Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bagong Bayani Ayaw kay Gloria!

You may participate in this Petition by sending your name, organization or at least the country where you're at to this email: or by signing the online petition at http://www.ipetitio GloriaResign. You may also print the said petition, ask your friends to sign it then send us the signatories with their email address and location/country or a scanned copy at our email: Subj: BaBAY Gloria!

(BAgong Bayani AYaw kay Gloria)

Gloria Resign Now!
Petition signing in Support
of the People’s call for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Resign

(Initiated by Migrante Chapters - member organizations of Migrante International,
in the Middle East)

We cannot stand two more years of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Instead of addressing the concerns of the Filipino people and of Filipino migrant workers, GMA’s crimes have piled up higher. Diverse sectors in the country have stepped up the call for GMA’s resignation and even the Catholic bishops have branded the GMA administration as morally-bankrupt.

Among the crimes of Mrs. Arroyo and her government are:

Corruption and Bribery

The mulit-million dollar expose on the National Broadband Network deal involving GMA and her husband has shown that corruption in the government continues to brew up to the top executive office. Bribery to serve the interest of the GMA administration has also become so open and blatant as exposed by Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran and local government officials such as Pampanga Governor Fr. Ed

Gross human rights violations

Of the more than 886 cases of extrajudicial killings and more than 170 cases of enforced disappearances that include activists and government critics, not a single conviction has been made. Worse, majority of the cases have not even managed to get into courts because of the government’s failure to investigate on the cases. With the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya II and the Human Security Act of 2007 in place, human rights violations will remain unabated and will even get worse.

Election fraud

The legitimacy of the GMA government is still very much suspect. While the “Hello Garci” scandal has not yet been satisfactorily resolved, electoral fraud especially of the administration camp has again smeared the elections in order to ensure an administration majority in the Philippine Congress to quash future moves for GMA’s impeachment.

Artificial “economic development” and “strengthening of the peso”

With lots of embellishments, the GMA government has touted the so-called recovery of the economy as shown, according to them, by the continued strengthening of the Philippine peso.

However, such a “development” remains an illusion to majority of the people as prices soar even higher, wages remain depressed and job scarcity is still widespread.

Neglect of migrant workers

Many Filipino migrant workers die, suffer from abuses, were incarcerated or have been given the death penalty. Despite these, government response and assistance to Filipino workers abroad who are in distress are very limited if not nil in many of the cases. While forever branding Filipino migrant workers as heroes, migrant workers are always hard pressed to get government officials abroad to assist them in their situation.

The unconcern of the GMA government to the plight of migrant workers is shown in policies such as the OWWA Omnibus Policy, that effectively made OWWA services to OFWs even more inaccessible, as well as the POEA Guidelines that made overcharging legal.

GMA’s ineptitude and irresponsibility can be seen in the following

· Implementation of MC-04 Guidelines on Direct Hiring
· 198 Stranded OFWs in Jeddah
· Inept Consular Officials including labor attaches’ and OWWA Welfare Officers in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates , Kuwait , Qatar and Bahrain .

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has no more integrity or the political and moral ascendancy to rule. With her in power, there can be no let up in the deterioration of the Philippines ‘ economic, political and social situation because GMA and her allies are the ones who are the masterminds of policies that impoverish and repress us.

Only through the removal of GMA and her minions can these crimes be ended and a relief can be given to the people.

With her mountain of crimes against the Filipino people, GMA - and her lackeys in Malacañang and Philippine Posts abroad- must step down. Else, the Filipino people and the migrant workers will be the ones to show her government the way out.

Your signature is a significant contribution for the establishment of a new democratic and pro-people post-Arroyo government.

Kindly include your name and/or organizations below:


  1. John L.C. Monterona - Regional Coordinator, Migrante Middle East
  2. Mario Ben - Secretary-General, Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan-Migrante- Riyadh (KSA)
  3. Andrew M. Ociones - Chairperson, Migrante-Saudi Arabia. (KSA)
  4. Roberto Fajarito - Chairperson, Migrante-Jeddah (KSA)
  5. Nhel Morona - Secretary General, Migrante-UAE
  6. Jhon De Jesus - Coordinator, Migrante-Qatar
  7. Gil Lebria - Secretary-General, Migrante Kuwait
  8. Richard Bautista - KGS/MIGRANTE, Riyadh
  9. Marcelino Damiar - Migrante-Jeddah (KSA)
  10. Lhouie Chua - Migrante-Jeddah (KSA)
  11. Samuel Nacario Jr. - Migrants Association in Saudi Arabia (MASA, KSA)
  12. Hawthorne T. Valera Jr. - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  13. Arnel C. Lorenzo - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  14. Ruben L. Nacario - Migrante-Jeddah (KSA)
  15. Irin F. Fajarito - romblon@ksa Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  16. Rhey G. Artango, Al Khobar - Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Migrante Saudi Arabia press for diplomatic solution

Migrante Saudi Arabia
News Release
19 February 2008
As Stranded Filipinos in Jeddah display ‘mock coffin’:
‘Legal deportation process’ a sham,
Migrante Saudi Arabia press for diplomatic solution

A mock coffin greeted visitors inside the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah today as Migrante Saudi Arabia pressed for a diplomatic solution after the ‘legal deportation process’ of Consul General Ezzedin Tago was proven futile to repatriate at least 198 ‘stranded’ Filipino workers.

“The ‘legal deportation process’ is a sham, because it endangers our compatriots who left their employers due to various cases of abuse, maltreatment and contract violations,” laments Migrante KSA Chairperson AM Ociones.

“We call on the government therefore, to opt for the more arduous diplomatic or government-to-government solution,” Ociones asserts. “It is the solution that the government has been avoiding all this time for whatever reason and the only solution that can send the ‘stranded’ home… now.”


