US-Israel hands off Gaza! Free Palestine! End the genocide!

photo from Google

photo from Google

Global alliance of Filipino im/migrants Migrante International condemns in strongest terms the US-backed Israeli bombing in Gaza City that has killed at least 1,700 Palestinians, including 398 children and 74 senior citizens, and injured some 9,000 people and more than 3,000 children.

The Israeli air strikes and military attacks in Gaza encroach upon the Palestinian people’s national sovereignty and right to self-determination and continue to endanger the lives of Palestinian nationals and thousands of migrants.

Migrante International stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their defense of their homes, livelihood and citizens. We join peoples of the world in condemning the US-backed genocidal war being waged by Israel. Israel is the biggest recipient of US military aid.

Migrante International calls for a stop to the bombings and killings, fearing also for the lives of overseas Filipino in Gaza. There are around 120 Filipinos in Gaza, and some 36, 000 Filipinos in the West Bank.

We also vehemently criticize the BS Aquino administration’s continued support for the US despite its war-mongering in Gaza and elsewhere in the world. The BS Aquino government’s dogged support for US interventionist wars endangers the lives of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in Gaza, Israel, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and wherever the US plans to strike.

Migrante International calls on all freedom-loving Filipinos worldwide to join millions of peoples around the world in condemning the Netanyahu government of Israel and demanding an immediate end to the Israeli offensives. ###

FACTSHEET on Antonio Espares, OFW beheaded in Libya

Prepared by Migrante Sectoral Party, July 2014

photo courtesy of GMA news online

photo courtesy of GMA news online

 

Name of OFW                                    :  ANTONIO R. ESPARES

Age                                                     :  49 years old

Address                                              :  Hagonoy, Taguig City

 

Deploying Agency (Phils) & Address :  STB_DJL Human Link (formerly DJL Manpower, Inc.), 1011A (GF). B (2F) & C (3F), Remedios cor. Modesto St., Malate, Manila

Tel. nos: 521-4875/531-6636

Representative: Angelita V. Castillo

 

Country                                               : Libya

Job                                                       : Heavy Equipment Operator

Salary                                                  : 700 Dinar or its peso equivalent P25,000.00

Departure date (Philippines)               : October 16, 2013

Name of wife                                      :  Maribel Espares

 

Background of the case:

On July 21, 2014, Migrante Sectoral Party (MSP) monitored in an online news: http://ibtimes.com/libyas-first-known-beheading-militia-kills-filipino-construction-worker-1634354, “In Libya’s First Known Beheading, Militia Kills Filipino Construction Worker, by Erin Banco@ErinBancoe.banco@ibtimes.com
on July 21 2014 11:59 AM.  The report said, “A militia in Benghazi, Libya, has beheaded a Filipino construction worker, allegedly for being a non-Muslim, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said.”

According to the report, OFW Antonio Espares was kidnapped July 15 at a checkpoint in the Gwarsha district of Benghazi. OFW Espares remains were found at a hospital on July 19, 2014. The report comes just two weeks after three Europeans working for an Italian construction company were kidnapped in the western city of Zuwara.  OFW Antonio Espares was an employee at Kibra construction company. 

July 24, 2014 – Sonia Bulong-Miralles, Coordinator, Women Programs, Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), forwarded an email from Fr. Allan Jose Achebuche of Caritas on the excerpts of the conversation between him and OFW Antonio Espares on the incident.

  • Basic information gathered as to the name and address of OFW Espares, his job as heavy equipment operator and the deploying agency;
  • OFW Espareswas with two (2) co-workers (Libyan and Yemeni nationals) were intercepted by certain group wearing bonnets in a checkpoint on their way back to the jobsite.
  • July 16, 2014 (Thursday) – the Company/Employer negotiated with the militia who demanded 20,000 plus dinar as ransom which the latter prepared.
  • The following day, on July 17, 2014 (Friday), the Company/Employer contacted the group again and the hostage takers informed the former that they did not need the money, instead instructed them to pick up Antonioin a specified location.
  • July 18, 2019, the Company/Employer went to the specified location and found out that OFW Espareswas already beheaded.

On July 26-27, 2014, MSP team visited the house of OFW Antonio Espares and was able to talk to his wife, Maribel.  The following are the excerpts of the conversation:

The Espares couple has 7 children, namely: Jester, 16 years old; Judielle Ann Mae, 14 years old ; Joana, 13 years old ; Jennylyn, 12 years old; Jhon Loyd, 10 years old ; Janel, 6 years old, and; Jhon Denverr, the youngest is only one (1) year old.  The wife, Maribel is currently working as enumerator at the City Hall of Taguig, earning P330 per day.

