#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.###

OFWs to BS Aquino: DAPat Managot! Filipinos around the world want BS Aquino out

10514212_10152541089884788_1235910304734341551_oGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International today held a press conference at the Mendiola Bridge to deliver the real State of Migrants Under Aquino and to announce participation of Filipinos all over world in the People’s SONA 2014.

“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 either resign, be impeached or ousted.”

The migrant leader 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.

“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.

The press conference was attended by OFWs in distress and their families, among them, Narhata Lumpingan, returned OFW who survived the war in Iraq; Encarnacion Ranario, mother of Marilou Ranario, OFW on death row in Saudi whose sentence was recently commuted due to her mental illness; Amelia Prieto, sister-in-law of OFW Fortunato Prieto who has colon cancer, no medical assistance from PH embassy in Saudi and still awaiting urgent repatriation; Loel Naparato, representative of 200 trafficked Filipino teachers whose trafficker has been released from jail by the PH government; Marina Sarno, returned domestic worker from UAE who still has not received her claims and benefits from the PH government; Gil Atienza – father of OFW victim Terril Atienza still seeking justice 3 years after his daughter’s mysterious death; and more than 80 families of stranded OFWs in MMG Company in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Martinez said that Filipino migrants are also gearing for protests in time for Aquino’s fifth State of the Nation Address. Simultaneous protest rallies will be held in Hong Kong, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Italy and the United States. ###

Group asks, were DAP funds sourced from OWWA “savings”?

DAPat managotMigrante Sectoral Party today asked the Aquino government to also divulge in detail the source of funds used for the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP.

Bragas-Regalado cited a clause from the DBM website stating that, “Funds used for programs and projects identified through DAP were sourced from savings generated by the government, the reallocation of which is subject to the approval of the President; as well as the Unprogrammed Fund that can be tapped when government has windfall revenue collections, e.g., unexpected remittance of dividends from the GOCCs and Government Financial Institutions (GFIs), sale of government assets.”

“Migrant Filipino workers are suspicious as to where the funds may have come from. Sure, the Aquino government says from so-called savings, but savings from where? We have this nagging feeling that DAP funds may have come from OWWA funds, too,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante Sectoral Party chairperson.

Bragas-Regalado further stated that the cited clause defining the sources of DAP funds are “overly-broad and deliberately vague”.

Nakakapagtaka lang na biglang may napakalaking savings ng gobyerno! In the past two years, the Aquino government slashed funds for OFW welfare services and closed down embassies and consulates allegedly as austerity measures. Government hospitals and educational institutions are now being put up for sale to the private sector, supposedly for lack of funds, to the detriment of the poor. Basic utilities are also being likewise privatized because the government says we lack funds to sustain these industries. So ang lumalabas, pinagkakaitan tayo ng serbisyo para may magastos si Aquino para sa kanyang kapritso,” she said.

Bragas-Regalado also demanded that the government breakdown “unexpected remittance of dividends from GOCCs”. “Does this include welfare funds, including OWWA funds? We demand a full accounting of where the DAP funds were sourced.”

OWWA funds, reported to have reached a total of more than Php2 billion last year, come directly from mandatory USD $25 contributions from OFWs. Over the years, the OWWA funds have been met with controversy due to allegations of corruption and government abuse and misuse. Despite these, the OWWA funds have not been subjected to a full audit and no public accounting of how the funds  were used, or is being used, has been available to OFWs. ###

 

FACT SHEET OF LABOR VIOLATIONS AGAINST OFWs AT MOHAMMAD AL-MOJIL GROUP

spam-mmg poeaPrepared by Migrante International, July 2014

Name of Company : Mohammad Al-Mojil Group

Country: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Nature of case: Labor violations/Witholding of wages/Repatriation/Benefits

Case background

Mohammad Al-Mojil Group is a construction company operating in various parts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In Dammam, it employs and houses and some thousands of migrant workers, among them overseas Filipino workers deployed by (1) RRJM International Manpower Services, Inc., office located at 19th Floor, Summit 1 Tower, 530 Shaw Boulevard, Manadaluyong; and (2) Philippine-RN Recruitment Agency, Inc., office located at Rm. 201 Cabrera Building 1, Timog Ave., Quezon City. Both agencies are licensed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

