Free Reina Mae Nasino! Justice for Baby River! — Migrante International

Migrante International is one with freedom loving Filipinos in grieving for Baby River who lost her life after forcibly being taken away from her mother, Reina Mae “Ina” Nasino, who has been detained based on trumped-up charges. 

Unlike big criminals and corrupt politicians who enjoyed extensive furloughs, special privileges and even absolute pardon like in the case of US soldier Joseph Pemberton, the Duterte regime has placed all sorts of obstacles just to deny a decent burial for Baby River. 

We continue to uphold Nasino’s innocence from all false charges thrown against her by the Duterte regime. May Baby River’s blood be upon the heads of the Duterte regime’s military and police officials. They themselves have made known their atrocities before the world and even unto the grave. For a moment we grieve but we shall press on with our struggle for justice. 

Free Reina Mae Nasino!

Justice for Baby River!

Free all political prisoners! 

Stop the attacks! 

Resist Duterte’s tyranny! 

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Relatives demand immediate repatriation of 52 Syria OFWs. Philippine Embassy officials in Syria accused of corruption and extortion.

Loved ones of 52 OFWs in Syria called on the Duterte government on friday morning for immediate repatriation. All of the OFWs, mostly female trafficking victims have been currently staying inside the Philippine embassy for more than two to three years on average. Some were even trafficked when they were still minors. 

Pastor Marie Sol Villalon, anti-trafficking ministry head and program manager of the United Methodist Church’s Manila Episcopal Area called on the government to combat trafficking and provide welfare services to OFW victims. “The Duterte government should never allow our kababayans to be trafficked and enslaved. The United Methodist Church rejects the commercialization and exploitation of people. There’s an ongoing war in Syria so this should have never happened.” Offering their messages of solidarity, Bishop Ciriaco Francisco and Pastor Dan Jalo also re-echoed the urgent calls of Syria 52.

Trying to hold back his emotions, Naeem Ameril related his sister Alea’s plight during the Syrian war when ISIS took control of Aleppo where she was working and now she’s faced with even more troubles under the COVID-19 crisis. Aleaia is a victim of human trafficking when she was 11 years old. As early as 2013, her sister has been begging to return home. Ameril has been going back and forth to DFA-OUMWA, OWWA and other government agencies but to no avail. “I already talked to OWWA administrator Hans Cacdac and I even went to Malacanang’s complaint center but I was only given a referral slip. None of them acted on their promises.”

Alea has been stuck for 1 year inside the Philippine embassy along with 51 other OFWs. Ameril says that they are not even allowed by Philippine embassy officials to speak to her sister over the phone. 

Aiza, not her real name, was promised by the recruiter for deployment to Europe but found herself trafficked to Syria where she was abused, starved for weeks and was almost raped by her employer. “I was stuck for four (4) months inside the Philippine Embassy in Syria. If it were not for my uncle who is a lawyer, I wouldn’t have been able to return back to the Philippines,” Aiza exclaimed. 

Filled with contempt against the abuses inflicted to the remaining OFWs inside the Philippine Embassy compound in Syria, Aiza blasted Philippine embassy officials for corruption and extortion abuses. “Philippine Embassy officials in Syria are driven by their greed for money. When I asked them to send me back home, they demanded Php 25 thousand from me as well as from my fellow OFWs inside the embassy compound.”

Speaking for Stranded PH, a group formed by stranded OFWs, Marc de Jesus said, “We will not stop until the Syria 52 are repatriated and provided amelioration by the Duterte government. It angers us that Philippine Embassy officials in Syria are even extorting stranded and distressed OFWs. There will be no trafficking if there are no corrupt officials.”

Two relatives of Syria 52 also relayed their messages via video recordings during the press conference. They called on the Duterte government to respond to their pleadings. 

Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion hit the Duterte government’s budget priorities at a time when big multitudes of OFWs are stranded and wanting to go home. “OFWs will not be provided with increased funding for legal assistance and other DFA services. The regime allocated more funds for war, militarization and in attacking human rights instead of delivering services for our kababayans and OFWs impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. DFA and the Duterte government are both answerable to the corruption issues being raised by Syria OFWs. The OFWs are already inside the Philippine Embassy but they are being held incommunicado by embassy officials. This is a serious violation of their rights and their families back home are very worried and alarmed. For victimizing distressed OFWs in Syria with extortion, corrupt officials must be held accountable and face the consequences of their actions before the law. We also reiterate our call on the Duterte government to bring home Syria 52 so they can be reunited with their families.” Concepcion concluded. 

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Allow international and UN rights mechanisms to do actual work on the ground! — Migrante International challenges Duterte regime

While the latest UN Human Rights Council resolution fell short of our expectation for a full and thorough investigation into the widespread killings and grave human rights violations in the Philippines, Migrante International would like to remind the Duterte regime that it is in no way an absolution for the crimes it committed against victims of state-terror. In fact, it recognizes the existing human rights crisis in the country and that the Philippine government will remain under the radar of the UN rights body in the coming years. 

Despite the lies peddled by President Duterte’s underlings through blatant terrorist tagging and false information to delay the UN’s full-blown investigation, the recent call by members of the EU parliament looking into the possibility of withdrawing preferential trade benefits enjoyed by the Philippines due to human rights concerns should already serve as a warning to the Duterte regime. 

Protest picket before the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo by Anakbyan Europa)

More than just technical assistance, the best way to seriously promote and protect human rights in the Philippines is to ensure that perpetrators will be held accountable. The extrajudicial killings that claimed the lives of thousands including OFW cancer patient Allan Rafael who was tortured and slaughtered inside a Manila police station, and Migrante Iloilo founding organizer Jory Porquia, shot inside his place of residence remains unresolved to this day. Instead, we have seen Duterte’s agents of impunity showered profusely with favours. Among them is former Caloocan Chief Chito Bersaluna who was even promoted to head the entire Bulacan PNP just a few months after leading violent police operations that killed OFW sons Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, Reynaldo de Guzman and many others. 

The recent shutdown by a social media site of fake news pages notorious for attacking government critics exposed the involvement of AFP and PNP personnel in actively antagonizing human rights defenders. AFP and PNP initially disowned the pages but later on asked Facebook for their restoration. These pages have been used to demonize the regime’s victims who have been set under the throes of state terror resulting in trumped-up charges, illegal arrests and killings. Migrante members and leaders overseas have not been spared from various forms of attacks and harassment. It should no longer be a surprise if the Duterte regime’s well-funded lies and deception reach all the way to international platforms to cover up its crimes.

Filipino migrant organizations under Migrante International and their solidarity networks will continue to engage in international platforms as we continue to press the Duterte regime to allow UN rights mechanisms to do actual work on the ground. Migrante International shall strive even more relentlessly in defense of human rights in the Philippines to ensure that delivery of justice will trounce the Duterte regime’s impunity. 

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Filipino groups and solidarity supporters call for end to Duterte’s attacks on migrants’ rights advocates

With the Duterte regime facing backlash after Facebook busted a fake news network of more than 100 social media accounts and pages linked to the police and the military, Filipino and foreign solidarity groups held a press conference on monday, 28 September 2020, to call for an end to harassments perpetrated against Filipino migrants rights’ advocates. 

BAYAN USA and Gabriela USA chided PCOO Usec. Lorraine Badoy and the Philippine military for maliciously circulating photos of BAYAN and Gabriela leaders in the US along with labels tagging them as terrorists through facebook pages such as For the Global Public and Enlightened Youth. “This act of labelling, terror tagging and false accusations endangers our lives and security for us as leaders and for our Gabriela organizations,” Gabriela USA said in their statement. 

Expressing solidarity for progressive Filipino migrant groups espousing national democracy, Joe Iosbaker of Chicago’s Committee to Stop FBI Repression said, “”In the Philippines, red tagging by the thugs of the Duterte regime have led to an untold number of deaths. We condemn it and we condemn the Duterte regime for his human rights abuses which are now far worse than the Marcos dictatorship.”