The mock coffin, painted black with the words “The future of our families lies on this coffin. Send us Home, Not in Jail!” was made by the ‘stranded’ Filipinos camped inside the Consular premises in protest of the continuing neglect of their plight.

“The coffin symbolizes the dangers we are facing now,” Carlos Rebutar, Spokesperson for the stranded Filipinos said today. “It also symbolizes the death of our family and loved ones as we languish here losing our remaining hope of being repatriated.”

The symbolic action was prompted by recent developments proving Tago’s ‘legal deportation process’ as futile to repatriate Filipinos in distress. Data gathered by Migrante Saudi Arabia confirms that of the 54 women and 24 men who were picked up by the Immigration Police through the so-called ‘due process’ in February 10:
  • One man was confirmed ‘returned’ to his employer while about 20 or so women are facing the danger of being ‘returned’ to their employer whom they ran away from.
  • 13 men on the other hand were transferred to the Deportation Facility in Riyadh in handcuffs and were dumped inside a cell measuring approximately 8m x 15m with at least 100 other men of different nationalities.
Deplorable situation

“The present situation of the 13 confirms what the ‘stranded’ has been refusing all along about this ‘legal deportation process,’” Ociones explained.

In a telephone conversation with Ociones yesterday, one of the 13 transferred to Riyadh identified only as Jim reportedly said “Kasuklam-suklam ang kalagayan namin dito, sir, kaya please tulungan nyo kami (Our situation here is totally deplorable, sir, please help us).”

“Hindi kami makaupo man lang, sir, tayuan kami dito. ‘Di pa rin kami kumakain (We cannot even sit, sir, we are all standing up here. We also haven’t eaten yet),” Jim reportedly lamented further. “Hindi ito ang pinangako sa amin ng Consulate noong pinapipirma kami sa ‘due process’. (This is not what has been promised us when they were convincing us to sign up for due process).”

Deteriorating health

Migrante KSA also expressed concern over the deteriorating health of the ‘stranded’ OFWs.

In the same telephone conversation with Ociones, Jim reported that one of their companions, identified as Noel Farrales, is already very weak and might collapse anytime due to the heat inside the deportation cell.

Previously on February 16, the men inside the Deportation Facility in Jeddah complained of cough and other symptoms through a text message sent to Ociones by one identified only as A.E.:

“Nandito po ako s deportation. Ako c a.e. S gusali n # 1 ay 66 kming pinoy. Mrmi
s amin my ubo, s gabi, 2 o tatlo my fever. Vgay help consulate.. Qlang.”

“Meron, vgay cla gamot pero qlang. 2box n expectont capsule. N involve n kmi sa away, laban ibang lahi. Cge bye bye n me pulis.”

The stranded men camping out in the Jeddah Consulate were also suffering the same problems of cough and fever and complains of shortage of medical assistance.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Migrante KSA dares DFA to do their math

18 February 2008

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

This is in response to the article posted on 17 February in your website that said:

The Philippine Consulate in Jeddah reported that 922 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were stranded in the Kingdom with no contracts and jobs have already been deported back to the Philippines. But this happened only after the OFWs have gone through a lot of hardships including living in tents under a bridge
for more than a year.

"Stranded OFWs in Jeddah had to Camp Out Under Bridge to be Repatriated"
Bulatlat Vol. VIII, No. 3,
February 17-23, 2008
http://www.bulatlat .com/2008/ 02/stranded-
ofws-jeddah- had-camp- out-under- bridge-be- repatriated

The same article reported further that:

Meanwhile, Consul General Pendosina N. Lomondot said the last group of 75, all male, departed Friday on board a Gulf Air flight. The updated report from the consulate stated that 922 OFWs have been repatriated.

While Migrante Saudi Arabia wishes to thank out-going Consul General Pendosina Lomondot for his assistance to the 922 'stranded' and overstaying compatriots who were repatriated during his last year in Jeddah, we wish to reiterate that the Consular officials were only able to accomplish that because the said OFWs flooded the Consulate premises.

They were forced to do it and do it fast or suffer further embarassment. The 922 were repatriated terefore, not because officials of the Consulate were doing what they were supposed to do ~ of assisting our kababayans during their time of need.

As to the last group of 75 who were supposedly repatriated last Friday, we wish to express our disbelief. Maybe it was a few Fridays back. How many Fridays has it been since June 2007 when they accomplished the feat of repatriating a huge number? Definitely, it was not last Friday, 15 February or the Friday before that.

Migrante Saudi Arabia's verification on the status of 'stranded' OFWs who camped out under Al Khandara Flyover in Jeddah since December last year, confirmed the following:

  • Only 23 women were confirmed repatriated so far, including the 17 picked up under Al Khandara on February 5 and the five picked up earlier on the same Bridge.
  • Of the 24 men who submitted themselves to 'due process' and were picked up at the Consulate, one was confirmed returned to his employer, 13 was sent to Riyadh and 10 were remaining inside Building 2 of the Deportation Facilities in Jeddah.
  • Of the 80 women who were sent to the Deportation facilities on February 10, none were repatriated yet.

Inside the Consulate, 88 men are still camping out and waiting for a window of hope for their repatriation.

This comprises a total of 198 'stranded OFWs' in Jeddah alone, the bulk of whom camped out under the Al Khandara Flyover and then trooped to the premises of the Philippine Consulate. This number is even more than the 179 that Migrante Saudi Arabia reported on February 3, which Undersecretary Rafael Seguis even questioned.

And as we frequently say, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The number does not include the 16 drivers from a transport company in Dammam who complained the employer slashed their salary by 50% through contract substitution; and, some 8 others who went to the Consulate last week but opted to find work after a few days of waiting.

