Atty. Jojo M. Liangco

Whereas

The politics of impeaching a president

We hear the word impeachment mentioned more frequently in both the United States and the Philippines these days although it is very remote at this time that the sitting presidents of both countries will be impeached. 

In March, an opposition lawmaker filed an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte calling for the president’s removal from office citing high crimes, betrayal of public trust, and abuse of power as the basis for his impeachment complaint. 

The justice committee of the Lower House recently dismissed the impeachment charges against President Duterte for “insufficiency in substance” related to the president’s alleged role in the state-sponsored killings and the Davao Death Squad, as well as his administration’s alleged inaction to uphold the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, Panatag Shoal, and Benham Rise. 

For now, President Duterte will not be the subject of an impeachment trial unlike former president Joseph Estrada who was charged with plunder and perjury during an impeachment trial in the Philippine Senate in December 2000.  However, President Estrada was ousted from office in January of 2001 during a popular uprising in Metro Manila after his aborted impeachment trial.

Will President Duterte suffer the same fate?  

I doubt it.  Not at this time.  President Duterte enjoys strong support from lawmakers of both houses and if the social survey results are correct, it appears that he still holds a high trust rating among the people. 

But the rising death toll as a result of the extrajudicial killings going on in the Philippines will surely hurt his popularity later on.  Like the failed social experiments and painful experiences in Thailand and Colombia, the Filipino people will soon realize that mass killings simply do not work and that there are more creative and productive solutions in dealing with the drug menace without killing the poor, the voiceless, and the powerless.   

History has taught us that the rule of law is vital to progress and a country will not move forward without it because those in power will be the first ones who will engage in corruption and acts that are detrimental to the best interests of the nation if the rule of law is absent and missing.

The rule of law is the world’s best hope for building peaceful and prosperous societies according to former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.  Even Philippine CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno spoke about the dangers of lawlessness and impunity which she said represents a breakdown in governance. 

I hope that President Duterte will find it alarming that 45 of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council expressed deep concerns about the human rights situation in the Philippines.  I hope also that he will listen to the Council’s call for his government to investigate the extrajudicial killings that have been going on since he took office and since his war on drugs started.  

  In President Donald Trump’s case, unlike President Duterte, his trust rating has been very low since he took office.  But like President Duterte, President Trump enjoys strong support from his Republican party mates and allies in both the House of Representatives and the Senate (unlike President Richard Nixon who resigned before the House could vote on the impeachment resolutions against him when his political support was completely eroding and collapsing and the Democrats enjoyed the majority vote on his impeachment).    

Many legal and constitutional experts assert though that the conduct of the U.S. president poses a danger to the nation’s democratic system of government. 

It is alleged that the firing of FBI Director James Comey obstructs the investigation on the claimed Russian connection and influence in the results of the 2016 presidential election--- and the taped conversation with former-director Comey they allege may be classified as a form of intimidation and obstruction of justice. 

Will a Trump impeachment complaint prosper?  Like in President Duterte’s case, impeaching President Trump is tough and remote for now--- but there is a stronger possibility after the 2018 mid-year election if the dominant party in Congress changes. 

Until next week.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California.  His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases.  Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.  You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com

 

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What is Trumpcare for?

