Malou Talosig-Bartolome

258 posts

South Korea launches online visa appointment system

The South Korean Embassy in Manila has launched an online appointment system for Filipinos and international travellers who are applying for visas.

The online system will open Wednesday 2 p.m., starting September 15. The Embassy will not accept walk-in visits for visa application.

“You are required to make an appointment to visit the Embassy for visa application through our online platform. Without confirmation of the visa appointment made through the online system, your visit to the Embassy will be denied. From Thursday 15 September 2022 onwards, the Embassy will not accept walk-in visits for visa applications,” the Embassy said.

Visa applicants need to determine first what type of visa that they need, respective qualification and documentation in the website: https://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ph-en/brd/m_3277/list.do. Philippine diplomatic and official passport holders are not required to apply for Korean visas.

After determining the type of visas needed, applicants need to fill up the visa application form and prepare all required documents which they can check at this site:  https://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ph-en/brd/m_3277/list.do.

Travel agencies accredited by the Korean Embassy can also process Korean tourist visa. For the updated list of accredited travel agencies, applicants should also check the website: https://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ph-en/brd/m_3275/view.do?seq=760904&page=1

Sen. Imee scrutinizes ‘controversial’ RCEP provisions prior to possible ratification

The Philippines is the only founding member of the free trade bloc, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which has not yet ratified the treaty, but the Senate foreign relations committee is not inclined to recommend sending the treaty to plenary yet without assurances from the Executive department that the agriculture and micro, small and medium enterprises are given protection from potential unfair competition.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos flies to Jakarta, then Singapore, on first State Visit

“My State Visits to our Asean neighbors will seek to harness the potentials of our vibrant trade and investment relations. As such, an economic briefing, business forums and meetings have been organized to proactively create and attract more investments and buyers for our exports, in order to accelerate the post-pandemic growth of our economy.” — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

COA twits DFA for ‘accounting errors’ – a P52-B overstatement, P469-M understatement in 2021 audit

THE Commission on Audit has issued an “adverse opinion” on the 2021 financial statements released by the Department of Foreign Affairs that resulted in an overstatement of P52 billion and understatement worth P469 million.

The DFA said it “duly acknowledged” the audit observations and already made corrections on portions which its financial officers claimed were an “isolated and honest mistake.”

Rosana Alconcel, COA officer-in-charge and supervising auditor, attributed to “various accounting errors and omissions” the overstatement worth P52.198 billion and understatement worth P469.818 million.

“In our opinion, because of the significance of the matters described in the Basis for Adverse Opinion paragraph, the financial statements do not present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of DFA as of December 31, 2021 and its financial performance, cash flows, net assets/equity and comparison of budget and actual amounts for the year then ended, and notes to the financial statements,” Alconcel said in the Independent Auditor’s Report dated July 25, 2022.

Aside from the overstatement and understatement of accounts, the DFA books also had unsupported prior period adjustments of P29.52 billion.

“We conducted our audits in accordance with International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions,” Alconcel stressed.”We believe that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our adverse opinion.”

When sought for comment, DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said the overstatement of P52.198 billion arose primarily from the “erroneous translation” of foreign exchange from yen to peso in reflecting the value of parcels of land in Tokyo, Japan.

“The accounting error amounting to P25,778,632,911.23 affected the Land, and Accumulated Surplus accounts, thus doubling the effect in the Financial Statements. This was an isolated and honest mistake that was immediately corrected by an adjusting entry, and subsequently verified by the Audit Team. However, since the error was existing as of yearend of CY 2021, it was still included in the Annual Audit Report of the DFA for CY 2021,” Daza said in a statement sent to Business Mirror.

On the understatement of P469.8 million, the DFA is “continuously working to decrease” the amount by correcting the “inaccuracies in Cash, Revenue and other accounts.”

“Meanwhile, the bases of adverse audit opinion, which are material amounts of unclassified and abnormal balances in the Property, Receivable and Payable accounts, are substantially attributable forward balances and transactions from 2004 and below, in which pertaining documents can no longer be located. This is a perennial concern not only of the DFA but of the whole bureaucracy,” Daza explained.

The DFA said it remains “committed” to closely coordinating with COA “to ensure fairness and transparency” in the presentation of financial statements.

“The public can rest assured that the Department is also unwavering in its stewardship of public funds to ensure that these are judiciously and properly spent, as well as accurately accounted for as required under government accounting rules and regulations,” Daza said.

