Sunday, November 22, 2009

Desisyon ng COMELEC, kinondena ng Migrante Al Khobar

Mariin naming kinokondena ang pinal na desisyon ng COMELEC na nagbasura sa paglahok ng Migrante Sectoral Partylist sa halalang 2010. Ito ay tuwirang pagkitil sa sagradong karapatang marinig sa konggreso ang mga lehitimong hinaing ng sektor OFW.

Ang hindi makatarungan hakbang na ito ng COMELEC sa pangunguna ni Chairman Jose Melo ay nagpapatunay lamang na ang komisyong nabanggit ay pugad ng mga asong-ulol na minamaniobra ni GMA. Tuluyan nang sinelyuhan ang haka‐haka at pagdududa ng bayan na ang COMELEC ay isang malawak at organisdadong makinarya ng pandaraya at pagmamanipula kung saan sunud‐sunuran lamang ito sa dikta at kapritso Malakanyang!

Ang iskemang ito ay ganti ng mga buwitre at magnanakaw sa pamahalaan sapagkat ang Migrante International ay patuloy na naninidigan laban sa pagsasamantala, kurapsiyon, pandaraya, inhustisya, paglabag sa karapatang‐pantao at sa pangunguna nito sa pagbatikos sa pamahalaang nagpapabaya sa interes ng sektor na aming kinabibilangan.

Si Chairman Jose Melo, sampu ng kanyang mga kasapakat ay walang puwang para pamunuan ang institusyong dapat sana’y kanlungan ng Demokrasya at Kalayaan. Ang COMELEC na matagal ng sadlak sa katiwalian at kontrobersiya ay lalo pang naluom sa hindi mawaring kahihiyan sapagkat nagmistula itong berdugo ng putulin nila ang natitirang hibla na magbibigay daan para magkaroon ng lehitimong reperesentasyon ang mga Migranteng Pilipino sa kongreso.

Nararapat lamang na magbitiw at patalsikin sa puwesto si Chairman Jose Melo at mga kasabwat nito sapagkat sila ay imahe ng napipintong malawakang pandaraya at pagmanipula sa resulta ng halalan 2010.

(SGD.) John Torres
Spokesperson
Migrante Sectoral Partylist
Eastern Region, KSA
Email: john_torresrt@yahoo.com.ph

Comelec as a tool for political repression

22 November 2009
STATEMENT

With growing number of disqualified progressive party-lists:
Migrante denounces Comelec as a tool for political repression,
asks Supreme Court to act quickly


Migrante denounces Comelec as a tool for political repressionMigrante Party-list today declared that it would join ACT and Courage Party-lists in fighting against the Commission on Elections’ apparent move to block the participation of progressive party-lists in the 2010 elections, saying that the poll body had exposed itself as a tool for political repression and electoral fraud.

“First, it denied representation to millions of Overseas Filipino Workers. Now it has denied representation as well to hundreds of thousands of teachers and government employees. Comelec chairman Jose Melo and the other commissioners must be dismissed and held accountable for their bastardization of the Party-list System.

“The Filipino people cannot trust the Comelec to hold clean and honest elections, when it has already shown an obvious bias against party-list groups known to be critical of the administration,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante Party-list chairperson.

According to Regalado, the poll body has resorted to twisting the law and outright lying in order to justify the de-listing of Migrante and disqualification of ACT and Courage.

“For instance, it carried out a verification of Courage chapters but came out with an incorrect report that failed to recognize existing chapters and attributed to them non-existing ones. In Migrante’s case, it equated non-participation in the elections to failure to obtain 2% of total party-list votes.

On the other hand, did the Comelec ever prove the constituency of administration-backed party-list groups such as Jovito Palparan’s Bantay and Lourdes Arroyo’s Ang Kasangga? Until now, it is not even clear what marginalized sector they represent,” she said.

The migrant leader is confident that “the Comelec’s flawed decisions will not fool the Supreme Court,” but expressed concern over the nearing December 1 deadline for filing of manifestations of intent to run.

Migrante files TRO vs. de-listing“It is imperative that the court act quickly on the matter. Will it allow the fate of marginalized OFWs, teachers, and government employees to rest on a handful of politically motivated commissioners? Will it allow the Party-list System to be fully bastardized?” she added.

Migrante last November 20 asked the Supreme Court for a Temporary Restraining Order on their de-listing, while ACT and Courage are set to file their petitions to the high court next week.###

Reference:
Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson, 09279268984
Ailyn Abdula, Media Liaison Officer, 09212708994

Friday, November 20, 2009

Migrante calls for Melo’s dismissal

20 November 2009
STATEMENT

For ‘killing’ OFWs’ dream of having a say in government:
Migrante calls for Melo’s dismissal and seeks a TRO from the Supreme Court


Migrante: Impeach Melo
See you in court.

This was the message of Migrante Sectoral Party today as it stormed anew the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) office in Intramuros, Manila to highlight overseas Filipinos and families’ rage after the poll body affirmed its earlier decision disqualifying Migrante from the 2010
party-list race.

On the first day of the filing of certificates of candidacy and of party-lists’ manifestations of intent to participate in the 2010 elections, Migrante members carried a mock coffin that symbolizes the poll body’s ‘killing’ of the Filipino migrants and their families’ dream of congressional representation through the party-list system.

“It’s official. The Arroyo regime, through the COMELEC, has fastened the last nail in the coffin of Overseas Filipino Workers and their families’ dream of finally having genuine representation in government,” said Migrante Sectoral Party Chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado.

“We are demanding to have Chairman Jose Melo and the rest of the Commissioners dismissed for disenfranchising millions of OFWs,” she added.

The group also declared that they are set to confront the COMELEC ruling head on, and later trooped to the Supreme Court to seek a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the COMELEC ruling.

“OFWs and their families deserve to have a say in government and are determined to fulfill this long sought dream. We are prepared to make sure that our call for genuine representation will reverberate not only in the Philippines but throughout the world,” Regalado said, as she revealed that protest actions are already underway in various Migrante chapters worldwide.

She warned that OFWs are even contemplating withholding their hard-earned remittances for a day in protest of Migrante’s delisting.

In its petition to the Supreme Court, Migrante said that COMELEC’s decision upholding Migrante’s de-listing is illegal and violates the Party-list System Act.

The COMELEC, in its November 17 decision, said that due process was accorded Migrante and 25 other de-listed party-lists by allowing them to file verified oppositions. It also cited a 2007 Supreme Court minute resolution of Minero vs. COMELEC, wherein failure to participate in the elections was equated with failure to get 2% of total party-list votes.

But according to Julius Matibag, Migrante’s legal counsel, “The Party-list System Act is clear and categorical that that the registration of a party-list may be removed or cancelled only after due process and hearing, and not before. Before COMELEC gave Migrante the opportunity to be heard, COMELEC has already cancelled its registration.”

Matibag also said that the Minero vs. COMELEC is “incorrect.” “Migrante will ask the Supreme Court for a proper interpretation of the Party-list System Act, and stand by our position that failure to participate in the elections is not equivalent to failure to get 2% of total party-list votes. How can you lose an election if you did not join it in the first place?”

Migrante’s legal counsel is positive that the Supreme Court will act favorably on Migrante’s petition. “The high court has proven, through its abandonment of the first-party rule earlier this year, that any doubt on the interpretation of the Party-List System Act must be resolved in favor of recognizing the spirit and wisdom of the said law, which is to give representation the marginalized, such as OFWs,” Matibag said.

He assailed that it took 22 days for the COMELEC to resolve Migrante’s verified opposition, and that it was delivered to the group only on November 19. “Such a delay has greatly limited the period available to the Supreme Court to resolve Migrante’s application for a TRO before the December 1 deadline of the filing of the manifestation of the intent to participate in the elections,” said Matibag.

Meanwhile, Regalado pointed out that the poll body allowed five party-list groups (Visayas Farmers Party, Sagip Kapwa Foundation Inc., Visayan Association of the Philippines, Pinoy Overseas Party and Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency) to participate in the 2004 elections, even if they failed to obtain 2% of the total party-list votes in 1998 and did not participate in the 2001 elections.

Migrante Sectoral Party failed to obtain 2% of the total party-list votes in 1998 and did not participate in the 2007 elections. ###


Reference:
Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson, 09279268984

Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994

Friday, November 13, 2009

Migrante to Comelec:

Respect due process, respect migrant’s representation, release decision now!

12 November 2009
PRESS RELEASE

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families today held a protest action in front of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Intramuros, Manila, to demand that the electoral body immediately release its decision on Migrante Party-list’s petition to remove its name from party-lists disqualified to run in the 2010 elections.

“The Comelec must not keep more than 10 million OFWs waiting. It has now said that it will print and release 100,000 ballots for its voter’s education campaign. We deserve to know: is our name in these ballots?” demanded Connie Bragas-Regalado, chairperson of Migrante Party-list.

Denied of due process before the Comelec En Banc released its resolution to de-list Migrante last October 13, the party-list group said that the electoral body should hold a hearing in order to prove that the de-listing was not “politically motivated.”

“Everyday, Comelec’s silence on the issue angers OFWs all over the world, who has kept sending e-mails and text messages to assert their right to representation. They deserve a chance to be heard, as well as an explanation as to why they have been denied due process for so long,” said Bragas-Regalado.

The protesters hung a giant “Respect Due Process! Respect Migrant Representation!” streamer at Comelec’s gate, to pressure the commissioners to act on its verified opposition, submitted last October 26.

They also insisted that the commissioners, who are meeting in En Banc, face them and directly answer their long-standing questions, “what are their solid grounds for de-listing and why are they not following due process?”

Yesterday, Migrante Party-list held its national convention where its chapters from Metro Manila and several regions resolved to continue the fight for representation and for the rights and welfare of migrant workers and their families.

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero also expressed solidarity with the group. “Hindi tamang itinutulak papalayo ang sinumang grupo. Dapat hilahing papasok sa larangan ng pakikibaka patungkol sa ating demokrasya sa pamamagitan ng balota,” (No group should be pushed away, but should be encouraged to engage in the struggle for democracy through the ballot) he said in a video message.

