Wednesday, September 05, 2007

This Week in the Philippines #6

Kickbacks, economic gains, kidnapping, Doogie Howser, and remittances...

Source: Corbis

Corruption mars broadband contract
Once again, corruption reared its ugly head under the Arroyo administration with kickbacks galore amounting to way over $100 million, divided accordingly among a high-ranking poll official. “Kickbacks” in the contro-versial broadband contract with Chinese firm ZTE Corp. practically ate up the project’s cost and ended up 300-percent higher than the original or proposed amount, with highly-placed public officials and public figures said to have pocketed the “loot” amounting to over $200 million.

Government to boast of economic gains at APEC meeting
The Philippines will show off the Arroyo government’s so-called “long-term economic achievement” during this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Sydney, Australia, despite a poor investor index rating by the Apec. In his departure statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo yesterday commented, “our performance has shown the resiliency and robustness of our economy. Our fiscal and economic reforms have taken root and are showing concrete results. We have had consecutive quarterly growths since 2001.”

Kidnapping cases decrease in the Philippines

Director General Oscar C. Calderon, chief of the Philippine National Police, reported yesterday a 45 percent decline in the number of kidnap-for-ransom cases recorded in the country from July 2006 to June 2007 as compared to July 2005 to June 2006. Calderon said there were 27 kidnap-for-ransom cases from July 2006 to June 2007 as compared to the 49 recorded from July 2005 to June 2006.

Youngest doctor in the Philippines ready for work
At 22, Adrian Paul Rabe is the youngest member of Class 2007 of the University of the Philippines' seven-year Integrated Liberal Arts-Medicine (Intarmed) program. He passed the medical licensure examinations this month. When he was young, his family lived in Kuwait. His father, Pete, an engineer, was a contract worker while his mother, Zenaida, also an engineer, took care of him and his four siblings. He was six years old when the Gulf War broke out in August 1990 and the family decided to return to the Philippines.

Cheaper remittance system developed for migrants

A nationwide federation of cooperatives launched on Tuesday a one-dollar remittance scheme for overseas Filipinos. Dubbed as National Cash Card program, or simply N-Cash, the new remittance system offers overseas Filipinos a much cheaper option in sending money to their loved ones in the Philippines. It is a project of the National Confederation of Cooperatives (Natcco) in coordination with the government-owned Development Bank of the Philippines. Natcco executive officer Cresente Paez commented, “Filipinos in all areas of our island nation will now be able to conduct many financial transactions without having to go to their nearest urban center which is often many kilometers and many hours away."

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