Duterte chains OFWS and families to slavery and poverty

14 July 2018

PRESS STATEMENT

 

As Duterte gears for the State of the Nation Address and commences his third year in office, the Philippines is certainly in the midst of perilous times. OFWs and their families are chained to be yanked further into the sinking sands of the tyrant’s rule.

 

His brashness committal in taxing the poor to relieve the rich via TRAIN Law is set to thrust the prices of basic commodities to traumatic levels in the coming years. The anguish against TRAIN’s first phase is already apparent and yet, it is only just the initial part of our ordeal. Filipinos will be tormented in the years to come with the TRAIN law’s succeeding 4 phases.

 

The country’s inflation rate, now the highest in the ASEAN region was maliciously smoke-screened by the regime’s redefinition of inflationary factors to moderate its appalling figure. The objective was to deceive the public with brazen lies about the country’s growth rate which is nothing but illusory as it fails to achieve a significant dent on poverty.

 

The country’s overdependence to remittances from OFWs can no longer cope with the plummeting dollar reserves, the lowest in 6 years, and the peso’s depreciation. Our national currency has sunk to its weakest level in 12 years, hiking inflation since imports like rice and oil are paid in dollar terms. Adding insult to injury is the increased value of our foreign debts.

 

Expect the regime to heighten its labor export program as a quick fix to this dilemma. More Filipinos will be peddled for enslavement in foreign lands as life in the Philippines becomes unbearable as hell under this regime, while private contractors on the other hand plan to bring in Chinese laborers as dictated by Duterte’s Chinese lenders.

 

Instead of devoting the coffers to improving public services and human development, the bulk goes to debt-servicing and importation of construction materials to finance the regime’s pro-elite and anti-poor Build Build Build program. Duterte’s lethal infrastructure madness will not generate long-term employment for our local workforce but is only meant to surge wealth upward mainly for the benefit of private contractors and foreign lenders who will rake more super-profits from ODAs or Official Development Assistance, a euphemism for our country’s source of massive debt.

 

All for the sake of US-Duterte’s bootlicking subservience to imperialist interests; the regime razed Marawi to the ground, undermined our territorial sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, terrorized Lumad schools, and forcefully evicted farming communities and poor neighborhoods to give way to big multinational corporations at the cost of thousands of human lives.

 

With Duterte’s emergent authoritarianism now at hand through his degenerate libido for Charter Change and bloodshed, migrants and their families are united with the rest of the Filipino people in directing their rage against the US-Duterte regime’s tyrannical rule. We, OFWs and families, will not let Duterte drag our countrymen to damnation.

 

We cry out: End labor export, stop modern-day slavery! Enough of Duterte’s plunder and tyranny!

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On the May 1st 2018 International Workers’ Day: Migrants and workers of the world unite!

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As the global economic crisis boils up, the ruling powers are aggressively bolstering the oppressive social order that afflicts the majority of the masses. US imperialism is now more than ever eager to launch wars of aggression for the sake of sustaining its war-based economy at the behest of global monopoly capitalists and the warmongering monsters of the military industrial complex. Wherever it goes, it wreaks havoc on its path.

In the Philippines, the puppet US-Duterte regime finds pleasure in its harlotry with imperialist rivals China and the United States. We have seen how death and destruction has engulfed the city of Marawi for the sake of expanding EDCA-compliant military bases that will host more American troops while our territorial waters on the West Philippine Sea are now teeming with artificial islands guarded by Chinese military forces.

 These devastating imperialist conquests are all attributable to monopoly capitalism and its ravenous greed salivating after the extraction and exploitation of our natural resources while subjecting the Filipino people to all sorts of neoliberal attacks. Boozed in his puppetry, Duterte still had the nerve to implore for patriotism from OFWs in Kuwait by urging them to come back, only to retract it later by pointing to China as their next destination.

