#SaveMaryJane Breaking: Unidentified men harassing Veloso family in Cabanatuan

The Veloso family in prayer. Photo by dailymail.co.uk

The Veloso family in prayer. Photo by dailymail.co.uk

Migrante International today called on PH authorities to urgently investigate incidents of harassment of the Veloso family by unidentified men in their hometown in Cabanatuan City.

Yesterday at around 11:00am, three unidentified “burly-looking” men arrived in motorcycles at the house of Nanay Celia Veloso. One of them had tattoos while the other sported a mohawk haircut, according to Mary Jane’s sister, Darling. The three men reportedly asked Mary Jane’s niece where the Velosos lived. “Noong tinanong sila kung bakit nila hinahanap, ang sabi nilang dahilan ay dahil daw nababagalan sila sa kaso ni Mary Jane at gusto raw nilang tumulong,” Darling said. The three men then took pictures of the house and promptly left.

“Pagkaalis nila, napansin namin na nawawala na iyong bantay naming aso. Kaya lalo kaming natakot,” said Darling. The guard dog, she said, “returned” to their house at around 12:00 midnight.

The Velosos immediately reported the incident to the barangay and had it recorded in the local police blotter. Tatay Cesar, who is currently in Manila to attend the preliminary investigation for the cases versus Kristina “Tintin” Sergio etal at the Department of Justice (DOJ), personally called local police to seek protection for the famiy.

This incident came after Darling got a suspicious call from an unidentified man last May 7. The mysterious caller had asked for the whereabouts of Maritess, Mary Jane’s other sister. Because the caller refused to identify himself, Darling became suspicious and declined to answer. “Binaba na niya iyong telepono noong kinukulit ko kung sino siya,” she said.

Darling said that she feared for Maritess’ safety who was then on her way to Manila for the May 8 preliminary investigation at the DOJ. Maritess, meanwhile, immediately reported the incident to their Philippine private lawyers at the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).

These incidents are not the first time that the Velosos experienced harassment since they came out in the open.

In their sworn statements, Nanay Celia, Tatay Cesar and Maritess said that mysterious vans and motorcycle-riding men have been frequenting their community, asking townsfolk where they lived. “Kapag tinuturo naman nila (neighbors) hindi naman tumutuloy. Ang tatay ni Mary Jane ay hindi na nakakatulog. Nagbabantay na lang sa aming bahay gabi-gabi. Nag-aalala rin po ako para sa aking mga apo,” Nanay Celia had said.

According to Migrante International Deputy Secretary-General Mic Catuira, these incidents of harassment need urgent attention and investigation by PH authorities. “Obviously, Mary Jane’s case is a high-profile case possibly involving big drug and trafficking syndicates. The Veloso family has every right and reason to raise the alarm and seek protection. There is an apparent intent by mysterious entities to scare or silence the Velosos who have been consistent in asserting Mary Jane’s innocence, a fact that even Sergio etal had belatedly affirmed in their respective sworn statements.”

“Pero kahit na ano’ng gawin nilang pananakot sa pamilya namin, hindi nila kami mapipigil na ipagpatuloy ang laban para kay Mary Jane,” Maritess said. ###

Whatever happened to a “people-centered” ASEAN? Filipino migrants slam ASEAN member states in Rohingya crisis

photo from Agence France-Presse

photo from Agence France-Presse

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International condemns in strongest terms all ASEAN member states for refusing to come up with a humane and compassionate resolution to the ongoing Rohingya crisis.

As of this posting, some thousands of trafficked Rohingya migrants remain stranded at sea, among them women and children, as Malaysia and Indonesia continue to refuse them entry to their borders. As the whole world looks on, Rohingya migrants are left to die, without proper food, shelter and protection.

Migrante International also expresses grave concern over news reports of migrant detention camps and mass graves uncovered along the Thailand-Malaysia border. Thailand’s cruel and militarist crackdowns on trafficked victims and undocumented migrants continue to plague the Rohingya peoples and other trafficked victims.

Migrante International also strongly criticizes the Myanmar government for discriminating against the Rohingyas, treating them inhumanely and criminalizing them as illegal migrants.

Shame on ASEAN. Whatever happened to a “people-centered” ASEAN region? In the spirit of a genuine “People-Centered ASEAN Community 2015”, Migrante International urgently and fervently calls on all ASEAN member states to save the Rohingya peoples.

