Migrante: Repatriation plan urgently needed for OFWs in KSA

Migrante International – Saudi Arabia chapter, is sounding the alarm on the massive crackdown happening in the Kingdom. The group cited the report of the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that more than 1.5 million people have been arrested in Saudi Arabia as of August 2, as part of the Kingdom’s ongoing campaign against illegal residents.

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“While most of those arrested so far are Yemenis and Ethiopians, the Filipino community in the Kingdom is also affected by the said crackdown,” said Rod De Leon, Chairman, MIGRANTE-KSA. “Checkpoints were set-up in different parts of the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and in the Eastern provinces. The Saudi’s Ministry of Labor is randomly inspecting different companies if they are employing illegal aliens,” he added.

The reported crackdown on illegal residents and workers comes after the amnesty program launched on March of last year and extended up to September 2017. OFWs however are saying that this is the first time they are seeing officials of the Labor Ministry themselves inspecting offices of companies and establishments.

“We are concerned that we have not heard anything from the Duterte Administration on their contingency plans to repatriate OFWs who will be affected by the crackdown,” explains Beng Medina, Chairwoman, GABRIELA-KSA. “The only things we have heard from the President so far are empty praises and commitments in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) while at the same time intensifying the deployment of cheap labor in vulnerable and exploitative working conditions abroad,” said Medina.

Migrante is pertaining to the recent speech of President Duterte during his last SONA where he expressed his admiration of the selflessness and courage of OFWs in enduring the hardships of living away from home to provide for their families. President Duterte also pledged his commitment to ensure the well-being of OFWs as its foremost foreign policy concern.

“This is the time for the President to put his money where his mouth is. Prior to the crackdown, more than a thousand OFWs were already seeking repatriation from the Philippine embassy and consulate offices in Riyadh, Jeddah and the Easter Provinces in Saudi Arabia. We fear that this number will multiply if the crackdown continues,” Rod De Leon concluded.

Beng Medina explained that the recent crackdown is also a part of a new policy called “Saudi First” in the job sectors. The said policy is the revised Nitaqat or Saudization program where only few companies can apply for new visas for expatriate employees that started from September of last year.

“With the record-high unemployment rate at present and the failure of the President to deliver on his campaign promise to end contractualization, many OFWs are afraid to return to the Philippines despite the risk of getting caught by Saudi authorities,” added Medina.

Both Migrante and Gabriela chapters in the Kingdom are calling for a comprehensive plan for massive repatriation and assistance programs upon the return of OFWs in their hometowns. The groups are dismayed by what the alleged “unclear disposition of the Philippine missions in Saudi Arabia in the midst of the current crackdown.”

There are more than a million OFWs working in Saudi Arabia, more than 700,000 of whom are domestic workers. OFW remittances from the Kingdom were registered at about USD$ 2.5 billion last year. The Philippines deploys more than 7,000 Filipinos daily to work in different countries abroad. One of the top destinations of OFWs is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. ###

 

For reference:

 

Mr. Rod De Leon

Chairman, MIGRANTE, KSA

+966543299063

 

Mrs. Beng Medina

Chairwoman, GABRIELA , KSA

+966508647230

 

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A year after Kian delos Santos’ death, injustice and terror prevails under Duterte’s criminal lordship

One year on after the gruesome killing of Kian delos Santos, son of an OFW, the onslaught of bloodshed under Duterte’s psychopathic drug war continues to claim more lives, ravaging one poor community to another. Just ten days ago, Allan Rafael, a former OFW battling cancer was robbed, tortured and slaughtered at the hands of police officers manning Barbosa police station.

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Remorseless, Duterte showered favours to his agents of impunity. Among them is former Caloocan Chief Chito Bersaluna, now head of the entire Bulacan PNP. Bersaluna was back in the spotlight after the violent assault on striking NutriAsia workers and the illegal arrests of activists and media personnel. In parallel, Duterte appointed Caloocan Regional Trial Court judge Georgina Dumpit as Sandiganbayan associate justice after her dismissal of the murder cases against Caloocan cops involved in the slaying of teenagers Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo “Kulot” De Guzman.

Duterte at the helm turned the Philippines into a vast furnace of suffering and torment for the majority of struggling Filipinos. Now it can be told that Duterte is the current supreme drug lord in the land, serving as chief protector of big drug criminals and smugglers like his kumpadre Peter Lim and his very own son Pulong Duterte. Under his fake war on drugs which targets the poor, the death toll has now exceeded 20,000 while the regime feigns blindness as tons and tons of illegal drugs worth billions are shipped into the country. The stench of death reeks enormously while a sea of innocent blood cries out to the heavens.

