Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Congress urged to investigate DFA, OWWA funds

Congress urged to investigate DFA, OWWA funds in light of delays in repatriation

9 August 2010

Migrante International today called on Congress to investigate funds of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in light of the scandalous delays and lapses in the repatriation of remains of overseas Filipino workers.

Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, said that there is a need to thoroughly probe where the P50 million and P100 million allotted for repatriation from the DFA and OWWA, respectively, have gone.

“We have been receiving consistent complaints from families of OFWs that they have been asked to shoulder costs for their kin’s repatriation. Walang palya ito. Worse, when sought for assistance, they were informed that is the policy of Philippine embassies to collect autopsy and airfare costs from the families. Saan ngayon napunta ang mga P150 million?” he said.

Martinez said that according to Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant’s Act, it is the responsibility of the employer, the recruitment agency and, ultimately the DFA or OWWA, to shoulder costs for repatriation.

“More often than not, employers and recruitment agencies cannot be depended upon to fulfill this task as the government has no soundproof mechanism to ensure such. It is therefore mandated by the law that the DFA and OWWA are responsible,” said Martinez.

He said that the OWWA has collected an estimated $12 billion in 2010 from the mandatory $25 contributions from OFW members, of which a portion should be earmarked for emergency repatriation. “For undocumented cases, the OWWA forwards processing and implementation to the DFA which also has funds for this purpose.”

The OWWA funds have been subject to numerous cases of misuse of funds from abusive board members. The DFA, on the other hand, has been complaining of alleged lack of funds “but has failed to repatriate remains of OFWs and those in distress over the years”.

Martinez said that there is a need to counter-check if the allotted funds are trickling down to much-needed welfare services and assistance to OFWs. “We call on Congress to audit and investigate these funds in the coming budget deliberations. Lagi na lang itong napapalagpas at hindi napaparusahan ang mga humuhuthot sa pondong dapat ay para sa mga OFW.”

He cited the cases of Mark Lloyd Carmen who was killed in Iran and Marilou Sables who died of cardiac arrest in Taiwan. “Both the families of Carmen and Sables were asked to shoulder expenses for the repatriation of their remains.”

“While the DFA is claiming that costs for the return of Carmen’s remains were paid from its assistance-to-nationals fund, his mother attests that it was in fact a loan from the department and she was expected to pay them back,” he said.

Martinez added, “In Sables’ case, her ashes were brought home three months after she died. Philippine authorities in Taiwan finally exhumed her remains and brought her ashes home after series of protests from OFWs. Until now, however, she is yet to be united with her family in Iloilo because they are now being asked to shoulder shipping costs of her ashes from Manila to the province.”

He also asked the DFA to hasten the repatriation of unclaimed bodies of OFWs in Iraq. “Kung hindi pa iniulat ng kamag-anak sa amin, hindi pa malalaman ito ng DFA,” he said. ##


Garry Martinez,
Chairperson, 09393914418
Migrante International
#10 Banuyo St.Brgy.Amihan, Project 3, Quezon City
Telefax: 9114910

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Itigil ang dagdag-singil sa e-passport fee!

OFW group launches petition-drive vs. e-passport fee hike

04 August 2010

Migrante International, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers worldwide, today launched a petition-drive calling to put an immediate stop to the recent increase in e-passport fees.

The petition was launched in light of allegations that the contract entered into by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), headed by Secretary Alberto Romulo, for the procurement of the new e-passport is illegal and tainted with corruption.

Migrante launched the petition drive at the seafarers’ recruitment center in T.M. Kalaw at lunch time today. (Attached is the full text of the petition drive)

Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, said, “This petition drive will convey to the DFA and the government that Filipinos here and abroad are vehemently opposing this most recent fee imposition. Dagdag-pahirap ito sa ating mga OFWs at sa mamamayan.”

Martinez said that they will gather signatures from OFW communities and passport applicants converging in the POEA, OWWA and other passport application centers.

Migrante’s chapters abroad will also be disseminating the petition campaign to OFWs and supporters. OFWs from China, Hong Kong, the Middle East, Canada, Australia, United States, Italy, United Kingdom and other regions have been complaining of the recent e-passport fee hikes.

Signatures gathered will then be submitted to the DFA on August 23, anniversary of the Cry of Pugadlawin.

The new e-passport now costs P950 to P1,200 from P550 to P750 in the Philippines, while e-passport costs have risen abroad to as much as thrice as the previous rates and approximately $6 (USD) more than the fee prescribed for e-passports in the Philippines. ###

Garry Martinez,
Chairperson, Migrante International
Tel. No.: +63-939-391418

(full text of petition drive)

Itigil ang dagdag-singil sa e-passport fee!
Imbestigahan si DFA Sec. Romulo sa maanomalyang e-passport contract!

Kami, mga mamamayang Pilipino sa loob at labas ng bansa, ay mariing tumututol sa di-makatwiran, maanomalya at walang-abat na pagtaas ng singil sa e-passport.

Ang pagtaas ng singil sa e-passport ay dagdag-pabigat, lalo na ngayong panahon ng krisis. Hindi ito makatwiran dahil pilit na ipinapasa sa mamamayan ang gastusing dapat lamang na karguhin ng gobyerno.

Naglaan ang gobyerno ng P1.4 bilyon sa DFA para sa implementasyon ng proyektong e-passport, labas pa sa P530 milyong inutang ni Romulo sa Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) na nakalaan diumano para sa pagpapagawa ng bagong gusali at mga pasilidad sa Mall of Asia para rito.

Bakit ngayon nagtaas ng singil para sa e-passport kung may nakalaan naman palang pondo ang gobyerno para rito?

Lalong hindi ito makatwiran dahil batbat ng katiwalian, “tongpats” at anomalya ang mismong kontratang pinasok ng Department of Foreign Affairs sa ilalim ni Sec. Alberto Romulo para sa panibagong e-passport. Tinatayang P120 milyon kada taong patong sa presyo ng laminates, o P50 kada laminate, para sa e-passport ang kinitang “tongpats” ni Romulo.

Kung gayon, lalong walang karapatan si Romulo at ang DFA na magtaas ng singil para sa e-passport gayong kinurakot na ang pondo para rito!

Malaking perwisyo rin para sa mga aplikante at mamamayan ang ubod ng bagal, walang sistema at mas pinahirap na proseso para sa application ng e-passport. Nasaan ngayon ang sinasabi ng DFA na para ito sa ikagiginhawa ng mamamayan?

Mariin ang panawagan ng Migrante International, sampu ng mga chapter nito sa loob at labas ng bansa, kasama na ang mamamayang nakapirma sa petisyong ito, na agad na ITIGIL ANG DAGDAG-SINGIL SA E-PASSPORT FEE at IMBESTIGAHAN AT PANAGUTIN SI ROMULO SA PANGUNGURAKOT SA BUWIS NG MAMAMAYAN SA E-PASSPORT CONTRACT. ###

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

OFWs triumph: Annasban and PERT/CPM, Now Blacklisted!

OFWs triumph over 2 abusive recruitment agencies
Let this serve as a warning to others - Migrante International

August 3, 2010

Migrante International Garry Martinez today commended the vigilance of at least 300 overseas Filipino workers who have been granted their petition demanding the suspension of two abusive recruitment agencies.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) released notices of suspension and resolutions dated April 10 and July 13, 2010 banning Annasban Manpower and PERT/CPM agencies, respectively, from participating in the overseas deployment program following complaints lodged against them by Migrante on behalf of the OFWs from the Middle East.

Since last year, more than 80 Annasban workers have complained of said agency’s breach of contract pertaining to their monthly salaries, benefits and job descriptions as stipulated in their contracts. These have resulted in the OFWs’ request for repatriation.

Meanwhile, 189 SAPTCO bus drivers filed a complaint last April before the Philippine Embassy Overseas Labor Office-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (POLO-OWWA) in Saudi against recruitment agency PERT/CPM which they accused of conniving with lending agencies. They also complained of overcharging of placement fees, loans with onerous rates, collection of fees without issuance of receipts, false information on employment and compensation and the harassment of their families by the lending agencies.

“The suspensions are a very welcome development and an initial victory for OFWs. These could not have happened if not for the unity and assertion of our OFWs of their rights and demands,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez, however, said that the agencies are yet to give the OFWs their rightful monetary claims. “Hindi pa tapos ang laban. The agencies still have to pay our OFWs the monetary claims to which they are entitled.”

The Annasban workers are demanding that they be paid their back wages amounting to an average of P300,000 each, while the SAPTCO bus drivers are demanding a refund of their overcharged deployment fees amounting to at least P80,000 each, among others.

“Let this be a warning to other and all abusive recruitment agencies that our OFWs will not tolerate injustices and abuses. The next step now is to ensure that the POEA effectively and decisively implements the bans,” Martinez said. ###

Garry Martinez
Chairperson, Migrante International

Tutulan ang compulsory membership ng mga OFWs sa PAG-IBIG!

Pahayag sa Media
2 Agosto 2010

Migrante kay P-Noy: Walang mahirap kung walang nagpapahirap
Tutulan ang compulsory membership ng mga OFWs sa PAG-IBIG!

Nakabatay sa makaturungan at rasonableng dahilan ang pagtutol ng Migrante at ng OFWs at kanilang pamilya sa sapilitang pagpapasapi ng mga OFWs sa PAG-IBIG.