The Rohingya crisis is not just an issue of border security or trafficking. It has turned into a humanitarian crisis that the ASEAN should resolve immediately. It has become a concern of all freedom-loving ASEAN peoples and the responsibility of all ASEAN member states.

ASEAN Leaders have declared optimism with the 2009-2015 Road Map of the ASEAN Community Blueprints as the basis of the overall ASEAN Community 2015. But how can we fathom to achieve a genuine “People-Centered ASEAN Community 2015” when we cannot, as one region, unite as a peoples on one fundamental cause to promote, protect and respect human rights?

How can we hope to revive the region from the iniquities of injustice, corruption, human rights abuses and poverty when the very peoples and citizens we profess to serve and protect are not given strong gestures of support by ASEAN member states? Is this how we plan to start and pre-empt the ASEAN Community 2015?

Migrante International calls on ASEAN member states to start building an ASEAN Community 2015 on a just, merciful and compassionate foundation. We steadfastly believe that a genuine “People-Centered ASEAN Community 2015” must take place within a human rights framework that protects, promotes and fulfils the rights of its peoples. These should be the basis on which the ASEAN states build the ASEAN Community 2015.

Migrante International calls on all its members and networks around the world to campaign for a humane and compassionate resolution to the Rohingya crisis. ###

 

Justice for Kentex workers! Justice for all Filipino workers!

kentexGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International extends its most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of workers of Kentex Manufacturing Inc. who died in a factory fire last May 13.

Seventy-two workers have been confirmed dead, mostly women, while 20 more remain missing. Witnesses attest that some 200 were present when the fire consumed the factory.

Kentex, a factory located in Valenzuela City, clearly violated general labor standards and occupational health and safety standards. Despite this, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had been quick to state that Kentex passed all inspections and exercised strict compliance with labor standards. However, a fact-finding mission conducted by Kilusang Mayo Uno, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) and the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) Philippines exposed clear violations, among them, the “mishandling of hazardous and flammable chemicals, absence of proper smoke and fire alarm, and fire exits, and apparent absence of fire and safety drills”.

Migrante International calls for justice for the 72++ Kentex workers. We mourn with Filipino workers and the rest of the nation for this grave injustice and negligence, not only of greedy capitalists but of the Philippine government. We rage against these conditions that continue to place our Filipino workers in unsafe environments and, when tragedy strikes, diminish them to mere statistics of “occupational hazards”.

The Kentex tragedy also brings to light the slave-like conditions and unjust wages that Filipino workers are forced to endure. Kentex workers receive a pittance of daily wages (Php202/day), plus an additional Php187-Php220 daily allowance depending on how long they have been working for the company.

Migrante International condemns in strongest terms slave wages that continue to plague millions of our Filipino workers in favour of greed for profit. It is precisely in search of decent jobs and higher wages that the number of Filipino workers and those leaving for labor migration everyday have been on the rise since Pres. Aquino took office.

At least one-fourth of the country’s labor force has gone abroad to find work. Jobs created are highly disproportional to the ever-growing labor force and underemployed. The number of jobless and underpaid Filipinos increased by at least 600,000 during Aquino’s first year in office alone.

While those who do land domestic jobs, as in the case of Kentex workers, suffer very low wages. Worsening joblessness and underemployment feed on already chronically low wages, with the current minimum wage grossly inadequate to sustain even the most humble of families.

The Kentex tragedy is clear and present testament to how detrimental the government’s labor export policy and failure to curb forced migration are to Filipino workers. The Kentex tragedy is also testament to the Aquino government’s criminal government neglect to protect and uphold the rights and welfare of our Filipino workers, whether they be here in the Philippines or abroad.We call on all Filipino migrant workers and the Filipino people to demand justice for Kentex workers and all other victims of occupational accidents. We call on all migrant workers to join us in demanding justice for Kentex workers. ###

 

Appeal for Continued Unity and Action to #FreeMaryJane

thank you card(1)On behalf of the Veloso family and the Filipino nation, we thank all supporters of the #SaveMaryJane campaign. We express our most heartfelt solidarity with all peoples of the world who worked vigorously and unrelentingly to save Mary Jane Veloso’s life until the last minute.

