Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Migrants group to Obama: What change?

29 July 2009

Garry Martinez, Chairperson-09217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994

Migrants group to Obama: What change?

A global alliance of migrant Filipinos dubbed the Obama-Arroyo meeting as another raw deal- in- the -making that will guarantee continued assurance for the United State’s interest in the Philippines in exchange for President Arroyo’s way out from the wrath of the Filipino people.

“President Arroyo’s main agenda in meeting President Obama is how she will be assured of her safety from prosecution once her term ends in 2010. Such assurance could include the US nod to her plan to be prime minister through charter change after the election,” explains Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Martinez expects that President Arroyo will in turn assure that US interest will continue to be its prime concern. The deal, Martinez alleged, will include not only the revisions in economic provision in the Constitution favoring foreign businesses but also of its continued support to the US War on Terror through the Visiting Forces Agreement and its Anti-Terrorism Law.

“President Obama has made change his mantra along with the calls for respecting human rights and abhorrence to despotic leaders. For him to shake hands with President Arroyo, who represents all that is opposite to his alleged principles, means only that much is at stake for the US. In this looming shady deal, only one thing is certain: the Filipino people who will once again be left in the losing end.” declared Martinez.

Migrante added that there is no way that President Obama can come out clean after the said meeting. The group suspects that President Arroyo has already prepared a spin on how she will politically benefit after the photo opportunity with President Obama.

“President Arroyo is a shrewd political opportunist. She will shamelessly capitalize on the said meeting as her shroud of protection and blessing for her diabolical plans. This is the very same reason why she made her SONA so vague on her political plans,” Martinez added.

Despite its avowed pessimism of the meeting, however, the group still stated their message to President Obama on his meeting with President Arroyo.

“The change we want is for the US domination in the Philippines to end so that we can finally chart our own future as a genuine sovereign nation. The change we want is for us to harvest the wealth of our nation and rebuild a society where families are not broken up by force migration. If President Obama is not ready to accept this kind of change, then the only change that will be revealed in the near future is the change on his true political color,” Martinez concluded. ###

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beheaded OFWs will haunt GMA

28 July 2009


Garry Martinez, Chairperson-09217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994

After PGMA’s SONA:
Beheaded OFWs will haunt her – Migrante

The biggest global alliance of OFWs belied claims made by President Arroyo on her SONA saying her administration holds the record for unparalleled exploitation and abuse against overseas Filipinos including the most number of OFWs that were beheaded under its term.

“The daughter of Rey Cortez lost her sanity due to the trauma caused by the beheading of her father last July 13, 2007. The Arroyo administration has turned its back on helping Rey’s family to cope with the tragedy. If they heard the President’s SONA, we are pretty sure that instead of the 126 times of applause, the Batasang Pambansa would shudder at the thunder of angry voices of OFWs,” says Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Martinez was reacting to the SONA of President Arroyo when she defended her frequent trips abroad by claiming that these trips were spent to visit and to listen to the problems of overseas Filipinos as well as to talk to the host governments of countries where they are working. She also claimed that she was looking for opportunities for the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos looking for jobs.

“Jenifer Beduya, Miguel Fernandez, Wilfredo Bautista, Antonio Alvesa, Sergio Aldana and Rey Cortez, the 6 OFWs who were beheaded under President Arroyo’s term, must have turned in their unmarked graves in Saudi Arabia when she said that the billions of pesos spent in her lavish trips were done in their name. The question now is how many more are going to be beheaded in her remaining trips abroad?” Martinez chided.

Martinez blames the appointment of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo as Presidential Adviser for OFWs in 2001 as a major reason why government failed in saving OFWs from death row. The group asserted that it was during Mike Arroyo’s stint that the government applied a new tact in dealing with OFWs facing capital punishments.

“Upon Mike Arroyo’s appointment, the government adopted a policy of raising funds for blood money from the business sector instead of providing appropriate legal assistance to OFWs in death row. Paying blood money is tantamount to admitting a crime that relinquishes the innocence of the suspected OFW who was not even adequately defended in the legal process. This has become the signature of the Arroyo administration in its mishandling of OFW cases up to the present,” added Martinez.

Migrante even reminded the President that three (3) of her fellow Capampangans are right now awaiting their execution in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The said OFWs are Edison and Rolando Gonzales and Eduardo Arcilla who were sentenced to die by beheading by the Saudi courts for murder.

