Items filtered by date: Thursday, 06 July 2017

Congressional Gold Medal presentation to Filipino World War II vets planned for October

Plans are underway for a national celebration honoring Filipino World War II veterans, whose service and sacrifice have been finally recognized by the U.S. with the passage last year of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015, which is now enshrined as Public Law 114-265.
The Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) is one of the highest civilian awards bestowed by the United States for persons or groups who have performed an achievement that have an impact on American history and culture. American citizenship is not a requirement. In particular, this award is a public expression of the U.S. Congress’ gratitude on behalf of the nation for the distinguished contributions of 260,000 Filipino soldiers and guerrillas during World War II in the Philippines.
Traditionally, the CGM is formally presented to the awardees by the Speaker of the House. This year, the national celebration coincides with the formal award presentation of the medal to Filipino World War II veterans by House Speaker Paul Ryan. The presentation has not been scheduled, but could be held as early as October or November of this year.
At the award ceremony, slated to be held on Capitol Hill, surviving Filipino and American veterans or their next-of-kin will receive bronze replicas of the CGM and a framed copy of Public Law 114-265. Expected to attend are Congressional sponsors, Philippine Government officials, Presidential Cabinet members, high ranking general officers from the US Army, US Marine Corps, US Navy, US Air Force, US Coast Guard, veterans advocates, community leaders and supporters and other dignitaries.
The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), the proponent of the CGM legislation and the official national point of contact for all CGM activities, is working closely with the U.S. Mint and offices of Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) to accelerate completion of the CGM’s minting and production of at least 500 bronze replicas. FilVetREP is led by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (U.S.A. Ret.) and his executive team composed of Marie Blanco, Erick Soriano, Jon Melegrito and Ben de Guzman.

CCAC 2017June21.US Mint.IMG 0209 2

National Celebration Plans. “We secured the Congressional Gold Medal to honor our veterans and demonstrate our deepest gratitude for their supreme sacrifice,” said FilVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret). “We will ensure that our national celebration of this historic achievement is one that treats our veterans with the utmost dignity and respect. We are, therefore, calling on all our supporters to make this important event happen. It’s for our veterans and they deserve to have a memorable event.”
Taguba also notes that not all recipients of the medal may not be able to come to Washington due to their age and physical condition. Regional award ceremonies are being considered in the West Coast, Midwest and the South to accommodate veterans who are not able to travel to Washington.
There are also plans for Filipino veterans residing in the Philippines to receive their bronze replicas in Manila. It is anticipated that this will be handled by the Philippine Veterans Administration Office (PVAO) and Philippine Office of National Defense.

Photo: The FilVetREP team and officers of the U.S. Mint’s Office of Design Management pose for a group picture shortly after the CCAC approved the CGM designs. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Mint.)

National Registry. Bronze replicas will be awarded only to surviving veterans or their next-of-kin whose eligibility for CGM has been vetted and whose names are included in FilVetREP’s national veterans registry.

“It is essential that veterans and their families register as soon as possible to make sure they are included in the award ceremony,” Taguba adds.
Applications and instructions for submission may be downloaded from FilVetREP’s website, Each of the FILVETREP regional directors are responsible for contacting the veterans and families to help them register. Bronze replicas are not funded by the U.S. government, but rather by donations from the public. Donations to support FilVetREP’s CGM activities are accepted through the FilVetREP website.

