#FreeMaryJane update: Finally, trials set for illegal recruitment cases vs. Sergio etal

 

 

maryjaneveloso_migrante_2015_escobarThe family and supporters of Mary Jane Veloso are now able to heave a sigh of relief as her accused illegal recruiters and traffickers were finally arraigned today after two consecutive postponements.

Kristina “Tintin” Sergio and Julius Lacanilao entered a not guilty plea to criminal charges of large-scale illegal recruitment and estafa filed by other victims Ann Marie Gonzales, Lorna Valino, Jenalyn Paraiso and Mary Jane’s mother-in-law Teresita Candelaria. The charges were filed at the Regional Trial Court in Baloc, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija. A pre-trial conference has been set on September 18.

The arraignment finally commenced after legal counsels of the accused attempted to delay the proceedings by filing for a motion to quash. The RTC judge had earlier rejected the motion.

Present in the arraignment were the Veloso family, the complainants, members of Migrante and the Church Task Force to Save Mary Jane, and the Velosos’ private retained Filipino lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). The NUPL also attended today’s hearing as the legal counsels of the four complainants after they signed their conforme to the Formal Entry of Appearance filed by NUPL last August 19.

Migrante and #FreeMaryJane supporters also welcomed the court’s rejection of the alleged affidavit of “desistance” supposedly submitted by Gonzales to the lawyers of the accused on grounds of “being improper”.

The cases of qualified trafficking, illegal recruitment and estafa filed at the Department of Justice by Mary Jane and her family against Sergio etal, meanwhile, have also been raffled to the same Nueva Ecija RTC and are still awaiting trial.

In Manila, supporters of #FreeMaryJane held a road-painting and cultural night at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa as an expression of continued support, calling on the Philippine government to impede delays on the cases and the Indonesian government to grant clemency for Mary Jane. ###

#SONA2015 Number of OFWs leaving daily rose from 2,500 in 2009 to 6,092 in 2015

11796205_10153443136224788_5601287287515632249_nGlobal alliance of overseas Filipino workers belied Pres. Aquino’s claim in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the number of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) have been reduced due to improved local job generation.

In its SUMA (Summing-Up of the State of Migrants Under Aquino 2010-2015), Migrante stated that under the Aquino administration, the number of OFWs leaving the country increased due to chronic joblessness and low wages – from 2,500 daily before Aquino assumed office in 2009, 4,018 in 2010, to 6,092 daily by early 2015 (per Department of Labor and Employment data).

 

Annual Report of OFW Deployment, POEA

Year Number of OFWs deployed Average per day
2010 1,470,826 4,018
2011 1,687,831 4,624
2012 1,802,031 4,937
2013 1,836,345 5,031
2014 1,844,710 5,054
2015 ———– 6,092 (DOLE)

 

Further, it said that POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) data showed that the Aquino government has breached the two-million mark in OFW deployment processing in 2013, the highest record in the history of Philippine labor export.

Migrante International also said that the number of OFWs deployed far outpaced the jobs generated domestically. According to a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report, the number of locally employed Filipinos was only 1.02 million in 2014, or an average of 2,805 additional employed in the country daily.

The group said that while POEA data showed that there had indeed been a slight decrease in the OFW deployment, it was only in the fourth quarter of 2014. According to POEA data, 1.7 million OFWs were deployed during the last quarter of 2014, or 4,508 deployed daily. Deployment data nine months prior, however, pegged the number of OFWs leaving daily at 5,200.

In the past years, there had been a steady increase in the number of new hires and re-hires of land-based and sea-based OFWs deployed. POEA data clearly shows that the number of land-based workers deployed increased by 34.52%, or by 32.93% for new-hires and 35.26% for re-hires. For seafarers, there was also an 11.11%  increase in deployment from 2009 to 2013 (see POEA table below).  Combined with the growing number of irregular OFWs who leave the country through backdoor means, even the overall government figure of deployment does not in any way support Aquino’s claim that migration has considerably lessened during his presidency.