Last June 24, 2014, Migrante International received a complaint via email from one of the OFWs of MMG in Dammam who said that thousands of OFWs, and other migrant workers employed by the company, are up in arms against various labor abuses and violations. Migrante International had since contacted the next of kin of some 300+ OFWs who are stranded in the MMG barracks, awating repatriation and their exit visas. (See attached list)

The OFWs are suffering maltreatment and poor working and living conditions in their barracks and are grossly overworked. Their wages have been withheld for at least 4 months now, leaving them hungry, depressed and unable to provide for their families back home. Some of them have been working at MMG for as long as 20 years, while most were hired in 2011.

Because of their conditions, they filed an official complaint at the Philippine Labor Office last year. Some were repatriated last December but have not yet received their back wages and end-of-service benefits (ESB). Those who have not yet received their ESBs have been working for the company for 15-20 years.

Most have already filed for exit visas since the last quarter of 2013, leaving them stranded for 13 months now. Because of their complaint, MMG did not renew their iqamas, making them undocumented and in danger of crackdowns. The OFWs are particularly complaining about the slow service and facilitation of their repatriation by the POLO, citing specific complaints against Labor Attache Padaen for his inaction and poor service.

Families of the OFWs fear for the safety and welfare of their loved ones. The latest report is that Pakistani workers at MMG are already threatening to burn the barracks in protest against labor abuses and violations. As of this writing, workers of MMG are currently engaged in a strike inside the company barracks.

Actions taken

Migrante International has already contacted its chapters in Dammam and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to inform them about the case. The KSA chapters are presently assisting the OFWs at MMG in the cases they filed at the POLO.

Last June 28, 2014, wives and next of kin of the OFWs held a meeting at the Migrante International office. They formed a tactical formation, SPAM-MMG (Samahan ng Pamilya at Manggagawa laban sa MMG), and listed down their demands.  Most of the OFWs and their families hail from Bataan where one of the local recruitment agencies has an office.

Last July 4, Migrante International went to Bataan and met with more relatives of OFWs at MMG. They have all agreed to file complaints and join the campaign for their loved ones.

Migrante International has also facilitated dialogues with the POEA and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on July 17 and July 23, respectively.

Demands

1. Immediate repatriation of at least 300+ OFWs at MMG.

2. Cancellation of licenses of RRJM International Manpower Services, Inc. and Philippine-RN Recruitment Agency, Inc.. Both agencies continue to deploy OFWs to MMG.

3. End of Service Benefits and other benefits entitled to the OFWs and their families.

4. Ban/Blacklist MMG. ###

No yellow ribbons for Aquino from OFWs

pork-barrel-kingGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International said that Pres. Aquino will not be expecting to see yellow ribbons from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families around the world.

Aquino recently called on the public to don yellow ribbons as a sign of continued confidence and support after his recent speech defending the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) despite the Supreme Court ruling declaring it unconstitutional.

According to Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, Filipinos around the world were infuriated at Aquino’s speech. “The first few minutes into his speech and OFWs immediately knew that it was a waste of their time. His unrepentance and arrogance has brought much discontent among Filipinos worldwide. No yellow ribbons for Filipinos overseas and their families. They want him out.”

Martinez also slammed Aquino for hurling veiled threats against the Supreme Court, saying that it was tyrannical and “Marcosian”.

“His defense of the DAP was expected. He has his head in a platter, after all. But what was more unforgivable for our kababayans was his arrogant display of autocracy. In threatening the Supreme Court, Aquino has also unleashed a threat against all democracy-loving Filipinos. It was terribly Marcosian, his parents must be cringing in their graves.”

“Aquino said it best in his speech when he said, ‘If you can’t use it, lose it’. Challenge accepted, Mr. BS,” Martinez said.

Migrante International supports the upcoming Lakbayan para sa Tunay na SONA which will kick off on July 21 from Tacloban and arrive in Manila on July 26. Filipinos all over the world are also gearing for protests in time for Aquino’s fifth State of the Nation Address. ###