Sunday, November 30, 2008

Migrant group to lobby immediate approval of HB No. 5461

Press Release
30 November 2008

Migrant group said HB No. 5461 OK, to lobby its immediate approval in Congress

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers' organizations in the Middle East today said it will support House Bill No. 5461 authored by Rep. Cynthia Villar seeking to penalize inept government officials in consular, labor, and welfare services who fail or refuse to give assistance to Filipino migrant workers.

"The intent and wisdom of the bill is for the welfare and assistance of our fellow OFWs who are victims of their abusive employers. Thus, we urge fellow OFWs to extend support for the immediate passage of HB-5461 into law," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

The OFW leader said his group is glad to know that Rep. Cynthia Villar recognizes the worsening plight of our OFWs especially domestic helpers and construction workers who continue to suffer under their abusive employers, inhuman working conditions, and various human rights violations.

"The continued neglect and inaction by Philippine officials who are duty-bound to provide assistance to distress and run away OFWs adds an insult to the deplorable conditions of our OFWs who are usually forced to do dirty, dangerous and de-humanizing (3D) jobs to earn a living for their families back home," Monterona continued.

Monterona said with almost a thousand OFWs cases reported to their attention and assistance this year, the concerned government agencies must deploy additional trained support personnel to beef up its staff providing labor and welfare services.

Migrante-ME said part of its lobbying activities is to send letter to all members of the Congress, both in the Senate and Lower House, urging our solons to support and vote for the immediate passage of HB No. 5461.

"We will urge our members to send a letter to their respective Congressmen to lobby for the passage of HB No. 5461, while Migrante chapters' officers in the Middle East will send lobby letter to members of the Senate," Monterona explained.

Monterona said his group is hoping that it could get the support of members of the Congress as many as they could so that HB No. 5461 would become a law that would remind our govt. officials abroad to do their duty diligently, with pride and fulfillment in helping distress OFWs abroad.

"There is joy and fulfillment in helping others", Monterona averred.

Migrante-Middle East chapters are also preparing to launch a campaign dubbed as 'BANTAY EMBAHADA' to properly documents complaints and look after those inept consular, labor, and welfare officials who fail or refuse to give assistance to distress OFWs.

Migrante-ME ended saying if only the Arroyo administration is sincere in providing genuine welfare services and protection programs to OFW, while shifting its economic policies towards nationalization of basic industries and implementation of genuine agrarian reform program that will boost the Philippine economy capable of generating local jobs, no Filipino then will be forced to leave the country to earn a living for his family. # # #

For reference:

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

Saturday, November 29, 2008

OFW alliance hits reset of OAV list-up

November 28, 2008
Press Release

For Reference:
Gina Esguerra, Secretary General (0905-8361412)

OFW alliance hits reset of OAV list-up

The largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) groups worldwide slammed today the Commission on Elections' (COMELEC) order moving the resumption of the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) registration from December 1, 2008 to February 1, 2009.

The COMELEC on November 25 resolved to reset the OAV list-up two months later because many of the data capturing machines stationed in foreign posts, they said are either defective or in need of replacement.

"The rescheduling of the OAV registration is a deliberate move of the Arroyo regime to again disenfranchise overseas Filipino voters," says Gina Esguerra, newly elected Secretary General of Migrante International.

"This regime is scared stiff of the cast iron rejection the OFW sector would give Arroyo and her allies in 2010. It is no secret that compared to that of their rivals, this regime has zero credibility among OFWs and this is the reason why they moved to shorten the OAV registration period."

Migrante also dismissed as "doubletalk" the COMELEC's statement that they are targeting one million OAV voters for the 2010 elections.

"The COMELEC is in fact engaged in distasteful doubletalk. How can they register one million Filipino voters abroad if they lessened the registration period from 9 months to seven months? Who are they fooling?" she said.

The Migrante leader said they are now preparing a global petition to protest the COMELEC's resetting of the OAV list up, to call for a massive election information drive among OFWs and the setting up of satellite OAV registration sites even in the remotest areas where OFWs congregate.

