Saturday, January 26, 2008

RP maids in HK list down GMA’s 7 unluckiest acts against OFWs

Press Release
19 January 2008

For reference:
Dolores Balladares, Chairperson
United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL - Migrante HK)
Tel. No.: 97472986

GMA is the bringer of bad luck to Pinoys abroad
RP maids in HK list down GMA’s 7 unluckiest acts against OFWs

If there is an unlucky seven for OFWs, it will be the seven years of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This was declared today by Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) on the eve of the seventh year in office of GMA.

“GMA, of the recent presidents, now officially holds the longest running record of bringing the worst of luck to Filipino migrant workers and our families,” she said. As GMA’s seventh year commences, the group listed down the “seven unluckiest deeds” of her government against OFWs that included:
  • the rising exchange rate of the peso that has cost Filipino migrants in Hong Kong more than P6,000 per month while prices of commodities in the Philippine soar even higher;
  • implementation of the POEA Guidelines for Filipino domestic workers abroad that paved the way for worse overcharging of recruitment agencies ;
  • implementation of the OWWA Omnibus Policies that took away many of the already limited assistance of the said agency to OFWs and family while giving a freer rein for GMA to plunder the fund;
  • criminal neglect of distressed OFWs as shown by the cases of Marilou Ranario, Jocelyn Dunluan and scores of others who are on death row in the Middle East;
  • keeping OFWs milking cows through various government fees charged in the Philippines and even more charges paid in Philippine posts abroad;
  • inaction in issues that will at least alleviate the situation of Filipinos abroad including the call for wage increase, improvement of labor situation and protection of the rights of undocumented migrants;
  • plunging the country into worse poverty while corruption intensifies, bribery gets more widespread and human rights violations increase.
“If the six years of GMA is a yardstick of her seventh year in power, then migrant workers, our families back home and the Filipinos in general are again facing an even bleaker year,”

Balladares added. Balladares remarked that their group shall further advance their participation in the campaign to remove GMA from office. “We want our luck to change and bringing down GMA– the bringer of bad luck – is the way to do it,” she concluded.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Brion Lying


News Release
24 January 2008

Philippine Labor Secretary is misinformed, detached from real OFWs miserable situation in the Middle East – Migrante

“Philippine Labor Sec. Arturo Brion is misinformed & detached from the real overseas Filipino’s miserable situation in the Middle East,” John Monterona, Migrante Middle East Regional Coordinator said in reaction to a recent statement by Philippine Labor Secretary Arturo Brion during the recently concluded 4th Ministerial Consultations on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labor for Countries of Origin and Destination in Asia held in Abu Dhabi on Jan 21-22.

“Brion is essentially lying and grandstanding when he said that “the Arroyo Government scored high in its efforts to stop exploitation & promote the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers in the Middle East,” Monterona asserts.

“The truth is, the Arroyo government is driving Filipinos abroad to be victim of abuse, maltreatment & neglect in its intensification of the labor export program to milk more dollar remittances at the expense of OFW’s sweat & blood,” Monterona added.

Monterona advised Sec. Brion further to “look deeply into the logbooks of numerous cases of complaints from OFW victims filed in different Philippine Embassies, Philippine Labor & Welfare Offices before concluding that the Arroyo government is stopping and promoting overseas workers’ welfare.”

Records show that Migrante chapters from all over Middle East Region receive complaints and requests for assistance numbering to a minimum of 15 cases a day. This is aside from the number of complaints our Migrante National Office is receiving from family members of overseas Filipinos back in the Philippines.

Monterona disclosed that amongst the cases Migrante chapters received are cases of contract substitution, over-charging of fees, maltreatment & employer’s abuses to include sexual advances, unfair labor practices such as no overtime work fees, and no free-day for domestic helpers, among others.

Migrante, an international alliance of Overseas Filipinos & their families, is in the forefront of protecting and promoting OFW rights & welfare since its inception year 1989. Just recently, Migrante campaigned for the release of Marilou Ranario who was sentenced to death by Kuwaiti Court and put pressure to Arroyo government and held it accountable if OFW Ranario will be hanged due to government neglect.

Sharing the burden of training OFWs

“Sec. Brion is dreaming when it calls on host governments and employers from host countries to share with the Philippines part of the burden in the training and education of our OFWs,” thus said A.M. Ociones, Migrante-Saudi Arabia Chairperson, in a related statement.

“Ano sya sinuswerte? Do you think host governments & employers would be willing to spent huge amount of money for the education & trainings of OFWs? Host governments & employers will wisely invest for their own labor force education & trainings as per their “Saudization” Program; hiring Saudi nationals for their own local job market as in the case of Saudi Arabia,” Ociones avers.

