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

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."


Namamalagi, in behalf of the Executive Committee,

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. # # #

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. # # #

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

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Relief drive in KSA for Typhoon victims

Press Release
27 September 2009

Largest OFW group urges Filipino Communities, OFW organizations to donate for Typhoon “Ondoy” victims

Migrante-Middle East, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East today urges the Filipino community and other OFW organizations in the Middle East to mobilize their members and officers to start collecting donations, relief goods and clothings from compatriots abroad for the victims of typhon “Ondoy” that caused floods in Metro Manila and nearby provinces victimizing thousands of families.

“We will mobilize our Migrante chapters and member-organizations into a coordinating bodies in their respective countries that will spearhead gathering of donations, goods, and clothes for the relief operations of our allied non-government organizations in Metro Manila,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator and Migrante Sectoral Party Vice Chairperson.

Monterona said Migrante chapters will coordinate this effort with different Filipino Communities and Filipino organizations in the Middle East and will ask assistance from RP officials abroad so that they could gather as many as possible goods, clothes and donations.

Monterona said the Filipino Community and other OFWs organizations may contact the below listed Migrante officers in Saudi Arabia for their donations, clothings, and canned goods:

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: KGS-Migrante Chairperson Eric Jocson Mobile No. 0531822766
KGS-Migrante Sec.Gen Mike Garlan Mobile No. 0505629 89930

Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia: Migrante-Khobar Chairperson Choie De Leon, 0569117563
Migrante-Khobar Sec.Gen Gerry De Guzman, 0507373906

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: Migrante-Jeddah Chairperson Bob Fajarito, 050502745340

For other countries in the Middle East, our Filipino compatriots abroad may call John Leonard Monterona at mobile no. 00966 564978012 or email at, so that they can be refered to Migrante coordinators/officers who will be ready to receive their donations.

“Wala namang ibang magtutulungan kundi tayong mga magkababayan kahit milya-milya man ang layo natin sa ating Bayang sinilangan,” Monterona ended. # # #

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stranded OFWs appeal

22 September 2009

Stranded OFWs in Saudi deportation center appeal for food, medicines, and immediate repatriation;
OFW group presses visiting Gloria to bring them all home

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers organizations in the Middle East today said the remaining more than a 100 OFWs inside the Hajj Airport deportation center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is loosing hope as their appeal for supply of food, medicines, and their immediate repatraition just fall short to the deaf ears of visiting Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“The 31 stranded OFWs at cell no.1 of the Hajj Airport deportation center keep on calling and sending us short messages praying that they will be attended and be given regular supply of food, medicines, and be repatraited home especailly when they have heared the news that Mrs. Arroyo arrived in Jeddah yesterday,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

Monterona said he regularly received an SMS from certain Ryan who have manifested from his one SMS sent to him saying “nagsurender kami pra maka-uwi sa Pinas, bakit kami ikukulong ng matagal? Hindi kmi pumatay o nagnakaw? Yan ang tanong namin? Hindi kami nag-murder na ikukulong. (We surendered so that we be sent back in the Philippines, why we are being held for so long? We never killed or stolen? That’s our question? We never murdered someone to be put in jail.)

“Yesterday, another stranded OFW who introduced himself as Roland manifested that they need foods, medicines, and appeal that they be repatriated soonest. He and his fellow stranded in cell no.1 manifested that they never received any assitance from the Philippine Consulate General office in Jeddah,” Monterona added.

Monterona said one of the objectives of Mrs. Arroyo’s visit to Saudi is to work for the “protection of OFWs” in Saudi Arabia, but she never mentioned it during her speech in front of a “hakot” crowd giving her applause everytime she mentioned her “accomplishments” for OFWs and their families.

“Their is nothing new to what she has been said during her supposed meeting with the Filipino Community in MoveNPick Hotel in Al Khobar the other day. There is no dialogue held and practically she evades to answer legitimate demands and concerns of our fellow OFWs,” Monterona added.

Monterona said he and other Migrante officers attempted to attend on the scheduled meeting of Mrs. Arroyo with the Filipino Community, but they were stop to enter at the entrance of the Hotel’s function roon where she delivered her well rehearsed, uninteresting, non-sense speech because according to an Embassy official they were not invited despite recognition from the Embassy itself that Migrante is a legitimate OFW organization in Saudi Arabia.

“Even the issue of stopping the “Embassy on Wheels” program allegedly due to lack of funds is just pure poor gimmick where Mrs. Arroyo mentioned on her speech that it will continue anyway because she will put additional funds for its continued operation but in fact the “Embassy on Wheels” program’s budget is already included in the yearly budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA),” Monterona averred.

Monterona further said that Mrs. Arroyo is also trying to impress the Saudi government so that it could ask funds for her “peace initiative” in Mindanao.

“But with the continued militarization in Mindanao, even during Eid El Ftir, that is causing havoc to the lives of our Muslim brothers and sisters, we doubt if she could get the support or funds for her bogus peace initiative in Mindanao; after all Mrs. Arroyo is not interested in establishing a peaceful country as her militarist-minded government peace negotiators are sabotaging to derail the peace negotions with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and with the CPP-NPA-NDF,” Monterona opined.

Monterona said Muslim OFWs in Saudi Arabia could not accept and are dismayed on Arroyo government’s continued and intense militarization in Mindanao where OFWs families are greatly affected, homes and jobs devastated, and could not live a normal life, thus forcing them to accept jobs abroad.

“In fact, there are Muslim brothers and sisters inside the Jedahh deportation center now wishing to be back home only to be re-united with their displaced loved ones due to continued militarization in their own land,” Monterona added.

“We reiterate our demands to the Arroyo government to provide regular supply of food, medicines, and work for the immediate repatration of the remaining stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia, especially those in jail and the 26 OFWs in death row,” Monterona added.

