Opinion & Community


By Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza

The already difficult process of immigrating to the United States can be greatly complicated and delayed when the government decides that the noncitizen is inadmissible – a finding which often necessitates the filing of an application for a waiver of inadmissibility. The most common grounds of inadmissibility (i.e., ineligibility to be admitted to the United States) which require a waiver include unlawful presence in the United States in excess of 180 days, the commission of fraud to gain an immigration benefit, and certain criminal convictions. Unfortunately, not all applications for a waiver of inadmissibility are granted. In fact, a significant percentage of such applications are denied. Fortunately, for many, the denial of an application for a waiver need not be the final word on an individual’s attempt to immigrate to the United States. For many, options still remain which keep alive their prospects of immigrating.
Any review of the denial of an application for a waiver of inadmissibility begins with a basic question – is the applicant inadmissible to the United States? To put it simply, there are instances when an individual is found by the government to be inadmissible to the United States when in fact he is not. While an individual may have filed an application for a waiver because he or she was directed to do so by the government, in some instances the correct course of action would have been to legally and/or factual argue that no such application was required. Unfortunately, without competent representation, the basic mistake of failing to contest an initial finding of inadmissibility is more likely to occur. Where it can (and should) be argued that an application for a waiver never should have been requested in the first instance, an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney can pursue a variety of options to redress such an error. These options include the timely filing of a motion with the government to rectify such an error, or through the refiling of the case with a legal brief addressing the issue of inadmissibility. Both of these options often prove successful.
In those instances in which an application for a waiver was properly requested by the government, a significant number of these applications are ultimately denied because they are inadequately prepared. Filing an application for a waiver of inadmissibility is complicated – the legal standard for the granting of the waiver must be met, and this must be accomplished through the presentation of legally sufficient supporting evidence. Even minor defects in an application can result in a denial. As a result, individuals who have a strong legal and factual basis for the granting of a waiver of inadmissibility often have their applications denied because their applications were not adequately prepared. However, the denial of an application for a waiver of inadmissibility does not preclude the filing of subsequent application. This point is extremely significant for those who have had their applications for a waiver denied – there is still hope even after a denial. As the preparation of an application for a waiver of inadmissibility is a complex endeavor, with little margin for error, the best chance an individual has to obtain an approval of his or her application is through retaining an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney. While it is preferable to do so at the onset of the process, even once an application for a waiver is denied, an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney can prepare a superior subsequent application which will afford an applicant a much higher chance of obtaining an approval.
The approval or denial of an application for a waiver of inadmissibility will in most instances decide whether an individual will immigrate to the United States. Too often, individuals receive denials of their applications; and many of these applications were not required in the first instance, or could have been approved if they had only been adequately prepared. Fortunately, most of these individuals have options regardless of when their waivers were denied – days, weeks, or even years ago. An experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney can advise an individual of his or her options, and pursue the appropriate course of action to overcome a prior denial. The process of immigrating to the United States seldom affords second chances. One of the few exceptions is for applicants seeking a waiver of inadmissibility. For waivers of inadmissibility, the old adage proves true – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.