It was known that Middle Eastern Countries especially those members of the so called “GCC” such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, & Bahrain are gradually implementing a policy of hiring their own nationals as part of their local employment strengthening & capability-building program.

Ratify UN Convention on Migrants

“Instead, the Arroyo Government should spearhead a move calling all Host Governments in the Middle East to ratify the United Nations Convention for the Protection of Migrant Workers & Members of their Families & to willingly spend money conducting trainings & education of the host Governments & employers about respect for Migrant Rights & Welfare,” Ociones, added.

The United Nations Conventions on the Protection of Migrant Workers & Members of their Families came into force last March 14, 2003 after 20 countries have ratified the said international instrument as a component of respect for Human Rights.

The Philippines is one of the 20-country signatories & ratified the said international instrument.

“Sad to say, no Middle Eastern Governments have ratified & signed the UN Conventions on the Protection of Migrant Workers. Thus, it is no surprise that Middle Eastern Governments & employers have little or no concern about respect to migrant rights”, said Mario Ben, Migrante Coordinator in Riyadh also in KSA.

Nhel Morona, Migrante-Dubai Spokesperson said: “Educating host governments & employers of host countries about respect for Migrant Workers rights & welfare will certainly lessen cases of maltreatment, unfair labor practices, & sexual advances against our overseas workers. That’s the Arroyo government should be doing; not to systematically market our skilled workers for a low-paid jobs without a clear blueprint for our migrant’s safety & protection to be concluded between the Philippines & Host Government”.

“Lastly, it is our foremost view that a Philippine economy geared towards Nationalization of Industries & sincere implementation of Agrarian Reform program as the righteous economic policy that can generate decent jobs locally which can employ our Filipino Professionals & skilled workers & not anymore be victims of low wages, maltreatment & exploitation & other labor malpractices in a foreign country. ”, Morona ended.

John Monterona, Migrante Middle-East Regional Coordinator,
Tel. No.:+966 564 978 012
A. M. Ociones, Migrante-Saudi Arabia Chairperson,
Tel. No.:+966 566 793 202
Nhel Morona, Migrante-UAE Secretary General,
Tel. No.: +971 504 238 851
Mario Ben, Migrante-Riyadh Coordinator,
Tel. No: +966 565 745 214


Monday, January 21, 2008

ConGen Tago Responds

Notes ni Droidz

A few days ago, Migrante KSA filed an appeal in behalf of various distressed women and requested for a dialogue with the Consulate. After two langourous weeks and numerous appeals, newly installed Consul General Ezzedin Tago relented and met with your Migrante Saudi Coordinator and Migrante Jeddah Chairperson Bob Fajarito on Thursday, 17 January 2008.

In an email addressed to Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) Women's Coordinator Esther C. Bangcawayan, ConGen Tago described the results in his own words:

... I wish to inform you that I have met with Mr. Andrew Ociones of Migrante KSA yesterday at my office. We discussed the status of the cases mentioned in his email, in particular the cases of 5 OFWs also mentioned in your email.

Please allow me to reiterate the status of the cases of :

  1. Ms. Laura Aya Torres: She was visited at the Deportation by the staff of the Consulate. She has been transferred to another area within deportation which means that she is being prepared for deportation soon. The Consulate staff will follow up the matter so she could leave for the Philippines as soon as possible.
  2. Ms. Noralyn Mamasalagat: I have discussed her case with both the Labor Attache and Welfare Officer. As the recruitment agency in Manila has been delisted, the POLO Jeddah will request OWWA to provide her a ticket so she could leave the kingdom before the expiration of her exit visa on 23 January.
  3. Ms. Marilou Salazar: The Consulate staff accompanied her twice to Aquiq to identify the residence of her employer to determine the police station which has jurisdiction over her case/complaint. Despite due diligence, we were not able to identify her employer’s address. The hospital will not take necessary action on her examination unless there is a referral from the Police which will not accept her complaint unless filed at the station with jurisdiction over the case. She has stressed her desire to return to the Philippines as soon as possible, which she also conveyed to Mr. Andrew Ociones yesterday.
  4. The cases of Ms. Dukay and Aiko have been referred to the Labor Attache, and I shall provide you a status of their cases as soon as I receive the same from him.

Further updates to follow.

Very truly yours,

Ezzedin Tago
Consul General

So there!

Any dialogue is never enough though. Since ConGen Tago is still new in the office, Migrante KSA opts to wait for the promised results, while remaining vigilant.