Speaking from Germany, Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Antonio Ablon, who also currently serves as the coordinator for the Europe Network for Justice and Peace in the Philippines related how he, along with Marlon Lacsamana of Migrante Europe and Fatima Rico of Anakbayan Europe were tagged as terrorists by a certain Jeanette Angel Lopez. Bishop Ablon welcomed the recent EU resolution calling on European business entities to ensure that human rights are being observed in their business operations in the Philippines. 

Filipino activists, solidarity friends and some members of the media during the presscon on 28 September 2020

Members of the European Union parliament likewise sought the possibility of withdrawing preferential trade benefits being enjoyed by the Philippines. The bishop believes that the Duterte regime is retaliating against progressive Filipino migrant groups for their continuing response to Filipino migrant welfare issues and their lobbying work for justice and peace in the Philippines. This includes the human rights report brought to the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland last year resulting in the UN body’s call for a comprehensive report on the human rights violations specifically drug-related extrajudicial killings under the Duterte regime. 

Fr. Rudolf Scheltinga of the Old Catholic Church’s St. Agnes Parish in the Netherlands called for the red tagging and vilification of Filipino activists to stop as he lauded their efforts to fight for justice and human rights in the Philippines.

A year ago, members of Emilio Aguinaldo DDS group in Hong Kong started intensifying their attacks when UNIFIL-Migrante Hong Kong openly criticized Duterte for broken promises to migrant workers like the cancellation of the Overseas Employment Certificates requirement or OEC and providing jobs to Filipinos back home. They posted banners, distributed pamphlets and posted items on social media vilifying and terror tagging Migrante, BAYAN and Gabriela. They even became more aggressive by posting threats to deport them and harm their families. 

Rev. Berlin Guerrero of BAYAN Australia said that early this year NTF ELCAC spokesperson Gen. Antonio Parlade and PCOO. Usec. Badoy arrived in Australia and conducted their so-called ‘Peace Forums’ in Sydney and Melbourne. “Their presentation had nothing to do with achieving just and lasting peace in the Philippines but on the Duterte regime’s counterinsurgency program which vilify and malign legitimate people’s organizations in the Philippines, in Australia and other parts of the world,” Guerrero said. 

“With the 3,000% increase in NTF-ELCAC’s proposed 2021 budget from PHp 622.3 Million in 2020 to Php 19.1 Billion in 2021, they have more money to vilify Filipino citizens overseas. This is where our taxes go. Instead of allotting this money to help people affected by COVID-19  pandemic, they poured a large amount of budget to NTF-ELCAC. They are protecting Duterte from the people’s wrath due to his incompetence in responding to disasters and callousness to the people’s plight, so they slander us hoping that the people will believe their lies,” UNIFIL Migrante Hong Kong chairperson Dolores Pelaez enunciated.  

Sister Patricia Fox, whose advocacies earned her animosity from the Duterte regime leading to her deportation said, “Migrante has been instrumental in helping the workers. Gabriela has taken up many issues like domestic violence and in terms of raising consciousness and of course, Anakbayan among the students. They’ve been making heroic efforts to provide various forms of support especially at this time of the pandemic. So the red tagging is so disgusting but it also shows that people are rising up in the Philippines and Filipinos around the world. We raise our voice even louder with the passage of the Anti-Terror Law. Filipinos overseas who dare to use their right to condemn brutality and injustice, this Anti-Terrorism Law reaches out even as far here so we stand in support of Filipinos as they struggle for justice, freedom and genuine democracy.”

Migrante International chairperson Joanna Concepcion welcomed Facebook’s removal of almost a hundred fake Facebook accounts and fake news pages. “This revealed to the Filipino people clear evidence of state-sponsored and funded online attacks, red tagging and mass deception. AFP and PNP deliberately tried to hide their identities and their ties to these fake accounts but were not successful. This proves that this is a coordinated and deliberate effort by the Duterte regime to mislead people and attack progressive organizations and individuals raising legitimate criticisms,” Concepcion stated. 

The group likewise reiterated its demands for the junking of the Terror Law, the shutdown of fake news sites and fake accounts on Facebook and the abolition of the NTF ELCAC. It also expressed support for the continuing call of the United Nations Human Rights Commission and the European Union parliament to end human rights violations and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. 