That June 16, 2016 meeting with Trump Team members in attendance

It's no longer a witch hunt as dubbed by President Trump when, at a highly-described meeting of June 9, 2016, his oldest son, Donald Trump. Jr., met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who reportedly promised to share political information in reference to the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Initially, those reported as attendees in the aforesaid meeting were: Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman at that time, and Jared Kushner, the then Republican presidential candidate's son-in-law, currently a senior adviser of the president.
Per released and published e-mails, the world has known more details about that now well-known gathering.
Trump, Jr.'s initial explanation touching on the same meeting was ostensibly to help Russian orphans in reference to Russia's freezing of an adoption program popular with Americans.
However clearly identified the younger Trump's interpretation of the meeting was disseminated, the New York Times named conflicting information about the raison d'etre in touching on the story.
The same paper indicated that Ms. Veselnitskaya had "promised damaging material on Ms. Clinton which the Trump scion called essentially meaningless," and merely a "pretext" for discussing the adoption angle.
Questions have inevitably arisen: what is the extent of the knowledge that the Trump campaign had relevant to the Russian government's activities to inflict harm on the Clinton's quest for the presidency?
Doubt has entered the Trump Junior's explanation in regard to the Veselnitskaya's presence that the meeting in question was not a first contact.
In addition, prior to the meeting, a question has arisen: was Trump Jr. aware that the Russians might have expected his father to support the subject the above-named lawyer insisted on? Was it intended to be one in discussing international adoption sanctions and the anticipated category of quid pro quo?
The Russian law preventing Americans from adopting Russian children was not unknown; it was passed in retaliation of U.S. sanctions supposedly targeted at associates of President Vladimir Putin.
Another question that should be answered by Trump, Jr.: did he expect that the Russians would give him invaluable information without expecting anything in return? The younger Trump 's skills were bruited around by his father's campaign leaders about his skills as a negotiator.
What is clear and remains clear: Donald Trump, Jr., voluntarily met with someone known with ties to the Russian government, mainly to receive damaging evidence about Clinton that might have influenced the U.S. 2016 election in favor of his father.
Trump, Jr., has asserted strongly that he did not receive useful information for the above-named aim, so no crime was committed.
But some criminal lawyers' statements contradict his statements.
"Intent to commit a crime is still a crime," has been advanced.
There are 196 countries all over the globe.
Among those in addition to the U.S., Canada and Russia, there are several more, including China, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, France, the Scandinavian and Baltic countries, Israel, Iran and perhaps Brazil, have the capability to engage in cyber hacking.
All of the above-named countries have more than a passing interest in the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. Yet, to this very date, no reliable information has surfaced that any foreign country other than Russia, has made an effort to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor.
A note of interest: during the past presidential campaign: Donald Trump asserted that he could go out on New York City's Fifth Avenue and shoot someone; people would still support him, he vigorously added. Amid what's been happening since he became the U.S. president on January 20th, it seems Trump's assumption no longer seems questionable.
What remains clear however, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were at that meeting and their presence could never be underestimated despite answers to the contrary: they were all representing the older Trump's interest.


Zero results after six months

Six months after assuming the US presidency, Donald Trump has accomplished absolutely nothing of consequence.
Not a single campaign promise he made has been kept, and despite herculean efforts on the part of the leadership of the Republican Party, his primary promise of scrapping Obamacare now appears dead on the water.
The lower house may have passed a replacement bill to Obamacare, one which Mr. Trump initially claimed was a better version, but which he later all but disowned as being too unkind.
When it reached the Senate, however, the shortcomings of the substitute bill became evident. Still, with 52 senators belonging to the GOP, the revised health care act might have passed. After all, it only needed 50 votes to pass into law, which Mr. Trump would have claimed was his first of many successes as chief executive.
Alas, it will not come to pass. As of this writing, at least four Republican senators have said in no uncertain terms that they will not vote for the bill that some have referred to as Trumpcare.
The reason is simple. Trumpcare is far inferior to Obamacare, and would result in anywhere from 22 million to 23 million Americans losing their health coverage if passed into law.
So it’s back to the drawing board for the Trump presidency.
It is not clear how the president will package his impending defeat, although there is a good chance he will pin the blame on the Democrats. Perhaps his spin doctors will claim some sort of moral victory.
Next, the Republicans will try to pass a bill to “correct” the deficiencies in the tax system, which in all likelihood will give millionaires and billionaires tax breaks that they do not need, thereby putting pressure on the middle and lower class.
They will argue that giving tax breaks to the rich will result in more jobs being created, as the super rich can now expand their businesses with the money they save.
This theory has never been proven, by the way.
Then the GOP will turn to that other ludicrous promise of Mr. Trump, which is to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. He also wants the Mexican government to pay for that wall.
If even a part of that wall is built, we can imagine what the Democrat candidate in the 2020 election will say to re-electionist Trump. That candidate will use the words of the late President Ronald Reagan when he addressed USSR Premier Mikhail Gorbachev when talking about the Berlin Wall.
“Tear down this wall, Mr. Trump,” the Democrat will say, “Tear down this wall.”
That’s presuming that Mr. Trump will still be around as president in 2020, of course. And also presuming that he still wants to be president three and a half years from now, after learning in his first six months as POTUS that the job is nothing like what he expected.
But if his presidency maintains its present downward trajectory, there’s a good chance that he will be a one-term chief executive that his own party will have given up on even before next year’s midterm elections.
All because his talk has been nothing but hot air.