poea deployment 2009-2013

In fact, OFW deployment has picked up considerably despite ongoing crises in host countries – to date, policies such as the Nitaqat or Saudization, stricter immigration policies and criminalization and deportation of millions of undocumented OFWs. “If the government is attributing a so-called “reverse migration” due to these factors, then it is right on spot. Since 2010, thousands upon thousands of OFWs in distress have been deported or forcibly repatriated back to the country due to civil unrests, calamities, economic instabilities and other similar factors in migrant-receiving countries,” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

Pillas said that with the continuous repatriation of distressed OFWs from Saudi, Egypt, Syria and Libya, and the deportation of undocumented OFWs in Europe, Canada and the United States, then a “reverse migration” phenomenon could further be expected in the coming months.

“But to attribute a “reverse migration” due to so-called “inclusive growth” is outright deceitful and misleading. With the record-high unemployment rate and the lack of a comprehensive and sustainable reintegration program for returning OFWs, a so-called “reverse migration” will not be tantamount to the Aquino’s claim that OFWs have been opting to come home for good. Filipinos will not be stopped from being forced to leave the country in search for “greener pastures” abroad. And so the cycle continues,” she said.

Migrante International maintained that the number of OFWs has increased significantly since Aquino took office. By 2012, at least one-fourth of the country’s labor force has gone abroad to find work. According to DOLE, there are now 12 million OFWs abroad. Migrante International pegs the number of overseas Filipinos between 12 to 15 million, to include undocumented OFWs. ###

#SONA2015 Garbage is Aquino’s legacy

photo from rappler.com

photo from rappler.com

“How fitting that on Aquino’s last SONA his administration is marred with the latest controversy involving, of all things, garbage.” This was the statement of Migrante International as thousands of its members held big rallies here and abroad in time for Aquino’s fifth and last SONA.

It was referring to the controversial 1,375 tons of Canadian garbage seized at Manila’s port that was recently hauled to a northern Philippines landfill. The controversy has opened a can of worms, with some news sources saying that the Philippines has been receiving tons and tons of waste and garbage from other countries.

According to Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general, “This latest controversy aptly symbolizes the Aquino administration’s overall economic policy. Contrary to his pronouncements, the country’s economic situation has not improved. It continues to rely heavily on foreign investment, export-import dependence and foreign debt. If you ask us, Aquino’s real legacy is nothing but garbage.”

Pillas said that this is especially true for millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) under the Aquino regime. Five years after, the Aquino administration has recorded the biggest number of OFW deployment despite mouthing local job generation as its core program to supposedly curb forced migration. Despite Aquino’s posturing and promises, the Philippines continues to suffer from worsening unemployment and landlessness that have aggravated forced migration and cast Filipino migrants and their families to direst straits.

Read: 5 years of Aquino: Myths of Migration and Development

11754245_10153440872559788_752605136701791695_n“The Aquino administration has implemented a more intensified and aggressive labor export policy to further produce and commodify cheap Filipino labor for the global market. We export our OFWs so that foreign and local businesses can exploit our cheap labor and foreign remittances, in return, all we get from this government is garbage,” she said.

Joining the Migrante contingent in today’s SONA protest are returned OFWs and families of OFWs in distress who bewail the Aquino government’s criminal neglect and lack of protection, among them, the family of Mary Jane Veloso and other mothers of OFWs in jail and on death row; Lani Dizon, sister of Marilyn Restor, kidnapped and missing domestic worker in Saudi who was found in a morgue a year later; returned stranded OFWs from Saudi; victims of trafficking and illegal recruitment from US and Taiwan; and abused and maltreated OFWs from Saudi and Dubai.

