Filipino migrants mark Flor Contemplacion’s 20th death year with “People Power” for Aquino’s removal  

resignGlobal alliance of overseas Filipino Migrante International unites with other sectors and Filipino communities worldwide in calling for the resignation of Pres. Benigno Aquino III from office in light of the Mamasapano bloodbath.

“Kung naging pabaya, pahamak, inutil at hugas-kamay si Pang. Noynoy Aquino sa madugong operasyon sa Mamasapano, matagal na niyang ginagawa ito sa aming mga OFW (overseas Filipino workers).” This was the statement of Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez as their group participated in today’s “Kapit-Bisig sa EDSA para sa Katotohanan at Pananagutan”.

Martinez said, “For OFWs and their families, Aquino’s role and Malacanang’s consequent efforts to cover-up his accountability in the Mamasapano tragedy is the last straw. Patunay lamang ito na kung kayang ipain at isubo ni Aquino ang sarili niyang hukbong sandatahan sa tiyak na kamatayan, paano pa ang mga kawawang OFW at mamamayan?”

Martinez said that since Aquino took office, OFWs and their families have borne witness to his government’s criminal neglect and incompetence, especially when dealing with OFWs in distress. “We have wanted him out since he first jeopardized the lives and welfare of OFWs during the Manila hostage tragedy. Since then, OFWs have experienced unforgivable government neglect, the biggest budget cuts for OFW services, more exorbitant state exactions and fee impositions, anti-migrant polices that have placed our welfare at stake and an ever-worsening domestic crisis that has aggravated forced migration.”

“These, compounded with Aquino’s involvement in the pork barrel scam and the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and Aquino’s failure in leadership during the Yolanda tragedy, we have no qualms now lending our voices to the growing clamor for Aquino to resign,” Martinez said.

Remember Flor@20

According to Martinez, OFWs worldwide are in support of a “People Power” for the removal of Aquino and the formation of a People’s Council to replace him.

“It cannot be more fitting that 20 years after the death of Flor Contemplacion, Filipino migrants and their families are once again roused into collection action and determination to exercise their democratic right to bring about regime and system change. This is the best tribute and commemoration to Contemplacion’s memory and legacy and to the sacrifice of millions of our bagong bayani,” he said.

Flor Contemplacion was a Filipino domestic worker who was hanged in Singapore on March 17, 1996 for allegedly murdering another Filipina. Her case stirred wide indignation over the Philippine government’s inaction and failure to save her life, and brought to national and international awareness the plight of OFWs and families.

Martinez enjoined all freedom- and justice-loving Filipinos all over the world to launch and join protest actions calling for Aquino’s removal from office. “Tama na, sobra na, Aquino resign na!”

On March 17, the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, Migrante and its chapters and affiliates worldwide will be holding a “Global Day of Action for Aquino’s Resignation”. ###

Kin of OFW who died under mysterious circumstances in Saudi decry white-wash by PH gov’t

rochelle masubay picThe family of Rochelle Lechido Masubay, a Filipina domestic worker who died under mysterious circumstances in Taif, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, slammed government officials for “white-washing” and “covering-up” the cause of her death.

Masubay’s death was declared a “suicide”. Her family, however, suspect foul play. Masubay’s family also said that the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) Welfare Employment Office asked them to sign a “quit-claim” and “compromise agreement” supposedly as requirement for the repatriation of her remains. (Please see attached documents)

Masubay, a native of Tacloban, Leyte and mother of two, was deployed to KSA by Fors Recruitment Agency on May 25, 2014. Her common-law husband Rodolfo Malinao was able to talk to her for the last time on June 26, 2014. Despite multiple efforts, he was not able to contact or talk to her since.

Last January 2015, Malinao went to the office of Fors Recruitment Agency to report her missing. They told her that she had been dead since October 16, 2014 and that she committed suicide. Her death certificate, however, indicates her date of death on July 1, 2014. (See attached document) 

Malinao said that the agency’s staff told him that Masubay committed suicide. They told him that Masubay allegedly locked herself up in her room for two days prompting her employer to call the police. When the police forcibly opened her door, she was found dead with a knife stuck to her heart.

On February 3, 2015, Malinao went to the POEA to arrange for the repatriation of her remains. It was only then that he was able to secure her death certificate from the Saudi Ministry of Interior Civil Affairs and a certification from the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah ruling “suicide” as the cause of her death.