In the same manner, human rights’ defenders are beset with abductions, killings and fabricated charges. Among the latest victims was Butch Rosales, a Cebu-based Rise Up volunteer gunned down while on board a passenger jeepney.

Consolidating an even more vicious Fascist clique, Arroyo’s rise back to power and the alignment of the Marcoses in Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ushered the revival of the arrest orders against the Makabayan4 which were quashed just recently for insufficient evidence. On the night of August 11, Rowena and Oliver Rosales were arrested in Balagtas, Bulacan on trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. The couple were former officers of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).

The range of Duterte’s tyrannical folly knows no geographical bounds. Lately, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in collusion with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) issued a blacklist order against Migrante’s Cordillera coordinator Caridad “Caring” Bachiller and 27 other rights activists who are mostly foreign nationals. Disregarding humanitarian considerations, immigration officers in the airport expelled 84 year-old Australian professor and human rights lawyer Gill Boehringer.

Migrante International reiterates its condemnation of all these Fascist attacks against the urban poor, OFW families and human rights defenders. We will exact justice for Kian and Allan Rafael as well as for the tens of thousands of victims of Duterte’s atrocious three-pronged war. Let it be known that history has never shown clemency to despotic tyrants. In due time, the emergent Duterte-Arroyo-Marcos fascist clique will face the full brunt of the people’s collective indignation.

Though faced with persecution, Migrante along with the rest of freedom-loving Filipinos will remain steadfast and defiant against repression and oppression. As long as the US-Duterte regime generates terror and impunity, we Filipinos will stand for justice and assert our democratic rights.

Stop the killings! Justice now!

Defend human rights defenders! Resist Crackdown!

Fight tyranny!

 

FACT SHEET: Allan B. Rafael

Personal Background:

Allan Rafael, 35, from Dagami, Leyte, is a father to an eight-year old boy and the second eldest among five male siblings. He was born from a family of poor peasants who gravely suffered in the Yolanda storm in 2013.

Allan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Technology in Eastern Visayas State University. Before working abroad, he worked as a crew for various restaurants such as Dad’s, Saisaki and Kamayan in Quezon City.

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In 2012, he started working as a waiter in The Bellevue, a restaurant in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. For his outstanding skills, he was trained to be a chef by his employers. In 2016, after finishing his second contract, he returned to the Philippines. Eyeing a better future, he took the SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) training to qualify as an international cruise ship employee. While applying to be a seaman, he failed in the medical examination because he was diagnosed with Lymphoma.

Since 2017, while undergoing medication, he took residence in Manila with his live-in partner. He underwent chest surgery and was undergoing a series of chemotherapy treatments at the Philippine General Hospital. According to his family, he was close to recovery and was very optimistic of securing a new job abroad upon completion of his medical treatment.

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Case Timeline:

August 2 – About five in the afternoon, while driving a motorcycle, Allan was flagged by an unidentified police officer in Recto Avenue corner Loyola Street in Manila while he was on his way to fetch his partner in Malate, Manila. Rafael’s family got worried when he went missing that night. But trusting that he would never be involved in any altercation, their worry at that point was that Allan might have gotten involved in a motorcycle accident. They did not receive any information from the police regarding Allan’s arrest.

August 3 – Around 6:00 a.m, Allan’s partner was informed by a neighbor that Rafael was detained at the Barbosa Police Station in Quiapo, Manila. She immediately went to visit him while Allan’s siblings went to the prison in the evening of the same day. Allan narrated to his younger brother Aaron the details of his arrest. According to Allan, the police out of nowhere, appeared and ordered him to stop his motorcycle. He was apprehended by the police for no reason. The police showed immediate interest on the watch Allan was wearing and upon frisking they also noticed his Iphone. The police then asked Allan if his watch and cellphone are original items. However, since he kept on reasoning out with the police, he was taken to the Barbosa Police Station. Inside the police station, his belongings, including his watch, cellphone, wallet and motorcycle, were taken by the police officers.

Allan told Aaron that policemen in civilian clothing beat him up to force him to confess drug use as they allegedly found 0.43 grams of shabu in Allan’s belongings. Their drug accusation was solely based on his thin and frail appearance, even though Allan consistently argued about his medical condition. Allan suggested that he undergo a drug test to prove that he is not into using illegal drugs but the policemen denied his request.
PNP told the family that charges against Rafael would be dropped if they hand over P35,000 to the police.

August 4 – Rafael underwent inquest in the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office and was charged with “illegal possession of dangerous drugs.”

