What are the contributing factors that have prevented urgent, efficient relief to affected areas? Does the prevalent government corruption as seen with the pork barrel scandal play a factor? 
 
By Ugnayan ng Mga Anak Bayan
 
We express our deepest sympathies and condolences to our sisters and brothers who have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
 
As women, immigrants, U.S.-born, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/ Transgendered/Queer, working class and Filipino/Filipino-American youth, we mourn the tragic loss of the thousands of lives and destruction of the environment, especially indigenous lands. We feel great sorrow for the survivors who are experiencing loss and for those who are looking for loved ones, still suffering from uncertainty.
 
We are especially concerned about the children, youth, LGBTQ and women — an already vulnerable minority — who bore witness to Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation, who struggle to survive in the chaos of a criminally ill-prepared government and who may be subjected to human trafficking, exploitation, rape and violence.
 
As U.S.-based Filipino/Filipino American youth, we stand in solidarity with the Filipino people as the emergency response continues and rebuilding process begins. In light of such monumental tragedy that has directly impacted millions of our people, we reflect on the following:
 
Why has Haiyan been so catastrophic for the Filipino people
 
We have listened to first-hand accounts of our family members and friends in the Philippines. We have heard of gruesome stories of entire families and towns buried under the wreckage, acres upon acres of crops uprooted, livelihoods decimated,homes brought to the ground and survivors scavenging for basic needs such as food, water, shelter and medicine.
 
We draw on our history as a people to gain perspective on how this could happen.  We understand that this catastrophic environmental disaster is a culmination of the oppression of our people and the abuse of our land. The extent of Typhoon Haiyan’s destruction is a culmination of the 450- year history of Spanish colonization, U.S. war, occupation and imperialism. Our people’s history is linked to the gravity of our current situation. We can no longer deny the impact of the impoverishment of our people and the pillaging of our natural resources.
 
Why are we outraged in the aftermath of Haiyan?
 
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been donated by individuals, organizations and governments. But our families, friends and even international news media have reported that relief has been criminally slow. It is enraging to witness our sisters and brothers, especially children and mothers, in dire need and without assistance. Without access to clean water and food for eight days, time is of the essence. Thousands of lives hinge on direct, immediate action.
 
We demand answers as to how the Philippines has been so ill-prepared to respond to a national emergency. We ask: What are the contributing factors that have prevented urgent, efficient relief to affected areas? Does the prevalent government corruption as seen with the pork barrel scandal play a factor? What about bureaucratic maneuveringby clans who rule over a particular territory? Or how political opportunism in the form of plastering political party stickers, propping up affiliate organizations and promoting careers have hindered relief goods? What culpability do President Aquino and the Armed Forces of Philippines have in the delay? One thing for sure: any political roadblocks that have prevented the delivery of relief goods has and will result in more fatal casualties. Such negligence is disgusting and deplorable.
 
What should we do to support the survivors of Haiyan?
 
We must stand in solidarity with the people of the Philippines. We must understand the difference between charity and solidarity. We must see charity for what it is: a patronizing act to absolve us from our the guilt of our privileges. We must think and act critically so that we do not repeat systemic patterns of neo-colonization, brute racism,political manipulation, and victim blaming. We must act in solidarity and extend support towards sustainability; and responsibly link and raise our consciousness to the necessary struggle to reclaim our collective humanity.
 
In these difficult times, we must find perspective. The Filipino people have had a long history of fighting for basic our rights to life, land and liberation, wherever we may be. We are a people who do not succumb to helplessness and desperation; we are a people whose proclivity to rebuild and get back on its feet runs in our people’s veins. We have confidence in the most marginalized members of Philippine society possessing the will and capacity to unite as one and rise up from the devastation. We recognize that this demonstrates more than passive resilience — but it is a continuation of an active struggle, a resolute defiance and an honorable resistance in the face of all forms of violence.
 
What is our role in the environmental disaster?
 