OFWs and their families in Hong Kong, Middle East, United Arab Emirates, Canada, US, Italy, UK, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Netherlands and other parts of Europe also held SONA protests today. ###

#SONA2015 OFWs to the people: Defy Noynoy’s ‘garisSONA’

photo from bayan.ph

photo from bayan.ph

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International called on all overseas Filipino workers, their families and the Filipino public to defy state repression and suppression of the people’s big protest on Aquino’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Migrante slammed the Aquino government’s “overkill set-up” along Commonwealth Avenue going to Batasan Road in Quezon City. “The present set-up is a virtual garisson, Aquino’s ‘garisSONA’. Aquino is terrified of the people’s biggest protest against his presidency. He is alarmed because on his last SONA the Filipino people are set to hold him accountable for all his crimes and sins against the people. Our message this People’s SONA: Panagutin at ikulong si Aquino (Prosecute and jail Aquino)!” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

Pillas said that the ‘garisSONA’ along Commonwealth is testament that Aquino is “on war-footing with the people”. “Mistulang ikukulong ang mamamayang magpoprotesta sa hawla. Ang tuwid na daan ni Aquino, sa kadulo-duluhan, ay puro harang, barbed wire at pagsikil sa mga karapatan ng mamamayan.”

The ‘garisSONA’, she said, highlights the recent spates of harassment, repression and orchestrated attacks on the righs and civil liberties of political activists, mass organizations and their supporters. “We believe that these incidents of harassment, warrantless arrests, filing of trumped-up charges, baseless red-baiting and surveillance being conducted by the armed forces and other state agents are all part of a coordinated attack on the democratic mass movement as Aquino’s term is set to end. There is an undeclared martial law happening and it is being perpetrated by the Aquino government.”

 “If Aquino thinks that these will cause a chilling effect on people’s protests, it is dead wrong. We call on all democracy-loving Filipinos, defy state repression, end the Aquino regime!” Pillas said. ###

Read: 5 years of Aquino: Myths of Migration and Development 

 

Migrante officer’s house in Davao ransacked by suspected military agents

 

photo from humanrightsphilippines.net

photo from humanrightsphilippines.net

Migrante International condemns in strongest terms the harassment and violation of privacy of Grace Gamalinda, Migrante-Davao Education Officer, by suspected military agents.

Last July 20, around 8:00pm, Gamalinda went home with her daughter, Arianne, to discover that their house had been ransacked. Upon closer inspection, Gamalinda and her daughter found nothing missing and all their valuables still intact. Fearing for their safety, they immediately filed a police blotter at their barangay.

Gamalinda has every reason to fear for her and her Arianne’s life. Just before the incident, 15 leaders from different activist and progressive organizations in Southern Mindanao have been charged with trumped-up cases of kidnapping, serious illegal detention and violations of Anti-Trafficking Act. Among those charged are human rights defenders, pastors and religious workers and activist leaders.

The charges were filed by the  Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police, Philippine National Police-alabel, elements of the 73rd IBPA and their assets in local government and in the community following the launching of a massive campaign against the recent spate of killings, torture and forcible evacuation of indigenous peoples in the region due to military operations by the 10th Infantry Division and 73rd Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Mindanao.

Grace and Arianne’s names were mentioned in the annexes in the trumped-up charges.

According to Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general, said that should anything untoward happen to Gamalinda or her daughter, they will hold the AFP and the Aquino administration directly accountable.

“We condemn in strongest terms the harassment, repression and orchestrated attacks on the rights and civil liberties of political activists and mass organizations. We believe that the recent spate of harassments, warrantless arrests, filing of trumped-up charges, baseless red-baiting and surveillance being conducted by the AFP and other state agents are all part of a coordinated attack on the democratic mass movement. There is an undeclared martial law happening and it is being perpetrated by the state,” said Pillas.

“If Aquino and the AFP think that these harassments will cause a chilling effect on human rights defenders and political activists, it is dead wrong. We are more resolved than ever to hold Aquino accountable for all his crimes against the Filipino people. Big rallies and protest actions are set on Aquino’s last SONA (State of the Nation Address) nationwide and around the world on July 27.” ###

“Never again to martial law!” Migrant group condemns state attacks on political activists

 

photo from humanrightsphilippines.net

photo from humanrightsphilippines.net

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International condemned the Aquino administration’s coordinated and intensified attacks against political activists and mass organizations.