Monterona ended saying “Mrs. Arroyo is cleverly grabbing the credit of repatriating the 120 stranded OFWs from the Saudi government which is actually has a yearly program of sending thousands stranded migrants workers including OFWs to be back home as part of the Saudi government goodwill gesture right after the Holy Month of Ramadan.”
* * *

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

Beware: Malicious individuals misrepresenting Migrante

Press Release
23 September 2009

Malicious individuals using, misrepresenting Migrante
Fellow OFWs alerted to contact legit members and officers only

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East today said it received several reports from its different chapters in the Middle East specifically from Migrante chapter in Al Khobar that there are individuals maliciously using Migrante’s name and are rendering “counselling” only to put distress OFWs into a more troubled situation.

“We would like to alert our fellow OFWs especially those in distress to be careful dealing with individuals misrepresenting Migrante claiming that they are members and officers but only to find out that they are not officers/members, and are giving wrong advises and are asking for money in exchange of the “counselling” services they have rendered to distress OFWs seeking assistance,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said these malicious and unscrupolous individuals pretending to be Migrante members or officials are desperate enough to destroy the name and credibility of Migrante as the most active OFWs group providing assistance to distress, run away, and stranded OFWs in the Middle East.

“We will not allow that Migrante’s name, proven and untarnished records of serving fellow OFWS could be used and tainted by these wicked individuals just to advance its own narrow selfish interests by duping distress OFWs and who are collecting money from OFW victims of abuses and maltreatment,” Monterona added.

Monterona said such was the case of OFW Peter (not his real name), who requested anonymity, that he approached to a person who introduced himself as Migrante official in Al Khobar.

OFW Peter, a family driver, said he was scolded by her lady employer because it has been calling him on his cell phone for several minutes but he failed to respond and took sometime to notice that her lady employer is waiting for quite sometime at a mall where he dropped it. Due to this incident, OFW Peter was nearly slapped by the angry husband of her lady employer and was told that he’ll be fired from his job.

Monterona said the incident prompted OFW Peter to look for someone who could give him advise and guide him on what to do, until somebody told him that he knew a Migrante official where he could ask for assistance and advise.

“These malicious individuals using Migrante’s name advised OFW Peter to run away from his employer and that they will provide him a temporary shelter only if he will give them 1,500 Saudi riyals,” Monterona added.

Doubting the intentions of these malicious individuals who introduced themselves as Migrante officials, OFW Peter called the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Al Khobar and state his case; and that someone on Migrante is helping him but asking an amount.

POLO official asked OFW Peter the name of these “people from Migrante” but found out that he is not the one Migrante has officially appointed to attend welfare cases.

“Migrante chapters in the Middle East have designated officials to attend welfare cases and that all rights and welfare cases must come through them before offcially endorsing it to the attention of the concerned RP posts/officials for its action,” Monterona averred.

Monterona said distress OFWs are advise to get in touch only to Migrante officers who have their official Identification Card issued by the respective Chairpersons of different Migrante local chapters in Saudi Arabia and in the Middle East.

Monterona said ditress and run away OFWs could directly call him on his hotline mobile number 056 497 8012, which is open 24/7 so that he could refered their case to the attention and action of Migrante welfare case officers and guide them what to do and endorse their case to RP posts concerned.

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

Genuine service for OFWs now!

23 September 2009

Arroyo’s arrival from KSA met with protest from Migrants sector
Stop using OFWs for media gimmick! Genuine service for OFWs now!

This was the battle cry of Filipino workers and their families in a press conference held in time for President Arroyo’s arrival from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“For sure, Arroyo will be arriving in style using the 120 OFWs as her unwilling accessories to bolster success in her 3-nation swing. We do not blame the OFWs for jumping in to her junket, they just want to be home and get away from the nightmare that the Philippine government has given them,” said Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Martinez said that “if she truly wants to rescue our kababayans, she could have instructed the Philippine Embassy to repatriate them way earlier, did not leave a hundred more languishing at the deportation center in Hajj Airport, and sent a chartered flight to save more than 200 OFWs stranded in Maldives. And if she really was concerned with their welfare, she should have intervened in the numerous cases of contract violation, abuse and death sentence against Filipinos abroad.”

Migrante gave the information that the stranded Filipinos in Jeddah and the islands of Maldives are not receiving any help from assigned Philippine consulates and embassies. They also cited OFWs reports of not seeing “even a shadow” of a representative from Philippine authorities.

Martinez also said that “instead of delivering grandstanding statements on welfare protection, she could have done concrete actions like scrapping the Unified Contract scheme that absolves abusive employers and criminalizes OFW runaways. She could have also punished embassy officials that drive away Filipinos to go back to their cruel employers.”

According to the group, the Unified Contract was proposed by the Saudi National Recruitment Committee to impose provisions in the contract of OFWs working in the Kingdom which were detrimental to the interest of OFWs especially domestic helpers. The said proposal was signed by then DOLE Secretary Pat Sto Tomas in 2002 despite criticisms.

Filipino deportees left behind in Jeddah

Last September 18, Abdul Jalil Sinal, a Filipino at the deportation center in Jeddah called Migrante and accounted that they are 88, 37 men and 51 women. One has already died, 6 have LBM and 5 have difficulties in breathing. He also reported that 30 people are being cramped in 8x8 meter cells and food and water is hardly available.

Sinal also reported on the next day that Godspray Espinas was brought to the hospital. Mila Espinas, his mother, informed Migrante that his son has a weak heart and undergoes medication.

Migrante confirmed that according to the accounts of the OFWs, the Philippine Embassy has not sent any individual to give them support.

