IN PHOTOS: Migrante kicks off ‘ONE BILLION RISING’ campaign

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MIGRANTE KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 11 February 2019)

 

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MIGRANTE BOLOGNA (ITALY, 14 February 2019)

 

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MIGRANTE HONGKONG (17 February 2019)

 

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Anti-Fascism protest during Duterte’s visit in Hongkong (17 February 2019)

 

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MIGRANTE PHILIPPINES (16 February 2019)

 

 

 

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Rice Tariffication Law, Duterte’s death sentence to the Philippines’s local rice industry — Migrante

Migrante International considers the signing of the rice tariffication bill by President Duterte as a death sentence to our local rice industry. From opening the country to the deluge of imported weevil-infested rice to bringing in more importations, this law is the final nail in the coffin that will spell a tragic ending to the livelihood of millions of rice farmers.

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The Philippine government has been claiming that agricultural trade liberalization ensures food security for Filipinos. In reality, we can attest at how this country has deteriorated from being among Asia’s largest rice producers to being one of the world’s top rice importing countries.

No other than Agricultural Secretary Emmanuel Piñol himself admitted that the imposition of the rice tariffication law is the country’s fulfilment of its commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This law is set to worsen the record $41.44 Billion trade deficit caused by Duterte’s insane adherence to unfair trade practices and other neoliberal economic policies. His regime is rubbing more salt to our country’s economic wounds as this would escalate importations while local production further declines.

Many of our dear OFWs hail from peasant backgrounds in the countryside and they fully understand the repercussions that this law would entail to their families’ livelihood back home. As more farmers find rice cultivation unbearable due to the regime’s inclination towards importations, many will be forced to sell their lands to greedy developers and rice millers will find their storehouses empty.

Consequently, this will force farmers and their children to be among the many thousands of Filipinos who leave the country every single day to seek a better life overseas. No doubt, Duterte’s rice tariffication law is part of the prevailing course of forced migration to beef up the regime’s labour export program.

Let us bear in mind that the rice tariffication bill was signed just a week after President Duterte staged a drama for the sake of big landowners and property developers by walking out of a cabinet meeting after expressing frustration over the slowness of the country’s land conversion process. Duterte is very much eager to wipe out agricultural lands and turn them into commercial properties. This is the kind of regime that no monster could rival when it comes to viciousness and insatiable greed.

The only way to salvage Philippine agriculture and bring about economic security and progress to our farmers is to address the age-old problem of landlessness by adopting a genuine land reform program through free land distribution coupled with subsidies to the tillers. Without genuine land reform, there can be no way this country can industrialize.

We OFWs and our families will never allow the US-Duterte regime to continue tormenting us with US-WTO dictates. Together, we stand in solidarity with our farmers as we resist Duterte’s despotic reign.

 

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References:

 

  • Joanna Concepcion, Chairperson, Migrante International,

USA contact number: 1 (909) 969 3313

Email: jcconcep@gmail.com

             

  • Arman Hernando, Chairperson, Migrante Philippines;

PH Contact nos. 0967-277-53-32

 

 

Migrante decries delisting of Manggagawa Party-list. Hits bastardization of the party-list system

Migrante International decries the recent disqualification of Manggagawa Party-list from the list of accredited party-list groups that will run as candidates in the upcoming 2019 midterm elections. We view this as a rabid attack on progressive party-list groups that are striving for genuine representation of marginalized sectors. The bastardization of the party-list system in favour of bureaucrat capitalism is an affront to our country’s already besieged-democratic process.

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With most of the accredited party-list groups without any credible track record in serving the grassroots and the sight of COMELEC bowing down to pressure from Malacanang, we are truly convinced that these aberrations are ushering the complete takeover of the House of Representatives by political dynasties and big business interests.

Unlike most of the other party-list groups that were formed merely for the fulfilment of Duterte’s tyrannical whims and dictates, Manggagawa Party-list is slated by nominees that have long fought for the rights and welfare of oppressed sectors like OFWs, jeepney drivers, the urban poor and labour unions.

Meanwhile, fake OFW party-lists like Bertiz’s ACTS OFW Party-list and Mocha Uson’s AA-Kasosyo Party-list are backed by trapos and private recruitment agencies. ACTS OFW Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz III who claims to be the lone representative of OFWs in the 17th Congress figured notoriously for yelling at OFWs in Hongkong a few years ago. He is also the CEO of Global Asia Alliance Consultants, a recruitment agency that was suspended for irregularities.

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Mocha Uson’s AA-Kasosyo Party-list is among the entities tied to Janet Lim Napoles’ Php10 Billion pork barrel scam. Dubbed as the “fake news queen,” Mocha Uson was previously slammed by concerned citizens for being among the masterminds of a propaganda-driven rescue operation that endangered the safety of Kuwait OFWs. The fiasco led to a diplomatic crisis to the point that the Philippine ambassador was expelled by Kuwait.