CGM Design and Approval Process. In the past several months, FilVetREP has been meeting with the U.S. Mint’s Office of Design Management in providing significant input and recommendations to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission on Fine Arts (CFA).
The U.S. Mint is the nation’s sole manufacturer of legal tender coinage, commemorative coins and congressional gold medals, and is responsible for producing circulating coinage for the nation to conduct its trade and commerce.
CCAC is an advisory committee established in 2003 by Congress under Public Law 108-15 to advise the Secretary of the Treasury on the themes and designs of all U.S. coins and medals; CFA is an independent federal agency charged with giving expert advice on matters of design and aesthetics, as they affect the federal interest and preserve the dignity of the nation’s capital.
As Chairman of FilVetREP, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (U.S. Army Ret) was designated as the official liaison to the U.S. Mint by Sen. Mazie Hirono and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, co-sponsors of the CGM legislation.
On January 17, FilVetREP held its initial meeting with the U.S. Mint’s Office of Design Management. The team include FilVetREP executive officers Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, Marie Blanco, Ben de Guzman, Jon Melegrito and Erick Soriano, legal counsel.
At this meeting, the FilVetREP team presented possible themes, text, photos and graphics that would be useful to the assigned artists and illustrators.
On February 15, FilVetREP met with the CCAC. The presentation included screening of the documentary, “Duty to Country,” and a discussion of all the artistic, political and historical themes and elements that would inform the design process.
A kick-off meeting with the six U.S. Mint artists assigned to the project was held on March 22. A month later, the artists completed 43 candidate designs based on the instructions provided by the CCAC. FilVetREP then reviewed each obverse (front) and reverse (back) designs for historical/technical accuracy and appropriateness. After several rounds of feedback and suggested modifications, the team narrowed down its selection to seven of the front and three of the back.
On May 22, a meeting with the U.S. Mint led to the selection of the top three designs, which were presented to the CFA on June 15. The CFA agreed with FilVetREP’s design preferences and modifications.
On June 21, the 11-member CCAC approved the recommendations of FilVetREP for the CGM design. The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, who has the final approval, is expected to concur and give the U.S. Mint the official go ahead to have the medal minted this summer.

imageFilVetREP leaders and community supporters joined Sen. Mazie Hirono (center) in a celebration photo shortly after the Senate approved the Congressional Gold Medal legislation on Nov. 30, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Hirono’s office.)

The minting process, which typically takes about three months, basically involves translating a 14-page legislation (i.e., Public Law 114-265) into a graphic design engraved on a 3-inch medal minted in solid gold. The CGM legislation provides that the Smithsonian Institution will be the repository for the CGM where it will be available for display and research. The CGM legislation also requires the Smithsonian Institution to make the CGM available for display elsewhere. Currently, the plan is for the CGM to be permanently housed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History or another national museum of similar repute.

Digital Exhibition and Education Program. The next phase of the CGM project is to create a digital exhibition and education program that will be accessible to public schools and the public. It will include a complete history of the Filipino veterans’ role in World War II, timelines, testimonies, personal stories, photographs, videos and other artifacts.
“This American story of Filipino soldiers fighting under the U.S. flag in Bataan, Corregidor and other places, and helping liberate a U.S. sovereign territory only to be denied the benefits promised them, must be told widely and preserved for posterity for generations to come,” Taguba said.

“It is a story we all should be proud of.”


Pacquiao loses to Horn

By Truth Esguerra, Correspondent

Filipino boxing legend Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao suffered a stunning controversial defeat to unknown Australian Boxer Jeff "The Hornet" Horn on June 1 at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. 

Despite Pacquiao pulverizing Horn and leaving him bloodied, hurt, and nearly knocked out in the 9th round, he was not able to retain his WBO welterweight title after three ring judges gave the controversial nod to his opponent.

Judge Waleska Roldan had 117-111 for Horn, while judges Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan both scored it 115-113 for the 29 year-old Australian native.

"That's the decision of the judges. I respect that," Pacquiao humbly said about the controversial scoring that did not matchup to the consensus amongst boxing experts and the community. 

DDtCXNmVoAAEebsDespite being the more dominant fighter throughout the majority fight, Pacquiao showed that he was a shell of his former self.

The 38 year-old Philippine Senator lacked his signature explosive combinations he once had during his prime that would have given elite boxers in his weight class trouble.

Instead of unleashing of a plethora of punches from different angles and pushing the action to the younger Horn, Pacquiao focused more setting up traps and counter shots. 