“Wala ka talagang maasahan sa embassy. Sa totoo lang mas gugustuhin pa ng mga Pinoy na magpahuli sa police kaysa lumapit sa ating embahada. Imposibleng hindi nila alam ang kalagayan ng mga kababayan natin sa deportation center,” said Anwar Sinal, brother of Abdul and also worked in Saudi Arabia last year until February 2009.

Still no help for OFWs in Maldives

“Contrary to what OWWA announced in September 10, help is still nowhere to be found. Two weeks has already passed since we have informed the DFA, POEA and OWWA about the plight of the OFWs in Maldives. Nasaan na ang ipinagmamayabang ni Carmelita Dimzon na kaya nilang mapauwi ang ating mga kababayan sa loob ng 48 oras,” exclaimed Martinez.

Martinez added that they have informed the DFA and Philippine Embassy in Bangladesh that the workers were being forced to sign resignation papers before they process exit clearances and air tickets, and yet they did not do anything to intervene to fast track the repatriation.

More than 200 Filipinos working for the rehabilitation of Tsunami stricken Maldives islands complained of unpaid 5-month salaries and inadequate food and water.

Armando del Mundo, one of the workers, phoned Migrante and said that “dahil mukhang wala na talagang darating na tulong, makikipagsapalaran na kami sa Male kahit walang tiyak na matutuluyan, kaysa naman mamatay kami sa gutom at sakit dito.”

They have decided to use their last few money to rent small boats and proceed to the capital of Maldives which is 36 hours away by boat from their present location. The Filipinos are situated in three remote islands – Villingili, Dhandhoo and Maamendhoo.###

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

IMA Statement vs G20 Summit

Press Statement
September 20, 2009

G20 Summit: Putting Profits and Monopolists Above the People
Jobs in our Homeland!
Livelihoods for Social and Democratic Justice!
Statement of the International Migrants Alliance on the G20 Meeting

If the G20) will have their way, there is no hope that the people can cope with the current depression gripping the world. Worse, there can never be a future where social justice prospers and where the dignity of all workers – including (especially) migrant workers – is upheld. Saving the neoliberal globalization still is the major agenda of member countries of the powerful G20. The group is a champion of the very same policy that has put the world in the worst financial crunch in recent history.

People around the world are reeling from the impacts of the financial crisis that stemmed from the crisis of overproduction inherent in the monopoly-ruled global economy. Though the G-20 projects its meeting in the United States as one that will find ways to get the world out of the economic rut it is now in, it is without doubt that the priority of the G-20 will be on how to save the big monopolists and banks that have been the ones cornering profit and production at the expense of human lives. Meanwhile, the people of the world are left with a worsening social, economic and political condition.

Millions of people have lost their jobs or have been made insecure and temporary in their employment. Agriculture, a pillar for our livelihood and right to food, has also suffered with the worst impact to landless peasants already living under severe feudal and semi-feudal exploitation. The number of people going hungry has reached over one billion. Even so-called middle class is rapidly finding it hard to cope with the rising prices of goods. Access to education, health and public services has become even narrower than before with compelled privatization of these services. States continually slash budgets for services while giving unprecedented leeway and perk to businesses especially the monopoly-capitalists.

The people’s discontent is on the rise. To curb any form of dissent, policies have been enacted that curtail the civil and political rights of the people such as the right to protest and assemble, the right to unionize and even the right to free expression. Migrant workers around the world are some of the first to feel the brunt of the global crisis. Even before the crisis, migrants have already been made vulnerable to exploitation by the various laws set by host countries to limit their rights. Now with the crisis, hundreds of thousands are laid off from their jobs and summarily deported back to their home countries. After years of benefiting from migrant labor, businesses and labor-importing states now have no hesitation in letting go of migrant laborers,

Undocumented migrants are also hard hit by the economic slump. Border control of host countries are made even tighter and thousands of undocumented are regularly rounded up and are arrested, detained and eventually deported. They are treated as no more than criminals despite the fact their economies have benefited much from their cheap labor. The EU Return Directive is exemplary of the draconian methods used by states to violate the basic social and democratic rights of migrants.

The million-strong protest action of immigrants and undocumented workers in US in 2006 showcased the dire condition of undocumented migrants that is expected to get even worse in the near future. Xenophobia and racism is also fanned to shift public opinion in favor of mass termination of migrant workers and the crafting of labor policies that are detrimental to the rights of migrants. As what happens every time economic crisis sets in, migrant workers are made scapegoats for the rising unemployment among local workers that causes a divide among the working class – migrants and locals – in many countries.

In labor-exporting countries, migration has become the main industry that sustains their economies. Migrant remittances and income from government charges have been the steady sources of dollars and funds for these countries. On top of the economic gains, labor export has also helped in stopping the social volcano that is always on the brink of exploding in crisis-ridden countries that export workers.

Currently, even migration is being integrated in the framework of neoliberal globalization. Through the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) that is in the grip of powerful countries – considering that it is a product of the OECD – migrant workers are transformed into commodities and migration is moulded to produce the biggest profits for host countries, sending countries and monopoly-capitalist banks.

Remittance is the main concern of the GFMD. The billions of dollars that migrant workers remit is an irresistible well of funds sorely needed by monopolists in their relentless drive for capital accumulation. Though the GFMD coats itself with motherhood statements on the rights of migrants, its major concern is still unmasked by its very own aim of “making migration work for development” – it is using remittances and other income from migration for the kind of development that is actually not for the grassroots.

IMA stands with the migrants and all the toiling people of the world in further exposing and opposing neoliberal globalization and those that push for it like the G20. We call for jobs in our homeland, we call for equality and livelihoods for social justice for the oppressed and exploited. Such will not be had with the G20. Such can only be achieved through struggle and people’s international solidarity.