More on Migrante KSA's visit to the Consulate in Jeddah next time.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

POLO Responds

(Following is the response of Labor Attache David Des Dicang on the issue of 16 OFWs in detention in Dammam)

Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines
Eastern Region Operations
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

To All Concerned:

This is regarding the email message (now circulating) originating from Demerin, Renebert C. and Antido, Jeorge G. mentioning about OFW deatinees at the Dammam deportation center:

As of our POLO personal/ weekly regular visit at the deportation center on 13 January 2008, there are currently 20 males and 7 females OFW detainees. Of the 20 males, 3 are under POLO’s temporary custody (“stay-out”) with the permission of Saudi authorities.

Contrary to the email message circulating, OFWs ELMER SANTILLAN, ROMEO CUARESMA, ZALDY MALANG, NILO BAGASINA, ARNOLD KAMANSA & DANIEL COBAR have all been repatriated (kindly refer to our POLO weekly report following this page).

The table below shows us the date when the remaining OFW detainees mentioned in the said email message were registered by POLO-ERO while conducting our weekly visit.

Ronnie Tosoc Nov. 28, 2007
Juvy Malasig Dec. 2, 2007
Eddie Mallari Dec 29, 2007
Jaime Mendoza We have no record of this and I have looked
as far as dec 2, 2007 list. Instead we have
ROGER MENDOZA registered on Nov. 4, 2007
Dindo Elmido Jan 5, 2007
Cesar Maximo Dec. 29, 2007
Brunito Punay Nov. 4, 2007
Jonathan Tabilas Dec. 29, 2007
Danny Lagramada Nov. 28, 2007
Amon Atong (LUMINOG) Dec. 29, 2007

We understand the concern of the parties who have circulated the email message even to the point of mentioning “dahil matagal na doon sa loob” . Let us understand however that there is a process of law being followed by the authorities and that we, at POLO-ERO are doing everything in our capacity to facilitate the release and early repatriation of our kababayans detained at the deportation center.

We, at POLO-ERO request interested parties to please be accurate in the facts they post via email or they wish to disseminate for the benefit of all. Kindly refer to the following weekly report for your information.

Maraming salamat po.

(Sgd.) David Des T. Dicang
Labor Attache
Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)
Eastern Region Operations (ERO)
Philippine Embassy, Riyadh

16 Detainees in Dammam

Notes ni Droidz

On 16th of January, Migrante Saudi Arabia received the following appeal/s from a certain "Jaime T. Gonzaga" ( in the Eastern Region concerning 16 OFWs "languishing" in the detention cells of the Immigration Police in Dammam. His email says:

Goodday Sir!

Please find below message being circulated in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia re "Kababayan" languishing in Jawasat Dammam jail.

If you are still not aware of this, kindly provide the necessary action to alleviate them from their present predicament. Thank you very much and God bless us all.

What follows was a lengthy email forwarded and re-forwarded by our kababayans, a virtual example of how information is passed on in the age of internet. The email as originally posted by a certain Jeorge G. Antido on 12 January reads:

-----Original Message-----
From: Antido, Jeorge G
Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2008 9:56 AM
Subject: FW: Jawasat Eastern Detainee

Paki forward nalang kasi kawawa naman.


Sent email:

Galing ako kanina sa Jawasat Dammam, Bale may 16 na Pinoy ang naka Kulong mostly ang kaso ay Runaway.
Kinuha ko ang mga pangalan nila at paki Post mo sa site natin, Baka may mga mkakilala sa kanila,dahil matatagal na don sa loob,

1.Ronnie M. Tosoc
2.Elmer Santillan
3.Juvy Malasig
4.Romeo Cuaresma
5.Amon Atong
6.Zaldy Malang
7.Nilo Bagasiha
8.Eddie Mallari
9. Arnold Kamansa
10.Jaime Mendoza
11.Danny Lagramada
12. Daniel Cobar
13.Dindo Elmido
14.Cesar Maximo
15.Imbronito Punay
16.Jonathan Tabilas

Migrante KSA immediately issued an appeal and sent it to the concerned government agencies, among them the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh to address our kababayan's concern.

And today, we received the response from Labor Attache David Des T. Dicang of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) Eastern Region Operations which explains, among other things:

(1) That six out of the total 16 OFWs mentioned in the email including Elmer Santillan, Romeo Cuaresma, Zaldy Malang, Nilo Bagasina, Arnold Kamansa and Daniel Cobar were already repatriated; while,

(2) The remaining ten were not really "matagal na doon sa loob" as the earliest were registered only on 28 November last year.

Migrante KSA expresses our deep gratitude for LabAtt Dicang's immediate response and thus we unite with him when he requests that interested parties "be accurate in the facts they post via email or they wish to disseminate for the benefit of all".