According to Compubox, Horn had a higher volume of punches than the Filipino pugilist. Horn threw 625 punches compared to Pacquiao's 573 punches.

The Australian boxing contender was able to apply awkward pressure throughout the entire fight that kept Pacquiao unbalanced. 

"Jeff Horn is a tough opponent," Pacquiao said in regards to Horn's fighting style. "I didn't expect that he is tough."

Despite being outpunched, Pacquiao remained the better fighter throughout the bout. He landed the cleaner punches. According to Compubox, Pacquiao landed 32% of his punches compared to Horn's 15%.

Regardless of Horn's higher volume of punches, Pacquiao was able to evade and block most of his shots which made Horn's aggression ineffective.

Horn was constantly swinging in desperation against the boxing legend and coming up with little to no-damage.

Pacquiao, being the more efficient fighter, was able to rack up the damage and nearly destroy Horn in the 9th round by viciously landing numerous left hands.

The 9th round was such a defining moment for Pacquiao that multiple boxing experts, such as Teddy Atlas from ESPN awarded the Filipino fighter with a 10-8 score. 

"I tried to knock him out in the 9th round but he survived," Pacquiao said in regards to his best round in the fight. "I thought I was going to win the fight."

Horn admitted Pacquiao hurt him during that round.

"I felt fine in that corner. I wanted to keep going on," the underdog Horn said in regards to being nearly knocked out. "I wasn't really that hurt. I was a little bit buzzed in that round, but I recovered very quickly. He buzzed me a little bit. I felt a little off-balance in that round."

Luckily for the Australian fighter, Pacquiao slowed down in the remaining rounds allowed Horn to recover and get back into the fight.

Despite the favorable effort from Pacquiao, the judges awarded Horn the controversial victory, shocking a majority of boxing experts who scored the fight.

With a rematch clause within the contract, Pacquiao and Horn are slated to fight again in November in Brisbane.

"I'm still here to continue," Pacquiao said in regards to the possible rematch with his Australian counterpart later this year.

Pacquiao's record drops to 59 wins (38 KOs), 7 Losses (3 KOs), and 2 draws.

Horn's record improves to 17 wins (11 KOs) and 1 draw.




  • Published in Sports

Living Up to the American Dream, in California

By Assemblymember Rob Bonta

Growing up, I remember celebrating the 4th of July with my family. My parents would tell my brother, sister and me about the importance of fighting for justice for everyone in our nation, no matter where they were born.
We lived near the home of Cesar Chavez in La Paz, the headquarters for the United Farm Workers of America in the Central Valley. My parents worked alongside civil rights leaders like Chavez, Philip Vera Cruz, Pete Velasco, and Dolores Huerta, organizing Filipino and Mexican farmworkers in their struggle for fair treatment and better working conditions.

Today, as a California State Legislator, I am working to ensure that our state continues to live up to the dreams and values of my parents which include Justice, Inclusion, Equity and Opportunity.

I worked to improve health care for vulnerable Californians and establish equal protections for farmworkers.
I introduced the TRUTH Act, signed into law last year, to protect immigrants and establish a transparent process, including community engagement, prior to local law enforcement participation in ICE deportation programs.

I am working to reform our bail system so justice isn’t based on how much money you have, and to put an end to private companies making a profit from incarcerating Californians.

Now more than ever, it is essential that immigrants have access to accurate information in their language and qualified legal services providers. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to fund the creation of regional and statewide resource centers for public defenders to gain immigration expertise, so that immigrants across the state have proper legal representation and can help to avoid unnecessary deportations.
But there are also steps that immigrant families can take now to find out what their legal options are. In fact, some undocumented immigrants already qualify for some form of immigration relief and don’t know it.
If you live or go to school in Oakland, you can access free or low-cost legal services through the Oakland Immigration Project. This trusted organization aims to help qualified Oakland immigrant families apply for immigration relief and work authorization to open the door to economic stability and success. 