“The Gonzales brothers and Arcilla were tortured by the Saudi authorities to admit to crimes they have not committed. Up to now, the President continues to ignore the issue of torture perpetrated against the said OFWs. A brazen proof that what she said in her SONA are all self-serving lies,” exclaimed Martinez

Migrante likewise claims that the plight of OFWs under the 9 year term of the Arroyo administration has become worse especially the situation of migrant women.

“We found it ironic that at the same time President Arroyo was boasting of her efforts to protect the welfare of OFWs during her SONA, Philippine Labor Attaché Josephus Jimenez was reporting that about 5 to 10 Filipina maids flee from their abusive employers in Kuwait daily. We challenge other embassy officials to belie the claims made by the President during her SONA and expose the real condition of OFWs under her term,” Martinez dared.

Recently, Migrante revealed that cases of violence against migrant women have been increasing. An alarming trend of Filipina maids being abused in groups were also noted.

The group criticized the 9 year term of President Arroyo as a corrupt ridden administration that utilized OFW welfare funds for its own interest specifically during the 2004 presidential election.

“The only legacy that will be left by President Arroyo to OFWs is its shameless pilfering of OFW funds that were used to commit electoral fraud in the 2004 presidential elections instead of utilizing it to give assistance to distressed OFWs. Php530 million of the OWWA funds were transferred to Philhealth upon the prodding of then Philhealth President Francisco Duque. The said fund was later used to distribute free Philhealth cards during her campaign trail. This was done at the same time when hundreds of thousands of OFW contributors were disenfranchised from their benefits upon the imposition of OWWA Omnibus Policies in 2003,” Martinez concluded.###

Saturday, July 18, 2009

OFW groups denounce martial rule

Press Release
16 June 2009

OFW groups denounce Machiavellian conspiracy to justify imposition of martial rule;
“Not even a single OFW OK’d “con-ass”, cha-cha, and Arroyo’s reign beyond her term”

OFWs organizations in the Middle East headed by the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS), a pioneering member-organization of Migrante International along with Migrante-KSA chapters in Al Khobar and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and other OFWs organizations will be having a press conference tomorrow to formally announce the formation of OFWs broad alliance against ‘con-ass”, Charter change and Mrs. Arroyo’s reign beyond her term and denounce the Machiavellian conspiracy of the Arroyo administration to justify the imposition of martial rule in the Philippines.

“OFWs in Saudi Arabia and in the Middle East are united in their opposition against “con-ass” and Charter change; tomorrow we will formally launch OFW organizations’ alliance and will denounce the Machiavellian conspiracy as a desperate move by Macapagal-Arroyo clique to put the country under state of martial law and perpetuate in power under the wishes of its US imperialist masters,” said Eric Jocson, KGS Chairperson.

Jocson said the formation of a OFWs broad alliance is a milestone for migrant workers movement in a place where freedom to express political views and beliefs are restricted.

“But the prevailing situations where we are is not a hindrance to express our collective opposition against a despotic, anti-people and anti-OFWs, and a puppet Arroyo regime who surrendered our national independence and much willing to sell our nation’s wealth and patrimony in favor of her US imperialist masters,” Jocson added.

Migrante chapters in the Middle East is also readying to join the “No Remittance” day as legitimate and fair protest action against the betrayal of our people’s trust by Mrs. Arroyo and her allies in Congress in their vain attempt to effect changes in the Constitution to serve their selfish interests to remain in power and sell out of our nation’s wealth and patrimony.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator said aside from urging the families and relatives of OFWs back home to join protests actions scheduled on the 27th July, OFWs have already expressed their support to the “No remittance” day on the 27th of July if Arroyo-dominated Congress will convene “con-ass”.

“Our planned “No Remittance” Day campaign is a legitimate political act of OFWs and their families not just against “con-ass” being desperately pushed by the Arroyo administration and its Machiavellian plot to justify imposition of martial law but also manifests our strong condemnation against the gross negligence committed by the most-anti OFW Arroyo administration,” Monterona added.

“We have a government under the Arroyo administration that is neglectful and have long been committing economic plunder of our nation, and at the expense of the millions of OFWs’ sweat and blood who were forced to work abroad due to its failure to create jobs locally with decent wage and benefits due to our workers,” Monterona averred.