Approaching his second year in office, the US-Duterte regime is clearly placing the interests of big corporations above the rights and welfare of the working class by legitimizing contractualization, flexible working schemes, union-busting and the perpetuation of regional wage boards. Moreover, unemployment, landlessness and privatization of public services inflict more pain and agony to our poor farmers and workers. Adding insult to injury, this year’s imposition of Duterte’s TRAIN law caused prices of basic commodities to spike rapidly. We can really be certain that under these conditions, millions more of our countrymen will leave the country to look for greener pastures abroad. Desperation has even caused many to end up working in war-torn and hostile countries.  Duterte’s attitude on the issue of the OFWs in Kuwait and the case of MJ Veloso displays his lack of a clear and comprehensive program to resolve the long-standing problem of the migrant workers.

All over the Philippines, relentless killings and bombings have gripped communities and displaced hundreds of thousands. A few days ago, armed security ruffians opened fire at protesting farmers in Nueva Ecija. In Cagayan Valley, Father Mark Ventura was gunned down before his congregants just after officiating over his Sunday mass. The government’s fake war on drugs is claiming more and more lives in poor communities while big drug-lords are absolved of their crimes.

 There is no denying that US-Duterte is waging war against the people by unleashing State-terror to establish his Fascist dictatorship. But the growing intensity of our unwavering resistance continues to frustrate his vicious ambitions. No amount of state-led repression or intimidation will ever immunize Duterte from the waxing outrage of the struggling Filipino masses. We rest in our strong faith that workers in unity with the farmers and other patriotic sectors will emerge victorious in the battle against Fascism and Imperialism.

 The tempest still rages but let us keep pressing on in demanding for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization to decisively address the roots of forced migration and underdevelopment in our country.  As we continually realize our collective strength by struggling for the attainment of justice and national democracy, let us take inspiration from the working men and women of ages past who braved all hardships and persecutions when they fought unjust working schemes that deprived them of their rights and benefits.

 The International Workers’ Day is the day when we glorify and honor all workers who struggle to build a just new world where the current oppressive order will finally be abolished and thrown into the dustbin of history. Migrante International salutes all progressive Filipino workers in their strong resolve to build a strong labor movement in the country for the liberation of the entire working class not only in the Philippines but in the entire world.

 Migrants and workers of the world unite!

We have nothing to lose but our chains!

Long live the labor movement!

On Duterte’s resolution to PH-Kuwait diplomatic crisis: Moronic, not Solomonic!

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Just the other day, Malacañang’s comical spokesperson Harry Roque once more sought to evoke awe and wonder from the public when he revealed that Duterte has already made an unexpected “Solomonic” decision on the Kuwait issue.

 Giving his best shot to save Malacañang from all the embarrassments the Kuwait fiasco has caused, Roque likened Duterte to King Solomon who is regarded in biblical tradition to be the wisest man who ever lived. According to scripture, the biblical king became known for his profound wisdom and insight that was too great to be measured.

On the contrary, Migrante does not see any fragment of wisdom in this move of Duterte. It is neither wise nor Solomonic but MORONIC!

 We cannot expect our OFWs to come home if the root cause of their migration–poverty due to landlessness and lack of decent jobs still exists and is actually worsening. We want our families to be whole again but we are forced by our economic condition to be torn apart. Can the president provide for all the needs of the 260,000 OFW families in Kuwait once they return here in the country?”

How can they survive with endo and a Php512 minimum wage (an amount which is less than half of the Php1,174 living wage)? Mr. President, as much as they want to, OFWs in Kuwait cannot just come home.  Until and unless you stop exporting them continually and your promise of a better Philippines, a country where there are regular, decent & living jobs for all able-bodied Filipinos, is fulfilled, they will be forced to search for greener pasture in foreign lands, even if it is in Kuwait or any other hostile country.

