Thursday, April 30, 2009

Conejos nomination to IOM slammed

29 April 2009

Conejos nomination to IOM slammed

The militant Migrante International today slammed the Philippines’ nomination of DFA USec. Esteban Conejos to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Martinez said Conejos “has a proven track record of incompetence and wanton disregard to the plight of millions of OFWs; that if nominated to the global migration body, Conejos would spell disaster not only for OFWs and their families but for migrants the world over,”

Martinez said, under Conejos’ watch as Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs, OFW Jenifer Bidoya was beheaded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because he was not provided proper legal assistance by the Philippine Government, particularly Conejos’ office in the DFA. The migrant leader also noted that there are still 40 Filipinos awaiting execution in death rows all over the world.

Martinez also highlighted the case of OFW in Taiwan, Cecilia Alcaraz. Her case, according to Martinez, was bungled by the Philippine government when it didn’t appear to Alcaraz’s crucial hearing last April 1, 2009. The de-facto RP embassy in Taiwan and Cecilia’s lawyers failed to show up during the hearing because they were “busy.”

“The Arroyo regime should stop campaigning for Conejos to the IOM and focus on saving the life of Cecilia Alcaraz in Taiwan,” Martinez said, noting that the Taiwan Appellate Court is scheduled to hand down its final decision on her case May 4, 2009. ###

Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson
Mobile: 0921-7229740

‘Militarization’ reaches diplomatic posts abroad

Press Release
30 April 2009

‘Militarization’ reaches diplomatic posts abroad;
PGMA incessantly paying back to former loyal military officials

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations based in the Middle East today said for her political survival, Mrs. Arroyo is paying back her loyal military officials by appointing them to government offices after the latter appointed two highest ranking military officials to diplomatic posts only to bypass the appointment of some of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) career officers.

“Mrs. Arroyo is continuously appointing former military officials in her Cabinet; thus no stopping to ‘militarization’ of the government, even foreign posts abroad has now been ‘militarized’,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona slammed the Arroyo regime for its policy of militarizing diplomatic posts abroad by appointing retired military officials; “These military officials have been ‘loyal’ to the President during their military career; Mrs. Arroyo is paying them back for their loyalty to her, an concrete manifestation that ‘patron’ politics exist between her and her trusted military officials,” he continued.

“It only shows the Arroyo regime is overtly engaged in politicizing the Military establishment which should remain apolitical and should have its loyalty to the Filipino people where sovereignty resides and governmental power emanates from them under a supposed democratic government, and not to their Commander-in-Chief,” Monterona averred.

Monterona said Mrs. Arroyo’s appointment of AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano and AFP Vice Chief Staff Lt. Gen. Cardozo Luna as Ambassador to Brunei and the Netherlands, respectively, is an act converting diplomatic posts a ‘war room’, a ‘militarized’ diplomatic posts that would set aside its foreign service functions to the assistance of Overseas Filipinos abroad especially OFWs who are vulnerable to abuses and maltreatment, racism and other forms of discrimination.

“The two top military officials who have failed to stop persecution and political killings of political activists in which the AFP is widely accused and condemned do not deserves to lead a diplomatic post abroad, same with their predecessor Gen. Jovito Palparan who is now a party-list representative of a pseudo marginalized group,” Monterona opined.

Monterona said Migrante chapters in the Middle East and the millions of OFWs around the world would their strong support to the petition made by the DFA Rank and File Association and DFA Personnel Association urging Mrs. Arroyo to reconsider its appointment of the two (2) mentioned military officials citing the appointments as the “latest instances of a disturbing trend that has caused demoralization and weakened professionalism in the merit system in the DFA and foreign service”.

“Foreign Service requires high degree of expertise and experience in diplomacy and strong dedication to do public service to Overseas Filipinos and OFWs; thus in no way the training and experience by retired military officials, not to demean their capabilities and knowledge, would not much the requirement for foreign service functions,” Monterona opined.

Monterona further said if it is often observed our diplomats abroad have been remised on their duty on providing assistance to OFW-victims, it would make even worse if they will be replaced by former generals who have no match to the acquired expertise and experienced of DFA’s Foreign Service career officers.

