Interpol releases “Red Notice” against fugitive “big-time” illegal recruiter

wanted isidroIt has come to the knowledge of Migrante International and GURO (Grupo ng mga Gurong Umuusig kay Rodriguez) that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Interpol has already issued a “Red Notice” against convicted illegal recruiter Isidro Rodriguez.

The “Red Notice” was published last May 30, 2016, according to NBI-Interpol, but Rodriguez’ victims from GURO were informed only this month. The NBI-Interpol said that they have already uploaded the notice to the database of all Interpol offices of member countries, placing them on alert to immediately arrest Rodriguez.

Isidro Rodriguez, a fugitive of law and one of the most notorious illegal recruiters and traffickers in the Philippines in the United States’ watchlist, was last sighted in Spain last January. 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 had victimized there.

According to the NBI-Interpol, the “Red Notice” enumerates the following actions to be taken by member-states:

  1. Locate and arrest with a view to extradition – there is an assurance that extradition will be made upon arrest of the person.
  2. Make a provisional arrest of the person – the red notice is to be treated as a formal request for provisional arrest of the wanted person.
  3. Immediate relay of information – the Interpol office in Manila and the General Secretariat of the Interpol shall be immediately informed when the fugitive has been found.

The “Red Notice” is one of the eight (8) notices issued by the Interpol to all member states. Its objective is to seek the cooperation and interference of police forces of member states to arrest fugitives of law and extradite to the requesting country. The process of extradition and transfer of arrested fugitives depends on the extradition treaty between countries. ###

Gabriela solon lauded for raising alleged corruption of OWWA funds in DOLE budget hearing; Full, independent audit of OWWA funds now! – Migrante

full-audit-owwaMigrante International lauds Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus for taking up the issue of alleged abuse and misuse of OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) funds in the hearings for the proposed budget for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

The OWWA is an attached agency under the DOLE. OWWA funds, believed to have reached Php18 billion, 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.

Migrante International has long been calling for a “full audit” and an “immediate and independent investigation” of OWWA funds in light of many unresolved issues of abuse, misuse and corruption:

In 2011, a report by the Commission on Audit (COA) revealed that OWWA’s overseas officers failed to remit more than P21 million in collections to OWWA’s Land Bank-Manila dollar account during the last ten years. The Land Bank also charges a 1% management fee per annual deposits made by the OWWA. This contradicts reason: money deposited to the bank should be earning interest and not the other way around. If so, where did the money go?

In 2006, then AFP Chief of Staff Roy Cimatu botched a rescue mission funded by OWWA during the Lebanon crisis. The OWWA released P150 million for the repatriation of OFWs but out of the 6,000 OFWs there, only 1,000 were repatriated by Cimatu. The incident prompted several Senate hearings and it was then discovered that P6.8 billion of OWWA funds were transferred to the Development Bank of the Philippines and Landbank of the Philippines (P3.4 billion each) without any consultations with the OFW sector.

Former solicitor general Atty. Frank Chavez also filed a case at the DOJ against former president Gloria Arroyo for alleged misuse, re-channel and charge to OWWA funds various projects that had nothing to do with OFWs, among them the supposed evacuation of Filipinos from Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan in 2003. No actual evacuation took place.

In 2004, plunder raps were also slapped on Arroyo for the illegal fund transfer of OWWA funds that were allegedly diverted to her electoral campaign coffers.

These cases remain unresolved and shelved, and calls for a full audit have been ignored by previous administrations.

Meanwhile, the OWWA continues to deprive OFWs and their families of services and benefits. The OWWA has streamlined benefits and services over the years. Some of the major programs and services were phased out, among them, the General Financial Assistance program, Medicare, Legal Assistance Program and Repatriation program. It also limited scholarship for dependents and other benefits.

Ang mga benepisyong ito ay inilaban at pinagtagumpayan ng mga migranteng manggagawa. Dahil sa OOP, isang iglap lang ay binawi ng OWWA. OFWs are just claiming what are rightfully theirs,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez added that their group has also long been calling for a “full audit” and an “immediate and independent investigation” of OWWA funds in light of many unresolved issues of abuse, misuse and corruption.

“Walang maayos na serbisyo at benepisyo. Saan napunta ang P18-bilyong pondo ng OWWA? Unless a full audit takes place OFWs have reason to believe that OWWA funds are not trickling down to much-needed services and benefits for OFWs,” he said. ###



Velosos to “Tatay Digong”: Please #SaveMaryJane

The family of Mary Jane Veloso called on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to appeal anew to save her from death row.

