Tuesday, April 8, 2008

13 Years since Flor Contemplacion’ s Death

Press Release
16 March 2008

13 Years since Flor Contemplacion’ s Death,
OFWs remain marginalized and neglected despite hail as ‘Modern Heroes’;
Migrante ME vows to resolutely advance, defend and uphold migrant workers rights and welfare.

(A Joint Statement by Migrante Chapters and member-organization s in the Middle East commemorating the 13th year death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, a domestic helper from Laguna who was hanged to death in Singapore in 1995)

Migrante, OFWs and their families, aptly commemorating every 17th day of March every year the death of Flor Contemplacion as this date is considered a significant historical event depicting the real plight of our fellow overseas Filipino workers undeniably continue to worsen due to Arroyo’s administration’ s neglect and unparalleled disservice to our sector despite being hailed as ‘Modern Heroes’.

Migrant workers’ contribution in keeping the local economy afloat can’t be denied as their remittances keep on hitting new record of US$ 14.4-B last year that greatly contributed to our country’s dollar reserves; that makes OFWs ‘Modern Heroes’ into the eyes and minds of the past administrations including the present most-corrupt and most anti-OFW Arroyo administration.

Calling us, OFWs, as “Modern Heroes” does not make sense to OFWs and families where the present Arroyo administration continuously neglecting and committing disservice to OFWs by not formulating genuine policies and programs that would advance and protect OFWs rights and welfare.

What we got from the Arroyo administration are anti-OFW policies such as the implementation of a codified OWWA Omnibus policies that phased out almost all welfare programs previously availed by OFWs and families including the Family loan assistance; the MC-04 prescribing rules on direct hiring that was challenged by Migrante, OFWs and families; the guidelines on Landbased recruitment and Household service Workers (HSWs) placing OFWs and aspiring alike at the hands of unscrupulous recruitment agencies collecting from OFWs higher fees amounting to P35thousand – P45 thousand each and additional payments.”

We have noticed a sort of a ‘business plan’ in every program or policies of the Arroyo administration such is clearly manifested in its selling of bonds for OFWs which the government considered timely for its revenue-generation efforts hence, the Department of Finance considers this OFW bonds would help complete the government’s borrowing program for 2008.

With such pronouncement from the Department of Finance; the Arroyo administration is making OFWs as collateral for its foreign borrowing necessary for the granting of loan by foreign financial institutions such as the IMF-WB and Asian Development Bank. Intensified labor export, sending more OFWs suggest continued pouring of dollars for loan payments.

The Arroyo administration, which failed to develop our local economy that would absorb the increasing numbers of unemployed whose only option is to find work abroad, has intensified its labor export program sending some 10-million Filipino workers abroad and is predicted to increase in the coming years; and to ensure intensified labor export, POEA have allotted an increased budget of nearly P500,000 for its marketing activities in its effort to boost exporting cheap labor abroad.

Intensified Labor Export at OFWs Expense

So long as this present administration remains to be subservient to the US-dictated policies of globalization, liberalization, and privatization as opposed to Nationalization of Basic Industries and implementation of Genuine Agrarian Reform, it will miserably fail to develop our local economy and can’t get out of this vicious cycle of economic reliance on foreign loans and labor export at the expense of our Overseas Filipino Workers.

We kept on saying that migrant workers are not commodities but humans whose rights should be respected and guarded and our welfare should be given foremost importance and consideration by our own government first and by the host governments as well.

The numerous cases of distressed OFWs due to maltreatment, unfair labor practices, and sexual abuses; the recorded several mysterious death of OFWs in the Middle East recently a reported OFW who was found dead hanging at her employer’s room in Kuwait; the increasing numbers of runaways at Khandera Bridge in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Philippine Consulate now numbering to more than 200; the reported 30 OFWs in Kuwait who survived scrounging trash looking for food; the increasing numbers of jailed OFWs to include the 26 OFWs facing death in the Middle East; all these tell us one thing: Arroyo administration’ s gross disregard to protect OFWs is tantamount to criminal neglect!

Misuse of OWWA Fund

OWWA fund is a trust fund, the Arroyo administration has attempted and it succeeded to a few to divert the use of these funds in a form of investments and creation of task forces presumably to help distressed OFWs abroad during emergency situation and war for OFWs immediate evacuations.

Migrante’s records revealed some of the alleged anomalous investments and misuse of OFW funds under Arroyo administration:
  • Transfer of P4B OFW Medicare Fund from OWWA to Philippine Health and Insurance Corporation by virtue of a secret issuance of Executive Order 182 devoid of consultations from OFWs as stakeholders of these funds
  • The P260M bogus claims exposed by then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo himself just to justify OWWA Medicare fund transfer to Philhealth under the present Arroyo Administration
  • The un-audited US$293,500 for the Middle East Preparedness Team headed by General Roy Cimatu during the US war of aggression to Iraq where repatriation of OFWs never took placed anyway under the present Arroyo administration.
  • POEA’s alleged illegally granting of P40 million incentives and allowances to its officials and employees for the past three years since 2002 and allowing its Executives and employees who were issued mobile phones to download about P796,000.00 worth of games, tones and picture messages and other unauthorized items.
The Arroyo administration, not contented to the misused of OFWs US$10-B fund at OWWA, has successfully secure overpriced deals of government projects such as the anomalous ZTE broadband project and the alleged South Rail Project and the controversial sell out of Philippine marine resources through the joint marine seismic undertaking (JMSU) with China and Vietnam.

OFWs Act of Civil Disobedience

Migrante’s file of the Arroyo administration ‘sins’ to OFWs and families are becoming populated, and OFWs and families will not allow to inflict more injustice and disservice to our marginalized and neglected sector, thus our “NO REMITTANCE” campaign, even only a day every month until Mrs. Arroyo resigned or ousted, will be intensified as an act of civil disobedience that is necessary, legitimate and fair.

We will also intensify our campaign urging fellow OFWs not to send their remittances through formal channels like bank but instead through a “door-to-door” services and the like.

As we commemorate today the 13th year death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion that symbolizes OFWs persistent struggle to advance forward its welfare and aspiration, Migrante chapters and member-organization s in the Middle East vow to reach out more OFWs and families for them to be organized and will closely join with the other sectors: farmers, workers, professionals, government employees, students, laymen and Church workers, all together calling persistently for Mrs. Arroyo resignation or ouster so that a more democratic, with real sectoral representations, pro-people post-Arroyo government could be immediately established.

# # #

This Joint statement is issued by Migrante Middle East Chapters and Member-Organizations, namely:

Migrante-Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan-Migrante- Riyadh , Saudi Arabia
Migrante-United Arab Emirates
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan-Migrante- Al Jouf, Saudi Arabia

For reference:
John Leonard Monterona - Regional Coordinator
Migrante Middle East
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

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