Monday, March 16, 2009

14 Years since Flor Contemplacion

Press Statement
March 16, 2009

14 Years since Flor Contemplacion’s Death
OFWs remain marginalized and neglected despite hail as ‘Modern Heroes’;
OFWs vow to resolutely advance, defend migrant workers rights and welfare

(A Joint Statement by Migrante Chapters and member-organization s in the Middle East commemorating the 14th year death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, a domestic helper from Laguna who was hanged to death in Singapore)

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

Migrant workers’ contribution in keeping the local economy afloat can’t be denied as their remittances keep on hitting new record of US$ 16.8-B last year that greatly contributed to our country’s dollar reserves; that makes OFWs ‘Modern Heroes’ into the eyes and minds of the past administrations including the present most-corrupt and most anti-OFW Arroyo administration.

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

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

The Arroyo administration failed to develop our local economy that would absorb the increasing numbers of unemployed whose only option now is to find work abroad; it has intensified its labor export program sending some 3,300 daily Filipino workers abroad and is targeting to send 2-M OFWs yearly; and to ensure intensified labor export, it issued Administrative Order No. 247 ordering POEA to focus on marketing and finding markets for OFWs and have allotted an increased budget of nearly P500,000for its marketing activities in its effort to boost exporting cheap labor abroad.

Intensified Labor Export at OFWs Expense

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

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

But the numerous cases of distressed OFWs due to maltreatment, unfair labor practices, and sexual abuses; the recorded 10 mysterious deaths of OFWs in the Middle East early this year, the increasing numbers of runaways at Khandera Bridge in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Philippine Consulate now numbering to more than 250; the reported 300 OFWs in Libya living and working under harsh conditions; the increasing numbers of jailed OFWs including the 7 OFWs jailed in Maldives and the 26 OFWs facing death in the Middle East; all these tell us one thing: Arroyo administration’s gross disregard to protect OFWs, and this is tantamount to criminal neglect!

Misuse of OWWA Fund

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

Migrante’s records revealed some of the alleged anomalous investments and misuse of OFW funds under Arroyo administration:

  • Transfer of P4B OFW Medicare Fund from OWWA to Philippine Health and Insurance Corporation by virtue of a secret issuance of Executive Order 182 devoid of consultations from OFWs as stakeholders of these funds

  • The P260M bogus claims exposed by then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo himself just to justify OWWA Medicare fund transfer to Philhealth under the present Arroyo Administration

  • The un-audited US$293,500 for the Middle East Preparedness Team headed by General Roy Cimatu during the US war of aggression to Iraq where repatriation of OFWs never took placed anyway under the present Arroyo administration.

  • POEA’s alleged illegally granting of P40 million incentives and allowances to its officials and employees for the past three years since 2002 and allowing its Executives and employees who were issued mobile phones to download about P796,000.00 worth of games, tones and picture messages and other unauthorized items.

  • Misallocation of P1-B OWWA funds to its bogus Filipino Expatriate livelihood support program through the issuance of Administrative Order No. 248
The Arroyo regime, not contented to misuse of the OFWs P10-B fund at OWWA, has successfully secure overpriced deals of government projects such as the anomalous ZTE broadband project and the alleged South Rail Project and the controversial sell out of Philippine through the signing of a new baseline law recently by Mrs. Arroyo, not to mention the regime’s desperately pushing Charter change to omit the economic protectionist provision of the constitution but also to attempt to lift the term limits of elected officials including the presidency in her bid to remain in power beyond 2010.

OFWs and families at the forefront of defending their rights and welfare Migrante’s file of the Arroyo administration ‘sins’ to OFWs and families are becoming populated; but OFWs and families will not allow to inflict more injustice and disservice by the Arroyo regime.

We will also intensify our campaign urging fellow OFWs to join us in various forms of protests to show our disgusts and discontent to the most anti-OFW Arroyo regime.

As we commemorate the 14th year death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion who symbolizes OFWs persistent struggle to advance forward its welfare and protect OFWs rights, Migrante chapters and member-organization s in the Middle East vow to reach out more OFWs and families for them to be organized and closely join with the other sectors-- farmers, workers, professionals, government employees, students, laymen and Church workers, and all together will be persistent in calling for Mrs. Arroyo resignation so that a more democratic, with genuine people’s representation, pro-people post-Arroyo government could be immediately established.

# # #

This Joint statement is issued by Migrante Middle East Chapters and Member-Organizations, namely:
Migrante-Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan-Migrante- Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Migrante-United Arab Emirates
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan-Migrante- Al Jouf, Saudi Arabia
Migrante-Dawadmi (KSA) organizing committee
Migrante-Eastern Region (KSA) organizing committee

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