Teresa Gutierrez, IMA Deputy Secretary General
May 1st Coalition Co-Coordinator
Contact Number:

* * *
Founded in June 2008, the International Migrants Alliance is an international alliance of 112 grassroots migrant organizations and institutions working for migrant workers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Migrante slams Arroyo’s ‘heartless media gimmick’

22 September 2009

Migrante slams Arroyo’s ‘heartless media gimmick’

Oops she did it gain!

A global alliance of Filipino migrants and their families has slammed President Gloria Arroyo for again using distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as propaganda tool to shore up her image.

Migrante on Monday assailed Arroyo for deliberately delaying the repatriation of 120 stranded OFWs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia so that she can use them as “photo-ops” when she arrives in the country Wednesday. Speaking over the radio this morning, Palace spokesperson Cerge Remonde announced that Arroyo will personally bring home the stranded OFWs staying at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Center in the Kingdom.

But Migrante reported that during a dialogue with OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon more than a month ago regarding the issue of stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia, Dimzon confidently assured the group that the OWWA can repatriate the OFWs in two days. The dialogue was facilitated by Senator Loren Legarda.

“The two days have long been over and yet no repatriation has happened. And now this. We believe there could be no other reason for the delay but to indulge Arroyo’s proven penchant for photo-ops. She plans to parade these poor OFWs before the media when she arrives on Wednesday in a desperate bid to justify her extravagant junkets overseas,” said Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Over the weekend, Migrante dared OWWA to bring home all 300 stranded OFWs even before Arroyo lands in the Kingdom if only to disprove suspicions that the government is deliberately putting off the stranded OFWs’ repatriation in time for Arroyo’s arrival.

“Stranded OFWs have fallen sick and some have already died in overcrowded and stomach-turning deportations centers in the Kingdom. Her audacity to delay their repatriation for a photo-op speaks volumes on how this administration treats our OFWs.”

“On Wednesday, the nation will again stand witness to yet another one of Arroyo’s heartless media gimmicks at the expense of our poor OFWs,” Martinez concluded.###

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

Saturday, September 19, 2009

OFW group joins 2010 Partylist race

September 18, 2009

OFW group joins 2010 Partylist race

“For a long time, others have been speaking in our behalf…It is now time to speak for ourselves.”

This was the battle cry of Migrante Partylist members who marched to the Comelec building at Intramuros, Manila upon announcing their intention to run in the 2010 Party-list election.

“Patutunayan namin na ang mga OFWs ay hindi lang Bayani sa ekonomya, kami rin ay Bayani sa Pulitika,” (We will prove that we are not only heroes in our economy, we are also heroes in politics) says Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Martinez explained that they decided to join the coming election due to existing policies and laws that are detrimental to the interest of migrant Filipinos and in order for OFWs to be represented by their own partylist.

“Under the term of President Arroyo, policies were geared towards intensifying labor exportation instead of focusing on welfare protection. It is high time that the sector, who has been saving this economy towards total bankruptcy be represented by its own leaders,” Martinez added.

Since the party-list system began in the 1998 election, various OFW groups have failed to win a seat in congress. Overseas workers are one of the marginalized sector cited in RA 7941 or the Party-list System Law that was enacted in 1995.

When asked of its chances, Martinez replied that “we will not solely depend on the Overseas Absentee Voters since the recent figure might not suffice to garner the needed number of votes to win a seat in congress.”

“We will ask our chapters in 23 countries across the globe that they need to campaign among their relatives and friends who are here inside the country. And since OFWs are mostly the breadwinners in the family, we believe that their loved ones will not only support us but would likewise campaign for us in their respective barrios in different provinces,” explained Martinez.

The group is also banking on the support of OFW victims that they have assisted since their formation in 1996. More than a thousand distressed OFWs seek Migrante’s helps annually, Martinez said.

Martinez said, once elected, Migrante’s ascension to the halls of the legislature, will signify a momentous victory not only for the sector they wish to represent, but also to the Filipino people as a whole.

“Migrante commits to work for the passage of laws and measures that will safeguard the interests and well being of millions of OFWs and their families; to fight, in every turn, the government’s parasitic mindset of treating Filipinos as mere commodities for export abroad and to struggle hard to achieve a society where families are no longer torn apart because of the urgent need to survive,” Martinez said.

“Sa mahabang panahon, marami na ang nagsalita para sa amin, panahon na ngayon na aming iparinig ang aming nagkakaisang tinig!” (For a long time, others have been speaking in our behalf…It is now time to speak for ourselves), he concluded. ###

Garry Martinez, chairperson
Mobile: 09217229740

Monday, September 14, 2009

Amending Migrant Workers Act will intensify labor export

Press Release
09 September 2009

Proposed consolidated bill amending Migrant Workers Act of 1995 will only further intensify labor exportation –Migrante-ME

Migrante-Middle East, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East, today said the proposed consolidation of bills now in Congress amending Republic Act 8042 otherwise known as The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 will only further intensify cheap labor exportation at the disguise of giving the law strong teeth in providing protection to OFWs abroad.

“Consolidated Senate Bill 3286 and House Bill 5649 is an attempt to accommodate different legislative ideas originated in the Lower with parallel bill in the Senate whose proponents have their own way of intent changing the anti-OFW character of R.A. 8042 but in reality it only promotes exportation of cheap human labor and institutionalizes exactions of government-imposed fees, and charges by recruitment agencies to OFWs and their families,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

Monterona said since its passage on June 7, 1995, the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (R.A. 8042) was primarily utilized to intensify the labor export program of the government rather than to “establish a higher standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress” as stipulated in the said law.

Monterona added contrary to the obligations and responsibilities of the government set out in R.A. 8042, OFWs are living witness of continuing government neglect and worsening plight of OFWs.