 In a twist of irony, Duterte remarked that Kuwaitis apparently seemed resentful towards Filipinos. “Parang lumalabas na may galit sila sa mga Pilipino”, he said.  We cannot be fooled by this statement as to who bears more hatred towards Filipinos for it was not too long ago when Duterte slammed poor jeepney drivers with his usual invective telling them that he doesn’t care even if they all starve and wallow in poverty.

 Addressing the Kuwaiti Government, Duterte conveyed that the presence of Filipinos is perceived as a burden to Kuwaitis. Do we really need to look that far to take notice where Filipinos are more obviously treated as burdens? With all the killings, grave threats, insults and forced expulsions, it is Duterte who treats the presence of Filipinos as burdensome. He cannot endure a single day without Filipino blood spattered on the streets. Under his watch, an entire city was reduced into rubbles while hundreds of thousands of Maranaos, Lumads and Boracay-Aklanons are forcefully displaced and evicted from their homelands.

 Bewildered by how this diplomatic dispute has gone from bad to its worst, the president is now pleading to the Kuwaiti government not to hurt OFWs and give them the treatment deserving of a human being. Filipinos know very well that an OFW repatriate from Kuwait will never be given “better” treatment by Katay Digong. Definitely not in a country where loved ones of OFWs are not spared from his bloody campaign of slaughtering the likes of Kian delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz, both children of OFWs. Did his sanguinary policemen even listen when these poor children of OFWs were pleading for their lives? In reality, only big drug lords, casino gambling lords and land-grabbers are the ones who get super-humane treatment from “moronic” Katay Digong.

 Standing true to his moniker Bugaw King, Duterte is again leaving the fate of Kuwait-OFW repatriates to China, promising that he’ll knock on their doors to consider hiring more Filipinos and to give more financial aid to the Philippines. Moreover, this disaster is brought upon all of us by the insatiable lust after publicity of many government officials close to Duterte whose lives revolve around the dictates of social media consumption. Now, they’re all panicking, going to and fro to scramble for more foreign loans just to save their asses at the expense of the already debt-ridden Filipino people.

 Heavily inebriated in his delusions, moronic Digong bragged about the abundance of jobs in the Philippines. Being the chief purveyor of fake news, not even Duterte’s staunchest supporter in the government will ever believe him. Under Duterte, the biggest contraction in employment in twenty (20) years has been recorded with 663,000 employees who lost their jobs last year. Duterte’s braggadocio is repudiated by the latest poll showing that wages, jobs and inflation are top Filipino concerns across all socio-economic classes. This only goes to show that the government’s persistent neoliberal economic thrust has further deteriorated the country’s dire condition.

Moronic Duterte can no longer deceive the people who are now crying out amidst the wretchedness of poverty, unemployment, and the inhumane treatment they experience in the Philippines under a blood-thirsty and consistent master-swindler Duterte regime. The growing resentment and frustration among the masses has now more than ever intensified their desire to break free from the malevolent power that has long oppressed and banished myriads of our fellow Filipinos to the farthest ends of the earth.  These coming days, Filipinos in solidarity with all workers worldwide will march together as one against all the deceptions and falsehoods of moronic Duterte. The days of reckoning draweth nigh.

Let Mary Jane speak! Let justice prevail, let her free!

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Three years ago, the world was witness to what collective action can do to create a “miracle.” An incarcerated innocent life was spared at the last minute. The Philippine government was given the opportunity to work for Mary Jane Veloso’s freedom and maximize her knowledge to help combat drug syndicates and human traffickers.

At the onset of the new regime, with President Duterte having strong commitments to end the illegal drugs industry and foster genuine protection for migrant workers, the Veloso family and most Filipinos were in high hopes.

Many were optimistic when Duterte stated last year that he has a stake on Mary Jane’s case and that President Jokowi’s visit would be an opportune time to discuss her fate. But in all the chances where the two leaders met, President Duterte was reticent when he could have had his opportunity to point out that elevating Veloso’s case is relevant and essential in strengthening the security of the two countries against human and drug trafficking.