Celia and Cesar, Mary Jane’s mother and father, will lead a candle-lighting and prayer activity with supporters at Plaza Miranda later today to convey their message to Pres. Duterte who is set to hold bilateral talks with Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo tomorrow, September 9.

Ang pakiusap po namin kay Pang. Duterte, sa ating Tatay Digong, sa kanyang pagbisita sa Indonesia, sana ay mabisita rin niya si Mary Jane at makumusta doon. Sana rin kung makakaharap niya si Pang. Widodo ay huwag niyang kalimutan si Mary Jane na nananatili pa rin sa death row. Anim na taon na po doon ang aking anak, pinagdaanan na ng dalawang pangulo, at pangatlo na po siya. Ang hiling namin kay Pang. Duterte, sana sa ilalim ng kanyang panunungkulan ay makapiling na naming muli si Mary Jane,” lamented Nanay Celia Veloso.

Earlier, Mary Jane sent a personal appeal to Pres. Duterte, recorded during her phone call to her family last July 31.

For his part, Migrante International Chairperson Garry Martinez said that Pres. Duterte’s appeal for Mary Jane concurs with the government’s war against drugs and his promise to bring drug perpetrators to justice. “Marami pong mga OFW na katulad ni Mary Jane na nabibiktima ng mga sindikato ng droga pero hindi nabibigyan ng hustisya. We call on Pres. Duterte to make a strong and urgent appeal for clemency for Mary Jane, an innocent victim of drug trafficking.”

“Justice for Mary Jane should also be one of the urgent grounds for the strengthening of our diplomatic ties with Indonesia. At the very least, her case should be reviewed pending her testimony in Philippine courts. It is imperative that Mary Jane be allowed to give her full testimony as basis to bring her traffickers to justice. We believe that her testimony by deposition or any other means admissible in court is compliant with both Philippine and Indonesian laws, as well as international laws, with regard to trafficking,” Martinez said.

“We also continue to appeal to Pres. Widodo, please allow Mary Jane to be reunited with her family and her two sons. She has suffered enough. We continue to appeal for your mercy and compassion to save Mary Jane’s life,” Martinez said.

Mary Jane’s Indonesian supporters, led by Indonesian migrant organization KABAR BUMI-JBMI (Keluarga Besar Buruh Migran Indonesia – Jaringan Buruh Migran Indonesia), will also convey messages of appeal and support for Mary Jane during Pres. Duterte’s visit. ###

OFWs, families to Pres. Duterte: “A better Philippines for us means…”; Public consultation set on Sept. 17

Migrante at the #SONAngBayan 2016

Migrante at the #SONAngBayan 2016

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families today welcomed Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s vision of “a better Philippines” that OFWs can come home to.

However, according to Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, a “better Philippines” for OFWs does not only mean a drug-free or corrupt-free Philippines.

“Ultimately, a better Philippines for OFWs means an end to unemployment, contractualization and poverty that are the root causes of forced migration. A better Philippines for families of OFWs means that they will not have to be apart from their loved ones just to survive. A better Philippines is a self-sustaining Philippines, one that does not rely mainly on our cheap labor and remittances to stay afloat, ” Martinez said.

He said that Pres. Duterte can listen to what a better Philippines means to OFWs and families on September 17.

Migrante International will be holding a public consultation with OFWs, returned OFWs and families of OFWs, especially distressed OFWs in Saudi Arabia and families of OFWs on death row.

“This is an open invitation to Pres. Duterte. He is more than welcome to grace the event and hear the sentiments of OFWs and families. The president has said to just call whenever we need him. We are calling on him now to consult with us. We are more than willing to work for a better Philippines that we can come home to. This is a chance for the president to hear directly from OFWs and families what a better Philippines means for us,” Martinez said.