Just like a visit to the doctor, families can get an immigration check-up to see what their options are.

This 4th of July, I encourage immigrants to take an important step to benefit their entire family: go to a reputable legal services provider to find out if you might qualify for some form of immigration relief, and make sure you have the information you need to secure your future at this critical time. 

Together, we will live up to the dream of all Americans who are fighting for the future of all of our families.
Assemblymember Rob Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro and is the Assistant Majority Leader and Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. To access free or low cost legal services in Oakland, go to:


The New H.R. 3003. What does it mean?

Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte stated that the bills will “enhance public safety,” they will do the just the opposite: undermine public safety and make it even harder for local law enforcement to protect their residents and communities. In addition, the bills which were made public less than a week before the vote and completely bypassed theJudiciary Committee, include provisions that will result in violations of due process and the Fourth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution. This does seem to be the status-quo now when Bills are presented at the 11th hour for voting without oversight, review or comment.

At a time when over 9 out 10 Americans support immigration reform and legalization of the

undocumented, Republican leadership is asking the House to vote on enforcement-only bills that will lead to more apprehensions, deportations, and prosecutions of thousands of immigrants and their families who have strong ties to the United States. Instead of criminalizing and
scapegoating immigrants, Congress should be offering workable reforms that will strengthen our
economy and our country.

H.R. 3003 would undermine public safety and interfere with local policing. H.R. 3003 would amend 8 U.S.C. §1373 to prevent states or localities from establishing laws or policies that prohibit or “in any way” restrict compliance with or cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. The bill dramatically expands 8 U.S.C. §1373 which is more narrowly written and prohibits local law enforcement from restricting the sharing and exchange of\ information with federal authorities, but only with respect to an individual’s citizenship or immigration status.

Rather than empowering localities, the extremely broad wording of H.R. 3003 would strip localities of the ability to enact common-sense crime prevention policies that ensure victims of crime will seek protection and report crimes. The bill would also undermine public safety by prohibiting DHS from honoring criminal warrants of communities deemed “sanctuary cities” if the individual being sought by local law enforcement has a final order of removal.

In other words, people will become afraid to report crimes. While it might be reported that crime is going down, that is not the case. It would be because people are afraid if they report the crimes that they will be detained and deported. Thus, criminals will get away with committing crimes (particularly domestic violence) and the victim will remain quiet and in fear of calling the police.

Under H.R. 3003, localities that fail to comply with federal immigration efforts are penalized with the denial of federal funding for critical law enforcement, national security, drug treatment, and crime victim initiatives, including the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and Byrne JAG programs that provide hundreds of millions of dollars to localities nationwide.

Unfortunately, it is as though the administration believes there is nobody else out there committing crimes other than immigrants. It would be in the best interest of the foreign national to see if you qualify for a Motion to Reopen or other form of relief before these types of laws take effect.