Concepcion also explained why calls by Filipino progressive groups for Duterte’s ouster and the junking of the terror law are part of the right to freedom of expression. “The 1987 constitution tells us that sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them. The Duterte government has been trampling on the law, the Philippine constitution. The passage of the Terror Law is one example. More than 30 petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the Terror Law. This Terror Law was passed right in the middle of a pandemic when the Philippine government should be attending to the economic and public health crisis. The Philippines now has the longest lockdown so the response of the Duterte government has really been a failure. With regards to the plan to postpone the 2022 elections, the pandemic should not be used by the government to suppress the rights of the Filipino people most especially our right to vote.”

During the press conference, a unity statement was launched to “demand an immediate stop to the tagging of activists and progressive organizations worldwide as ‘communist terrorist groups’ by the Duterte regime” as well as the continuing terror tagging being perpetrated by NTF ELCAC. The unity statement has so far already garnered signatories from 102 Filipino organizations from different countries in the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Europe. 

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Unity Statement: Stop the Duterte Regime’s Terror-Tagging of Migrant Rights’ Activists and Advocates (28 September 2020)

We, the undersigned, demand an immediate stop to the tagging of activists and progressive organizations worldwide as “communist terrorist groups” by the Duterte regime.

Progressive, migrant-serving and human rights organizations and their leaders including Migrante International, United Filipinos in Hong Kong,  BAYAN HK-Macau, GABRIELA HK, MIGRANTE Aotearoa, MIGRANTE Australia, Anakbayan Europe, GABRIELA USA and BAYAN USA have been the victims of such terror-tagging as a result of their continued services to migrants and overseas Filipinos, advocacy for human rights, democracy, and sovereignty in the Philippines. These attacks led to attempted deportation of a Filipino worker in Taiwan and are carried out through government officials’ Facebook pages, such as that of Lorraine Badoy, the Undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and Spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Moreover, anonymous Facebook pages such as “For the Global Public” and “Enlightened Youth” are also used to spread false information and black propaganda.

Terror-tagging, or “red-tagging”, is a dangerous tactic used by fascist governments in an attempt to discredit individuals and organizations that express critical views. In the Philippines, red-tagging is used to justify harassment, arrests, and assasination by state forces and its armed goons. Jory Porquia, a former MIGRANTE International organizer abroad and coordinator in Iloilo City was killed inside his home after long series of redtagging. Zara Alvarez, a human rights worker who was placed on a government “terror-list” in 2018, was recently murdered this August. Similarly, Brandon Lee, an environmental activist who survived an assassination attempt by state agents in 2019, was vilified by the Philippine military for years prior. With Duterte’s Terror Law now in effect, we can only expect more brazen attacks.

As human rights abuses and poverty continue to worsen under the Duterte administration, it is important that Filipinos and their allies overseas continue to raise their voices against tyranny. We understand that this commitment to justice will only elicit further contempt from the Duterte administration. Despite this, we affirm our commitment to supporting and defending the necessary work bravely being done by the Migrante International, Anakbayan Europe, GABRIELA USA BAYAN USA and the many other progressive organizations fighting for genuine change in the Philippines.

Signed,

(Initial signatories of organizations)

BAYAN USA

MIGRANTE USA

GABRIELA USA

ANAKBAYAN USA

Asia -Pacific

Abra Migrant Workers Welfare Association

Association of Concerned Filipinos

BAYAN Hong Kong & Macau

Gabriela Women Organization Hong Kong Bank Chapter

GABRIELA Hong Kong

Filipino Migrant Worker’s Union

Filipino Friends

Filipino Lesbian Organization

Filipino Women Organization (FILWOM)

Filguys Gabriela Association

Friends of Bethune House

Likha Filipino Migrants Cultural Organization

Migrante Artista ng Bayan

Migrante Pier
Mission Volunteers (MOVERS)

Samahang Migrante

Sta Maria Migrants Association

Cuyapo OFW Association

Hong Kong
Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers Union

Filipino Migrants Association (FMA)