It was also then that he was asked to sign a Quit-Claim in exchange for Php119,240 from a certain Pioneer Insurance Agency. In the document, Malinao was asked to state that he would not file any criminal or civil complaint against Fors Recruitment Agency, the POEA or “any administrative agency”. Malinao said that he was forced to sign the document because they told him that it was the only way to expedite the repatriation of his wife’s remains. (See attached)

“First of all, we demand to know the real circumstances of Masubay’s death. Why did it take too long, half a year, for the family to be informed of her death? Worse, the family was duped into signing a compromise agreement ensuring that they would not file any charges, under the pretext that such a document is a requirement for the repatriation of her remains.” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

Pillas called on the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine government to investigate Masubay’s death and the reasons for the “compromise agreement”. “They are obviously hiding something. The family has strong reason to believe that Masubay did not commit suicide. Nowhere in the repatriation process does it state a compromise agreement as a requirement for repatriation. What reasons does the POEA have to white-wash or cover-up Masubay’s mysterious death?”

Pillas said that Migrante International is presently coordinating with Masubay’s husband in Caloocan and her family in Tacloban. “We join her family in their quest for justice.”

Masubay’s remains arrived in Tacloban last February 14, 2015. Yesterday, her neighbors and friends in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan held a candle-lighting activity calling for justice for her death as she was laid to rest in Tacloban.

Pillas said that they will campaign for Masubay’s case as Migrante International gears to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion this year. Migrante International and its chapters all over the world are gearing to kick-off its year-long “Remember Flor@20 Campaign” on March 17, the date of Contemplacion’s death anniversary. ###

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OFWs in distress, families join calls for Aquino to resign

11001918_10153040766514098_5536910407980611270_n“Kung naging pabaya, pahamak, inutil at hugas-kamay si Pang. Noynoy Aquino sa madugong operasyon sa Mamasapano, matagal na niyang ginagawa ito sa aming mga OFW.”This was the statement of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their kin in a press conference today as they joined calls for Aquino to resign.

“For OFWs and their families, Aquino’s role and Malacanang’s consequent efforts to cover-up his accountability in the Mamasapano tragedy is the last straw. Patunay lamang ito na kung kayang ipain at isubo ni Aquino ang sarili niyang hukbong sandatahan sa tiyak na kamatayan, paano pa ang mga kawawang OFW at mamamayan?” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

In the press conference, Pillas was joined by Noela Garcia, a victim of maltreatment and sexual harassment; Olivia Ramos who was used as a “human target” for her employer’s firing practice; the mother of Rose Dacanay, an attempted rape victim and OFW in Saudi jail after being falsely accused for killing her employer; and, relatives of workers in RHM Company in Saudi who are currently seeking immediate repatriation due to labor violations and withheld wages.

According to Pillas, the distressed OFWs represent the situation of OFWs who fell victim to the Aquino government’s neglect and abandonment. “All of them bear witness to this government’s criminal neglect and incompetence. All of them have sought the government’s help and have been found wanting. All of them have no qualms now lending their voices to the growing clamor for Aquino to resign.”

Chanting, “Tama na, sobra na, Aquino resign na!”, the OFWs said that they feel for the widows of the PNP-SAF and the loved ones of the others killed, injured and displaced by the Mamasapano bloodbath.

For her part, Ramos said, “Taus-puso ang aming pakikidalamhati sa kanila dahil alam namin kung paanong maghugas-kamay sa responsibilidad ang gobyerno. Nakikiisa kami sa mga nananawagan para sa katotohan at pananagutan. Matagal na naming ayaw sa gobyernong ito.”

“Kahit nakauwi na ang ilan sa amin, patuloy pa rin ang panawagan namin para sa hustisya pero nananatiling walang aksyon ang gobyerno. Kaya naman natutuwa kaming mas marami na ngayong namumulat at nananawagan na paalisin si Aquino sa pwesto,”Garcia said.

Pillas added that it is now more clear who Aquino’s “real boss” is. “The US’ hand in the attack cannot be denied. It is now clear that under direct orders from the US, Aquino by-passed the chain of command at the expense of sending hundreds of Philippine troops to suicide missions, in blatant disrespect of any existing peace pacts and national sovereignty.”

Amid coup rumors, Pillas called on all patriotic officers and personnel of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to instead join the Filipino people in calling for Aquino to step down from office. She also enjoined all freedom- and justice-loving Filipinos all over the world to launch and join protest actions calling on Aquino to resign.

Migrante International supports the formation of a transition council to replace Aquino. On March 17, the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, Migrante and its chapters and affiliates worldwide will be holding a “Global Day of Action for Aquino’s Resignation”. ###

Convicted trafficker Isidro Rodriguez sighted in Spain; Arrest and extradite Rodriguez now, victims urge PH gov’t

wanted isidroIsidro Rodriguez, a fugitive of law and one of the most notorious illegal recruiters and traffickers in the Philippine Embassy in the United States’ watchlist, was sighted in Granada, Spain this January.

Rodriguez remains at large after having been convicted by a Manila regional trial court sentencing him to 11 years in prison for victimizing a Filipino teacher.  He has two existing warrants of arrest against him for illegal recruitment and estafa. Aside from the warrants, he has numerous pending cases of syndicated estafa and large-scale illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons filed in different courts by at least 300 Filipino teachers that he had victimized from 2009-2014. He also has pending complaints against him in US courts by Filipino teachers he has victimized there.