“Instead of sending legal attaché to RP posts abroad to render legal assistance to those who have been charged abroad and those on death row with no exemption to the case of OFW Cecilia Alcaraz where the Manila Economic Cultural Office in Taiwan under the direct supervision of the Office of the President failed to provide, the Arroyo administration had sent Police attaché at the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia; now it complimented such deployment by appointing retired military officials as Ambassadors; this is clear militarization in the diplomatic posts abroad which need to be opposed and strongly condemned,” Monterona ended. # # #

For reference:
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-ME regional coordinator
KSA Mobile Phone: 00966 564 978 012
Philippine Mobile Phone: 0915 396 4658
Email address:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Critical Intervention of Migrante International

Press Release
28 April 2009

OFWs and their families hail critical intervention of migrant group at UN-CMW;
a milestone of OFWs’ struggle for genuine rights protection towards the creation of humane and just society

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations based in the Middle East today said the intervention made by Migrante-Europe in behalf of Migrante International, the largest alliance of OFWs organizations around the world, is considered a milestone of OFWs struggle for genuine protection of their rights as mandated in the UN Convention on Protection of the rights of Migrant Workers and members of their families.

“This is indeed a new milestone, a break through, as this is the very first time OFWs and their families have been represented by a genuine migrant organizations’ alliance, the Migrante International, in the UN Committee on Migrant workers; this is the very first time the UN-CMW has heard a genuine and critical intervention conveying to the UN special body what is really the real score and vicious effects of RP labor migration program,” Monterona averred.

Monterona said this new milestone is a big step forward on OFWs struggle for genuine rights protection; Migrante’s intervention occurred on April 20 during the opening of the 10th session of the United Nations Committee on Migrant Workers held at the Palasi Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland where Migrante-Europe delivered its critique on the sugar-coated reports by the government of the Republic of the Philippines represented by no less than the most anti-OFW administration of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“Migrante-Europe’s critical intervention, in behalf of Migrante International and its allied and OFWs member-organizations, by presenting its substantive critique to the Arroyo regime’s intensified labor export program, exposing its own vicious effects on the well being and rights of OFWs and members of their families is considered a new milestone and a big step forward on OFWs struggle for genuine protection of their rights and welfare,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

Monterona said on previous years, pseudo migrant organizations have been deceptively representing OFWs and their families which were in fact observed to be conniving with the Arroyo regime; thus the UN-CMW was not given true, fair, and honest reports on the performance of the obligation of the Arroyo administration protecting the rights and welfare of its own migrant workers.

Monterona further said the critical intervention delivered by Migrante-Europe was a by-product of grass roots OFWs’ organizations true collaborative efforts who have put all together their critical observations supported by the thousands documented cases of government neglect and showcasing Arroyo regime’s failure to perform its own obligation as a signatory and ratifying state to the UN Convention on the protection of Migrants rights.

“Without the genuine grass roots OFW organizations which presence are stretched from all over the world, Migrante’s critical intervention to the UN-CMW would not be made possible and could not met its objective of exposing the real vicious effects of Mrs. Arroyo’s intensified labor export program, to mention the underlying social costs of migration and absence of genuine protection and welfare mechanisms for OFWs and their families, among others,” Monterona added.

The OFW leader said the delisting of the Philippines from the list of model states that comply with the UN-Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers (UN-CMW) is a rightful decision made by the UN-CMW to give justice to all victims of Arroyo regime’s criminal neglect-- to thousands OFW victims of abuses, sexual harassment, maltreatment, labor malpractices, overcharging, illegal recruitment, mysterious deaths, and those falsely charged without proper legal assistance and lawyers, and those on death row.

“From now on, OFWs and their families will continue to speak on their own behalf in every international body and gathering like the UN-CMW putting forward its own concerns and issues by demanding its own government and even the host receiving governments to fulfill its duties and responsibilities, and to pro-actively defends migrant rights and advance its own welfare,” Monterona ended. # # #

For reference:
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-ME regional coordinator
Mobile Phone: 00966 564 978 012
Email address:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Migrante at 10th UN Committee on Migrant Workers

PRESS RELEASE23 April 2009

Migrante International calls attention to GRP violations of OFWs rights
at 10th session of UN Committee on Migrant Workers

Philippines deleted as a 'model country' in the UN Guide to the Ratification of the Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers

Migrante International gave a critical intervention during the opening of the 10th session of the United Nations Committee on Migrant Workers held April 20 at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland, wherein it called attention to the violations by the Philippine government of the rights of OFWs, and its non-compliance with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Grace Punongbayan of Migrante Europe together with a representative of Migrante Switzerland, both member organizations of Migrante International, gave the oral intervention in behalf of the Manila-based international alliance.