Una, matagal ng may housing loan facility program ang Home Development Mutual Fund o kilala sa tawag na PAG-IBIG, para sa mga OFWs. Ito ay optional. Ibig sabihin, nasa desisyon ng OFW at ng kanyang pamilya kung gusto nitong mag-avail ng nasabing housing loan. Nasa desisyon ng OFW at ng kanyang pamilya kung ito ba ay praktikal, mas makakatipid at mas magaan sa bulsa na nakabatay sa kung anuman ang prayoridad ng pamilya. Marami sa mga OFWs ang nagsisikap sa paunti-unting ipon nakakapagtayo ng bahay sa kanilang mga probinsya.

Sa paglabas ng POEA Memorandum No.06, Series of 2010 nitong 1 Agosto lamang, iniutos ang sapilitang pagpapasapi sa mga OFWs sa PAG-IBIG, inalis nito ang karapatang mamili kung ano ang mas angkop base sa pangangailangan ng pamilyang OFW. Akala ba namin ay demokrasya? Demokrasya ba itong walang malaganap na kunsultasyon tapos pipilitin kami?

Pangalawa, sapilitan nga ito dahil sa ikinabit ang bayarin sa pagkuha ng Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC. Kailangan ang OEC, sa katunayan resibo ito kung ano ang mga kaakibat na bayarin at siningil ng gubyerno sa OFWs, para makaalis ang OFW papunta sa bansang destinasyon para ‘magbanat ng buto’.

Kung walang OEC, ibig sabihin kung hindi ka nagbayad ng P1,164 OWWA membership, P900 Philheath, at P100 para sa processing fee at idinagdag na ang P600 para sa paunang 6 buwan PAG-IBIG coverage, hindi makakalis ng bansa ang OFW para magtrabaho sa ibang bansa. Hindi ba ito paglabag sa karapatan namin na mabuhay at maghanap buhay? Ginagawa na kaming parang bagay na pinagtutubuan at pinagkakakitaan. Tao kami hindi kalakal na pinapatungan ng mga buwis o taripa sa porma ng mga sapilitang fees.

Pangatlo, ang compulsory coverage sa PAG-IBIG ay maituturing na buwis na dagdag pahirap lamang sa mga OFWs sa kabila ng marami nang mga singilin at bayarin na ipinitaw ang gubyerno, sa kabila ng patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin. Lumalabas na dagdag na buwis ito dahil sa ginawa itong compulsory at di-makatuwirang ikinabit sa pagkuha ng OEC.

Pang-apat, may alinlangan tayo sa patakarang compulsory coverage ng OFWs sa PAG-IBIG dahil sa batbat ng alegasyon ng kurapsyon at misuses at mis-alokasyon ng pundo ang PAG-IBIG. Hindi naman basta-basta na ipapa-ubaya natin ang ating pinaghirapan sa mga kamay lang ng kung sinung kurap na opisyal ng PAG-IBIG. Silang mga opisyal ng PAG-IBIG na nagpapasasa sa ating kontribusyon na tumatanggap ng malalaking sahod at sobrang benepisyo. Walang kasegurauhan na bumalik sa atin ang ating perang pinaghirapan! Sabi nga ng marami pagnag-loan ka, ikaw pa ngayon ang nagka-utang eh samantalang kontribusyon mo ito. Di ba’t pag-gisa nga ito sa sariling mantika, wika nga.

Sa hirap ng buhay sa ngayon, dapat maging wais na tayo!

Wais tayo dahil sama-sama nating tututulan ang anumang dagdag na bayarin na pilit sinisingil sa atin ng gubyerno, sa kabila ng salat o wala namang mainam na serbisyo at program para sa ating mga OFWs at pamilya.

Wais na ang OFWs na nagsasabing “Walang mahirap kung walang nagpapahirap!”

Tutulan ang compulsory coverage ng mga OFWs sa PAG-IBIG!
Tutulan ang dagdag na singil sa Pasaporte!
Tutulan ang mga di makatarungan bayarin at singilin na ipinapataw ng gubyerno sa OFWs !
Serbisyo hindi perwisyo!

-Migrante-Middle East at mga kasaping balangay nito
2 Agosto 2010

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No. 00966 564 978012

Monday, June 28, 2010

HK OFWs present ten-point demands

Aquino admin urged to undo anti-migrant policies of GMA regime
HK OFWs present ten-point demands

Press Release
27 June 2010

For reference:
Dolores T. Balladares
Chairperson, Tel. No.: 97472986

“Undo Arroyo’s regime of neglect and extortion.”

This was the challenge posed by Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE HK) to soon-to-be installed President Noynoy Aquino who is scheduled to get inducted to the highest office in the country this Wednesday.

The statement was issued in a press conference held at Chater Road, Central conducted by the group together with other alliances and organizations to make public the ten-point agenda of Filipino migrants in Hong Kong “President-elect Noynoy Aquino can start fulfilling his promise for positive change by, first and foremost, scrapping Arroyo’s policies to OFWs that transformed us as cash cows of her corrupt regime and made concrete services to us mere pipe-dreams,” Balladares said.

One of the foremost demands that the OFWs called for President-elect Aquino to act on is the “overpriced” e-passport issued in Hong Kong. Balladares said that said passport is three times the price as that in the Philippines.

“Why should passports here be ridiculously more expensive than back home? Passport price is the prerogative of the president and Aquino can very well set it if he wishes to,” she remarked.

Aside from this, Balladares also mentioned the OWWA Omnibus Policies, implemented in 2001, as another policy that worsens the condition of OFWs. She reported that said policy further constricted the benefits that OFWs can avail of from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) through the General Financial Assistance Program.

“For more than nine years, the Arroyo regime has given nothing but misery to the OFWs. Arroyo abused her executive power using the billions of pesos OWWA funds as her piggy bank. To achieve this, she put in position her own people to ensure the smooth flow of money to finance her own interests,” Balladares-Pelaez stressed.

Balladares also hit the POEA Guidelines for Hiring Filipino Household Service Workers that she said removed placement fees to recruitment agencies while allowing for even bigger fees through the training it has imposed to new overseas Filipino domestic workers. The Arroyo government further subjected OFWs to the whims of recruitment agencies through the ban on direct hiring it implemented last year.

“It is time to correct the sins committed by the Arroyo regime! President-elect Noynoy can set the tone of his promised humane and just governance,” Balladares-Pelaez stated.

Hong Kong Filipinos cast their vote of confidence and trust in Noynoy in the recent national elections placing him number one here. It is incumbent for Aquino, she remarked, to respond to the demands of HK OFWs.

The HK OFWs’ ten-point agenda:

  1. Scrapping of the OWWA Omnibus Policies;
  2. Scrapping of the Ban on direct hiring;
  3. Scrapping of the POEA Guidelines;
  4. Reduce the cost of passport to the amount similar to the cost in the Philippines;
  5. OEC should be given free of charge;
  6. Reduce the cost of employment contract processing, remove the authentication fee;
  7. Provide free medical and legal services on site;
  8. Release the COMELEC Voter’s ID;
  9. Stop overcharging/illegal collection of recruitment agencies; and
  10. No examination fee for teachers, nurses and midwives abroad.
“We keep watch for the approval of these demands. President-elect Noynoy’s time starts now,” Balladares-Pelaez concluded.

The Secretariat
United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
2/F., New Hall, St. John's Cathedral,
4 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong SAR
Tel. (852) 31562447 Fax. (852) 25262894
E-mail: secretariat@unifil.org.hk
Website: http://www.unifil.org.hk
Blog: compatriots.blogspot.com
YouTube: www.youtube.com/unifilhk

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

15 Years since Flor Contemplacion’s Death

OFWs plight worsened under Arroyo regime

Joint Statement of Migrante Chapters in the Middle East
March 16, 2010

Migrante, OFWs and their families will be commemorating the 15th year death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, with much vigor and persistence defending OFWs well-being, rights and welfare.

March 17 is considered by many OFWs and their organizations a significant historical event depicting the real plight of overseas Filipino workers that undeniably becomes worst under the Arroyo administration due to its continued neglect and unparalleled disservice to OFWs despite being hailed as ‘Modern Heroes’.

Migrant workers’ contribution in keeping the local economy afloat can’t be denied as their remittances keep on hitting new record of US$ 17.3-B last year that greatly contributed to our country’s dollar reserves -that makes OFWs ‘Modern Heroes’ unto the eyes and minds of the past administrations including the present most anti-OFW Arroyo administration.

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

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

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

OFWs and have allotted an increased budget of nearly P500,000 for its marketing activities in its effort to boost exporting cheap labor abroad.

Intensified Labor Export at OFWs Expense

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

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

But the numerous cases of distressed OFWs due to maltreatment, unfair labor practices, and sexual abuses; the recorded 8 mysterious deaths of OFWs in the Middle East early this year, the increasing numbers of runaways at Khandera Bridge in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and various Filipino Workers Resource Centers (FWRCs) in the Middle East run and managed by different RP post now numbering to about 3,000; the increasing numbers of jailed OFWs and the 26 OFWs facing death in the Middle East; all these tell us one thing: Arroyo administration’s gross disregard to protect OFWs tantamount to criminal neglect!

Misuse of OWWA Fund

OWWA fund is a trust fund pooled from OFWs US$25 membership fee. The Arroyo administration has attempted and it succeeded to a few to divert the use of these funds in a form of investments and creation of task forces presumably to help distressed OFWs abroad during emergency situations and war for OFWs immediate evacuations.