Still, there are a lot more others (probably hundreds, even thousands) doing odd jobs, getting paid lower and scrimping their hard-earned money to feed their families while waiting for the right opportunity to get back home.

We therefore dare the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to do their math truthfully instead of providing false information.

Sa migrante at sa bayan,

Andrew M. Ociones
Migrante Saudi Arabia
Tel. No.: +966-56-679- 3202

13 Stranded OFWs handcuffed and sent to Riyadh

As of 12:16 PM, Riyadh time
18 February 2008

Migrante Saudi Arabia expressed fears for the safety and well-being of 13 of the 24 who signed the 'legal deportation' procedure initiated by ConGen Tago who are travelling to Riyadh in handcuffs, as of this writing.

In a conversation with Ociones, James Malasig, one of the 13 expressed apprehension over their situation.

"Pakitulungan na lang po kami, kasi hindi namin alam kung saan kami dadalhin pagdating namin sa Riyadh," Malasig said as he appealed for prayers and support. "Isa pa, nakaposas po kami."

"Wala naman ito sa usapan noon," Malasig added referring to the terms they agreed with ConGen Tago before they accepted the so-called 'due process.'

Antonio Eugenio, who came from the original group of 88 who trooped to the Philippine Consulate and was the first to agree to Tago's 'legal deportation process' also expressed doubts saying "Siguro dito sa Riyadh kami isasakay, pero bakit kami nakaposas?"

"We sure hope that Malasig, Eugenio and the other 11 Filipinos with them would be sent home through Riyadh, because it is common knowledge that there are more out-going flights and the bulk of deportation comes from Jeddah," Ociones adds further.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


News Release
12 February 2008

Stranded OFWs offer proposal to Tago

The 'stranded' OFWs camped out at Jeddah Consulate today offered Consul General Ezzedin Tago a counter proposal ~ that the 70 remaining OFWs would submit to the 'legal process of deportation' but the Consulate would take custody of the kababayan who has been proven to have an existing case instead of surrendering them to their respective employers.

The deal, would hopefully pave the way for the repatriation of the 'stranded' OFWs.

"We realized we have to meet at a certain point," explained Carlos Rebutar, Spokesperson for the 'stranded' OFWs. "We have already submitted our names for verification of identity and to know if our employers have filed a case against any of us but we remain hopeful."

According to Rebutar, the deal would ensure the safety of the stranded OFW’s who fear their employers would fabricate charges against them.

For their part, A. M. Ociones, Chairperson of Migrante Saudi Arabia expressed optimism and support to the decision.

"In the end, what is important is that they are repatriated, no matter how and the only legal option left for them is through deportation," Ociones said."I know the Philippine Consulate is up to the task, anyway they have already done it for some 76 stranded OFWs," a hopeful Ociones adds. "That is why we have been frequently asking them, why can’t they do it for these remaining 70?"

The Consulate has already processed the 'legal deportation' of 24 'stranded' men and 52 women (including some from those who trooped to the Consulate and from the Welfare Center). Four among the stranded men camped-out at the Consulate also accepted the Tago's terms by noon yesterday but their number was soon re-filled by new arrivals.According to Rebutar, the proposal came after a general meeting was held late in the afternoon yesterday. "We assured ConGen Tago that the names we submitted are 'legal' and not 'fictitious' as he keeps on insisting, and they would soon find out in their verification process," Rebutar closed.

# # #

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

Monday, February 11, 2008

Stranded Filipinos starts wearing black headbands,

News Release 1
11 February 2008
Stranded Filipinos starts wearing black headbands,
reiterates appeal for repatriation

‘Stranded’ Filipinos camping out in the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia started wearing black headbands in protest of the government's neglect of their suffering and in solidarity with their comrade Joel Agana whose mother died today.

“The black headbands signify the continuing neglect of our government to our plight even as we reiterate our appeal to Consul General Ezzedin Tago to facilitate our repatriation,” Carlos Rebutar, Spokesperson for the group of some 88 'stranded' OFWs said today. “The black headbands signify the death of our families as the Philippine Consulate refuses to lift a finger to alleviate our plight.”


According to Rebutar, ConGen Tago repeatedly refused their appeal by saying he would not 'lie' and again asked them to sign acceptance for 'due process' which the group in turn, declined.

“Tago cannot answer even our questions - how long is this ‘due process’ going to take and what if the employer fabricated charges against us,” Rebutar claims. “And since we already gave them our legal names, he even refused to check if we have pending cases in the courts unless we sign his so-called ‘acceptance of due process’.”

The stranded OFWs has already shaved their heads last Friday, 8 February as a sign of protest and would also start wearing shirts bearing their call ‘Send us home Now!” later today.

“We really don’t know when they are going to lift a finger to send us home,” Rebutar closed.

Agana's appeal

“Sana makauwi ako ng maaga para maabutan ko pa ang burol ng nanay ko (I wish to be repatriated early so I can still catch my mother's wake),” Agana today told A. M. Ociones, Migrante KSA Chairperson. “Baka hindi ko na kayanin kung hindi ko pa sya abutan (I might lose my wits if I dont even see her on her wake).”

Agana's mother, Fe, was hospitalized due to hypertension in 20 January 2008 and later went into comatose. He immediately sought a fixer to facilitate his return home but was dropped off at Al Khandara Bridge where other Filipinos are also waiting to be rounded up by the Immigration Police and be deported.

He was still hopeful when Migrante KSA interviewed him under the Bridge on February 5.
“Bakasakali gumaling ang nanay ko kapag nakita lang ako (Hopefully my mother would get well),” Agana said back then. “Nun kasing hindi pa sya comatose, hinahanap ako ng hinahanap ng nanay ko (Because before she went into coma, my mother kept on looking for me.)”