Migrante International earlier submitted a written report before the start of the 10th session to the Committee that was distributed to the members of the Commission and posted on the website of the UNCMW. It was Migrante's reply to the Initial Report of the Philippine State to the UN Committee dated 25 January 2008 and to the written replies by the Philippine state on the list of issues received by the UN Committee regarding the said initial report dated 2 February 2009.

In its report, Migrante International noted that in 2005, the documented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) had breached the one million mark in deployment. It said OFW deployment averages 3,000 workers a day, pushing the Philippines to rank third as a top migrant-sending country.

“Filipinos numbering 8 million, or approximately a tenth of the population, now live and work in 194 countries and territories around the world, with concentrations in North America, Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Europe. This migration which started by waves in the course of Philippine history has become an almost daily phenomenon since the government initiated its labor export program (LEP) in the 1970s. What was initially meant as a temporary measure to address the country’s unemployment problem has become a regular fixture, massive and systematic in scope, and bruited about as a tool for national development,” Migrante International stated.

Remittances from migrants have kept the Philippine economy continuously afloat. From $659 million in 1984 these remittances have grown to a staggering $16 billion dollars by the end of 2008.

“These remittances were earned at tremendous costs to Filipino migrants and their families who had to endure long years of separation and suffer from various forms of exploitation, abuse, discrimination, violence and terrorism,” Migrante emphasized.

Migrante further stressed in its report that despite its avowed adherence to the Convention, the Philippine state has left out so many things in practice and many times had been caught red-handed over the abuse and criminal neglect of its own citizens. The report of Migrante International to the UN CMW has been endorsed by more than 170 organizations, advocates and individuals from various countries, including church and religious entities, among them, Sr. Ma. Luz F. Mijares, OSA, Superior General, Congregation of Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation; Sr. Emelina Villegas, ICM Provincial Superior, Missionary Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; Sr. Maureen Catabian of the Religious of the Good Shepherd; Task Force Urban Conscientization-Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, and the National Council of Churches of the Philippines.

Migrante International vigorously campaigned for the ratification of the UN Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families by the Philippines State. Migrante Europe, on the other hand, has continued to lobby for the ratification of said Convention by EU member states – none of whom has yet ratified the Convention.

In her intervention during the question and answer part, Punongbayan highlighted the cases of unjustly executed OFW in Saudi Arabia Jenifer Bidoya, the case of the brothers Edison and Rolando Gonzales and Eduardo Arcilla who are in deathrow in a Jeddah jail, the issue of runaway OFWs in the Middle East, consular neglect of OFWs in need of legal assistance, the case of the Sabah refugees and the cases of forced slavery.

She stressed before the Committee that despite the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 8042 and the ratification by the Philippine government of the Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Member of Their Families, the Philippine government has on many occasions violated the rights of OFWs and is guilty of non-compliance with the provisions of the said convention, which the Philippines is a signatory.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (UNCMW) opened the 10th session to look into how the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is complying with its obligations to protect migrants – including Philippine nationals abroad under the UN Convention on the rights of migrant workers. April 24 is the last day of the presentation of the reports. The countries under review by the Committee also include Azerbaijan, Colombia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In an earlier related event, during the meeting of the Steering Committee for the Campaign For Ratification of the Migrants Rights Convention presided by Ms. Carla Edelenbos, secretary of the UN CMW, at the UN in Geneva last April 8, the Philippines was deleted as a model state for compliance with the UN Convention.

The document being referred to where the Philippines was deleted as a “positive case study of state ratification and implementation” is the “Guide on Ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and members of Their Families (ICRMW)”. The steering committee approved the deletion after Rev. Cesar Taguba of the Ecumenical Ministry for Filipinos Abroad and Migrante Europe cited several instances wherein the Philippine government failed to meet its obligations under the Convention.

Present during this meeting, among others, were representatives from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Labor Organization (ILO), International Catholic Migration Commission, and the World Council of Churches. #

1) Garry Martinez
Chairperson, Migrante International
Manila, Philippines
Telefax: (02) 4210768

2) Alex Gregorio
Amsterdam, The Netherlands,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jobapalooza 09: To send OFWs to their deaths

22 April 2009

Gina Esguerra, Secretary General, 09058361412
Ailyn Abdula, Media Liaison, 09212708994

MIGRANTE: Gov’t Labor Day Job Fair to send OFWs to their deaths

In a press conference this morning in Quezon City, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were victims of contract violations and other labor malpractices in Taiwan, Qatar and Libya joined Migrante International in condemning the Philippine government for apparently ramping up its effort to promote overseas employment despite the growing number of cases illegal dismissals, piracy, trafficking, illegal recruitment and human rights violations among OFWs amid the biting global financial crisis.