How do you solve a problem like Myanmar?

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) debated extensively last week about the deteriorating peace and order in Myanmar, but they could not agree on how to deal with the junta, which has been undermining the integrity of the regional bloc.

Asean foreign ministers wary of ‘miscalculation, open conflict’ in Taiwan Strait; PHL urges diplomacy

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are wary that the tension in the Taiwan Strait following the controversial visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan would lead to “miscalculation” and “open conflict.” The ministers are meeting in Phnom Penh at the time when tension in the Taiwan Strait was at its highest level in 20 years, with the visit US congressional delegation led by Pelosi to the self-ruled island. Pelosi is the most senior American lawmaker to visit the island in 25 years.

International community pays tribute to FVR

The diplomatic community in Manila has paid tribute to the legacy of former President Fidel Ramos in steering the country to a tiger economy status, as they expressed condolences to his wife, former First Lady Amelita “Ming” Ramos, his family, and to the Filipino people.

US State Secretary Blinken to meet Marcos on August 6

US State Secretary Antony Blinken is flying next week to two capitals in Asia — Phnom Penh and Manila — to show US President Joe Biden’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region already largely influenced by rival China, and to “strengthen” bilateral ties with the Philippines that were earlier strained during the first four years of President Duterte’s administration.

Recruitment agencies welcome Marcos vow to make employment process easier for OFWs

Recruitment agencies have welcomed the commitment of President Marcos to reduce the processing time for foreign employers to hire Filipino workers for employment overseas.
Mula sa tatlong buwan ay gagawin na lamang nating tatlong linggo para sa isang dayuhang employer na i-proseso ang mga papeles ng Filipinong nais nitong kunin bilang empleyado,” Marcos said during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday.

DFA asks OFWs in Myanmar: Pack up and go home

The Department of Foreign Affairs has reiterated its call to Filipinos in Myanmar to leave the Southeast Asian country as threats and violence are expected to worsen following the execution of four opposition leaders recently.

In a statement, the DFA said it maintains the Alert Level 4” advisory in Myanmar which means that the “Philippine Government undertakes mandatory evacuation procedures.”

The DFA has been asking the OFWs in Myanmar to leave the country since May 6, 2021, three months after the military took over power. 

A total of 701 Filipinos have repatriated  from Myanmar since May. Still, there are around 460 Filipinos in Myanmar who still refused to leave the country.

“The DFA acknowledges the concerns of OFWs wishing to return to Myanmar despite the uncertainty and danger posed by the ongoing crisis. However, the safety and security of every single Filipino overseas remains the top priority of the Philippine government.

“To protect the lives of our fellow Filipinos abroad, Alert Level 4 will therefore remain in place in Myanmar until further notice. The DFA is continuously assessing the situation and the corresponding alert level, as well as responding to the particular needs of the remaining Filipino community,” the DFA said.

Filipinos who are still in Myanmar are advised to restrict non-essential movements, avoid public places, and prepare for evacuation.

“Muli po ang aming panawagan na patuloy na maging alisto, mapagmatyag at maingat… Hanggang maaari ay iwasan po natin ang paglabas o ipagpaliban muna ang mga importeng lakad,” the Philippine Embassy in Yangon posted in its Facebook Page.

Filipinos in Myanmar in need of assistance may contact the Philippine Embassy in

Yangon, Myanmar through email (yangon.pe@dfa.gov.ph), telephone (+959985210991 /+959250765938) or Facebook (@PHinMyanmar)

UN deploys ‘surge teams’ to quake areas as envoys express sympathy for quake victims

The United Nations has immediately dispatched its quick reaction groups to assess how their agencies can help the Philippine government in the assisting the victims of the Magnitude 7.0 quake that hit Luzon Wednesday morning.

“Few minutes after 7.0 intensity earthquake, we contacted #Philippines Office of Civil Defense, our Cluster Coordination Groups and started gathering information to see best way that @UNPhilippines and the Humanitarian Country Team can support.  We keep you updated,” Gustavo González, UN resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Manila tweeted.

The International Organization for Migration, a UN agency, said it is working with the Philippine government to support the emergency response efforts to Abra.

 “IOM is deploying its surge team with  DSWD as co-lead of Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster to conduct rapid assessment and respond to the needs of affected populations,” the IOM tweeted.

Meanwhile, members of the diplomatic community in Manila have expressed sympathies to Filipinos who are victims of the quake.

