As last hearing nears, Migrante International implores SC to allow Mary Jane Veloso to testify against her traffickers

On September 26, the last hearing for the presentation of prosecution witnesses in the cases for human trafficking, illegal recruitment and estafa filed against Mary Jane Veloso’s recruiters namely Ma. Cristina P. Sergio and Julius Lacanilao will be held at the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court (RTC). Migrante International ardently yearns for the Supreme Court to uphold the right of Mary Jane Veloso to present her testimony via written deposition. 

As a victim of human trafficking, it is incumbent that Mary Jane Veloso be allowed to participate in the legal process as it is the only way for the judicial authoritities to accord her the chance to see that perpetrators are brought to justice. It is the major function of the criminal justice system to ensure that victims like Mary Jane Veloso obtain redress through judicial procedures. 

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PHOTO: (GMA News) Mary Jane’s mother Nanay Celia Veloso during a picket held before the gates of the Court of Appeals last year.

The country’s Anti-Trafficking Act adopted from the UN Protocol underscores a “victim-centred approach” to minimize retraumatization of victims. Languishing in prison for almost a decade, Mary Jane Veloso is currently being made to pay for a crime she did not commit. Worst, vital testimony against a big international drug trafficking syndicate remains unheard by entities in our very own criminal justice system following the Court of Appeals decision to deny Mary Jane Veloso of her appeal to testify against her traffickers in the only mode allowed by Indonesian authorities.

The plight of migrants wretched by government negligence and inaction is epitomized in the life of Mary Jane Veloso herself. May the Supreme Court rise to the occasion and bring deliverance to Mary Jane who walks through the valley of the shadow of death on a daily basis. She is still on death row and the time to save her life is now.

May her voice be heard as we amplify our struggle to uphold the rights of those who are forever condemned to neglect and oblivion. Migrante International calls on all Filipinos to gird on their armour in the battle to end the scourge of illegal trafficking. May justice prevail and we long for the day when Mary Jane Veloso will finally be reunited with her loved ones just as we long for a future where society will no longer be torn apart by the need to survive. 

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OFWs and Makabayan bloc file Supreme Court petition to stop mandatory SSS employer contribution from OFWs

NEWS RELEASE (27 August 2019)

OFWs and their families trooped to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 27 August 2019 to lodge a legal petition to nullify the mandatory SSS exaction on OFWs under the Social Security Act of 2018. The petition filed was Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Re-straining Order

Several OFWs are signatories on the petition including petitioners from Migrante International and Makabayan house representatives. Their petition sought to register their disapproval on requiring OFWs themselves to pay for employers’ contribution for the mandatory SSS in the absence of a bilateral agreement with the host country. 

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Respondents include SSS Chairman Carlos G. Dominguez III and Vice Chairman Aurora C. Ignacio. Other government agencies tagged as respondents are Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

In a belatedly convened public consultation by SSS on 3 May, Migrante International decried the absence of grassroots migrant organizations representing land-based OFWs during Senate deliberations for its draft version. It was signed into law as Republic Act No. 11199 by President Duterte on 7 February 2019. 

Bayan Muna Chairperson Neri Colmenares questioned the constitutionality of the mandatory SSS. He said, “we are here at the Supreme Court because this mandatory SSS exaction signed by President Duterte requiring OFWs to shoulder employer contributions in the absence of a bilateral agreement with the host country is unjust and unconstitutional.” 

Feliza Guy Benitez who worked for more than 20 years in Hong Kong was one of the petitioners. “By withholding their OECs (Overseas Employment Certificate) and not allowing them to be deployed if they don’t get to pay for their employer’s SSS contributions, we feel that OFWs will just be held as hostages by the Duterte government. It will be hard for us to be forced to pay for employer contributions that is why SSS coverage should remain voluntary and not mandatory,” Benitez asserted. 

According to Migrante Philippines Chairperson Arman Hernando, paying for both employee and employer contributions is burdensome for OFWs. “It is no secret that most OFWs are poorly paid. Many are even maltreated and get nothing at all. This is too much for OFWs to bear at a time when the prices of goods and services are soaring under Duterte’s watch,” Hernando lamented. 

Meanwhile, Filipino workers in Hongkong also conducted a picket action at the lobby of the Philippine Consulate led by Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion. She was joined by members of Gabriela Hongkong, Migrante Hongkong and Filipino Migrant Workers Union. 

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“Hands off our Migrante members in Negros!” — Migrante International to Duterte and AFP

In a forum conducted at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos and University of St. La Salle by the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army in Bacolod City on 24 August, Migrante International along with other progressive groups representing different sectors were maliciously tagged as “NPA recruiters.” 

Migrante International strongly denounces this vilification campaign which is meant to stoke repressive and violent attacks against members of progressive organizations. It is no secret that organizers, volunteers and rights workers belonging to advocacy groups are being subjected to many forms of harassment. Enduring threats and surveillance from military and police elements, many end up getting abducted, tortured or killed. 