“Our response to her gimmicks is the mass filing of illegal recruitment cases against concerned recruitment agencies. But more than this, there is one thing in common among all these cases: they are all POEA aprroved! Thus, POEA seems to be directly abetting criminal activities! Thus, we are also studying our options on how we can hold the POEA legally accountable for such injustice.” Migrante Secretary General Gina Esguerra declared.

Migrante particularly scored the government who they said is currently “working triple time” to mount the biggest job fair in the country on Labor Day, “Jobapalooza ‘09”. The group, however, noted that the job fair’s aim is not to provide Filipinos with stable jobs here at home but with dubious jobs overseas.

“At the onset, the Arroyo regime has been a total failure in generating long term and sustainable jobs here in the country. It has been working triple time to promote overseas employment to cover up for this failure. For this regime, Filipinos are cheap commodities for export and it cares little if our compatriots are deployed to the most dirty, difficult, dangerous and degrading jobs and situations abroad,” said Esguerra, noting that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has “gone so desperate” that it is even going directly to the Barangays to register jobseekers for the “Jobapalooza.”

In short, the government is practically knocking door to door to send OFWs to precarious situations, some to their deaths overseas, with their job fairs,” said Esguerra.

Esguerra cited cases that prove why the government’s labor export program is not the solution to the present crisis. She alluded to the case of 50 OFW victims from Libya and 16 from Qatar whose contracts were substituted and were subsequently dismissed from their jobs. Esguerra said contract substitution is a form of illegal recruitment.

She also cited the cases of.over 100 OFWs from Taiwan who after paying exorbitant placement fees ranging from Php 85, 000- 150,000 were illegally dismissed by their employers. She said this is a classic case of overcharging because according to RA 8042, allowed placement fees should only be equivalent to one month salary. “This is also a form of illegal recruitment,” Esguerra said. And yet, all government has done is to offer a paltry loan assistance package that would push OFWs more deep in debt.

Esguerra slammed Arroyo’s slated Labor Day Job Fair, which seems to be part of her hype for her stimulus package, as nothing but “a government sponsored flea market where people are the ones that are up for sale at rock bottom prices.”

She said OFWs under Migrante’s banner worldwide are set to march on Labor Day to highlight the fact why the Arroyo government is the “biggest illegal recruiter in the country.” She said putting the lives of Filipino workers at risk by deploying them to hazardous situations is also a form of illegal recruitment according to RA 8042.###

Good news: Additional Partylist Reps

22 April 2009
Press Release

Saudi OFWs welcomes induction of additional Party-list representatives

Migrante KSA today hailed as “a great leap forward in democratized representation” the decision of the Supreme Court to add 22 party list nominees to the House of Representatives including three progressives such as militant labor leader Joel Maglunsod of Anakpawis, pro-people lawyer Atty. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna and youth leader Raymond Palatino of Kabataan Partylist .

“We are hopeful that the inclusion of the three progressive leaders would assist us greatly in upholding the rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos,” thus declared A. M. Ociones, Chairperson of Migrante Saudi Arabia, while acknowledging that migrant’s representation “remains elusive after our nominee failed to make the cut.”

During the last elections, migrants pinned their hopes on Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) third nominee, Flora Belinan - a domestic helper and community leader in Hongkong who is currently the Chairperson of Migrante International’s chapter in Baguio-Benguet.

GWP failed to garner enough votes to ensure inclusion of its third nominee even as the recent Supreme Court decision overturned the previous formula and consequently increased Partylist representation to 55 seats by stating that “in compliance with the requirement of the Constitution that the marginalized sectors must reach or get the number close to 20% (55 seats) of the district representation.”

“Given the present breadth and militance of Migrante International, the door is now wide open for OFW representation in the next Congress,” Ociones asserts.

While the recent SC decision would allow rabid anti-left and human rights violators Jovito Palparan (of BANTAY) and Jun Alcover (of ANAD) to sit as Congressmen, Ociones accepts this as “necessary and unavoidable bumps in a democracy.”

