More woes welcome migrant Filipinos in 2021 with PhilHealth premium increase

Overseas Filipino workers face the dread of job losses amidst the COVID pandemic crisis aggravated by onerous government fees as 2021 ushers in.  This was declared today by Migrante International (MI), an alliance of progressive organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and their families. 

Certainly, the mandatory PhilHealth membership and premium rate hike has been a burden for OFWs since the passage of the Universal Healthcare Act (UHC) signed by President Duterte on February 20, 2019. Under the UHC law the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is mandated by the State to protect and promote the right to health of all Filipinos. Ironically, PhilHealth has been used as a tool for unscrupulous health officials appointed by the President to amass billions of members’ contributions for their own selfish interests.  

According to reports, a “mafia” involving the whole of Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s executive committee has stolen some P15 billion from the agency using different fraudulent schemes. Why should contributors suffer by paying increased premiums in response to the agency’s lack of funds? The corrupt PhilHealth officials involved should be held accountable and duly prosecuted. 

Meanwhile, OFWs believe that President Duterte’s recent announcement to defer the collection of increased PhilHealth premiums is only a tactic to quell the anger and anxiety of the people especially during this COVID crisis. Merely deferring the increased premium does nothing to calm down the people.

OFWs and Overseas Filipinos demand a total scrap of mandatory PhilHealth membership and make it voluntary for those with capacity to pay contributions. What the people want is a genuine, pro-people, universal health care program through free and comprehensive medical and health services. 

Migrante International and all its chapters abroad urgently call on the government to provide services and protection of OFWs affected by the COVID pandemic at home and in the countries of work. Let the DOLE-AKAP serve its purpose to extend aid not just to a few and privileged ones but to every OFW. OFWs and Filipino migrants vow to continue campaigning for the passage of HB6698 that would remove the unjust provisions of the UHC law mandating the premium rate hike and mandatory membership for OFWs and overseas Filipinos.

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ENSURE THE SECURITY OF TENURE AND REGULARIZATION OF SEAFARERS AND FISHERS, SUPPORT THE MAGNA CARTA OF FILIPINO SEAFARERS (House Bill 6588 and substitute House Bill 8057

In line with the International Migrants Day, the SEA Network (Seafarers Empowerment Advocates Network) and the Makabayan Bloc represented by Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Ferdinand Gaite held a press conference on the 18th of December 2020 to raise their demands pertaining to the Magna Carta for Seafarers Bill currently subject to the legislation process in the House of Representatives. The group’s demands and declarations are as follows: 

We, the Seafarers Empowerment Advocates Network SEANetwork, a newly formed alliance of organizations and individuals who are fighting to empower seafarers in their defense of their rights and welfare, declare:

  1. That we are in full support of the passage of the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers , House Bill 6588 and consider substitute bill HB 8057 as a step in the right direction.

We commend the most important provision of the substitute bill HB 8057 in ensuring the rights of seafarers at the time of COVID 19, and ensuring that seafarers have the right to material assistance and financial support from the shipowner with respect to the financial consequences for sickness, injury or death while they are serving under a valid employment contract or those which arise from their employment. (Sec. 44)

We however call for the inclusion of two very important provisions of HB 6588 in the final version of the substitute bill namely, the provision to ensure the security of tenure of all seafarers and fishers who have worked for a cumulative period of one year with the same employer.

II. The Substitute Bill HB 8057 must be modified to add the provision of HB 6588 in Title III Seafarers Rights, Section 3:

(b.) Decent working and living conditions on board, and security of tenure for those who have acquired regular employment status by working for a cumulative period of one year with the same employer, manning agent, or foreign and domestic shipowner.

The Substitute Bill HB 8057 must also be modified to incorporate HB 6588, Section 47. (c) :

(c)     The termination of employment of a seafarer on board a foreign vessel or foreign registered ships shall be governed by the POEA-SEC or applicable CBA, provided that a seafarer who has worked for the same manning agent or for the same shipowner or both, for a cumulative period of one year shall enjoy the security of tenure of a regular employee as per Art 279 of the Labor Code of the Philippines as amended,  and the employer is obligated to rehire and give the right of first refusal to a regular employee who qualifies, and is willing to work, for the next available vacant position of similar or higher rank.  Once a seafarer has acquired the regular status, he can no longer be refused successive employment unless he resigns in writing, has abandoned his employment, or is dismissed for just cause as provided in Art 282 of the Labor Code of the Philippines as amended.