Last February 3, Agana went with the 90 stranded OFWs who trooped to the Philippine Consulate while appealing to facilitate his repatriation due to the delicate condition of his mother.
Agana's mother died at dawn today (Philippine time) in Cavite.
# # #
Carlos Rebutar, Spokesperson for Stranded OFWs in Jeddah
Tel. No.: +966-55-1877-597

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

Chronology of Stranded OFWs CampOut

As of 11 February 2008

Chronology of Stranded OFWs CampOut
at Philippine Consulate in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Early December 2007 - Undocumented and runaway workers of various nationalities, including Filipinos started their daily routine of going to the Deportation Office of the Kingdom's Immigration Police in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the morning then leaving in the afternoon.

23 December 2008 - Migrante KSA received reports of various nationalities massing up near the Immigration Office from various sources.

15 January 2008 - Kapisanan ng Migranteng Pilipino (KMP) reports the presence of 50 Filipinos camping out under Al Khandara Bridge.

17 January 2008 - TFC reporters aired the video of the OFWs staying under the bridge. Migrante KSA tasked KMP to monitor the situation. The group presented their appeal to Consul General Ezzedin Tago.

Last week, January 2008 - Congen Tago visited the group and told them that the only way for them to be repatriated is to undergo "due process" which the group declined. Fixers and other nationalities told them that the only way for them to be repatriated is to pay the Immigration Police.

02 February - Migrante KSA decided to visit the group camped out under Al Khandara Bridge. Group leader Carlos Rebutar and Fernando Francisco presented their plans of 'campout' at the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah and sought the support of Migrante.

03 February - Women inside the Welfare Center reported 23 signed a paper identifying those who agreed to be deported instead of waiting for 'due process' on their respective cases. Some 68 'runaways', including 17 women and one child trooped to the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah to request assistance for repatriation. ConGen Tago told them to go back to the Bridge and wait for the Saudi Immigration Police to pick them up within three days but Tago specifically stated that their number of 18 women and 50 men should never increase.

04 February
- 15 additional men came as they were tipped by fixers a pick-up is expected. Buses from the Saudi Immigration Police arrived, the men fall in line but Immigration Police refused to pick them up since they counted more than 50. When they returned to their tents later, their food and some tents were missing.

05 February - The 18 women were picked up and detained at the Deportation Area. Seven additional women came. One lady from the original 18 was not able to ride the bus. The number of men now swelled to 65. Consulate staff delivered several kilos of frozen bananas. Migrante Womens Committe visited the tentcity.

06 February - The 'stranded' Pinoys trooped to the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah. The number swelled to 90, with 12 women (two of whom were pregnant) and 2 babies. Another dialogue with ConGen Ezzedin Tago came to nothing.

07 February - Two among the group accepted Tago's offer for 'due process.' Migrante KSA Chairperson and Migrante Jeddah Chairperson visited the 'stranded' OFWs and later asked ConGen Tago if they would be transferred to a safehouse away from the Consulate. Tago said its all 'chismis.' Later in the evening, Ambassador to Riyadh Antonio Villamor came with officers of the Philippine Guardians. The Guardians tried to convince its members from among the group to agree with Tago's 'due process' but they refused. A Christian group came and distributed food.

08 February - Another dialogue ended in stalemate with Tago insisting the 'stranded' OFWs were never giving out their real names which the OFWs denied. The men shaved their heads to highlight their plight. Tago warned media correspondents not to release any video or photo they have made on the stranded OFWs. Another Catholic group visited and distributed food stuffs. Migrante KSA visited and checked on their status.

09 February - Seguis' retorts, including questions on the real number of 'stranded' and Migrante as "all talk" and "should be the one talking to the Saudi government," published in Philippine Star. Runaways from outside starting streaming to the Philippine Consulate and was asked by Tago to sign the 'acceptance of due process.' Tago met with some 20+ women behind closed doors. Consulate staff started congratulating the women who would be repatriated through deportation saying they would be sent together with the men on this day. The 24 men who accepted Tago's 'due process' was whisked away to an undisclosed location as reported in the next day.

10 February
- Mother of stranded OFW Joel Agana dies at dawn, 'stranded' Pinoys conduct memorial service early morning. In protest and in solidarity, the group started wearing 'black headbands' and 'Send Us Home Now!' t-shirts. A donation box was passed around for Agana's mother. At around 10 AM, the group of 54 women from the Consulate's Welfare Center were picked up by the Immigration Police for deportation.

# # #

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

# # #

Saturday, February 9, 2008

OFWs want Total Scrapping of MC-04, not Selective implementation – Migrante Middle East

News Release
09 February 2008

OFWs want Total Scrapping of MC-04, not Selective implementation – Migrante Middle East

An alliance of Overseas Filipino workers based in the Middle East expressed its disappointment on the decision of the POEA Board after its Friday meeting to selectively implement MC-04.

“The POEA Board chaired by Sec. Brion is acting without or lack of reason by reaching a decision of selectively implementing MC-04. They did not listen to the popular demands of millions of OFWs in the Middle East,” said John L.C. Monterona, Migrante Middle East Regional Coordinator.

Monterona said that performance bond & repatriation bond which will be arranged by the worker’s employer are not a guarantee that OFWs’ rights will be protected & their welfare be advanced.

“Sec. Brion is so naive from our real-life experiences here abroad. The performance bond & repatriation bond requirement could be easily passed on by the employers to OFWs’ shoulder by deducting their monthly salary,” Monterona exclaimed.

“Let me share below feedbacks to Sec. Brion, who can’t understand the real difficulty of an OFW, coming from our fellow OFWs in the different part of the Middle East ,” Monterona added.
From: Ompong Santos (dajj290298@
in Riyadh, Saudi Arabi

Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 7:08 PM

Kanselahin na kasi kagad, walang patutunguhan 'yang MC4 na 'yan. Walang ka-kwenta -kwentang pag-usapan din. Kung sino man ang author n'yan, i-firing squad kaagad. I'm sure walang pamilya na umaasa diyan.