Migrante’s records revealed some of the alleged anomalous investments and misuse of OFW funds under Arroyo administration:
· Transfer of P4B OFW Medicare Fund from OWWA to Philippine Health and Insurance Corporation by virtue of a secret issuance of Executive Order 182 devoid of consultations from OFWs as stakeholders of these funds
· The P260M bogus claims exposed by then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo himself just to justify OWWA Medicare fund transfer to Philhealth under the present Arroyo Administration
· The un-audited US$293,500 for the Middle East Preparedness Team headed by General Roy Cimatu during the US war of aggression to Iraq where repatriation of OFWs never took placed anyway under the present Arroyo administration.
· POEA’s alleged illegally granting of P40 million incentives and allowances to its officials and employees for the past three years since 2002 and allowing its Executives and employees who were issued mobile phones to download about P796,000.00 worth of games, tones and picture messages and other unauthorized items.
· Misallocation of P1-B OWWA funds to its bogus Filipino Expatriate livelihood support program through the issuance of Administrative Order No. 248

OFWs and families at the forefront of defending their rights and welfare

Migrante’s file of the Arroyo administration ‘sins’ to OFWs and families are becoming populated; but OFWs and families will not allow this regime to inflict more injustice and disservice to them.

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

Today, we have urged our families and relatives to join the march protest tomorrow, March 17, headed by Migrante International and allied organizations.

As we commemorate the 15th year death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion which symbolizes OFWs persistent struggle advancing its welfare and protect OFWs rights, Migrante chapters and member-organizations in the Middle East vow to reach out more OFWs and families for them to be organized and closely join with the other sectors-- farmers, workers, professionals, government employees, students, laymen and Church workers, and all together will be persistent, once more, in frustrating the Arroyo administration’s evil plans to stay in power beyond her term.

Uphold and defend Migrant rights!

Migrante, OFWs and families keep on struggling for national independence and democracy so that we could live and work decently at home.

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

Saturday, March 13, 2010

OWWA: no ‘word of honor’

OWWA does not have ‘word of honor,’ says Annasban workers

12 March 2010

One week after ending their camp-out in front of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers from the Annasban Group of Companies today trooped back to picket at the agency’s doorsteps, after the OWWA yet again reneged on most of its promises to the migrant workers.

Of the five demands that were granted by OWWA officials led by administrator Carmelita Dimzon in a negotiation with the Annasban workers and Migrante International last March 5, only the P10,000 financial assistance have been given to the OFWs. From Monday to Wednesday this week, the OFWs tried to claim the promised transportation fare back to the provinces, but they were told by Ms. Cynthia Lamban, head of the Repatriation Assistance Department, that they were not to be given cash (which was requested by the OFWs so that they can schedule their own trips) and that a priority list still had to be drawn up. They also tried to claim the promised free medical assistance, espcially for OFW Florabel Blanca, who fell extremely sick that week. However, OWWA Dir. Saul De Vries said that there are still no guidelines on how to implement the rest of the agreement, and merely advised Blanca to pay for the laboratory tests and medicines out of her own pocket.

“We are fuming mad. We are going back to protest the OWWA because it does not have palabra de honor (word of honor). It is not merely inept; it is deliberately making a fool out of us OFWs. They refused to protect us when we were nearly dying abroad. It seems like they want us to die at the doorsteps of this inutile government agency,” said Joy Flancia, one of the Annasban workers. The OFWs, victims of contract substitution, staged a series of hunger strikes in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from August last year until February this year.

Other OFWs neglected by OWWA, some of which have several years worth of pending claims, afterwards joined the Annasban workers in their protest. “In the course of our struggle, we met so many OFWs who are like us, and their stories broke our hearts. It made us ever more convinced that this OWWA is an agency merely for the collection of our money, and not for the protection of our welfare. Give us our money back!!!” said Flancia.

The Annasban workers and Migrante International also submitted a letter of complaint to Labor Secretary and OWWA Board of Trustees chairperson Marianito Roque. “We hope that this letter is sufficient enough to the realization of the agreement. Let us settle this in the most diplomatic way or else the OFWs will be again forced to resort to extra-legal means to claim their rightful demands,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante chairperson, in the letter to Roque.

“The case of the Annasban workers has opened a can of worms. More and more victims of OWWA neglect will beseige the agency until the government scraps the OWWA Omnibus Policies. These policies, which since 2003 has severely restricted the assistance the agency gives to OFWs, have been a convenient excuse for OWWA to turn its back on our workers. It is about time to address this problem squarely: scrap the OWWA Omnibus Policies!!!” said Martinez.###

Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09393914418
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Morong 43:

Migrant workers group assails CA ruling on 43 health workers, says the victims should be freed

Press Release
10 March 2010

An alliance of Migrant workers group in the Middle East today assails the unfavorable ruling rendered by the Court of Appeals on the habeas corpus petition filed by the 43 health workers and their relatives.

“It seems that even the Court of Appeals is now also afflicted by the prevailing culture of impunity fostered by the Arroyo regime which cited a martial law-old Supreme Court doctrine in justifying its ruling junking the habeas corpus petition filed by the 43 illegally arrested and detained health workers and their relatives,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said many legal experts are one in saying that the manner of arrest and continued detention of the 43 health workers is patently illegal and constitute violations on the Constitutional provisions in effecting arrest and detention in respect to the supreme law of the land’s Bill of Rights.

“The junking of the habeas corpus petition is a big blow to the justice system especially in times when the Court’s impartial ruling is needed most, in time where the civil rights and freedom of the people is under attacked by the most anti-people, brutal, and fascist regime,” Monterona added.

“The grim face of the 1972 martial law imposition could easily depicted from the case of the 43 health workers aside from the fact the political repression and persecution among social and political activists unabatedly continues,” Monterona observed.

Monterona said Migrante chapters and other OFW groups and Filipino communities sympathetic to the plight of the 43 health workers are closely watching on the development of their case and their continued illegal detention.

“We are preparing for a massive campaign to get help from the different Filipino communities to demand the release of the 43 health workers and call upon the international community to press hard the Arroyo administration to release the 43 health workers,” Monterona ended. # # #

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

GMA solidifies political infrastructure

Gloria solidifies political infrastructure base with the appointment of new AFP Chief, says Migrant group

Press Release
10 March 2010

An alliance of overseas Filipino migrant workers group in the Middle East today said Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who will be ending her 9-year term in the Presidency on July 2010, is observe to be solidifying, in a slowly-but-surely manner, a political infrastructure base that would eventually favor her continued stay in power.

“Because she is the de facto and incumbent President, Mrs. Arroyo with the help of her political spin-doctors, is strengthening the needed political infrastructure base in order to remain in power even beyond her term,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said by cleverly exercising her presidential power to appoint, she is now putting in-place officials that are loyal to her, such is the recent appointment of one of her most trusted military officials as AFP Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit.

“She has to take continued control of the AFP, her administration is also seen to be very eager to appoint the next Chief Justice to replace the current and retiring Chief Justice Puno, she is also running in Congress along with other Arroyos, her former Cabinet members are also vying seat in Congress that even the party-lists system they now consider a playing field. This is directed for a single vicious scheme -to take control of the entire government’s bureaucracy,” Monterona observed.

Monterona added this is something our people must be worried about.

“Even peace-loving and patriotic OWFs working abroad seems to notice the ‘ugly’ political developments back home which would turn to be nasty that would lead to political uncertainties and instability especially that the election time comes closer. This scenario would favor Mrs. Arroyo to remain in power,” Monterona added.

Monterona said only a vigilant and well-informed citizenry could avert the vicious scheme of the present administration.

“But how vigilant and informed our people for them to be ready and collectively act to prevent and eventually avert an evil scheme being crafted by the ruling administration? Everyone should take the responsibility of informing others,” Monterona ended. # # #

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

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Support for Annasban Workers Struggle!

6 March 2010

Government failure to permanently ban abusive recruitment agencies means that many more OFWs will suffer what the Annasban caregivers went through.

As fellow OFWs celebrate the victory gained by Annasban OFWs who staged a three-day protest camp-out in front of the office of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Manila this week, Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand joined their calls for the Philippine government to permanently blacklist their recruitment agencies for their track record of labor contract violations.

While we rejoice that their camp-out forced OWWA to heed some of their demands for compensation, we support their demand for the government to permanently blacklist their recruitment agencies from deploying Filipinos abroad. It must exert all efforts to repatriate the 5 women caregivers who are still in Saudi Arabia .

Migrante Aotearoa also calls to task the Philippine government to strictly monitor and blacklist all other recruitment agencies that collect exorbitant fees and engage in contract substitution. Some nurses who came to work as caregivers in New Zealand complained of such schemes of recruitment agencies that placed them in resthomes with difficult conditions.

Low wages, 12-hour working day, child labor and inhuman working conditions — these were the main reasons why millions of women around the world held protests and why International Women’s Day is officially commemorated every March 8. The plight of the 67 female caregivers who had no days off and were made to work for 12 hours or more daily in Saudi Arabia is a grim testament that under the Philippine government’s labor export thrust, migrant workers especially women are very vulnerable to exploitative working conditions. Their recruitment agencies left them broke as they suffered contract substitution, delayed salaries, illegal deductions and non-payment of overtime pay and other benefits stipulated in their contracts.

We further demand government to scrap the OWWA Omnibus Policies that limit government assistance. Instead of assisting ALL OFWs in need, government agencies neglect those who could not afford to pay OWWA dues. Even for OWWA members, it is deplorable that OFWs hardly get support such as the Annasban OFWs who almost starved to death before they were repatriated. They paid OWWA dues and were qualified for assistance, yet they were forced to stage hunger strike abroad to call government attention.

OFWs around the world who became flat broke after losing jobs have the same tales of government neglect. Those who cannot claim OWWA assistance desperately find ways to afford a plane ticket back home. Isn’t it enough that OFWs and their families have been paying taxes to the government all these years? Why can’t the government at least ensure free air tickets for all distressed OFWs wanting to go home? There are thousands of undocumented non-OWWA members needing urgent assistance, will the government wait for them to be dead before they get any support?