Elected as Migrante Party-list’s first three nominees were Bragas-Regalado, Emmanuel Villanueva (secretary general, United Filipinos in Hong Kong), and John Leonard Monterona (coordinator, Migrante International-Middle East), all current or former OFWs.

“Our gathering is a political message: We are worth more than the dollars we send home. We are worth being listened to,” said Bragas-Regalado. ###

Monday, November 9, 2009

Let Migrante Run

09 November 2009
PRESS RELEASE:

“Let Migrante Run,” running women migrants say
1-week action against denial of OFW party-list representation kicks off with protest jog

Around 150 women from an Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) community in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City today held a protest jog against the Arroyo government’s continuing refusal to give migrants a chance for representation under the party-list system.
Patakbuhin ang Migrante sa 2010
Carrying streamers that read, “Let Migrante Run,” former female OFWs and wives and mothers of OFWs held an early morning protest jog to symbolize their protest against the Commission on Elections’ de-listing of Migrante Party-list from the 2010 elections.

From the Brgy. 150 covered court, the women ran two kilometers and broke through a finish line designed with paper masks of Comelec commissioners and President Arroyo.

“This run symbolizes how OFWs will not be stopped by a malicious move by the government to further marginalize us. We who have toiled abroad and whose husbands and children work like slaves under foreign employers have fought long and hard for our rights and welfare. We refuse to simply stand by and allow this attack on our organized effort to gain a much needed and much deserved voice in Congress,” said Gina Gaborni, deputy secretary general of Migrante International.

Migrante Party-list has a pending opposition to the Comelec’s En Banc Resolution last October 13, 2009 disqualifying Migrante and 25 other party-list organizations, saying that it was in violation of the Party-list System Act and “politically motivated” in order to silence party-lists critical of the administration.

Last week, it launched an electronic barrage through text and e-mail in order to pressure Comelec commissioners to remove Migrante’s de-listing. It was participated by OFW communities worldwide.

The protest jog in Caloocan City is the first in a series of migrants’ protest actions scheduled this week, which will culminate in a rally in front of the Comelec on November 12.

“We are just warming up in our protest. We vow to see this struggle to the finish line, which is the day when we are finally given the chance to be truly represented and heard, not just shamelessly used by the government for the remittances that we and our families send home,” said Gaborni.###

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Patakbuhin ang Migrante,” sigaw ng tumatakbong kababaihang migrante
Protest jog, simula ng 1-linggong aksiyon laban sa pagtanggal ng representasyon ng OFW sa party-list

Mahigit-kumulang 150 kababaihan mula sa isang komunidad ng mga Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) sa Caloocan City ang nagsagawa ng protest job laban sa umano’y patuloy na pagtanggi ng gobyernong Arroyo na bigyan ng tsansa ang OFWs na magkaroon ng representasyon sa ilalim ng sistemang party-list.

Bitbit ang mga streamer na nakalagay ang “Patakbuhin ang Migrante,” nag-jogging noong madaling araw ang kababaihang dating mga OFW o di kaya’y asawa’t magulang ng mga OFW. Nilalabanan nila ang de-listing ng Commission on Elections sa Migrante Party-list mula sa 2010 halalan.

Mula sa covered court ng Brgy. 150, tumakbo ng dalawang kilometro ang kababaihan at giniba ang isang finish line na may mga maskarang papel ng mga komisyuner ng Comelec at ni Pangulong Arroyo.

“Ipinapakita ng aming pagtakbo na hindi kami magpapapigil sa malisyosong hakbang ng gobyerno na patuloy kaming imarginalisa. Matagal na naming ipinaglalaban ang aming mga karapatan, kami na nagtrabaho sa abroad at na ang mga asawa at anak ay nagpapakahirap pa rin doon. Hindi namin hahayaan ang atakeng ito sa aming organisadong tangka na sa wakas ay marinig ang boses sa Kongreso,” sabi ni Gina Gaborni, deputy secretary general ng Migrante International.

Tinututulan ng Migrante Party-list ang En Banc Resolution ng Comelec noong Oktubre 13, 2009 sa dinidiskwalipika ang Migrante at 25 pang party-lists. Umano’y labag ang nasabing resolusyon sa Party-list System Act at isang hakbang para patahimikin ang mga organisasyong kritikal sa administrasyon.

Noong nakaraang linggo, naglunsad ang mga OFW mula sa iba’t ibang bansa ng electronic barrage sa pamamagitan ng text at e-mail para udyukan ang Comelec na alisin ang de-listing ng Migrante.

Ang protest jog sa Caloocan City ang una sa serye ng mga kilos-protesta ngayong linggo, na lulundo sa isang rali sa harap ng Comelec sa Nobyembre 12.

“Nagsisimula pa lamang uminit ang aming protesta. Tatapusin namin ang labang ito hanggang sa huli, o ang araw na sa wakas ay mabibigyan kami ng tsansa na mapakinggan at magkaroon ng tunay na kinatawan, at hindi na lamang ginagamit ng gobyerno para sa remittances na pinapadala ng aming mga pamilya,” sabi ni Gaborni.###


Reference:
Gina Gaborni,
Deputy Secretary General, 09074698126

Ailyn Abdula,
Media Officer, 09212708994

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Migrante supports Comelec Reso

7 November 2009
PRESS RELEASE:

Migrante supports Comelec resolution to bare party-list nominees;
dares electoral body to bare process of de-listing.

Migrante Sectoral Party today expressed support for the Commission on Elections Resolution 8691 requiring party-lists running in the 2010 elections to bare their nominees in order to ensure that they represent marginalized sectors.

“It is just correct that partylists bare their nominees so that party-list organizations backed by the administration, which ran in the last elections, be exposed to the public as fraud and bereft of marginalized constituencies,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, chairperson of Migrante Sectoral Party.

Bragas-Regalado was referring to the party-lists Kasangga ang Bantay, whose representatives are Lourdes Arroyo, President Arroyo’s sister-in-law, and notorious human rights violator Gen. Jovito Palparan, respectively.

At the same time, the group challenged Comelec to bare as well the process that the electoral body undertook to come up with an earlier resolution to de-list Migrante, along with 25 other party-lists.

“Since we are on the issue of transparency, the Comelec should also reveal the proceedings of the En Banc meeting where it decided to de-list Migrante and other party-lists. We demand this because no hearing was held before they issued the questionable resolution, in violation of the Party-list System Act,” Bragas-Regalado further said.

Migrante Party-list is protesting what it calls the Comelec’s “intentional misreading” of the Party-list System Act in order to prevent party-lists critical of the administration from joining the electoral race.

“If the Comelec wants to ensure that the party-list system is used for the truly marginalized, it should review the basis of Migrante’s de-listing. It is unfathomable for it to deny millions of Overseas Filipino Workers a chance for representation while giving the same chance to fraudulent party-list groups,” said Bragas-Regalado.

OFWs from Migrante Sectoral Party’s 23 chapters abroad, as well as their families here, yesterday launched an international e-mail and text barrage to urge Comelec commissioners to “Let Migrante Run” in the 2010 elections. As the start of the period for filing manifestations for intent to run approaches, the group vowed to intensify the campaign for OFW representation and against Migrante’s de-listing. ###

Reference:
Connie Bragas-Regalado,
Chairperson, 09272157392

Ailyn Abdula,
Media Officer, 09212708994

Saturday, October 24, 2009

IAMR in Greece

Migrante KSA supports this international convention and would possibly send delegates.

International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees set to convene in Athens, Greece

PRESS RELEASE No. 1
2nd IAMR, Athens, Greece
22 October 2009

Migrants and refugees from grassroot organizations from across the world are set to convene in Athens, Greece from Nov. 1-4, at the prestigious Athens University of Economics and Business for the Second International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR).

An assembly where migrants and refugees speak for themselves, the IAMR is supported by a broad spectrum of migrants rights advocates, progressive workers' groups and social movements. The Second IAMR will be held in Athens, Greece - in conjunction with the government-led Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) meeting.

Teresa Gutierez, an officer of the International Migrants' Alliance, one of the major convenors of the Second IAMR, emphasized that as a state-led initiative, the GFMD purports to facilitate dialogue among sending and receiving countries, but in reality, the rich countries dictate the agenda and main thrusts in the GFMD.

“They impose their own self-serving concept of development and define the modalities in “managing” the flow of cross-border migration,” Gutierrez, who comes from Latin America, said.

The First IAMR held in Manila, Philippines last October 2008, embodied the autonomous voice of the migrants and refugees and challenged the GFMD process and its agenda of promoting migration for development through remittances. The 3rd GFMD will be held in Athens, Greece on November 4-5, 2009.

As in the first IAMR in Manila, the Second IAMR slated in Athens, will present the true picture of modern slavery in labor migration and debunk the notion of development by exporting human labor.

Gutierrez also said two things make the GFMD in Athens particularly significant. One, it will take place in the midst of the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression. And second, it will also take place in Europe where migrant workers particularly the millions of undocumented face an uncertain future in an increasingly unfriendly environment with the imminent implementation in 2010 of the EU Return Directive.

“We are coming to Greece representing the voices of millions of migrants and refugees the world over, and we will firmly argue for our rights and interests with the reason and wisdom inspired by the great Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle,” Gutierrez concluded.

The Second IAMR in Athens, Greece will be a four-day gathering that will include plenary discussions, workshops and fora, street mobilizations, bazaar, cultural solidarity, networking and most especially sharing of experiences and action plans among migrants, refugees and advocates.
It will conduct nine workshops on the following topics: impact of the global economic and financial crisis on migrants, situation of women migrant workers, labor rights and social movements, state repression of political asylum seekers and the war on terror, the undocumented and fortress Europe, racism, discrimination, political empowerment of second generation migrants, engaging the UN, and education/campaigns for migrants, refugees and advocates.

The Second IAMR is being convened by - the International Migrants' Alliance (IMA), Migrante International, Migrante Europe, ATIK (Confederation of Workers from Turkey in Europe), Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), IBON International, Union of Working People (Greece) and Class March (Greece), in cooperation with progressive Greek groups.