It is not enough for the world to just bear witness to these harrowing accounts within the comforts of our home. We need immediate and long-term action. While monetary, in-kind donations, and volunteer work are of utmost importance at the moment, they can only go so far. We need to take a stand that this vicious cycle of environmental calamities that are occurring more and more often are not just tragic coincidences. It is the very real, very raw manifestation of climate change that did not just happen overnight.
 
How have we in the Global North, and especially as people living in the belly of US Imperialism, contributed to calamities like Typhoon Haiyan? It is hypocritical to address the magnitude of super typhoon Haiyan’s destructive effects without isolating the root causes of climate change. We need to have a firm grasp of who produces massive carbon emissions. We need to identify the perpetrators, the enablers of multinational corporations and governments that are beholden to greed, operating at the expense of pillaging and abusing mother nature. It is our responsibility to question, investigate, expose, and challenge the very system that enables its existence at the expense of our sisters and brothers in the Global South, including the Philippines.
 
How can we contribute to genuine change?
 
We are the future ancestors of generations to come. As this generation of young people, we must do our part by lessening our carbon emission, finding alternatives to producing and consuming energy.  We should invest in grassroots, transnational organizations like TIGRA-GABAYAN, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in the US and local producers in the community. We can start changing our future today, by changing our ways of living and challenging our own governments to act on using sustainable energy. This is how we show genuine solidarity for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.
 
The Philippines will no doubt rise above the rubble of Haiyan’s devastation. The question is, will we as a global community unite and rise up in arms in waging war on the root causes of climate change? There is no quick fix to this devastation, and it will most certainly be a long and difficult road to recovery. It is our role to extend people-to-people support, especially to the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society. We must commit to organize wherever we may be —  to raise our consciousness and take critical action towards genuine transformation, in the interest of humankind and the world we coexist in with mother nature.
 
Take Action
 
Turn our compassion, outrage and consciousness into progressive action.  Donate generously and responsibly to one of Ugnayan’s endorsed organizations.  Get organized to work for grassroots solutions towards environmental justice and an end to all forms of violence.  For more information call (347) 298 - 7664 or write to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Progress is evident in the ever changing minds that have come out in support of reform across party lines.
 
Byline By Nancy E. Miller & Frances E. Arroyo
 
Months after the Senate passed Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill S.744 with overwhelming bi-partisan support, those in power in the House of Representatives, including the Speaker, have refused to allow the bill to come to a vote.   Instead, the Republican majority in the House have “piecemealed” the Senate bill into several bills focusing heavily on border security, criminalizing the undocumented and allowing the states to aggrandize the federal government’s constitutional power over immigration enforcement.  This piecemeal approach however came to a standstill over the protracted debate on the appropriations bill passage, or lack thereof, responsible for the sixteen day shutdown of the federal government.  Now that the federal government has reopened and with only a few weeks left in the legislative calendar for 2013, will immigration reform rise above party politics and become the law?
 
In an effort to continue with the immigration reform momentum, the House Democrats took leadership on the issue and unveiled their own bi-partisan immigration bill.  They proposed comprehensive immigration reform legislation similar to the immigration bill passed by the Senate.  The main difference is the issue of enforcement and border security.  The House Democrats' bill does away with the border security amendment.  The border security amendment included provisions to increase the number of federal border agents and to build a seven hundred mile fence along the southern border.  In the House Democrats' bill, the border surge amendment is replaced with Border Security Results Act, H.R. 1417, which requires the development of a comprehensive strategy plan to gain and maintain operational control of the country's international borders.
 
  In an effort to push the bill through the House of Representatives, three Republicans members have signed onto the House Democrats' immigration bill within this past week. The Republican House members who have come out in support of the bill are Representative Jeff Denham (R-CA) Denham, followed by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and  Rep. David Valadao (R-CAL).  These representatives are now proactively working with 186 Democrats to co-sponsor a plan that would give millions of unauthorized immigrants the chance to attain citizenship, which is the best news the reform movement has had in some time. 
 
