PHILIPPINES, THE 51ST U.S. STATE?

imageSubic, Philippines – A leaked document from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs has revealed secret negotiatons between the United States and the Philippines that could lead to this Southeast Asian country becoming the 51st U.S. state.

The statehood movement, which is not new, stalled in 1992 when street protests by Filipinos eventually led to the closure of all U.S. military bases in the country.

The leak comes  in the wake of a recent request from the U.S. government for an expanded military role in the Philippines under the guise of protecting Philippine interests in its ongoing territorial conflict with China. The request would allow American forces to stay in the Philippines for longer periods of time and be stationed at Philippine military bases.  Critics have immediately protested the request saying, “The American military forces are already enjoying a tourist visa, now they also want a working visa?”

On the other side of the coin, supporters of the statehood movement say that it only makes sense that the Philippines become the 51st  U.S. state, citing the facts that Filipinos already speak English, value the dollar more than the peso (as evidenced by foreign exchange centers in malls and street corners, are addicted to Hollywood movies, and already observe American special days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. They also pointed out that Filipinos are everywhere around the globe.  This, they said, would further boost America’s presence on the world stage.

In a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Manila, it was also pointed out that making the Philippines the 51st U.S. state would significantly reduce the embassy’s workload in processing tourist, work and immigrant visas for Filipinos.

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TWO- FOR-ONE VEHICLE LICENSE PLATES UNVEILED

imageManila, Philippines — It is definitely more fun in the Philippines – exactly as the Department of Tourism advertising mantra says – not only because Filipinos think up of the smartest and sometimes stupid things, but get away with it.

In a surprise move, the country’s Department of Motor Vehicles has actually adopted what was once a smart yet illegal activity, as an official policy.  Effective July 15, 2013, the Department will be issuing two-for-one vehicle licenses whereby citizens or businesses owning two or more vehicles can purchase identical license plates for the price of one. This new policy is expected to solve the problem of many vehicle owners not obtaining the proper license plates because the cost and fees are too expensive.

The new policy is expected to put the Department of Motor Vehicles at odds with the Metro Manila Development Authority, particularly with the latter’s “coding” program.  Under this coding system, motor vehicles whose license plates ending with an odd or even number are prohibited from the streets and highways of Metro Manila on specified days and times of the week. For example, vehicles wth license plates ending in 1 are prohibited on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Vehicles with license plates ending in 2 are prohibited on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  The system has been in effect for many years as a way to solve the traffic gridlock that’s been the hallmark of Metro Manila’s roadways.

Asked for his reaction to the two-for-once license plates, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who as president of the Philippines was impeached and convicted for corruption, said “I don’t care either way. I am exempted from the coding rules and I always have police car escorts wherever I go so traffic is not a problem for  me.”

Already, some enterprising Filipinos are planning to buy the two-for-one license plates and sell the other for half the price.

UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS EXTEND AMNESTY TO GEORGE W. BUSH

BushDallas, Texas – A coalition of immigrant rights organizations across the U.S., acting on behalf of 11 million undocumented immigrants, today extended amnesty to former President George W. Bush.  This unprecedented action by the immigrants, in effect, forgives the former president for all the lies and illegal acts committed during his 8-year term.  Many of Bush’s words and actions during his presidency hurt the cause of immigrants and communities of color, including Latinos and Asian Americans.

The grant of amnesty to Bush was prompted by his recent public statement at a naturalization ceremony in  Texas, whereby he expressed his full support for a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  Recently, the U.S. Senate, passed — by a vote of 68-32 –a bill that would strengthen the borders while providing a path to citizenship to the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.  The U.S. House of Representatives is now debating the Senate bill, but many conservative Republicans are not happy with the upper chamber’s version because it is tantamount to “granting amnesty to those who have violated this country’s laws.”

In his statement, Bush said, “We can uphold our tradition of assimilating immigrants, and honoring our heritage of our nation built on the rule of law.  But we have a problem.  The laws governing the immigration system aren’t working; the system is broken.”  He urged his fellow Republicans in Congress to address the issue as soon as possible.  It wasn’t clear whether Bush’s urging will have any impact in changing the minds of lawmakers opposed to the path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Meanwhile, the Democrats in Congress have remained silent on the grant of amnesty to the former president.  But sources said that while Democrats  may not want to go as far as granting amnesty to Bush, they are also weary that opposing such move might jeopardize their standing with the Latino and other immigrant communities, especially in the next elections.

As he posed for a photo with newly-naturalized citizens from Nigeria and the Philippines (see photo), the former president was asked for his reaction to the amnesty extended to him.  He simply winked his eye and blurted out, “he he.”

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