OFWs are longing for a genuine House representation that will uphold their interests and ensure that they get shielded from the harmful costs of the government’s labour export program. As Manggagawa Party-list pushes to favour higher wages, junk burdensome state exactions and eliminate contractualization, Migrante is certain that it is the greedy ruling elite that are behind the COMELEC’s delisting of progressive party-list groups.

Under the Duterte regime’s pro-elite reign of terror and repression, faithful servants of the Filipino masses can no longer count on making it smoothly to the halls of Congress as active participants of representative democracy without getting shoved and troubled by a corrupt electoral system that consistently obliges itself in ensuring the overwhelming predominance of corrupt political dynasties, hacienderos, plunderers and criminals in the government’s legislative branch.

We will never allow the Duterte regime to drown out the voices of OFWs and other marginalized sectors. No setback will stop us from drumming our legitimate calls until we have fully realized the national democratic aspirations of the Filipino people.

 

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Executed 39 year old household worker in Saudi, another LEP casualty – Migrante

Migrante International expresses its condolences to the family and loved ones of the 39-year old Filipino household worker who was executed in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, 29th of January.  We see her as another casualty of the Philippine government’s decades-old labour export program (LEP).

Countless Filipino household workers suffer abuse and maltreatment from the hands of their employers. Their subjection to overwork, hunger, sleep-deprivation and long-term separation from their loved ones makes them more prone to stress, depression and mental health illnesses leading them to uncontrollable emotions and behaviour in many cases.

Most Filipino domestic helpers stand as breadwinners to their families back in the Philippines where they are afflicted with the rising cost of living due to Duterte’s neoliberal policies like the TRAIN Law. As in previous regimes, President Duterte vowed to turn overseas work to just an option and not a necessity. He likewise promised to make the welfare of OFWs his top concern. On the contrary, his greedy regime continues to treat OFWs as cash cows through numerous state exactions like the impending mandatory SSS coverage and mandatory insurance. This shows that the regime really has no intention of assuming full responsibility in the protection of their welfare but is stubbornly consistent in passing the buck to the private sector like insurance companies.

In short, the government’s labour export program treats Filipinos as commodities for export and OFW pockets as automated teller machines. By the time OFWs get into trouble as in the case of the executed 39 year old domestic helper, they are left nameless and made to languish behind bars, unknown to their families until the day of their execution arrives. The Duterte regime failed to draw lessons from the experience of Jennifer Dalquez who was saved from death row because of united efforts from advocates and concerned citizens here and abroad.

Furthermore, the government should not just readily accept with certainty the guilt imputed to the OFW death row victim. We challenge the Duterte regime to ferret out the truth and probe deeper to find out what led the OFW to commit the murder. There have been cases when migrant workers who were charged with murder actually acted out of self-defense because of severe maltreatment, rape or other assaults they experienced. Like many OFWs, we believe that the Duterte regime must not be too eager to put out this tragedy and move on. The employer must be investigated for previous records of abusive misdeeds towards their former workers. If ever they are found culpable, then the employers must be charged and be blacklisted from hiring household workers.

As long as the Duterte regime stubbornly clings to its labour export program and refuses to address the roots of forced migration, there will be no end to the cycle of abuse, incarceration and execution besetting stricken OFWs. The absence of genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization and the government’s hard-hearted refusal to create a favourable labour environment where national minimum wage is enacted and contractualization is abolished are the very conditions that led to the execution of the 39-year old household worker in Saudi.

 

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Migrante International condemns murder of NDFP peace consultant Randy Malayao

30 January 2019

Migrante International denounces in the strongest terms the murder of human rights advocate and NDFP peace panel consultant Randy Malayao. While fast asleep, he was shot by a gunman inside a bus in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya at around 2:30 am earlier. Such bloodshed can only be schemed by criminal minds to insulate the predominant oppressive system, against which, a social justice activist like Randy has valiantly opposed for decades.

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As a former political prisoner, Randy never wavered from his strong conviction to struggle for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. His undying love for the poor and oppressed led him to actively participate in the peace negotiations. Migrante has always deeply admired Randy for his efforts in the peace campaign seeking to finally address the roots of forced migration. Randy is one of the key persons who helped organize Migrante Isabela during its founding in October 2017. It is now one of the largest and most active chapters of Migrante Philippines. Migrante International will be forever grateful to him for his valuable contributions to the OFW cause.

Looking back at his gallant life dedicated to service, we are outraged that Randy is now part of the ever-increasing number of peace advocates that were sent to the grave for earning the ire of the exploitative ruling elite and the Fascist US-Duterte regime. Meanwhile, hundreds of others remain incarcerated under trumped-up charges as Duterte’s armed minions sow death and destruction in diverse places across the country.

These atrocities are meant to harass, intimidate and terrorize progressive organizations and human rights groups to keep the public from banding together in defiance to the blood-thirsty rule of the US-Duterte regime. However, this will only fan the blazing flame of resistance among the discontented Filipino people.