"While we harbor no illusions that the current electoral system can deliver us from the horrendous conditions we suffer from abusive employers abroad and from this criminally negligent government, we vow to fight for our right to suffrage as overseas absentee voters so we can at least junk Arroyo and her allies by way of the ballot and beat them at their own game," Esguerra said.

Migrante said, a total of 361, 231 land based and sea based OFWs registered to vote for the 2004 elections. However, only 65% turned out and actually voted. For the 2007 polls, meanwhile; 503, 894 registered for the OAV but only had a miniscule 16% voters turn out. #

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shortened OAV registration will disenfranchise millions

Press Release
28 November 2008

For reference:
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator,
Migrante Sectoral Party Vice-Chairperson
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

Shortened OAV registration will disenfranchise millions of OFWs – Migrante-ME

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers organizations in the Middle East today said the postponement of the Overseas Absentee Voters (OAV) registration for OFWs originally scheduled on December 2008 that was re-scheduled on February 2009 to end still on August 2009 will disenfranchise many OFWs.

"The postponement of the OAV registration that originally scheduled to start next month by the Commissions on Elections is without a valid reason, thus to shorten its duration from nine (9) months to seven (7) months is unreasonable and unjust and it may be unconstitutional as it will disenfranchise many OFW voters," said Saudi-based OFW and Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona.

On November 25, 2008 the Commission on Elections en banc passed a resolution on moving the starting date of the OAV registration two months later but ending on the same original date. The COMELEC reasoned that it is due to the late delivery of data capturing machines to some Philippine posts abroad.

Monterona said that the failure by the COMELEC to deliver the data capturing machine on time in different posts abroad should not be made an escape by the electoral body.

"COMELEC should not pass on the consequences of its own failure to OFWs such as the non-delivery of data capturing machines on time in different posts which will lead to the disenfranchisement of OFW-voters," Monterona added.

Monterona said that based on previous OAV registrations, the 9-months duration is not enough for our fellow OFWs to register themselves.

In Saudi Arabia, for instance, the almost 1.2-M OFWs are scattered in different distant locations.

"Previous OAV registrations where only held in Riyadh where the Philippine Embassy is located, and in Jeddah where the Philippine Consulate General office is stationed. But in fact, many OFWs are also concentrated in the Eastern part of Saudi Arabia like Dammam and Al Khobar. Many OFWs are also working in Jubail and Tabuk, northern part of Saudi Arabia," Monterona added.

Monterona said that previous OAV registrations during past elections when the OAV has first implemented, Migrante, OFWs and their families have called on the COMELEC to set up mobile or satellite registration areas where there are large concentrations of OFWs so that they could easily register. "But this demand from OFWs has not been heeded by the COMELEC," he continued.

"Setting-up of mobile or satellite registration centers should be coupled by a massive information dissemination campaign by concerned Philippine posts abroad. Otherwise, the essence of having an absentee voting will be defeated," Monterona added.

Monterona said the setting up of mobile or satellite registration centers and massive information dissemination on OAV registration could easily be funded by the government considering the huge earning that goes to the government from billions of OFWs remittances yearly.

Migrante-ME said if the Arroyo administration could afford to distribute funds for its allies in Congress and spent millions for the campaign of its self-engineered Cha-cha, for sure it could also afford to provide budget for the setting up of mobile or satellite OAV registration centers and stage a massive information dissemination campaign about the OAV registration and voters' education campaign among OFWs abroad.

"Migrante, OFWs and their families do not want to think that the COMELEC has intentionally shortened the OAV registration so that many would-be OFW-voters will be disenfranchised. The millions of OFWs and their families' votes are considered a swing vote that could get a seat for Senatorial candidate or even make one a President," Monterona added.

Migrante chapters in the Middle East are in consultation now and will be preparing to send a letter to the COMELEC to formally register its opposition, and thereby requesting the electoral body to re-consider its Nov.25 resolution.

