MIGRANTE Japan Statement on the “Incredible Results of the May 13 Mid-term Elections”

The mid-term elections have just concluded, but questions about its integrity amid the outpouring of protests and complaints about the massive and systematic cheating using state machineries, vilification and harassment of militant and progressive candidates up until the day of the elections, which clearly is a violation of Comelec rules on electioneering, and the massive disenfranchisement of voters, especially OFWs (overseas Filipinos) are reverberating in almost all corners of the globe.

There is tremendous interest in the May 13 mid-term national elections. Everyone has watched intently on the outcome of the votes as this could be the last battleground that the Duterte government is hellbent to take control of in order to institutionalize its dictatorship and effect absolute dominance on the lives of every freedom-loving Filipinos.

In Japan, Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) was marred by late deliveries of ballots, massive return of mailed ballots, corrupted SD cards and technical glitches in the operation of VCMs (vote counting machines) among others.

Out of the estimated 80,00 total registered voters in Japan, voter turn-out is only 18,458 or just 23% of the total registered voters. This means that more than 47,000 voters or 59% of the total number of voters failed to vote as 13,363, or 16.5 % of the voters did not receive their ballot, and therefore, disenfranchised.

OAV in Japan is also plagued by piecemeal and slow, confusing information. It was only on March 27 that the PH embassy in Tokyo announced “postal voting” as the mode of elections in Japan. When asked about why only postal voting when the past elections used the combination of postal and personal voting, PH embassy officials said that it was Comelec’s decision. As it turned out, Comelec revealed that the mode of elections overseas was left to the discretion of the foreign service post.

Even efforts to resolve issues like returned ballots, Comelec and the PH embassy were too slow and undecisive. They only relied on the embassy website and never took proactive measures to reach out to the voters. As many Filipinos in Japan do not navigate the embassy website to get the information they need, the PH embassy should have taken steps to immediately deploy mobile or satellite voting centers to give voters a real chance to exercise their right to vote. As a result, a whooping 16.5% percent of voters in Japan were disenfranchised for not receiving their ballots and therefore failing to exercise their right to suffrage.

And yet Comelec has the gall to declare the just concluded elections a success?

For the majority of Filipinos in Japan, this year’s election is a farce. It is nothing but a charade to fill the Senate with elected candidates who are minions of the current administration as against truly qualified and competent candidates who have been vilified and labelled as enemies of the state throughout and most especially in the last days heading to the May 13 polls.

For Filipinos everywhere, there’s much to be worried and frightened about when the 18th Congress opens. President Duterte already controls the Lower House and the Supreme Court. Now, it has taken control of the Senate. What is next for the Filipino people and the millions of OFWs?

 

Reference:

Butch Pongos

Email: butchstrike@yahoo.com

Phone number: +81 9017472372

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‘Dirty, deadly, deceptive elections by a desperate Duterte’ – Makabayan Hong Kong

This was the pronouncement of Makabayan Hong Kong following partial and unofficial 2019 midterm elections count that showed Duterte-backed candidates and groups dominating the Senatorial and Partylist elections in the Philippines and in Hong Kong.

According to spokesperson Eman Villanueva, ‘The elections has shown the regime pulling all stops to ensure a landslide victory especially in the Senate. It exploited the prevailing patronage politics while utilizing the vast resources of the government to buy votes, intimidate, harass, spread disinformation and all other dirty tricks in its book to ensure that its supporters are placed in the Upper House while adding more allies in the Lower House.’

Makabayan Hong Kong mentioned reports from the Philippines of Makabayan members being harassed by the Philippine National Police. There were also materials containing black propaganda, aimed to dissuade voters from voting Neri Colmenares and partylists of Makabayan distributed by PNP elements themselves. According to Villanueva, this is a clear indication of how threatened the Duterte regime is, with its state forces openly engaging in activities against the opposition

‘These were done on top of reports of VCM malfunction, loss of SD cards, transparency server problem, the withdrawal of NAMFREL from COMELEC as official independent poll watchdog and other issues that make the credibility of the recent elections tainted and questionable. Progressives and opposition candidates topped in all mock elections and surveys in universities, colleges and private institutions while Duterte’s candidates ruled questionable commissioned surveys. Obviously, huge funds are at play to condition the minds of the public of the desired election results of the administration,’ Villanueva said.

Villanueva continued that while this must be the dirtiest elections post-Marcos, it has also forged unity among the opposition. ‘The recent elections have shown how opposition to the administration is spreading across political parties and blocs. Even Catholics were bolder and more vocal against those supporting government’s moves and policies. Such show of dissatisfaction from a broad array of groups have contributed to the growing desperation of Duterte.’

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, Villanueva said that the Duterte administration and its candidates have evidently poured resources to woo OFW support. ‘With its vast arsenal of resources, the Duterte administration have ensured that their candidates appeared one after another in OFW events during the campaign period and flooded the social media with malicious and unfounded accusations against Colmenares, other opposition candidates and partylist affiliates of Makabayan,’ Villanueva remarked.