“Six (6) OFWs were already beheaded under the Arroyo administration, 59 more are awaiting their execution. Six to 10 bodies of OFWs are arriving at different Philippine airports daily; while the numbers of sexual and physical abuses, labor malpractices are increasing in an alarming proportion, in the Middle East alone averaging 5-8 cases daily,” Monterona added.

Monterona said that they received information that a bicameral committee meeting is scheduled to tackle SB 3286 and HB 5649 claiming that its amendments to RA 8042 would result to a higher standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant Filipinos.

“We already read the consolidated version of the proposed bills amending R.A. 8042 and find it as merely a vain attempt trying to “harmonize” the intensified exportation of human labor and so called “migration management” on the one hand and the numerous cases of abuses, maltreatment, rampant migrant rights violations, and burdening government fees and exactions and charges by unscrupulous recruitment agencies on the other,” Monterona opined.

Monterona cited Sec.2 (c) of the consolidated bill that affirms “the State shall continue to create local employment opportunity and promote equitable distribution of wealth” but in practice under the Arroyo administration it even issued Administrative Order No. 247 on December 2008 ordering POEA and other government line-agencies to aggressively market OFWs in the absence of clear rights protection mechanism for OFWs abroad.

Monterona further said that the consolidated bill also affirms the State principle that “recognizes and encourage OFWs to participate in the decision-making process & to be represented in institutions”, but appointing authority is still vested to the President; not the OFWs organizations themselves.

“Thus, with regards to the management of OFWs trust fund now amounting to Php.12-B held in trust to the government, OFWs and their organizations have never been consulted and are kept blind to the real status of the OFW trust fund, though there are appointed land-based and sea-based representatives at the OWWA-Board but they are simply working for and at the pleasure and confidence of the President making them weak and helpless against the political interests of the President,” Monterona averred.

Monterona also raises concern on the provision in the proposed consolidated bill, Sec 2 (i) which states that government fees and cost of recruitment is FREE; “This is vague as in Section 34 of the consolidated proposed bill, it states “fees shall remain at their present level”, which we believe the government could increase these fees anytime if they wanted to, and we can’t allow such riding provision that would only squeeze us further dry of our earnings,” the OFW leader added.

Monterona said another disturbing provision of the proposed consolidated bill is Section 15 about the creation of Emergency Repatriation Fund which source is to be collected from placement and recruitment agency contribution ranging from US$50 to US$100.

“Again just like the OWWA membership fee of US$25 supposed to be paid by the employer for the OFW, in reality it is being pass on and shouldered by the OFWs, same worry that the Emergency Repatriation fund will be pass on to OFWs, again burdening them too much,” Monterona continued.

Migrante-ME also express its opposition against the proposed mandatory insurance for OFWs as it is just an additional burden pass on to OFWs shoulder by unscrupulous recruitment agency.

“The above are just few of the many anti-OFW provisions that could be found in the proposed consolidated bill amending R.A. 8042; Migrante International has formally submitted its position paper to the House-Senate Bicameral Committee and we are hoping that they will seriously consider our petition as we are at the forefront protecting OFWs rights and welfare,” Monterona added.

The OFW-leader ended saying “Any amendment to the already anti-OFW Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act or R.A. 8042 should not be made a mockery of government responsibility to protect OFWs abroad, and an excuse to disguise government’s continued neglect to OFWs rights and welfare happening now under the most anti-OFWs administration of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.” –end-

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

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Conejos failed to win IOM

13 September 2009

Conejos failed to win IOM position

The global alliance of migrant Filipinos revealed that Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos failed to win the Deputy Director General position for the International Organization for Migration. “We are relieved to find out that Undersecretary Conejos opponent won by a landslide,” says Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International. “We see this failure of Undersecretary Conejos to bag the nomination as a vindication of our call that the Undersecretary does not deserve to head such an important migrant body.”

Martinez, continued, “We were outraged when President Gloria Arroyo herself nominated Usec. Conejos last April as the country’s nominee to the global migration body. It was of no consequence to her that, under his watch, the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Affairs, has turned from bad to worse in terms of protecting the rights of migrant Filipinos. ”

Migrante together with their chapters and network here and abroad sent a barrage of letters to the Director General of the IOM stating their strong opposition to the nomination of Undersecretary Conejos as IOM Deputy Director General.

“Since Conejos appointment and assumption to Office as Under Secretary for Migrant Workers Affairs with the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs under the supervision of the Office of the President, cases of abuses, sexual, physical and mental and numerous cases of jailed Filipino migrant workers and on death row have tremendously increased in the absence of the Philippine government affirmative intervention. Numerous cases brought by our organization to his office has either not been acted upon or has been subject to numerous delays,” Martinez explained.

The group claims that the Arroyo administration decided to nominate Conejos to the IOM after his appointment as co-chairperson of the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development which was held in the Philippine last year.

“We hope that Conejos failure to be promoted in an international body will serve as a lesson to government officials who have done disservice to distressed OFWs abroad. We believe that exposing Conejos’ track record of incompetence and wanton disregard for the plight of millions of Filipino Migrant workers were the reasons why he dismally failed to win the said election,” Martinez warned.

“We would like to congratulate IOM and its new Deputy Director General Laura Thompson. We sincerely hope that Ms. Thompson would, indeed, serve the interests of migrants well,” Martinez added.

Laura Thompson is a former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations Office before winning the IOM position. She was elected by a two-thirds majority vote of the IOM Council, which brought together the Organization's Member States including the Philippines.

“Meanwhile, the only way Undersecretary Conejos can get back the trust of OFWS is if he sincerely and compassionately addresses migrants’ rights and concerns,” Martinez concluded.###

Garry Martinez, Chaiperson
Migrante International
Tel No.: 09217229740

Friday, September 11, 2009

No to tax on text messages!