MaryKay Carlson of the US, Huang Xilian of China, Kazuhiko Koshikawa of Japan, Michele Boccoz of France and the European Union Delegation to the Philippines have issued separate statements on Twitter, showing their support to the quake victims especially in Abra.

“Sending my thoughts and prayers to those affected by the #EarthquakePH in Abra and nearby provinces.  The U.S. extends our condolences to those who have lost loved ones,” Carlson said.

“On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I would like to extend my thoughts and prayers to the Philippine government and the Filipino people affected by this morning’s earthquake in Luzon. We are ready to extend helping hand to the Philippine side for disaster relief. I believe under the leadership of President Marcos Jr., the Filipino people will be able to overcome difficulties and resume normal life as soon as possible. Let us all stay safe,” Huang said.

“France stands by the Philippines as the country is badly struck by another natural disaster. All our thoughts go to the casualties and persons affected by the destruction wrought by the earthquake,” Boccoz tweeted.

Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa, who paid a courtesy call on Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo Wednesday, said that Japan is “praying for the safety of everyone” especially the residents of Abra, and nearby provinces.

“Our thoughts are with the affected population by the #EarthquakePH notably in the Abra area,” the EU delegation tweeted.

Consul General meets first Fil-Am Catholic priest ordained at San Francisco archdiocese

CONSUL General Neil Ferrer received Rev. Fr. Jerald Geronimo during the latter’s call at the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco on June 17. The prelate is the first Filipino-American to be educated and ordained as a Catholic priest at the Archdiocese of San Francisco since the church’s founding in 1853.

Wang Yi to visit Manila July 5-6

CHINESE State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will arrive in Manila on Tuesday (July 5) for a two-day visit as part of his Southeast Asia swing, in a bid to speed up his diplomatic offensive to elevate the level of Beijing’s relationship to the region as a “comprehensive and strategic partner.”

Wang will have a bilateral meeting with his counterpart, newly appointed Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo on Wednesday. He will also call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

This will be the second high-ranking visit of a Chinese official since Marcos took office last June 30. Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent Vice President Wang Qishan as his special envoy to Marcos’s inauguration.

The Chinese foreign ministry had earlier announced that Wang will travel to five member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) — Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said the five Asean countries are “important partners that share vast common interests and seek common development” with China.

“Through this visit, China hopes to deepen strategic communication with the four Southeast Asian countries, work for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, strive to build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home, inject new impetus into and foster new highlights in bilateral relations and get the China-Asean Comprehensive Strategic Partnership off to a good start,” Zhao said.

The trip also came at a critical time when the world was “fraught with turbulence and change” brought by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Last May, US President Joe Biden gathered eight Asean leaders (minus the Myanmar junta leader and Philippine President Duterte, who begged off due to the presidential election and was represented by then-Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr ) in Washington, DC where leaders agreed to have an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

“The Chinese side will also work in concert with Southeast Asian nations to advance the implementation of the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, boost economic recovery, uphold peace and tranquility, build a community with a shared future for mankind, and make greater contributions to regional and global peace and development,” Zhao added.

Wang co-chaired the foreign ministers’ meeting of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation in Myanmar last Sunday. He met also his counterparts from Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia which traverse the Lower Mekong River.

He is now in Thailand, the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) this year.

After his trip to the Philippines, he will visit Malaysia and then fly to Bali, Indonesia for the Group of 20 biggest economies (G20) foreign ministers’ meeting.

Last Saturday, he also chaired the inaugural meeting of the China-Indonesia high-level dialogue cooperation mechanism in Guiyang, the capital city of southwest China’s Guizhou Province. Indonesian President Widodo’s special envoy and coordinator for cooperation with China, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, cochaired the dialogue.

Wang will chair the 14th Meeting of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation and the sixth Meeting of China-Cambodia Intergovernmental Coordination Committee in Nanning, Guangxi.

ICC prosecutor wants to resume preliminary probe on Duterte’s war on drugs

THE Philippine government has failed to convince the prosecutor of the United Nations criminal court that it has been doing its own impartial investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity committed under President Duterte’s orders combat illegal drugs while he was Davao City mayor and during the first three years of his presidency.

‘Toots’ Ople on being cancer survivor, DMW chief: I can handle it

INCOMING Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople would have wanted to just ignore a group of “OFWs” who recently protested her appointment, questioning her fitness to handle the job due to her breast cancer. But she broke her silence to stand up for breast cancer survivors who may be discriminated against like her.