Life is not fair, as they say. I believe that this also goes true when we talk about the present threat to Obamacare and access to quality and affordable health care in the United States.
The “broken” healthcare system before President Barack Obama was voted into office needed sweeping reforms because compared to what European countries and
Canada have, the U.S. lagged behind in terms of providing affordable health care to its people.
This was one of the more important missions of President Obama when he assumed office. Immediately he took the lead in having the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and Obamacare, passed into law. And on March 23, 2010, the 111th U.S. Congress responded positively and passed the ACA.
The ACA which took effect on January 1, 2014 has a noble purpose--- to provide affordable health coverage to more Americans. And consistent with President Obama’s “change we can believe in” mantra, the ACA also hopes to change the way health insurance companies provide coverage (as well as the way consumers purchase their policies).
By giving more Americans access to affordable and better health coverage, the ACA also aims in the long term to reduce the U.S. government’s health care spending.
So far, ACA has enrolled and has given health care access to more Americans and it has been widely accepted and supported. Just look at the favorable surveys that it has been receiving (including from people and Republican voters who were opposed to it earlier). But after the electoral victory of President Donald Trump and the Republicans gaining control of Congress, sweeping policy changes in healthcare are again expected. It is clear that Republicans will repeal one of President Obama’s major accomplishments as president.
Indeed Republicans in the lower house acted swiftly and fast following the lead of President Trump. They fast tracked and recently passed the legislation to repeal and replace major parts of the ACA.
Why? Is there something wrong with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act?
Whatever happened to “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” ACA is only on its third year. It is not perfect but it works. Certainly there is room for improvement and there are parts that can be enhanced to make it better. So why the need to repeal and replace it?
To repeal and replace ACA is beyond my comprehension and most Americans should feel the same way too. The last “major health care law” before ACA, the federal law for the health care of those who are 65 years old and older (the Medicare and Medicaid programs) was passed on July 30, 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson. This 1965 health care reform law was an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935.
ACA became law in 2010, almost 45 years after the Medicare and Medicaid programs were put into place. During the 50th celebration of the anniversary of this amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935, the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services marked the anniversary of the programs by recognizing the ways in which Medicare and Medicaid have transformed the nation’s health care system over the past five decades.
Notice that in the five decades after the Medicare and Medicaid law was passed, Republicans never moved nor succeeded in “repealing and replacing” Medicare and Medicaid. It makes perfect sense. Why oppose these programs that have been protecting the health and well-being of millions of Americans for the past 50 years? These programs aside from saving lives have also improved the economic security of the U.S.
In President Obama’s ACA, health care access and coverage expanded to reach working class citizens who now can afford and enjoy having health coverage benefits.
Also, a past Republican president, President George W. Bush, even signed into law the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) which added outpatient prescription drug benefits to Medicare recipients.
The ACA was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 28, 2012 after a strong challenge from the Republicans. So why repeal and replace it now? Why not just expand and improve it? Really, what is Trumpcare for?
Until next week.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.

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‘The paradox’  

The word “resurrection” is often used or spoken when a person refers to or talks about the risen lord Jesus Christ. The risen lord is the reason why Christians celebrate Easter.
Christians also relate resurrection with redemption.
In the context of the passion of Christ, it refers to his mission as the Son of Man who came to offer himself in obedience to God's redemptive plan. God’s redemptive plan is said to be the deliverance of humankind from sin and evil.
“Insurrection” may sound the same as resurrection but definitely has a totally different meaning.
Insurrection is the act or instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against a established civil authority or government. It is an uprising led by an organization, a group of individuals, or some collective formations.
I thought of writing about resurrection and insurrection in connection with the present leaders of the two countries that are dear to the hearts of many Filipino-Americans. I am referring to the United States under the leadership of President Donald Trump and the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte.
Many supporters who voted for these two presidents, not to mention the fiery speeches of both when they were still campaigning for their respective positions, zero in on their campaign line about being “tired of the status quo and the existing political establishment” and that drastic change is needed and necessary to bring things in order for both the U.S. and the Philippines.
Both Trump and Duterte were viewed and accepted as “outsiders” and “anti-establishment” candidates who were not extensions or representatives of the status quo.
There was “massive craving for change” despite the fact that both the outgoing presidents that Trump and Duterte succeeded, President Barack Obama and President Benigno C. Aquino Jr., were enjoying immense support and popularity as they headed out of office. The people in the U.S. and in the Philippines looked and opted for “alternative leaders” who can “shake” the political establishment and both Trump and Duterte were seen as the best fits judging by the number of votes that they received (although in Trump’s case he lost the popularity vote count to Democrat Hillary Clinto but still got enough votes to gain the electoral college’s nod).
Trump and Duterte from their own pronouncements, words, and propaganda strongly believe that they are the saviors who can effect “fast change” and “get things done” by effectively bypassing the bureaucracy and the opposition.
Both also manifested the so-called “messianic complex.”
But the issue that many have with Trump’s “Make America Great Again” is the fact that immigrants, Muslims, women, LGBTQs, refugees, and liberal democrats are again being bashed and blamed for the so-called maladies affecting the U.S. at present.
For Duterte, he talks about the failure of the past Philippine administrations in eradicating society’s problems associated and related to the use of illegal and dangerous drugs. His campaign line was mainly eradicating the “drug problem” in the country as he claims that the country has been “infested” with drug addicts and drug pushers for many years now and that there is a need to “save the future generations of Filipinos.”
For Duterte, he claims that his war on drugs is meant to prevent the Philippines from becoming a “narco-state” which he claims was the destination where the country was headed before he took office.
He even claims that he is “willing to die” just to accomplish his task of saving and preventing the country from being a narco-state.
The so-called messianic complex is so strong on Trump and Duterte that their supporters belief in their so-called “calling” and “mission” as presidents of their respective countries lead many to ignore their more serious flaws and faults as leaders. This is what I will refer to as the paradox of our time.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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It’s time to ask the tough questions  