The public consultation will be live-streamed for participation of OFWs around the world. ###


Peace talks should address root causes of forced migration, “bankrupt” labor export – Migrante

digong inauguralMigrante International, global alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families,  fully supports the resumption of the formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
We commend both parties for sincerely pursuing the talks, as demonstrated by the GPH’s release of NFDP consultants and the New People’s Army’s release of its prisoners of war (POWs). We hope that the ongoing peace negotiations will also pave the way for a general and unconditional amnesty for more than 520 political prisoners who are still detained.
We also welcome the declaration of a unilateral reciprocal ceasefire. We hope that this results in the urgent and immediate pull out of military troops in the countryside, and puts a stop to illegal arrests, harassment and persecution of activist leaders and organizers.
Migrante International especially welcomes the upholding of previous agreements between the GPH and the NDFP and looks forward to the talks’ undertaking of much-needed socio-economic and political reforms. We trust the peace talks to tackle the root causes of the armed conflict, namely, unemployment, low wages, contractualization, landlessness and poor social services resulting in widespread poverty of the Filipino people. These are the very same reasons for the phenomenon of forced migration, or the impetus of millions of Filipinos to seek employment abroad.
There are currently 15 million OFWs and at least 6,000 leave the country daily to work abroad. Filipino people are being forced to migrate and be separated from their families because of desperation and the need to survive. It is indeed a tragic consequence when our labor force is uprooted from their families, forced to endure unfair labor practices and abuses, and in some cases, suffer death, in exchange for cheap labor because of government failure to address forced migration and stop the policy of labor export.
The struggle of OFWs and their families is not isolated from the struggle of other marginalized and neglected sectors. The problem of forced migration is deeply rooted in the fundamental problems of Philippine society. Our struggle for dignity, rights and welfare, against government neglect and against forced migration plays a very important role in the struggle for genuine freedom and national democracy. The only solution to the problems of the Filipino migrant sector and their families is genuine social change so that families would not have to separated and broken apart in order to survive.
To address the problem of forced migration, the Duterte administration’s economic policies should focus on developing national economy by advancing local industries, agriculture and basic services. It should depart from neoliberal policies which focus on increasing dependence on OFW remittances, foreign investments, debt-heavy infrastructure projects.
The past four decades of Philippine labor export has showcased a more blatant and unapologetic policy that continues to exploit OFWs’ cheap labor and foreign remittances in accordance to neoliberal policies and dictates. Previous administrations have been aggressive in crafting programs and services aimed to facilitate and encourage forced migration. While acknowledging the many social costs and human rights violations, these were effectively downplayed by the hailing of OFW remittances. Instead, past administrations have unfailingly and resolutely promoted labor export as unequivocally beneficial for OFWs and their families. This is particularly done by overstating supposed development benefits for the economy and the income benefits for households.
Effects of the ongoing Middle East crisis on OFWs and their families is testament to the bankruptcy of four decades of Philippine labor export. 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. However, OFW deployment has picked up considerably over the past few years despite ongoing and worsening crisis in host countries.
With the continuous repatriation of distressed OFWs from Saudi, Kuwait, Syria and Libya, a “reverse migration” phenomenon could be expected in the coming months. Despite and in spite of this, OFWs will not be stopped from being forced to leave the country due to record-high unemployment rate, low wages and the lack of a comprehensive and sustainable reintegration program for returning OFWs. And so the cycle continues.
The economic compulsion of past Philippine governments to keep exporting Filipinos to maintain or, especially, to increase remittances is something that should be urgently corrected and addressed in the peace talks. Migrante International fully supports the call and struggle for national industrialization and genuine land reform as the ultimate solution to forced migration and to end the labor export program. ###

No more cover-ups; assist and repatriate distressed OFWs from KSA

Protest of stranded OFWs at the POLO-OWWA Office in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, August 18, 2016

Protest of stranded OFWs at the POLO-OWWA Office in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, August 18, 2016

Migrante Eastern Region-Kingdom of Saudi Arabia strongly denounces the ineptitude and grave neglect of government officials in the region who play deaf and blind to the condition and demands of OFWs.

The continued and sustained lies of POLO-OWWA aimed at hiding the sad plight of our Filipino migrant workers in KSA Easter Region is endangering the security and lives of all distressed, abused and stranded OFWs who are frequently massing the Philippine Labor Office here.

The lies being peddled by these unscrupulous government officials are inimical to the best interest of the Filipino people. Instead of divulging important data to the public, POLO-OWWA officials opted to hide the truth by claiming that there are no stranded, abused or distressed OFWs here in eastern region. Despite receiving hundreds of unattended referred cases, those manning these inutile government agencies have the gall to claim that there is no single distressed OFW in this region.

By not divulging the truth, they contradict the Philippine Government’s thrusts for transparency and accountability, and service to OFWs.

