Migrants’ group condemns Batasan bombing

News Release
November 14, 2007
For reference:  Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson (0927-215-7392)

An alliance of organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and their families today condemned the bombing at the Batasan Pambana last night and sympathized with those injured and killed.  At the same time, Migrante International called for an independent probe and warned Malacanang against using the incident to justify repressive measures against the people.

“We condemn this latest reprehensible attack against innocent civilians.  Given how this occurred in the wake of the botched investigation into the Glorietta bombing, we demand a comprehensive, independent and genuine probe into this unprecedented attack at the Batasan,”  says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International Chairperson.

Bragas-Regalado added her group is especially concerned and alarmed because among those injured is staunch migrants’ advocate and Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Luz Ilagan while her driver, Marcial Taldo is among the fatalities.  Other GWP staff members were also hurt in the blast.

 “The independent probe should include all stakeholders and must be open to pursuing all possibilities in this case.  This means that the timing of the blast, the current political crisis and all other factors must be considered.  In this light, conclusions about how Basilan Rep. Wahab Akhbar was the bomb’s target is premature and may even be another diversionary tactic,”  she said.

“It simply cannot be discounted that in the Glorietta and Batasan Pambansa blast, the Arroyo administration benefits in a sense because both tragic events diverted public attention away from very damaging exposes linking Malacanang to the ZTE deal and bribery issues among others,” added Bragas-Regalado, noting how even the impeachment process remains a threat despite attempts by administration solons to quash it in Congress.

“We commit to pursuing justice for the victims and we warn Gloria anew that instead of silencing the people, these events intensify further our commitment to expose and oust her anti-people and fascist regime,” she said.

Later this evening, Migrante International will join the BAYAN-led activity at the Quezon Memorial Circle to denounce the bombing and call for justice for the victims.  #

Join the campaign to save the life of Marilou Ranario

She could be your sister, mother, wife or tita…

Marilou Ranario, from Surigao del Norte, is a domestic worker on death row in Kuwait.  She was sentenced in September 2005 for allegedly killing her abusive employer.  Her case is now before Kuwait’s Supreme Court and oral arguements are set to start this November 13th.

Join us in our international campaign to save her life and raise awareness about the many other Filipino migrant workers that languish on death row today. 

To be a part of this campaign:

1.  You can sign the internet petition (http://www.petitiononline.com/marilou/petition.html) and/or download and circulate the Tagalog petition for Marilou (Tagalog petition for Marilou);

2.  Send your own letter of appeal to the Kuwait Amir;

3.  Forward your friends and networks Marilou’s fact sheet (Marilou Ranario Fact Sheet) and encourage them to also sign the petitions for Marilou.

For more information about other activities you can do, please email us at: migrante2007@yahoo.com.ph

Thank you for your support!

Stop the devious approval of JPEPA – MIGRANTE

News Release

November 8, 2007

For reference:  Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson (0927-215-7392)

 

A global alliance of migrant organizations warns that the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement’s (JPEPA) sneaky approval is soon going to be handed down.

 

“According to our reliable source in the Senate, the Arroyo administration’s lobbyists are persistent to get the approval by next week. To make it acceptable, a side agreement on the toxic waste dumping provision is going to be included,” says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson of MIGRANTE International.

 

Ambassador Siazon previously announced the readiness of the Government of Japan to sign a separate note agreement on the issue of toxic waste dumping. A controversial provision in JPEPA provides that waste is part of the bilateral trade with Japan and thus, is entitled to preferential treatment (Article 29). 

 

“This is unacceptable. The Arroyo administration thinks that it can always get away with her scheming governance. First was the hastily approved pardon of Erap and now the conniving approval of the one-sided JPEPA. Enough is enough,” exclaimed Bragas-Regalado.

 

The group also reiterated their disapproval of JPEPA due to its inclusion of provisions on prospective employment of OFWs in Japan particularly of health workers “in exchange of toxic waste dumping and unlimited access on industrial materials from the Philippines.”

 

 “We are not commodities. The inclusion of labor exportation in international trade agreements only shows that President Arroyo treats us like mere products that can be a bargaining chip in trade treaties. This is totally dehumanizing to say the least,” Bragas-Regalado explains.

 

The group considers JPEPA as a first in the history of Philippine migration in that it includes the export of live human beings or health workers in a trade agreement.

 

“President Arroyo has shamelessly abandoned all qualms in exporting Filipinos as cheap labor. She even went as far as legitimizing this by approving an international trade agreement like JPEPA,” she said.

 

The group explains that the alleged dependency of our government in desperately exporting cheap labor for foreign exchange earnings is one of the main sources of misery of OFWs at present. 

 

According to the group, this policy means the Arroyo Administration places a premium on aggressive labor marketing abroad rather than asserting the rights of distressed migrants.