During the observance of the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March, President Donald Trump launched a missile attack on Shayrat Air Base in Syria. I started to worry and say “Not Again!” after I learned about the missile attack.
Not again was a knee-jerk reaction because I was reminded of the war on terror that President George W. Bush started in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.
The war on terror did not only impact and affect the lives of many Americans but also the lives of many people and countries around the world. Accepted policies and procedures related to international and domestic travels were also affected due to national security issues and concerns that were expressed by many countries after the 9/11 attacks. In the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security was established immediately as well to beef-up intelligence gathering and border control.
Not again was also a disappointed reaction to the military action related to the U.S. missile strikes which was made and decided without the consent of Congress and agreement from the United Nations.
It is still very fresh from memory when mainstream America out of and because of fear just accepted the Bush Administration’s line that there were weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq and that Saddam Hussein must be overthrown by military intervention and force because he is a threat to global peace and security not only in the Middle East but around the world. This line was then the main justification for the invasion of Iraq and U.S. intervention in the region.
For the recent missile launch against Syria, President Trump explained that the U.S. had to make the move because of the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against the rebel forces and their supporters in the Syrian territory.
Some doubters state that the U.S. action might just be to divert the attention of the public from the ongoing investigation of the alleged Russian connection with the Trump campaign during the last presidential election in November 2016--- a sort of “wag the dog” propaganda by the present administration.
But just like in the past, there are lessons to be learned. I hope that the American public will ask tough questions this time around and not let fear and bias rule against their better judgment. What good did the missile attack do? Definitely, the response to this question must not be an emphatic “Nothing” because wars and missile attacks mean destruction, the loss of innocent lives, and a thousand and one tears to lost hope, dreams, and opportunities.
As we all know, President Trump has been criticized for lacking “coherent policies” and the American people have all the right to ask if the president weighed cost versus benefits, both in the long and short term before the missile attack. If not, I hope that he’ll do it the next time he considers U.S. military involvement and action for that matter in Syria and other parts of the world. Does the military action achieve a true and lasting positive purpose? Does the act make America great and more secure again?
The civil war in Syria is not very easy to understand. It is complicated and there are many foreign forces involved--- including the U.S., Russia, Iran, the Kurds, ISIS, the Syrian Armed Forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces, and many others.
The American people must be well-informed. The consequences of wrong military actions are very costly. Our history tells us this and the bitter lessons of the past must not be forgotten and erased from our memories. I believe that the members of Congress should have a say the next time (and perhaps the U.N. and the U.S. allies too).
War? For what reason? Let us start asking tough questions before getting into another costly war.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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The changing of the president  