Reference:

Alex Gregorio
Media Officer
IAMR2 Secretariat
Email: mig_europe@yahoo.com,

MSP Rally

TO ALL COORDINATORS AND MEMBERS, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS:

In light with the COMELEC’s de-listing of MIGRANTE PARTYLIST, we will file a VERIFIED OPPOSITION/MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION on OCTOBER 26, 2009.

Simultaneously, we will conduct a MASS MOBILIZATION to protest imminent election fraud and cheating in the coming 2010 party-list election.

SCHEDULE:
26 October 2009, Monday
9 am ~ assembly in front of the NATIONAL PRESS CLUB (NPC)
10 am ~ march to COMELEC
10:30am ~ PROGRAM

Everyone is invited to join us on this event. Please mobilize members of your organization, your families, friends and/or advocates.

EXPOSE AND OPPOSE ALL FORMS OF ELECTORAL FRAUD AND CHEATING!
DELIST MALACANANG-BACKED PSEUDO-PARTY-LISTS!
FIGHT FOR GENUINE SECTORAL REPRESENTATION!


THANK YOU!

Migrante Sectoral Partylist (MSP)
#10 Banuyo St. Brgy. Amihan, Proj.3,
Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax: 911-49-10
Cellphone Hotline: 0921.270.90.79
Email: migrantepartylist@ymail.com, migrantepartylist@gmail.com

Connie Bragas-Regalado
MSP Chairperson
0927.215.73.92

Monday, October 19, 2009

Delisting MSP, a mockery

News Release
20 October 2009

Delisting Migrante Sectoral Party, a mockery of the intent of Party List Law -Migrante
Black Friday launched

"Removing Migrante Sectoral Party (MSP) in the list of accredited groups in the 2010 Partylist elections is a mockery of the intent behind the Party List Law," thus declared Migrante Saudi Arabia Chairperson A. M. Ociones as the group calls October 23 a Black Friday in protest of the recent decision of the Commission of Elections (COMELEC) En-banc Resolution No. 8679 delisting MSP along with 25 other groups.

"By removing MSP from the list of groups accredited to participate in the Partylist elections, COMELEC marginalized the migrants even more," asserts Ociones. "Definitely, this is contrary to the real intent of the Partylist Law of encouraging the participation of the un-represented and marginalized sectors of society in the democratic process of nation-building."

The decision dated 13 October 2009, removed MSP "for failing to get the required two percentum (2%) of the total votes cast in the two preceding elections" (2004 and 2007), based on the provisions of Sec 6, no. 8 of RA 7941, otherwise known as the Partylist Law, as affirmed by COMELEC Resolution No. 2847 dated 25 June 1996.

Since MSP ran and lost in the 2004 elections but did not participate as a candidate in the 2007 elections, Ociones asks "whether the said rules apply to Migrante Partylist at all."

And by issuing the Resolution without any consultation with the concerned parties, Ociones asks further whether "COMELEC based its decision on a technicality to cover its agenda of degrading the confidence of OFW's in the country's political system and pushing the migrants sector to the outer fringes of democratic participation."

"The OFW as a sector has been the largest demographic group without any representation in the political arena for the longest time," Ociones explains. "With its remittances bouying the economy afloat, OFWs however have been mostly cynical of the current political and economic system."

According to Ociones, MSP represents the broadest ever possible network of OFW organizations with chapters in at least 35 countries around the world and in the 13 regions of the country. In Saudi Arabia, MSP chapters have been active in organizing and advocating issues from the homefront and of OFW concerns in Riyadh, Jeddah, Al Khobar, Dawadmi, Al Jouf, Jubail, Dammam, Hail and Khamis Mushayt.

"With the proven track record of Migrante in fiscalizing the government to act in favor, and respond to the most pressing needs of OFWs, getting MSP in the next Congress as Party-list representative is the greatest hope the Filipino migrants can ever achieve," Ociones closed.

Black Friday Protest

"Delisting MSP means delisting OFWs in the political arena," Migrante Jeddah Chairperson Bob Fajarito exclaims. "Thus, every OFW is encouraged to express their disappointment with the COMELEC decision by wearing black this Friday."

In holding the Black Friday protest, Migrante Saudi Arabia chapters would hold various assemblies in discreet locations, send protest letters and launch a petition asking the COMELEC to reconsider its decision.

According to Fajarito, they are also encouraging like-minded OFWs to send protest letters to COMELEC via email. The petition and instructions on how to send the protest letters would be available at this blog: http://migrante-ksa.blogspot.com or at their Facebook account soon.

In a related development, Migrante chapter Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS) started holding indoor assemblies in different discreet locations in Riyadh as early as Monday (19 October) to express their disappointment over the delisting. ###

Reference/s:

Bob Fajarito
Chairperson, Migrante Jeddah
Tel No. +966 50-274-5340

A. M. Ociones
Chairperson, Migrante KSA
(Migrante International - Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Chapter)
Tel. No.: +966-56-679-3202
Email: migrante_ksa@yahoo.com
URL: http://migrante-ksa.blogspot.com

Prosecute Illegal Recruitment Agencies!

19 October 2009
PRESS RELEASE

“PROSECUTE RECRUITMENT AGENCIES ENGAGED IN ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT!”


This was the challenge issued by Migrante International, together with repatriated workers from the Annasban company in Riyadh and the construction workers from a Filipino-owned Ashley Alexis Company in Maldives who trooped to the POEA to file mass complaints against their respective recruitment agencies.

The repatriated workers have experienced gross violations in their employment contracts, poor working condition and non-payment of their wages. They are seeking to file administrative complaints against their agencies as part of the measures they intend to take in their pursuit of justice. They are also fighting to bring their co-workers still stranded abroad home to the Philippines.

“Through these complaints, we are putting the POEA on notice that we shall be closely monitoring how they will respond to these cases,” Garry Martinez, chairperson of the largest organization of Filipino migrants, declared. “Time and again, we have seen how POEA decisions have favored recruitment agencies more than OFWs.”

Martinez cited the Annasban company as one of the companies which seem to be favored by the POEA. The company has gained some notoriety among OFWs here and in Riyadh because it has been the subject of many complaints of gross violations of contracts in the past and yet has not been given any sanctions at all by the POEA.

“What is going on in the POEA? Why can recruitment agencies such as these continue to ply their evil deeds, right under the noses of POEA officials? Why are there so many illegal recruitment cases victimizing thousands of OFWs?” queried Martinez.

“We have had enough! This time, we will be setting up a POEA Watch. We shall make a count of how many recruitment agencies with various cases of illegal recruitment the POEA has allowed to go unpunished! The public will definitely hear about this,” Martinez continued.

The organization is now consulting lawyers’ groups about the filing of a case against the inaction of POEA officials on illegal recruitment cases.###

Reference:
Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09393914418
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Migrante Canada on Delisting of Migrante PL

COMELEC’s decision delisting the Migrante Sectoral Party:
Suppression of rights of a party that seeks to represent in the House of Representatives the millions of Filipino migrants around the world

MIGRANTE CANADA
Press Release
October 16, 2009
Toronto, Canada


Migrante Canada denounces in the strongest possible terms the decision of the Commission on Elections [COMELEC] to delist the Migrante Sectoral Party (MSP) from the list of registered organizations vying in next year’s party-list election.

“This COMELEC decision is unjust and anomalous,” says Marco Luciano, Migrante International Global Council representative for Canada. “Not only is it a violation of due process leading to the disenfranchisement of a group that has truly served the interests of Filipino migrant workers and their families the world over. It opens the door for the Malacanang-backed party-list groups to dominate the coming party-list election, thus serving the ruling administration’s objective of prolonging its rule.”

What ever happened to due process?

In its Resolution No. 8679 issued October 13, 2009, the COMELEC en banc ordered to delete Migrante and 25 other groups “from the list of registered national, regional or sectoral parties, organizations or coalitions” citing Section 6, item No. 8 of the Republic Act 7941 otherwise known as the Party-List System Act.

This particular section of the Party-List System Act allows the COMELEC to motu propio - "on its own impulse" - remove a sectoral group or party BUT ONLY “after due notice and hearing” if “it fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections OR fails to obtain at least two percentum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections.”

However, the MSP was never guilty of such failures in two preceding elections - in 2004 and 2007.

The MSP participated in the 2004 partylist election, but, unfortunately, failed to garner the required 2% of the votes cast. Then the MSP did not participate in the 2007 election after formally informing the COMELEC months before the election. The failure to gain the two percentum of votes happened only once - in 2004 - not twice, not in two preceding elections; and the "failure" to participate in the election happened only once - in 2007 - not twice, not in two preceding elections. It is therefore erroneous, if not malicious, for the COMELEC to delist the MSP and other sectoral groups on the basis of Section 6, Item 8 of RA 7941.

“Moreover, the COMELEC’s en banc decision is tantamount to suppressing the rights of a party that seeks nothing but to represent in the House of Representatives the millions of Filipino migrants all over the world,” Luciano adds. The MSP announced in September its intention to run again in the party-list election, cognizant of “existing policies and laws that are detrimental to the interest of migrant Filipinos and in order for Overseas Filipino Workers [OFWs] to be represented by their own partylist.”

“Why disenfranchise the MSP which has been in the forefront of helping many distressed OFWs and their families since its formation in 1996?” says Luciano, noting the courageous work of Migrante and its allied organizations in many parts of the world.

If the COMELEC wants to unload itself of election work next year, they should have made efforts to get rid of many sham party-list groups, like Bantay and Kasangga, supportive of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime while masquerading as representatives of the marginalized sectors. Let the axe fall on these bogus groups, but not on the Migrante Sectoral Party which truly represents the interest of the Filipino migrants.

“We call on all Filipino migrants around the world to condemn the COMELEC’s unjust decision,” Jonathan Canchela, chair of the Filipino Migrant Workers’ Movement [FMWM], said in a separate statement.