Amidst the spate of killings in Negros instigated by Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32, this endless redtagging threatens the lives of our Migrante officers and members. This will also take a toll on OFW victims being assisted by our Migrante chapters in Negros. Migrante Negros has always been active in raising the cases of OFW victims like when it sought justice for mistreated OFW Jessie Lloren who died last year just days after returning from Kuwait. 

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PHOTO: From Adrian Bobe’s FB wall

The Duterte regime’s vilification campaign also extends overseas through the deceit-lated seminars conducted by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Using public funds and government resources, NTF-ELCAC agents have been going around in Philippine embassies and consulates abroad. The Duterte regime is dead set at discrediting the resounding record of Migrante International in extending assistance to our fellow OFWs. 

AFP’s rehashed tall tales are only meant to justify the regime’s bloody crackdown on the opposition and its planned militarization of schools and communities. If Duterte’s militarist honchos think that Filipinos will just sit idly as the last fragments of our democratic rights are quashed, they are grossly mistaken. 

OFWs know very well that poverty is one of the root causes of the conflict because it is what forcibly drove them to work overseas. No wonder OFWs were among the sectors that ardently pushed for the resumption of peace talks back in the early days of the Duterte presidency. It can be recalled that the group Kababayan4Change was formed to raise the people’s agenda to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. Instead of addressing the roots of the armed conflict, the Duterte regime has bolstered the plagues of inequality and oppression in the country. 

Migrante International has prominently contributed to upholding the rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos. OFWs disillusioned by government negligence continue to seek out our assistance. Aside from offering help to OFWs in distress, Migrante has also raised the level of political consciousness among members of the Filipino community abroad by exposing the roots of forced migration and the rottenness of the government’s labour export programme. 

The Duterte regime is terrified of collective action from high-minded OFWs and citizens engaged in the struggle for socio-economic change. The only changes the regime have in mind are destructive impositions targeting the poor which all the while will further enrich the local ruling elites supportive of imperialist dictates. 

Duterte’s Fascist reign stands opposed to the interest of the vast majority of the Filipino people. Migrante International calls on all freedom-loving Filipinos to register our strongest defiance against tyrannical suppression. Let us unite and confront state terror with our impenetrable collective resistance. 

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IN PHOTOS: Global Day of Mourning and protest vs. state-sponsored killings

 

In several cities overseas, Migrante International’s chapters and allies held their observance of the Global Day of Mourning to protest against state-sponsored killings in Negros, Philippines.

#DefendNegros #StopTheKillings 

 

AUSTRALIA

 

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CANADA

 

 

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FRANCE

 

 

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HONG KONG

 

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UNITED KINGDOM

 

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CHICAGO, USA

 

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“Turn our anguish into collective valour and determination to thrash Duterte’s forces of doom” — Migrante International on the National Day of Mourning vs. state-sponsored killings

If only our eyes were a fountain of tears, we might weep day and night for the unrelenting slaughter of the most impoverished amongst our people. Striking terror, the US-Duterte regime delights in the blood of the slain masses. His Memorandum Order 32 signed on 22 November 2018 has already yielded 87 fatalities in Negros alone with 17 killings occuring on the last week of July this year. 

Hankering to justify these state-sponsored attacks, Bato dela Rosa along with members of the military and police have launched a red scare and black propaganda campaign to denigrate student activists and progressive organizations who are known for championing social justice and national democracy. We see no other motive for these Fascist machinations other than criminalizing dissent, militarization of schools and to continue the regime’s bloody persecution of all marginalized sectors in Philippine society. All for the interest of the ruling class. 

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The US-Duterte regime is a destructive killing machine that constantly feeds human flesh and entrails to its predatory vultures in AFP and PNP. It is hell bent on piling more victims on a soaring mountain of corpses. Let us then rise up and put an end to this dreadful sight by registering our loudest dissent and condemnation against these atrocities. 

As the regime seeks to dash even the last remaining morsels of our democratic rights and freedom, now is the best time to be militant activists and unleash bold resistance against tyranny. Now more than ever, the country needs more activists of heroic caliber in order for the illumined masses to save this nation and future generations from pestilent damnation. 

In unison with all freedom-loving Filipinos, Migrante International joins the nation in observing the National Day of Mourning to protest against the killings perpetrated by the US-Duterte regime. Let us turn our anguish into collective valour and determination to thrash Duterte’s forces of doom that have been ravaging incessantly in every underprivileged corner of our country.

#DefendNegros

#HandsOffOurYouth

#StopTheAttacks

#StopTheKillings

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“The Duterte regime’s ocean of lies will never withstand the tests of truth and reason” — Migrante Youth on the Bato-AFP-PNP smear campaign against youth activists

Migrante Youth vehemently condemns the Duterte regime’s spate of attacks against progressive youth organizations through the ongoing senate witch hunt headed by Bato dela Rosa and his fellow brood of vipers from AFP and PNP. If there’s any entity that is guilty of abducting, torturing and killing minors, it is the Duterte regime itself through its armed mercenaries in the military and police forces. 