The word “impeachment” has been used more often these days in the Philippines and in the United States as more and more critics of both President Donald Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte have taken to social media to denounce the actions and policies of the two leaders.
This talk about impeachment is not a new thing. Actually many people are very familiar with this constitutional procedure for removing a sitting president from office.
The usual route for changing an administration is through presidential elections, but for terms of four years in the U.S. and six years in the Philippines, many find these too long for presidents who in their first months have already done major missteps in their jobs as chief executives.
The Philippines and the United States have many things in common with regards to their political systems particularly their form of government with three branches.
In the United States Constitution it is stated that "The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors," while in the 1987 Philippine constitution the grounds for removal from office on impeachment are for “conviction of, . . . culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”
Impeachment though does not imply “forceful removal.” Under the constitution of both the U.S. and the Philippines, impeachment takes place in the House of Representatives if a majority approves the submitted articles of impeachment. The impeachment proceeding then goes to the Senate where a two-thirds majority vote is required to convict the president which would then lead to his or her removal.
In the Philippines, no impeachment proceedings can be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.
President Rodrigo Duterte has not completed the first year of his six-year term of office and an impeachment complaint was already filed against him in the House of Representatives citing murder, crimes against humanity in connection with the extrajudicial deaths and his alleged involvement in the Davao Death Squad, and corruption, as grounds.
This impeachment complaint might not prosper since President Duterte has the support of the majority in the House of Representatives. But with the call from the international community to revoke Philippine trade privileges in a bid to hold President Duterte accountable for his alleged support of the killings in his war on drugs, and if the nation’s economy gets into a downward state, Duterte’s popularity can wane fast and realignment of political forces will surely take place.
President Duterte may also be violating the constitution in his handling of the territorial issues against China since he is mandated to defend the national territory.
Outside of elections, only two Philippine presidents were “booted out” of power. First, there was President Ferdinand Marcos who fled the Philippines during the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising and the second, President Joseph Estrada, left Malacanang Palace after another people’s uprising in 2001. In Estrada’s case, he was deposed in a “constitutional-coup” and replaced by his vice president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. President Estrada allegedly “resigned” or was “incapacitated” and this led to Macapagal-Arroyo being sworn as president.
In the U.S., articles of impeachment were passed against then President Richard Nixon by a congressional committee but Nixon resigned before the House of Representatives could vote on his impeachment.
President Bill Clinton was impeached by the lower house and tried in the senate but was acquitted and remained in office.
There are many issues surrounding the Trump presidency that are being collected and investigated that may potentially be impeachable offenses. However at this time, with Trump’s political party having control of both houses in congress, the possibility of his impeachment is still remote.
Remember Nixon and Clinton faced impeachment when their respective parties were not the majority in congress. For Trump to be impeached, members of his own party would have to turn against him.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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‘Kodakan’ (Promoting Filipino Heritage in America)  

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said these words in 1943: "We have faith that future generations will know here, in the middle of the twentieth century, there came a time when men of good will found a way to unite, and produce, and fight to destroy the forces of ignorance, and intolerance, and slavery, and war.” Fast forward to the year 2017 and what President Roosevelt said 74 years ago is still relevant.
We again witness ignorance and intolerance manifested by rising anti-immigrant sentiments and attacks in the U.S. The rise of bashing incidents, violence, and hate crimes against immigrants and people of color have been fanned by conservative and nativist rhetoric that depicts immigrants as a “baggage to American society” rather than the realistic picture of hard working people who contribute their talents and labor to make America a better country.
The Filipino community in America is not immune to the anti-immigrant trend.
The fact that Filipinos have settled in North America long before Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states, and even before the Philippines was granted independence by the United States, does not exempt our community from the immigrant bashing that is happening around. We need to continue educating mainstream America about who we are and the contributions that we have made as a people in American society.
Education is an important component but reality check tells us that there is not much written about our history and culture as a people in the U.S. Even in cities and places where there are many Filipinos, historical materials and studies about Filipinos are not always available and accessible in libraries, resource centers, schools and institutions of higher learning.
There are many immigrant stories that need to be told, many photos and multi-media materials that need to be gathered, stored, and shared so we can tell our own story about our community. There should be no more waiting. With the immigrant bashing going on around, the time to do this is now.
With the advancement of information and communication technology and the extensive use of internet and social media in our daily lives, we can now expect that our own narratives and Filipino heritage can be easily and properly documented. It is also much easier now to store information for future generations.
There are many activities and developments in connection with this undertaking to promote and preserve Filipino heritage in the U.S. particularly in San Francisco.
First was the recognition and adoption of the city’s South of Market area as the Filipino Cultural Heritage District (SoMa Pilipinas) on April 12, 2016. Last year, a number of our community members also shared their stories through the StoryCorps and the Center of Asian American Media.
This year the Filipino community in partnership and cooperation with the San Francisco Public Library came up with the project “Kodakan Photo Day: Shades of San Francisco: A Search for Visual Filipino History of San Francisco.”
“Shades of San Francisco” is embracing the mission to collect and copy photographs from the family albums and private collections of current and former San Francisco residents. These photos will then be exhibited and added to the San Francisco History Center’s photo archives to create a permanent record of the daily lives of San Franciscans as well as the historical, political, and cultural contributions of the many neighborhoods and ethnic communities that make up the City and County of San Francisco.
Shades of San Francisco (Kodakan) will take place for the Filipino community on May 13, 2017 from 10am to 4pm at the San Francisco Main Public Library (100 Larkin Street in San Francisco).
We should support this noble cause. On photo day, please bring copies of your photos from your photo albums, loose photographs, and digital photos, including old materials and literatures about Filipinos and the Filipino community in San Francisco so the library will have more archival collections about us and our contributions as a people to the San Francisco community as a whole.
Let us continue to promote and preserve Filipino social and cultural heritage in America.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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Whereas