“We encourage them to voice out their opinions against this oppressive decision delisting the MSP from the list of qualified sectoral groups hoping to participate in the electoral process next year. Let the dissenting voices of the Filipino migrants be heard,” says Canchela, who also announced that FMWM and other Migrante Canada member organizations are planning to launch consolidated protest actions in response to this decision of the COMELEC.«

Reference:
Jonathan Canchela – Tel: 647.833.1023

Saturday, October 17, 2009

GABRIELA-USA Demands Justice

Migrante Saudi Arabia supports this statement and condemns the continued aggression by US and allied forces against the people in Iraq and Afghanistan!

Data & Photos of US Military Forces Raping an Iraqi Girl Emerges;
GABRIELA-USA Demands Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2009

On October 3, 2009 graphic and disturbing photos of the brutal rape of a 14 year old Iraqi girl emerged via confidential source and caught media attention. The photos show US Soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division forcibly holding down and gang raping the Iraqi girl. The girl and her family, including a five year old child, were murdered.

This brutal event occurred back in March 2006, and one of the killers, Steven Green, was found guilty on May 7, 2009 and awaits sentencing. Women's rights advocates expose the link between the War on Terror and the increasing rates of violence committed against women and children abroad. Elaine Villasper, a GABRIELA USA Vice Chair, stated, "This is enraging. Wherever the U.S. military goes, the rates of prostitution and sexual violence escalates. It's time to stop the U.S. war machine."

The story and three photos, which had been withheld from the public, is a deep reminder that the United States has had a long history of brutality against women and children during times of war. The presence of US military forces has always corresponded with an increase in human rights violations. US military forces employ the vicious and sadistic tactics of raping, torturing, and murdering women and children as a weapon of war, meant to exert power and control over a country and to beat it’s people into submission.

Hundreds more photos were set to be released this year, under the support and urging of President Obama, but he later abruptly changed his position and moved to block the release of the photos instead. In May 2009 Obama stated that releasing the photos could "further inflame anti-American opinion" and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Obama recently won the Nobel Peace Prize but Joanne Alcantara of Pinay Sa Seattle argued that, “if Obama truly wanted to support peace amongst people, then he should pull out US troops as soon as possible from countries such Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Philippines. Obama should also seek justice for the raped victim and convict the rapists.”

GABRIELA advocates fought hard for the conviction and sentencing of U.S. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith who was found guilty of raping "Nicole," a young woman in the Philippines, in 2005. After struggling for three years and not being able to get justice from the Philippine Courts or the U.S. military, Nicole eventually withdrew her case. However, Terrie Cervas, of SiGAw in Los Angeles stated, "We will continue to tirelessly wage this struggle for third world women. We will continue to resist so that the illegal presence of US military troops in Iraq, the Philippines, and elsewhere ends.”

GABRIELA USA, including Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (New York), Babae (San Francisco), Sisters of GABRIELA, Awaken! (Los Angeles), and Pinay sa Seattle demand the immediate end to rape and sexual violence by the U.S. military in all its encounters. GABRIELA USA further demands the immediate withdrawal of U.S. Troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines, and the end of the U.S. War of Terror.

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair, GABRIELA USA
(415) 244-9734, http://us.mc577.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=gabrielawomen@gmail.com

MSP Delisting Attack on Progressives

Press Release
16 October 2009

COMELEC delisting of Migrante Partylist not only an attack to progressive OFWs organizations but also denying OFWs the right to have a genuine representation in Congress –Migrante-ME

“COMELEC delisting of the most active OFWs groups’ party-list –the Migrante Partylist supported by grass roots OFWs organizations and chapters of Migrante International with proven track records of defending and upholding OFWs rights and welfare, is not only an attack to progressive OFWs organizations but also to the 10-M OFWs and their families of their right to have a genuine representation in Congress,” thus said today by John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator and Migrante Partylist Vice Chairperson.

Monterona, a Saudi-based OFW working for more than 5 years as a construction site office staff, said COMELEC ruling delisting Migrante Partylist is a slap on the real intent of the Partylist System Act (R.A. 7941) of democratizing the law-making process in the legislative branch of the government to allow marginalized sector like OFWs to elect their representatives that would put forward their sectoral agenda and to better serve its interest in the law making process and push for the needed reforms.Monterona opined that the Party list System Act is another arena for OFWs and their families, pushing for genuine reforms allowing them to further advance and protect the rights and welfare of the sector which Migrante is serving.

“It is the continued neglect and failure of the past administrations and of the present Arroyo administration to protect the rights and well being of OFWs that pushes grass roots OFWs organizations under the largest alliance of Migrante International to participate again in the Party-list election to genuinely represents OFWs in Congress by legislating pro-OFWs and their families’ agenda,” Monterona added.

Meanwhile, Migrante-Middle East lambasted COMELEC law department head Atty. Ferdinand Rafanan when he was asked by a TV host during an early morning show today why Migrante Party list was delisted, but Atty. Rafanan failed give a clear answer to the question. (kindly follow link http://www.gmanews.tv/video/49385/comelec-delists-26-party-list-groups).

“It is sad to know that even the COMELEC Law Department head does not know why Migrante Party list was delisted which lead us to suspect that Migrante’s delisting is more of COMELEC’s partisan political act not allowing Migrante to participate in the May 2010 party-lists elections because it is very critical to the Arroyo administration rather than basing its ruling on the provision of R.A. 7941 and its implementing rules,” Monterona argued.

Monterona said it should be the Arroyo administration-backed party lists are the first to be disqualified such as Bantay (Jovito Palparan), ANAD (Jun Alcover), Kasangga (Ma. Lourdes Arroyo), among others as they did not even have clear marginal sector’s representation; unlike Migrante which has been all year round since 1986 handling the cases of Flor Contemplacion and the many others who have been abused and maltreated OFWs continuously defending and upholding OFWs and their families rights, welfare and well being amid government continued neglect and lip service to the sector that is keeping the economy afloat.

“Migrante chapters around the world and at the home front are preparing for a legal battle when it file its legal action against COMELEC ruling delisting Migrant Party list next week and it will be accompanied by coordinated rallies and various forms of protest actions until COMELEC will reverse its wrong decision delisting Migrante party list,” Monterona added.

“With its proven tract records genuinely serving OFWs and their families, Migrante will surely win the support of OFWs and their families back home joining us win this battle,” Monterona ended. # # #

Reference:
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Migrante Partylist, Vice Chairperson
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Comelec delisted 26 partylist without due process – Migrante

14 October 2009
PRESS RELEASE:

Comelec delisted 26 partylist without due process – Migrante

The global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations assailed the Comelec for failing to conduct any hearing before removing 26 partylist groups from the list of registered national, regional or sectoral parties, organizations or coalitions.

"The Comelec decision is highly irregular since it veered away from the process where partylist are only removed from the list after due notice and hearing as provided by law. This time, however, the Comelec issued a resolution to remove 26 partylist groups first then asked concerned parties to just submit written opposition if there are any. This is unacceptable," Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International exclaimed.

Martinez was pertaining to the Comelec’s en banc resolution no. 8679 that was issued October 13, 2009, ordering the removal of partylist groups who allegedly failed to comply with Section 6, item no. 8 of Republic Act 7941, otherwise known as the Partylist System Act.

The said provision cites the grounds for the exclusion of partylist which failed to participate in two preceding election or failed to obtain at least two percentum of the votes cast in the two preceding elections.

"In addition to the lack of due process, the Comelec likewise committed a gross mistake when it removed 5 of the 26 partylist just because they failed to get 2 percent in one election and was not able to participate in another election. This clearly negates the qualifier in the provision wherein the instance of failure should be committed twice and in two preceding elections,” Martinez asserted.

The group explained that the Comelec is now getting desperate in its aim to shorten the list of participating partylist groups in the 2010 elections. There are about 150 partylist groups that participated in the last 2007 elections while more than 300 new partylist groups have filed their petition for registration this year.

“If the Comelec found the list of participating partylist groups ridiculously too long for the coming election, it has no other one to blame but itself. It was the sole agency that approved the registration of those partylist who cannot even be considered as part of the marginalized sector as defined in the Constitution. The Comelec’s desperate scheme to reduce the numbers of participating partylist groups at present should not be done at the expense of the true and legitimate representatives of marginalized sectors,” Martinez protested.

Migrante, Abanse Pinay, AK, PCDO-ACTO and PGBI were the five partylist groups which have not committed two instances of failure to participate or failure to obtain 2% votes in two preceding elections yet were still deleted in the list by the Comelecs en banc resolution.

"This is anomalous and we will certainly file a formal protest against this Comelec resolution. Unfortunately, it is only the Malacanang backed partylist groups who are going to benefit from this Comelec decision while legitimate representatives of the marginalized sectors of our society are getting denied of their right to due proccess," lamented Martinez.

Last 2007 election, Comelec Chairman Abalos refused to heed the calls of different groups to reveal the nominees of participating partylist groups being suspected as mere fronts of Malacanang. Among them were Maria Lourdes Arroyo, sister of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, of Ang Kasangga Partylist, and Jovito Palparan of Bantay Partylist who both were given a seat in congress after the Supreme Court decision last April.

Other partylist groups that were delisted by the Comelec resolution are Aging Pinoy, Ahonbayan, AKSA, Akapin, Asap, A Smile, Assalam, BTM, Bahandi,Cocofed, Grecon, Nelffi, PMAP, SM, Sanlakas, SPI, Suara, Anak Mahirap, and Aba Ako Partylist.

Reference:
Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09393914418

--
http://migrantecampaign.ning.com
#10 Banuyo St.Brgy.Amihan, Project 3, Quezon City
Telefax: 9114910

Monday, October 12, 2009

No to Conejos appointment

October 12, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

No to Conejos appointment to Geneva post - Migrante

A global alliance of Filipino migrant workers groups criticized the Arroyo administration’s expected move to appoint Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Esteban Conejos as Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva even without undergoing confirmation process at the Commission on Appointments.

Calling the UN appointment as Conejos’ “consolation prize from Mrs. Arroyo,” Migrante International however said Conejos’ appointment to the UN post will not provide any consolation for Filipinos most especially the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

“Conejos’ appointment to the United Nations is a face-saving measure for Mrs. Arroyo and Usec. Conejos after he sorely failed to win the Deputy Director General position at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) last year,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International Chairperson.