No to tax on text messages!
OFWs urge to join text barrage campaign to oppose anti-OFW tax on text bill

Press Release
11 September 2009

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East, today said it also opposes House Bill 6625, a proposed legislation originated in the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee imposing tax on text messages.

“This government is killing OFWs and their families so softly! This is just another burden to OFWs and their families who are already bleeding dry due to numerous government fees and imposition of charges by recruitment agencies,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said the proponents of HB 6625 do not really understand the dilemma of the 10-M OFWs and overseas Filipinos who are away from their families who frequently use international roaming SIM cards to constantly communicate with their loved ones back home.

“Using my roaming SIM card, I usually consume my P100 load for about 5 text messages for my wife and kids; now if tax will be imposed, probably I could only send 2 or 3 text messages for P100 load to my wife limiting me to only say to her “I luv U” or “gud nite”,” Monterona added.

“The Congress should consider that the semi-skilled and non-skilled OFWs like construction workers, service workers, household service workers and domestic helpers, usually paid at about US$300 to US$450 per month, who will be the most to be affected by this tax on text measure,” Monterona claimed.

Monterona said every time the government thinks for additional sources of funds, OFWs are never spared from additional taxes which only suggest an additional burden, and yet the government is only wasting public funds aside from that went to the big pockets of corrupt public officials, elected or appointed under the Arroyo government.

Monterona cited for instance the imposition of documentary stamp tax of .05% for every US$ 100 OFW remittance under the newly implemented BIR Code.

“Despite the huge contribution of OFWs remittances that reached to US$16.43-B last year keeping the economy afloat, here again, few anti-OFW blood-sucking Congressmen imposing tax on our text messages to our love one back home,” Monterona added.

A would-be OFW or returning OFW usually spent P15,000 to P25,000 for the processing of his or her deployment formalities aside from the placement fee charge by recruitment agency which allowable amount is equivalent to 1-month salary of the OFW.

Monterona said his group will use text barrage urging fellow OFWs and their families to oppose HB 6625.

“OFWs and their families vow to oppose this tax on text messages; Migrante chapters in the Middle East are going to campaign against tax-on-text proponent-Congressm en come 2010 elections,” Monterona ended. # # #

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

OFW group to Congress

OFW group to Congress: Investigate alleged diversion of OAV funds

11 September 2009
Press Release

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations based in the Middle East, today said to shed light on the issue of alleged diversion of OAV funds intended for the implementation of OAV registrations abroad, the Congress House Committees on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA), and Foreign Affairs must investigate the issue.

“In aid of legislation, the Congress concerned committees such as the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs and the Committee on Foreign Affairs must conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the alleged diversion of OAV funds intended for OAV registration,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said they were informed that the budget intended for the conduct of OAV registration was released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), not to the Commissions on Elections.

“We wonder why for this year’s OAV registration, the DBM released the budget for the conduct of OAV registration to the DFA and not to the COMELEC as the lead agency on this particular exercise. In fact, the COMELEC could only deputize different RP posts abroad for mobilization and implementation of the OAV law (R.A. 9198) but it is still the COMELEC that is in-charge of the enforcement, administration and implementation of the OAV law,” Monterona added.

Monterona said if there is a separate budget allocated to DFA-Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat intended for the expenses associated with OAV registration; then the DFA must account this to the public for scrutiny.

“Because until now, it is still puzzling us why the registration period for overseas absentee voters has been shortened from thirteen months (13) to seven (7) months that ended last 31 August 2009 if in fact there is budget intended for it to complete the original registration period of 13 months same as of previous OAV registrations?” Monterona queried.

“We would like to know that if the budget for OAV registration was really used for what it is intended and if it has something to do with the shortening of OAV registration from originally 13 months to 7 months long,” Monterona added.

Monterona said the shortening of OAV registration is a major issue as to the implementation of the OAV law (R.A. 9198) as we have seen it resulted to disenfranchisement of the millions of OFWs and Overseas Filipinos abroad.

Monterona cited that as at end of August, the deadline for the shortened OAV registration, there are only 200,637 new registrants; “This is way, way behind the original target of 1-M voters in the 2010 election,” he added.

“We reiterate our call to the members of the Congress to investigate the alleged diversion of funds for the OAV registrations abroad and determine if it has something to do with the shortening of OAV registrations that resulted to disenfranchisement of millions of OFWs and overseas Filipinos abroad,” Monterona ended. # # #

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

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Real reason for shortening OAV registration

Real reason for shortening OAV registration:
Due to lack of funds or diversion of funds? –OFW group

Press Release
10 September 2009

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organization in the Middle East today said it can’t fully understand why the overseas absentee voting registration period that is supposed to be 13-month long were shortened to just 7-month duration that ended on 31 August 2009.

“Until now, it is still puzzling us, OFWs abroad, why the registration period for overseas absentee voters has been shortened from thirteen months (13) to seven (7) months that ended last 31 August 2009, the very main reason why OAV registrants have barely reached more than 200,000, way behind COMELEC’s original target of 1-M OAV voters for the 2010 elections?” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said the COMELEC en banc has passed a resolution to effect the shortening of this year’s OAV registration that started from 1st February and have ended on 31st August 2009; “Upon knowing that the COMELEC passed a resolution shortening OAV’s registration period, we issued statement asking why shorten the registration and have campaigned for its extension ‘til end of December,” Monterona averred.

Monterona further said the resolution passed by the COMELEC is per see a justification why it needs to shortened the OAV registration.

“Though we heard the reason cited by the COMELEC in deciding to shorten the OAV registration, it is as “shallow as the water in the pail”,” the OFW leader continued.

“Until we got the information that the budget intended for the conduct of OAV registration was released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), not to the Commissions on Elections,” Monterona added.