Where Trump’s attacks against media will lead

We get it. President Donald Trump does not like media very much. Not all media, mind you. Only those that refuse to praise him to high heavens and declare him the greatest president of all time.
His hatred for media was apparent even during the campaign season, which Mr. Trump seems to forget is long over.
With his unexpected victory, the billionaire real estate developer should have quickly realized that he had become the most powerful man in the world. As such, he should have accepted that print, broadcast, and electronic media would be watching over him 24/7.
Every act he takes, be it personal or official, is done under the unforgiving glare of media, and he has been found wanting.
In the past few days, the president has crossed yet another line. It was one of many that he crosses without considering the repercussions.
And no, we do not mean that silly video of him tackling someone who represents media giant CNN. That was an old clip was from his earlier days as a huckster who would do anything to promote the Trump brand.
What we must take umbrage with is his latest attack on a female media practitioner, who by all accounts is nothing more than a pro seeking to do her job to the best of her abilities.
Mika Brzezinski was the latest object of his attacks for no clear reason. The co-host of the political talk show Morning Joe is but one in a growing list of women, in particular, who have gotten the goat of the president.
One of his spokespersons said that Mr. Trump was simply fighting fire with fire. Attack him and he will fight back.
This is a nonsensical argument. He is the president, she is a talk show host. Were this a boxing match, he would be the heavyweight champion of the world, she would be a flyweight amateur. The mismatch is obvious.
Were he simply Donald Trump the businessman, there should be no issue with his tweets. But he is Donald Trump the president, and he is known to have a hardcore following who we fear are capable of stupid, even dangerous, things.
With so many of his fellow Republicans already voicing their concerns about his actions as being unbefitting the presidency, perhaps it is time that Mr. Trump take stock of himself. He should talk to persons whose advice he values, and ask them what is wrong with his presidency. More importantly, he should concentrate on the very serious problems facing the world today.
Our worst fear is this: Sooner or later, one or more of Mr. Trump’s fanatical followers will take it upon themselves to punish persons or institutions whom they see as the president’s tormentors. If that ever happens – and we pray to God it doesn’t – then the country’s chief executive cannot wash his hands of whatever acts of violence are done in his name.
Here then is our reminder for the incumbent President of the United States: Media does not exist to be his enemy or his friend. Media exists to report the truth.


Comparing the French and American revolutions

As I write this column, sprays of popping lights are igniting across the country. For once, I am not in the US, celebrating in New York City where I typically observe the 4th and where I typically read the Declaration of Independence out loud to my kids. They have heard the story many times from their parents but largely because they are fans of Hamilton (the musical). Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

When that document was signed, the gentlemen who put their names to it understood the stakes: if they did not succeed, they would be tried as traitors and they would be hanged. I like to think about it, especially on this day. I wonder what it’s like to take a stand with implications so severe. It was not clear that they would be able to rebuff the British. In fact, by August of 1776, the British had parked over 400 ships from New York Harbor to Staten Island. If you happen to ever visit Lower Manhattan, look at the harbor and think what it was like to see that view speckled with 400 antagonistic warships. I have never seen that many boats in the harbor, nothing like that number, not even 100 boats in the upper bay at any given time.

I am writing from France on this special holiday so let me give a nod to the revolution that happened here. I am fascinated with revolutions because there was a very special one that happened close to home, at least my heart’s home. The French Revolution, though concurrent with American Independence, did not preserve the ideologies they professed—liberty, equality, and brotherhood. The ultimate problem is that it violated so many rules of humanity. The beheading of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette are seminal events in world history. However, it is not at widely know that the Louis XVII, a child my son’s age, was first kept under abusive guardianship, told his mother no longer wanted him, rid of his identity (they called him Hugh Capet) and finally locked away in a sunless tower cell for the last two years of his life. His cell was infested with rats. At the age of 10, a few months younger than my son is now, he died of an infection of the lymph nodes.

When I think of the French Revolution, I think of French-on-French atrocities and nothing of the soaring ideas they wanted to pass down in history. When I think of the American Revolution, I think of a collection of intelligent bad-assess that had driven their stakes in the ground, given up tea, risked their lives and all for the intangible goal of remaking the world as it should be. And that “should be” which still seems to be gaining ground today happens to be one of the most compelling ideas in human history:

“We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal….”

With that one line, the world was changed. It may not have changed instantaneously, but it has set us on a path of social change that is not likely to reverse course, not ever. Hopefully, these ideas will affect the rest of the world at their own pace.

The founding fathers, the signers of the Declaration, could have capitalized on their newly acquired powers and secured the country’s leadership fall to their descendants. Instead they chose to propagate their ideas.

If you haven’t gotten a chance yet, take a few minutes of your day to read Thomas Jefferson’s missive. He may have been a Caucasian man in a wig of white hair and we may be brown people who may or may have been born in America now. But his is our history too. These ideas are ours to nurture and implement. Those fireworks popping across the time zones are for our eyes.