Martinez noted that “it was no less than Arroyo herself” who led the Philippines’ campaign to help Conejos win the IOM (International Organization for Migration) seat in 2008. He however, lost to Ambassador Laura Thompson Chacón of Costa Rica last June 2009.

“It isn’t a surprise for us if Mrs. Arroyo, in her desperation to reward Conejos for his exemplary slave trading skills as Chairperson of the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development held in Manila last year, is determined to give Conejos the juicy UN post even if this would mean violating constitutional provisions on diplomatic appointments,” he said.

Philippine Foreign Service officers were up in arms recently and were particularly riled at Malacanang’s “pernicious practice of by-passing the confirmation process for appointees,” saying that it “has trivialized the constitutional requirement of confirmation of ambassadors.”

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante Middle-East Coordinator, meanwhile expressed support to UNIFORS (Union of Foreign Service Officers) “as they have all the right to protect their ranks against Arroyo’s gross abuse of her appointing power.

“Migrante International vows to block Conejos’ appointment to the UN as we have successfully done when we led international efforts to prevent him from securing a seat at the IOM. We strongly believe that Conejos is a walking menace and a threat to the lives and livelihood of migrant workers and their families worldwide and that he does not even deserve even his current position as Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs.” Martinez said. ###

Reference:
Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09393914418
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994

Statement on Food Crisis and Climate Change

Migrante KSA fully supports the following Unity Statement issued by the Conference on Food Crisis and Climate Change.

CONFERENCE CONFRONTING FOOD CRISIS AND CLIMATE CHANGE,
27-29 SEPTEMBER 2009, PENANG, MALAYSIA

Conference on Confronting the Food Crisis and Climate Change
UNITY STATEMENT
We, 113 participants from 22 countries representing peasants, small farmers, agricultural workers, women, indigenous peoples’, fisherfolk organizations, and health, environmental and consumers CSOs met in the Conference on Confronting the Food Crisis and Climate Change from 27-29 September, 2009 in Penang, Malaysia.

We met in the midst of the worst global recession of the century and a global financial crisis. This is the worst in the cycle of crises of monopoly capitalism, now manifesting in the collapse of global financial institutions and speculative international markets. Another consequence of monopoly capitalism is the global food crisis which is compounded by climate crisis. With the collapse of food self-sufficiency due to globalization, the massive speculation in the global commodities market and the expansion of agrofuel policies have resulted in spiraling food prices and hence, the food crisis.

The climate crisis has been caused by unprecedented unsustainable industrial development, chemical intensive agriculture and overproduction under monopoly capitalism mainly in the developed countries since the last 200 years and intensified in the last 3 decades. Both the food and climate crises are exacerbated by imperialist globalization, a process to ensure the expansion of markets for excess goods and capital to secure super profits. The over-consumption and unsustainable lifestyles of affluent societies have further contributed to the crises.

In food and agriculture, the globalization process has intensified the expansion of corporate monopoly control over the food chain from production to marketing and the exploitation of rural labour, natural resources and biodiversity. It has further marginalized and impoverished indigenous peoples, women, dalits, small and marginal farmers, and fishers. Corporate monopoly of agriculture through the collusion of landlords, autocratic and corrupt governments and other elites has caused great misery for peasants and other rural people. Governments have reneged on their responsibility to uphold the rights and welfare of the people.

The food and climate crises indicate the failure of the FAO, CGIAR, IFIs and national governments in addressing hunger and perpetuating the paradigm of toxic, unsustainable growth for profit. The call by G8 countries for a new global governance on food and agriculture in response to food crisis is a renewed offensive that will only further entrench corporate control on food and agriculture production. Subsequently, the current initiative for the World Summit on Food Security in Rome in November 2009 drives the same agenda of corporate agriculture. Despite the fact that the World Food Summit in 1996, the corporate model of agriculture was heralded as the solution to end world hunger and it brought us the food crisis and increased hunger for our people.

Corporate farming systems such as plantations, intensive aquaculture and livestock systems, floriculture, contract farming and now, agrofuel production, perpetuate the over-exploitation and pollution of lands, forests, seeds, waters, marine resources and other natural resources that have been the sources of livelihood for small food producers. Moreover, the resultant loss of biodiversity and the diminishing number of crop varieties grown worldwide are major concerns for small producers who depend on such biodiversity for their survival. The introduction and forced expansion of genetically engineered crops (GE) is increasingly threatening the agro-biodiversity in the fields and, reports of health impacts and environmental contamination by GE crops are cause for grave concern. Hazardous pesticides and chemicals also harm human health and the environment.

Moreover, climate change adversely impacts food production, deepens the food crisis and exacerbates rural poverty, joblessness and misery, as people face crop losses through droughts, floods and climatic disasters. In the meantime, corporations including agrochemical and agribusiness companies are continuing their unsustainable form of production through “carbon trading” schemes. Worse, they have seized the opportunity to amass more profits with the use of public funds in so-called carbon emissions reduction technologies and projects. Adaptation and mitigation technologies are not the final solutions to climate crisis. The final solution is through people-oriented ecological development. This should be the target for adaptation funding through mechanisms that are directly channelled to communities rather than through the World Bank and its corporate-oriented technologies. This will meet the principle of compensation for centuries of ecological debt of the North to the South.

In the face of the greater challenges posed by the food crisis and climate change, the people now have to struggle even more to confront oppressive structures and institutions.

As we, women, face the greatest burden from calamities, war, crises and displacement, we must struggle harder against patriarchy, fundamentalisms and extremisms, and endeavor for full participation and involvement.

As we, peasants, lose our livelihood and land, and are forcibly exiled from our communities, we have to fight much harder against the onslaught of corporate land grabbing and for our rights.

As we, agricultural workers, continue to slave in pesticide-drenched corporate farms and plantations, we need to struggle even more for our rights, jobs, lives and livelihoods.

As we, the fisher people, are further displaced by corporate fishing and intensive industrial aquaculture as well as corporate coastal and offshore development projects, we have to struggle even more to conserve, gain access, manage and control marine and aquatic resources as well as fishing implements.

As we, indigenous peoples, lose our ancestral domains due to land grabbing and corporate exploitation, we have to defend our indigenous knowledge, ancestral history and legends, culture and our very lives.

As we, the working people as consumers, deprived of nutritious, safe, adequate, culturally appropriate food and pushed to unnatural and unsustainable lifestyles, we must strive even more to tackle the negative effects of all crises and, exert our right to food and our responsibilities as conscious, ethical and ecological consumers.

We will be resolute in our struggle to put people and the planet first over profits. We will work together to regenerate and restore nature and society.

We have gathered now to further strengthen and consolidate our movements to advance food sovereignty, gender justice and climate justice. We will work with full dedication and commitment to:
  1. Fully resist corporate monopoly control over food and agriculture;
  2. Advocate for the establishment of compensatory funds to support communities’ capacity to address the impact of climate change;
  3. Advance genuine agrarian, fisheries, forestry and pastoral reforms that ensure gender justice and the rights of women to land and productive resources;
  4. Assert food self-sufficiency in our societies and stop land use conversions;
  5. Advance the rights of indigenous peoples over ancestral land and domains as well as protect and uphold indigenous knowledge and wisdom as basis of ecological agriculture and sustainable development;
  6. Defend the rights of marginalized communities, ethnic minorities and Dalits.
  7. Stop the killings of and violence against peasants, agricultural workers, fisherfolks and indigenous peoples struggling for their peoples’ rights;
  8. Ensure market access for the poor and marginalized people, and fair price for their harvests;
  9. Promote local knowledge particularly the nurturing values and expand biodiversity-based ecological food production as foundation for food self-sufficiency;
  10. Promote and support community-based seed and grain conservation systems;
  11. Build stronger links between consumers and small food producers to promote the production and consumption of affordable, local, ecologically produced and safe food, and to work towards ethical consumption and sustainable lifestyles;
  12. Protect the rights and well-being of agricultural workers and their communities, and ensure fair wages for them;
  13. Promote pro-people, farmer-led research technologies and institutions;
  14. Resist imperialist globalization, fundamentalism, feudalism, patriarchy, militarization and, autocratic and corrupt governments, and end racial, caste and all other forms of discrimination.
  15. Endorse the People’s Protocol on Climate Change which provides the framework of our demands for climate justice based on the principles of social justice, sovereignty, respect for the environment, gender justice and, responsibility and call for an economic system that is sovereign, socially just, democratic and ecologically sustainable.
We claim our right and, the right of all excluded and marginalized people, to restore and recover the regenerative ability of nature by reorienting our methods of production, consumption and marketing. We deviate from the present destructive processes of greedy exploitation of humans and nature to ensure the long-term survival of all life forms. We endeavor to heal the earth.

We call for the people’s right to food and uphold People’s Convention on Food Sovereignty* as the sustainable framework for food production and distribution, and for national and international trade and investment policies.

Reference:
Sarojeni V. Rengam
Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific
P.O. Box 1170, 10850, Penang, Malaysia
Contact Number: +604 657 0271 or +604 656 0381
Email: panap@panap.net
Website: www.panap.net

* as adopted during the People’s Convention on Food Sovereignty held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 27th November, 2004

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Appeal from Central Luzon

Citizens Disaster Response NGO in Central Luzon Appeals for help

AlayBayan, Inc., a community based disaster response NGO calls for urgent assistance in helping flooded communities in Central Luzon including Pangasinan.

They are especially requesting for food and medical supplies for the following activities:

~ Oct 11: Medical Mission and Relief Distribution for some 85 beneficiary families at Pulong Bahay, Quezon (Nueva Ecija).

~ Oct 13, 14 & 15: Relief Distribution for the 1,510 families affected in
Brgys. Carael, Paco, San Juan, San Miguel, Capayawan and Batonlapoc, all in
Botolan (Zambales).