We challenge the next administration ensure decent jobs at home and provide immediate assistance and compensation for distressed OFWs. This March 8, let the voices of Annasban OFWs and all exploited migrants be heard: Proteksyon, hindi koleksyon! Serbisyo, hindi negosyo! Scrap OWWA Omnibus Policies!

Dennis Maga
National Coordinator, Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand
Migrante Aotearoa | 34 Titirangi Rd, New Lynn , Auckland 1007
+64 9 8276059 |migrante@xtra.co.nz | http://migrante-aotearoa.org.nz/
"Advancing the rights and welfare of Filipinos and other migrants in Aotearoa"

Monday, March 8, 2010

IMA Statement on IWD Centenary

Further Advance the Rights, Lives and Freedoms of Women Migrants, Immigrants and Refugees!
Let Us Strengthen the Global Movement of Resistance against Imperialism!

Statement of the International Migrants Alliance on the
100th Year of the International Working Women’s Day

The International Migrants Alliance celebrates the 100th year of the International Working Women’s Day by further advancing the causes of our struggling women migrants, immigrants and refugees and joining the growing international people’s movement against imperialist war and plunder, exploitation and oppression.

As we speak, thousands, nay millions, of women migrants, immigrants and refugees the world over are suffering. As abject poverty and the need to survive push them out of their countries and find work abroad, they are further subjected to the most despicable forms of abuse, maltreatment and violence.

Foreign domestic workers, mostly women, continue to be denied of their rights and freedoms. They work more than eight hours a day but are receiving subhuman wages. Days off and rest days are unheard of in many countries with the likes of Malaysia instituting this right only last year. At the receiving end of racial slurs, physical and even sexual abuse, they are the epitome of modern-day slavery as domestic work remains to be unrecognized as work.

Owning half the sky yet receiving the utmost abuse, women migrant workers are most vulnerable. In Central America, women migrants, whether young or old, are raped while they are in transit. They become vulnerable to HIV, like the Bangladeshi women in Arab states. They become easy prey for human trafficking and smuggling.

Women refugees are stripped off their health rights as they are forced to pay high fees to enjoy medical attention. Many of the children they bear are not recognized by the state and henceforth rendered stateless. Most of them even continue to be persecuted not only by governments of their mother countries but of their host countries as well. The planned crackdown in Thailand, for example, aims to target Burmese women refugees as well.

The continued existence of the Global Forum on Migration and Development does not only ignore this abject state of women migrants, immigrants and refugees but justifies it. Ever since its inception in 2007, the GFMD placed labor migration at the center of the neoliberal globalization agenda which only meant one thing: workers are to be exported at the cheapest rate yet without even an iota of rights.

International conventions protecting the rights of women migrants, immigrants and refugees are like dust to continued blows of host governments imposing virulent and oppressive border control policies like that of Fortress Europe. Racial discrimination is being fanned frantically as like those in Italy become easy targets for race-related crimes.

Such conditions strengthen the foundation of why we struggle, of why we need to organize, of why we have the International Migrants Alliance.

There is greater urgency to build organizations for and by women migrants, immigrants and refugees on the ground. With a calibrated attack on our rights, lives and freedoms, we can confront such with collective strength. Victories in the past struggles of women migrants, immigrants and refugees have proven that by collectively asserting our rights and demands, we can prevail.

As the attacks become global, let us strengthen the movement of resistance at the international level. Let the women members of the IMA contribute greatly to the formation of the International Women’s Assembly that shall happen August this year.

The 100th year of the International Working Women’s Day is a reminder that the struggle continues and will be pursued until all structures that oppress and exploit women being perpetrated by imperialism are dismantled.


CARAM Asia Statement:

100 years old women’s day: migrant women robbed off rights
CARAM Asia’s Statement on International Women's Day

KUALA LUMPUR 8 March, 2010: 100 years after the world recognized the role of women in society, women are still robbed off their rights.

On the occasion of the 100th year anniversary of International Women's Day, CARAM Asia calls upon governments in both sending and receiving countries to protect the rights of migrant women who constitute more than half of the migrant population in the world today. CARAM Asia also urges States to invest in the health -including sexual, reproductive and HIV programmes and services - and education of women to ensure that migration becomes a choice rather than a necessity for survival.

In an increasingly globalised world, female migrant workers face intersectional discrimination of class, race, religion, and gender due to statelessness or their irregular status. Neo-liberal strategies have caused the commodification of women’s labour whereby profits rest on women’s labour and sexuality. Influenced by market fundamentalism and pro-capitalism, the business sector prey on women’s labour as a means to gain from a workforce which is unskilled, cheap and deemed as easily subjugated by state and employers. Governments must ensure women are protected against scrupulous agents who sell women’s labour and employers who exploit them.

Women’s labour are either not accorded value or given low value as their labour continues to be viewed as a natural extension of women’s traditional, unpaid role as mothers and care providers contributing solely to social reproduction. Local domestic workers are forced to become part-timers or informal workers without any labour rights, meanwhile their foreign counterparts are hired as live in “maids” which makes them easily controlled by employers. With the advent of globalisation, poverty and the collapse of the rural economy, more women have been pushed out to work mostly in the domestic work sector, either at home or crossing boundaries to take on employment as foreign domestic workers (FDWs). These FDWs are today akin to modern day slaves.

Despite a spate of FDW reported abuse in the media, both Malaysian and Indonesian government have not agreed on ways to improve the working conditions for Indonesian domestic workers.

Negotiations for the new MOU have been going on for over half a year now, but with little transparency and consultation between civil society of both countries. The news that trickles out suggests a lack of reforms and commitments in ensuring that domestic workers are recognized as full workers, with all labour rights accorded to them.

By June this year, the international community with governments, trade unions and employers associations vote for or against the setting up of an international labour standard to grant labour rights to domestic work. CARAM Asia urges states with voting power in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to cast their vote in support for a Convention supplemented by a recommendation to protect the rights of domestic workers who are predominantly migrant women.

CARAM Asia calls upon States to:

1. Amend existing local laws or enact new laws to be in line with the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (MWC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

2. Extend equal protection of the labour laws to women migrant workers in informal sectors like domestic work. Domestic workers should be granted the rights to a just wage, overtime pay, weekly rest days, benefits, and workers’ compensation.

3. Address the violation of human rights and women’s specific vulnerabilities in the process of migration by providing an empowering environment in both sending and receiving countries where women have job options to work in their country of origin.

4. Ensure migrant women’s access to gender sensitive public health and support services including sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services.

5. Remove mandatory health and pregnancy testing policies and the following deportation of pregnant women migrants, migrants tested positive for HIV and other illnesses.

6. Remove requirement for migrant women to seek destination governments’ permission to marry men in destination countries.

CARAM Asia is NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is an open network of NGOs and CBOs, consisting of 38 members covering 18 countries in Asia and the Middle East. Visit www.caramasia.org for more information on CARAM Asia.


Statement of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants
on the 100th year Anniversary of the International Women's Day

The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) is one with the exploited women of the world in the commemoration of the 100th year of the International Women's Day and in their continuing fight for comprehensive rights in society.

Many of such oppressed women are migrant workers and immigrants including those who are undocumented or in an irregular status. Their conditions have been exacerbated by the failure of neo-liberal globalization and have led to more discriminatory and restrictive policies imposed by governments of labour importing countries.

One such policy is the national verification scheme of Thailand which is a guise to set the stage for a massive crackdown on undocumented foreign workers and refugees which already started in March 3. This would affect a million and a half persons, most of who are from Burma.

In the Middle East and in Taiwan most of those who run away from their employers are female domestic workers who were abused. Instead of being accorded protection and assistance by government authorities, those who were accused by their employers of absconding in the Middle East end up being jailed instead.

While in South Korea, Macau, Malaysia and in many other countries there is no let up in the intensification of the crackdown on undocumented migrant workers many of whom are women. Being in an irregular status makes them criminals in the eyes of these governments. And they have no rights whatsoever and physical and sexual abuse on them is done with impunity.

Even those who offer humanitarian assistance to them like food and shelter are likewise categorized as criminals. In Macau there is a new law being discussed that would make it a criminal offense for one who rents out a flat to undocumented migrants. Ironically, there is another law set to take effect on April 26, 2010 that would push migrant workers to become undocumented. This pertains to a provision which stipulates that if a non-resident worker initiates the termination of a contract without just cause he/she would be banned to work in the territory for 6 months.

Ironically, some of the countries in the region that are some of the most vicious to attack the rights of women are also in the ASEAN formation that will soon come up with a regional instrument on the rights of women and children.

Indeed the lives of these women who toil far from their shores are almost similar to the conditions of working women in industrially developing countries 100 years ago. There is still a lot of effort needed to be done in organizing and empowering migrant women workers including those who are undocumented and in encouraging more people to advocate their cause. Examples of this include the member organizations of KASAMMAKO (a Filipino alliance) and the formation of the Migrants Trade Union (MTU) both in South Korea.

Other than this, we shall advance and continue to develop unities achieved in the formations like the AMMORE or Action Network for Marriage Migrants Rights and Empowerment, the network on undocumented migrants and the Migrants Caucus on the ASEAN

We shall also push the advocacies on domestic workers of the United for Foreign Domestic Workers’ Rights (UFDWR) and contribute to the strengthening and expansion of the International Migrants Alliance or IMA.

We enjoin all grassroots women to actively take part in the establishment of the International Women’s Alliance in August this year. The formation of the IWA shall be another important milestone in the continuing struggle of women for emancipation.