Arroyo seeks creation of transport security commission

Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has called for the establishment of a transportation commission tasked to improve the reliability and security of the transport sector in the country.
In House Bill 5092, otherwise known as the proposed Philippine Transportation Act of 2017, Arroyo suggested the transformation of the Office of the Transportation Security (OTS) under the Department of Transportation into the National Transportation Security Regulatory Commission (NTSRC).
This, she said, will provide checks and balances, prevent conflicts of interest, and hold accountable government agencies performing quasi-judicial functions in the regulation and operation of the transport system in the country.
"An independent and single authority performing oversight function" is how she describes the commission.
"Transportation security becomes essential given the network characteristics of international and domestic travel and the consequent accountability challenges that exist in the transportation sector," Arroyo said in a news release on Wednesday.
In coming up with the proposed law, Arroyo noted the recent terror attacks in airports and in mass transport stations in Europe and the 2010 Manila hostage crisis, which revealed the vulnerabilities of the transportation systems worldwide.
With this, she said it is time for the Philippines to create a single office tasked to secure all modes of transportation in the country.
"The transformation of the OTS into the NTSRC could pave the way for the development and improvement of transportation security governance necessary for bringing about a competitive and world-class transportation industry that is responsive to the needs of a fast-growing economy and to ensuring reliability and security of the transportation services and infrastructure," she said.
Under Arroyo's bill, the NTRSC will come up with a transportation security program that will ensure the country's compliance to the international obligations on transportation, and harmonize regulatory polices already in place.
The commission will also ensure that all the responsibilities of the concerned transportation government agencies are properly delineated.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), including government and private airport, sea pot and land transportation operators, will be under the oversight powers of the NTRSC.
"The system of accountability ensures that relevant government agencies, as well as industry players tasked to perform functions geared towards deterrence, protection and response to terrorist attacks and other acts of unlawful interference, are performing their functions effectively and efficiently, thereby the reducing the possibility and mitigating the consequences of terrorist attacks," Arroyo said.
A commission composed of a chairman and four members appointed by the president will run the NTRSC.
They will have a fixed term of seven years without reappointment, and they should also be in no way related by consanguinity or affinity with any investor, stockholder, officer or director of any company engaged in the transportation industry.
"Just like the first world countries in America and Europe, as well as in Asia, the transportation industry in the Philippines is facing challenges in the area of transportation security which, if not systematically addressed, could potentially jeopardize the phenomenal and unprecedented growth the country has been experiencing in the recent years," Arroyo said.
"Thus, defining and criminalizing acts of unlawful interference in transportation systems, and imposing stringent penalties and sanctions to such acts or to any violations of transportation security regulations becomes mandatory,” she added. —GMA News


Things will get worse, before they get better, says Diokno

As the Duterte administration starts rolling out massive infrastructure projects across the country, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday said the public must be forewarned that the traffic situation will go from bad to worse.
"Things will get worse, before they get better, because with all the construction that we will do, it will be like hell," Diokno said in his remarks during the Tax Reform Forum in Mandaluyong City.
"But rest assured that your government is acting urgently to address this situation," he noted.
The Duterte administration is pushing for a 24/7 construction activity to fast track key projects and spur infrastructure development and higher fiscal spending.
"The government promises to make daily commute safer and more comfortable for Filipinos. This is why highways, railways, subways, and bus rapid transit systems are in the pipeline," Diokno noted in his remarks on Wednesday.
"We want you to be doing productive work rather than wasting your precious time stuck in traffic. We want you to spend more time with your family rather than more time on the road," he said.
Apart from the worsening gridlock, the Budget chief reminded the public to bear with the noise generated by construction work.
"Pero ito 24/7 ito. And I assure you na sa Duterte administration walang maiiwang project na nakatiwangwang after 5 p.m., dahil 24/7 ang construction," Diokno said.
The government is allocating about P8.4 trillion to the "golden age of infrastructure," which includes some 30 big-ticket projects, over the next six years. —GMA News

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