~ Third week of October: Relief Distribution for three affected barangays in San Simon, Pampanga
After San Roque Dam released its waters, appeals for assistance from various communities in Pangasinan flooded AlayBayan (details to follow). Until now, 85 families in flooded barangays of Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija and other urban poor communities in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija are still awaiting assistance.

So far, Alay Bayan Inc. has already conducted relief distribution in Arayat (Pampanga) on 07 Oct 2009 serving 293 families and Marilao (Bulacan) on 03 Oct benefitting 1,055 families based on the limited resources they have.

Your assistance therefore, would be of great importance in order to alleviate the plight of our kababayans.

You may deposit your cash donations at:

Alay Bayan Inc.,
MetroBank A/C No. 052-3-05241291
Metrobank Main Branch - Henzon St.
Angeles City, Pampanga,
SWIFT Code: MBTC PHMM
Routing No.: 026002846
Donations in kind may be sent to their office at:

Alay Bayan Inc.,
#54 Rue de Paree St., L & S Subdivision,
Angeles City (Pampanga) Philippines
Tel. No.: +6345-304-0340
E-mail: alaybayan@gmail.com
Contact Person: Willem L. Geertman, Executive Director
For further details, please contact Willem L. Geertman at Tel. No. +6345-304-0340 or ABI Staff Loren Villareal at +639182329448.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

OFWs in Eastern Region Unite

Press Release
7 October 2009

Filipino Community and their Organizations in Saudi Eastern Region united for a common cause:
Gathering relief goods, cash for typhoon victims

Different Filipino Organizations in Al Khobar, Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia, have gathered yesterday night at Al Andalus International School to assess how far they have gone since first meeting on September 28, 2009 as a response to the call made by Migrante-Middle East to initiate a donation drive for typhoon “Ondoy” victims.

“The outpouring of support from OFWs in all professions is overwhelming; every participating organization had brought their own share of donations, in cash and in kind –a manifestation that helping the victims of typhoon is every body’s business, and so we did,” said Gerry de Guzman, Migrante-Al Khobar Chapter Secretary-General.

Last night Filipino Community leaders’ meeting was facilitated by Labor Attache David Des Dicang.

Aside from Migrante-Al Khobar, the following organizations were also present: Bulakenyo Community, Eastern Region OFW Congress, AFSCOM, Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity, Al-Andalos School (Teachers & Staff), the Filipino Pop (Filipino Pop Music Association) under Dr. Molina, Worley Parsons Co. Filipino Employees, Dammam Med. Tower, PAGASA Association, GUARDIANS Eastern Region Association, AAIS association, Dubaib & Sulaim Co. Filipino Employees, ABQIAQ community, JAL, SI Samahang Ilocano, PSME association, IECEP association, UFBF association, RASA association, Filipino Bowlers association, Ras Tanura Fil. Com. Association, ROFNA Bowling Association, ASOC association, RC Parishioners, Mrs. Mary Jane Tupaz, Dr. Ronaldo Molina, and the Social Development and Aid Organization (SDAO).

The meeting was attended by more than 80 OFW leaders.

“The cash on hand collected by the council and Filipino Community leaders as at 6:00p.m. October 4, 2009 is 31,978 (Thirty One Thousand nine hundred seventy eight) Saudi Riyal, while there are already 57 boxes of goods at the warehouse of Al-Andalus International School as reported,” de Guzman added.

The Filipino Community leaders agreed to cut the donations drive until October 10, 2009; cash donations will be remitted in the afternoon of October 10 as well as the boxes of goods.

The Filipino Community leaders have agreed to send their donations to the Local Government Units (LGUs) through its local Social welfare and development offices.

“We have indentified the most affected areas as recipient of the donations we have gathered like Cainta, Antipolo, San Mateo in Rizal Province, Dinalupihan in Bataan, Marikina and Pasig in Manila,” said Rod “Choie” De Leon, Migrante-Al Khobar Chairperson.

De Leon said it was agreed by the Filipino Community coordinating council that in order to be transparent in the distribution of their donation the POLO-Eastern Region will officially endorse Migrante International to be witness and could monitor the actual distribution of goods to the intended beneficiaries in every recipient LGUs.

“We have also asked POLO-Eastern Region to communicate with the Bureau of Customs not to confiscate the boxes of relief goods once it reaches the Philippines so that its distribution by the recipient LGUs could take effect without delay,” De leon added.

Migrante-Al Khobar had also get the consensus of the Filipino Community leaders to conduct a symposium on Migrants Rights and Welfare, and Human Rights activity on December 2009, Blood Letting Program and Fun Run for a cause, right after the donations drive for typhoon victims. - end -

References:
Gerry De Guzman
Secretary-General, Migrante-Al Khobar chapter
Mobile No. 00966 50 737 3906

Rod “Choie” De Leon
Chairperson, Migrante-Al Khobar chapter
Mobile No. : 00966 56 911 7563

Benchmark India’s repatriation efforts

5 October 2009

Efficient and effective repatriation of distress workers
Benchmark India’s repatriation efforts, RP posts told

“One would notice that Indian distress workers in deportation center would only stay for few weeks, unlike the repatriation of distress and stranded OFWs that would usually take 3 to 6 months or even 1 year,” said by John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said Migrante-ME learned that Indian Embassy’s Welfare wing has its own effective and efficient mechanism in repatriating its own distress and stranded migrant workers.

“Indian Embassy’s issuance of its so called Emergency Certificates proved to be effective in sending its own distress migrant workers back to India, and this should be bench mark by RP posts to follow the same system in advancing the welfare and interests of our distress and stranded OFWs in the Middle East,” Monterona averred.

Monterona said he learned that Indian Embassy’s Welfare section is issuing Emergency Certificates to all Indian nationals upon proving their national identity by verifying the authenticity of their documents such as passport copy or ration card.

“By doing so, the run away worker would not wait for its employer-sponsor to issue exit clearance as it is there where the waiting take so long; often many employer-sponsor won’t issue exit clearance as they file a counter suit of absconding, considered a crime in most Middle Eastern countries labor laws, against its run away workers who are usually victims of abuses and maltreatment,” Monterona added.

On an average 5,000 emergency certificates are issued by the Indian Embassy every year. “This would mean Indian embassy is sending back to India 5,000 distress workers every year,” Monterona said.

Monterona said instead of long wait or praying at the mercy of the distress worker’s employer-sponsor to issue exit clearance, the RP post concerned should issue same of Indian’s Emergency Certificate to its distress and run away OFWs.

“If the Indian Embassy were able to do so by issuing Emergency Certificate to its distress and stranded migrant workers, why our government under the Arroyo administration through different RP posts in the Middle East could not do the same especially if it is for the welfare and interest of our distress OFWs who were victims of labor malpractices, abuses and maltreatment?” Monterona asked.

Monterona said Philippine diplomats, consular or labor, should represent the best interests and welfare of our millions OFWs who contribute a lot to our economy.

Monterona further said RP posts should think for ways and means advancing the welfare and interests of our Overseas Filipinos and OFWs, and through diplomatic course of action, diplomacy as their expertise, attain the very objective of putting forward the best interests of our OFWs.

“By doing the same efforts of the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, RP posts could solve the long perennial problem of repatriating distress and stranded OFWs, usually take 6 months to 1 year, in different deportation centers in the Middle East,” Monterona.

Monterona said there are still more than 80 plus stranded inside the deportation center in Jeddah based on Migrante's close estimates, those in Cell no.1 keeps on calling and texting Migrante that the OWWA did not to provide them food and medicines.“To OWWA Administrator Dimzon: organize your OWWA team in Jeddah and instruct them to provide foods and medicines to those who are still in Hajj deportation center, while the PCG should not stop to facilitate their repatriation,” the OFW leader added.

“The problem is the Arroyo administration itself that just pay lip service to our so called “Bagong Bayani” and failed to direct and supervise its Foreign department to put forward and advance the welfare and interest of OFWs as its primary concern, not just selling our human labor as cheap as an exported commodity,” Monterona ended. # # #


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

OFWs say no to text tax!

Migrante KSA protests the imposition of text tax, in its various forms, as an additional burden to OFWs who rely on SMS as a means to connect with families in the Philippines. In the face of recent disastrous events brought by Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng, the backhand way this new and worse proposal of taxing 10% of gross SMS receipts also show the gross callousness of the legislators to the plight of Filipinos.

OFWs say no to text tax!

Migrante Saudi Arabia

With thanks from TxtPower.Org for the image and statement below:
PRESS STATEMENT
October 6, 2009

House surprises public with new text tax bill, worse than original proposal

By Anthony Ian Cruz
TXTPower President

Today, the House Committee on Ways and Means surreptitiously changed its text tax bill. If before, the proponents wanted P0.05 in additonal tax per text message, they now want ten percent of gross receipts of all messages we consumers buy.

In the middle of a state of calamity, some congressmen seem to have worked overtime to hammer out a new text tax bill to oppress the public, instead of providing relief to victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. It was also an outrage that the proponent and Chairman Exequiel Javier opportunistically and cavalierly used the calamity to justify the new tax.

To the House panel, we say: We say an unconditional no to any new tax in whatever form or shape. Your new bill is worse than the original one you wished to ram down our throats.

Sham public hearing

In today’s “public hearing”, only the proponents, other congressmen, representatives of the BIR, NTC and a telco were given a chance to speak. Consumer sentiments were neither sought nor heard although TXTPower and another group were there, waiting to be acknowledged.

To make matters worse for the public, Rep. Singson moved that an executive session be held, a motion that seeks to exclude everybody else, especially consumers, from taking part in the deliberations.

Chairman Javier should make this new text tax bill available to the public and have it posted on the House website and ensure truly democratic and participative proceedings in his committee.

Flood of lies

We are not stupid as to believe the fiction that is the alleged no-pass-on-provision which seems impossible to implement and said to be illegal under the law. Nor are we naïve as to fall for the claim that this new tax is good for consumers and the public and that the proponents only have the people, especially schoolchidren, in their mind.. Congressmen must stop this flood of lies.