“We condemn in strongest terms the harassment, repression and orchestrated attacks on the rights and civil liberties of political activists and mass organizations. We believe that the recent spate of harassments, warrantless arrests, filing of trumped-up charges, baseless red-baiting and surveillance being conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other state agents are all part of a coordinated attack on the democratic mass movement. There is an undeclared martial law happening and it is being perpetrated by the state,” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

Pillas said that since April, there had been numerous cases of harassments being done by the military on political activists and activist leaders. Mass organizations and unions like COURAGE, BAYAN, KMU, KMP, Kabataan Partylist, Anakpawis, Anakbayan, ACT Teachers, Gabriela, KARAPATAN and Migrante nationwide have also reported different cases of harassment and surveillance in the last months.

The attacks have been especially brazen these past few weeks that union leaders and activists have filed for a writ of amparo and habeas data at the Supreme Court last July 14. Leaders of mass organizations are also set hold a dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights tomorrow, July 23.

“There is an intensified attack and it is intesifying still. We believe that the worst is yet to come, unless the people unite and come together to condemn Aquino’s martial law. If Aquino and the AFP think that these harassments will cause a chilling effect on human rights defenders and political activists, it is dead wrong. We are more resolved than ever to hold Aquino accountable for all his crimes against the Filipino people. Tens of thousands will march on Aquino’s last SONA (State of the Nation Address).”

She added, “The AFP and Malacanang can deny all they want but only Aquino stands to benefit from these coordinated attacks. We call on all freedom-loving Filipino migrants and their families to condemn, expose and fight these attacks. If Aquino and the AFP can do these to human rights defenders, what can stop it from violating the rights and civil liberties of civilians, supporters and any other citizen opposed to this government’s policies?”

Migrante said that it supports and stands in solidarity with other progressive people’s organizations and the Filipino people against Aquino’s martial law. Migrante and its chapters around the world will hold simultaneous protest actions on the People’s SONA on July 27. ###

Migrante welcomes int’l verdict declaring Aquino guilty of crimes against Filipino migrants

IPTGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos welcomes the verdict handed down by the recently-concluded International Peoples’ Tribunal on Crimes of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the US government as represented by Pres. Barack Obama against the Filipino people (IPT) finding Aquino and Obama “guilty beyond doubt of rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

The IPT is an initiative of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the National Lawyers’ Guild and IBON International with the purpose of probing rights violations in the Aquino administration.

The Prosecution presented before the Jurors a total of 34 cases with 32 witnesses. Lead prosecutor was Ramsey Clark, an American lawyer, activist and former federal government official who occupied senior positions in the US Department of Justice.

Among the cases heard by the IPT were the cases of Mary Jane Veloso and the more than 300 Filipino teachers who were trafficked to the US. Maritess Veloso, Mary Jane’s sister, and Loel Naparato, one of the 300 teachers, acted as witnesses for the prosecution.

In the verdict, the Jurors stated as grounds therecord joblessness caused by the implementation of globalization policies has driven millions of Filipinos overseas to find work to support themselves and their families. The conditions of these Filipino migrant workers are overwhelmingly exploitative as they join hundreds of millions of other migrant workers worldwide in providing cheap labor for capitalist firms and foreign economies.”

Further, that “the Philippine has actively supported this cheap labor export policy…(Y)et it grossly fails to provide some 12 million overseas Filipinos and their families with the necessary legal protections and financial support…This has put the most desperate Filipinos into extremely dangerous situations, such as in the case of Mary Jane Veloso, and hazardous work conditions.”

“We welcome the verdict from the IPT. We have long asserted that the Aquino administration’s labor export policy highlights the worsening violations of the rights of Filipino migrants. Filipinos are being forced to migrate because of desperation borne out of the economy’s lack of development resulting in job loss, low wages and lack of livelihood at home. OFWs have borne witness to how insincere, insensitive and inept the Aquino government is in upholding and securing the protection and welfare of OFWs. Instead, what it showcased in the last five years was a more blatant and unapologetic labor export policy that continues to exploit OFWs’ cheap labor and foreign remittances in accordance to US imperialist interests and dictates,” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

Pillas said that Migrante International will take the IPT’s recommendations and pursue cases against the Aquino administration for its criminal neglect of migrants’ rights. Migrante and its chapters around the world will also join the big People’s SONA rally on July 27. ###