Villanueva said that Duterte-backed candidates may have ruled the polls but OFWs have no basis to hope for the resolution of their concerns. ‘Now that they are most likely to be in the Senate and Congress in the next three years, burning questions have remained: will they stand for OFW rights, will they oppose the impending additions to fees charged by the government to OFWs, will they really work for a country where the millions of Filipinos will not be pushed to work and be enslaved abroad?’

‘You’ve made your pitch and styled yourself as for OFWs. Now, will you really stand up for what is good for OFWs, the people and our country or will your term be filled with self-enrichment and blind kowtowing to Duterte’s orders?’

Villanueva said that for Makabayan Hong Kong, the fight for OFWs and the people will continue with or without elections. ‘Change will not come due to being able to elect the whole Makabayan slate. Meaningful change cannot come from the game of musical chairs dominated by the elite. It may only come from organizing and unifying for a better Philippines, a better world, which the progressive forces have been doing especially outside of the electoral campaign.’###

For reference:
Eman Villanueva
Coordinator, Makabayan HK

Contact number: +85297585935

 

#LaborDay2019: Migrant workers march in fury against the tyrannical US-Duterte regime

On a global scale, the first of May is regarded by workers as a day of mass action and protest against the prevailing order of exploitation and injustice. United with all the militant unions of workers worldwide, Migrante International marks the observance of this hallowed occasion to laud the Filipino working class in its struggle to attain emancipation from the scourge of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

Taking part on this day reaffirms our commitment to unionize Filipino workers as well as in organizing their families and other sectors within the frame of the national democratic interests of the Filipino masses. This is also a global day of action to denounce modern-day slavery and the intensifying labor export program of the Duterte regime

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In 2018, OFW remittances reached $33.8 Billion. The economy remains dependent on remittances and loans. Without financing from external sources, the economy will falter even more due to the absence of national industrialization efforts. While the Duterte regime lavishes in the profusion of state-exactions and remittances from OFWs, Filipino migrant workers continue to suffer neglect and exploitation. OFW contributions to the struggling Philippine economy are not getting translated to genuine protection of migrants’ rights and welfare.

Last year, Saudi-OFW and cancer patient Allan Rafael was illegally arrested, robbed and killed by Manila police in a police station in Quiapo, Manila. He was severely tortured by the police to coerce him to admit involvement in illegal drugs based on his frail and emaciated physical appearance. Unsafe working conditions in his former host country and poor medical services in the Philippines contributed to his physical deterioration. He fought for his life but Fascism and injustice under the blood-thirsty Duterte regime eventually led to his tragic death.

This flagrant culture of impunity under the Duterte regime was made apparent when Senior Superintendent Chito Bersaluna got promoted as Bulacan’s chief of police after leading the deadly Caloocan raid that claimed the lives of children from OFW families, Kian delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz. Bersaluna is the same police chief behind the violent dispersal and illegal arrests of striking workers in NutriAsia in July 2018.

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In the parliament of the streets, we march with indignation against the tyrannical Duterte regime and the intensifying oppression of Filipino workers under his watch. Enabled by the semi-colonial and semi-feudal conditions in the country, Duterte’s reign of terror further emboldens the big owners of capital to mercilessly exploit and imperil the lives of Filipino workers. Even a virulent earthquake last month failed to stir them to evacuate BPO and mall workers to safety.

Trade union repression, contractualization, poor working conditions and the absence of a national minimum wage aggravates the problem of forced migration in the Philippines. The terrible plight of workers in the Philippines placed the country among the world’s ten worst countries for workers according to the 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index.

The severity of excruciating labor conditions in the Philippines and the high unemployment rate drives several thousand Filipinos daily to overseas deployment. Even abroad, the Duterte regime’s voracious appetite for forced remittances through state exactions is bleeding OFW pockets dry. Aside from the rising cost of living due to Duterte’s TRAIN Law, migrant workers and their families would now have to contend with higher amounts of mandatory OFW contributions in Philhealth and SSS (Social Security System).

Recently, PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde derogated KMU and even falsely claimed that rallies, strikes and union organizing are the roots of joblessness and low investor confidence in the Philippines. To gain proof that his words are indeed blatant lies, Albayalde only has to look at the countries with the highest levels of labor union membership and militancy to find out that these are the very countries where Filipinos prefer to live and work permanently. These are the same countries that addressed the problems of landlessness and massive unemployment through genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.

Instead of guaranteeing the rights of workers to organize and assemble freely, PNP chief Albayalde has actually chosen the side of the ruling exploiters who continue to afflict workers with poverty-wages and harsh working conditions.

As agents of trade union persecution and state-terrorism, the inclusion of AFP and PNP in the anti-worker matrix is indeed indisputable. These Fascist institutions do not serve the interests of the Filipino working class but those of the elite and their imperialist masters.