From: John in Dubai, UAE
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2008 1:23 AM

Syempre malaki pera yan, malaki na naman makukurakot nila, isa pa baka nagtayo na rin 'yan ng maraming agency, marami pera, 'di ba? Kawawa naman ang manggagawang Pinoy. Silang nasa pwesto ang secure, 'di ba? Hindi kasi sila ang nag-a-abroad e kaya ganyan. Kapal n'yo sa gobyerno.

From: Name withheld in Dubai, UAE
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2008 2:54 PM

Maawa po kayo sa mga Filipino dito. Maraming employers na dito sa Dubai ang ayaw kumuha ng employees sa Pilipinas dahil po sa babayaran na $8,000.00. Ang sabi din po ng boss ko sino ba daw mag-benefit na alam daw n'ya na corrupt" ang bansa natin. Maawa ang DOLE kasi yan ay ipapasa sa mga taong kukunin nila sa Pinas. May kilala ako na 2 taon na n'yang binabayan ang lahat ng ginastos ng kompanya n'ya. Ito ang problema na dapat lutasin ng DOLE. Ang komentaryo ng ibang lahi dito mas maigi pang kumuha ka ng ibang lahi wag lang Pinoy dahil sa maraming "guidelines" at may babayaran ka pa. 'Di tulad sa India pagkumuha ka ng direct hiring, authentication (AED 200.00) lang wala ng ibang paper works. Sa consulate natin magbabayad pa sila ng AED902+$300 sa agency. Sana isipin nila na mapabuti ang kapwa Pilipino dito at hindi para pahirapan. Maawa kayo sa aming OFW.

Migrante is challenging Sec. Brion to pay visit at different countries here in the Middle East so that he can personally hear the sentiments of our fellow OFWs.

“If after his visit in the Middle East , he still couldn’t realize what is his fault implementing MC-04, then he should better work as an OFW here,” Monterona said.

Migrante said that the problem with a technocrat like Sec. Brion is that he couldn’t see the real-life effects of a policy as long as it is being implemented so that the government could elude its foremost responsibility to us OFWs and gain more money for the most corrupt and anti-OFW Arroyo government.

“If he sees defect in the Labor Law pertaining to overseas work, by good reason he should not apply it at all, just like in this case,” Monterona added.

“Migrante Chapters and members in the entire Middle East vow intensify their campaign to totally scrap MC-04 and will re-echo the our call for Mrs. Arroyo’s immediate resignation involving her family members in the anomalous ZTE NBN deal and her criminal neglect to OFWs’ rights, welfare & protection,” Monterona ended. # # #

For Reference:
John Monterona
Migrante Middle-East Regional Coordinator
Mobile No.: 0966 564 97 8012

Friday, February 8, 2008

On Lozada Testifying before the Senate Blue Ribbon Investigation

Press Statement
08 February 2008

On Lozada Testifying before the Senate Blue Ribbon Investigation
Divulge All, Tell Everything, OFWs & Families and the Filipino People are all behind you – Migrante Middle East

“Tell all, divulge everything you knew,” said Migrante Middle East Regional Coordinator John L.C. Monterona to Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. who is appearing before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation on the anomalous ZTE Broadband deal.

“Telling the truth and nothing but the truth is an act of heroism especially if what is at stake is the people’s money,” Monterona added.

Migrante Middle East Chapters are asking local media in the Philippines to convey their message of support & solidarity to Mr. Lozada and to let him know that OFWs & their families are supporting him and the Filipino people will never allow this time that the truth will be concealed again by the most corrupt and most-anti OFW Arroyo government.

“Malacanang’s lackey made mistake by offering bribe, which he has rejected, to an honest & noble man like Mr. Lozada,” Monterona added.

Migrante said that in between Abalos, who is a traditional politician, Mike Arroyo, who is being linked to several corruptions, and Jun Lozada, who is a principled person, all testifying in the Senate Blue Ribbon, the Filipino people is most certain who will be telling the truth about the controversial ZTE broadband deal.

Conjugal Crimes

Migrante further that Mr. Arroyo, like her wife, has a mischievous record to OFWs and families when Mr. Arroyo has been appointed by her wife as OFW envoy giving her husband a hand in the overseas workers legal assistance fund allegedly to be used for her 2004 presidential campaign which was opposed by Migrante.

“Due to Migrante’s campaigns & criticism, the First Gentleman voluntarily resigned,” Monterona added.

Monterona said that before the 2004 Presidential elections, Mrs. Arroyo directed and succeeded the transfer of P4-B from OWWA fund to Philhealth in connivance with now Health Sec. Francisco Duque by virtue of Executive Order No. 182 without OWWA’s Board of Trustees concurrence and consultations amongst OFWs who are OWWA members themselves.

“Two months before the elections, Mrs. Arroyo along with Sec. Duque, were seen distributing Philhealth cards free of charge to sway voters and was later confirmed that the said health cards are not being honored by Philhealth-accredit ed hospitals,” Monterona said.

OWWA fund is a trust fund where each OFW-member is asked to pay an amount of P1,050.
OWWA fund now is estimated to reach P8-B.

Monterona further revealed that more anomalies have been discovered in OWWA such as the P260-M bogus claims, the un-audited US$293,500 allotted to Middle East Preparedness Team headed by Gen. Roy Cimatu during the U.S. aggression on Iraq, and the impending plan by the Arroyo government to transfer an amount of P1-B from OWWA fund to save the Philippine Postal Saving Banks and thereby converting it to be an OFW Bank.