Filipino Mission-Ward Methodist

Filipino Women Migrant Association (FILWOM)

Luzviminda Migrante

Migrante Shatin

Migrante Tamar

Migrante Tsing Yi

Migrante Tsuen Wan

Migrante Tuen Mun

Migrante Visayas

Migrante Yuen Long

Organic Environmental & Cultural Organization

Pangasinan Organization for Welfare and Rights (POWER)

Philippine Independent Church- Choir

Pinatud A Saleng Ti Umili (PSU)

United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL MIGRANTE HK)

Promotion Of Church People Response (PCPR Hong Kong)

KASAMMAKO

MIGRANTE EPS

New Era Foundation

Pag-Iribang Bicolnon in Korea

Aguman Kapampangan

TERESA

Migrante Taiwan

Bayan Australia

Gabriela Australia – Victoria

Philippine Australia Womens Association (PAWA)

Gabriela Greater Sydney

Gabriela Central Coast

Gabriela Western Australia

Migrante Melbourne

Migrante Melbourne East

Migrante Melbourne North East

(Samahang Tatak Pinoy – STP)

Migrante Melbourne West

Migrante Southwest (Sydney)

Lingap North (Sydney)

Migrante Perth (WA)

Anakbayan Melbourne

Philippine Studies Network of Australia (PINAS)

Advance League of Peoples Artists (ALPA)

Promotion for Church Peoples Response – Australia

Philippine Caucus for Peace (PCP)

Europe

AnakBayan Europe

Campaign for the Human Rights in the Philippines – United Kingdom

Europe Network for Justice and Peace in the Philippines

Promotion of Church Peoples Response (PCPR) – Europe

Filipinol Ecumenical Migrants Ministry – IFI

Federation of Domestic Workers Association – United Kingdom

FOA-Au Pair (Denmark)

Gebriela Germany

Gabriela London, UK

Gabriela, Rome Italy

Gabriela Switzerland

Kanlungan Filipino Consortium – United Kingdom

Kasama Ko – Greece

Makabayang Samahang Pilipino – The Netherlands

Migrante Austria

Migrante Bologna

Migrante Como

Migrante Cyprus

Migrante Denmark

Migrante Firenze-Italy

Migrante Iceland

Migrante Ireland

Migrante-Mantova, Italy

Migrante-Milano, Italy

Migrante Amsterdam

Migrante-The Netherlands-The Hague

Migrante -Utrecht

Migrante Sectoral Partylist – Europe

Migrante-Zurich, Switzerland

Milan OFW Kapitbisig – Italy

Nagkakaisang Pilipino sa Pransya

Pinay sa Holland – Gabriela

Samahan ng mga Kabataan sa Netherlands

Ugnayang Pilipino sa Belgium

Umangat Migrante Italy

ON LOCSIN’S TWEET & DFA’S RESPONSE TO STRANDED SEAFARERS

On DFA’s response to Migrante International’s call for the immediate repatriation of 11 stranded seafarers of Ocean Star 86

Trying to save its face, the Department of Foreign Affairs published today its response to an earlier statement by Migrante International castigating Duterte’s officials for their inaction on the plight of 11 seafarers stranded for more than a year inside the ship Ocean Star 86. Just like President Duterte, DFA officials are pathological liars who have mastered the art of deceit. 

If they in DFA have really been making arrangements for their repatriation, why is it that they still have not provided any information to the seafarers and their families? The ship has been docked in Dongshan’s port for more than three days and yet the crews have not heard any update on their repatriation. 

Stranded crews of Ocean Star 86

PHOTO: ABS-CBN News — Teleradyo

From DFA’s own statement, it is plainly obvious that its officials are only good at making “regular representations” to their bureaucratic counterparts in China and the ship owners wearing ties and suits while continuing to leave our wretched kababayans in limbo. If we are to believe DFA, these “regular representations” are supposed to ensure that seafarers will “be paid their salaries and other allowances” but the crews of Star Mariner can attest that they still have not received their unpaid wages and benefits from their ship’s owner since their repatriation in July. 