Until the cause for freedom and social justice is achieved, the fire that started in the first International Women’s Day shall continue to burn in the oppressed women of the world,

March 8, 2010

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
G/F, No.2 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
Tel. no.: (852) 2723-7536
Fax no.: (852) 2735-4559
General E-mail: apmm@hknet.com
Other Email Addresses:Managing Director : director@apmigrants.org / rbultron@gmail.comAdvocacy Program : advocacy@apmigrants.org / rbultron@gmail.comResearch and Publication: publications@apmigrants.org / ahc@hknet.comWomen's Program : women@apmigrants.org / ecbuhay@gmail.com
WEBSITE: http://www.apmigrants.org/

"We dream of a society where families are not broken up by the urgent need for survival. We dream and will actively work for a homeland where there is opportunity for everyone to live a decent and humane life."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Migrante KSA to help send Satur and Liza to Senate

Press Release
6 March 2010

Most active Filipino migrants’ alliance vows to help send Ka Satur and Liza Maza in the Senate

An alliance of Filipino migrant workers based in the Middle East today vows to help bring MAKABAYAN coalition and NP guest Senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza to the Senate.

Migrante members in Saudi Arabia yesterday held an outdoor proclamation assembly in Riyadh, central capital of Saudi Arabia formally declaring its support to Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza, both vying for a Senate seat on the May 10, 2010 elections.

“It is an opportune time for Filipino migrant workers and their families to elect patriotic, nationalist, and principled candidates in the Senate -the like of Ka Satur and Liza Maza should be in the Senate,” declared by Eric Jocson, Chairperson of the Riyadh-based Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS), member-organization of Migrante, during yesterday’s proclamation assembly.

Jocson added that Ka Satur and Liza Maza’s proven track records in advancing the interest, rights and welfare of Filipino workers including OFWs could easily be noticed and remembered by the half a million Overseas absentee voters and their dependents in the Philippines.

“Their uncompromising stand defending the rights and welfare of the Filipino migrant workers gave them an edge and advantage compared to other candidates, thus OFWs and their families would vote for them as respected law maker of the Upper chamber of the next Congress,” Jocson added.

On his part, Rodel Makalintal, Migrante-KSA Campaign Officer said starting yesterday after the successful Senatorial proclamation of Ka Satur and Liza Maza in Riyadh; Migrante members will conduct massive electoral campaign and gather supports and votes from the most numbers of OFWs in the Kingdom.

“Since, open electoral exercise is prohibited by the host government, we will conduct discreet house-to-house, going around and visiting the accommodations of our fellow OFWs, distributing flyers and leaflets to our fellow OFWs and conduct indoor meetings amongst our fellow OFWs to discuss our MAKABAYAN platform and other OFWs issues and concerns,” Makalintal added.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator said other Migrante chapters in the Middle East will also conduct their respective proclamation assemblies in support of Ka Satur and Liza Maza in the coming days.

“Members and officers of Migrante in United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Israel, Jordan and Libya will conduct their own electoral campaign as the overseas absentee voting will commence on April 10, 2010,” Monterona added.

“Since our own party-list, the Migrante Sectoral Party has been delisted by the COMELEC by mere technicality but obviously a political manuever to discredit the most active and most vocal anti-Arroyo OFWs group, we once again will throw our support to Gabriela Womens’ Party for the party-list,” Monterona declared.

Monterona added that they have been working with Gabriela Representative Luz Ilagan for quite sometime on issues and concerns of Filipino migrant women; “We will continue to be working with the most active Women’s partylist group in the next Congress in advancing our Migrants legislative agenda,” Monterona averred.

“In fact, we are looking forward to the formation of Gabriela chapters in Saudi Arabia that is composed of OFW-women victims, run away and distress, in the coming days to come,” Monterona added.

Monterona further said Migrante chapters in the Middle East will also be supporting the tandem of Senators Manny Villar and Loren Legarda.

“Our support to Villar-Loren tandem does not come from nowhere. It is based on principle and platform which we believed theirs is providing a concrete strategy to address the problem of forced labor migration, which is rooted in joblessness and landlessness, this we didn’t find from the other candidates. Sen. Villar has a plan of action on agrarian reform, on the development of local industries, and the protection and upliftment of the working peoples,” Monterona said.

Aside from this, Monterona quoting Migrante International, the largest alliance of OFWs and their families, said the Sen. Manny Villar and Rep. Cynthia Villar have significantly contributed to Migrante’s efforts to empower OFWs and their families through educating them of their basic rights and privileges; they have also extended tangible assistance to migrant workers in distress, giving them opportunities to rebuild their lives. “It is high time that in these elections, the people’s issues and problems including of the Filipino migrants will be the center of one’s choice in electing candidates who are capable of providing solutions to their problems and concerns,” the Saudi-based OFW leader ended. # # #

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Complete Reversal

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)
2/F Doña Anita Bldg, 284 E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City
Telefax: (02) 725 4760
Email: headphil@gmail.com

A Complete Reversal
Statement on the Commemoration of EDSA People Power I
22 February 2010

Today, as the nation commemorates the historic EDSA People Power I uprising, the continuing illegal detention and torture of 43 health workers by the Philippine military stands as a manifest and complete reversal of everything that EDSA I stood for.

While EDSA I ended the Marcos dictatorship and all its attendant evils, the Arroyo regime has restored much of these. Patronage politics and crony capitalism are stronger than ever, albeit called by other names.

Imeldific dinners and lavish spending abroad hog the headlines, while more than half of the population goes hungry. Institutions and processes of our so-called democracy are undermined for political exigencies.

Over the last nine years, we have witnessed not just the decline of our social landscape but also the growing ascendancy of military rule.

Today, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police continue to disregard the basic tenets of due process and defy even the highest courts of the land. Today, these state security forces remain the top human rights violators in the country.

Today, like the 43 health workers, everyone and anyone can be their victim.

Anyone can be arrested arbitrarily, handcuffed, and blindfolded for almost two days. Anyone can be deprived of sleep, subjected to hours of interrogation, and denied legal counsel. Anyone can be tortured and harassed sexually while under detention.

Anyone, like the 43 health workers, can subjected to the worst forms of abuse and humiliation simply by being accused, through lies and fabricated evidence, as a New People’s Army member.
All of these are with the blessings of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, AFP commander-in-chief and highest-ranking civilian authority. Hers is a rule marked by everything that was abominable with the Marcos dictatorship: unbridled greed and corruption, insatiable lust for power, and utter dependence on the armed strength of state security forces.

Today, it is not enough that Filipinos live “lives of quiet desperation”. Regardless of what we are doing, we live under the naked power of the military, like a sword over our heads.

The continuing detention of the 43 health workers is an irony, if not a tragedy, that highlights the meaninglessness of any commemoration of EDSA People Power I. The innocents who suffer will earmark our government’s backward march to history.

This kind of existence is unacceptable. We demand change. We demand respect for our basic liberties and fundamental rights. We demand an end to martial rule.

Free the 43 health workers now.

Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712

Dr. Gene Alzona Nisperos
Vice-Chair, 0927 483 2325

Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, 0927 473 7700

Monday, February 22, 2010

Women OFWs in Saudi Arabia link arms

to repatriate stranded OFWs and their children immediately and for free!

Women OFWs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia linked arms on Friday to protest what they claim as government's abandonment of its responsibility to the plight of 'stranded' Filipinos by charging for air-tickets.

Beth Medina, Gabriela Women's Party - Jeddah Chapter Spokesperson, revealed that local Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) staff was charging SAR 400 to SAR 900 per child as payment for their repatriation air-ticket.

Acting on complaints by stranded women, Medina claimed OWWA would not shoulder the cost of air-ticket because the children are "not OWWA members" thus, are not included in the agency's budget for repatriation of 'stranded' overseas Filipino workers.

"This is absurd!" Medina exclaims. "These children of 'stranded' OFWs are already forced in a very vulnerable situation brought about by the "undocumented" status of their parents. These are children of OFWs who have paid their OWWA fees and have contributed in keeping the Philippine economy in more ways than one. What's keeping the government to shoulder their repatriation?"

In a letter sent to OWWA dated 22 February 2010, Medina along with other local Migrante leaders outlined their call to immediately repatriate all, and at no cost to the 'stranded Pinoys'.

"Whether we like it or else, the Philippine government have already benefitted from the ('stranded' Pinoys) in various ways, primarily through the payment of numerous fees and requirements before they left the country and through the remittances that they have made during their stay here in Saudi Arabia," the letter explains further.

Data gathered from various sources by the Migrante Jeddah show there are some 405 'stranded' Pinoys who signified their intent to undergo the 'legal-deportation' process just so they can all go home. The group, housed at Al Mina Center by the Philippine Consulate under the auspices of OWWA Jeddah, includes some 30 children and 19 pregnant women.

This does not include a group of 11 ‘stranded’ Pinoys from Riyadh (six of whom are children) who were recently apprehended by local Immigration authorities. The group was left under Khandara Bridge by a ‘fixer’ who promised to repatriate them. A certain Nasser, who introduced himself as a Case Officer from the Philippine Consulate is reportedly charging SAR 1,300 each for air-ticket.

"Charging the ‘stranded’ Pinoys for airfare, including children, the overstaying Umrah, even those apprehended under the circumstances is a state exaction tantamount to government's abandonment of its responsibility to repatriate those who are most vulnerable," Medina asserts further.

Scrap OWWA Omnibus Policies!

Migrante Jeddah Spokesperson A. M. Ociones meanwhile traced the situation to the OWWA Omnibus Policies implemented in 2004.

"Sadly, this situation can only be traced to its mother, OWWA Omnibus Policies which utterly cut all types of services to OFWs," Ociones explains. "The mindset is that anyone who has not renewed their membership or has abandoned their contract by being abscondees, regardless of the abusive circumstances, do not have any right to any of OWWA programs and services."