OFW Espares was deployed last 16 October 2013. He had only been working in the company for nine (9) months when he was kidnapped. He was deployed by STB_DJL Human Link (formerly DJL Manpower, Inc.), 1011A (GF). B (2F) & C (3F) Remedios cor. Modesto St., Malate, Manila, Tel. nos: 521-4875/531-6636; Representative: Angelita V. Castillo.  He worked as heavy equipment operator and earned a salary of 700 dinar per month.

Because her husband was not able to send money for four months due to the unrest in Libya, Maribel is now heavily indebted. Maribel owes P20,000, with her ATM as collateral, payable within five (5) months at twenty (20 percent interest. She also owes another nineteen thousand pesos (P19,000) from an individual at ten (10) percent interest.  All her salary goes to the lender.  The reason why she filed a leave of absence from her job is to do laundry to buy food for her family and needs of her children in school.   OFW Espares was able to contact his wife last July 13 and assured her that he will remit money at the end of July.

OFW Espares, on the other hand, to be able to pay for his placement fee, borrowed fifty thousand pesos (P50,000) from a lending company. His loan had since been waived by the said company upon learning of his death.

On July 19, 2014, a colleague of OFW Espares called his family to inform Maribel that something happened to Antonio.  She was told that Antonio had been kidnapped.

On July 20, 2014, OWWA RAD OIC Yolly Penaranda came to visit Espares’ house and talked to Maribel.  She was told that her family will receive P200,000 plus P20,000 burial benefits of which the processing will take place upon receipt of the death certificate.  She was also told that their eldest son Jester, who is currently studying vocational at ESDA, will be accepted in the Scholarship Program of OWWA.

On July 21, 2014, she went to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Worker Affairs (OUMWA). Maribel was able to talk to Undersecretary Jesus Yabes and asked what happened to her husband.  According to Maribel, Usec. Yabes during their conversation, tried to divert the issue by making her laugh to pacify her. Later, Usec. Yabes informed her that her husband was kidnapped and beheaded.  On the other hand, OUMWA Director Renato Villa contacted CDA Adel Cruz of the Philippine Embassy who informed him that the Embassy went to Benghazi to locate the remains of OFW Espares in a hospital.  They said that there is difficulty in the repatriation of Antonio’s remains since Libya was already closed at that time.

When asked if she already received concrete assistance from the government, Maribel said she received none.

Maribel told Migrante that Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano extended P20,000 assistance to the family and at least P5,000 from the recruitment agency.  Out of her desperation, she went to ABS-CBN to ask help so that her husband’s remains will be repatriated but nobody entertained her since it was on a weekend.

Actions taken by Migrante Sectoral Party and Migrante International

  1. Joined the SONA rally with Maribel and arranged for media interviews.
  2. Wrote DFA/Philippine Embassy for updates, OWWA.
  3. August 5, 2014, held a picket and dialogue at the Department of Foreign Affairs.
  4. Wrote an appeal letter to ICRC and IOM for assistance – immediate repatriation of Antonio’s remains.
  5. Continuous coordination with networks in Libya for the facilitation of repatriation of Antonio’s remains and the urgent evacuation of stranded OFWs in Libya.
  6. Set-up a “crisis hotline” for OFWs in Libya and other conflict-ridden countries in the Middle East-North Africa region. ###

OFW group launches “Crisis Hotline” for OFWs in Libya, Middle East-North Africa

migrante-libya

OFWs in Libya when the crisis there first erupted in 2011.

Migrante International, worldwide alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), today launched a “Crisis Hotline” for stranded Filipinos in Libya and other conflict-ridden areas in the Middle East and North Africa.

The “Crisis Hotline” can be reached through mobile number 0932-3990231 or email address menacrisiscenter.migrante@gmail.com. Messages may also be sent though Migrante International’s website, http://migranteinternational.org where an online complaint form may be accessed.

According to Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, they have set up the hotline because they continue to receive messages of distress and emergency from OFWs and their families who up to this day remain trapped in Libya and await urgent evacuation. All distress calls they receive will immediately be forwarded to the Department of Affairs (DFA) for immediate attention.

“Like before, the Philippine government’s so-called mandatory repatriation is not working. There is no active intervention on the part of the Philippine government to locate, secure and ensure the safe passage of Filipinos from conflict areas to PH posts. Aside from announcing it, there remains no clear blueprint from the government on how the mandatory repatriation is supposed to take place,” Martinez said.

