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.

We are not concocting stories

It’s based on OFWs legitimate complaints that were never attended after numerous pleading for assistance –Migrante-ME

Press Release
12 February 2010

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

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of Filipino migrant workers with chapters and member-organization s in most of the countries in the Middle East, today said it is not concocting stories and would never do, in response to the accusations being hurled by its critiques -RP posts officials in the Middle East.

“We issued statement based on the facts and information relayed to us by our Migrante officers and of the distress OFWs themselves and from their relatives and families who have sought our assistance. Concocting stories and making lies are not part and would never be part of our advocacy,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona is reacting to an unsigned letter from the Al Arab Company that was sent to one of the most esteemed Philippine news online reputing Migrante-ME issued statements on February 7 about the 200 striking OFWs from 5 job sites in Saudi Arabia.

“We have all the necessary documents, including exchanges of emails, names of the OFWs leaders and their contact numbers, and photos showing that the leaders of the striking OFWs in Riyadh have sought the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS), member organization of Migrante and in fact have asked our support after the 200 OFWs decided to collectively stage a stop of work protest against their erring employer,” Monterona added.

“We stand on what we have said because it is based on the legitimate demands and complaints of our fellow OFWs that were victims of their employer’s labor malpractices such as delayed salaries for 4 months, non-payment of overtime work, 0among others as stated on the letter by the complaining OFWs to Al Arab Contracting Co. (ACC) Human Resources Manager, copy furnished the Philippine Ambassador in Riyadh,” Monterona continued.

Monterona revealed that one of the leader of the troubled OFWs sent an email to KGS Chairperson Eric Jocson saying that some of them were threatened by the ACC management that if they will not sign a waiver of their complaints and issue an apology letter, they will be terminated and will be sent back home without any compensation and payment of salaries.

“The demands and complaints of the 200 OFWs working for Al Arab Contracting Co (ACC) could have been resolved amicably without resorting to work stoppage and would never be an option for the troubled OFWs if in the first place the ACC management have properly attended their legitimate complaints which are after all are only demanding what have been stated on their original signed contract in the Philippines,” Monterona added.

Monterona said but because of contract substitution that slipped away, as usual, from the watch of Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh or because POLO is just tolerating it, the hired OFWs labor status becomes problematic.

“However, if the complaints of the troubled OFWs have been properly attended, then their could never be an expose of ACC management labor malpractices and POLO’s continued neglect from Migrante-Middle East, and no exchanges of strong words and issuing threats of OFWs employment termination,” Monterona added.

Monterona averred Migrante chapters, OFWs and their families’ message is clear -if RP posts officials don’t want to be criticized, they should promptly attend on the legitimate complaints of distress or troubled OFWs against their erring employers and be pro-active in giving assistance to distress, abused and maltreated OFWs.

“We were informed by the leaders of the striking OFWs that they have met the ACC management on February 8 and have reached an agreement based on the issues raised by the complaining OFWs; they should have acted on their complaints when the management had received the first letter of complaints for its hired OFWs,” Monterona added.

“But where is the POLO? What they did when it was first informed by the troubled OFWs of their labor problems with their employer? Monterona queried. # # #

KGS/Migrante meets complaining OFWs from Al Arab Cont. Co. (ACC)on February 5.

KGS/Migrante officials discuss case with Al Arab Contracting (ACC) OFWs’ on February 5

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Our Voices Will Be Heard:

Dalhin si Ocampo at Maza sa Senado,
Gabriela Women’s Party Sa Kongreso!

6 February 2010
Reference: Gary Martinez/ Chairperson/ 09393914418

For nine years, under President Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration, migrant Filipinos around the world have gone through hell and high waters because of her anti-people, anti-migrant policies.

