made a press statement that he had discussed with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd “the prospects of allowing Filipino workers in the medical and non-skilled sectors.” Talking about riding the wave, the policy does include medical professionals… so should that count for his pogi points for 2010?
A full year Down Under and two years away from my native soil. I do miss the Philippines and this blog helped me connect with anything that’s from the Philippines and thereby relieve homesickness (I do have my family here but you miss some things that is uniquely Philippines!–balot, kwek-kwek, mami, lomi, Jollibee, atbp.).
After 200 posts, 570 approved comments, 43 categories and 387 tags, 2008 has been a wonderful year for me as a blogger. I’m ambivalent whenever I write about issues. Here in Australia a great actor, Heath Ledger, died early last year and later last year a budding Filipino actor died in his sleep (reminds you of Rico Yan). Early in 2008, Australian politics was rocked by what the media branded as “Iguanagate” and just last month before the year ended, in the Philippines, “Golfgate” or Golf’s Black Friday took place highlighting the very bad side of politics (aside from what we already know).
Australia experienced a spate of ATM firebomb attacks while bank robberies in the Philippines became more frequent and bolder as the Philippine economy grew only in paper with the effect not readily felt at the grassroots. Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, delivered most of his election promises within his 100 days in office while it’s been more than hundreds of days since Gloria said that she’ll step down (and there are fresh moves to, apparently, extend her stay in office).
The biggest news last year probably is the global credit crisis. It saw the mighty dollar fall and institutional banks crumble. The CEOs of Wall Street has given a new meaning in begging, i.e., by coming to the US House of Representative in Jets, they later tried to change their tactics and came by hybrid cars but some of them still made a mistake by driving a hybrid car that was meant to be phased out.
I said I was ambivalent because I was passionate to write about things that I stumble online or hear from my social network (online or in person) but sometimes it has been a burden to write about some things that you hate hearing like the case of the Golf course beatings in the Philippines. Despite these, blogging will still be a therapy and “practice” for me. It has been a great medium that united Filipinos worldwide and even connected people of different ideologies.
As everybody hope for the best for the new year, I also pray that my regular readers and “transit” readers have a better 2009 regardless where we are and whatever our status in society.
God bless us all!
Change is said to be the only thing permanent in the world, however, poverty might as well qualify as another thing becoming permanent in the world, unless we do something about it. There have been many debates as to how to eradicate poverty and it has become a worldwide concern that the UN top it on the list of its priority for its millennium development goals.
Just when you thought everybody meant well in this time of the world credit crisis, here comes the ‘sad’ truth behind the much touted US bailout of the failing big US companies–the ‘sweeteners’ were insertions that benefit each senator’s constituents.
A Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial yesterday pointed out that the ‘insertions’ in the bailout bill showed that US lawmakers effectively used a global issue to “prove that all politics is local.” In contrast, while the US lawmakers may make an advantage out of any political issue in the house to benefit their stay in the August Hall, Filipino lawmakers are definitely out to make everything happen for a law to be passed–as long as it will benefit them, personally, in the long run. The PDI explained in its editorial:
Instead of insertions in the budget to pander to the businesses and industries of their constituents, our legislators have shown themselves inclined to make insertions along two broad lines. First, for specific infrastructure projects which may redound to their benefit not necessarily in the form of kickbacks, but certainly in the form of real estate improvements. Second, to provide for broad slush funds (lump sums for vaguely-defined purposes) the release of which still require the legislators’ pandering to whoever is chief executive.
In the recent WA election, I saw, in a gist, how most politicians would decide on their affiliation–they almost act like their US counterparts–they put their constituent’s benefit first (well, there’s an ulterior motive to stay in politics probably but it’s the voting public that wins big time). Now, with how lawmakers in the Philippines, is it a cultural thing unique in Southeast Asia or is it ‘only in the Philippines’???