This will ensure that Filipino seafarers will enjoy regular status after working for a cumulative period of one year and cannot be backlisted by their own employer for asserting their rights and claims.

  1. The fishers or crew of fishing vessels should not be excluded in the Substitute Bill. 

Fishers were the hardest hit by the COVID 19 crisis and many of them were stranded for months and abandoned by their shipowners.  We call for the inclusion of fishers and to modify the substitute bill to reflect the proposal under HB 6588 to include fishing vessels. 

Right now, seafarers on board fishing vessels are treated equally as other seafarers on cargo, tanker, passenger or cruise ships under the POEA Contract. Excluding them in this bill is a Diminution of Existing Benefits which is prohibited under Article 100 of the Labor Code of the Philippines as amended.

The mere fact that the fishing vessels are expressly excluded in the ILO Maritime Labour Convention of 2006 to which the Philippine is a signatory does not mean that we could not include them here in the Magna Carta because the ILO MLC 2006 is a global minimum standard and not a ceiling.  We can pass laws that upgrade and enhance workers rights over and above the global minimum standard set by the ILO MLC 2006 and other labor treaties.

  1. Prohibiting the Blacklisting of Seafarers.


An additional sentence may also be added to Section 3 (b.)  against blacklisting thus:  Any form of blacklisting of a seafarer by a former employer or by any person shall be prohibited and penalized under Section 69 of this law.

The section on penalties of the substitute bill must also be amended to cover blacklisting thus:

SEC. 69. Penalties for Violations of Inspection, Enforcements and Blacklisting.  – Any person who, without proper authorization, exercises the authority granted to the Secretary of Labor under Sections 38 and 39 of this Act, shall be punished with a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) nor more than Four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00), or imprisonment of not less than one (1) year nor more than four (4) years, or both at the discretion of the court. The foregoing offense shall prescribe after five (5) years from its commission, or upon discovery of the violation by competent authorities. The same penalty shall be imposed on any person who is found guilty of blacklisting any seafarer. 

December 18, 2020 on the occasion of the International Migrants Day.

SEANetwork (Seafarers Empowerment Advocates Network)

Joanna Concepcion – Migrante International

Atty. Edwin Dela Cruz- International Seafarers Action Center (ISAC)

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FILIPINO MIGRANTS FIGHT C.O.V.I.D. — Migrante International on 2020 International Migrants Day

With lockdown restrictions enforced, this year’s observance of the International Migrants Day will be totally different. For countries grappling with the pandemic, mass gatherings are prohibited as movement restrictions further strain migrants who are either stranded or displaced. As many migrants are experiencing their rights violated and further eroded, member organizations of Migrante International take upon themselves the tasks of amplifying migrant voices, advancing solidarity and remaining steadfast in our militant actions to champion our rights, welfare and our enduring quest for justice. 

PHOTO: INFO; Rappler

C- COVID-19 

As of the 17th of december, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among Filipinos abroad has already reached 12,577. Out of the 862 deaths recorded, 553 are in the Middle East. 

O – Overburdened 

The economic crisis which displaced almost half a million Filipino migrants did not even stop the Duterte regime from overburdening them with additional state exactions. Filipino groups from various communities banded together to oppose the mandatory Philhealth exaction and premium raise increase. Duterte’s neoliberal plot is meant to rob OFWs who are treated as milking cows to enrich the pockets of corrupt government officials and private recruitment agencies. During a House probe in September, it was revealed by a Philhealth auditor that 2.7 Million OFWs lost their premiums amounting to Php 1.3 Billion to a fraudulent scheme which went on under former Philhealth chief Ret. Brig. General Ricardo Morales, one of Duterte’s military cronies. Aside from the agency losing Php 154 Billion to ghost patients and deliveries in the previous years, it also had 5,000 plus ‘ghost’ members over the age of 130. No wonder the Duterte regime has been itching to impose the mandatory Philhealth and premium rate hike even when most Filipino migrants are afflicted by the effects of the pandemic and the global economic crisis. 