Even with three Republican House members support, the immigration bill needs 218 votes to pass the House.  Currently, the Democratic bill has 186 Democratic co-sponsors. Three additional Republican votes would be insufficient for a majority for passage.  In a continued effort to pass immigration reform, Republican co-sponsors in support of the bill are reaching out to those House members who oppose the bill to negotiate its provisions.  House Republicans in support of the bill are pushing for any reform, whether it is comprehensive or piecemealed before the end of the legislative calendar year. Democratic House member Luis Gutierrez, a long-time supporter of immigration reform believes the piecemeal approach will win at the end.   With the added support from some House Republicans within the past few days, immigration reform has made real progress.  
 
In the other hand, there are some House Republicans who steadfastly refuse to negotiate reform before the 2014 elections.  Supporting immigration reform in some of the Representatives districts may prove deadly for their re-election prospects.  And, of course, the House Republican leadership can choose simply to not allow the bill to come to a vote during this legislative cycle.  Given that immigration reform runs on no strict deadline, its passage may not be in the legislative agenda.  Even if the House does not put the bill to a vote, a discussion on the issue in some way is expected, according to conversations between the House Leadership and Representative Jeff Denham.  
 
For those undocumented immigrants who have no immigration relief available or who need to wait years before a visa becomes available, the prospects of reform in Congress are not dead.  Progress is evident in the ever changing minds that have come out in support of reform across party lines.  With a Republican majority in the House however, the reality is that they have the negotiating advantage.  In order for reform to pass, Democratic House members must acknowledge the evident; they need the House Republicans on board. Reform, if it comes at all, may come piecemeal.  But, when you are hungry, a piece of a meal can be better than nothing at all. 
ICE may not detain a person under TPS on the basis of status.
 
The pain and suffering caused by the terrible tragedy that is Yolanda is brought home almost daily not only by local news coverage but also by international news organizations. Hardly hit is the City of Tacloban, the rest of the Eastern Visayas region and some parts of the Western Visayas region; it is not hard to see the grave humanitarian situation in these hard-hit areas.  
 
Considering the current humanitarian crisis there are several requests by members of the Filipino immigrant community, immigration lawyers organizations, legislators in the United States for the grant of “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS) for Filipinos who are facing immediate deportation/ removal.  But will the designation of the Philippines as country under Temporary Protected Status be appropriate for all Pinoys in unlawful presence or facing removal?
 
Temporary Protected Status for nationals of a country designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security means that the non-U.S. citizen may not be removed from the U.S. can obtain employment authorization document and may be granted travel authorization. ICE may not detain a person under TPS on the basis of his/her status.
 
Excluded from applying are certain individuals who have committed aggravated felony or two misdemeanors, had drug offenses or are threats to national security.
 
Assuming the Philippines is designated as a country under TPS, all non-U.S. citizen Filipinos who are without legal status may apply for the TPS as long as they meet other requirements aside from being a Filipino. One important requirement is that the applicant for TPS must show physical presence in the US and continuous presence since the date specified in the designation.
 
The benefits provided under TPS are “temporary” in nature; they could last from 6 to 18 months. At the end of the period designated for TPS, the individual on TPS will revert back to his original status prior to TPS. Hence, if the individual was in removal proceedings prior to TPS, the case for removal will be reinstated. Or if the individual is being removed based on a final court order, after the designation, this individual will be sent back to the Philippines. The TPS is a temporary relief and does not grant permanent resident status.
 
PORTION OF STATE
 
The law that allows TPS for certain nationals of a country provides designation of the country as a whole or only a portion of the state.  In the current situation, the physical impact of the devastation caused by the typhoon is in the Eastern Visayan region. But considering the horrendous damage and losses to lives, the impact has been a national concern for every Philippine citizen where ever they reside. Obviously residents of Eastern Visayas Region and their families are severely affected and need the much-needed assistance nationally and internationally.
 