He said that because of lack of information, some OFWs have resorted to braving the dangerous streets to get to terminals to exit posts. “Their lives are in danger, especially now that the Egypt and Tunisia terminals are closed. Ano’ng ginawa doon ni DFA Sec. Albert del Rosario, nag-walk in the park? There is not a minute to spare, the government should immediately facilitate the evacuation of our Filipinos there. Other nationalities have been evacuated by their governments, ano pa ba ang hinihintay ng gobyerno natin?”said Martinez.

Since violence escalated in Libya, a Filipino construction worker has been beheaded by alleged militants and a Filipina nurse was gang-raped.

“It is way past the time for the government to simply ‘lament’ that Filipinos are not heeding the mandatory repatriation call. They have crossed that line long ago. The Philippine government’s failure to safely secure our kababayans and to facilitate their urgent mass repatriation has caused the atrocity against one Filipina and the gruesome death of a Filipino. It is now time for accountability, the injustice done to them is the BS Aquino government’s fault.

Martinez also said that the slow repatriation process is due to the government’s lack of a sustainable reintegration program for returning overseas Filipino workers. Of present, there are at least 13,000 Filipinos in Libya, while tens of thousands more are based in conflict-riddled Gaza, Iraq, Kuwait and Syria. “We cannot blame our kababayans if they would opt not to return to the Philippines because no jobs, livelihood and security for their families await them here should they decide to return. The government is also mainly accountable for placing our kababayans in the situation they are in now.”

Martinez said that the Crisis Hotline is open to Filipinos in Libya and other conflict-ridden countries such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. ###

On the gang-rape of a Filipina nurse in Libya

marching-banner-no-more-bs2

Migrante International and Migrante Sectoral Party condemn in strongest terms the gang-rape of a Filipina in Libya and hold the Philippine government accountable for the continuing danger in the lives and welfare of Filipinos in the country and other conflict-riddled parts of the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region.

Since the crisis erupted in Libya, the Philippine government has been slow to action in ensuring their safety and dilly-dallying in facilitating their urgent mass repatriation.

The news of the gang-raped Filipina nurse comes in the wake of confirmed reports that another Filipino construction worker was beheaded by alleged militants last July 15. The Filipino’s wife is presently coordinating with Migrante International’s home office in Manila. She has expressed dismay over the Philippine government’s handling of her husband’s case and the Department of Foreign Affair’s “cavalier attitude” towards her husband’s violent death. Migrante will be facilitating the release of her official statement soon.

Like before, the Philippine government’s so-called mandatory repatriation is not working. There is no active intervention on the part of the Philippine government to locate, secure and ensure the safe passage of Filipinos from conflict areas to PH posts. Aside from announcing it, there remains no clear blueprint from the government on how the mandatory repatriation is supposed to take place.

It is way past the time for the government to simply “lament” that Filipinos are not heeding the mandatory repatriation call. They have crossed that line long ago. The Philippine government’s failure to safely secure our kababayans and to facilitate their urgent mass repatriation has caused the atrocity against one Filipina and the gruesome death of a Filipino. It is now time for accountability, the injustice done to them is the BS Aquino government’s fault.

Migrante International and Migrante Sectoral Party also blame the slow repatriation process to the government’s lack of a sustainable reintegration program for returning overseas Filipino workers. Of present, there are at least 13,000 Filipinos in Libya, while tens of thousands more are based in conflict-riddled Gaza, Iraq, Kuwait and Syria. We cannot blame our kababayans if they would opt not to return to the Philippines because no jobs, livelihood and security for their families await them here should they decide to return. The Philippine government is also mainly accountable for placing our kababayans in the situation they are in now.

Lastly, Migrante International and Migrante Sectoral Party condemn the BS Aquino government’s continuous support for the United States despite US-backed wars in these conflict-riddled countries. BS Aquino’s dogged support for the US is another factor that places our OFWs in clear and present danger.

These recent atrocities and injustice against Filipinos in Libya further crystalize the demand of Filipinos all over the world to hold BS Aquino accountable for his criminal negligent and incompetent government. Migrante International and Migrante Sectoral Party reiterate the demand for BS Aquino to resign, or be ousted by Filipinos around the world. ###

 

Rhetoric, exaggeration and more lies in BS Aquino’s 5th SONA – Migrante

1919619_10152280989671169_6261092874240067874_nGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez described Pres. BS Aquino’s fifth State of the Nation Address as “a litany of rhetoric, exaggeration and more lies”.