Monterona reiterates in no way OFWs could be accused of being economic saboteurs by acting collectively not to remit even in just a single day if pro-administration Congressmen convene its “con-ass” to effecting changes in the Constitution that betrays our people’s trust.

“The Arroyo administration and its minions are the real economic saboteur as we have seen unto the numerous alleged cases of graft and corruptions and anomalous deals involving the administration,” Monterona added.

“OFWs and their families have enough reasons to completely withdraw their trust and confidence to the anti-people, anti-OFWs and most distrusted Arroyo administration,” Monterona ended. # #

OFWs also preparing for SONA

18 July2009

Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer,09212708994

Zero-Remittance Day set:
OFWs also preparing for SONA

“Zero Remittance on the First day of Con-Ass: this is our clarion call to all and sundry who would try to subvert further the last modicum of democracy in our country.”

This was the reiteration of Migrante International’s resolution in a press conference held at the Cypress Café today. A little over a week before the last State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo (PGMA), the largest alliance of Filipino migrant organizations also unveiled the plans of its chapters across the globe to “register their protest actions against the convening of a constitutional assembly (con-ass) by Congress or any dastardly scheme to extend the term of PGMA, through a con-ass, emergency rule or coup.”

“To many OFWs, PGMA is the epitome of everything we distrust and hate about government: pabaya, mukhang pera, sinungaling at mandaraya!” declared Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International. “Thus, we want to be absolutely clear that this SONA will truly be her last.”

“More and more OFWs and their families want to ‘stand and be counted’ as they realize the importance of their economic and political role in Philippine society,” continued Martinez, “and they are increasingly realizing how they can, indeed, send a strong message to the government.”

Vanessa Valmadrid, the wife of an ofw in Taiwan, present at the press conference, also declared: “My husband will support this Zero Remittance day call of Migrante. I told him that my daughter and I understand that no remittance for a day is nothing compared to all the hardships we endured as OFWs. Para sa aming OFWs, ang kapabayaan ng gobiyernong ito ay mas kasuklam-suklam kaysa sa mga dinaranas na pangaapi naming sa kamay ng mga dayuhan. Mas masakit malaman na pagkatapos kang pagkakitaan ng husto ng gobiyerno, parang trapo ka lang na ihahagis kung wala na silang perang makukuha sa iyo.”

Valmadrid, a worker in Taiwan retrenched last December, is still waiting for the government to resolve cases she filed against her recruitment agency continued, “Ngayon ko nakikita ang kahalagahan ng pagkilos ng mga OFWs!”

“Kasama kaming migranteng Pilipino sa nagmamartsang sambayanan laban sa Con-Ass!” added Martinez. He cited the growing strength and growing awareness of organized OFWs and their families as he enumerated their various protest activities building up to the SONA as they heed the call for a Countdown to the SONA starting July 20.

“For the first time in history, a synchronized Black Friday protest on July 24 will simultaneously be held by our Middle East chapters in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, a thousand strong kababayans in Hongkong under the banner of UNIFIL will be marching on the streets on the 26th, simultaneous with our kababayans in South Korea.

Halfway across the globe, our kababayans in Canada are also gearing up for a simultaneous action in all key areas of Canada. Our counterparts in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom have signified their intention to join the Zero Remit campaign while Migrante Australia will be holding a protest action at the Philippine Consulate in Sydney on July 27.”

“Sa ilalim ng pamahalaang US-Arroyo, lalong lumala ang kalagayan naming OFWs. This government is so greedy and so desperate to stay in power that it is selling our kababayans like slaves: available to anyone for the right price. PGMA does not care if OFWs are in countries that are at war, or blatantly violate international labor standards, or have had thousands of cases of violence against women! declared Garry Martinez, chairperson of the largest alliance of Filipino migrant organizations across the globe. “PGMA’s only interest in us is for us to bring home the bacon, so to speak—through exorbitant state exactions and remittances to keep the economy afloat.”

Migrante International and its chapters in the country will also be conducting protest actions and will be joining all chapters around the world for a synchronized protest on the eve of the SONA. ###


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lack of protection for women OFWs

14 July 2009

Garry Martinez, Chairperson-09217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994

Pinay OFWs being victimized in groups
Migrante assails lack of protection for women OFWs

Migrante International, a global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations, staged a picket in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs today to denounce the government’s failure to protect women OFWs who are working abroad. The group, likewise, raised serious concerns about the emerging trend of Filipinas abroad being abused in groups.