Monterona said the COMELEC being the lead agency for the registration of voters, just like previous OAV registrations, must receive the budget directly from the DBM so that it can properly manage the conduct of OAV registrations based on the original durations with funds on its hands.

“Now, we are asking a legitimate question: Is the COMELEC constrained then by the limited funds given to them by the Department of Foreign Affairs, thus it was forced to shorten the OAV registration to only 7 months?” Monterona queried.

Monterona said if that is the case, OFWs have reason to believe that it is the Arroyo administration’ s intention to disenfranchise the millions of OFWs abroad as the DBM and DFA are under the Executive branch controlling even the budget that is for the COMELEC limiting the latter to successfully implement OAV registrations.

“Is this part of the administration’ s grand scheme so that a big number out of the 10-M OFWs and overseas Filipinos could not participate in electing righteous opposition candidates?, thus the administrations candidate would surely win in the 2010 elections and the Arroyos’ continue to control the new administration to absolve her and her family from numerous graft and corruption charges? Monterona added.

“OFWs and their families will not brand the Arroyo administration as the most-anti OFWs and OFWs’ nightmare if its really working for the welfare and protection of OFWs; even the basic rights of OFWs to vote as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Overseas Absentee Voting law, is crippled by this most distrusted Arroyo administration,” Monterona ended.

Migrante-ME is calling the attention of the Congress to look into this matter during budget deliberations and to ensure that funds for a special purpose such as the OAV registration must be used for what it is intended by the law.

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

300 stranded OFWs in Jeddah

300 stranded OFWs in Jeddah awaiting repatriation
Why wait for Gloria to come? Immediately repatriate them –Migrante-ME

Press Release
9 September 2009

Migrante-Middle East, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers organizations in the Middle East, today said an estimated 300 stranded OFWs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia have long been waiting for the day to come for their repatriation so that they will be reunited with their families back home.

“We received reports from our Migrante chapter in Jeddah that the numbers of distress stranded OFWs in Jeddah seeking for repatriation have reached now to 300; yesterday, they were transferred to Hajj Airport in Jeddah hoping for their eventual deportation,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said repatriation of distress OFWs whose numbers usually swell during and after Ramadan is a recurring problem in Jeddah which the Philippine Consulate General failed to solve. “This has been the same problem on previous years,” Monterona continued.

Monterona said if deployment of OFWs abroad easily takes place within 1 month to 3 months in the maximum, repatriating ran away OFWs victim of abuses and maltreatment will take 3 months to 1 year long before they will be repatriated.

“But this should not be case, the “One Country Team” approach by the government is not working and ineffective; it must be coupled with genuine protection mechanism that would ensure that OFWs rights and welfare is being guaranteed by receiving host governments as well,” Monterona added.

Monterona said Migrante chapter in Jeddah first came to aid and has provided assistance to distress OFWs sometime in June when ran away OFWs started to build up in numbers under the Khandera Birdge in Jeddah.

“The PCG and OWWA in Jeddah was informed and urged to provide assistance to them; but to our dismay, OWWA failed to provide even food for their daily subsistence,” Monterona added.

Monterona further said other OFW groups, moved by the spirit of bayanihan, also started bringing foods and other necessary things for distress OFWs in Jeddah under the Khandera bridge; thanks to other OFW groups, but no thanks to OWWA which failed to provide assistance to distress OFWs abroad,” Monterona lamented.

“So where’s the Php.12-B OWWA fund intended for providing welfare services and assistance to distress OFWs abroad? How and where OWWA intend to spend the billions of OFWs trust fund?” Monterona queried.

Monterona said the 300 stranded OFWs now inside the Hajj Airport in Jeddah is hoping to be repatriated soon; in fact they are readying and now eager to be home and be reunited with their loved ones.

“But their repatriation will not happen any day from now until Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived in Saudi Arabia reportedly in mid-September,” Monterona averred.

“Just like her previous visit in the Kingdom, she will make sure that she has a trophy to present to the public –the 300 stranded OFWs; this is cheap publicity stunt at the expense of OFWs lives and well being,” Monterona added.

“Ridiculous! The Arroyo government that endlessly peddles OFWs, also the very cause of OFWs misery, is reluctantly sending distress OFWs back home making them an object of her cheap gimmickry to deceive the public,” Monterona opined.

“With or without Gloria coming to Saudi Arabia, the hundreds of distress and stranded OFWs must be repatriated immediately as it is primary government responsibility,” Monterona ended. # # #

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

Friday, September 4, 2009

OFW remains at Saudi hospital for a month now

OFW remains at Saudi hospital for a month now;
OFW group urges RP post to arrange repatriation of remains

Press Release
4 September 2009

An alliance of Overseas Filipino workers’ organizations based in the Middle East today said it has received reports from its chapter in Al Jouf region of Saudi Arabia about an OFW whose remains is at hospital’s morgue.

“The information we have received from KGS-Migrante Al Jouf chapter Chairperson Romeo Villacarlos is that the remains of a certain OFW Danny Pacion is still at a morgue in Qurrayat, a city near the borders of Saudi Arabia and Jordan,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

According to Monterona, KGS-Migrante Al Jouf Chairperson Villacarlos called him yesterday and informed him that the remains of OFW Danny Pacion were still at a morgue for more than a month now.

Villacarlos said OFW Danny Pacion, on his mid-30’s, died due to heart attacked while he was sleeping sometime in August 2009 at their camp site in Qurrayat, near the borders of Saudi and Jordan.

It was learned that OFW Pacion is working as a loader operator for M/s. Al Rashid Trading and Contracting Co. receiving a monthly salary of 1,200 Saudi riyals. He was deployed by Nawras recruitment and placement agency located in Ermita, Manila sometime in the last quarter of 2007.