August 5 – During Aaron’s visit, Allan told him that his newly-operated chest was painful because of the persistent beatings carried out by the police. Although in pain, according to Aaron, Allan was still strong, resilient and optimistic. Allan was supposed to undergo his next chemotherapy on August 13.

August 6 – Around 7:00 a.m., Allan’s partner visited the police station to deliver Allan’s breakfast. But upon entry to the police station, she was surprised that her partner was not there. She asked one of the police officers about Allan’s whereabouts. One of the policemen answered that Allan was rushed to the emergency room of Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital after vomiting blood and suffering shortness of breath that morning.

Allan’s partner immediately went to the hospital and arrived at the emergency room past 8:00 a.m. She was once again stunned by the fact that Allan was not there at the emergency room. One of the hospital employees told her that Allan’s body was already in the morgue. She then went to the morgue and positively identified Allan’s body. Allan’s siblings arrived at the hospital past 9:00 a.m. Upon inquiry, the family found out that Allan was declared dead on arrival by 6:15 a.m. Aaron then took pictures of Allan’s body which showed signs of physical abuse especially on the neck, chest and legs.

Clueless on what to do next, Allan’s body was immediately taken by the staff of Cruz funeral parlor and brought to its own mortuary. From there, an NBI medico-legal conducted an autopsy of Allan’s body. The autopsy too was not properly sanctioned by the family.

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August 7 – Allan’s body was transported to Dagat-Dagatan, Caloocan City for the wake. On the same day, Aaron called for justice for his brother. On his Facebook account:

“Malakas pa siya noong nakausap namin nung Linggo bakit kinabukasan patay na kaagad? Bakit niyo ipina-embalsamo eh wala pang miyembro ng pamilya? May tinatago ba kayo? Dumating yung mag-otopsy tapos nang maebalsamo. Paano malalaman ang totoong dahilan ng pagkamatay ng kuya ko kung inembalsamo na agad? Bakit kayo nagmamadali? Umaasa kaming pinahahalagahan pa ang buhay dito sa Pilipinas at naniniwala kaming gumagana pa ang hustisya dito sa bansa.”

(He was still strong when we visited him on Sunday, why did he suddenly die the very next day? Why did you embalm him without our presence? Are you hiding something? He was autopsied after the embalmment. How would we
know the cause of death if he was already embalmed? Why were you in a rush? We’re hoping that life is still valued in the Philippines. We believe that justice still works in the country.”

August 8 – Migrante received news from concerned citizens about Allan’s case and immediately looked for ways to reach Allan’s family in Metro Manila.

August 9 – In a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the PNP denied that Allan was beaten up. A statement by the Manila Police District (MPD) sent by Police Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, Director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), was received by the media outfit saying:

“We would like to clarify that the detainee was not subjected to torture or inhumane treatment.”

“He was not slain contrary to the allegation of some.”

In the same report, it revealed that Aaron “claimed that the police officers stole Allan’s watch and forced him to withdraw cash from the bank before taking him to the Barbosa Police Community Precinct on August 2.”

August 9 – Migrante attended Allan’s wake and offered assistance to the family in their pursuit for justice. Migrante offered support in facilitating the re-autopsy and is seeking for an independent investigation through the Commission on Human Rights.

August 10 – Rappler reported that the NBI has started its investigation into the death of Allan. MPD head Chief Superintendent Rolando Anduyan confirmed this to Rappler through a phone interview.

References:
1. Accounts of Allan Rafael’s family
2. Aaron Rafael’s Facebook account
3. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1019645/former-ofw-dies-under-police-custody-cops-deny-he-was-beaten-up
4. https://www.rappler.com/nation/209268-nbi-investigation-allan-rafael-death-under-police-custody

Migrante fears whitewash on Allan Rafael case, calls for independent probe

OFW advocacy group Migrante International expressed doubts about the on-going NBI-led investigation into the case of ex-OFW cancer-patient Allan Rafael who was allegedly robbed, tortured and killed by cops stationed at Barbosa Police Precinct in Quiapo, Manila.

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“We cannot simply entrust the investigation to NBI or to PNP and expect impartiality. As what we’ve seen in the cases of Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo ‘Kulot’ De Guzman, the murder charges against the tagged policemen were dismissed. We fear that Rafael’s case will be handled similarly. We call for a re-autopsy of Rafael’s body as part of an independent and impartial probe,” Migrante Philippines Chairperson Arman Hernando said.

In a fact sheet, Migrante pointed out the flaws in the police statements as they contradicted the family’s narrative. The police claim that Rafael died from shortness of breath but his family belied the cops’ account of the story insisting that while still alive, the victim recounted the torture and the beatings he went through under police custody to compel him to confess drug use based on his frail and emaciated physical appearance. Rafael contended that he had chest surgery and has been undergoing a series of chemotherapy cancer treatments for his lymphoma. He even challenged the police to subject him to drug test which the latter refused.