"We will strongly state that the extension of OAV registration duration to be made exactly 1 year, not just 9 months," Monterona ended. # # #

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Impeachment case "killed" by pro-Arroyo Congressmen for P.5M

Press Release
26 November 2008

Impeachment case "killed" by pro-Arroyo Congressmen in exchange of alleged P.5M
A turning point for the people to again contemplate to exercise 'People power'

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers' organizations in the Middle East today said the impeachment case that was "killed" by pro-Arroyo Congressmen in exchange of P.5M to vote against it is a turning point for the Filipino people to once again exercise "People Power" with prudence against the anti-people, fascist, and oppressive Arroyo administration.

"Elected Congressmen, as they are legally called 'Representatives' of the populace they represents must be the voice of the people's sentiment. For so many times, allied Congressmen of the Arroyo administration demonstrated their greed and selfishness more than above the interests of the people they represent," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

The migrant workers' organizations based in the Middle East are reacting to the junking of the new impeachment case filed against Mrs. Arroyo by the pro-Arroyo Congressmen and members of the House of Representatives Committee on Justice where the impeachment case was referred to.

Migrante-ME said the Arroyo administration demonstrated again its invisible vicious hand maneuvering the outcome of the impeachment on its early stage; ensuring that it will be killed on the HOR justice committee dominated by her own allies and party-mates.

"The best way to hook a fish is to offer him food pellets; this is what Mrs. Arroyo's political spin-doctors have done on the alleged distribution of P.5-M at Linden Suites as reported by The Daily Tribune newspaper article titled "Gloria allies line up for P.5M impeach kill prize" (11/26/2008) a day before the HOR Justice Committee hearing on the impeachment," Monterona averred.

Migrante-ME said the Filipino people and OFWs and their families abroad are closely watching; the 42 votes from pro-Arroyo Congressmen that "killed" the impeachment case against Mrs. Arroyo allegedly in exchange of an amount did not clear anything the tainted name and negative perception by the people towards the anti-people, fascist, and pro-imperialist Arroyo regime.

Migrante-ME said the millions of OFWs abroad along with their families from their respective provinces and congressional districts will put an X on the name of their respective Congressman.

"Those 42 Congressmen and other members of the Congress who will succumb to the ill-wishes of the Arroyo regime do not anymore deserve another term of office in Congress. Migrante, OFWs and their families vow to vote-out them on the 2010 elections so that they will become X-Congressmen of their districts, while those Congressmen who will righteously stand for the impeachment to proceed will certainly get the explicit support from its constituents," the migrant leader continued.

"Migrante, OFWs and their families will campaign hard to frustrate the Arroyo regime self-engineered Cha-cha with vicious intent of extending her term beyond 2010 and take out 'protectionist' provisions of the Philippine Constitution to completely sell out our natural resources to the exploit of foreign monopoly-capitalist firms," Monterona added.

Migrante-ME ended saying "a fake, corrupt, fascist, and oppressive Arroyo regime has no business to remain in office and even beyond its term; the people must unite and with prudence exercise once again "People Power" as an effective collective efforts by the people." # # #

For reference:
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Migrante denounce continued political persecution of activists

Dear Friends, Fellow OFWs and families, and Migrant rights Advocates:

We are urging you to sign in this petition as we denounce the continued and intensifying political persecution of Filipino activists. Kindly visit herein link to include your signature and/or your organization:

Your support by signing-in on this petition is of great worth in our efforts to free all illegally detained activists and labor rights activists.

Sincerely yours,
Migrante-Middle East

Migrante, OFWs and their families denounce continued political persecution of activists

We oppose and will act against the tyrannical hand of Arroyo regime victimizing activists, and warn the inclusion of migrant rights leaders and advocates to be victims of its tyrannical rule.

Overseas Filipino workers and their families cannot and could not remain silent in the midst of the continued repression and political persecution of peace-loving activists who have done nothing wrong but who have unselfishly offered their lives and time for the establishment of a just, democratic, and peaceful Philippines.