“In the end, the vigilance and militant struggle of the people and their representatives would diminish the effect of their repugnant presence in the hallowed halls of Congress,” Ociones closed.

For reference:

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

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Arroyo initiated labor agreement

Press Release
18 April 2009

Arroyo initiated labor agreement with migrant receiving govt., not a guarantee to ensure protection of migrant workers’ rights and welfare – Migrante-ME

An alliance of overseas workers’ organizations based in the Middle East today said bilateral labor agreements between the sending and the receiving governments are observed to be ineffective, if not, non-functional at all in protecting migrant workers’ rights and welfare.

“Despite existing bilateral labor agreement between governments, sending and receiving, the rights and welfare of migrant workers as mandated in the United Nations Convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families are not properly observe and abide by signatory states, much more those states that have not ratified the said international instrument,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

The following countries have ratified the Convention as of March 2007- Argentina, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda and Uruguay.

Monterona said the Philippine government, now represented by the Arroyo administration, for instance being one of those states that ratified the UN Convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families are observed to be negligent and inefficient in terms of implementing its provisions especially on protecting OFWs rights and welfare.

“OFWs plight around the world is worsening characterized by numerous cases of abuses, maltreatment; many have been victims of labor malpractices, human trafficking, inhumane living and dangerous working conditions, racism and xenophobia are becoming severe,” Monterona averred.

Monterona said these cases of abuses and maltreatment, labor malpractices, and human trafficking are rampant in the Middle East- where until now no GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) member state has ratified or just even signify its intent to ratify the said international instrument protecting rights of all migrant workers and members of their families.

“Middle East is the top destination of OFWs around the world. In Saudi Arabia for instance, there are an estimated 1.8-M OFWs deployed, and yet the Arroyo administration has been negligent on its responsibility of providing protection to the rights and welfare of OFWs,” Monterona averred.

Migrante-ME states the Arroyo administration, like previous administration and even any succeeding administrations, has the duty to urge and influence counterpart receiving and host governments to ratify the UN convention for the protection of migrant rights and members of their families.

“Sad to say, the Arroyo administration despite its repetitive previous pronouncements that it is working for OFWs rights and welfare seems to be contented pushing for bilateral labor agreements with migrant-receiving governments,” Monterona observed.

“Arroyo’s labor agreements with counterpart host governments still remain in paper and hardly being followed by the receiving host governments especially with regards to social and welfare mechanism and migrant rights’ protection,” Monterona lamented.

Monterona cited though the Philippines has an existing bilateral labor agreements with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, yet cases of abuses, maltreatment, various forms of labor malpractices are rampant on these countries.

The Arroyo regime is also pushing bilateral labor agreements with Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, respectively.

Monterona further said that one of the major blunders of the Arroyo administration’s existing policy of intensified labor exportation is that it practically neglected OFWs rights’ and welfare in exchange of the latter’s huge remittances sent home aside from the billions of pesos collected by the government through various forms of charges and fees impositions, that amounts are not properly used for sustainable developmental projects of the government that would generate jobs locally that would employ the millions of unemployed workers.

Migrante-ME said the Arroyo regime’s intensified human labor exportation is the most vicious of all labor export policies as it reached new height of neglect and abandonment of its responsibility protecting migrant workers’ rights and welfare.

“Expectedly, we are soon to records and to reports more cases of abuses, maltreatment, victims of human trafficking, labor malpractices, incidents of racism and xenophobia,” Monterona ended. # # #

For reference:
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-ME regional coordinator
Mobile Phone: 00966 564 978 012

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jeddah OFW killed by ‘joyride’

Press Release
16 April 2009

Migrant group to OWWA:
Provide all the needed assistance to OFW killed by a ‘joyride driver’ in Jeddah, extend condolences to OFW’s bereaved family

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations based in the Middle East today is urging the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide all the needed assistance to an OFW reportedly killed by a ‘joyride driver’ in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and extend its condolences to OFW’s bereaved family.

“The OWWA, being the premier government welfare agency for OFWs and their families, should provide all the needed assistance to the family of the victim OFW Ryan Fajardo, only 27 years old,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

Monterona said whether the victim is an active OWWA-member or not, his family should be given the needed assistance, including burial assistance.