Justice remains elusive after three years and Mary Jane still languishes in prison notwithstanding the dearth of evidence against her recruiters Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao who already admitted Mary Jane’s innocence.

The only statement Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque could put forward was that he doesn’t understand what exactly the President can do, which exposes the administration’s cluelessness on their role of interceding for OFWs on death row.

Worse, she is now being denied of her right to testify and to reveal the truth. The Philippine government itself, through its Court of Appeals has issued an order prohibiting Mary Jane from executing a statement that could prove her innocence and disclose the real culprits on the crimes that were imputed upon her.  This is short of silencing Mary Jane and letting the big drug syndicates off the hook in tune with Duterte’s anti-drug policy of killing the poor while absolving drug ring leaders and their government protectors.

The plight of Mary Jane and the Veloso family is emblematic of the government’s failure to its people. Tatay Caesar Veloso was among the oppressed and scantily-paid sugar cane workers in Hacienda Luisita who for many years bore all the hardships of tilling the land he doesn’t own. Nanay Celia Veloso, on the other hand, was among the first of overseas workers in Saudi Arabia – a victim of abuse and maltreatment by her employers. Mary Jane’s four siblings later worked abroad and were also maltreated.  Mary Jane is just among the more than 130 Filipinos on death row while thousands of others are serving jail sentences.  Families like the Velosos are continually suffering from the unresolved social and economic problems plaguing Philippine society.

It has been three years since Mary Jane was given temporary reprieve and yet there still hasn’t been a single concrete action by the Philippine Government for Mary Jane’s clemency. The situation is once again calling us to end the injustice on Mary Jane. The Veloso family is calling on the people to make a collective action for her freedom.

This day has been marked as a Global Day of Action to Save Mary Jane Veloso. Starting today up to May 1st, various groups including all the chapters and allies of Migrante International will be holding assemblies and fora all across the globe to unite the people and remind the government that the struggle of Mary Jane lives on and that the fight for justice of Mary Jane and all the oppressed workers of the world must be courageously won.

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Justice for Joanna Demafelis and Other OFW Deaths in Kuwait! Justice for All OFW Victims of Government Neglect!

We mourn with the family and loved ones of Joanna Demafelis who suffered unimaginable cruelty from the hands of her employers in Kuwait. For over a year, Joanna’s body was stuffed inside a freezer found inside an abandoned apartment. Investigators found physical signs of torture.

Migrante International points to the blood stained hands of Duterte as the primary culprit for his regime’s failure to keep its promise of protecting the lives of OFWs. It was not too long ago when last year’s execution in Kuwait of Jakatia Pawa has caught the country by surprise. The Philippine embassy in Kuwait received official information about her execution 18 hours before it was carried out. There was negligible response from Duterte as he is known to be a supporter of death penalty.

One year on, there’s still no let up to the ever-increasing number of brutal killings and executions perpetrated against OFWs in their host countries under Duterte’s watch. Duterte himself acknowledged that there were more than a hundred OFW deaths in Kuwait last year and more than a dozen of which are currently being investigated due to possible foul play.

Filipino workers continue to clamor for the government to address the roots of forced migration and end its labor export program. Duterte’s hardline pronouncements against Kuwait remain to be mere grandstanding and sheer hypocrisy unless problems marking labor conditions in the Philippines are resolved. The Philippines continues to be notorious for labor woes and anti-poor policies hounding its local workforce forcing millions to search for better life abroad. Recently, the Duterte administration enacted TRAIN or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion which spiked the prices of commodities upward. Migrante decries the heartless stance of the Duterte regime towards Filipino workers here and abroad.

Migrante challenges Duterte to investigate erring officials who failed to look into the plight of OFWs in distress. We call on the Duterte administration to publicize the bilateral agreement it intends to sign with Kuwait with regards to the protection of Filipino workers and ensure that the voices of OFWs will be heard and their demands be included.