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Contrary to Bato’s false claims that young people are being brainwashed, nobody is being coerced to join and unwillingly remain as members of progressive youth organizations. Alicia and Lory have already refuted these accusations hurled against youth leaders and members. They are out to attest that they are neither missing nor were they ever kidnapped. This only proves that the Duterte regime’s ocean of lies will never withstand the tests of truth and reason. When it comes to coercion, it is the Fascist cutthroats in the Duterte regime that are hell-bent on imposing tyrannical dictates that seek to militarize schools through mandatory ROTC and illegal deployment of armed state forces in universities. 

Recently, Duterte’s lapdogs in congress were itching to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility based on their ridiculous and erroneous argument that children as young as nine are fully responsible for their actions. Why then are they now questioning the zeal of young Filipinos in joining progressive youth organizations and becoming devoted activists? A Fascist hypocrite like Bato dela Rosa is attempting to project a fake appearance of concern for Filipino minors when in fact, his bloodstained hands are responsible for destroying thousands of families by creating generations of orphans and hordes of bereaved parents through Duterte’s bloody wars of aggression against the Filipino people (Oplan Tokhang, Oplan Kapayapaan, etc). 

There is no doubt that among the objectives of Bato’s witch hunt is to warrant the revival of the anti-subversion law and the forcible deployment of military and police troops inside school campuses. We only have to recall the gruesome fate of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño at the hands of military elements to boldly assert that students will never be safe in the presence of Fascist terrorists from AFP and PNP. Let us likewise remind Bato dela Rosa that he was the PNP Chief when South Korean national Jee Ick Joo was kidnapped by members of the Philippine National Police. Joo was tortured and slaughtered right within the premises of Camp Crame in October 2016. 

If there would be crooks that must be subjected to investigation and prosecution for gory crimes and violations, it should be President Rodrigo Duterte, Bato dela Rosa and all the rest of military and police officials who are responsible for inflicting death and terror on the Filipino people. 

Activism is not a crime. It is the thick volume of atrocious crimes of the tyrannical state that drive young Filipinos to stand up for their rights and wield powerful resistance against evil forces that perpetrate injustices and inequality. Rather than turn themselves into passive and apathetic zombies who wander aimlessly, young activists have instead decided to open their eyes and commit their lives in the service of the Filipino people to realize the liberation and transformation of the very society that the Duterte regime seeks to destroy. 

The State is deluding itself that it will be able to quash dissent through systematic repression of progressive youth organizations but that is far from the truth. It will only bolster our collective rage and determination to seal the doom of Duterte’s Fascist reign of terror.

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ABOLISH CONTRACTUALIZATION ALONG WITH THE DECEITFUL DUTERTE REGIME! – Migrante International

In his last year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA 2018), President Rodrigo Duterte came out with an excuse claiming that only lawmakers can end contractualization “once and for all.” It was followed by a certification issued by Malacanang marking the Security of Tenure (SOT) bill as a priority measure. 

While some labour groups were hopeful that even the watered-down version will at least assuage the labour sector from their tribulations, it did not take Duterte that long to veto the SOT bill right after his 2019 SONA. Three years on after his electoral campaign promise to abolish contractualization in just a single week, President Duterte still never runs out of excuses. As a matter of fact, Duterte has all the right to crown himself as the king of lies and master tactician of deceit and scams. 

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Like mad dogs, the veto was celebrated by big businesses and Duterte’s favour before the eyes of the greedy ruling elite grew even more. If there’s one thing that we find obvious in Duterte’s reasoning behind the veto, that is no other than his strong desire to push for the absolute legalization of contractualization.

Now serving as the chief proponent for Endo, Duterte said that job contracting should be allowed provided that the labour contractor is “well capitalized” and benefits are afforded to employees. So there you go! We’ve heard it right! Duterte is now speaking on behalf of 3rd party contractors and this will forever keep principal employers from extending full rights and benefits to their struggling employees.

Migrante International finds it moronic for anyone in government with sound mind to believe that Filipino workers will magically prosper in the absence of job security and living wages. Undoubtedly, the Duterte regime’s blueprint for development is only aimed at advancing the wealth of the top financial elite at the expense of Filipino workers. No wonder the Philippines consistently makes it to the world’s top 10 worst countries for workers (ITUC Global Rights Index).

Never in infinitude will contractualization bring forth tangible progress for ordinary Filipino workers. It is one of the major factors why thousands of Filipinos leave the country everyday in the hope that overseas employment will offer decent lives for their families. Yet in reality, only the opposite is true for many OFWs who have fallen prey to modern-day slavery. 

Only Duterte’s removal from power and the subsequent total elimination of the oppressive elitist system will reverse the troubled state of Filipino workers. Migrante International is one with all Filipino workers who are longing to break free from the chains of oppression and exploitation. 

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