“Facing isolation and the dissent of the people, BS Aquino attempted to deodorize the real state of the nation by providing the public with clichés and incomplete and selective data to further justify and defend the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), sprinkled with theatrics and the usual bashing of critics. Yesterday’s biggest SONA protest under his term is proof that the Filipino people are not buying any of it,” Martinez said.

He said that BS Aquino again did not mention the failure of land reform, and had the gall to lie about the number of workers’ strikes erupting in the country due to low wages and contractualization. “These are integral problems that the government failed to address. These are the reasons why more and more Filipinos are being forced to migrate and look for jobs abroad under his term despite risks and separation from their families.”

BS Aquino has enforced a more aggressive labor export policy. By 2012, at least one-fourth of the country’s labor force has gone abroad to find work. There are now 15 million Filipinos abroad. According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, 1.5 million Filipinos were deployed abroad in the start of BS Aquino’s term. Since 2010, the number of OFWs leaving the country increased from 2,500 daily to 4,884 in 2013. Last year, the BS Aquino government has breached the two million mark in deployment of OFWs for a year, the highest record in history since labor export was enforced in the 1970s.

Martinez also said that BS Aquino again did not mention anything about the plight of overseas Filipino workers, especially what the government is doing to protect OFWs in conflict-ridden countries due to US-backed wars in Libya, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Kuwait and Afghanistan. “BS Aquino’s puppetry and dogged support for the US continues to place our OFWs in perilous conditions and the government is mum about it.”

“Aside from thanking Filipino migrants for their relief efforts and donations to victims of Yolanda, no mention at all. For your information, Mr. Aquino, donations from our kababayans abroad poured in because they saw how inept and slow government response was and felt, rightly, that they had to step in to compensate for your criminal neglect,” he said.

Martinez also called on Filipinos around the world to be vigilant against BS Aquino’s instructions to Congress for the “passage of a Joint Resolution that will bring clarity to the definitions and ideas still being debated upon” on the DAP.

“This is a clear message to Congress, his allies, to help him legalize DAP. It is a message to the Supreme Court that he is out to defy and challenge their decision on the DAP. Let us all be vigilant and guard against any attempts of BS Aquino to evade accountability on the multi-billion peso DAP scam,” he said.

Martinez said that, in the wake of the biggest SONA protest, Filipinos around the world are as early as now preparing for bigger protest actions against BS Aquino’s DAP on August 25, a year after the Million People March. ###

 

#SONA2014: DAPat Managot: Filipinos around the world want BS Aquino out

10500270_10152536887679098_7936077568198043505_n“After four years of corruption, mendacity, puppetry, oppression and human rights violations, Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III (BS Aquino) has once again roused the Filipino people into collective action and determination to exercise their democratic power to bring about regime change as mounting calls for his ouster continue to gain strength around the country and all over the world,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez said that the latest development on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is “the last straw” for Filipino migrants and their families. “Filipinos around the world want BS Aquino out. We do not want him to stay until 2016. He can resign, be impeached or ousted.”

Martinez said that it is unjustifiable and unforgivable how Aquino and his cohorts squandered P177 billion in DAP while scrimping on funds for Filipino migrants in distress and their families. “DAP is not savings. DAP is not good. DAP was not done in good faith. DAP did not produce good results. What BS Aquino did through DAP was to pull in millions of pesos into a huge sum of presidential pork. DAP was used for bribery, patronage politics and to consolidate BS Aquino’s clique in government.”

In the past four years, the BS Aquino government slashed funds for OFW welfare services and closed down embassies and consulates allegedly as austerity measures. OFWs have experienced criminal government neglect, the biggest budget cut for OFW services, more exorbitant state exactions and fee impositions, diplomatic blunders that have placed OFWs’ welfare at stake and unending price hikes that continue to cripple OFWs and their families.

Martinez enumerated BS Aquino’s promises in past SONAs for the OFW sector, and the real state of migrants under BS Aquino:

 

 