"If OWWA would not provide the services to the OFWs, where else would its fund go?" Ociones asserts. "We sincerely hope not to somebody else's pocket." ###

Group sees planned failure of elections

Group sees planned failure of elections
in HK, Singapore automated polls

22 February 2010

Leaders of the largest global alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ groups today trooped to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) office in Intramuros Manila to raise the alarm bells on an impending failure of the slated automated overseas absentee voting of Filipinos in Hong Kong and Singapore.

“The COMELEC’s nonchalance scares us,” stated Migrante International Chairperson Garry Martinez in a press conference outside the COMELEC main office. “Filipinos in Hong Kong and Singapore will start voting in seven weeks, but the COMELEC hasn’t come up with the guidelines on the automated balloting. All it has issued so far are scant information through press releases and media interviews.”

Martinez said the automated OAV guidelines is necessary as the process is completely different from the automated voting and counting here in the country. He said, unlike in the Philippines, Filipinos in Hong Kong and Singapore will be voting for a month (April 10 until May 10, 2010) and each Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine will be configured to accommodate 5,000 voters each.

“What will be the COMELEC’s contingency plan in case the machines breakdown in the one month balloting? The COMELEC says transmission of results will only happen at the close of the polls on May 10. Do they have safeguards in place to protect all the votes stored in the machine for an entire month?” asked Martinez.

The Migrante leader also complained of the COMELEC’s deployment of PCOS machines in the two countries. The COMELEC has earlier announced that they will be fielding 30 PCOS machines, four of them spares. But Martinez slammed the poll body’s deployment plan.

“The machines will be open for 10 hours every day for an entire month. Even in the Philippines, we believe the COMELEC and its partner Smartmatic haven’t subjected the PCOS machine to this kind of long and grueling scenario. In short, there’s the real danger that the PCOS machine may not be able to stand and last until the entire process ends. This is aside from the fact that the machines that they’ll be fielding will not be enough given the high risk of breakdowns and other technical glitches in the month long voting,” said Martinez.

With the real risk of machine breakdowns and other problems, Martinez said his group is ‘worried to high heavens’ because the COMELEC has yet to conduct voters’ education among the Filipino community and, most especially, the embassy/consulate personnel who will be tapped to serve as Special Board of Election Inspectors (SBEIs).

In addition, Martinez complained of the non-conduct of mock elections and field tests in HK and Singapore. He said, this crucial part of preparations is needed in order for the COMELEC to determine the potential technical and operational problems in advance and make the necessary corrections in time for the balloting as he recalls the recently concluded mock elections in Quezon City and Taguig, which according to him “was as disaster.”

“Given the risks, we are worried to high heavens because in seven weeks, clueless voters in HK and Singapore will have to entrust their precious votes to clueless personnel mandated by law to man the voting and counting machines. God help us all,” he said.

“All indications lead us to believe that the automation of elections for Filipinos in HK and Singapore is designed to fail. There will be failure of elections and the Arroyo regime – thru the COMELEC – is currently laying the groundwork for this to occur,” maintained Martinez.

Failure of elections, he said, will result to the disenfranchisement of 95,355 Filipinos in Hong Kong and 31,851 voters in Singapore. The combined number, according to him, is equivalent to 20% of the total number of registered overseas absentee voters worldwide which now stands at 589,830.###


Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09393914418
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09158588318

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Publish OWWA Funds Statement

OFW leader, migrant group ask OWWA to publish OWWA funds Statement of Account

Press Release
21 February 2010

A leader of the most active Filipino migrant workers alliance in the Middle East and its members today send a letter to Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator Carmelita Dimzon asking the latter to provide them a recent Statement of Account of the OWWA funds held in trust to the government.

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona on its letter dated February 21, 2010 sent to OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon invoked that as member of the OWWA, in which he just renewed his membership last February 9, 2010 with Official Receipt No. 5336980, and due to the demands of Migrante members who are also OWWA members requested the OWWA administrator to furnish them a recent copy of the OWWA funds Statement of Accounts.

“What decided us to send a formal letter of request to OWWA Administrator Dimzon to provide us a recent copy of OWWA Funds Statement of Account is out of apprehension that again these funds, a compulsory collection of US$25 per departing OFW, would be misused and diverted for partisan and electoral agenda by the present administration to favor its candidates for the May 2010 elections,” Monterona averred.

On the said letter, Monterona cited the previous ‘anomalies’ and misuses of the OWWA funds such as the P260M bogus claims exposed by then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo himself just to justify OWWA Medicare fund transfer to Philhealth under the present Arroyo Administration, the un-audited US$293,500 for the Middle East Preparedness Team headed by General Roy Cimatu during the US war of aggression to Iraq where repatriation of OFWs never took placed anyway under the present Arroyo administration, the alleged illegal granting of P40 million incentives and allowances to its officials and employees for the past three years (2005 to 2007), the POEA giving permission to its Executives and employees who were issued mobile phones to download about P796,000.00 worth of games, tones and picture messages and other unauthorized items, among others.

“Invoking our rights to know the status of the OWWA funds and in the name of transparency and accountability guaranteed by the basic laws of the land, we demand your good office to provide us the most recent statement of Account of the OWWA funds,” Monterona said on his letter.

Migrante-Middle East also demanded from OWWA Administrator Dimzon to send a copy of the OWWA funds Statement of Account to all RP posts including those in the Middle East and to be posted at their respective offices for the information and knowledge of OWWA-member OFWs before and after the May 2010 elections.

“By doing so, OFWs who are member of OWWA would be assured that their contributions are spared from any partisan and electoral schemes by the ruling administration to advance its own political agenda,” Monterona said. (End) # # #

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

Saturday, February 20, 2010

From distress to rage:

Serving migrants and the motherland

By: Migrante International

“They come like an endless stream of water.”

This is how Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, describes the sheer number of migrant workers and their families who troop to the office daily, seeking help. He is proud of the fact that they have never turned anyone away, despite limited resources.

The Migrants’ Assistance Center (MAC) of Migrante, the largest and most militant alliance of OFWs worldwide, handles more than one thousand cases concerning the rights and welfare of migrants each year. These range from cases of illegal recruitment and labor contract violations, to cases of human rights violations involving stranded and detained OFWs, mysterious deaths of OFWs, and rape and sex trafficking of Filipino women.

When Martinez was a new member of the MAC, he knew that there were cases of migrants’ rights violations as he was an “undocumented” OFW himself but he still was unprepared for the gravity of the cases Migrante was handling. It was through these cases that his commitment to work for migrants’ concerns deepened.

‘We may not be earning dollars…’

Like many first-time OFWs, Martinez was also an unknowing victim of illegal recruitment. Hailing from a family of landless farmers in the province of Rizal, he went abroad in 1988 with nary an idea of his rights. Thus, he arrived as an undocumented worker in South Korea and was sold by his recruiter. Martinez was forced to work for 14 hours a day for a textile factory in a cramped and poorly lit basement, with unpaid salaries for up to six months. It was only two years after that he was able to escape his employer, and since then held various jobs as janitor, window cleaner, and garments and furniture factory worker.

It was in 1992 that Martinez first found himself thrust into the limelight as a migrant rights advocate. A fellow garment worker, Lorena Baxa, accidentally burnt herself when the heater exploded. Martinez was among those who rushed her to the hospital, but she was refused admission. The issue inflamed the Filipino community, and Martinez acted as their spokesperson. Since then, “my house was practically turned into an embassy, with 10 to 20 OFWs arriving each day to seek help,” he said. Also president of the Filipino Catholic Community, OFWs would also approach him after mass to tell of their problems.

In 2004, when OFW Angelo dela Cruz was taken hostage in Iraq, Martinez decided to dedicate himself to full-time work at Migrante International back home. In 2008, he was elected as its chairperson. “It is challenging, because I only finished high school, so I initially felt as if I was not equipped with the skills for such a position. But then I realized that my biggest advantage was that I was a migrant worker for such a long time. And nobody can understand an OFW in distress better than one who knew how it was like to be one,” he said.

Gina Esguerra, current Migrante secretary-general and MAC coordinator, also used to be a domestic helper in Hong Kong. In 2003, she returned to the country, after several years of being an organizer for Association of Concerned Filipinos in Hong Kong (ACFIL-HK), one of Migrante’s 136 chapters abroad. Having been treated well by her employer, she doesn’t own a sob story but she has seen how many Filipina domestic workers were being treated unjustly and cruelly and heard their stories through her work in ACFIL “It is difficult to work abroad and become someone else’s slave,” she said.

And so she exchanged the typical OFW’s dream of saving up enough money to build a house for her family, with the more egalitarian dream of building a better society wherein Filipinos wouldn’t have to be torn apart from their families just to have a decent life. “Though we can hardly pay our bills from the little allowance we get from our volunteer work in Migrante, the work is very rewarding,” she mused. “While we may not be earning dollars for our families, at least we are serving OFWs and our country.”

Handling numerous cases

Last year, the MAC handled a total of 1,293 cases. Of these, 413 were brought in by OFWs or relatives of OFWs who heard about Migrante from the radio or byword of mouth from other OFWs who have been helped the organization. The rest were referred by their chapters abroad, mostly from the Middle East.

Esguerra explains that the alliance serves by assisting OFWs in distress or their relatives in asserting their rights and demanding attention from government agencies- including embassies abroad, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Authority (OWWA) which normally and deliberately ignore their pleas for help. The concerned Migrante chapter abroad calls the attention or engages with the Philippine embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East coordinator, tells of a case in 2008 where an OFW (name withheld) was allegedly raped by her male employer, ran away, and then sought refuge in the Philippine embassy in Riyadh. However, her plea for assistance in filing an appropriate case against her employer was not heeded by the embassy. With permission from the victim and her family, the group issued a statement about her case and exposed the neglect committed by government officials. “The following day, the statement landed in national dailies in the Philippines, as well as in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East,” he said. “It was only then that the embassy paid attention to the case.”