We urge House members to join us and Deputy Speaker Raul del Mar and Reps. Monico Puentevella, Roilo Golez, Giorgidi Aggabao, Teddy Casino, Rufus Rodriguez, Raymond Palatino, Satur Ocampo, Neri Colmenares, Liza Maza, Luz Ilagan, Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod in questioning and opposing this new text tax bill. ###

OFW thanks DHL

6 October 2009

Forwarder offers free lift of donated goods for typhoon victims;
OFW groups lauded the move, thankful

Migrante-Jeddah chapter, a local chapter of Migrante-Saudi Arabia in the Western region of Saudi Arabia, today said an international cargo forwarding company has offered its free-service by providing free airfreight of all donated goods for typhoon victims from OFWs organizations.

“Brod, DHL has approved our request along with other OFWs organizations giving us free airfreight service for all the boxes of donated goods we have gathered for typhoon victims by having a special flight this coming Friday, 9 October,” said Bobby Fajarito, Migrante-Jeddah chapter Chairperson sent via SMS to John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Fajarito said Migrante-Jeddah chapter and other OFWs organizations in an on-going relief drive are very thankful to DHL which upon series of negotiations has approved Migrante and other OFWs organizations’ request giving them a free airfreight services for all the goods collected for typhoon victims.

“Migrante-Jeddah already delivered the 40 boxes of donated goods at DHL warehouse in Jeddah and were accepted by Mr. Jose Wilson Casquejo, DHL’s Operations Supervisor in Western Region, and our fellow OFWs organizations will follow suit in sending their donations to DHL warehouse,” Fajarito added.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pasalamat


Lubos na nagpapasalamat ang Migrante Jeddah sa mga taos-pusong nagdonate at naglikom ng donasyon para sa Operation Sagip Migrante para sa mga biktima ng bagyong Ondoy kabilang ang mga sumusunod:

~ Mig Macalino
~ PetroRabigh employees
~ Fatima II Catholic Community
~ Zwoosh Badminton Club
~ Jaguars Badminton Club
~ Al Esayi employees
~ Desert Falcons
~ Smash Arabia Badminton Club-Jeddah
~ Serenata Chorale;
~ Mary's Joy Catholic Community
~ Jesus the Blessed Redeemer International Ministries (JBRIM)
~ Kala Badminton Club
~ Roblomanon Association
~ Al Hamra Boys Club
~ Ate Chat

Nagpapasalamat din po kami sa mga Pilipinong manggagawa sa Red Sea Polyclinic, Jeddah Graphics, Pepsi, Bugshan Hospital, Saudi German Hospital, Farsi Jewelry, ChinaGate Restaurant, Al Hamra Sofitel, McDonalds, Al Hefni Jewelry, at Nesma Holding gayundin sa mga indibidwal katulad nina Jophet (ng SFC Jeddah) Winson, Kuya Larry, Ate Chat at Ate Betchay, na nag-abot ng kani-kanilang maitutulong sa abot ng kanilang makakaya.

Higit sa lahat, nagpapasalamat ang Migrante Jeddah sa DHL para sa kanilang komitment na ipadala ang lahat ng malilikom na relief goods sa ating benepisyaryong Oplan Sagip Migrante sa Pilipinas.

Tuluy-tuloy pa rin po ang paglilikom ng donasyon, in cash and in kind. Makipag-ugnayan lamang po kay Bobby Fajarito sa 0502745340.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Calamity loan? No way!

October 3, 2009
PRESS RELEASE

Calamity assistance not calamity loans! - Migrante

Calamity loan? No way!

Migrante International (MI) slammed Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s offer of calamity loans “as it falls short on giving significant relief to our kababayans affected by the storm. This will only put the debts of OFW families from knee-deep to drowning heights. If they really want to help, OWWA should just give away calamity assistance packages.”

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, donations from the international community has reached P566 million as of October 2. The National Disaster Coordinating Council on the other hand reported the initial total of affected as 512,092 families or 2,506,845 individuals.

Martinez cited the plight of OFW Danilo Catalon, a resident of Marikina City, who was helpless upon hearing the news that his wife was sick and his whole family was staying at the evacuation center in Nangka Elementray School. Their house was completely destroyed by the floods.

Catalon is one of the 200 workers who got stranded in the islands of Maldives. Fourty of them arrived yesterday in Manila “terribly” hungry and without any salary to give to their families.

“Wala na nga silang trabaho, bahay at pagkain, ibabaon pa sila sa pagkakautang,” Martinez lamented.

Migrante International also slammed OWWA’s “unfathomable callousness” in dealing with Catalon’s co-workers from Maldives.

“They languished for 6 months in the island-paradise because not a single assistance was given to them by any Philippine government agency. Not even a bottled water was extended to them upon arrival at the airport. And in the middle of the storm, they were being asked to leave the OWWA shelter,” exclaimed Martinez.

The workers are locals from Isabela, Cagayan, Pangasinan, La Union, Kalinga, Albay and Marinduque, provinces that are presently being hit by typhoon Pepeng. ###

Reference:
Gary Martinez/ Chairperson/ 09393914418
Danilo Catalon/ OFW from Maldives/ 09394911211

Suspend BIR’s DST

Press Release
04 October 2009

OFW group demands suspension of BIR’s documentary stamp tax on OFW remittance as thousands OFW families, dependents devastated by typhoon “Ondoy”

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East today demanded from the Arroyo government to suspend the charging of the Bureau on Internal Revenue’s (BIR) documentary stamp tax on OFW remittances providing relief to OFW families and dependent hit hard by typhoon “Ondoy”.

“Suspension of the BIR’s documentary stamp tax which is 0.05% imposed for every US$200 remitted by OFW would give ease to OFWs families and dependents; this amount will be better spent by OFW families and dependent for their most basic need such as foods,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said Migrante chapters around the world have been actively campaigning for the removal of the BIR documentary stamp tax on OFWs remittances as this would equate a direct tax imposed by the government to OFWs channeled through remittance service centers.

“This is contrary to the government’s declared policy that OFWs should not be subjected to numerous tax impositions in recognition of their valuable contribution to the economy,” Monterona added.

The OFW leader noted there are several bills filed in Congress in both chamber aimed for the removal of the BIR’s documentary stamp tax on OFWs remittances. “But until now it were not acted upon by our members of the Senate and House of Representatives, and these will not be tackled until after the elections,” Monterona continued.

“But since, the BIR is under the direct supervision and administrative guidance of the Department of Finance under the Executive branch, Mrs. Arroyo could order the implementing agency to stop charging the documentary stamp tax to OFWs remittances especially this hardest time that many OFWs families and dependents have been devastated by typhoon “Ondoy” in Metro Manila and nearby provinces,” Monterona added.

Migrante closely estimated an almost 15-M OFWs families and dependents living in Metro Manila and about 10-M from Southern Tagalog region and nearby provinces like Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite and Pampanga that were also affected by the typhoon.

Meanwhile, Migrante-ME announces that its chapters in the Middle East are still accepting donations preferably in cash amid the recent directives issued by the Arroyo government that all goods coming from abroad will be under tight watch by the Bureau of Customs especially if its not directed to the Department of Social Worker and Development (DSWD).

“Our Migrante relief coordinating teams have apprehensions that the numerous boxes of goods that it gathered from kindhearted fellow OFWs donors would not reach to typhoon victims-beneficiaries because of the recent directive issued by Mrs. Arroyo fearing that it will be held at Philippine ports by the BoC and would hamper the distribution of these goods,” Monterona averred.

“That’s is why to those who would like to donate for typhoon victims, we are urging them to instead donate cash rather than goods amid this directive issued by the Arroyo government; we will reach you out there to get your cash donations even if it is only 1 riyal; kindly get in touch with our coordinating teams and point persons,” Monterona added.

Migrante-Middle East chapters have already collected almost 2.4 tons of goods, the bulk of which came from OFWs from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia; some of the boxes of goods have already been forwarded to cargo Forwarders for delivery at Migrante International office in Quezon City for distribution to affected OFWs communities; while cash donations and pledges are estimated to reach 2,600 Riyals.

“We would like to thank our fellow OFWs, the Filipino Communities and different Filipino Organizations who joined us to these noble efforts of sending us your donations to typhoon victims. Sama-sama pa rin tayo sa pagtulong!” Monterona ended. # # #

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

Arroyo regulating donations from abroad

Press Release
2 October 2009

OFW group hits Arroyo’s directive on regulating donations from abroad;
seen to hamper entry of goods, cash badly needed by typhoon victims

Migrante-Middle East, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East actively involve in seeking donations among the Filipino Communities and OFWs organizations today said the latest Arroyo directive regulating donations from abroad is uncalled for and will only hamper the coming in of goods badly needed by typhoon victims.

“Mrs. Arroyo’s latest directive regulating the coming in of donations from abroad is an act of pure selfishness and mediocrity disallowing cause-oriented groups and non-government organizations’ collected donations to come in for the benefits of thousands typhoon victims,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

On her issued directed on 29th September, Mrs. Arroyo said “Ikatlo, hindi sisingilan ng buwis o kukumpiskahan ng Bureau of Customs ang mga donasyon ng pagkain at kagamitan mula sa ibang bayan, basta't ito ay naka-assign sa DSWD.”

As she said, her government will never impose taxes and will not confiscate if donations will be directed to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“So it means if donations are not directed to DSWD, the Bureau of Customs will confiscate these boxes of goods reaching Philippine ports. This is ridiculous!” Monterona exclaimed.

Monterona added such directive is unreasonable too. He said many of the donations from Filipino Communities and Filipino organizations have decided to entrust their donations to Migrante, people’s organizations and other cause-oriented groups, and not to the RP posts because they are not trusting the Arroyo government that has numerous allegations of corruptions, government fund misuses and diversion including the 800-M Emergency fund which was allegedly used during her lavish foreign trips.

Item no.5 on her said directive asking remittance Service centers not to charge transaction fees to all cash donations so long as it is directed to DSWD shows Mrs. Arroyo’s power-tripping skills that curtail freedom of its people to willingly donate on their own respective way and capability for typhoon victims.