Deathrow cases, illegal arrests, detention and false charges, illegal recruitment, mysterious deaths without any government investigation, sexual abuse, maltreatment, human trafficking, complete indifference to migrant families’ woes, violations of POEA approved contracts, unjust and exorbitant state exactons, misuse of OWWA funds – the list is endless. There is no want for proof that this administration has committed grave sins against migrant Filipinos.

Yet, from Macapagal-Arroyo to her lapdogs in the Halls of Congress, they continue to dishonor us by calling us “bagong bayanis” even as they legislate more bills that will extort more of our hard-earned money such as the mandatory Pag-ibig Fund or the mandatory insurance they want to impose on us; even as they continue to drag their feet on investigating OWWA scams or corrupt and abusive embassy officials; even as they do not lift a finger for OFWs who call to rescue them. How they cheapen us as they arrogantly distribute mere tokens of livelihood or financial assistance, prop us in front of their cameras, after weeks or months of following up what is due us and spending our last centavo knocking at their doors.

Even as they continue to bleed us dry of our money and systematically sell us as slaves in the world market, to salvage the economy, this government has callously denied us of the opportunity to be represented by delisting the Migrante Sectoral Party.

But, true to our character as survivors, as Filipinos who will fight for a better life, we, members of Migrante will still ensure that our voices will be heard.

In this coming elections, our voices will he heard, once again, in the Halls of Congress through the Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), which has actively promoted, not only women’s rights, but also migrants’ rights. It has campaigned to remove the ban on direct hiring, scrapping of unfair POEA Guidelines, and exposed government misuse of OWWA funds. With the support of GABRIELA Rep. Luz Ilagan, we gained victories including cases of OFWs saved from unjust detention and death rows. GABRIELA supported campaigns against wage cuts and massive redundancies and gave special attention to the plight of undocumented migrants in Malaysia.

We also want our voices to be heard in the Senate! That is why we are supporting Makabayan candidates for Senator Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza. They bring with them a platform of genuine land reform and national industrialization which will address the issue of forced migration and consequently the roots of abject poverty.

Tomorrow, thousands of our members in Hongkong will go out in the streets and proclaim Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, GWP as our candidates to signal our vow to work hard as we have never worked before to ensure that our voices will, indeed, be heard. ####

Equal to Extortion

Mandatory Pag-Ibig Fund membership and contribution equal to extortion - Satur

News Feature
5 February 2010

Makabayan senatorial bet and Nacionalista Party guest candidate Satur Ocampo today expressed strong opposition to the mandatory coverage to Pag-IBIG under Republic Act 9679 or "Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009." He said that mandatory coverage meant mandatory contributions, "This by itself is unjust and tantamount to extortion."

"It's unjust for the government to impose another exaction on the public, including OFWs. It should be the prerogative of Filipinos whether or not they want to contribute to Pag-Ibig. The choice and the power of decision is being taken away from us. This is yet another burden on all Filipinos. OFWs in particular already have very little to spare from the earnings abroad, yet the government wants them to pay one more mandatory fee. If Pag-Ibig wants to improve its services and expand its membership, it should do so not at the expense of the public and those who do not want to be members," Ocampo said.

Under Rule V of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the new law, all workers earning at least P1,000 are covered, including household helpers such as drivers, gardeners, cook, governess and other similar occupations. Membership is also being made mandatory for self-employed persons, whether actors, directors, scriptwriters and news reporters who are not under an employer-employee relationship; professional athletes, trainers and jockeys; farmers and fisherfolk; workers in the informal sectors such as cigarette vendors, street vendors, among others.

Coverage is likewise mandatory for Filipinos employed by foreign-based employers whether deployed here or abroad. Ocampo said this was a gross misinterpretation of the law.

"The real value of already miserable wages continues to slide as prices of basic goods and commodities steadily increase. The reformed value-added tax (RVAT) remains in place. To force the public to shell out contributions for the Pag-Ibig fund is nothing less than legalized theft. Filipinos should be allowed to have options regarding contributions to state-run fund and welfare agencies because its their hard-earned money," he said. #