Responsibility and hope
We Filipinos should not forget our values as people. Reading the news and social media postings of many, including the news that we hear from relatives, friends, and loved ones in the Philippines, it is undeniable that many have accepted the extrajudicial killings (“EJKs”) linked to Operation Tokhang and the government’s war on drugs as a “necessity” and a part of life in the Philippines.
Recently, majority of the members of the House of Representatives also voted to resurrect the death penalty.
The blame should not only be put against the incumbent president, Rodrigo R. Duterte, who during his campaign for the presidency and after he was sworn in as president vowed to “kill them”--- them referring to drug lords, drug pushers, and drug users. For almost nine months now, President Duterte continues to rally his supporters to support his drug war.
I am puzzled and perplexed by the way the Filipino people have accepted and tolerated the president’s iron-fist approach. I also wonder why many continue to believe that this approach will work and be effective in moving the nation forward. Countries like Thailand and Colombia tried the same approach before and came out unsuccessful despite the number of casualties that ended up six feet underground.
Have we forgotten the age-old Filipino proverbs “Kapag may buhay, may pag-asa” and “Hanggang buhay ang tao ay may pag-asa” which were handed to us by our ancestors many generations ago. Both of these proverbs tell us that while there is life, there will always be hope.
There is also the Filipino maxim that says “Kung buhay and inutang, buhay rin ang kabayaran” which implies that if a life was borrowed, the debt should also be paid with life.
This may sound like a good justification for the death penalty--- as in the law of retaliation during the ancient and barbaric times--- commonly referred to as “an eye for an eye.” However, if we analyze and reinterpret the maxim in this modern and civilized world, what we will see is a profound balance sheet and accountability approach.
The equivalent of accountability or responsibility in Pilipino is “pananagutan.”
Pananagutan goes deep into who we are because it is related to our “pakikipagkapwa-tao” (how we treat others).
Following the mantra of “Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko,” that popular Philippine public service television show in the 1970s hosted by Rosal Rosal and Orly Mercado, Filipino service providers and community-based agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area have adopted “Kapwa Natin, Pananagutan Natin” as their service principle and purpose statement during the 1990s.
Pakikipagkapwa-tao is one of the more important core virtues of being a Filipino. The meaning of kapwa is shared identity which on a certain level leads to shared responsibility and solidarity.
Hence, kapwa natin, pananagutan natin may mean caring for one another and in the larger context this helps promote a community of caring and responsible people.
How do we reconcile the concept of community and responsibility if we tolerate and accept EJKs as part of life in the Philippines? The same goes to accepting the death penalty if the penal punishment makes a grand return in the Philippines. Remember, the Philippines made a pact with the community of nations years ago against the imposition of the death penalty?
Let us not forget that we Filipinos are also responsible for the more than seven thousand deaths attributed to the drug war (if the Philippine government is indeed responsible for those deaths)--- because we are responsible for the lives of our “kapwa” and the families that the departed have left behind.
The Philippines cannot move forward as a nation if there is no accountability as to the more than seven thousand lives lost and the continued killings going on in the name of the war on drugs.
As long as there is life, there will always be hope. And for hope to grow and hopefully reach others in the community--- including the nation’s leaders--- there must be pananagutan first to protect and care for the lives of our fellow human beings--- our kapwa.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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Remembering Rizal during Trump’s travel ban

The Trump administration is not the first to order the exclusion of a group of people from entering the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first law to be implemented to bar a certain ethnic group from coming to this country. Although the United States of America was founded and has emerged as a great nation because of the contributions of immigrants and refugees, U.S. history tells us thatthis country has also made unfortunate mistakes of blaming immigrants about the woes suffered by the U.S. As a consequence, policies that restrict immigrants and immigration came about due to strong anti-immigrant attitudes and sentiments that prevailed over truth and reason. There are even incidents of hate crimes due to anti-immigrant sentiments and xenophobia. When President Trump signed the executive order (“EO”) “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” on January 27, 2017, the EO did not only bring fear among Muslims and refugees but to non-Muslims as well because the order had consequences that affected almost everyone who wanted to enter the U.S. Even those who wanted to visit the U.S. as tourists and those who have been in this country for many years as legal permanent residents and naturalized citizens were also alarmed.