“The intensified labor export program of the Arroyo administration, which is desperately marketing OFWs as cheap labor, is taking its toll on many of our women working in different countries across the globe,” said Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

The group claimed that, lately, their office is being swamped by cases of violence against women migrants, and that most of the victims are domestic helpers in the Middle East. To date, the number of cases Migrante is handling involve about 60 cases of abuse against women.

“There is a disturbing trend in the kind of cases we are handling recently. We used to receive only individual cases of abuses against female OFWs, but this year there is a surge of cases of rape and other forms of abuse against groups of women OFWs in a single place of incident,” revealed Martinez.

Martinez explained that starting January this year, they were already presented with the case of 5 Filipinas languishing in jail in Syria. The women were alleged victims of human trafficking and were being starved and sexually molested in prison.

In February, Migrante said, more cases from two groups of women OFWs, one in UAE and another in Kuwait, also complained of being incarcerated for running away from their abusive employers.

“Since last month, 3 groups of women came to us asking for assistance, one group is from Saudi Arabia and two groups from Oman. The cases range from maltreatment to slavery and multiple rapes by their employers or recruiters. In all these cases is the common thread of government inaction!” exclaimed Martinez.

According to Martinez, one of the common complaints of the Pinays is the inutility of the government to protect them and that most of those who were able to escape were not even given proper legal assistance to prosecute their assailants.

“Sad to say, since the start of this year, not a single abusive employer or recruiter was even charged of their crimes. Most of the victims have told us that our embassy officials abroad are even discouraging them to formally file cases against the perpetrators, saying that it will only prolong their stay in the embassy premises. OFWs were even advised to just return home to their loved ones and forget about the abuses that happened to them. This is the legacy that President Arroyo will leave among our OFWs when her term ends next year,” Martinez concluded.

Migrante plans to make a formal report to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Migrants Rights and other international bodies that can help the victims seek justice and reparations from their alleged assailants. The United Nations General Assembly crafted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1993 and by December 17, 1999, it designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. ####

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hold remittances against Con-Ass

8 July 2009

Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson-09217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994

Migrante points bombing to Malacanang
Petition to hold remittances against Con-Ass launched

In their kick off activity at the seamen’s lurk along Kalaw to launch a petition signing campaign against term extension, calling for a Zero-Remittance Day once the constituent assembly (Con-Ass) convenes, Migrante International warned the people that President Gloria Arroyo is desperate to cling into power and is capable of resorting to other measures, including a scenario that is similar to the months preceding martial law.

The group was referring to the series of bombings and bomb threats that have hit the country, particularly in Mindanao that have killed many innocent civilians.

“It is only the Arroyo administration who will benefit most if these bombings will lead to a state of emergency. We call on the people to be vigilant and continue to demonstrate that they will not let President Arroyo getaway with her crime against the people by extending her term either through con-ass or through a palace coup,” said Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

The group pointed out that Malacanang could easily blame the bombing and other looming destabilization incidences to the opposition and other militant groups, as it has done in the past, to justify what is called a staged coup de etat that will perpetuate President Arroyo into power indefinitely.

“We will try to reach the biggest number of OFWs and their families here in the country to suspend sending their remittances for a day; that is, on the first day of Con-Ass once it convenes. At the same time, our chapters abroad are also getting ready to raise their opposition to any scenario that will prolong President Arroyo’s term in Malacanang,” adds Martinez

Migrante plans to put up other petition signing activities in places where OFWs are concentrated. The group also announced that they will compile all the signatures and submit them in congress during the State-of-the-Nation-Address of President Gloria Arroyo this coming July 27, 2009. #####


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Additional burden to OFWs

For Immediate Release:
8 July 2009

On the recently issued POEA Memo No. 5 & 6 Series of 2009
Only an additional burden to OFWs and their families;
a mere money-making venture by the most corrupt, most anti-OFW Arroyo admin. -Migrante-Middle East

(POEA's Memorandum Circular No. 5 which added 44 more overseas jobs to the low and semi-skilled category “to strengthen the protection mechanism for overseas Filipino workers." And Memorandum Circular No. 6 requiring the issuance of exit clearances, individual employment contracts, processing requests, accomplished information sheets, employment visas or work permits; pre-departure orientation seminar certificates from the POEA, language orientation certificates from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and national certificates from the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (Tesda).)