We can only hope that POLO in the Eastern Region (and elsewhere) would be able to address the issues of distressed OFWs in a timely and decisive manner, the way POLO-ERO responded to our appeal.

Friday, January 4, 2008

KGS prays for swift recovery of injured embassy officials in road accident

News Release
03 January 2008

For Reference:
Mario Ben, Chairperson
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS)
Tel. No. 056-574-521

Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS) would like to express its wishes for the swift recovery of the five seriously wounded OWWA officials especially of the Philippine embassy in Riyadh that figured in a recent road accident.

We pray for the five injured officials especially Welfare Officer Reynaldo Eugenio Jr., who dropped to comatose on his hospital bed to recover fast, as well as Taib Dumado, whose skull was fractured during the incident.

Aside from Reynaldo Eugenio and Taib Dumado, our prayers are also intended for labor staff-members Rene Literal, Mario Agustin Minerio and Jimmy Umag who also suffered injuires during that December 27 trip to Hafir Al-Baten, some 700 kilometers from Riyadh.

As we pray for their speedy recovery, we also hope that the Philippine embassy services to distress Filipino workers would continue despite the accident, doubly so that the long Eid holidays and year-end and vacation had virtually suspended these much needed services for our distressed compatriots..

We, KGS officers and members together with our friends and fellow migrants that would be gathering in a general assembly in the next few days in Riyadh, join hands with their families in their prayers of their loved ones that featured in the accident.

KGS work to foster camaraderie among OFW and our families as well as guarding and promoting our rights and welfare. We call on our Philippine embassy officials to remain steadfast in serving the Filipino community in Riyadh and other parts of Saudi Arabia especially the workers that run away from problems with heir employers as well as those who are languishing in jail and waiting freedom and repatriation.

There are around 500 Filipino workers in jail in the Kingdom.

(Kapatian sa Gitnang Silangan or KGS is a member organization of Migrante Saudi Arabia and is based in Riyadh, KSA).

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Notes by A.M. Ociones
Migrante Saudi Arabia

Tulad ng dati, mukhang guilty na naman ang Konsulada sa kasong pagpapabaya sa mga kababayang in-distress. Isang halimbawa nito ang kaso ni Marie/Ana, isang biktima ng panggagahasa na hindi naipa-medical hanggang noong Dec. 30 gayong dumating sya sa Welfare Center noon pang Dec. 25 (inaalam pa kung naipa-medical na sya ngayon).

Idagdag pa rito ang kaso ni Aya.

Si Laura "Aya" Torres ay kasalukuyang nasa ika-7 buwan ng pagbubuntis at kasalukuyang naka-detine hanggang ngayon sa deportation ng Jeddah. Kung tutuusin, madali sanang maiayos ang kanyang release o "deportation" dahil sa kanyang kalagayan (humanitarian reason kumbaga) pero hindi ito ang nangyari.

Ang totoo, hinuli rin kasabay ni Aya ang isang mag-ina - runaway ang babae at iilang buwan pa lang ang sanggol - ngunit hindi na nagtagal sa detention at nai-deport din kaagad pauwi sa Pilipinas dahil sa humanitarian reason.

Inaresto si Aya ng Immigration Police noong Nobyembre 2007 nang i-raid ang kanilang tinitirhan dahil diumano sa report na mayroong mga mag-asawa doon na may pekeng marriage contract. Nang magbulatlat ang mga pulis, napansin na hindi nagtutugma ang pangalan sa iqama (residential working permit) at identification papers na ipinakita ni Aya kaya kinasuhan ng falsification of documents. Dahil kakaiba ang kaso, hindi sya agad nakasabay sa mga pinauwi.

Pero naayos naman kaagad ang kaso nya sa Immigration, na-delay nga lang ang processing ng papeles nang magsimula ang opisyal na holiday humigit-kumulang 7-araw bago ang Eid Al-Adha mula Dec. 18 hanggang Dec. 23.

Matapos ang holiday, naayos din sa wakas ang papeles nya sa Immigration kaya pwede na daw syang ipa-deport. Ang problema, suspendido naman ang serbisyo ng Konsulada dahil sa mahabang holiday kaya hindi sya mabigyan-bigyan ng travel document para makauwi sana bago man lang mag-New Year.

Ayon sa direktiba ni Ambassador Antonio Villamor, suspendido ang mga transaksyon sa Embahada at Konsulada mula Dec. 15 hanggang Jan. 1 maliban na lamang sa mga sumusunod na araw: Dec 26, 27 at 29.