BS AQUINO’S SONA PROMISES REAL STATE OF MIGRANTS UNDER AQUINO
Promise 1: To enforce a state policy of not pursuing overseas employment as a development strategy Reality 1: BS Aquino has enforced a more aggressive labor export policy. By 2012, at least one-fourth of the country’s labor force has gone abroad to find work. There are now 15 million Filipinos abroad.According to the POEA, 1.5 million Filipinos were deployed abroad in the start of BS Aquino’s term. Since 2010, the number of OFWs leaving the country increased from 2,500 daily to 4,884 in 2013. Last year, the BS Aquino government has breached the two million mark in deployment of OFWs for a year, the highest record in history since labor export was enforced in the 1970s.
Promise 2: To improve OFW services in Philippine foreign posts Reality 2: BS Aquino closed down at least 10 Philippine foreign posts as part of its so-called “austerity measures” to incur government “savings”.
Promise 3: Protect OFWs from fixers, scammers and traffickers Reality 3: BS Aquino is the “trafficker-in-chief” of OFWs.  Trafficking of Filipino workers is still rampant and operating in record-high levels yet the accountability of perpetrators and their coddlers in government remains low. The Philippines remains as one of the top source/sending countries for trafficking in different parts of the world.
Promise 4: To strengthen reintegration programs for returning migrants Reality 4: There is a lack of comprehensive and sustainable reintegration program for returned OFWs. What the BS Aquino government offers are mere dole-outs and band-aid solutions that are not long-term solutions to unemployment, low wages and lack of social services.Most of the government’s reintegration programs for returned OFWs are made up of loans and one-time livelihood programs. Most recently returned OFWs are complaining about the P2 billion OWWA reintegration program that BS Aquino inaugurated in 2011 because of its stringent requirements for collateral and onerous interest rates.
Promise 5: To review the budget of OWWA Reality 5: BS Aquino failed to investigate allegations of misuse and corruption of the OWWA funds. The plunder case filed against former president Arroyo for misuse and corruption of OWWA funds, for instance, was initiated by private citizens and organizations and not the Aquino administration.OFWs are also suspicious as to the source of the DAP funds. OFWs fear that they might have been sourced from OWWA and other welfare funds.
Promise 6: To address OFWs’ financial and social problems Reality 6: BS Aquino signed Administrative Order 31, calling on all government heads and agencies to “rationalize the rates of their fees and charges, increasing their rates and impose new fees and charges”.Since 2010, the BS Aquino government has been collecting an average of at least P26,267 from every OFW processed by the POEA. This amount is higher than the average P18,000 the government collected in 2010.With the recent increases in the Philhealth premium, NBI clearance fees, e-passport fees, barangay clearance fees, and the mandatory contributions to Pag-Ibig, OWWA and mandatory insurance, among others, the average cost for every OFW for the processing of the Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs) has reached an estimated P31,000 per OFW.
Promise 7: To maximize partnership with the United States Reality 7: OFWs continue to be placed in dangerous conditions in conflict-ridden countries due to US interventionist or US-backed wars, and BS Aquino’s dogged support for the US continues to place them in perilous situations.OFWs in conflict-riddled countries – Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Kuwait, Afghanistan – are caught between the devil and the turbulent sea. They left despite risks posed in working in these countries because of worsening domestic unemployment. And like before, a number of them will surely opt to stay because no jobs await them should they decide to return.

“Pinagkait ang serbisyo para magamit sa kapritso ni BS Aquino. Malinaw ang holDAP. DAPat managot si Noynoy sa kanyang pagnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan,” Martinez said.

Martinez said that Filipinos in Hong Kong, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Italy and the United States are also simultaneously holding their SONA protests today.###

#SONA2014 BS Aquino is afraid of his “bosses” – Migrante; Group slams garrison road along Commonwealth Ave.

10430431_10154381171320153_693227504692689373_nGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International today slammed the BS Aquino government’s “overkill set-up” along Commonwealth Avenue going to Batasan Road in Quezon City a day before the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“The present set-up of Commonwealth Avenue leaves a strong message: BS Aquino is afraid of his ‘bosses’. He is terrified of the people’s biggest protest against his presidency because of the multi-billion DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) scam. He is alarmed because he knows fully well that he has been stripped of all pretenses and is now labelled as, not only the ‘Pork Barrel King’ but, the ‘HolDAPer ng Bayan’,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez also said that the garrison road along Commonwealth Avenue is testament that BS Aquino “is on war-footing with the people”. “Mistulang ikukulong ang mamamayang magpoprotesta sa hawla. Ito ba ang tuwid na daan, puro harang, barbed wire at pagsikil sa karapatang magpahayag ng mamamayan?”

Dehado na nga ang mamamayan sa DAP, Dehado pa sa Army at Pulis. Pero hindi magpapatinag ang migrante at mamamayan. DAPat Managot si BS Aquino. Tuloy ang protesta sa Tunay na SONA ng Bayan sa iba’t ibang dako ng mundo,” Martinez said.

Filipinos in Hong Kong, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Italy and the United States will also be holding SONA protests in front of PH posts today and tomorrow.###