 

“We will not let this precedent happen. We will do every protest that we can to stop President Arroyo from conniving with Japan to dump toxic waste in our country and let them plunder our natural resources once again, this time at the expense of the rights and welfare of migrant Filipinos,” concluded Bragas-Regalado.  #

Migrantes scores absence of RP officials when 9 Pinoys docked in Mauritius

News Release

November 6, 2007

For reference:  Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson (0927-215-7392)

 

Following reports that the 9 Filipinos who took over a Taiwanese vessel are now detained in a Mauritius Police Station, Migrante International today scored the absence of any Philippine official during their arrival. “It’s certainly alarming that the Arroyo administration couldn’t even fulfill the simple request of the 9 Pinoys for a Philippine government official to be present at the dock when they arrive in Mauritius — especially since there was sufficient time to dispatch with haste no less than VP Noli de Castro if this administration was sincere in ensuring justice for these Filipinos,”  says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International Chairperson.   The Taiwanese vessel with the 9 Filipinos reportedly arrived in Mauritius around 6pm today.  In an earlier interview, the Filipino crew’s leader, Roderick Sumang said they requested that RP Vice Consul Bernadette Mendoza, from RP’s Nairobi post, to be present when they dock, so that she could explain to authorities the reasons for their actions. The nine Filipino crew members who took over a Taiwanese fishing vessel said they only did it because they were allegedly being maltreated, hardly fed and poorly paid.  “So far, all we have witnessed from this administration are mere posturings and speculations about how the Mauritius government will treat the 9 Filipinos.  Has the Arroyo administration lost all backbone when it comes to firmly standing up for the rights of overseas Filipino workers?”  she added. “The plight of the 9 Filipinos illustrates the cruel and unforgiving conditions our compatriots abroad are drawn against.  Plying the world’s oceans while away from their families is enough heartrending an experience. Couple this agonizing fact with abuse and maltreatment; anybody will surely end up as ‘mutineers’,” said Bragas-Regalado as she gave emphasis that the nine Filipinos should be viewed not as tormentors but as victims. “Migrante International demands that a government task force be created and immediately deployed to the area.  Their job would be to intervene in behalf of our compatriots in distress and to make sure that all legal assistance is granted them” she said.  “But given the Arroyo administration’s miserable track record when it comes to genuinely assisting the majority of OFWs in distress, we’re not surprised that when the 9 Filipinos arrived, no Philippine official was there to welcome them.  We hope this is not another of the many cases of ‘too late the self-proclaimed hero’,” she concluded. #  

Political concession of the century

Letter to the Editor

November 6, 2007For reference:  Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson (0927-215-7392)

 As an alliance of organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and their families, we call on all migrants and the entire Filipino nation to condemn the political concession of the century – the pardon of Erap.  Never before has the Arroyo regime ebbed so low in the eyes of the people.   

First was the odious ZTE deal where the chairman of the supposedly independent electoral body, was bared brokering a US$300 million government contract among top officials of the Arroyo administration.  Next were the immoral P240 million “cash gifts” or clear bribery right inside Malacanang Palace during a meeting called and hosted by President Arroyo herself. Then came the Glorietta bombing – which exploded while another bombshell was being heard in the Senate that directly implicates Gloria herself in the ZTE scam. All these events converged, and, presto, Gloria hastily hands down the Executive Clemency for Erap.    No one is buying this as an act of compassion or reconciliation.  It is plain and simple conspiracy and political survival. 

Cornered like an animal, Gloria had to pull out all stops to perpetuate herself in power – from aligning with Cardinal Sin and Cory Aquino during EDSA II, to locking arms with Fidel Ramos during the ‘Hello Garci’ scandal and now with Erap in the midst of the ZTE deal and cash bribes. As the saying goes, “in politics there are no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.”  

This pardon is opportunism feeding opportunism at its worst.   As for Erap, he has dug himself in a deeper hole.  Where once he called Gloria the main source of the masses’ misery, overnight she became his reliable friend and ally in the eradication of poverty.  The “Erap para sa mahirap” died with this monumental charade.  

Worse, whatever little credibility this rotten political system has is now lost and gone to the dogs. Indeed, this case underlines again that we cannot trust the ruling elite even for a single moment.  We must have faith instead in the continuing struggle of the people for national liberation and democracy – and we need to always distinguish clearly between the permanent enemies and permanent allies of the Filipino people.  #  

2nd Filipino women migrants summit tackles HSA, POEA guidelines, wage

UNIFIL Press Release
27 August 2007

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

OFW summit tackles HSA, POEA guidelines and wage
Actions in HK, planned for the year

“The government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should prepare for even bigger and stronger resistance from Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong.”

