“Junk Terror Bill! Ayuda Hindi Diktadura!” — Filipino migrant groups on the 2020 Independence Day Global Mañanita Protest

To commemorate the past anti-colonial struggles for national liberation and its continuing significance in our present day struggle against Fascism and Imperialism, Filipino migrant organizations and formations worldwide joined the Filipino nation on the 12th of June 2020 to mark Independence Day by protesting against the Duterte regime’s Terror Bill. Members of Migrante International and Migrante Philippines braved the rain to come together with other groups and sectors for the People’s Grand Mañanita’ Protest action at UP Diliman on friday. 

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In a statement, Migrante International blasted the Duterte regime for its puppetry to imperialist interests and its continuing garbage-like treatment of OFWs. Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion said, “Fast forward to 2020, our national sovereignty continues to be trampled severely by US imperialist domination and China’s emergent imperialist expansionism. The US-Duterte regime’s neoliberal fornication with foreign imperialist interests has brought horrific wretchedness to our nation at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. Treated like garbage, thousands upon thousands of OFWs have now found themselves either stuck in quarantine facilities or are wandering aimlessly around Metro Manila’s airports imploring to be brought back to their provinces and be reunited with their families. The overwhelming majority of whom received none of the promised financial aid from the government.” 

Concurrently, Migrante Australia, BAYAN Australia and Ugat Pinas held an online cultural program entitled “Haranang Bayan para sa Kalayaan”, featuring patriotic and progressive songs, poems and solidarity messages. In like manner, ACTION-Thailand went live with its online concert “Mga Awit ng Paglaban at Paglaya.” Down under in New Zealand, Filipinos and Kiwis held a candle-lighting protest against Duterte’s terror bill.

The ‘Pagsambang Bayan’ of the Promotion of Church People’s Response Hong Kong (PCPR HK) in the morning was followed by an 11am picket action at the Philippine Consulate conducted by Migrante Hong Kong, solidarity friends and other members of BAYAN organizations. 

“Kahit pa kami ay patuloy pang nagsusumikap na maka-alpas sa krisis ng pandaigdigang pandemya at ng ambang pagpapataw ng mataas at sapilitang paniningil ng Philhealth, hindi namin kinakaligtaang lumahok, makisangkot, patuloy na magsuri, mag-aral, kumilos at organisahin ang aming hanay para sa kolektibong pagtutol sa mga mapanupil at maling polisiya gayundin ang paglalatag ng alternatibong programa para sa tunay na kalayaan at demokrasya, (Even though we are striving to overcome the global crisis brought about by the pandemic and the impending imposition of the mandatory Philhealth exaction, we never forget to participate, engage, scrutinize, study, take action and organize our ranks to collectively oppose the repressive and the erroneous policies [of the Duterte regime], as well as taking part in laying out alternative programmes for genuine freedom and democracy)” KASAMMA-KO or Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea said in a statement.

Filipino migrant groups in the US also held picket actions and other activities in their respective cities. A webinar entitled Organizing Solidarity From the Border to Our Homelands was launched with the aim to connect the manifestations of the crisis of imperialism with the inhumane conditions experienced by migrants in the US and the continued political, economic and military intervention in the Philippines and Central America. The online activity was initiated by IMA USA in partnership with other migrant rights’ organizations. 

In Europe, a fundraising event for Typhoon Ambo victims entitled  ‘Take Back Our Roots’ was organized by Migrante organizations and Anakbayan Europa, in collaboration with Silakbo Media. Migrante Europe decried the Duterte regime’s tyrannical approach in the COVID-19 crisis. “The Philippine government’s approach against the spread of COVID19 has become the world’s longest lockdown that was strictly and unequally implemented against the poor majority-many of whom were arrested and jailed while helping others..compared to those violators of quarantine guidelines and health protocols who are in the powers-that-be, where the law is replaced by compassion and padrino-system,” Marlon Lacsamana of Migrante Europe stated. 

Denouncing the Duterte regime’s terror bill, Lacsamana exclaimed, “When enacted into law, this jurisprudence shall become a weapon of the Duterte government to instill fear and terror to the people demanding public accountability. With this law in effect, the people struggling for land, food, jobs and housing; basic social services and democratic rights; national sovereignty and territorial integrity shall become easy targets of persecution.”

With distressing conditions afflicting OFWs touted by the government as ‘modern-day heroes,’ Migrante International vowed to continue exposing the criminal negligence of the Duterte regime. A Filipino cruise ship worker lost her life by suicide on Thursday after repeated flight suspensions further delayed her repatriation back to the Philippines. In Riyadh, an OFW wept in an online video while pleading for help from the Duterte government to rescue them from starving conditions in their shelter. Migrante International has been calling on the Duterte government to fast track the repatriation of stranded Filipino migrants and ensure that medical and psychosocial services are provided to OFWs before and after repatriation. 

Members of Migrante International and Migrante Philippines through its COVID-19 response  have been visiting stranded OFWs sleeping on pavements and under bridges leading to NAIA airports. Malacañang in recent weeks have been drawing flak for its vaunted ‘VIP treatment’ of OFWs. 

“A great number of stranded OFWs sleeping on pavements and under bridges are at risk of facing the same tragic fate that struck Michelle Silvertino, an indigent woman who died waiting for the Bicol-bound bus that never came. Instead of mass testing and amelioration, OFWs and the rest of the Filipino people are encumbered with more troubles through additional state exactions like the mandatory OFW Philhealth membership and premium hike, new taxes for online merchants, and the continuing deprivation of public transportation against the commuting masses,” Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion lamented. 

Migrante International likewise pointed out that since government programs purported to address the COVID-19 public health threat are handled by ex-military and police personalities who treat the crisis as a ‘counter-insurgency’ operation or a ‘law and order’ situation rather than a humanitarian crisis, the pressing needs of the Filipino people are being ignored. The OFW advocacy group deplores the Duterte regime for creating a national task force without a single epidemiologist as member. “All the troubles besetting OFWs and their families back home are proof of the Duterte regime’s failure,” Concepcion concluded. 

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