V – Vulnerability 

More than ever before, Filipino migrants have become more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and discrimination. Government officials primarily tasked to help and protect Filipino migrants are the first ones to maltreat and torment distressed OFWs. It has been a month since Philippine ambassador Marichu Mauro was caught on cam assaulting her Filipino aide and yet, Mauro remains scot-free. In Syria, 38 distressed OFWs were reported to be locked up under the Philippine Embassy’s basement. According to the OFWs, embassy officials have been demanding huge sums of money before they get allowed to be released. Their cries for help remain unheard. The Duterte regime’s inutility only magnifies the troubles faced by our dear kababayans.

I – Insecurity 

Government figures likewise reveal that some 370,000 OFWs have already been repatriated and another 80,000 are expected to fly back to the Philippines due to the global crisis. Displaced Filipino migrants will be coming back to a country now flagged as the worst performing economy in Asia. The projected 13 % contraction from 2020 up to 2022 and even beyond is the gravest economic collapse ever since World War II. Duterte’s disastrous mismanagement of the economy has even surpassed downturn figures during the Marcos regime. Whacked by an 8.7 percent unemployment rate which is the highest in Southeast Asia, many Filipino repatriates are anxious to leave hastily and get back overseas. 

D – Duterte’s Fascism 

Despite the Duterte regime’s full knowledge of the economic hardships that are expected to persist in the coming years, Filipino migrants and their families are not going to get additional budget allocations for amelioration, legal assistance and welfare programmes next year. Instead, the Duterte regime is prioritizing to quench its maniacal thirst for death and destruction by aiming to hand out Php 19.1 Billion to its military cronies. This enormous amount of money is meant to persecute critics, Makabayan legislators and progressive groups. At present, members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives who have been active in pushing for the demands and needs of Filipino migrants are vilified and red tagged by Fascist  stooges. Migrante leaders and members have become targets of state-sponsored persecution. The assassination of Migrante Iloilo founding organizer Jory Porquia attests to the Duterte regime’s blood freak madness. Freedom-loving Filipino migrants will never allow tyranny and impunity to prevail. We bid ourselves to action and resistance. 

Against the dark order of oppression which has dispersed millions of migrants worldwide, Migrante International charges forward hand in hand with all our allies under the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) as we commemorate International Migrants Day today. Our enduring struggle in solidarity with migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and members of the world diaspora remain unshakeable. We shall continue to resist Neoliberal and Fascist assaults that are detrimental to the rights and dignity of all migrants. Long live international solidarity! 

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“Defeat Duterte’s Fascist virus with the vaccine of people’s resistance!” — Migrante International on the 2020 International Human Rights Day

Asserting our commitment to serve the people and fight for democracy, Migrante International unites with the Filipino people and the rest of the world in the 2020 observance of the International Human Rights Day. 

With the entire world gripped by the pandemic and the exacerbating economic crisis, tyrants are exploiting the global situation to further suppress the people’s inalienable rights. The Duterte regime has turned the Philippines into an extermination camp where petty quarantine infractions could rouse trigger-happy predators from the police or the military to deliver their victims to their horrible deaths. These bloodthirsty mercenaries are out hunting lambs for the slaughter. The violent persecution of activists, community organizers and human rights workers has been reified as the official policy of the Duterte regime through the enactment of the Terror Law. 

NTF ELCAC’s mischief in the senate is just one among many of its evil machinations. It has been fielding military and police attaches in embassies overseas at the expense of public money and resources. Not even Filipino communities abroad have been spared from their witch hunting and red tagging activities. 

Responding to the migrants’ welfare and the public health needs of our kababayans back home in the Philippines are not in Duterte’s priorities. A blank check of Php 19.1 Billion is going to be handed over to his military cronies to intensify the dissemination of death and destruction. Straight from the horse’s mouth, the real intent of the regime’s vilification of the Makabayan bloc was to disqualify progressive partylist groups from the next national elections. While the Duterte regime’s inutility is ever more glaring during the height of the pandemic, the Makabayan bloc has been active in pushing for the demands of overseas Filipino workers, both land-based and sea-based, in the legislature. They have been pushing for the Magna Carta of Seafarers and the urgent repatriation of stranded OFWs. We express our full support to our Makabayan legislators for their enduring service and advocacy despite the barrage of slander being thrown against them by the moronic virus in Malacañang. 

The ludicrous tales concocted by PNP and AFP to justify the murder of peace consultants Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio and the unjust arrest of Amanda Echanis point to the damned lies which serve as fodder for the Duterte regime’s Fascist abomination. OFWs have had enough of the extortion, criminal negligence, harassment and terrorism inflicted by the Duterte regime. The assassination of Migrante Iloilo founding organizer Jory Porquia only stirred up our outrage even more. 