Instances wherein Migrante, instead of the government, takes the lead in assisting OFWs and publicizing their cases are becoming more frequent. Migrante-Middle East alone handles three to five cases daily, mostly of those who ran away from their employers because of abusive conditions. “They or their relative will call me up even in the wee hours of the morning,” Monterona said. Recently, it was the group who provided food and other basic supplies, even toothpaste, to the 43 caregivers of the Annasban Company in Riyadh who in January conducted a strike to protest various labor contract violations—while pressing the POLO and OWWA to work for their immediate repatriation.

Meanwhile, back home, Migrante urges OFWs to file appropriate charges against their recruitment agencies. Last year, the group assisted in the filing of 109 cases with the POEA and 259 cases with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). Migrante’s MAC staffers personally accompany the victims in hearings and refer them to lawyers. Sometimes, the victims win their case; sometimes they lose.

But it is most painful, said Esguerra, when a victim decides to settle a strong legal case for a paltry amount that government arbiters usually offer. Such was the case of Mylene Mandas, a domestic helper in Kuwait, who arrived at the office in May 2004 with ears bloated like cauliflower and arms burnt from the use of household chemicals. “Her employer regularly beat her and cut her hair every time she was allowed to eat. Her hair used to be long, but when we saw her it was cropped like that of a boy’s,” Esguerra recalled. “I accompanied her to government agencies. But in the end, she settled her case for a measly P4,000 because she could not afford the cost it took to go through with the long and tedious process of seeking justice in this country. Eventually, she applied again for work abroad.”

She, however, doesn’t blame those like Mandas, who are after all, only victims of the vicious cycle of forced migration fostered by the lack of real livelihood opportunities in the country. The government’s aggressive labor export program is no solution, at all, to its deepening bankruptcy and the economic crisis. This is the reason why Migrante does not stop with merely assisting OFWs in distress, but tries to address the root of the myriad problems of migration.

Confrontations and consciousness-raising

It has a comprehensive education program that informs departing workers of their rights. Migrante finds the government’s Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar wanting. “Many workers leave the country unaware that their rights have already been violated in the recruitment process, and are even less oriented on what they can do or where they can go to when they encounter trouble,” said Esguerra.

The group also holds regular discussions with OFWs on the situation of Filipino migrant workers, and critiques the government’s labor export program. This critique—that the program is geared towards milking migrants’ hard-income income through various exactions, and that the government is unable to protect migrants’ rights because of their sheer number and its concern over maintaining good relations with countries opening up their labor markets—was borne out of the experiences of OFWs that it had served.

“In reality, to thousands of OFWs, working abroad is not a personal decision but one forced upon Filipinos,” said Martinez. “Many OFWs realize that they are victims of an unjust system. This realization stirs their soul. They become more politically conscious, and start to question many things that they used to merely accept.”

Being advocates necessarily leads to dealing with, and often becoming confrontational with, government officials that show ineptness or neglect. Martinez, for instance, figured in prominent word wars with DFA and DOLE officials when these officials refuse to provide assistance, or are caught lying through their teeth or dilly dally even when there is an urgent situation such as rescuing an OFW in distress.

The three Migrante leaders all said that sympathy for OFWs goes hand-in-hand with anger, even rage, at the entire system that wrenches Filipinos away from their homes and into lives characterized by “dirty, demeaning, and dangerous” jobs abroad. “Keeping quiet means turning your back on your fellow Filipinos,” said Martinez. Monterona, meanwhile, said that he continues to spend all his free time away from his job in Saudi Arabia for assisting migrants.

Thus, the organization combines its services with the parliament of the streets. “Those who come to us learn that, under the current administration, they need to bang at the gates and shout their just demands, they need to get the help of the media in order for the government to pay even just a little attention to their cases,” Martinez further explained. “OFWs learn to assert and assert their rights. Many of those we have worked with say joining these actions have empowered them and given them back their dignity. In fact, on March 17, on the death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, Migrante shall march once again to Mendiola together with a growing number of victims and their relatives who cannot wait to end President Arroyo’s term to end. ”

For Esguerra, fulfillment comes after a victory over a certain case, or when a victim becomes an advocate or a volunteer as well. “We maintain good relations with those whom we have helped. Sometimes, they would drop by our office with pasalubong. Then there are the victims who decide to work for Migrante as well, or become activists elsewhere in the wider movement for social change of which we are part,” she shared.

With the rising number of Filipinos leaving daily for work in foreign shores, it seems that distressed OFWs will continue to stream like water in and out of Migrante’s offices here and abroad. Their resources are a pittance compared to that of the government’s, and yet they have something far greater, and that is genuine concern and love for migrants and the motherland.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ang sigaw ng OFWs:

Ang sigaw ng OFWs:
Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza sa Senado!
Gabriela Womens Party sa Konggreso!

Pahayag ng Pagsuporta ng Migrante Jeddah
19 Pebrero 2010

Napapanahon ang pagpapatakbo sa Senado ng mga progresibong kandidato nating sina Satur Ocampo at Liza Maza sa panahon ng matinding krisis na pang-ekonomiya at pampulitika na puminsala sa marami nating kababayan, hindi lang sa Pilipinas, kundi tayong mga migrante na nasa ibang bansa. Dito sa Saudi Arabia, ang malawakang pagliit ng kita dahil sa pambubusabos sa pasahod kakambal ng tumitinding implasyon ay may kaakibat na epekto sa ating mga mahal sa buhay na naiwan sa Pilipinas. Idagdag pa rito ang lumalawak at tumitinding mga kaso ng pang-aabuso at pagtratong alipin sa mga kababayan nating migrante. Nitong buling dalawang buwan lang, nakita natin ang aabot na sa 600 kababayan nating tumakas mula sa iba't-ibang porma ng pang-aabuso na lumantad at naghangad na makauwi. Ito ang mga obhetibong kalagayan na inuusbungan ng ating paglahok sa kampanyang elektoral.

Gayundin naman, ang pagtakbo ng ating mga progresibong kandidatong sina Satur Ocampo at Liza Maza ay indikasyon ng malawak at malalim na inabot ng pakikibaka ng sambayanan para sa kanilang mga demokratikong karapatan, at para sa pambansang kalayaan at demokrasya.

Si Satur Ocampo ay isa sa mga pinaka-maaasahan nating progresibong lider na walang humpay sa lumaban sa diktadurang Marcos, naging matatag na sumandig sa kapakanan ng sambayanan kahit sa panahon ng detensyon at pagkakakulong at naging matibay na beacon sa harap ng panananalakay sa mga demokratikong interes at karapatan ng mamamayan sa ilalim ng iba't-ibang nagharing rehimen.

Si Liza Maza ay matibay na sandigan ng mga kababaihan at ng sambayanan bilang lider ng Gabriela sa matagal na panahon. Bilang Kongresista, laging kaagapay si Liza ng mga migrante sa pagsusulong ng mga partikular na panawagan para sa kapakanan ng mga tinaguriang Bagong Bayani.

Ang totoo, kung kasama pa natin si Ka Bel ngayon, sigurado ako, itataguyod din natin sya sa Senado.

Dahil sila, si Satur Ocampo at Liza Maza ~ ang mga lider ng sambayanan na hindi natin matatawaran sa paninindigan at paglilingkod para sa interes ng sambayanang Pilipino.

Kahit hindi pinayagan ng COMELEC ang paglahok ng ating Partylist sa eleksyong ito, tayo bilang mga OFWs ay may napakalaking fayda kung pagwawagi ng ating dalawang kandidato. Sa pagkakaroon ng dalawang natatanging progresibong lider sa Senado, ang ating mga hinaing at mga panawagan ay higit na may lakas

Kung gayon, idinedeklara ng Migrante Jeddah sampu ng kanyang mga kasapi at kapatid nitong organisasyon dito sa Kanlurang Rehiyon ng Saudi Arabia ang ating pagsuporta sa pagtakbo nina Satur Ocampo at Liza Maza.

Ang sigaw ng OFWs:
Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza sa Senado!
Gabriela Womens Party sa Konggreso!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pag-Endorso ng Migrante-KSA


12 Pebrero 2010

Pagpugay sa Masa at Sambayanan!

Ito na ang tamang panahon para manindigan ang bawat mamamayang biktima ng pulitikang luom sa dayaan, manipulasyon at kabulukan. Hinog na ang pagkakataon para ating isa-tinig ang marubdob na pagnasang hanguin ang bayang sadlak sa kabiguan at hindi malirip na kurapsiyon. Ito na ang oras para iluklok sa pwesto ang mga indibidwal na tunay na naninindigan para sa kapakanan ng masang-api. Panahon na natin ito!

Sa ngalan ng mga kaalyado, pamilya, miyembro, opisyal at buong pamunuan ng Migrante-KSA, buong pwersa naming iniindorso ang kandidatura ni Ka Satur Ocampo at Ka Liza Maza para senador; gayundin buong puso kaming sumusuporta sa lahat na Partylist Groups sa ilalim ng Koalisyong Makabayan; mainit rin ang aming pagtugon sa panawagang iboto ang lahat na mga militante at progresibong kandidato na lalahok sa nakatakdang halalan sa Mayo ng kasalukuyang taon.