Filipino migrant workers revealed to Migrante that POLO-OWWA officials threatened them with three (3) years imprisonment if they are found to be posting videos in social networks to ask for help from the Philippine government. Instead of providing assistance, these officials even add to the mental stress of OFWs by forcing them to keep mum of their condition – under threats of retaliation – just so they cannot reveal the non-performance of duties of this government agency.

Previously, POLO-OWWA has already put in prison an OFW who recorded his dialogue with a POLO-OWWA official. According to the OFW, he intentionally recorded the meeting to prove the agency’s neglect on his grievance. The OFW is willing to be interviewed by any mainstream Philippine media to expose this unjust and inhumane treatment by a government official.

Even Migrante, whose main objective is to help our distressed OFWs, has also become a target of harassment. Some POLO officials in Al-Khobar have allegedly been gathering information about Migrante Eastern Region officers.

We condemn in strongest terms possible the oppressive acts of Philippine government officials here. Instead of giving assistance to our migrant workers, POLO-OWWA has become the oppressor and abuser of OFWs in KSA.

It is clear that they wish to distort the truth and make people believe that they are effective and clean. They only want to protect their respective careers and personal interests by sacrificing and setting aside the safety and lives of our distressed kababayans and even those who assist them.

Migrante Eastern Region, KSA calls on the Philippine government to immediately intervene and act on our demand to immediately repatriate our stranded and distressed OFWs in KSA. In equal vein, we call for admonition and immediate replacement of erring POLO-OWWA Al Khobar officials.

There is no reason to lengthen the sufferings of our people. The grave neglect and inhumane treatment of our helpless OFWs must stop now.

(Migrante Eastern Region, KSA is willing to share related data and information to all interested media networks, media practioners and concerned agencies in the Philippines)


Faisal Muhammad

Chairperson – Migrante Al Khobar



Dhel Macalintal

Information Bureau – Migrante Al Khobar



Gil Libria

Rights and Welfare Assistance Program

Migrante Al Khobar


OWWA refuses to comply with DOLE Chief’s orders re: Saudi stranded

Migrante International, together with Saudi OFWs and families, and DOLE Sec. Silvestre Bello III, August 11,2016, DOLE Office, Manila

Migrante International, together with Saudi OFWs and families, and DOLE Sec. Silvestre Bello III, August 11,2016, DOLE Office, Manila

Migrante International held a dialogue with Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Sec. Silvestre Bello III last August 11, together with 30 representatives and family members of stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia.

In the dialogue, the OFWs and their families thanked Sec. Bello and the Duterte administration for acknowledging that there indeed is an ongoing crisis affecting at least 50,000 Filipino migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. This is a far cry from the previous Aquino administration’s outright denial of the crisis, resulting in inaction and the aggravation of the sorry conditions of the affected OFWs and their families. They also acknowledged the decisive actions instigated by the Duterte government, based on the seven (7) demands presented by Migrante International and Migrante-Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to Sec. Bello before his first visit to the Kingdom last August 22-23, 2016.

They, however, raised the following concerns with regard the government’s initial responses to the ongoing crisis, to wit:

At the tailend of the dialogue, OWWA officials arrived at the venue. Sec. Bello ordered them to immediately accompany all OFWs and families present at the dialogue to the OWWA Main Office to claim their money. The officials, however, did not accompany the OFWs and families and instead merely instructed them to proceed to the OWWA and look for OWWA Welfare Officer Connie Marquez.

Upon arrival at the OWWA office, only 9 out of the more than 30 OFWs and families present were able to claim “because only the nine (9) are included in their masterlist”. OWWA Admin Rebecca Calzado REFUSED to grant them financial assistance, despite and in spite of direct orders from the DOLE Secretary.

“While we believe that Sec. Bello is sincere in his promise of improved assistance and services to the affected OFWs and families, OWWA’s non-compliance is putting the good secretary in a bad light. As of this posting, we have been receiving more complaints from OFWs and families, on-site and off-site, nationwide and abroad, of the OWWA’s continuous refusal to follow Sec. Bello’s direct orders,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

OWWA is an attached agency of the DOLE. The DOLE Chief is also the Chairman of the OWWA Board. “OWWA Admin. Calzado’s refusal to comply is outright insubordination and complete disregard of the rights and welfare of distressed OFWs and their families. We believe this is not what Pres. Duterte had in mind when he ordered Sec. Bello to attend to the plight of stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Martinez said that Migrante-KSA is also now preparing for Sec. Bello’s planned return to Saudi Arabia on August 15, as well as the arrival of the government’s one-month humanitarian relief mission within August. ###