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Nationwide round-up (02/02/21)

Child car seat law implementation deferred

TRANSPORT agencies on Tuesday said they would postpone the “full” implementation of the child car seat law, which means penalties for non-compliance will not be imposed yet. “There will be no apprehensions yet. Penalties will not be imposed just year,” Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran said, in mixed Filipino and English, at a virtual briefing. Land Transportation Office (LTO) Assistant Secretary Edgar C. Galvante said they would have to focus first on the comprehensive information campaign about the Child Safety in Motor Vehicle Act or Republic Act No. 11229, which President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed on Feb. 22, 2019. The law, which was supposed to fully take effect on Tuesday after a year of transitory period, requires the use of child restraint systems for children who are 12 years old and below with a height of up to 4’ 11”. The decision to postpone the full implementation of the law was “in consideration of the current pandemic, and until a comprehensive information, education, and communications campaign is executed in close coordination” with relevant agencies, the Transportation department said in a statement. Ms. Libiran said the information campaign will be conducted for “at least six months” before the strict implementation of the law. Meanwhile, at the same briefing, Transportation Undersecretary for Finance Garry V. de Guzman said a “strike three” policy would be implemented at cashless toll plazas to limit the number of motorists who abuse the system. — Arjay L. Balinbin

SWS survey: Adult joblessness at ‘record high’ in 2020

THE average adult joblessness in 2020 was at a “record high” of 37.4% as the country faced a coronavirus pandemic that battered the economy, according to the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. In a statement on Monday, the SWS said joblessness in November dropped to 27.3% or 46.3 million of the total labor force from 39.5% or 60.1 million in September 2020, based on the Fourth Quarter 2020 Social Weather Survey. Adult joblessness reached 45.5% in July 2020, the highest in SWS history, as strict lockdowns were imposed beginning mid-March. Prior to last year, the highest joblessness average was recorded in 2012 at 28.8%. The SWS definition of adult joblessness covers those who “(a) voluntarily left their old jobs, (b) are seeking jobs for the first time, or (c) lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control.” The SWS also reported that the number of adults participating in the labor force in November 2020 was lower at 66.7% or 46.3 million from 86.5%  or 60.1 million in September 2020. The non-commissioned survey was conducted on 1,500 adults nationwide from November 21 to 25. The sampling error margin was ±2.5% for national percentages. — Gillian M. Cortez

President’s spokesperson defers to top diplomat on Myanmar coup stance

THE President’s spokesperson, who said on Monday that the military coup in Myanmar is an “internal matter,” has deferred all statements relating to the political situation in its regional neighbor to the country’s top diplomat. “We leave that matter to the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a televised press briefing on Tuesday. The DFA issued a statement Tuesday saying, “Myanmar has made substantial and important strides toward democratization in recent years” and the Philippines had supported these efforts. The department said it is monitoring the situation and is concerned about the safety of Aung San Suu Kyi. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr., in a post on his Twitter account, said the country’s current position is based on his recommendation. “That’s me waiting and seeing to give junta room to back away honorably. (President Rodrigo R.) Duterte regards Aung San Suu Kyi a personal friend and he has a strong sense of loyalty. Blame me,” he said addressing critics. Several countries around the world, including other southeast Asian neighbors have condemned the coup. “It is actually surprising that Singapore and even Indonesia are actually speaking out against the coup while the Philippines is silent. It also shows how far the Philippines has fallen as one of the leading countries championing democracy and human rights in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations),” Maria Ela L. Atienza, a political professor at the University of the Philippines (UP), told BusinessWorld in an email. Dennis C. Coronacion, chairperson of the University of Santo Tomas’ (UST) Department of Political Science, said the diplomatic culture in ASEAN is another significant factor that has convinced the Palace to stay out of the political crisis in Myanmar. “Since the regional organization’s inception, the ASEAN countries have adhered to the policy of non-interference in domestic affairs believing that this is going to foster harmonious relationships among the member-countries,” he said in an email. Asian Institute of Management economist John Paolo R. Rivera said in an email on Tuesday that the Philippines should be “very careful” with its pronouncements regarding the issue and “let our diplomatic experts handle this matter.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Senator calls for probe on human trafficking to Syria

A SENATOR filed a resolution seeking to investigate human trafficking involving Filipino women after reports that 12 women were victimized to work illegally in Syria. Under Senate Resolution No. 631, Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said while the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) already reached the 12 victims to bring them home, the Senate should probe the incident to understand the “supply chain.” “We need to better understand the human trafficking ‘supply chain’ in order to craft more effective legislation to prosecute offenders and protect our women and children,” she said in a statement on Tuesday. An article published by The Washington Post reported the case of 12 Filipinas recruited to work in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but were later trafficked as domestic workers in Syria. The DFA has started its own investigations on the allegations and also provided legal assistance to the migrants, who faced penalties for their illegal entry. Ms. Baraquel, who chairs the women committee, said the inquiry aims to determine whether there are syndicates involved in the trafficking, among other issues. She added the hearing will also look at “gendered dimensions” of human trafficking, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic. “Dahil na rin sa kakulangan ng oportunidad sa Pilipinas, nagiging mas bulnerable ang ating kababaihan sa (Due to lack of opportunities in the Philippines, our women become more vulnerable to) trafficking,” she said. “The pandemic will only drive many families further into poverty, making many members, especially women, more at risk of exploitation and abuse.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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