“It has come to our knowledge that notorious trafficker and illegal recruiter Isidro Rodriguez is presently operating in Granada, Spain and has victimized at least five more Filipinos there. We learned about his whereabouts when a concerned Spanish citizen emailed us after reading about him in advertisements we released online last year. The Spanish informer also sent us photos of Rodriguez while in Granada, Spain and we confirm that it is indeed him,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez said that they were also able to communicate via email with one of his most recent victims, Kirsten Baculi, a domestic worker in Spain.

“She informed us that she met Rodriguez in Granada in October 2014. Along with five others, they were also duped by Rodriguez but unfortunately only learned about his cases and warrant of arrests in January 2015 through the Migrante website. She said that they last saw him last December 2014 and have not heard from him since. They fear that he might have already transferred to Madrid, Spain,” he said.

According to Martinez, Baculi and the five others have also already filed police reports and complaints against Rodriguez in Granada, Spain.

For her part, GURO Spokesperson Engelyn Belmonte said, “This is very distressing news. After his release from jail last year, upon advice and endorsement from IACAT (Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking in Persons), we filed for a hold departure order against him at the Bureau of Immigrations. The BI then placed him on a “watchlist”. The BI also assured us that he was still in the country and has not left since his release. When his warrants were released, we took it upon ourselves, with the help of Migrante, to launch a manhunt and public information campaign to learn of his whereabouts.”

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 cannot fathom how he could have succeeded in leaving the country despite these and the existing unserved warrants for his arrest. It pains us to hear that since his release from jail, he has continued to operate and victimize more of our innocent kababayans, this time in Spain. We feel that if only our authorities could have done their jobs and addressed our cases more actively this could not have happened,” Belmonte said.

The Philippine government has an existing extradition treaty in Spain.

“We call on the Department of Justice and concerned government agencies to take urgent action. They should immediately coordinate with Spanish authorities to arrest and extradite Rodriguez. “We speak on behalf of at least 300 trafficked teachers here in the Philippines, at least 300 more in the US, and now at least six other Filipinos in Spain. We hope that our authorities be propelled to act now lest Rodriguez succeeds in victimizing more Filipinos with impunity,” Belmonte said. ###

 

Filipino migrants hail Erwiana’s victory

10991579_10204596152478023_7759963146395981685_oGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International celebrate the victory of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih after the Wanchai District Court in Hong Kong found her employer guilty on charges of abuse, maltreatment and exploitation.

Migrante International said that Erwiana’s victory is a victory for all migrant workers who continue to stand up against modern-day slavery. “Erwiana continues to serve as a great inspiration for Filipino migrant workers, especially Filipina domestic workers all over the world. Her victory is well-fought and much-deserved. We celebrate her victory as we also prepare to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion this year,” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

Erwiana’s case, the latest most gruesome case depicting the suffering and plight of domestic workers, especially women domestic workers, is testament to how forced migration and labor export have become the worst cause and manifestation of all forms of abuse, oppression and exploitation of women all over the world.

Pillas said, since Contemplacion’s execution in 1995, the “feminization” of labor migration driven by the rise in number of domestic workers and caregivers going abroad has perpetuated very specific vulnerabilites that women migrant workers face because they are women. “They suffer sexual discrimination and other gender-specific abuses, exploitation and violence in the sorts of work where they tend to predominated. This is especially the case for domestic workers.”

“They are most vulnerable to abuse and often mistreated by employers. Many are beaten and raped, and many are murdered. They are lowly-paid and do not enjoy social protection, isolated and discriminated against and without legal recourse because their work is not considered as work and not covered by any existing legal frameworks. Worse, their marginalization is implicitly condoned by States as principal agents peddling domestic workers like ordinary commodities without guarantee of protection or avenues for redress of grievance,” she said.

Migrante International also extends its solidarity with other migrants’ organizations and advocates that fought for Erwiana. The Justice for Erwiana and All Migrant Domestic Workers Committee, of which Migrante is part, led 5,000 domestic workers and supporters in a protest march and rally in Hong Kong last year. Other Filipino and migrant domestic workers also held solidarity actions and activities for Erwiana as her case was being heard.

“But, while we won this battle, a war continues to rage. There are still many Erwianas and Flors elsewhere in the world who have fallen victim to trafficking, abuse, exploitation and government neglect.  May Erwiana’s recent victory further encourage Filipino migrant workers to unite, organize and galvanize collective action to oppose anti-migrant policies and end modern-day slavery,” Pillas said.

Migrante International and its chapters all over the world are gearing to kick-off its year-long “Remember Flor@20 Campaign” on March 17, the date of Contemplacion’s death anniversary. ###