“We are seeing a pattern of conjugal crimes here, both husband & wife are being linked to several corruptions,” Monterona said.

“Not only that, the Arroyo government is also being held criminally negligible for it’s inaction to the worsening plight of thousands of distressed OFWs, sexually harassed, maltreated, unpaid, victims of labor malpractices, who are either in jail or under the bridges of Saudi Arabia who managed to escape from their unscrupulous employers,” Monterona lamented.

Monterona said that these are the very reasons why OFWs and their families are calling for her immediate resignation. If she insists to stay in power, then once again the Filipino people will be obliged to oust her from office.

“In support to our people’s demand, Migrante members in the Middle East will be writing their respective Congressmen, Governors, and Mayors in the Philippines urging them to withdraw their support to the most- fraudulent and most anti-OFW Arroyo government,” Monterona ended. ###

John L.C. Monterona
Migrante Middle East Regional Coordinator
Mobile No.:0966 564 97 8012

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Migrante slams Arroyo administration over criminal neglect

News Release
February 7, 2008

For reference:
Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson (0927-215-7392)

84 stranded OFWs in Jeddah set up camp outside RP Consulate:
Migrante slams Arroyo administration over criminal neglect

An alliance of organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and their families today scored the RP consulate in Jeddah and the Arroyo administration over their criminal neglect and inaction regarding the horrendous plight of stranded OFWs in Jeddah.

At the same time, they saluted the courage of the 84 OFWs who recently set-up camp outside the RP consulate as part of their bid to be returned to the Philippines immediately.

The 84 OFWs, including 10 women and 2 children, were among the more than 100 'stranded' OFWs who were forced to live under a bridge in the Al-Khandara district after running away from abusive employers. Some of the women also report being victims of sexual harassment.

"It's deplorable that RP Consul General Ezzedin Tago and the Department of Foreign Affairs has neglected them for this long. It's the height of hypocrisy for the Arroyo administration to hail OFWs as 'modern-day heroes' while it plays deaf and dumb to their pleas when they're in distress," says Connie Bragas-Regalado.

"This is an emergency crisis situation. We demand that the DFA and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration act with haste to ensure their immediate repatriation to the Philippines," she added, noting the establishment of a P100 million Emergency Repatriation Fund under the OWWA, as per the Migrant Workers Act of 1995.

Pregnant women, children among stranded

According to Migrante-Saudi Arabia, there are approximately 179 OFWs stranded in Jeddah as of last February 6. This included 26 women (two of whom are pregnant), 3 children, 63 who are at the Consulate’s welfare center and 16 drivers from the Al-Yami transport.

"Gusto ko nang makauwi kasi kawawa naman ang baby ko. Ang hirap dito, maalikabok, malamig," said Sarah Masukat, a 29 year old domestic worker from South Cotabato who was among those living under the bridge in Jeddah with her one year old son. Sarah is three months pregnant.

Sarah arrived in Jeddah in March 2004 and she ran away in December 2004. She is a victim of contract substitution (her salary was reduced from SR750 to SR600) and has eight months unpaid salary.

"We salute Sarah and the other stranded OFWs who have united to expose both the sufferings they endured under their employers as well as the criminal neglect of the RP Consulate in Jeddah," said Bragas-Regalado.

“For as long as the Arroyo government implements and intensifies a policy of labor export, there will always be a cycle of ‘stranded OFWs’ in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. OFW – because underlying this policy is the treatment of OFWs as commodities for export. As such, when it comes to their rights and welfare, the anti-migrant Arroyo government is quick to play deaf, dumb and blind. Along with intensifying our campaign for the repatriation of these OFWs, we will also continue to heighten demands for Arroyo’s immediate ouster,” concluded Bragas-Regalado. #

Also available for interviews:
Carlos Rebutar, Spokesperson of Stranded OFWs - 0096551877597
Bobby Fajarito, Migrante-Jeddah Chairperson - 00966502745340
Andrew M. Ociones, Migrante-KSA Chairperson - 00966508944426

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Saudi OFWs blast Brion anew for lying

News Release
03 February 2008

On direct hiring memorandum:
Saudi OFWs blast Brion anew for lying
POEA MC 04 means exaction of new fees and abandonment of government's responsibility on distressed OFWs

Migrante Saudi Arabia today blasted DOLE Secretary Arturo Brion after the Secretary called the now controversial POEA Memoramdum Circular No. 04 setting guidelines on direct hiring of Filipinos as a move to “strengthen the protection mechanisms for overseas Filipino workers."

"Brion is once again lying," Bob Fajarito, Migrante Jeddah Chairperson said. "How can a Memorandum that seeks to enforce additional expenses on a system that has been proven beneficial to a lot of Filipinos working overseas meant to protect their interests?"

“Brion is definitely out of touch with reality when he says the employers will take care of burden, when numerous experience tells us this is not so," Fajarito asserts. "In this age of neo-liberal globalization, only a handful, generous and maybe philanthropic employers would dare take on the additional USD 8,000 burden without passing it on to the worker."

Basing on cases handled by Migrante KSA's Rights and Welfare Committee, even without this Memorandum employers in saudi Arabia have been charging various expenses on the OFWs.

Take for example the following cases from Migrante KSA's Rights and Welfare Committee:

  • The employer of Rahima Aiko and Zorayda Dukay, both domestic helpers now in custody of the Jeddah Consulate's Welfare Center, refused to pay their salary for months (seven months and three months respectively) and is now charging them of SR 9,000 each purportedly for the employer's visa and recruitment expense.
  • Syrel Morada was locked in the toilet for three days from New Years Eve and was given food only once a day for months but the employer wants her to pay SR 10,000 also for visa and recruitment expense after she sought refuge at the Welfare Center.