Let us never allow darkness to continue shrouding terror over the entire country. Duterte’s Fascist virus will only be vanquished with the vaccine of the people’s resistance. One with the masses, may our thundering defiance strengthen our resolve to champion justice, human rights and freedom not only in the Philippines but wherever we are in the world. 

Stop the killings!

Stand with Makabayan bloc!

Stop red tagging! 

Defund NTF ELCAC!

Free political prisoners!

Junk Terror Law!

Resist tyranny! 

Oust US-Duterte regime! 

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Locked up in the PH Embassy’s basement, 38 OFWs in Syria need urgent rescue and repatriation

More than a month after immediate relatives called on the Duterte government to rescue 52 OFWs locked up at the Philippine Embassy’s shelter in Syria, 38 Filipino women who were victims of human trafficking, illegal recruitment and abuse continue to languish under subhuman conditions. Included in this group were trafficked minors who endured extreme maltreatment from their employers and life-threatening situations in ISIS-held territories. Many have completely lost contact with their families. These OFWs were already bound to be repatriated months ago, some even as early as February this year but according to the OFWs, embassy officials have been demanding huge sums of money before they get allowed to be released. Their relatives back in the Philippines have already raised their demands to OWWA, OUMWA-DFA and even directly to Malacanang but to no avail. 

Migrante International condemns the Duterte government for its inaction to the demands of the 38 remaining OFWs who were recently transferred and locked up in the embassy’s basement. OFWs fear that their lives are now in peril since they won’t be able to get out easily from the basement in case of fire or any other emergency. How can a government office tasked to protect and uphold the welfare of overseas Filipinos do this to distressed OFWs? Migrante International demands that the embassy officials and personnel involved in extorting and abusing these OFWs be investigated, charged and be sent to jail if found guilty. 

Photo: (alamy.com) Damascus, Syria

Embassy officials claim that they are unable to repatriate the distressed OFWs since they have pending cases and that Syrian courts are currently closed due to lockdown restrictions. Exit visas and penalties that need to be paid were also cited. Migrante International considers their alibis ludicrous since these embassy officials are just shifting the blame when they are supposed to intervene for these OFWs for humanitarian reasons. 

It is also outrageous that the Duterte government’s budget priorities are intentionally misplaced at a time when many OFWs are stranded and distressed as they continue to be hit by the global crisis and lockdown restrictions. The Duterte government will not be providing increased funding for legal assistance and other DFA services for troubled OFWs. The regime allocated more funds for war, militarization and in attacking human rights instead of delivering services for our kababayans impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The 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.

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Job Security and Regularization of Seafarers Amidst Crisis Tackled in Online Forum of Newly Organized Group SEA NETWORK (28 November 2020)

A newly formed group of advocates for seafarers rights and welfare held an Online Forum via Zoom and Facebook this afternoon to support House Bill 6588 that ensures the regularization of seafarers and a stop to contractualization.  The group of Convenors of the seafarers summit organized themselves into a new online collective known as the  Seafarers Empowerment Advocates Network or SEANetwork who went all out in support of HB 6588 proposed by Congressman Ferdinand Gaite  of Bayan Muna and the Makabayan Bloc.

Bishop Antonio Ablon of IFI or Iglesia Filipina Independiente and based in Europe, one of the organizers of the network, began with an update of the distressed and precarious condition of employment of seafarers and how the Security of Tenure provision regularizing all seafarers who have worked for a cumulative period of one year will address this problem.  Ka Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU Chairman discussed the problem of contractualization of workers and supported HB 6588 that will end the contractualization of Filipino seafarers.

Cong. Ferdinand Gaite who authored the bill discussed the fact that there is now a substitute bill in Congress called House Bill 8057 which is also titled Magna Carta of Seafarers but this did not contain the most important provision of HB 6588 on Security of Tenure and regularization of seafarers.  Reacting from a later question of Lennon Ying-Dah Wong, Director of SPA Shelter-Free Help for Migrant Workers in Taiwan regarding the legal protection of the crew of fishing vessels, Atty. Edwin Dela Cruz remarked that under HB 6588, fishing crew are included but they are excluded in the substitute bill HB 8057.  This must be amended and corrected before the bill becomes a law.