“All OFW, in one way or another, who are contributing much to keeping the local economy afloat through their regular remittance sent home, OFW victim Ryan Fajardo and his family deserves all the needed assistance especially in time when they needed most an assistance from the government,” Monterona added.

Monterona said the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah must also ensure by proper representation for the OFW victim and his family, to file an appropriate charges against the alleged culprit so that justice will be served.

“The provision of providing the needed assistance to OFW victims of crimes abroad is not enough; if filling an appropriate charge against the perpetrator is necessary, all RP posts abroad must do so without any hesitation so that other foreign nationals and even the locals of the host government would give respect to our OFWs rights and wellbeing,” Monterona averred.

Monterona said it is now the time for the RP government to put forward and advance OFWs rights and welfare, but this may not be possible under the Arroyo administration, which is perceived to be the most neglectful and anti-OFW administration the Philippines ever have.

“Thus, we are calling all Presidential aspirants to be a vanguard of OFWs rights and welfare; the next administration must reject the continued commodification of human labor by rejecting the labor export program of the present Arroyo administration,” the migrant leader continued.

Monterona said the next administration must create jobs locally through sound economic policies such as the genuine implementation of agrarian reform and nationalization of basic industries, getting away from the neo-liberal policies of globalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization.

“But, what we have noticed on the political ads of some presidential aspirants though OFWs’ welfare have been mentioned, no one declared its opposition against the vicious policy of continuously sending OFWs abroad and commodification of human labor,” Monterona added.

“To capture the most number of OFWs votes and their families back home, Presidentiables must include in their platform of governance OFWs and their families agenda especially the elimination of poverty, jobs creation and generation locally, sound social and welfare programs for OFWs and their families among many others,” Monterona ended. # # #

For reference:
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-ME regional coordinator
Mobile Phone: 00966 564 978 012

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Speculative: Jobs in the Middle East

Press Release
15 April 2009

Jobs vacancies in the Middle East for Pinoys merely speculative and being used for human trafficking

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations based in the Middle East today said the job vacancies announced by the Department of Labor and Employment during the short visit the other day of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Dubai are merely speculative jobs opening and are being used by unscrupulous businessmen- owner of recruitment agencies, both in the Philippines and local-counterpart in the host countries.

“The announced jobs openings in the Middle East particularly in United Arab Emirates and Qatar by the Arroyo administration are merely speculative jobs in the pretext that the global financial crisis would end soonest but there are no such indications; worst, these speculative jobs openings are being used by erring recruitment agencies to victimize thousands of unemployed and would-be OFWs,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

Monterona cited the case of the 137 Filipinos as an example that was hired as bus drivers for Road Transport Authority (RTA), a government-owned bus company in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

According to Nhel Morona, Dubai-based Migrante-UAE Secretary-General, during his case dialog yesterday with the 137 OFWs deployed by CYM Manpower, the OFWs manifested that they were given two (2) types of visa- work visa and the other one is tourist visa, with only one control number.

“Their agency intentionally gave them 2 types of visa to evade the existing host government “no work visa, no entry” policy; the work visa is used for this purpose but we suspect what they have given to the 137 OFWs are merely tourist visas,” Morona said.

“What is very suspicious on this case is that there employment contract was certified by the POLO in Dubai and that it would appear to be with no defect only to be found out later that they were victims of human trafficking as there are no available jobs for them,” Monterona surmised.

Morona said the 137 OFWs gone through the normal process of deployment such as undergoing the pre-departure seminar and were given an overseas employment certificate that no one would think they would become victims of human trafficking.

Morona added according to some of the 137 OFWs, their agency have charged them an amount of Php.150, 000 as placement fee which most of them have loaned from a lending agency referred to them by their recruitment agency.

Morona said the 10 out of the 137 OFWs were scheduled to be sent home today as per the information provided by their agency, but there agency is still vacillating on its decision if the rest of them will be sent home immediately.

They are Elisio Maximo, Reynaldo Salas, Walter Araman, Reynaldo Mallari, Cesarlito Borja, Armando Sevilla, Arthur Hernandez, Alvin Lazaro, Napoleon Santos, Joey Sanil Quitaleg. They will be expected to arrive 8:05 p.m. tomorrow via Qatar Airways flight No. PR307.

Migrante-ME is calling members of the Philippine Congress, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, through its respective committees on Labor and employment, and OFWs concerns to conduct a swift and thorough investigation on this case with an aim to prevent unscrupulous recruitment agencies conniving with POLO offices abroad victimizing poor would-be OFWs and OFWs alike.