These cases, according to Migrante KSA are only the tip of the iceberg.

"With the Memorandum in place, Brion would only legalize what employers in Saudi Arabia has been doing all along~ charging their workers with expenses that employers should legally shoulder including iqama or work-permits, electricity and other utilities, accommodation, even medical insurance coverage," Fajarito closed.

Milking OFWs dry

Furthermore, Migrante KSA dreads the motive behind the Memorandum.

"Only two things are clear with the enforcement of this Memorandum: the present administration is hell-bent on exacting as much from the outbound flight of its citizens and at the same time, provide legal cover to its chronic abandonment of OFWs when problem arises," averred A.M. Ociones, Migrante Saudi Arabia Chairperson.

According to Ociones, the Memorandum is a follow up to the previous POEA Guidelines on the Deployment of Filipino Household Service Workers in 2007 which bled OFWs with additional expense on training and other requirements.

Add this to the fact that OFWs will now be at the mercy of recruitment agencies.

Abandonment of government responsibility

On the other hand, Ociones sees the "repatriation bond" as "another ploy to reinforce the OWWA Omnibus Policies which virtually erased government's (and OWWA's) responsibility."

“The repatriation bond," according to Labor Secretary Brion "shall guarantee the actual cost of repatriation of remains of directly hired OFW following death from any cause, and actual cost incurred for repatriation from other causes such as violation or non-compliance with the contract among others."

"First, they cleared OWWA and the government of any responsibility by way of the Omnibus OWWA Policies and transferred it to the recruitment agency," Ociones explains. "In turn, the Memorandum would effectively clear the recruitment agency of any hand on the repatriation of remains and OFWs in distress because POEA is pushing it to employers."

"But the employers would deduct the bond from the salary of the worker. So who's going to take responsibility for the OFWs in distress now?" Ociones closed.

And this, Migrante Saudi Arabia believes, is the most crucial question now.

A. M. Ociones, Chairperson ~ Migrante Saudi Arabia
Tel. No. +966-566-793-202

Bob Fajarito, Chairperson ~ Migrante Jeddah
Tel. No. +966 502-745-340

Other sources:
DoLE: Direct hiring rules meant to protect OFWs
02/02/2008 02:55 AM

Petition vs POEA Memorandum Circular No. 04
(A Signature Campaign Sperheaded by Migrante in the Middle East Region for the Immediate Scrapping of POEA Memo. Circular No.04)
Petition by Migrante Middle East, February 2, 2008

Migrante slams new POEA memo on direct hiring
News Release by Migrante International, February 1, 2008

Petition vs POEA Memorandum Circular No. 04

POEA Memorandum Circular No. 04 and the Ban on Direct Hiring
(A Signature Campaign Sperheaded by Migrante in the Middle East Region for the Immediate Scrapping of POEA Memo. Circular No.04)

Dear Fellow Overseas Filipino Workers in the Middle East :

Warm Greetings from Migrante Middle East !

Migrante Middle East is sperheading this Signature Campaign to register our very opposition to Arroyo Government’s policy thru POEA Memorandum Circular No. 04 and the banning of Direct Hiring as directed by the Department of Labor & Employment (DoLE).

Fellow OFWs in the Middle East Region, we are attaching herewith a Critique Paper prepared by Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW) and Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) based in Hong Kong.

Like our Migrante, these two non-government organizations are in the forefront of protecting & advancing the rights & welfare of overseas Filipinos, workers & immigrants alike. In studying POEA Memo. Circular No.04 Series of 2007 and analyzing its impacts to Filipino migrant workers, we maintain the same views relative to its negative impact to OFWs & aspiring overseas workers:
  1. MC-04 will result to loss of jobs and employment opportunities.
  2. MC-04 puts Filipino workers under the control of recruitment agencies and makes them vulnerable to overcharging and other malpractices of unscrupulous recruitment agencies.
  3. MC-04 belies the fact that recruitment agencies are not there to protect OFWs but are in fact accessories to, and even promoter of, many cases of abuse.
  4. MC-04 negates the gains of Filipino migrants in previous struggles for their rights and wellbeing.
  5. MC-04 translates to the deregulation of the Philippine labor export industry and relieves the government of its responsibility for protection and services to their nationals abroad.
In view of the above, Migrante is calling all Filipino migrant workers, individuals and/or their respective organisations in the entire Middle East to unite & strenthen our sector whose right to look for a job abroad due to the failure of the government to create decent jobs locally & our right to equal employment opportunity is threathened by this particular anti-OFW policy by the Arroyo Government.

  1. Immediately scrap POEA MC-04.
  2. Improve onsite services for and protection of Filipino migrant workers. Scrap the OWWA Omnibus Policies.
  3. Institutionalize effective mechanisms that will curb, if not not finally stamp out, overcharging and other malpratices of recruitment agencies.
  4. Scrap the POEA Guidelines on the Deployment of Filipino Household Service Workers.
  5. Stop the deregulation of labor export. Institute policies and mechanisms for effective and concrete protection of Filipino migrant workers.
For the protection of Filipino Migrant Workers Right & promotion of their Welfare,

Initial Signatures :
John Leonard Monterona, Regional Coordinator ~ MIGRANTE Middle East
Richard Bautista, Chairperson ~ Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS), Riyadh (KSA)
Rod De Leon, Spokesperson ~ Migrante-Riyadh (KSA)
Andrew M. Ociones, Chairperson ~ Migrante-KSA,
Jon De Jesus, Coordinator ~ Migrante-Qatar,
Cyrine Pinpin, Chairperson ~ Migrante-UAE
Gil Lebria, Chairperson ~ Migrante-Kuwait

Note: You can send email to: to include your name and/or organisations in the Petition to be submitted to the House of Representatives. You may also reprint this statement and collect signatures among your friends then send it back to the above email address. Thanks...