A change of ownership, and why it matters

For those of us in media, most especially those who worked at one time or another in the country’s largest and most respected newspaper, the news both stunned and caught us flat-footed.
The paper I refer to is the broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer, or very simply PDI. There will be arguments with fans, followers and employees of the other big papers, namely the Philippine Star and the Manila Bulletin. But in my book, PDI is the one. It set the standards for journalistic integrity, independence, vision, and just plain balls.
As such, PDI has made a lot of enemies over the years. Today, no less than President Duterte has vowed to crush PDI, more specifically its present owners, the Prietos. I suspect this is the real reason for the sudden sale of the paper.
Mr. Duterte’s threats against PDI, as well as another media giant ABS-CBN, sends a chilling effect on the newsroom. He is no ordinary president, having said time and again that it’s all right to kill those who he perceives to be his enemies.
This week, the Prietos announced that they were selling their shares of stock to San Miguel Corporation head honcho Ramon Ang.
There is a promise that there will be no changes in the newsroom, but I seriously doubt if this will be the case.
For the record, I worked with the PDI family and I found company to be as professional as possible. No, it was not perfect, but at least there were serious attempts to be the best possible newspaper in the business.
Incidentally, I was with Inquirer Publications, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PDI, as Editor-in-Chief of their tabloid Bandera. I stayed for three years and constantly interacted with the editors of PDI. I sometimes regret not taking their offer for me to transfer to the big paper.
The best thing I liked about working in the Inquirer group was the complete and total editorial independence. The editors of PDI led by the late Letty Magsanoc made it quite clear to the owners that they were united in demanding editorial independence and integrity at all times. It was almost as if the employees were telling the owners what to do and what not to do.
Not surprisingly, the Prietos agreed to the arrangement.
The CEO of the paper was Sandy Prieto, and I was somewhat bothered by the fact that she had married a Romualdez (AKA the Enemy, as the newsroom was full of ladies and gents who never forgot what the Marcos-Romualdez clan had done to press freedom and Philippine democracy in general). But Sandy was a pretty nice boss and she always kept clear of editorial work.
To be sure, PDI was not always clean, reputation-wise. As with any large organization, there was bound to be some bad eggs here and there. Also, there were mistakes made in the coverage of major stories, but the intention was never mean or vicious.
So now, the glory days of PDI may be coming to an end. I pray not, but I expect major changes to take place in terms of editorial policy.
I do not know very much about the new owner. All I know is that he was a creation of Danding Cojuangco, who passed on the reins of SMC when age and failing health began to take its toll. I’ve heard rumors about Ramon Ang, of course, and not all have been favorable.
Suffice it to say that I would not want to be in the Inquirer newsroom at this time under the new ownership.
One more thing, when I say that I consider PDI the best of the Philippine broadsheets, I have to clarify that from where I sit, the true best of the best local newspaper is or was BusinessWorld, where I spent almost a decade in various capacities.
As a business daily, it never competed with the other broadsheets since its concentration was mostly on economic and financial matters.
Sadly, BusinessWorld changed when the late, great Raul Locsin – founder, chairman, and quite possibly the best newspaperman the country has produced – passed away. His equally terrific wife Letty Locsin stayed on after Don Raul passed, but she too followed him to the great beyond soon thereafter.
Although I had stints in other broadsheets, I consider PDI and BusinessWorld as the only newspapers worth working for. And while both papers are still around, the spirit of the old PDI and BW is gone.
Good thing for me there’s still Philippine News. At least this paper still maintains the independence and integrity that is so important to this now grizzled old vet.


First Fil-Am Internet radio brings a new kind of wave to Southern California

LOS ANGELES—The first thing Charly Pura did when she moved to California from the Philippines at age 15 was to turn on the radio.
She dialed through all the stations and discovered the diversity of music playing on air. However, she was disappointed to find out that, although Spanish and Chinese music were easily accessible, Filipino music was nowhere to be found.

“There are lots of Filipinos in California, and it didn’t make sense that we don’t have our own radio station,” Pura said.

After attending college and working with Southern California stations like KOST 103.5 and Audio8ball.com, she decided to set up Pinoy Frequency.
Launched in April 2013, Pinoy Frequency is the first Filipino American Internet radio destination that showcases Filipino events, culture and music all over the globe.

The non-profit operation based in West Covina aims to give Pinoy independent musicians the exposure and limelight that is usually hard to come by.
The station currently has one show on the air, “Flip Jams with Charly,” a two-hour smorgasboard of Fil-Am independent music.

Pura hosts the show, serves as program director and runs it along with several volunteers and a silent business partner. She and her team prepare for three broadcasts at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays in different time zones: the Philippines, UK (GBT), and Los Angeles (PST).
Growing up, her affinity for tuning in to the radio helped develop her diverse taste in music.

