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