Ms. Lala Tolentino  of Mission to Seafarers (Philippines) emphasized the fear of seafarers now of being blacklisted by their employers and of being refused to be rehired during the Covid 19 crisis, and how the security of tenure provision of HB 6588 could prevent this problem. 

Fr. Herbert Fadriquela IFI, of Mission to Seafarers UK shared the problems of seafarers of being stranded on board the vessels, lack of communication link with families, and low wages.  The most important thing in helping them is to empower them to fight for their rights and welfare. Rudy Batas of Migrante Philippines emphasized the need to form genuine organizations and unions of seafarers that they can use as platforms to defend their rights and protect them during the times of crisis, unemployment and abuse from their employers.

Fr. June Mark Yanez IFI Port Chaplain of Rostock German Mission to Seafarers launched his new music video entitled Mandaragat online,  also in support of House Bill 6588.

The group agreed to continue the call for security of tenure and the amendment of the new substitute bill HB 8057 to include the most important provisions of HB 6588 that were obviously left out in the committee version of the law. They also united to expand the campaign in the Senate where parallel versions of the Magna Carta of Seafarers have been filed. Ms. May Jose of Mission to Seafarers Family Club hosted the event. 

Carmelita Baltazar of Migrante International (Australia) introduced and launched the SEANetwork. This started as an informal group of advocates of seafarers rights who worked together to address the plight of distressed, stranded, and quarantined seafarers starting from the Diamond Princess crew, and later on the crew of Artania, Grand Princess, the fishing vessels Star Mariner, Ocean Star, Hong Ran, and those stranded seafarers in Uruguay. The network includes  advocates and leaders from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) led by His Eminence Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang, the IFI port chaplaincy in United Kingdom, Germany and Thailand, the Mission to Seafarers,  the MTS Family Club, Migrante International, United Methodist Church and the International Seafarers Action Center (ISAC)

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Migrante International on Bonifacio Day 2020: PARA SA TRABAHO, AYUDA AT SERBISYO SA MIGRANTENG PILIPINO AT PAMILYA. PAGGUNITA KAY GAT ANDRES BONIFACIO AT ANG KATIPUNAN

Just a day before the 157th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, the global day of action organized by Migrante International dubbed “Global Online Rally para sa Trabaho, Ayuda at Serbisyo sa Migranteng Pilipino at Pamilya. Paggunita kay Gat Andres Bonifacio at ang Katipunan” drew more than a hundred zoom participants from Filipino migrant organizations and network allies as part of their militant commemoration of Andres Bonifacio’s heroic contributions to the struggle for national liberation and democracy in the Philippines. The event which was live streamed via Migrante International’s facebook page serves as a kick off for the 10-day protest actions (December 1 to 10) which will lead to the International Human Rights Day on the 10th of December. 

Footages and photos of relief operations, donation drives, mobilizations and other activities of Migrante chapters overseas and in the Philippines were also shown with  musical performances of overseas-based Filipino cultural groups as backdrop. Migrante International chairperson Joanna Concepcion commenced the programme by pointing to the criminal negligence and human rights violations of the Duterte regime. “The government is very prompt when it comes to levying all sorts of state exactions to OFWs,” Concepcion said as she likened the regime’s extortionate actions to “braising Filipino migrants in their own sweat and blood.” Concepcion assailed the removal of the DOLE-AKAP cash aid program in the government’s 2021 budget while Php 19.1 billion gets allotted for the regime’s militarist and anti-democratic machinations. 

Atty. Daisy Mandap of The Sun Hong Kong deplored the poor treatment of OFWs who are deprived of essential services they were supposed to receive from government agencies. Mandap cited the case of an ailing OFW who was not even provided with an ambulance upon arrival at the airport in Manila. Migrante Australia Mel Baltazar assailed the Duterte regime’s dereliction towards Filipino international students in Australia who lost their jobs which were their source of income to sustain them in their studies. Members of Migrante Australia raised funds to help some of the displaced Filipino students hit by the crisis. 

Migrante members in Saudi Arabia revealed corruption and sexual harassment accusations against Labour Attache Nasser Mustafa as well as the plight of many stranded and repatriated OFWs from Saudi Arabia who received none of the promised amelioration. Rhodney Pasion, deputy general secretary of Migrante Europe, relayed the dire situation of undocumented migrants who are struck by job displacements, starvation and house evictions brought about by the crisis. Pasion lashed out against the Duterte regime for neglecting OFWs in Europe especially undocumented migrants by closing off many embassy and consulate operations during the height of the pandemic. 