This was declared today by Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK), following the resolution of the Second Filipino Women Migrant Workers Summit to intensify the campaign against the POEA guidelines, government fees charged to OFWs and the Human Security Act and other human rights violations in the country.

The summit, held yesterday at the Hong Kong University gathered together 110 organizations of Filipino migrant workers, planned mass actions up to the end of the year as well as measures to help families and victims of human rights abuses such as fund raising for children of those killed extrajudicially by elements of the Philippine military.

“Contrary to what the Philippine government wishes to achieve with all its repressive measures, Filipinos in Hong Kong are even more determined now to push through with our demands as the past months exposed the emptiness of the promises of the POEA guidelines, worsened the economic condition of our families, and subjected the people to grave rights abuses,” Balladares added.

Concretely, delegates of the summit agreed to conduct a “Walk for Justice” on September 23 as part of the International Day of Protest against killings and human rights violations. Additionally, the summit decided to conduct a fund raising for children of victims of killings and disappearances around December.

Organized by the UNIFIL , the Filipino Migrant Workers Union (FMWU), and alliances of migrants from Abra, Pangasinan and the Cordillera region, the second Summit also took up issues primarily addressed to the Hong Kong government such as the campaign for a legislated minimum wage as well as the re-development of Central and privatization of public spaces that will lead to the displacement of migrant workers.

Connie Bragas-Regalao, chairperson of Migrante International, keynoted the event where she explained the Philippine migration trend in the face of the national program of the Philippine government and its international context.

“The development program of GMA contains nothing but deployment of millions of Filipinos abroad, institutionalization of more fees, and even more repressive actions against activists in the Philippines and even against Filipino migrant workers,” Regalado added.

Included in the resolution of the summit were congressional lobbying that will be submitted mainly to the Gabriela Women’s Party.

“The summit affirmed the determination of Filipino migrants in Hong Kong to see changes in our condition. It will push us to even more militant fights for our rights and wellbeing,” Balladares concluded.

Keynote Speech at the Summit

Fire, prosecute abusive RP envoy over trafficking of OFW — Migrante

News ReleaseAugust 26, 2007

For reference:  Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson (0927-215-7392)

We challenge the DFA to recall, relieve and prosecute San Francisco Vice-Consul Anthony Mandap over revelations that he trafficked domestic worker Arlene Gado into the United States, says a global alliance of organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and their families.

 

“We’re outraged over the enslavement of domestic worker Arlene by Vice-Consul Mandap and his family.  His actions are reprehensible and is a slap in the face to the millions of OFWs toiling as domestic workers around the world.  We demand justice for Arlene and all Filipino women migrant workers,” says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International Chairperson from the sidelines of the 2nd Women Migrant Workers’ Summit in Hong Kong.

 

Arlene agreed to come to the United States in 2005 to work as a domestic worker in Vice-Consul Mandap’s house.  But upon her arrival, Vice-Consul Mandap sent her to New Jersey – as part of his ‘filial responsibilities’ – to provide continuous care for his incapacitated father-in-law, clean their house, cook their meals, and give massages, manicures and pedicures to their relatives and friends.  She was paid slave wages amounting to only US$250 then US$350 monthly.  A US court recently awarded her US$78,000 or P3.6 million in back wages.

 “We’re certain these so-called ‘filial responsibilities’ shouldn’t come at the expense of the human rights of others.  Besides, what about his responsibilities as a diplomat of a nation propped up by the sweat and sacrifice of countless Filipino migrants,”  added Bragas-Regalado. 

“Vice-Consul Mandap violated national and international laws protecting the rights and welfare of migrant workers.  He even violated the DFA’s professed vision and mission regarding OFWs.  He is clearly guilty of trafficking and thus, has absolutely no moral basis and credibility as consular official,” she added, asserting that as Arlene’s “employer”, he had command responsibility over the horrendous conditions she lived and worked under.

 

According to Migrante International, Vice-Consul Mandap is guilty of trafficking as defined by Section 4 (a) of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.  This section says the following as an Act of Trafficking in Persons:  “To recruit, transport, transfer, harbor, provide, or receive a person by any means including those under the pretext of domestic or overseas employment…for the purpose of…forced labor, slavery (and) involuntary servitude.”

 

He also violated:

 

  • Article 11 (a) of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families that says “No migrant worker or member of his family shall be held in slavery or servitude”;  and

 

  • The Vision of the DFA that says among other things, “Our missions abroad are the partners of Filipinos overseas in the pursuit of the national interest and in the promotion and protection of their rights and well-being.”

 

Section 10 of RA 9208 says the penalty for those guilty of trafficking as defined under Section 4 result in the “penalty of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of not less than P1 million but not more than P2 million.”  #