The so-called “port of entries” in the international airports as well as those located in our borders again became symbols of America’s closed doors. The EO brought the message that so-called “outsiders” are not “welcome” and that those who dared to proceed will be subjected to interrogations. There was chaos in many U.S. airports after President Trump signed his immigration EO and after the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol started to enforce it. Many travelers were stranded, some were arrested and put-on-hold, and there are those who were rejected outright and deported. The EO also came as a surprise to airport officials who did not fully understand the order and the sudden changes it brought concerning the rules and protocol for people trying to enter the U.S. It was good that concerned citizens reacted quickly to protest, including many immigration lawyers and human rights advocates in the U.S. who rushed to the airports to provide assistance to those who were affected and detained. At this time, there’s an order from the Federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that put a stop on the enforcement of the Trump EO. This was not the case though when Filipino national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, first entered the United States in 1888. No federal appeals court, protesters, and lawyers came to rescue Dr. Rizal and his fellow ship passengers from prejudice after they were detained in San Francisco, California. Rizal’s diaries and letters to his friends and relatives in Laguna about his travel experience in the U.S. showed his brilliance as a political analyst. Rizal was held (“quarantined”) in his ship for six days before he was allowed to disembark. What Rizal saw in 1888 is similar in a way to what we are now witnessing in 2017.


His observation as to why he and his fellow passengers were detained was stated in a letter to his parents--- “Here we are in sight of America since yesterday without being able to disembark, placed in quarantine on account of the 642 Chinese that we have on board coming from Hong Kong where they say smallpox prevails. But the true reason is that, as America is against Chinese immigration and now they are campaigning for the elections, the government, in order to get the vote of the people, must appear to be strict with the Chinese, and we suffer. On board there is not one sick person…” The prejudice and restriction against the Chinese people that Rizal witnessed during his visit in San Francisco is the same prejudice that Muslims and refugees are facing today. Yesterday’s “smallpox” is today’s “terrorism.” Rizal’s sharp mind can help explain how President Trump won the last election. Restrictions against immigration and blaming immigrants get votes. The government must appear to be strict and President Trump succeeded in portraying the past U.S. administration as weak on the issue of immigration. Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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The complexities of political colors

The Filipino people were united in toppling the Marcos dictatorship during the 1986 EDSA Revolt. Fast forward to February 25, 2017 and we witnessed the anti-dictatorship movement gather at the People Power Monument in EDSA while supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte downplayed the EDSA commemoration by organizing at the Quirino Grandstand. The colors that stood-out prominently in both venues mirror the current social order in the Philippines. “Fighting colors” are more common in collegiate sports and cheering competitions than in politics. College teams in the Philippines carry their respective colors with pride (i.e. Ateneo Blue Eagles, La Salle Green Archers, UST Golden Tigers, UP Maroons, and San Beda Red Lions). In Philippine politics, the most common and often used colors by political parties and candidates after World War II were red, white, and blue. This was an easy choice because these are the colors of Philippine flag. Regardless of party affiliations, candidates want to present themselves as “pillars of patriotism” and “promoters of nationalistic ideals.” Before Martial Law was declared, the two main political parties (Liberal Party andthe Nacionalista Party) were very much alike in their party emblems and political platforms. Both were also represented by the elite who tried to maintain the status quo.


The only group that challenged the then elite-dominated government was the underground Communist Party of the Philippines (“CPP”) who had strong support among the students, workers, peasants, and the urban poor. The CPP carried the color red which in the Philippine context is associated with protests and uprisings. Red is the fighting color of the revolutionary Katipunan, the Pulahanes, of many millenarian movement, of progressive trade unions like the Kilusang Mayo Uno, and of the militant youth groups Kabataang Makabayan and the League of Filipino Students. During the time of Martial Law and the New Society Movement (Kilusang BagongLipunan), then President Ferdinand Marcos took the political colors of the two-party system and consolidated them into one--- he also consolidated a faction of the Philippine elite. With the people silenced by violence and fear, the only consistent challenge to Marcos again came from the

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