We enjoin every peace-loving Filipino to rise up and demand justice for Randy Malayao. Let us never allow another innocent life to be slain under Duterte’s tyrannical regime.

Justice for Randy Malayao!
Stop the killings!

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U.S. Filipinos on visa ban: Address roots of trafficking instead of blaming Filipino migrant workers

January 28, 2019

Migrante USA and GABRIELA USA raise alarm at the recent memo issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) banning Filipino workers from acquiring H-2A and H2B visas from now until January 18, 2020. H-2A visas are temporary visas given to foreigners for seasonal, or temporary, agricultural work, while H-2B visas are for foreign nonagricultural workers. DHS and the Department of State (DOS) cite the increase in the number of Filipino H-2B holders overstaying (in fiscal year 2017) and the high volume of trafficking victims from the Philippines who were originally issued H-2B visas as bases for the ban.

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In response, Philippine Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview that Filipinos in the U.S. “have to face the music” if they have violated immigration laws and that “America is not the only place where our countrymen can go.”

In contrast to this analysis, Migrante USA Chairperson Bernadette Herrera says, “Simply telling them to look for other countries to go to while the ban is enforced is insensitive and futile. Instead of telling our fellow Filipinos to face the consequences of overstaying or finding jobs in other countries, the Duterte administration should take responsibility of the conditions that force Filipinos to find jobs away abroad, which put them at risk of overstaying and becoming victims of human trafficking.”

“The poor conditions of employment force H-2A/H-2B visa holders to overstay: very low pay, exorbitant visa renewal fees, hardship and debt bondage disabling them to go home after contract. Furthermore, many of our kababayan become victims of human trafficking due to the unscrupulous labor practices of American businesses as well as the deregulated recruitment industry in the Philippines that bureaucrats and private businesses profit of. This ‘guest worker visa program’ is essentially ‘legalized slavery’”, says Susan Pineda, Rights and Welfare Vice-Chair of Gabriela D.C.

The recent DHS decision to ban Filipinos from receiving H-2B visas due to the high volume of H-2B visa-related trafficking stands in contrast to the 2018 U.S. State Department report affirming the 3-year stint of the Philippines in Tier 1 ranking, signifying that the Philippine government is “meeting minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”

“The U.S. government will continue to resort to such stop-gap measures to mask their poorly regulated, for-profit and anti-worker labor and immigration policies that only benefit the 1%. But ultimately, Filipinos will continue to gamble abroad for a brighter future unless there are real productive industries with livable wages and land to till back home,” adds Herrera.

Almost three years after Duterte promised that change would come, today, at least 60% of the workforce or 25 Filipino million workers are engaged in contractual labor without benefits and job security. The minimum daily wage stands below $10 (and as low as $6 a day in remote regions), about half of the family daily living wage (required to sustain a family of 5) of $19. Further, the purchasing power of the Philippine peso is reduced by the inflation rate caused by the new TRAIN tax law. Consequently, over 6,500 Filipinos leave the country every day in search of better opportunities abroad.

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Migrante USA is an alliance of Filipino worker and migrant organizations dedicated to fighting for rights and welfare of Filipinos in the U.S. and for the genuine democracy and freedom in the Philippines.

GABRIELA USA is a grassroots-based alliance of progressive Filipino women’s organizations in the United States seeking to wage a struggle for the liberation of all oppressed Filipino women and the rest of our people.

Filipino domestic workers to march on vs mandatory insurance by PH govt

Filipino domestic workers are set to protest the mandatory insurance being imposed on them by the Philippine government. According to United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) chair Dolores Balladares, this new imposition is merely a money-making scheme.

‘The Philippine government has yet again thought up of a new way to extort from us through the mandatory insurance. They are not satisfied with all the fees they have been overcharging us and is desperate to collect some more at the expense of overseas Filipino workers,’ Balladares said.

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Balladares relayed that officially, the mandatory insurance will be paid for by the employer per contract. ‘The insurance will be a burden to employers and is actually redundant as our employers already have purchased insurance for us. This makes the new insurance unneccessary.’

As such, Balladares remarked that such new scheme may create friction between employers and the domestic workers. In the end, it may most probably mean that the domestic workers will be the one to shoulder the payment as employers already paid for the insurance under Hong Kong policies.

“In truth, the Philippine government does not care who will finally pay for the insurance as its only concern now is how to accumulate the largest fund at the soonest possible time. With Philippine elections nearing, funds become a necessity that may come from the public coffers or contributions from businesses including companies that may benefit from this compulsory insurance. As usual, the convenient cash cows are the Filipino overseas workers whose vulnerability is exploited by the Philippines for its money-making schemes,” said Balladares.

To show opposition, the group will lead a protest march to the Philippine consulate on Sunday, January 27, at 2PM. They call on all OFWs and even employers who oppose the new fee to join the protest.

“Show our rage. We demand for the revocation of the mandatory insurance,” Balladares Pelaez ended.###