The purpose of the TPS is twofold. One is to provide a safe haven for those who are reluctant to return to “potentially dangerous situations” and second, to assist countries who are under extraordinary and temporary conditions and face difficulties in receiving their nationals back from abroad.  Geographically, there are other regions in the Philippines that have not been affected by the typhoon and so the general danger to the Philippines as a country may not exist. In reality, it exists regionally. 
 
A Filipino from Pampanga who is facing removal, for instance, may safely return to Region III, Central Luzon without causing the Philippine government difficulty in receiving such individual. The case may be different for a Filipino who is returning to Tacloban City or other areas affected by the Typhoon Yolanda. The TPS designation for the Philippines may at best be on a “regional basis” or only a portion of the country if indeed there is a need to assist.
 
REMITTANCES CRITICAL
 
One of the reasons raised in advocating for TPS designation is that remittances from Filipinos residing in the United States are critical at this time to assist in rebuilding the devastation caused by the Typhoon Yolanda. There is no argument that remittances are important especially during these difficult times. Whether or not there is TPS, the remittances will continue to be received by relatives in the Philippines and that providing them employment authorization may increase remittances but not diminish such. In fact, there is a significant increase in remittances after Typhoon Yolanda.
 
Realistic Protective Status
 
I support and urge designation of a portion of the Philippines affected by the typhoon under TPS. But I do not see all Pinoys in unlawful presence to be deserving of the TPS much as it will provide the benefit of an employment authorization (not green card status). What I believe they deserve is a path to citizenship based on comprehensive immigration reform but not temporary status. The extent of the devastation and loss of lives is overwhelmingly distressing. We all did our part in assisting our brothers and sisters affected by typhoon whether it is participating in relief efforts or donating cash. But we have also to be realistic. If one Pinoy is not truly affected in the sense that the place of abode was not affected at all by the Typhoon Yolanda, will you advice him to apply for TPS? I say not.
 
(Atty. Lourdes Santos Tancinco is an immigration lawyer and a partner at Tancinco Law Offices. She may be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 1888 930 0808 or visit her website at www. Tancinco.com)
The Dept. of Child Support Service  is responsible for the massive collection of child support for children residing in California and other states and countries.  
 
LAW AND ORDER: THE LEGAL SYSTEM
 
My experience in the child support  began with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who use to oversee the establishment and enforcement of child support court orders for both welfare and non-welfare custodial parents.  Today, the state agency, Department of Child Support Services, is responsible for the massive collection of child support for children residing in California and other states and countries.  The powers of this agency are to be reckoned with—they can suspend the obligor’s driver’s license, deny the issuance or a passport or renewal thereof, intercept federal and state tax returns and arrears (unpaid child support) is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy court.
 
Because of the tremendous powers of these state agencies, I strongly urge my clients to pay and monitor their support orders carefully.  I recently had a client who did not reside in California while the minor-at-issue and the custodial parent lived in the state.  Due to change of circumstances, he filed an Order to Show Cause re: modification and determination of arrearages (refund).  It is not uncommon for many non-custodial parents to file their own paperwork—usually with the assistance of a family law facilitator.  But the challenge is not necessarily drafting and filing the paperwork.  The hard part is when you must present your case to the Child Support Attorney without the assistance of an attorney or an effective one.
 
A brief overview of how child support orders are developed is necessary. To get support orders, you, the other parent or the child support agency must first start a court case.  The kind of case depends on whether or not the parents are married.  For married parent, cases commence in one of the following scenarios: Divorce, Legal Separation, Annulment, Domestic Violence Restraining Order, Petition for Custody and Support of Minor(s) and Child Support Enforcement case.  For non-married:  Domestic  Violence Restraining Order, Parentage case, Petition for Custody and Support of Minor(s) and Child Support Enforcement case.
 