Payag na akong kauna-unawa ito dahil official holiday sa Pilipinas ang mga petsang Dec. 24-25 (Pasko), Dec. 30 (Rizal Day) at Dec 31-Jan 1 (Bagong Taon).

Gayunman ayon nga sa isang news report, patuloy dapat na aako ng mga emergency cases ang mga opisyal ng konsulada sa panahong walang pasok. Dahil buntis, pwede sanang ikunsidera na emergency case ang kaso ni Aya, pero hindi nga ito ginawa.

Sa ulat ng Welfare Committee ng Migrante Jeddah, hawak na raw ng Konsulada ang passport ni Aya kaya madali nang ayusin kung tutuusin (kumpara sa mga kaso na walang passport na kailangan pang mag-type ng travel document, etc). Kung gayon, hindi mauubos ang dalawa at kalahating araw na bukas ang consular office para maasikaso ang pag-uwi ni Aya pero hindi nga din ito ang nangyari.

Gusto kong unawain na busy ang mga tauhan ng Konsulada ng Jeddah dahil sa mga magkakapatong na dahilan: una, ang pagbuhos ng mga kababayan na nag-Hajj; ang panunumpa, pag-upo at siguro'y adjustment ng bagong katatalagang Consul-General Ezzedin Tago; at ikatlo, ang magkasunod na pagdiriwang ng Eid-Al-Adha at Pasko.

Pero sabi ko nga, hindi naman siguro napakahirap at hindi uubos ng nakaparaming oras ang kinakailangang hakbang para makauwi si Aya.

Pwera na lang siguro kung hihintayin pa natin na manganib ang buhay ng sanggol sa sinapupunan ni Aya dahil sa mahirap na kalagayan sa loob ng detention.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Migrante Saudi files appeal in behalf of women-in-distress

News Release
02 January 2008

Migrante Saudi Arabia sent an appeal yesterday to newly-appointed Jeddah Consul General Ezzedin Tago in behalf of five women in distress including the most recent victim of multiple rape and a detainee who is on her seventh month of pregnancy.

The appeal sent through email, noted ConGen Tago's openness to “discussing the issues and activities concerning the community” as reported in local media.

The letter signed by Andrew M. Ociones, Coordinator of Migrante Saudi Arabia (Migrante KSA) highlighted the cases of Marie/Ana who was allegedly raped by three men on Christmas Day and Laura 'Aya' Torres, who was seven-months pregnant.

Humanitarian grounds

"Torres should be repatriated immediately on humanitarian grounds as her pregnancy is on its most sensitive stage," Ociones asserts. "Apparently, that is not how our consular staff saw it."

According to a case profile prepared by Migrante KSA, Torres was nabbed during a raid at their residence and charged with falsification of documents.

The case with the Immigration Police has since been resolved while she was in detention and should have been deported sooner if not for the lack of travel documents.

Migrante KSA notes further that if not for the suspension of the consular services ordered by Ambassador Antonio Villamor, Torres could have been repatriated already.

As reported in a local newspaper dated 15 December 2007, consular services was available only from December 26 to 27 and onwards from 2 January after the official holiday season in the Philippines.

In between, according to the report, "embassy and consulate officials will still handle emergency cases" since the suspension applied only to regular consular services such as passport and visa authentication.

"They should have considered Torres' case an emergency given her condition," Ociones laments further. “Or, they could have prioritized her case during the two and a half-day official working day, but they did not.”

Torres was still languishing in detention without any sign of relief.

Appeal for Justice

Migrante KSA filed a separate appeal dated 30 December 2007 for the attainment of justice for Marie/Ana, the alleged victim of multiple rape and attempted rape.

Marie personally detailed how she was allegedly raped by her employer on Christmas Eve then by two others who picked her up on Christmas Day when she ran away from her employer’s house.

The rape attempt by a fourth man was prevented after good citizens heard her scream for mercy and rescued her.

Contract violation

The appeal also included three other women household service workers who were facing different levels of the same issue of contract violation.

Noralyn Mamasalagat, 24, is only waiting for a plane ticket after her employer agreed to send her home. The employer however, would not provide for the ticket.

On the other hand, Zoraida Dukay and Rahima Aiko have not received their salaries for months from the same employer and is now being charged the return of their visa and deployment expenses worth SR 9,000 each.

The appeal in behalf of the women-in-distress was made after Migrante KSA received similar requests from the women’s relatives and friends.

The appeal in behalf of the women-in-distress was made after Migrante KSA received similar requests from the women’s relatives and friends.

A. M. Ociones
Coordinator, Migrante Saudi Arabia
Tel. No.: +966-56-679-3202