Based on reports, Rafael also related that prior to his detention, police officers stole his watch and forced him to withdraw cash. At the police station, his belongings were forcibly taken: his watch, his mobile phone, wallet and motorcycle. The family also revealed that the PNP officers offered to drop the charges against Rafael if they hand over Php35,000. His family also decried Rafael’s embalmment without their consent and without the requisite autopsy.

Hernando of Migrante maintained his fears by slamming the promotions received by Senior Superintendent Chito Bersaluna who is now Bulacan’s top provincial police chief and Caloocan Regional Trial Court judge Georgina Dumpit who was appointed by Duterte as associate justice of the Sandiganbayan last June after the dismissal of the murder case against the Caloocan cops involved in the slaying of teenagers Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo “Kulot” De Guzman. Recently, Bersaluna also figured conspicuously again after the violent dispersal and arrests of striking NutriAsia workers, their supporters and some media personnel.
Hernando also gave reference to the case of Kian delos Santos, a son of an OFW who died in an Oplan Tokhang operation of the Caloocan police in August 2017. A year after, his case remains unresolved.

“We enjoin everyone in the community and the church to push for more vigilance to ensure that there will be no whitewash in the cases of Kian and Allan. We call on our kababayans who supported the #OFWs4Kiancampaign to speak out for the pursuit of #JusticeForAllan. Together, let us raise our voices even louder against Duterte’s fake drug war and demand for an end to all these killings,” Hernando said.

In their pursuit for justice, Migrante offered assistance to the family and also called on all witnesses to come out and coordinate with their organization for the independent probe. ###

Urgent Appeal for Tita Mel

MT (1)

12 Agosto 2018

 

Mga kasama at kaibigan,

Ikinalulungkot po naming ipabatid na sinapit ng ating mahal na si Benedicta ” Tita Mel” Pillas Tee ang isang major stroke at kasalukuyan siyang naka-confine sa Emergency Room ng Ospital ng Maynila mula Miyerkoles ng hapon (Agosto 8).

Ayon sa resulta ng CT Scan, may namuong dugo na nagbara sa ugat ng kanyang ulo. Hindi naigagalaw ang kanang bahagi ng kanyang katawan. Hindi siya nakakapagsalita nang kahit na isang salita bagamat nakakakilala at nakakatango pa noong Agosto 9.

Mula umaga ng Agosto 11 ay pinadaan na ang dextrose/pagkain niya sa ilong at ginagamot ang sumulpot na pneumonia. Dahil sa seizure noong araw na ito, nagsagawa kinagabihan ng panibagong CT scan at nakitang lumaki na ang sakop ng stroke sa kaliwang utak nya.

Si Tita Mel na kasama at kapatid ng ating mahal na yumaong si Ka Sol Pillas (Pangkalahatang Kalihim ng Migrante International) ay kumilos mula at sapol sa Migrante nang mahigit isang dekada — nang walang maliw at buong kasigasigan sa kabila ng kanyang edad at karamdaman. Siya ang naiwan na mag-alaga hanggang bawian ng buhay nang magkakasunod ang kanyang mga kapatid na lalake at pinakahuli ay si Ka Sol.

Tayo na ang nalalabing pamilya ni Tita Mel. Niyayakap natin siya nang higit pa sa isang pamilya. Mahigpit na katuwang ng kanyang kaanak ang Migrante.  Bilang full-time at walang-wala ring naiwan sa pag-aabroad ni Ka Sol, nananawagan kami ng tulong sa mga kasama, kasapi, kaibigan ni Tita Mel at ng Migrante ng suportang moral, pisikal at pinasyal para sa pagbawi at pag-inam ng kanyang kalagayan.

Sa mga nais dumalaw, kasalukuyan siyang nasa Ospital ng Maynila ngunit isinasaayos na mailipat sa ward o sa hospital na may Intensive Care Unit (ICU) sa lalong madaling panahon.

Maraming salamat sa inyong suporta at pagmamahal kay Tita Mel at sa kanyang ipinaglalaban. Makakarating ang inyong tulong-medikal hanggang sa pinakahuling sentimo. Maaaring ipadala ang ating tulong para sa kanyang pangangailangan sa sumusunod na account:

MIGRANTE INTERNATIONAL

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

Kalayaan Branch

Account Number 1994-0218-06

 

Maraming salamat po. Mabuhay kayo. Padayon!