We especially convey our highest salute and camaraderie with our fellow Indonesian migrant workers who led the #SaveMaryJane campaign in their homeland. Truly they have shown admirable internationalism that Filipino migrant workers around the world vow to emulate. We recognize that their appeal to Pres. Widodo was a crucial factor in the suspension of Mary Jane’s execution. Terima kasih! We are one with you. We fight the same fight against forced migration and labor export that have long exploited our migrant workers and put them in grave danger.

We did not waiver. We said that only the people can save Mary Jane, and the people have prevailed.

The Indonesian government has suspended the implementation of the death sentence on Mary Jane until all proceedings in the Philippines are finished. This means that we must now focus our efforts and exert pressure on the Philippine government to bring justice for Mary Jane as a victim of illegal recruitment, human trafficking and drug trafficking.

Last May 6, Philippine authorities have finally arrested Ma. Kristina “Tintin” Sergio and her live-in partner, Mary Jane’s god-brother Julius Lacanilao. They have been charged with estafa, illegal recruitment and human trafficking by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the basis of complaints filed by Mary Jane’s parents, Celia and Cesar, and sister Maritess, and other witnesses/victims who recently surfaced.

We welcome this very positive development. Mary Jane’s case is finally on the right track. Sergio etal’s arrest will boost calls to #FreeMaryJane and bring her home to her family and her two little boys. The case is now in the stages of preliminary investigation. Mary Jane and the Veloso family’s retained private Philippine lawyers, led by the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), and supported by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), have expressed willingness to work with Philippines authorities to bring Mary Jane’s traffickers behind bars.

We welcome this development but we remain vigilant. Let us all continue to work together to bring Mary Jane home to her family. With our continuous collective prayer, actions and solidarity, with renewed commitment and resolve, we shall #FreeMaryJane.

Recommended Actions:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling on Philippine authorities to fast-track the prosecution and ensure the conviction of Sergio etal.      

 

You may send you communications to:

 

H.E. President of the Republic of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III

Office: JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80

Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968

E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

 

Hon. Alberto del Rosario

Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs

Office: 2330 Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City, Phils

Phone: (+632) 834-7374

Fax: (+632) 832-1597

Email: osec@dfa.gov.ph 

 

Hon. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Office: Department of Justice, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila 1000

Telephone: (+632) 521-1908 / 526-5462
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email Address: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph / lmdelima.doj@gmail.com

 

Atty. Virgilio Mendez

Director, National Bureau of Investigation

Office: NBI Building. Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila 1000

Telephone: (+632) 524-5084/ 524-0407/ 521-2402

Fax: (+632) 525-6895

Email: director@nbi.gov.ph

 

Chief State Counsel Ricardo V. Paras III

Officer-in-Charge, Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking

Office: c/o Department of Justice, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila 1000

Telephone: (+632) 523-8481 loc. 216

Fax:  (+632) 526-2748

Email: contactus@iacat.net, rvparas@doj.gov.ph

 

Usec. Arturo G. Cacdac Jr.

Director General, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency

Office: NIA Northside Road, National Government Center, Pinyahan, Quezon City

Telephone: (+632) 927-9702

 

  1. Continue to disseminate and sign the petition: https://www.change.org/p/indonesian-pres-joko-widodo-jokowi-do2-save-the-life-of-human-trafficking-victim-mary-jane-veloso  
  2. Like and circulate to all networks the Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso Facebook page: http://www.fb.com/SaveMJVeloso

 

Please send a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:

 

#FreeMaryJane

45 Cambridge St., Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines

Telefax: (+632) 9114910

Email: migrante2007@yahoo.com.ph

Facebook: fb.com/SaveMJVeloso, fb.com/migranteinternational

Twitter: @migrante_intl

Initial victory for Filipino trafficked teachers! Recruiter Rodriguez found guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment, syndicated estafa

wanted isidroGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International welcomes the resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ) finding trafficker Isidro Rodriguez guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment and syndicated estafa.

The resolution, dated April 30, 2015, was in response to the consolidated complaint filed by Batch 6 of at least 300 Filipino teachers victimized by Rodriguez.

Rodriguez duped some 500 Filipino teachers here and in the United States through his agency, Renaissance Staffing and Support, Inc., formerly Great Provider Service Exporters, Inc., with its US partner Green Life Care International, LLC. The PH Embassy in the US said that Rodriguez tops its list of most notorious illegal recruiters and traffickers.

Rodriguez’ victims are all licensed and professional teachers. They were all promised teaching positions in different schools in the US, only later to learn that the said jobs were fictitious and all part of a grand trafficking scheme.