In California, and in most states, the amount one parent is required to pay for child support is based on a formula, commonly referred to as the “guideline.” For a welfare (AFDC and/or MEDICAL), the court will not deviate from the guideline amount.  The monies belong to the government. As for non-welfare custodial parent, she/he can agree to deviate from the guideline since all the monies belong to her/him.
 
The saying “garbage in, garbage out” usually means many things but for determining the guideline support, it is crucial that collection of the correct figures to be provided in this formula is critical. For example, my client was not aware of all appropriate deductions, credits and hardships that he was entitled to.  Moreover, since the parent was not on welfare, a figure less than guideline were possible.
 
Income (both gross and net), rental income, tax filing status, number of tax exemptions are required.  But it is the other required deductions that an attorney should closely scrutinize.  These are the other child support being paid, mandatory union dues/retirement, health insurance paid for the child and current family, “hardship” deductions, extraordinary health expenses and uninsured catastrophic losses.  The case laws are specific as to what is deemed hardship deductions, extraordinary health expenses and uninsured catastrophic losses.  It is imperative you hire an attorney that is aware of parameters of these items.  
 
As for visitation, an accurate percentage must be calculated.  The intent of the law is that the parent should be compensated for the time the child is with the non-custodial parent. Hence, the higher percentage of visitation, the lower the child support amount.  Additional support such as childcare or educational expenses must also be closely examined.  Documentation should be requested to show proof monies are being paid for such.  As for educational expenses, the law is clear, as to what type of expenses are allowable.  
 
Either parent can bring a motion to court if there are changes such as unemployment, a newborn, uninsured medical problem.  I tell my clients all the time, if there are any changes, they must call me immediately so I can file the necessary documents in court. Otherwise, arrears accrue if non-payment occurs and the nightmare begins.
It is thus imperative that one should verify whether he or she qualifies for the applications before filing anything with the USCIS.
 
By:  Dennis E. Chua, Esq.
 
While the Philippines is still recovering from the devastating effects of Typhoon Yolanda, we have seen the overwhelming support from the international community to help in the relief efforts of the country.  For its part, the United States has pledged to provide humanitarian aid to the Philippines now totaling to more than $37 million.  
The U.S. government has even offered some form of immigration relief to Filipino nationals who are currently in the United States and who may have been impacted by Typhoon Yolanda.  The U.S. government through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently announced certain immigration relief measures which might benefit those affected by the typhoon.  Notable among these measures are as follows:
 
Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired.
Extension of certain grants of parole made by  USCIS.
Expedited adjudication and approval where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship.
Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of US citizens and lawful permanent residents.
Assistance to lawful permanent residents stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents.
 
Although we applaud these immigration relief measures announced by the USCIS, not everyone would be eligible to apply.  It is thus imperative that one should verify whether he or she qualifies for the applications before filing anything with the USCIS.
 
Another important development is the push by various groups to provide temporary protected status (TPS) to Filipino nationals in the United States.  TPS is a type of immigration status provided to nationals of a certain country who are currently in the United States and are severely affected by armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or epidemic.  TPS gives nationals of the designated country protection from being deported, and the ability to work legally in the United States.  However, the TPS designation does not lead to a green card. It is only temporary and subject to extensions by the US government.  However, the Philippine government should first make a request to the US government for TPS designation through the proper diplomatic channels.
 
The TPS designation of the Philippines is important in its economic recovery from the disastrous effects of Typhoon Yolanda.  With more than 10% of the Philippines’ gross domestic product coming from money remittances, TPS designation of its nationals in the United States will eventually help in the increase or continuous flow of remittances to the Philippines.  
 
Atty.  Dennis E. Chua is a partner in The Law Firm of Chua Tinsay and Vega (CTV) -  a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Manila.  The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship.   Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (415) 495-8088; (619) 955-6277; (916) 509-7280; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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