“This is indeed a season for illegal recruiters victimizing more and more OFWs; their proliferation is made possible courtesy of the Arroyo regime ever determined to intensify the commodification of human labor through its vicious labor exportation even without any guarantee that OFWs rights and welfare will be protected and safeguarded,” Monterona ended. # # #

For references:
Nhel Morona
Migrante-UAE Secretary General
Mobile No.: 00971 504 23 8851

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-ME regional coordinator
Mobile Phone: 00966 564 978 012

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Migrants' gift for GMA

4 April 2009

Migrants birthday presents on the 62nd day of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

For the 62nd birthday of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Migrante International, the largest alliance of Filipino migrant organizations worldwide, gave rotten eggs as a symbol of their contempt for her labor export policy.

“No President has been as determined to sell our migrant workers as cheap commodities,” said Migrante Secretary General Gina Esguerra. “The rotten eggs signify how foul the stench of her corrupt government is and it has reached all 190 countries where OFWs are.”

The Migrante leader said that with the deepening financial and global crisis, government has done nothing for OFWs who have even become more vulnerable to exploitation and abuses. She went on to cite the new batch of retrenched workers from Taiwan, all 50 of them, who have the same complaints as the former batches of retrenched workers: non-payment of the unexpired portion of their contract and overcharging of placement fees.

“What happened to the much-touted ‘assistance teams’ that the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) has been boasting about? We have been receiving reports that these teams are nothing but spokespersons of companies and agencies to convince retrenched workers to accept even more exploitative conditions.”

Esguerra also reported that the number of cases of overcharging, trafficked workers and runaways are being documented daily by Migrante’s Middle East chapters.

“Government’s response to all these is to send a police attache, not a lawyer or an additional welfare officer who can truly help,” continued Esguerra. “We fear that this police attache is to sow fear especially because OFWs are increasingly becoming more vocal about their disgust over this regime.”

“Meanwhile, in Hongkong, domestic workers are up in arms not only against the racial slur of HK magazine columnist Chip Tsao but also against the Arroyo government whose ruthless marketing campaign to sell OFWs as the cheapest commodity around.”

Around the world, migrant workers are restive. Let these rotten eggs be a warning to Arroyo that this social volcano might soon erupt! ###

Gina Esguerra, Secretary General, 09058361412
Ailyn Abdula, Media Liaison, 09212708994

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Illegal recruitment on the rise

2 April 2009

Illegal recruitment on the rise,
Migrante calls for an immediate investigation!

The Secretary-General of Migrante International, Gina Esguerra expressed concern over recent complaints reported to its Middle East chapter that a recruitment agency in the Philippines and its counterpart in Israel are illegally collecting fees from Filipino domestic workers bound for Israel.

“This is an outright violation of The New POEA Guidelines on the Deployment of Filipino Household Service Workers (HSW), that “No fees shall be collected from the HSW either prior to deployment or on-site through salary deduction. Worst, this is an act of illegal recruitment as defined in Section 6 on Illegal Recruitment of the Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995,” Esguerra stressed.

It seems that cases of illegal recruitment are on the rise. Not only is it rampant in Taiwan’ Hong Kong and many other countries where these unscrupulous agencies deploy workers stated the leader of the largest global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations. Despite all the reports and cases filed at the Philippine Overseas Employment administration (POEA)

“The obvious question here is why is the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) not doing anything about this?”

Esguerra recalled that over 100 retrenched workers from Taiwan that came to their office reported that recruitment agencies charged them placement fees that range from P80, 000- P135, 000, when POEA rules limits fees to as much as P25,000, or equivalent to a month’s salary. When the workers filed cases at the POEA against the recruitment agencies so they can claim their money back, they were urged by the POEA to settle for a measly P10, 000 and end their complaints.

“Inutile does not even come close to how we can describe the POEA in prosecuting recruiters which practice overcharging. We cannot help but ask if there is any collusion between the erring agencies and the POEA,” Esguerra propounded.

Esguerra gave support to Migrante ME’s call for an investigation by Congress into this matter.

“It is not enough for the recruitment agencies to be prosecuted. Congress must also look into why the POEA has not put a stop to this practice and why it allows greedy agencies to prey on desperate Filipinos looking for work,” concluded Esguerra.

Gina Esguerra,
Secretary General, Migrante International