Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Low OAV Registration Due to Indifference

Source Verification:
Gi Estrada APMM Area Coordinator

OAV Registration Low Turn Out Due to
Indifference of Philippine Government

The Department of Foreign Affairs and the COMELEC are deluding themselves by targeting 1 million registrants for the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) for the 2010 elections. There is a very limited budget allocated for the exercise to achieve this goal and migrant workers worldwide must press the government to allot more funding to ensure their right to suffrage.

There are fewer actual numbers of Data Capturing Machines (DCM) in working condition that is used for the registration process and a very limited budget compared in the last election period.

Let us take the situation in 4 posts. As of now, there is only 1 DCM in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and supposedly the COMELEC has sent six more there. However, 3 of these have not yet been released by KSA customs officials while another 3 are still on its way. These would be sent to the Embassy in Riyadh and the POLO office in the Eastern region.

In Taiwan, only 3 DCM’s are in workable condition in Taipei, 2 in Kaohsiung from the previous 3, 1 in Taichung and no funding has been sent by the COMELEC. While in Hong Kong, only 33 DCM’s out of the original 54 are in working condition and a paltry US$1276 have been sent by the electoral body. Only one DCM is operating in Macau. It takes 10 minutes for each DCM machine to process 1 registrant.

Philippine Consulate officials also informed migrant community leaders in Hong Kong that there is no clear budget from the COMELEC. Aside from this the COMELEC has also disapproved funding for additional personnel for the OAV unlike during the 2004 elections. Thus in actual operations no one mans the registration process during the days off of consulate personnel.

At present, only 2000 have registered in Riyadh which has hundreds of thousands of OFWs. While the COMELEC reported that as of May 8 this year 69,240 have registered for the OAV worldwide. But the actual number of those registered overseas is only 53,000 as the rest registered at the NAIA and POEA.

COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez was quoted yesterday as saying that the government is still confident to meet its target of 1 million registrants by the end of August. He is silent though on the low number of working DCM’s and the almost non-existent budget for the exercise.

Is this not a way to disenfranchise the migrants vote given that the government’s reputation among OFW’s is not so good given their criminal neglect in handling cases of those who are in distress? They are afraid that the majority of overseas Filipinos will shun the administration’s candidates in the 2010 elections.

It is up to the overseas Filipinos themselves to assert their right to vote and prompt and proper services when they are in distress as they cannot expect the present government to provide these to them.

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
G/F, No.2 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

Tel. no.: (852) 2723-7536
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"We dream of a society where families are not broken up by the urgent need for survival.
We dream and will actively work for a homeland where there is opportunity for everyone to live a decent and humane life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

COMELEC gets a failing grade

Migrante gives COMELEC a failing grade, calls for the extension of OAV Registration

The largest umbrella alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) groups worldwide, gave the Commission on Elections a failing grade on its ongoing overseas absentee voting registration. This, as the poll body announced recently that it has so far approved the registration of 4,751 overseas absentee voters (OAV). The number, the group averred, is less than one percent of the COMELEC’s target million OAV registrants.

“Once again, the COMELEC flunked out on its mission to empower OFWs worldwide by ensuring their right to suffrage. For managing to approve only a microscopic number of absentee voters with barely three months to go before its August 31, 2009 deadline; we give the COMELEC a resounding failing mark,” said Migrante Chairman Garry Martinez.

The group likewise castigated the poll body for misleading the public when it expressed confidence that it can still meet its 1 million target despite the dismal OAV registration turnout. Migrante maintained that when the COMELEC decided to cut short the OAV registration period for two months, it single-handedly disenfranchised millions of potential absentee voters..

The COMELEC, thru Resolution No. 8556, promulgated November 27, 2008, ruled to reset the resumption of the OAV registration from December 1, 2008 to February 1, 2009. It would be recalled that Migrante was among the first organizations to raise strong objections in that COMELEC decision, saying that it would translate to massive disenfranchisement among OFW voters.

“While we commit our global ranks to OFW empowerment by way of the ballot, Migrante International urges the COMELEC to extend the ongoing OAV registration to December this year in order to accommodate the millions of OFWs who are eligible to vote in 2010. We also demand that satellite registrations be done by posts and consulates worldwide more frequently in order to reach the broadest number of OFWs,” Martinez said.

Migrante International and its member organizations in 22 countries worldwide strongly lobbied for the passage of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act. It was signed into law on February 13, 2003.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Migrante warns presidentiables

May 11, 2009
Reference: Garry Martinez , Chairperson
Mobile: 09217229740

Migrant group warns presidentiables on OFWs’ plight

Migrante International, a global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations, cautioned presidential aspirants on supporting policies that might exacerbate the predicaments of OFWs abroad.

The group claimed that in the past elections, OFW issues have been one of the main considerations of voters in picking their candidates. They named two presidential hopefuls whose campaign might be affected by issues concerning OFWs.