“Donations in the form of cash and goods should be tax-free and should not be put under strict regulations and confiscation especially if it comes from the Filipino Communities and Filipino organizations abroad. Why Mrs. Arroyo is imposing strict regulations that will only hamper coming in of donations (cash and goods) from abroad which typhoon victims badly needed?” Monterona added.

Monterona said the Filipino communities and other Filipino organizations conveyed to him their fears and apprehension that their donations (clothes, canned goods and cash) may not reach to typhoon victims because of Mrs. Arroyo’s issued directives indirectly instructing the Bureau of Customs to confiscate goods from abroad if it is not for DSWD.

“We are urging all kindhearted OFWs, the Filipino Communities and Filipino organizations and our donors abroad to join us petition the Arroyo government that imposes strict regulations such as confiscation and imposing remittance tax to our donations if it is not directed to DSWD. This is but an arrogant exercise of power curtailing our freedom and desire to help our fellow kababayans, victims of typhoon blamed anyway for this very government’s unpreparedness to protect its people from calamity,” Monterona said.

“This is indeed a disaster worsened by the Arroyo government itself!” Monterona ended. # # #

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Operation SAGIP Migrante Updates

Operation SAGIP Migrante
No. 10 Banuyo St. Project 3, Quezon City
Tel. No.: +63-927-274-6876

Updates
29 September 2009

Dear all,

We have decided to give you quick brief updates so you can also monitor the ongoing relief operations.

Today, September 29, we provided a community kitchen (a la soup) kitchen to 600 individuals in Brgy. Holy Spirit where 93 of our members were affected. We also distributed 165 bags of goods containing rice, canned goods and bottled water.

On Thursday, October 1, we will be going to conduct our relief operations in Munoz, Quezon City where the creek washed out an estimated over a hundred houses. This is where a staff of the MSP-- Mak Ramirez lives. His house was also washed out.

On the same day, we will also be joining a MAKABAYAN team, which is composed of all progressive partylists (Bayan Muna, Gabriela, AnakPawis, Kabataan Partylist, Migrante Sectoral Party, ACT Teachers, COURAGE, Katribu), to conduct clean-up operations in Makati. As you are probably aware (from media), the floods left the whole city deep in mud. Many of our organized communities, especially from AnakPawis and Kadamay are here.

On October 5, another MAKABAYAN team will also be conducting a medical mission.

We are trying to come up with a systematic plans of relief operations which do not duplicate what government and other NGOs, church institutions etc... are doing. We are targeting those areas which are not being shown on TV- those areas which seem to have been forgotten and still haven't reached by assistance. We will be coordinating with other organizations like Kadamay whose communities were also badly hit. We are all trying to double all our efforts and come up with a quick response team as, according to the weather bureau, another storm, will hit the Philippines tonight or tomorrow..

To date, the support has started coming-- locally and internationally. As mentioned earlier, our chapter in Taiwan has already sent some support. Migrante Melbourne has just informed us that they already sent initial support. Our chapters in the Middle East, Hongkong, New Zealand, Canada and Europe have already started their solicitation campaigns.

We are also starting a hotline for all your relatives who you need to contact or check. We are still waiting for the contact numbers.

Rest assured that we will be giving you prompt and brief updates and a complete accounting of all your support, including photo documentation.

Para lang makaabot sa inyo ang taos-pusong pasasalamat ng mga natulungan ninyo, ang sabi nga ng isang taga-Holy Spirit kanina --- "tunay na bayani nga ang ating mga ofws-- kahit sila ay puno ng problema, nakakatulong pa din sila sa kanilang mga kababayan, nagpapamalas ng tunay na pagmamalasakit sa bayan."

Sulong!

Namamalagi, in behalf of the Executive Committee,

Rina
Migrante International

Notes: MAKABAYAN is the coalition of Bayan Muna Party and all other progressive Partylists including Gabriela Womens Party (GWP), AnakPawis, Kabataan Partylist, Migrante Sectoral Party, ACT Teachers, COURAGE (government employees) and Katribu (indigenous peoples).

On OWWA's Special Calamity Loan

Press Release
30 September 2009

OFW group to OWWA:
Let ex-OFWs avail special calamity loan in recognition of their valuable contribution

The Middle-East based alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations today said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) should consider ex-OFWs to avail OWWA’s special calamity loan in recognition of their valuable contribution in the economy that has been remittance-dependent for the past few years.

“The government, through its supposed premier welfare agency –the OWWA, must consider Ex-OFWs to avail the Php.10,000 special calamity loan especially those who have been devastated by typhoon “Ondoy” in recognition of their valuable contribution to the country,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said in fact they are the ones that need help and assistance as most of them have no stable jobs at all and have only meager income after their retirement as migrant workers.

“Many ex-OFWs are on their retirement age, and if they were victims and were devastated by the typhoon, then it is but reasonable that they too should avail OWWA’s special calamity loan,” Monterona added.

Monterona explained that if special calamity loan will be sourced out from the OWWA trust fund, a compulsory collection of US$25 per departing OFWs, then ex-OFWs have all the rights to avail the special calamity loan where ex-OFWs previously paid membership fee and became OWWA members for many years. “These should be considered by OWWA allowing ex-OFWs to avail OWWA’s special calamity fund,” the OFW leader added.

Monterona express apprehension that the special calamity loan which source will come from the 12-B OWWA trust fund may not go to real beneficiaries.

“On previous similar programs, OWWA failed to secure the funds,” he added.

“Such is the case of the P260-M bogus claims exposed by then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo himself only to justify OWWA Medicare fund transfer to Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or Philhealth,” Monterona claimed.

“We demand from OWWA full transparency and accountability on the disbursement of the funds to be used for the special calamity loan to ensure that the OFWs money held in trust to OWWA will go to rightful beneficiaries,” Monterona added.

Monterona is also urging the Commission on Audit (COA) to check and monitor the fund disbursement for OWWA’s special calamity loan to ensure that the OFWs’ money will not be misused. # # #

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Support, donations from OFWs pour

Press Release
29 September 2009

Support, donations from OFWs pour like “Ondoy” rains
OFW group leading relief drive thankful, give assurance that donations are in good hands and will be sent to typhoon victims

Migrante-Middle East, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East that first initiated a relief drive for typhoon “Ondoy” victims in the Philippines leading the Filipino Communities and Filipino Organizations in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and other middle eastern countries today said support and donations from OFWs pour like “Ondoy” rains.

“Barely two (2) days when our Migrante chapters in Saudi Arabia and in the Middle East initiated the releif drive to gather donations for typhoon victims in Manila and nearby provinces, we have already received several boxes of clothes, goods and cash pledges from fellow OFWs, their organizations and friends in almost areas where there are OFWs concentration especially in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and in Kuwait,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said reports from different Migrante chapters that formed coordinating teams to gather and accept reliefs stated that they have been receiving calls and querries from fellow OFWs where to get in touch with them as they have gathered donations, mostly clothes and goods, for typhoon victims.

Monterona said last night Migrante-Al Khobar had initiated a meeting among Filipino organizations to discuss their collaborative efforts and initiatives to gather support and donations from fellow OFWs for the typhoon victims.

Bob Fajarito, Chairperson of Migrante-Jeddah chapter, said he received numerous calls since yesterday from fellow OFWs asking where they could deliver their donations, and upon instruction of the location of Migrante-Jeddah head quarters, boxes of goods and clothes were delivered to Migrante-Jeddah HQ.

“Some have brought halala (saudi riyals coins), in which our Migrante officers have taught that they should have make coin bank for those individual OFW willing to donate 1 riyal for this noble cause,” Monterona added.

Monterona said same overwhelming response from OFWs in Riyadh and Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia, in Doha, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi, Dubai and in other Emirates of UAE.

In Jeddah, several OFWs working in different establishments and government offices have given their donations such as OFWs working at King Fahad Arm Forces Hospital, King Khaled National Guard Hospital, Saudi German Hospital, International Medical Center and several Philippine Schools who have convey their pledges to Migrante relief coordinating teams in Jeddah.

In Riyadh, KGS-Migrante Chairperson Eric Jocson reported that there are now 7 boxes of goods and clothes at KGS HQ; and OFWs working at Semiesi Hospital, King Saud Medical Center, Saudi Security Forces, and Prince Sultan Hospital have conveyed their pledges as well.

While in United Arab Emirates, Migrante-UAE Secretary-General Nhel Morona has been receiving pledges from OFWs organizations and individuals who are willing to give their donations.

“I have been receiving pledges and querries where to send their donations from fellow OFWs in Qatar and Kuwait in which I forwarded to the attention of our Migrante-Qatar and Kuwait chapters,” Monterona added.

Monterona said though Migrante relief coordinating teams are having a problem in sending these goods and clothes in the Philippines, they are now in contact with Cargo forwarders in their respective areas so that the boxes of goods and clothes they have gathered will be sent home with utmost priority and as soon as possible.

“We are thankful to our fellow OFWs without any hesitation responded to our call “Sagip migrante at pamilya, sama-sama sa pagtulong para sa mga sinalanta ng bagyo”; we assure them that the donations (cash, goods, clothes, and other things) they have entrusted to us will reach to beneficiaries -typhoon victims in Metro Manila and nearby provinces as relief efforts by Migrante in Manila has started yesterday in some OFWs communities,” Monterona added.

Monterona said he has already informed Migrante relief coordinating teams to properly document, issue acknowledgement receipt, remittance receipt, and take photos of all donations it received and in due time will publicly announce all donations received in the name of transparency.

“To those who are questioning our noble intention as we are branded by the Arroyo government as “leftist”, all we could say is “Sama-sama na lang tayo sa pagtulong”,” Monterona averred.

Monterona opined the Filipino communties and OFWs organizations in the Middle East have made the right choice of entrusting their donations to Migrante and other People’s organizations that are providing genuine service unlike the Arroyo government that is only good in posturing but actually giving lip service and has been criminally negligent to its people by allegedly diverting the 800-M Emergency fund that is intended to emegrecy situation but was used for her lavish foreign trips.

“Could we blame the people, our fellow OFWs if they could not anymore entrust their donations to the perceived corrupt Arroyo government?” Monterona ended. # # #

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