Rodriguez was able to collect a staggering average of Php500,000 from each of them as payments for their “processing, service, pick-up, housing and interview fees”. Most of the payments came from their hard-earned savings, while majority of them resorted to borrowing money from relatives and friends, banks and loan institutions with high interest rates.

Last November, a Manila regional trial court sentenced Rodriguez to 11 years in prison for victimizing a Filipina teacher. The victims bewailed the decision because Rodriguez was convicted for just one crime when he has numerous other pending cases of large-scale and syndicated illegal recruitment and estafa lodged against him. Three batches of teachers have also filed cases of trafficking-in-persons against him at the DOJ.

Since then, Rodriguez has been at large and had since been sighted by witnesses in Spain. He has reportedly continued to victimize Filipino whilst in Madrid. He has two existing warrants of arrest against him for illegal recruitment and estafa. He also has pending complaints against him in US courts by his US-based victims.

“This is an initial victory for our trafficked teachers. Tuloy-tuloy ang tagumpay ng sama-samang pagkilos at paglaban! We await and continue to demand positive resolutions on the motion for reconsideration we filed on their trafficking cases,” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

In November 2014, the trafficking in persons filed by the first batch of teachers against him was dismissed and referred to illegal recruitment courts, while batches upon batches of large-scale illegal recruitment and syndicated estafa cases against him remain unresolved to this day. They have consequently filed a motion for reconsideration for the TIP case and a motion for speedy trial for the IR cases, decisions for which the teachers await up to this day.

“We call on the DOJ and concerned government agencies to take urgent action. We will continue to be vigilant until justice for all victims is served. Arrest Isidro Rodriguez now!” ###

Sergio etal’s arrest will boost calls to #FreeMaryJane

image courtesy of ANC

image courtesy of ANC

Migrante International welcomes the arrest of Ma. Kristina “Tintin” Sergio by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last night. Sergio, and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, were charged with estafa, illegal recruitment and human trafficking on the basis of complaints filed by Mary Jane Veloso’s parents, Celia and Cesar, and sister Maritess, and other witnesses.

Lacanilao is the “kinakapatid” mentioned by the complainants in their sworn affidavits submitted to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT) and NBI in a letter-complaint submitted to said agencies on April 16 and 17 through the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), the retained Philippine lawyers of Mary Jane and the Veloso family.

Migrante, in a statement released on April 8, had also long called for Sergio’s arrest, citing the act as leverage for the appeal to spare Mary Jane’s life.

“We welcome this very positive development. Mary Jane’s case is finally on the right track. Sergio etal’s recent arrest will boost calls to #FreeMaryJane and bring her home to her family and her two little boys,” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

Pillas added that Sergio’s belated arrest only shows that the Aquino government did “too little, too late” for Mary Jane’s case.

“As early as 2011, even before the first judicial review, Mary Jane’s Indonesian lawyers have already recommended the investigation of Tintin and the human trafficking angle.  The arrest could have been made even before Pres. Aquino intervened a year after Mary Jane’s death sentence through a letter of clemency, and correspondingly in the succeeding appeals thereon. The arrest could have been done even before the filing of the second judicial review last April 24. Up until yesterday, Sergio etal were not charged with anything and were merely under ‘protective custody’ of PH authorities. The facts speak for themselves.”

She said that Sergio’s belated arrest should also bring to light not only the cases of other OFWs on death row but also other pending cases of illegal recruitment and human trafficking filed by distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at the Department of Justice.

Maraming-marami pa po ito. We have always been willing to coordinate with the IACAT and the DOJ with regard the numerous cases that we have filed. We have a long list of illegal recruitment and human trafficking cases that need urgent attention,” Pillas said. ###

#SaveMaryJane Sworn affidavits of Celia, Cesar and Maritess Veloso

Presscon of Veloso family with Migrante in front of the DFA Photo: Migrante International

Presscon of Veloso family, Nanay Celia, Tatay Cesar and Maritess, with Migrante in front of the DFA Photo: Migrante International

Still in the spirit of transparency, we are re-releasing the sworn and notarized affidavits of Celia, Cesar and Maritess Veloso, Mary Jane’s mother, father and sister, respectively.

These affidavits were first made public during the press conference of Mary Jane’s PH legal team, led by the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), last April 20 at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
Attached herewith, with English translations.
Migrante International Media Desk