Migrante urges immediate repatriation of stranded Filipinos in Jeddah

News Release 1
03 February 2008

Migrante urges immediate repatriation of stranded Filipinos in Jeddah

Migrante Saudi Arabia today urged the Arroyo government to work for the immediate repatriation of at least 111 Filipinos in Jeddah, majority of whom trooped to the Philippine Consulate this morning.

"We believe the government can do more than force the stranded Pinoys to go back to square one by working for 'due process' as what the Philippine Consulate here has been asking them to," said A. M. Ociones, Chairperson of the Saudi Arabia Chapter of MIGRANTE International.

"We believe it is the height of callousness to ask them to go through the same process that forced them to camp out under the bridge in the first place," Ociones adds.

Stranded migrant workers from different countries usually camps out under Kandara Bridge in Jeddah. Of late, the said bridge became a virtual tent city due to the volume of migrants waiting for repatriation, including Filipinos, many of whom were duped by agents or fixers peddling immediate access to the so-called 'backdoor' (Please see attached photo from under the bridge).

Migrante KSA's Rights and Welfare Committee recorded at least 111 kababayans waiting for their shot at repatriation in Jeddah alone, including those who trooped to the Philippine Consulate today and the women at the Welfare Center.

The group under the bridge included 18 women and one 2 1/2 year old child.

"The government has succeeded in mass repatriation just a few months before, so why not now?" Ociones asks. "Now is the time to again prove that the government's concern for the welfare of the OFWs is not all talk."

Migrante International is an alliance of Filipino organizations asserting the rights and welfare of migrants and their families all over the world.


A. M. Ociones, Chairperson
Migrante ~ Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Chapter
Tel. No.: +966-56-679-3202

sa ilalim ng tulay

Notes ni Droidz

Pumunta kami kagabi (02 February 2008) sa ilalim ng tulay ~ ang tambayan ng mga stranded dito sa Saudi Arabia na nagsusubok na makauwi sa kani-kanilang bansa. Ito ang inabutan namin, isang linya ng tent kung saan natutulog ang mga Pinoy na stranded:

Inimbita kami doon ni Ate Edith, lider ng Kapisanan ng Migranteng Pilipino (KMP), isang organisasyon na kaanib ng Migrante International. Ang KMP ang direktang linya ng Migrante Saudi Arabia sa mga 'runaway' o 'stranded' dahil karamihan sa kanilang miyembro ay mga dating 'runaway' na nakabalik muli at nakapagtrabaho sa Saudi.

Ang balak lang namin talaga, bisitahin ang isang grupo na kinupkop ng KMP. Kaya naghanda kami ng kaunting mapagsasaluhan para sa kanila at ang karagdagang tent na kailangan nila para mayroon silang dagdag na tulugan.

Alas-diyes na noon ng gabi, hindi pa pala sila naghahapunan (nagtago sa camera si Ateng, ang nakatokang tagaluto ng oras na iyon).

Hindi namin naisip na nakapagplano na pala sila na magtungo sa Consulate ngayong araw na ito at talagang hinihintay nila kami upang hingin ang suporta ng Migrante. Ito naman si Bob Fajarito, ang Chairperson ng Migrante Jeddah kausap ang mga lider ng Pinoy sa ilalim ng tulay.
Sa paglilibot ko, napansin ko ang grupong ito ng mga Pakistani na dun din natutulog sa ilalim ng tulay ~ obviously mga 'stranded' din na naghihintay ng tsansa na makauwi. Kayo na ang magsabi kung masarap ang buhay dun.

Hindi madali ang buhay ng 'stranded.' Bilang organisasyon at bilang indibidwal, naniniwala ako na dapat na silang makauwi sa lalong madaling panahon.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Migrante slams new POEA memo on direct hiring

News Release
February 1, 2008

For reference: Connie Bragas-Regalado,
Chairperson (0927-215-7392)

Migrante slams new POEA memo on direct hiring

An alliance of organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and theirfamilies today slammed the new POEA guidelines on direct hiring asanother Arroyo scheme against the interests of OFWs.

"Mafiosi is the most apt description for these new POEA guidelines. It exposes the Arroyo administration as a ruthless thug whose message is that all activities in its labor exportation alley must fall under its `protection racket'. We demand no less than the immediatescrapping of POEA MC 04," says Connie Bragas-Regalado, MigranteInternational Chairperson.

The POEA MC 04 was implemented last December 2007 and it covers all foreign employers wishing to directly hire Filipino workers. It also requires foreign employers to post a Performance Bond equivalent to 3 months salary of the OFW and a US$5,000 Repatriation Bond."

Although the Arroyo administration is sure to justify these bonds asinsurance for the welfare of the OFW, it is clearly nothing but`grease money' in that foreign employers will only be allowed to recruit if they fork out the necessary funds.

The painful reality here for OFWs is that employers usually extract their recruitment costs from the OFWs themselves – either through their maximum exploitation or through direct deductions from their salary," she added.

Central Bank figures indicate remittances from overseas Filipinos lastyear was around US$14 billion while state exactions or fees by OFWs tovarious government agencies amount to approximately P13 billion annually.

Global actions against the POEA MC 04"OFWs around the world are already in an uproar against this latest exploitative scheme. We commit to intensifying the campaign to demandits immediate scrapping. Further, given that this scheme underlineshow Arroyo will never implement policies for our genuine benefit – we will also strengthen the campaign for her immediate ouster," said Bragas-Regalado.

As part of its campaign to scrap POEA MC 04 and oppose other unjust anti-migrant policies, a petition campaign and a series of protest actions in the Philippines, Italy, Hong Kong, the Middle East and other countries is being spearheaded by Migrante International and its member organizations in the coming weeks. #