“We believe that the recent deployment of JPEPA nurses could hound Senator Roxas’ presidential bid. Indonesia sent their nurses to Japan under the same arrangement a year ago and complaints from Indonesian migrants are already mounting. Even the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) has stated that the said agreement with Japan would lower the labor standard for our professional nurses abroad,” stated Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Senator Mar Roxas was the main sponsor of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement which was ratified by the Senate in October last year. Included in the agreement was the hiring of nurses and caregivers of Japanese hospitals from the Philippines .

“In the said agreement, a high school graduate sumo wrestler has a better chance to be hired as a nurse in Japan as compared to a topnotch, practicing, professional Filipino nurse,” warned Martinez .

Martinez explains that the Japanese sumo wrestler needs only to pass the 4 year nursing course. While under JPEPA, Filipino professional nurses are required to undergo Nihonggo lessons for six months. Only after passing the language course can they be hired as a nursing aide for three years while preparing to pass the Japanese government’s exam for nursing.

“And even if they pass these exams they will still have to receive a salary which is lower than their local counterpart. Because of JPEPA, this unjust process may now be used as a template by other countries that hires health professionals from the Philippines ,” Martinez added.

Noli should be held liable

Migrante likewise chided Vice-President Noli de Castro, another presidential hopeful, with the recent return of distressed OFWs from Lebanon . Upon their arrival in the airport, the 57 OFWs, mostly domestic helpers, complained that they have suffered sexual and physical abuse, non-payment of salaries and other forms of maltreatment.

“VP de Castro was the first one who sanctioned the lifting of the deployment ban in Lebanon even with the absence of a thorough investigation of previous abuses against OFWs in the said country,” exclaimed Martinez .

The deployment ban in Lebanon was imposed in 2006 due to the security threat posed by the attacks of Israeli forces in the southern part of Lebanon . In February of this year, VP de Castro and DFA officials endorsed the lifting of the ban claiming that the said country is already safe for deploying OFWs.

“As Presidential Adviser for OFWs, VP de Castro is liable for the ill effects being brought about by the lifting of the deployment ban to OFWs in Lebanon . It is incumbent upon VP de Castro to take the safety of OFWs as his prime concern rather than the opening of additional labor markets abroad even at the expense of their rights and welfare,” Martinez added.

The group announced that they will closely monitor the stance of aspiring candidates’ on OFW protection as the 2010 election comes to near. They claim that they will actively campaign against any candidate who supports the intensification of labor exportation that is being done by the present administration. ####

Saturday, May 2, 2009

GMA: Greedy for remittance, criminally negligent

Press Statement
2 May 2009

GMA: Greedy for remittance, criminally negligent

This is in reaction to the speech of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the AFP change of Command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo today who said "We salute our great Filipino worker for remitting more funds to our shores, for sustaining the hopes of our country and the dreams of their families,".

With such pronouncement, OFWs and their families could only deduced that She is no less than a greedy President who is criminally negligent to OFWs well being, rights and welfare, who is much willing to market millions of unemployed despite the bargain of its labor to the exploit and demise of foreign employers.

Our migrant workers often fall prey victims of human traficking, illigal recruitment, abuses, sexual harassment, maltreatment, labor malpractices, and racism and other forms of discrimination. Almost on a daily basis we could witness the deplorable plight of our fellow OFWs in different parts of the World. With the intensification of labor export by the Arroyo regime, thousands have been victims and more are to become victims of its vicious labor exportation policy.

The deplorable plight of OFWs abraod are worsening amid the absence of genuine protection mechanism for the protection of OFW rights and welfare and genuine social and welfare services. The OWWA fund held in trust to the government now reached to Php.11.7-B, but DoLE-POEA-OWWA failed to implement programs that would help alleviate the economic and socio-political conditions of most OFWs and their families.

Mrs. Arroyo failed to recognize the need to develope the local economy by getting away from the neo-liberal policies of globalization- privatization, liberalization, deregulation, and denationalization. Thus, its blind adherence to neo-liberal policies of globalization resulted to the destruction of our basic industries needed to rebound our struggling economy. The Arroyo regime failed to generate and create local jobs with decent pay; all it could do is to sell our human labor cheap abroad now relying solely to OFWs remittances and on the billions of fees and charges it imposes and collected to OFWs.

We will intensify our campaign, in whatever way we could, to expose and oppose Mrs. Arroyo's intensified labor export policy that further commodifies human labor.

Migrante vow to continuosly provide assitance to all OFW victims abroad as they were the very victims of this regime's crinimal neglect.

We maintain that the intensified exportation of human labor and its full deregulation is not the solution, but rather as an off shot of our society's basic problems, as thought by Mrs. Arroyo and her economic advisers.

For Reference:

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-ME regional coordinator