“I always had my Walkman with me. I always listened to FM, switching from one station to the next. I make sure also that I have a blank tape in my Walkman so I can record the songs I like on the radio,” Pura said.

“Because of this, my music interest is a bit eclectic because the radio opened me up to different music genres like grunge, dance, pop, rock, rap, electronic and alternative,” she added.
Some of the featured bands on the station are in bicoastal while others are just starting to make their mark in their respective countries.

Bands like New Day in August, Suns of Asylum, and Kuya Kurt have made their world premieres on Pinoy Frequency.
Kitchie Nadal, a singer-songwriter who established herself as a formidable artist in the Philippines, was featured on the show couple weeks ago while she was doing her

U.S. tour with rock band Kamikazee.
Fil-Ams like Spazzkid, an up-and-coming electronic artist, and the indie band Ten to Midnight, who will be performing at this weekend’s Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture, have also been gaining bigger fan bases here in

Kin of ‘Tokhang’ victims need healing

By: Jocelyn R. Uy - Reporter / @mj_uyINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer

‘ORA PRO NOBIS’ Families of drug suspects killed in the war on drugs join aMass and procession for their loved ones and themselves in Parañaque City. —INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Ana, 43, and her two teenage daughters are in a huddle on a pavement, putting together shards of colored tiles to form an image of a big tree.

It has been like this since summer: Eight hours daily, Ana works in mosaic art so she can feed and send her children to school.

But more than that, she needs to calm her tormented soul and heal her grief.

“I find comfort in the idea that no matter how broken a piece of tile is, you can still make something beautiful out of it. So even if our family is no longer complete, I hope something good can still happen,” Ana said.

Ana lost her husband and 19-year-old son to President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs in September last year. She and her four children have been living in trauma and constant anxiety since.

They moved out of their small shanty in a slum colony in Metro Manila for fear that police would kill another member of the family.

Ana’s eldest daughter, a psychology student, dropped out of school to look for a job.

Before tragedy struck, Ana juggled odd jobs, doing laundry and cleaning houses in her old neighborhood.

Her husband augmented her small earnings by working as a drug runner, bringing home P200 to P300.

Now in her new job doing mosaic art, Ana brings all her children—two daughters, aged 18 and 17 and two boys, 11 and 8—to work to make sure that they are all safe.

“We are still shaken by what happened. Whenever my smaller children see a policeman, they tremble and tell me we should all hide,” she said.

Living in fear
Like Ana, 25-year-old Maria lost two members of her family—her father and eldest brother, who was a single parent—in the first wave of the drug killings in July last year.

Although hard up, she took in her brother’s 8-year-old daughter. “Now, I have three daughters in all and I also have to send her to school,” she said.

But because her husband had been identified as a drug peddler, they moved out of their home, entrusting their children to their parents. Now, they see them only on weekends.

Fear has also shrunk their world. “We make sure that we’re home before it gets dark. We also put multiple locks on our door,” Maria said.

Ana and Maria represent the other face of the war on drugs: broken families living under constant fear and trauma, mothers and wives becoming sole breadwinners, and orphaned children.

According to Dr. Ma. Lourdes Carandang, a clinical psychologist and family therapist, the family is the unit of society most hurt by the war on drugs and many such families are either ignored, pitied or blamed rather than helped.

As the government has no intention of easing the campaign against narcotics, she said, it must establish a program that will help the families of those killed recover from trauma and fear, and help them become productive.

Private groups can also take part in this effort, she said.

Priority for children
Traumatized children should be given priority, she said. If neglected, these children could suffer psychological disorders, such as depression, and may even take drugs, she warned.

Dr. Tomas Bautista, a psychiatrist at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, said the benefits of the antidrug war to the community—safer streets and fewer criminals—would be just temporary if the government would not deal with the roots of drug abuse.

“Today, we might feel safer because there are fewer criminals on the loose. But even if we extinguish all adult drug users while poverty persists, the next generation will have the same problem,” Bautista said.

From a clinical perspective, Bautista said, drug addiction is an illness caused by an interplay of genetic and environmental factors.

Poor communities
Poverty, he said, generates citizens who have an unhealthy brain circuit for happiness because they don’t have the right nutrition to produce the building blocks for happy chemicals and also lacked education to balance this.