The series of reported cases of arbitrary arrest due to trumped up cases filed against activists from Southern Tagalog have reached to the information and concern of our overseas Filipino workers around the world.

We, OFWs along with our families, are duty-bound to raise our concerns and worries on the implications of the worsening political repression and persecution of freedom-loving Filipinos. The Filipino communities around the world are duty-bound to denounce, oppose and expose the continued political persecution and forced disappearances of those working for a just and democratic Philippines.

Officers and members of Migrante chapters in the Middle East along with their families appeal to all fellow OFWs to denounce the Arroyo regime and its military and police elements that have unlawfully arrested and detained Ka Randy Ecahnis, Atty. Remegio Saladero, as well as the arbitrary arrest of 72 activists as a clear act crippling even the most basic human rights against warrant-less arrest as guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution's Bill or Rights.

Recently, 27 leader-activist including Atty. Remegio Saladero, a friend and a staunch defender of union workers and OFWs in distress; Bayani Cambonero, the founding member of Migrante-Southern Tagalog; and, Frances Tolentino, Southern Tagalog Coordinator for the Migrante Sectoral Party in 2004, were implicated in trumped up charges of arson, destruction of property and conspiracy to commit rebellion in connection with the alleged bombing and burning of a Globe cellsite in Lemery, Batangas last August 2, 2008.

The Arroyo regime has been widely and internationally criticized due to its worsening records of rights abuses, political killings of activists and journalists and numerous cases of disappearances.

Now as the people's discontent are growing and the mass movement taking a leap and ready to oust her, the Arroyo regime desperate enough to clinging in power resorted to a new type of political persecution by filling trump up cases against activists; and its military and police forces have gone berserk by arresting arbitrarily perceived political dissenters and those critical to its administration.

We also protests the connivance of Globe Telecommunications company with the Arroyo regime's police elements that provided distorted facts on its complaints pointing to detained activists the crime they did not commit or even do not know.

Migrante chapters in the entire Middle East are now contemplating and make ready to call our fellow 8 million OFWs all around the world and their families in the homeland to boycott the services and products of Globe, if it will not withdraw the trumped up charges it filed against innocent victims.

OFWs can't allow that the billions of their remittances as a source of government's fund would be used by the Arroyo regime against its own people.

To manifest our condemnation and as an act of defiance against the Arroyo regime and its cohorts in persecuting innocent activists, we invite the millions of OFWs around the world along with their families in the homeland to sign in this petition.

Free Ka Randy Echanis, Atty. Saladero and the other victims of political repression!

Denounce the continued political persecution of activists under the tyrannical US-Arroyo regime!

Stop political killings and forced disappearances of activists!

Friday, November 21, 2008

21 November 2008

For reference:
Garry Martinez, Chairperson,
Migrante International
Tel. No.: (0921-7229740)


"We are innocent. We have nothing to apologize for. We are ready to die fighting for the truth rather than to admit to crimes we did not commit." These were the messages by the Gonzales brothers to their sister Norie Gonzales in their last phone conversation two days ago.

OFWs Edison and Rolando Gonzales and Eduardo Arcilla were convicted for the crime of murder and sentenced to death by beheading by the Lower Court in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The sentence was upheld by the Appellate Court in September 15, 2008.

Crescente R. Relacion, Executive Director of the Office of the Undersecretary on Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) of the DFA allegedly told the families of the three OFWs in death row to ask for apologies to the families of those who were murdered in Saudi Arabia. According to Norie they were also told that a blood money should be paid to the victims' families in order to complete the requirement for a clemency.

"This is outrageous! First and foremost, the three OFWs were tortured during interrogation. Why is the Arroyo administration trying to persuade them to admit to the crimes they have not committed?" exclaimed Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

The group claims that Relacion's action is a follow-up move after President Gloria Arroyo talked personally to Saudi Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud during the United Nations General Assembly in New York last November 13.