 

MIGRANTE INTERNATIONAL/PHILIPPINES

150-A Ermin Garcia E. Rodriguez St., Cubao

homeoffice@migranteinternational.org, https://www.facebook.com/migranteinternational

02-9360162/HOTLINE 09212709079

Migrante denounces inclusion of its leader and 27 rights defenders in the Bureau of Immigration blacklist order: Hands off Manang Caring!

August 11, 2018

Migrante International strongly condemns the Bureau of Immigration (BI) as it colludes with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) in issuing a blacklist order against Caridad “Caring” Bachiller and 27 other rights activists. We likewise denounce BI as it carries out the deportation of Australian human rights lawyer and professor Gill Boehringer.

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As cited in the blacklist order, the request for their inclusion was submitted by NICA Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo based on their connection with the International League of People’s Struggle or ILPS. It must be noted that NICA is also among those agencies that orchestrated the fake DOJ terror list earlier this year.

This ridiculous blacklist, mistook all the listed persons as “foreign nationals” who planned to disrupt ASEAN 2017 with massive protest actions and conferences. NICA’s indolence magically turned Bachiller and several others into foreigners.   A genuine Filipino, Manang Caring as we fondly call her, has been playing a pivotal role in the campaign for migrants’ rights and strengthening of OFW organizations for almost two decades now.   Prior to her 6-year work as a domestic helper in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, she was a secondary school teacher in Abra.  In 1989 she worked as a domestic helper in Hongkong before coming home for good in 2014.

The plight of Filipino workers abroad drove Manang Caring to become a migrant activist.  Among her efforts include being an organizer of United Abrenians in Hongkong in 1990 and ATIS-HK (Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society – Hong Kong) in 1992.  The SUN, a Filipino publication awarded ATIS as the “Most Outstanding Filipino Organization in Hong Kong.”

Imbued with passion for service, her dedication paved the way for the establishment of the Abra OFW Center in 1997 and the launching in 2003 of DZPA-CMN’s Timek Ti ATIS, a weekly radio program where she served as the main radio anchor providing assistance to distressed OFWs live on-air. Her work also led to scholarship grants for indigent students in Abra.

Manang Caring’s sense of purpose sealed the creation of ATIS Abra Migrants Desk supported by the Diocese of Bangued in Abra in June 2015. Her undying commitment also won her the award Bayaning Pilipino sa Asya Pasipiko in 2003 and was Migrante Partylist’s 3rd nominee during the 2016 elections.

Facing government negligence and exploitation through Duterte’s labour export program, many migrants cast inspiration on social justice warriors like Manang Caring. Standing for their rights and that of their families in the Philippines, she has been a thorn in the side of the tyrannical Duterte regime that seeks to silence the voices of those who defend the oppressed and the marginalized.

By this act of proscription on migrants’ and human rights activists, the Duterte regime is clearly accentuating its destructive wickedness and its high preference to oppression and injustice.

We demand the immediate revocation of this blacklist order.  Now more than ever, we are calling on all freedom-loving migrants and Filipinos to defend their defenders and strongly oppose the tyrannical aggression of the US-Duterte regime.

 

Hands Off Manang Caring!

Hands Off Human Rights Defenders!

Activism is not a Crime!

Fight Duterte’s Tyranny!

OFW NA CANCER-PATIENT, BIKTIMA NG HOLDAP, TORTURE, TRUMPED-UP CHARGE AT PAMAMAMASLANG NG MGA KAPULISAN NG BARBOSA POLICE STATION!

Naninindigan si Aaron Rafael, nakababatang kapatid ni Allan Rafael na hindi kriminal ang kaniyang kapatid. Isa siyang OFW na umuwi sa Pilipinas upang magpagamot sa sakit na Lymphoma. Hindi totoo na adik si Allan. Salungat sa akusasyon ng PNP na siya ay gumon sa droga, ang kaniyang pangangayayat ay dulot ng pagsasalialim niya sa chemotherapy.

Plake

Walang nais ang pamilya Rafael kundi katarungan: mapasinungalingan ang ulat ng PNP at mapanagot ang mga pulis na pumatay kay Allan.

Samahan natin ang pamilya Rafael sa paghahanap ng hustisya para kay Allan. Isang taon pagkatapos patayin si Kian Lloyd Delos Santos, nagpapatuloy at lumalala pa ang pagpatay at pangaabuso ng kapulisan sa mga OFWs, pamilya at mahihirap na mamamayan sa ngalan ng gera kontra droga ng rehimeng Duterte.

Hustisya para kay Allan Rafael!
Itigil ang pamamaslang!
Labanan ang tiraniya!