Ocean Star crews waited for three months before they received relief from the consulate. From July to September, Ocean Star crews have only received food packages three times and every set provided was only good for one week. DFA now wants to play the hero for the rare times it handed food relief. The seafarers requested for alcohol-based disinfectants and face masks but none of these items were included in the packages. 

On Locsin’s tweet rejecting pardon for convicted Filipino ‘drug dealers’ in the Middle East

Locsin’s job is to find out first if these Filipinos were victims of drug traffickers. As for his threat to let the law abroad destroy these incarcerated Filipinos who sought to destroy the people whom Locsin claims as his own, we can never put our faith in Locsin’s words when he allowed convicted killer US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton to leave without a hitch after being granted absolute pardon by President Duterte, another self-confessed murderer. 

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TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR 11 STRANDED SEAFARERS OF OCEAN STAR 86! Migrante International lashes out against Duterte’s officials for inaction

Depressed and worn out, 11 Filipino seafarers from the ship Ocean Star 86 have been pleading to the Duterte government for immediate repatriation after being stranded at sea for 1 year and 9 months. Their contracts have already expired in 2019 and yet they continue to be forced to work inside the ship under subhuman conditions. Forced to drink seawater and fed inadequately for many months, they felt some sort of relief during their ship’s dockage at Dongshan’s port in China. However, they fear that it is only temporary and that the ship will be navigating all over again back into the seas. 

The seafarers recently reported their plight to the Philippine consulate in Xiamen but the only response they got was, “Congratulations! What’s the problem and why are you calling us?.” A letter was likewise sent by Migrante International this week to the Department of Foreign Affairs and their case has already been publicized in the media as early as June this year but their pleas have been falling on deaf ears.  The Philippine consulate in Xiamen, DFA and the Duterte government all behave as if they know nothing about the afflictions tormenting these stranded seafarers. 

PHOTO: ABS-CBN News — Teleradyo

During a visit by DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to the dolomite strip which the government claims to be good for mental health, he uttered more concern for the moat of the US Embassy as he vowed to fix its filling. Is the moat of the US Embassy even more important than the lives of his fellow Filipinos who are now at the end of their ropes? The Duterte regime wasted Php 2 Billion for a newly purchased aircraft intended to transport “senior leaders and commanders, especially in the event of a crisis,” but not a single cent has been spent so far for the repatriation of these 11 wretched seafarers who are right now being battered to near fatality by a raging crisis. This is not only indifference but gross inutility on the part of the Duterte regime. Indonesian crews of the same ship already have scheduled flights back to their country so we do not want to hear any of the Duterte government’s rubbish excuses for its inaction. 

Migrante International is outraged that the Duterte regime continues to show no sense of urgency. We demand immediate repatriation for the 11 stranded seafarers in Dongshan, China and their employers be charged for subjecting the seafarers to horrendous suffering. Their loved ones back home have been waiting in despair. Time is fast running out for these 11 hapless seafarers. They have waited far too long. Urgent help and amelioration must be extended to the seafarers and their families instantly without delay. Bring them home now!

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FILIPINO MIGRANTS RESIST DUTERTE’S REIGN OF TERROR! — Migrante International on the 48th Martial Law anniversary

A day before the 48th anniversary of the nationwide Martial Law declaration, Migrante leaders, members and martial law survivors from different Filipino migrant communities brought themselves together through a global online rally to recount the struggle and resistance of the Filipino people during the Marcos dictatorship. The fight for our democratic rights continues to rage on in our present day with the US-Duterte regime’s bloody record of 30 thousand plus extrajudicial killings and the violent persecution of political dissidents.

Filipino migrant leaders, Migrante members and martial law survivors during the September 20 Global Online Rally against Duterte’s Fascist tyranny

The recent passage of House Bill 7137 declaring September 11 as Ferdinand Marcos Day in Ilocos Norte is truly a colossal desecration of our country’s history. Despite all-out efforts by the Duterte regime to rehabilitate the Marcoses and deify them through the legal sanctification of their lies and deceptions, Filipinos hit back with the trending on social media of #ArawNgMagnanakaw on his very birthday. 