“Based on the limited information we got, we are calling the attention of the Philippine Embassy-Assistant to the Nationals Section to validate this information so that the family and relatives of said OFW will be informed accordingly,” Monterona said.

Monterona is also urging the Philippine Embassy-Assistant to the Nationals Section to immediately arrange the repatriation of the OFWs remains and belongings.

“We are also calling OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon to extend assistance to the family such as burial assistance, among other assistance due him right after the deceased OFW’s family is informed and advise them accordingly,” Monterona ended. # # #

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

Thursday, September 3, 2009

12-B OFW trust fund not safe under the Arroyo administration
Misuse and diversion of fund looms as election comes nearer

Press Release
3 September 2009

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East, today said the 12-B OFWs trust fund is like gold in a pot which Malacanang is eyeing for its own use to advance its own political agenda and interests amid the public uproar on Mrs. Arroyo’s sons’ property acquisitions in the United States.

“Under the Arroyo administration that is perceived to be most corrupt, the 12-B OFWs trust fund is not safe; without OFWs close watch, it may disappear without notice,” warned by John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said the OFWs trust fund is growing not because of the sound and judicious investments and wise fund management of OWWA but because there are more than 3,300 OFWs being deployed daily, all were compulsory charged of US$25 OWWA membership.

Monterona further said since the Arroyo administration continuously peddling OFWs abroad just like a commodity for export benchmarking its 1-M yearly target, no wonder the OFWs fund held in trust to the government will naturally grow every year.

From barely Php.6.2-B on fiscal year 2002, it is now believed to reach Php.12-B.

“Thus, OWWA administrator Dimzon could not validly claim that the OFWs trust fund is growing because of their investments and fund management; like previous OWWA administrators she too is misusing the funds as there are only few services, welfare programs and social benefits provided by OWWA to OFWs stakeholders and their families,” Monterona added.

Monterona said in fact there are previous OWWA investments which incurred huge losses instead of good dividends like the government’s buy out Frederick Hotel and the granting of loan to Landoil Resources during the Aquino administration; the Smokey Mountain Rehabilitation and Development project during the Ramos administration, among many others that were secretly made without consultations to OFWs stakeholders as the real owners of the fund.

“We are also witness how the Arroyo administration misuses the OFWs trust fund by secretly transferring Php.4-B OWWA Medicare fund to Philhealth by virtue of Executive order 182 which was used then distributing free Philhealth cards during the 2004 Presidential campaign of Mrs. Arroyo to woo voters in Pampanga and Visayas, the 70-M incurred losses for the pre-departure loan, the 260-M bogus claims of OWWA Medicare exposed by no other than then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo, among other misuses and malversation of funds,” Monterona claimed.

Monterona said while the idea of putting hospitals for OFWs is for the benefits of OFWs and members of their families, it is objectionable if the OFWs trust fund will be used without properly consulting OFWs stakeholders and their organizations representing them, and without clear guidelines using the funds for that purpose.

“We are also questioning the timing of the proposal to put up hospitals for OFWs using the 12-B OFWs trust fund as elections is fast approaching; we suspect the same modus operandi on 2004 Presidential elections where a portion of OFW trust fund has been misused,” Monterona averred.

“We challenge OWWA Admin. Dimzon to publicly publish OWWA Statement of Account by posting it at different OWWA offices abroad and on its Main Office in Pasay, so that the almost 10-M OFW stakeholders may knew where these amounts are being spent by OWWA,” Monterona added.

Monterona is also urging members of the Congress especially the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) to look into the OWWA trust fund during Congress deliberation of the proposed national budget for 2009, though there is no allocation provided by the national government to OWWA as its budget allocation comes from the US$25 compulsory contributions of OFWs but as a measure in safeguarding the 12-B OFWs fund from the hands of the crooks. –end-

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hold special OAV registration

September 1, 2009

Migrante to COMELEC: Hold special OAV registration

The biggest global alliance of OFWs trooped down to the Comelec today to appeal for an Overseas Absentee Voting special registration claiming that the allocated period for the just concluded registrations of new voters abroad was not enough.

“They gave OFWs 13 months to register before the 2007 elections. We are wondering why this time, the Comelec just gave us less than 7 months. OFWs has only one day-off a week, so practically we were only given 28 days to register for the 2010 election. We reiterate our appeal to the Comelec to give us more time so that we can participate in choosing the next national leaders of our country this coming election,” says Gina Esguerra, secretary general of Migrante International.

Esguerra claimed that they were trying to hold a dialogue with Comelec Chairman Jose Melo before the conclusion of OAV registration last August 31, 2009, but the meeting was only set today with Commissioner Armando Velasco.

“We would even like to invite the Comelec Commissioners to visit OFWs in the Middle East specifically in Saudi Arabia so that they will see the actual conditions why OFWs are having a hard time to register. We believe we have done our part when Chairman Melo wrote to us seeking Migrante’s assistance to encourage OFWs to register. It is now time for Comelec to give consideration for OFWs by setting a special registration period up to November 20, 2009,” Esguerra added.

The group explained that holding a special registration up to November 20 is reasonable enough since the schedule for filing of candidacy will only begin on November 21, 2009. They also claimed that OFWs tend to participate more on Presidential election as experienced during the 2004 elections rather than on senatorial election that was held last 2007.

“The number of OAVs that have registered so far clearly shows that there was not enough time for Comelec to attain its 1 million target. OFWs deserved to be given a second chance to practice their right to vote and all we are asking is an additional two month period which is still shorter than what the Comelec has given us before the 2007 election,” Esguerra concluded.

OAV registration concluded last August 31 with only less than 300,000 OFWs signing up for the registration. When the said registration began in February 11, 2009, Comelec set a target of 1 million new OAV registrants.###

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