As we grieve with the loved ones left behind by Joanna Demafelis, we echo the outcry of OFWs worldwide in calling for her attainment of justice and for many other OFWs who suffered the same fate. May the perpetrators be punished as we also raise our call for justice for all the many victims of the government’s negligence towards distressed migrants in dire need of immediate help. ###

The Real Devil Unmasked

THE REAL DEVIL UNMASKED

By Migrante-Philippines

Before proceeding to NAIA to welcome more than a hundred OFWs from Kuwait, Duterte once again uttered colorful language to mask himself as a sacrificial lamb being led to the slaughter.

“You come home and I will sell my soul to the devil to look for money so that you can come home and live comfortably here,” Duterte said during the oath-taking event for newly appointed officials.

This statement was made after the tragic story of Joanna Daniela Demafelis shocked the public. For over a year, her corpse was stuffed inside a freezer and initial investigations reveal signs of torture. Several more cases of OFW deaths in Kuwait are also undergoing investigation and Duterte himself said before the media in Davao that there are as many as 120 Filipinos who died in Kuwait last year. Eventually, Duterte ordered a deployment ban of domestic workers to Kuwait. Just before we could even bind our emotional wounds caused by these gruesome horror stories, Malacanang made a mockery of newly-arrived repatriates by driving them away once more as China is now being considered by his regime’s labor authorities as the next destination of displaced OFWs.

Masquerading as an “Angel of Light,” there is no doubt that Duterte the devil has mastered the art of deception and trickery. Has he not even realized the glaring contradiction when he expressed his wish to have OFW repatriates live comfortably in the Philippines only to expel them the next moment? Certainly, no words can describe the uplifting feelings of their loved ones after heaving a sigh of relief knowing that their mothers, fathers or siblings are finally back home safe from the shadows of death in a distant land instead of arriving inside a casket. But alas, they are to be sent away anew by no other than one of the manifestations of the devil himself, President Rodrigo Duterte. As the Philippines accumulate piles of debt from Chinese loans and as one land mass after another in our territorial waters is being devoured by China, our hardworking people are pimped out by the government’s atrocious Labor Export Program.

More appalling, Duterte expressed gratefulness to contractual kings Lucio Tan and Gokongwei and vowed to protect their business interests for shouldering the flights of OFW repatriates. It is no secret that these vicious wolves that Duterte are dressing in sheep’s clothing are among those who torment local Filipino workers with low wages and contractual jobs that prod them to search for greener pastures overseas. It is quite ironic that Duterte even demanded from the Kuwaiti government to improve their labor conditions for Filipino workers when in the first place, those OFWs left the Philippines because they are afflicted back home with greater labor woes perpetuated by these very same wolves he graciously showered with flattering remarks. Adding insult to injury, access to government services continue to be poor and prices of commodities soar unabated due to the US-Duterte regime’s unscrupulously enacted TRAIN or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion. Truly, these features of forced migration are the roots of all evil besetting our workforce.

Migrante is firm in its position that in order to finally end forced migration, the Philippines needs to institute labor reforms like enacting a national minimum wage closer to the living wage and totally abolishing all forms of contractualization. Importantly, it must also endeavor to address the wretchedness of agriculture through a genuine agrarian reform coupled with national industrialization. These reforms could have been tackled had the US-Duterte regime and his peace-spoilers in the military did not terminate the GRP-NDFP peace talks which was already on the final stages of presenting the CASER draft or the Comprehensive Agreement for Social & Economic Reforms.

Unless these reforms are achieved we can always expect Duterte the devil and his succeeding heirs to continue resorting to all forms of deception and arrogantly stand as false messiahs in lying wonders. It is essential that the Filipino people guard their hearts and minds against deceitful serpents wallowing in puppetry and subservience to foreign imperialist interests. Indeed, the US-Duterte regime is drunk in the wine of his neoliberal fornications. ###