"The Arroyo administration is bungling this case from the very start. DFA officials were aware of the fact that the accused OFWs were tortured and they were even informed that Rolando Gonzales and Eduardo Arcilla was hospitalized in the process of interrogation, " Martinez said.

Migrante also expressed their concern that the three OFWs will suffer the same fate like Jenifer Beduya who was beheaded last October 4 allegedly due to the criminal neglect of the government. Consul General Tago admitted during an interview that Beduya was only given an interpreter instead of a lawyer during preliminary court hearings.

'Bring them home before Christmas'

In a press conference held in front of the gates of the Department of Foreign Affairs building, Migrante together with families of OFWs in death row also launched their campaign called "Bring Them Home Before Christmas."

"The yuletide season is nearing and one of those who are praying hard to be with their love ones this Christmas are the families of distressed OFWs," Martinez explains.

The group claims that there are thousands of distressed OFWs who have ask to be repatriated back to the country yet were not being attended to by the government. Migrante cited that this clearly violates repatriation provisions of RA 8042 or the Magna Carta for Overseas Filipinos.

"The campaign will cover not only OFWs in death row but also those who are stranded abroad like OFWs in Kish Island in Iran among other places, Filipina domestic workers who are in welfare and deportation centers specifically in Jordan and Kuwait. And sadly, the campaign will also call for the repatriation of OFW remains such as Manuel Ocreto's, which have not been reunited with their loved ones even after months or even more than a year after their death," adds Martinez.

The group plans to drum beat their campaign up to the International Migrants Day on December 18. On that day, in 1990, the UN General Assembly adopted the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families of which the Philippines signed and ratified in July 2001. ###

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Revoke the license of Mafiosi-like GAMCA clinics

Press Release
13 November 2008

Revoke the license of Mafiosi-like GAMCA clinics
Arroyo govt., DOH must seriously implement issued order putting an end to "referral decking system"

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers' organizations in the Middle East is calling the Arroyo administration thru the Department of Health (DoH) to seriously implement its administrative order putting an end to the so called "referral decking system" practiced by the member clinics of the Gulf Cooperation Council-(GCC) Accredited Medical Clinics Association (Gamca).

"DOH Administrative Order No. 167 was issued on August 2004 to put an end to the referral decking system which until now is being unlawfully practice by GAMCA-member clinics. The DOH should seriously implement, in full force, its order and punish those clinics that are defiant," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

Migrante-ME said in practice, GAMCA operates like a mafia; it ensures that all its member-clinics would be given enough allocation and share on exorbitant OFWs medical fees.

"The recruitment agency will refer the aspiring OFW to GAMCA, which in turn GAMCA will designate a member-clinic for the medical check-up and formalities of an aspiring OFWs only after paying hundreds of peso for the ''referral" made by GAMCA. This is a clear case of extortion," Monterona added.

Monterona added since 2001 when the referral decking system was implemented, GAMCA-member clinics have 'legalized' extortion till the present defying DOH order to halt its operation.

"Like a mafia, GAMCA-member clinics are usually conniving with each other by intentionally failing the medical test of would-be OFW and refer the OFW to other GAMCA-member clinic for another round of medical test," Monterona added.

Monterona further said even those who are healthy would be surprised to read if their medical test results would indicate that he or she has a spot on their lungs, or he or she should need to clean his teeth, or he needs to undergo an electro-cardio graph (ECG) test.

"All these entail additional fees and these are clear case of 'legalized' extortions perpetrated by GAMCA-member clinics," Monterona continued.

"What is worst is that if one challenges the medical test results or findings, GAMCA-member clinics will not give you for instance the negative film of your x-ray or other test results, this is what exactly I personally experienced to a GAMCA-member clinic," Monterona continued.

Monterona ended saying though the DOH under the executive branch is acting too late on this unlawful referral decking system practiced by GAMCA clinics; its seriousness to implement it's own administrative order will be tested if it commence revoking the license and accreditation of these GAMCA-clinics, not just mere issuance of warnings, against those that are still practicing the deceitful referral decking system. # # #

For reference:
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012