Lester Ramos of Migrante USA castigated the military’s voracity for funds as Php 4 Billion was slashed from disaster response to jack up NTF ELCAC’s red tagging campaign and malicious assaults against rights defenders and progressive civic groups. Malaya Arevalo of Malaya Movement USA asked, “Is asking for living wages an act of terrorism? Is it terrorism to demand amelioration for the victims of calamities and the pandemic?” Malaya Movement USA has been active in its lobbying campaign to make US politicians and government officials respond to the human rights situation in the Philippines. About 50 members of the US congress signed a letter calling on the Duterte regime and the Philippine Congress to repeal the controversial Anti-Terror Law. 

Chris Sorio of Migrante Canada called into mind the contributions of migrants in the 1896 Philippine revolution including Candido Iban and Francisco Castillo, two Filipinos from Australia who joined the Katipunan. Filipino migrant workers were also among the sectors that fought for the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship and the Estrada regime. The Malaya Movement in Canada has gathered 500 signatures in one of its lobbying campaigns at the Canadian government demanding it to respond to the alarming human rights situation in the Philippines. 

Kilusang Mayo Uno Chairperson Elmer ‘Bong’ Labog decried the Duterte regime’s neglect of both land-based and sea-based Filipino migrant workers overseas coupled with the aggravating impoverishment of local workers in the Philippines deprived of aid and other social services at the ongoing crisis. Migrante Philippines Chairperson Arman Hernando warned that the country will sink further in peril if the tyrannical Duterte regime is not ousted from power with its bloody record of extrajudicial killings, red tagging, corruption and Fascist reign of terror. 

Concluding the protest event, Dolores Balladares of Migrante Hong Kong announced Migrante International’s participation in the Bonifacio Day protest which will be held in UP Diliman on monday morning, 30 November. The Council of Global Unions (CGU) has also set this date as a global day of action for trade union and human rights as well as a day of international solidarity in support of the Filipino people’s struggle against human and trade union rights repression in the Philippines. Different sectors and groups will converge to protest over pressing issues like red tagging and persecution of rights defenders, the Duterte regime’s Terror Law and its repulsive handling of the pandemic. 

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#UselessPH #NasaanAngPangulo: ‘Relief action is NOT a crime! Stop terror tagging’ — Migrante International

Press Release

13 November 2020

To hide the Duterte regime’s inutility in delivering prompt response to disaster-stricken areas, NTF ELCAC resorted yet again to terrorist-tagging to undermine genuine bayanihan efforts by Filipino migrant communities now mobilizing to extend assistance to their kababayans. Migrante chapters and member organizations abroad have been raising funds to help gather goods and resources for relief operations in the Philippines. We will continue to contribute in every way possible because this is not only an exercise of our democratic right but an affirmation of our duty towards our fellow human beings. Through terror-tagging, the regime is suppressing volunteerism and humanitarian action among Filipinos not only locally but even abroad. 

Out of almost 200 countries in the world, the Philippines is right in the top 10 of the World Risk Index indicating that inhabitants of the country are among the world’s most vulnerable to disasters and natural hazards. Despite this, the Duterte regime axed the budget for disaster response by 4 billion, allocating only 16 Billion this year. This is way lower than the 38.9 Billion pesos earmarked by the Aquino regime in 2016. Meanwhile, Duterte is itching to hand over a blank check of Php 19.1 Billion to NTF ELCAC as a pork barrel chest for his military cronies. 

In terms of ensuring recovery and rehabilitation, the Duterte regime proves to be even more contemptible as what we have seen in its neglect of OFWs and their families displaced by the pandemic. A look at Marawi bears witness that the Duterte regime is a total sluggard in responding to the needs of Filipinos reeling from havoc and destruction. Duterte is always nowhere to be found in the direst hours as if he’s really intending to make Filipinos get accustomed to his late post-typhoon appearances. 

Unwanted government disaster response like blaming the public and exploiting Filipino resilience will never bring recovery and amelioration to damaged communities mired in their loss and misery. Duterte is just adding insult to injury by deliberately confusing the clamour for concrete action with swimming for recreation. Nobody is asking him to miraculously stop the typhoon and swim in the floodwaters. He is being obliged to oversee real time government response and put forward a comprehensive rehabilitation program because that is what is expected of him being the country’s highest government official. 

