By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent A fine of up to of PH1 million pesos and a maximum jail term of 12 years would be imposed on Customs and other government employees found pilfering balikbayan boxes or extorting money from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for the release of hand-carried or shipped cargo. Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto recently said the longer jail time and higher fines are among the many protections afforded to OFWs in the Customs Mo...

By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent MANILA – Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello said both the OFW Bank and ID system will be operational and would help to “ease the lives of overseas Filipino workers.” “They will be launched this year. The OFW identification card system will be put in place in March while the OFW Bank will be operational by November,” Bello said in a statement released by the Department of Labor and Employment DOLE. According to Bello, both the OFW...

CASINO JUNKET OPERATOR Kam Sin Wong (a.k.a Kim Wong) most recently revealed that two Chinese nationals, one of them a known casino junket agent and high roller, allegedly brought the $81 million stolen from Bangladesh Bank into the country in cahoots with dismissed RCBC Jupiter Branch Manager Maia Santos-Deguito and remittance firm Philrem Service Corporation. Testifying in the third senate hearing on money laundering in Philippine banks and casinos, Wong named the Chinese...

By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent MANILA -- It’s official! The Miss Universe 2016 beauty pageant will happen in the Philippines as announced by the reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach last November 3. In an Instagram video uploaded by Department of Tourism Undersecretary Kat de Castro, the Filipina beauty queen announced and confirmed that finally, the pageant will be held in the country on January 30, 2017 with the pre-pageant on January 13, 2017. “Hi g...

By Daniel Llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent In another flip-flop, President Duterte recently allowed the annual joint military exercises between Filipino and American troops to continue and agreed to sign the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Duterte declared more than once the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement that provides for the Philippine-U.S. military exercises even as he denounced the Paris Agreement as irrelevant and inimical to the country’s in...

Balikbayan boxes are now tax- and duty-free after President Simeon Benigno Aquino signed into law the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) which increases the tax-exempt value of items sent by overseas Filipinos to their families back home. Sen. Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee and sponsor of the CMTA, said Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can now enjoy tax and duty free balikbayan boxes. “We thank our President and our colleagues i...

By Lara Climaco | FilAm Star Correspondent In an age when wastewater can be recycled to drinking water, it’s staggering to learn that sewage pollution is threatening rich marine biodiversity in Puerto Galera and Coron, two of the Philippines’ top tourist destinations. Following years of monitoring and continuing concern about coliform concentration, the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) designated Sabang Bay and Coron Bay as water quality...

By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent Liberal Party (LP) President Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said the resolution, adopted by the European Parliament (EP) should serve as a reminder to the government that the international community is “closely monitoring” the Philippines. Pangilinan warned that the country’s political situation may affect the Philippines’ trade relations with the European Union (EU). He said billions of dollars worth of trade and investments ...

The word war between Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Antonio Trillanes escalated after the latter vowed to ensure that the Mayor will not become president because he is a “psycho.” Trillanes earlier warned that the tough-talking Mayor would be a “very dangerous president.” Within the next few days Trillanes, said Duterte, would be exposed as a fraud. Trillanes drew the ire of Duterte after the Senator alleged how the Davao Mayor mercilessly killed people. ...

By Jun Nucum FilAm Star Correspondent PASIG CITY – In the middle of the investigation surrounding the agency he heads, Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar, filed for a month’s leave of absence heeding the call for him to step aside temporarily to give investigators a free hand on alleged corruption at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). In a statement, Salazar announced that his one month leave was effective immediately. “I have taken this step in order to focus on he...