Si Ka Satur at Ka Liza Maza ay mga “institusyong” masigasig na nagtaguyod at patuloy na sumusulong sa mga batas, programa at proyektong naka-sentro sa kagalingan ng bawat Pilipino. Nanguna rin sila sa mga makabayang protesta at pagkilos na ang mithi’y mapalaya ang bayan sa dikta at interbensyon ng mga dayuhang bansa sa panloob at panlabas na pagde-desisyon ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas.

Kasabay ng hakbang na ito, amin ring hinihimok ang buong sambayanan na itakwil at ibasura ang mga kandidatong nagpapaka-tuta at nakikipagsabwatan sa rehimeng US-Arroyo. Huwag nating iboto ang mga sagad-sagaring indibidwal na nagpapakasasa sa kaban ng bayan; mga abusado at ganid na kandidatong pumatay sa esensya ng Demokrasya, Hustisya at Kalayaan; at mga kasapakat ng rehimeng ito na walang humpay nagyurak sa Saligang-Batas ng Pilipinas. Hadlangan natin ang maitim na motibo at kasulasulasok na mga balakin ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at mga kapamilya nito na muling maghari at salaulain ang ating lahi.

Bagama’t hindi ito ang sapat na paraan para mabago ang landas na tinatahak ng ating bayan, maipapakita pa rin natin ang ating paghihimagsik at maipapadama ang ating pag-alsa sa pamamagitan ng balota. Huwag nating bibigyan ng pagkakataon ang administrasyong ito na muling manipulahin at dayain ang resulta ng halalan. Kinabukasan ng bayan at ng mga susunod na henerasyon ang nakataya dito. Sagrado ang ating boto, bantayan natin ito!

Umaasa kami na kayo, bilang bahagi ng malawak na bilang ng Sambayanan ay makikiisa sa krusadang ito. Laban natin ito!


Para sa bayan,

(Sgd.) John T. Torres
Tagapagsalita, Migrante -KSA
Email: john_torresrt@yahoo.com.ph
Mobile: +966-056-0631439

(SGD.) Rodel Macalintal
Media & Campaign Officer
Email: rodelom@yahoo.com
Mobile No.: +966-055-1977512

Migrante Saudi Arabia
Migrante Partylist - KSA Chapter
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan - Riyadh
Migrante Al Khobar
Migrante Jeddah
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan - Dawadmi
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan - Al Jouf
Samahang Manggagawa sa Saudi Arabia (MASA)
Migrante Eastern Province
Jeddah Filipino Society
Makabayan Saudi Arabia
Muslim-Christian OFW’s preparatory committee for Justice & Peace in KSA
Filipino – Community Allied Organizations in KSA

Monday, February 15, 2010


Save Jakatia Pawa from Death!
Another life of an overseas Filipina is in peril. Another mother is languishing in a Kuwaiti jail, awaiting the final decision for a crime she did not commit. Once again, our urgent collective action is needed to save the life of a fellow Filipino and a fellow migrante worker

Jakatia Pawa was sentenced to death on April 13, 2008 for allegedly killing the 22-year old daughter of her employer. The death sentence was upheld by the Kuwaiti Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) on January 19, 2010. The sentence will now be submitted to Kuwait’s Head of State, the Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al Sabah. It is understood that the decision will be made within two to four weeks.

Jakatia Pawa, 33 years old and a mother of two children, is from Zamboanga Del Norte province in southern Philippines. Pawa left the Philippines to earn an honest living as a domestic helper in Kuwait. She has been working for the same employer for five years when the unfortunate crime happened.

The knife that was used in the crime did not have her fingerprints on it and there were no bloodstains of the victim on her dress or body that could link her to the killing. Throughout the whole investigation and judicial process, Pawa maintained that she was innocent. But our government’s failure to provide her a lawyer in the early stages of trial made an unfavorable verdict possible.

We strongly believe that this could be another case of the Philippine government’s criminal negligence. We believe that she is not the culprit but the victim of a sorry condition that forced her to work in a foreign land in order to provide a better future for her children. We also believe that she will not have ended up on death row had the Philippine government attended to her case sooner. Government must be held accountable and therefore must exhaust all measures to save her life.

She deserves nothing less than justice. All means must be exhausted so Jakatia Pawa can be reunited with her children and family.

We are appealing to the Amir of the State of Kuwait not to ratify the death sentence imposed on Jakatia Pawa. We are acknowledging that governments have the right to bring those who commit crimes to justice, but we also express our unconditional opposition to the death penalty as it ultimately violates the right to life!


  • Please send your appeals to:

His Highness Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al Jaber Al Sabah
al-Diwan al-Amiri,
al-Safat, Kuwait
Fax: +965 2539 2163 or +965 2243 0559
Salutation: Your Highness

  • Please sign petition to Save Jakatia Pawa from death penalty here!

Case Background: Jakatia Pawa

Case Background
Jakatia Pawa – In Deathrow

Jakatia Pawa is a 33 year old mother of 2 children from Zamboanga del Norte. She earned the degree of Bachelor of Science in Banking and Finance from the Zamboanga Alturo Eustaquio Colleges in Zamboanga City.

She has been working as a domestic helper for the family of the victim, Dala Al-Naqi. Kuwaiti Police found Pawa lying in front of her employer’s house when the crime happened on May 14, 2007.

Pawa’s family was notified through a letter that she was in Kuwaiti Central Jail for allegedly killing her employer’s 22-year old daughter. However, they only discovered the death sentence from television reports.

Jakatia Pawa was sentenced to death on 13 April 2008 by a court of First Instance for the murder. The death sentence was upheld by an appeal court on 16 June 2009. It was only then that the government was forced to allot US$25,000 (approximately P1.2 million) as her legal defense fund. Khalil Al-Qattan Law Offices and Abdullah Al-Sabah Law Offices were hired by the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait. The Court of Cassation (the highest court in Kuwait) affirmed the sentence with finality on January 19, 2010. The victim’s family refused to issue tanazul (affidavit of forgiveness). The sentence will now be submitted to Kuwait’s Head of State, the Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al Sabah. It is understood that the decision will be made within two to four weeks.

In the absence of lawyers to defend her during the early stages of the judicial process Pawa maintained she was innocent. The knife that was used in the crime did not have her fingerprints on it and there were no bloodstains of the victim on her dress or body that could link her to the killing. During a court hearing in January 2009 she stated that one of the victim's family members might have committed the murder because the victim was having an affair with a neighbour.

Shari’a Court Judge Abu Ali Cali, president of the The Ulama League of the Philippines (ULP) and the Philippine Center for Halal Awareness (PhilHalal) headed by Ustadhz Abdulhadie Daguit also expressed their support in efforts to save Jakatia Pawa.

Please sign petition to Sava Jakatia Pawa HERE Now!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Palayain ang Morong 43


12 PEBRERO 2010

Kaisa ng malawak na bilang mamamayan ang Migrante – KSA sa pagkondena sa ilegal at hindi makatarungang pag-aresto ng pinagsanib na pwersa ng AFP/PNP sa 43 health workers, midwives, volunteers at Medical Doctors sa Morong, Rizal noong ika-anim ng Pebrero taong kasalukuyan. Diumano’y nakakaranas ng pagtortyur, pananakit pisikal at sikolohikal ang mga binihag. Ang masaklap nito, ang mga kababaihang inaresto ay hindi rin nakaligtas sa diumano'y pangsasalaulang sekswal sa kamay ng mga dayukdok na militar at kapulisan.

Naninindigan ang Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) na illegal ang ginawang paghalughog at paghuli sa mga 43 health workers, volunteers at Medical Doctors na kabilang First Responders Training na pinangunahan ng lehitimo at legal na organisasyong katulad ng Council for Health and Development.

Naghahabi ng kasinungalingan at naglulubid ng buhangin ang mga reaksyunaryong armadong pwersa ng pamahalaan, sa dikta ng Malacanang para paratangan ang mga inosenteng mamamayan bilang mga kasapi ng New People’s Army (NPA). Ang lahat na ito ay malinaw na bahagi ng palpak na Oplan Bantay-Laya-II na nakadisenyo para bigwasan ang mga legal, militante at progresibo na organisasyong kritiko ng bulok na rehimeng US-Arroyo.

Muling nasaksihan ng bayan ang kawalanghiyaan ng pamahalaan ng magtanim ito ng mga ebidensyang magdidiin sa inosenteng mga kalahok sa isang legal na seminar at pagpupulong na ang mithi’y sanayin ang masa sa medical first aid na magagamit sa mga emergency cases. Nagmistulang ‘Nazi Torturers’ ang mga elemento ng militar at kapulisan sa paglabag sa karapatang pantao ng 43 medical worker, volunteers, midwives at doctors na kanilang walang habag na inaresto at kinulong.

Nananawagan ang Migrante-KSA kay Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo na palayain na ang mga inaresto, at tigilan na ang kawalanghiyaang winawasiwas ng kanyang pamunuan sa taumbayan at sambayanan.

Para sa bayan,

(Sgd.) John T. Torres
Tagapagsalita, Migrante -KSA
Email: john_torresrt@yahoo.com.ph
Mobile: +966-056-0631439

(SGD.) Rodel Macalintal
Media & Campaign Officer
Email: rodelom@yahoo.com
Mobile No.: +966-055-1977512

Migrante Saudi Arabia
Migrante Partylist - KSA Chapter
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan - Riyadh
Migrante Al Khobar
Migrante Jeddah
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan - Dawadmi
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan - Al Jouf
Samahang Manggagawa sa Saudi Arabia (MASA)
Migrante Eastern Province
Jeddah Filipino Society
Makabayan Saudi Arabia
Muslim-Christian OFW’s preparatory committee for Justice & Peace in KSA
Filipino – Community Allied Organizations in KSA.