Photo: (Damayang Migrante, 8 November 2020) Relief effort by Migrante members to fire victims in Brgy. Siniguelasan, Bacoor City.

Migrante International will carry on with its relief efforts as we continue to demand better disaster response from the national government. Filipino migrant communities want to see and hear specific mitigation measures and government plans for rehabilitation. Stop red tagging and suppressing Filipino organizations undertaking real bayanihan at this period of our people’s adversities. 

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‘Time to go’: Migrante International to Trump, US imperialism and Duterte’s puppet regime

Migrante International expresses its solidarity and support to the democratic struggle of the Filipino-American community against systemic racism, fascism and imperialism. From the very beginning, our task has always been to continue building our organized resistance no matter who among the two establishment candidates gets elected. In his greed to remain in power, Trump is now inciting his violent right-wing supporters to disrupt the ‘transition of power’ with unsubstantiated accusations of election rigging. For all his atrocities, we pronounce our judgment that Trump is fired and really needs to go. 

Biden’s victory however does not delude us to consider that the US politics of war and aggression will cease under his presidency. US imperialism will reassert itself more than ever before to salvage its crumbling global hegemony as it battles with another emergent imperialist power, China. 

Photo: 2017 anti-Trump protest in Manila (Aaron Favila, Associated Press)

In the Philippines, the US-Duterte regime attempts to make it appear that the Philippine government is breaking up from its long-lasting puppetry to US imperialist interest by issuing a notice of VFA termination. Officials from both sides however are already discussing a new defense pact which we expect to be placed on the table and ratified once Biden officially ascends to his presidential throne. Duterte’s absolute pardon to murderer and rapist Pemberton already serves as a sign of things to come. 

Migrante International lauds our kababayans who exercised their right to vote. That being said, the ballot is not the end but it should always get us to a higher phase of politicizing the masses. Wherefore, it behooves us to intensify our organized resistance against Duterte’s puppetry and murderous tyranny as we generate a fiercer revolutionary solidarity with all oppressed peoples of the world to cast US imperialism to its final doom. 

Oust US-Duterte!
Down with US imperialism! 

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Migrante International on the senate’s ‘probe’ on red tagging

Just days after the Philippines was struck by typhoon Rolly which left thousands of our kababayans devastated by the extensive wreckage it left behind, the senate hearing summoning the Makabayan bloc only proves that Duterte and his military cronies Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr are proving to be inutile parasites who have no intention of rendering genuine service other than pestering the public with one distraction after another. It is obvious that neither the pandemic nor an ongoing calamity will ever stop Lacson from slam choking disaster-stricken Filipinos with NTF ELCAC’s voluminous lies. He is after all a leading proponent of the Duterte regime’s Terror Law which was enacted at a time when everyone is getting whacked by the worst economic collapse in Philippine history. 

PHOTO: The Philippine Star

Instead of augmenting government response to the economic and public health crisis, the Duterte regime is itching to hand out a Php 19.1 Billion blank check to NTF ELCAC in its all-out outburst to attack progressive organizations and individuals raising legitimate criticisms. Its notoriety even made international headlines when hundreds of Facebook accounts linked to the military and police were taken down for spreading fake news. Aside from outspoken celebrities, even Filipino migrant groups abroad are targets of state-sponsored red tagging. This is why NTF ELCAC must not only be defunded but be totally abolished. 

Now, Duterte’s attack dogs are ganging up on the Makabayan bloc whose track record of excellent legislative work and genuine public service can never be denied. Makabayan legislators have worked tirelessly to raise the issues confronting stranded seafarers, distressed OFWs and repatriates. They have forwarded bills and resolutions of prime importance to the migrants sector including the Magna Carta for Seafarers and the amendatory bill on Duterte’s mandatory Philhealth collection. 

Migrante International declares its unequivocal support to the Makabayan bloc, rights defenders and outspoken celebrities who are now targets of relentless red tagging and vilification being unleashed by the Duterte regime. These attacks are acts of state terror meant to suppress those who amplify the voices of the oppressed and marginalized. The Duterte regime only needs to look at the public outcry generated by Parlade’s actions for it to behold an indignant public that rejects NTF ELCAC’s lies and deceptions. 

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