POEA's MC No.5 & 6 is not really intended to protect OFWs especially those clasified as low and semi-skilled workers as it will only add burden of paying formalities mentioned in MC No.6. These are in fact a way or means to siphoned OFWs money through additonal impositions of fees and charges. Already an out-bound OFW is paying more than Php.20,000 for procesing of deployment formalities not to include the placement fee which is equivalent to 1-mo. salary.

Abuses and maltreatment of OFWs happened at the work sites and that the Arroyo regime through its line agencies like DFA, DoLE-POEA.OWWA have been proven inutile in protecting OFWs well being and rights abroad, the mere fact that daily we have been assisting lots of OFWs who ran away from their employers due to abuses and maltreatment.

Thus, for us POEA MC no. 5 & 6 are just mere part of the govt. continued imposition of fees and charges burdenning them a lot amid economic crisis.

We demand that it will be revoked as it is only a facade to the continued criminal neglect of the Arroyo regime to OFWs and their families. We will map out plans to show our opposition against these another money-making venture of the POEA under the most corrupt, most anti-OFWs Arroyo regime to struggling OFWs and their families.

OFWs around the world will participate on our "No Remittance" day campaign if "con-ass" convenes on 27th July as we are recieving pledges of support from various OFWs organizations. (end)

for reference:
John Leonard
Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Frustrate GMA’s “dirty” machination

Press Release
1 July 2009

OFWs and their families ready to respond to the “call of the time”-
Frustrate Mrs. Arroyo’s “dirty” machination to stay in power beyond her term

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers based in the Middle East today called on the more than 10-M Overseas Filipinos around the world along with their families back home to be ready to respond to the “call of time”- that is to frustrate Mrs. Arroyo and her political allies’ dirty machinations just to stay in power beyond her term.

“Mrs. Arroyo and her political allies in Congress are now isolated with the general public as her administration is becoming more desperate with fast ticking little time remaining to even staged dirty machinations just to justify a no-election scenario and/or imposition of martial rule,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said the Filipino people along with OFWs around the world are watching in any untoward socio-political events in the Philippines that would put every Filipinos freedom and liberty in peril, and would respond actively to the “call of the time” by exposing to the international community the wickedness of the most ambitious President of the Philippines just to stay in power for whatever costs it is much willing to bet.

“It is easy for the 10-M OFWs scattered around the world to watching on the socio-political development back home brought by high-technology and better communication system; we can use the same to propagate our strong opposition and launched coordinated campaign protest actions to frustrate Mrs. Arroyo’s wicked plan of staying in power beyond her term,” Monterona added.

Monterona opined the series of bombings and findings of ‘planted’ bombs in several government agencies’ vicinity in Metro Manila are intended to sow fears to the general public and to foster chaos creating a scenario that would justify the giving of emergency power by pro-administration dominated Congress to the President– a prelude to the imposition of martial law.

“We are seeing now the remake of martial law imposition during Marcos time orchestrated by no less than the Arroyo regime, thus it won’t be a surprise at all if bomb explosions will reverberate Metro Manila and nearby provinces; but the Filipino people and OFWs and their families will not let this happen again,” Monterona added.

Monterona said the ‘call of the time’ is to be vigilant and for every freedom-loving Filipinos abroad to join hands fighting a common enemy by exposing Mrs. Arroyo’s evil plans in whatever way the Filipino communities and OFWs around the world could do in their own respective ways.

“Our ‘No Remittance’ day campaign is gaining grounds among the Filipino communities and OFWs organizations, as well as individual OFWs expressing their willingness to participate as they are already asking us when is the internationally coordinated ‘No Remittance’ day,” Monterona revealed.

Monterona said his group is yet to determine when exactly is OFWs internationally coordinated ‘No Remittance’ day, but said “It must be on the day when the pro-Administration Congressmen convene their fake ‘con-ass’ during the opening of Congress regular session right after Mrs. Arroyo delivered her State of the Nation Address.

Migrante chapters in the Middle East are continuously launching series of discussions and consultations among OFWs and their organizations campaigning against ‘con-ass’, Cha-cha and Mrs. Arroyo’s perpetuation in power beyond her term. (end) # # #

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