Saturday, January 22, 2011


Vice President Jejomar Binay jumps the gun on his boss, trekking to Washington DC in the first week of February to meet with diplomatic officials and the Fil-Am community.

Plans are afoot for President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to visit the US capital in the summer after a planned White House meeting with President Obama last year fizzled out because it could not fit in the two leaders’ busy calendars.

They did get some face time (7 minutes long) at the 2nd US-ASEAN Leaders Summit which followed the opening of the 65th UN General Assembly last September that they both addressed.

Binay is no stranger to the Metro DC community.

He has occasionally graced major functions of the local Alpha Phi Omega (APO) alumni association in northern Virginia but this will be his first trip here after winning the May 2010 elections.

His visit will come just a week after US State Asst. Secretary for East Asia & Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell leads a delegation for the first RP-US Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Manila.

Campbell will be the highest US official to visit the Philippines this year.

The Strategic Dialogue discusses “a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest”.

Campbell himself will meet with Philippine officials and business leaders on “intensifying economic engagement with the Philippines”.

The meeting with the Fil-Am community in Metro DC is expected to be the highlight of Binay’s visit to the region.

He holds concurrently the position of Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers and Chairman, Housing & Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

The Virginia-based Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) is trying to push for the enactment of a “Magna Carta for OFWs”.

Lawyer Arnedo Valera, MHC executive director, revealed he has won commitments from House Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Senators T.G. Guingona and Gregorio Honasan to sponsor the bill in the Philippine Congress.

“There is a need to eliminate visa fraud so there has to be close coordination with receiving countries, integrate existing laws on recruitment and give added protection for OFWs,” he averred.

Valera has been appointed as Representative for Migration and Human Rights by the Foundation for the Support of the United Nations (FSUN) that allows him to push for the OFW agenda within the UN ambit.

Binay’s support for the OFW bill will be crucial.

Over 40 bills ranging from the establishment of an OFW hospital to shuttering recruitment firms victimizing minors to addressing the human trafficking problem in the US are languishing in the House committee on overseas workers affairs.

The Aquino administration is courting US censure after the Philippines was included for a 2nd straight year in the Tier 2 human trafficking watch list in 2010.

So even if Binay has no obvious official business with the US government, his presence here could pave the way for President Aquino’s eventual visit to Washington DC.

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