Despite living overseas, Martial law survivors have never allowed their stories to be negated or reduced into mere constructs as how enemies of the truth wanted it to be. Life during the Marcos period of cronyism and militarism was far from being a ‘golden age.’ It was during this time that Filipinos saw themselves being peddled as cheap commodities through the systematization of the government’s Labour Export Programme. Yesterday’s global online rally participants likewise equated Marcos’ Martial Law to Duterte’s Terror Law. 

Filipino migrants strongly reject and oppose the Terror Law for it only reinforces state-terror as an official government policy and is certainly Duterte’s way of armouring himself with immunity from criminal liability. The killing spree perpetrated by the Duterte regime has already claimed the lives of Allan Rafael, Bryan Conje and many others from OFW families. 

In April, Migrante Iloilo’s founding organizer Jory Porquia was gunned down right inside his place of residence in Iloilo City. The shedding of innocent blood remains unremitting with the recent killing of Anakpawis Chairperson Randy Echanis and human rights worker Zara Alvarez. The recent call by EU parliamentarians to probe the killings and abuses under the Duterte regime plus the threat of trade sanctions further turned President Duterte into an international outcast at a time when his debasement of the Philippine economy buries the people further into the epicenter of the global crisis. 

OFW repatriates have not been spared from the militarist response of the Duterte regime in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The early stages of the world’s longest lockdown meted out detention-like conditions in quarantine facilities where tens of thousands of Filipino migrants were held for almost a month without access to regular medical and psychosocial services. Most of whom were sent back to their provinces without receiving a single penny of financial aid. In addition, Duterte’s defense and counter-insurgency budget for 2021 is even higher than the planned allocations for public health, assistance and welfare services for OFWs. 

The deployment of PNP outposts in the US, the holding of red tagging seminars by NTF-ELCAC attaches in Philippine embassies and the deportation attempt against a Taiwan OFW early this year for criticizing the government are just among the many attempts of the Duterte regime to outperform his idol Ferdinand Marcos. With the economy nosediving to a negative 16.5% in the second quarter, the gravity of economic collapse being experienced by the country under Duterte has even surpassed the downturn figure from the time of Marcos. 

In sheer desperation, Duterte’s folly of surrounding himself with military cronies may accord him impunity for now. But history attests that no tyrant has ever kept himself on the throne forever. We will rise up once again to reclaim our rights and freedom. Filipino migrants and their families stand with the masses in their boiling outrage against the Duterte regime’s bloody tyranny. Our enduring resistance shall thunder aloud even up to the time when the Duterte terrorist regime will be finally made to pay for its detestable crimes against the Filipino people. 

Filipino migrants resist!

Stop the Killings!

Never Again to Martial Law!

Junk Terror Law!

Marcos NO Hero! 

Oust Duterte Now!

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Repatriated seafarers file cases at POEA for unpaid wages and benefits. Pushed for higher allocation for OFW assistance during DFA’s budget hearing at the House of Representatives

About a dozen seafarers trooped to POEA on Tuesday morning to file cases against their recruitment agencies for unpaid wages and benefits amounting up to more than 300 thousand pesos for every crew. Prior to their arrival back to the country on the 23rd of July, these distressed seafarers were stranded off China for months without compensation and regular access to food, water, and hygiene items. The seafarers were accompanied at POEA by volunteers and staff of the OFW advocacy group Migrante International. 

Following their case filing at POEA, the group then proceeded to the Batasan Complex in Quezon City where they were joined by other OFWs and advocates for a picket action. OFWs and seafarers raised their demands in time for the Department of Foreign Affairs’ budget hearing at the House of Representatives this afternoon. 

Jesus Gaboni pleaded on behalf of other stranded seafarers awaiting repatriation. “I am calling on DFA for the speedy repatriation of other stranded seafarers in Sri Lanka, Uruguay and elsewhere in South America; including our fellow seafarers in China inside the ship Ocean Star. Some of them are already drinking contaminated water just to survive. There are those who have already died and their remains need to be repatriated. We already experienced what they’re going through right now. We were starved, made to drink rusty water and were deprived of sleep. Our company did not support us during our ordeal,”  Gaboni exclaimed. 