And poverty, he said, is the reason drug use is higher in poor communities.

Many poor people, in desperate need for gratification and happiness, turn to illegal drugs to turn on the switch responsible for releasing happy hormones in the brain, he said.

“People will just shift to another [addictive substance], like alcohol, or to behavioral addiction, like gambling, as long as poverty fuels [their] desperation for gratification and happiness,” he added.

The overly gratified also falls into drug abuse to satiate too many happiness receptors in the brain, he said.

“I really hope that the government and society [will] further broaden their view of the drug problem,” Bautista said.



Singer Noven Belleza nabbed for rape in Cebu

Tawag ng Tanghalan champ had just guested in Vice Ganda's concert when arrested. He is accused of rape by 19-year-old
By: Benjie B. Talisic, Futch Anthon Inso - @inquirerdotnetInquirer Visayas 

Showtime’s Tawag ng Tanghalan Grand Champion Noven Belleza (Photo from the Facebook page of Mr. Belleza)

CEBU CITY— The grand champion of a television show singing contest is facing charges for allegedly raping a 19-year-old girl last Saturday, hours before he guested in a concert that top-billed comedian Vice Ganda in this city.

Noven Belleza, a resident of Negros Occidental, was arrested last Saturday (July 15, not Sunday, July 16, as previously reported) here after performing in Vice Ganda’s comedy concert held at the IEC Pavillon and after being identified by the victim.

He didn’t resist arrest.

A complaint of rape was filed against Belleza on Monday (July 17). During the inquest proceeding, the suspect was brought to a hospital after he complained of chest pains.

Belleza, a son of a farmer from Negros Occidental, was the first grand champion of Tawag ng Tanghalan, a segment of the daily noontime show, Showtime, aired over ABS-CBN.

PO1 Ma. Theresa Talisic of the Women and Children’s Protection Desk said the victim alleged that she was raped around 2 p.m. last Saturday (July 15) inside a condominium unit in Barangay Lahug, where Belleza was staying.

The victim also claimed that the suspect hurt her when she tried to stop him from molesting her. SFM/rga



PNP chief: We’re winning drug war

By: Jaymee T. Gamil - Reporter / @jgamilINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer


The Philippine National Police is satisfied with the results of the war on drugs, according to the top cop.

There have been problems, but nothing without a remedy, he said.

“We are winning the war. I am very satisfied,” PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said at a recent news conference.

“It’s just that along the way, we encountered problems. But we do give it attention and solution,” he said.

Dela Rosa measured the campaign’s success by what the public was saying about it.

“Go out in the streets, ask people if they feel safe. If they [say they don’t], then we’re a failure. If they [say they do], then we’re successful. I can honestly tell you: People in the streets say they do feel safer now,” he said.

Dela Rosa cited the 27-percent decrease in index crimes over the past year.

“[That means] a lot of crimes are drug-related. If you attack the [drug problem], the [crime problem] will also decrease,” he said.

But the campaign has been hurt by the involvement of some police in the drug trade and even in possibly drug-related murder.

Dela Rosa cited the kidnapping and murder of a Korean businessman by narcs last year as the lowest point in the war on drugs, which drove President Duterte to suspend the campaign and dismantle the PNP antinarcotics unit.

The abduction and murder of Jee Ick-joo also led to the dismissal of the narcs involved and to a cleansing of the ranks that cost 160 other rogue officers their badges.



White House reveals additional Trump-Putin discussion

Agence France-Presse 

Photo: Vladrimir Putin and Donald Trump - G-20 Summit - Hamburg - 7 July 2017

In this photo, taken on Friday, July 7, 2017, US President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg. AP


WASHINGTON, United States — Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had an additional, previously undisclosed chat at this month’s G20 summit in Hamburg, the White House acknowledged on Tuesday.

After a brief greeting at the start of the two-day summit and a two-hour bilateral meeting with their foreign ministers on July 7, Trump and Putin also chatted over dinner on the final night of the summit, an official said.

“There was a couples-only social dinner at the G20,” a White House official told AFP. “Toward the end, the president spoke to Putin at the dinner.”

The disclosure has raised questions about what the pair talked about, who was present and why the meeting was not previously disclosed.

The Trump administration has been besieged by allegations that the president’s closest advisors colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.

Trump’s eldest son Donald Jr recently released emails showing he held a meeting during the campaign with Kremlin-connected figures, hoping to get dirt on his dad’s election rival Hillary Clinton. CBB


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