His voice cracking with emotions, John Mark Tacata said, “0ur experiences inside the ship were horrible. We were treated like animals. They made us work for almost 20 hours daily without rest. How can we work efficiently with empty stomachs? Deprived of access to food, water and other supplies, we were really neglected. Our lives were not valued inside the ship…I hope we will finally be able to claim our unpaid wages and benefits which rightfully belong to us. We risked our lives  so I hope our cries won’t fall on deaf ears. We are considered heroes for contributing to the economy but we keep on getting neglected. I am angry because government officials are only good at promises. We demand that we be given our overdue compensation.”

Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion bewailed the little funding being allotted for assistance to overseas Filipinos. “Only Php 1.2 Billion was allotted for the Assistance to Nationals Fund and the Legal Assistance Fund for distressed OFWs. This is below 1% of DFA’s total budget. Our rights and welfare are not really valued. There are still thousands upon thousands of OFWs needing assistance and repatriation but how come that we are being told that the government is running out of funds when DFA is ranked 6th among government agencies with the highest income. It had an annual earning of Php 2.3 Billion. Why the minuscule budget for distressed OFWs? We demand that the budget for OFW repatriation be increased. Our stranded seafarers and OFWs need food, water and medical assistance. We don’t want public money to be pocketed by corrupt government officials. Even before the pandemic struck, they’ve been using public money to denigrate migrants’ rights advocates,” Concepcion stated. 

Filipino migrant communities have likewise been decrying about military junkets and red tagging seminars being held in many Philippine embassies and consulates overseas. Migrante and other progressive migrant serving groups are usual targets of the Duterte regime’s smear campaign. The Php 16 Billion budget proposal submitted by the Duterte regime for its National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) sparked public uproar for its 3,000 % increase at a time when there’s a public health emergency and big multitudes of stranded overseas Filipinos remain neglected and unrepatriated. 

More than 550,000 OFWs were displaced between February to May and this figure is expected to exceed 1 million between the remaining quarter of 2020 and the last half of 2021. Latest DFA report shows that 174 thousand OFWs have been repatriated so far out of the 420,000 from government estimates. Stranded OFWs continue to face hardships as they run out of the means to support their basic necessities. Included among distressed OFWs are hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants as well as thousands of Filipinos who are still languishing in overseas jails. With the help of the Makabayan bloc, Migrante International vowed to press the DFA with its demands during the DFA budget hearing at the House of Representatives. 

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ARAW NG MAGNANAKAW: Marcos hindi bayani! Labanan ang alyansang Marcos-Duterte! — Migrante International

As the late tyrant Ferdinand Marcos marks his 103rd birth anniversary, Migrante International joins Martial Law victims and all freedom-loving Filipinos in demonstrating our utmost indignation against efforts by the US-Duterte regime to negate the country’s bloody history during the Marcos dictatorship. The recent move in Congress to declare a Marcos holiday in Ilocos Norte is akin to glorifying all the horrors of corruption, political repression and killings committed during that long dark period in history. 

Thirty-four years after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, the police and the military have continued their long-standing tradition of impunity and violence upon direct orders from the Duterte regime. It is evident that President Duterte and his underlings are sparing no effort to rehabilitate the Marcoses in their lechery to further codify state terror and forever erase from our collective memory the victory of the Filipino people in overthrowing a dictator. Duterte’s Terror Law intends to criminalize adherence to the struggle for national democracy and social justice. 

In the coming days and weeks, global chapters and member organizations of Migrante International will intensify their actions against the Duterte regime’s Fascist agenda. A webinar will be conducted on September 15 featuring Martial Law survivors among overseas Filipinos. To commemorate the 48th anniversary of Martial Law, a global online protest will be held on the 20th of September 2020 to register the fierce resistance of Filipino migrant communities against the loathsome Duterte-Marcos alliance. 

Marcos NO hero!

Never again to Martial Law!

Junk Terror Law!

Duterte-Marcos, walang pinag-iba!

Parehong tuta, diktador, pasista!

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