Moreover, the habitual red-tagging and black propaganda being waged by AFP and PNP against trade unions, progressive organizations, MAKABAYAN party-lists and candidates is contradictory to their non-partisanship and apolitical claims. Furthermore, murderous sycophants from AFP and PNP are among the primary culprits in state-sponsored killings through the Duterte regime’s fake war against drugs and the anti-people Oplan Kapayapaan.

The Duterte regime and his armed brutes detest seeing Filipino workers exercise their political rights in any militant form of social action. By the same token, the consistent domination of MAKABAYAN party-list and senatorial candidates in mock polls threatens Duterte’s lust for absolute control in both chambers of Congress.

This 13th of May, the Filipino people will be able to express their desire for real change through the ballot. Outside the Philippines, overseas absentee voting has already started but the utter disenfranchisement of registered Filipino overseas absentee voters is marked by delays in the arrival of mailed ballots and the burdensome cost of paying for their own postal stamps.

Overseas Filipino workers deserve pro-labor legislators who will uphold the rights and welfare of the Filipino workers both in the Philippines and abroad. Ensuring free and honest elections is in the interest of OFWs. Accordingly, Migrante International will continue to monitor and file reports and cases of irregularities and disenfranchisement.

With the heightening of imperialist greed and plunder, the global economic crises generated by neoliberal economic policies bear out the rottenness and failure of global monopoly capitalism. This corrupt economic system denies workers the right to live and work decently in their own countries as seen in the mass deployment of Filipino workers abroad through the government’s labor export program and the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines.

The debt-ridden and overpriced infrastructure projects are not providing employment to Filipinos whom Panelo insulted as unskilled in construction. The influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines highlights the failure of Duterte’s Build, Build, Build to provide stable jobs to Filipinos. It likewise attests to the failure of China’s capitalist mode of production to secure decent lives for its citizens in their own country.

Members of the ruling elite set themselves to preserve this vile economic and societal order by pitting one group of workers against another. Lest we forget that this strife is not between exploited workers of two or three diverse races. For certain, it is a clash between the elite oppressive class and the oppressed workers of the world.

#KasamaAkoSaMayoUno for we side with the working class, the peasants and that of the other basic spheres of society to denounce imperialist domination and to overthrow US-Duterte’s reign of terror.

Let us then take up the cudgels and bolster our strength by uniting in solidarity for the attainment of social justice and liberation. As the real masters of production, our heroic workers stand as the creators of a new and better world where oppression and exploitation shall be no more. Rising above adversities, the triumph of our struggle for national democracy is at hand.

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Disenfranchisement of Overseas Absentee Voters

Migrante International expresses indignation over the outright disenfranchisement of 1.8 M registered Filipino overseas absentee voters (OAV) who want to fully participate and exercise their democractic right to vote in the upcoming May 13 Philippine elections.

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OFWs line-up during the first day of the overseas absentee voting in Hong Kong

It is of grave concern that the COMELEC and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) did not prepare to ensure that Filipino migrants who have opted for postal voting would receive their ballots in the mail in a timely manner. The option to vote by mail is critical to thousands of overseas absentee voters who lack access to resources and time to travel to their nearest consulates or voting centers because of the distance from their workplace or home.

Negligent in their duty, COMELEC failed to ensure that overseas absentee voters receive all the necessary information and materials to prepare them for the elections even prior to April 13, the first day overseas absentee voters can officially vote.
Additionally, placing the burden on overseas absentee voters themselves to pay the costs of the return postal stamps is an insult to Filipino migrants who have already been subjected to numerous fees exacted by the Philippine government prior to leaving abroad, and whose remittances has served as a lifeline for the Philippine economy.

This is a clear violation of Republic Act 9189, which guarantees that overseas absentee voters will not have to shoulder any costs related to the process of voting. COMELEC’s admission of lack of financial resources to pay for postage stamps due to the delay in the passage of the national budget is unacceptable, further revealing that protecting the constitutional right of all Philippine citizens to vote is not a priority of this administration.
The present barriers placed on overseas Filipino voters is a serious matter and is a testament to the erosion of democracy in the Philippines. As Filipino migrants who are deeply invested in and concerned for the future of the Philippines, we refuse to have our voices and votes be silenced.

Migrante International will continue to monitor, document and file reports of any cases of disenfranchisement and discrepancies in the overseas absentee voting process. ###

Give Loida Quindoy a Chance to Stay! – Migrante Japan

“Loida Quindoy is unjustly punished. The Japan Ministry of Justice has gone overboard when it decided to throw out a Filipina mother and grandmother after living in Japan for over 22 years. This is a grave injustice”, Migrante Japan, an alliance of Filipino organizations caring and fighting for the rights of Filipinos in Japan said in a pre-trial statement on the karehomen case of Loida Quindoy today, April 26.

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Loida Quindoy who is again denied by the Immigration Bureau to appear before the Tokyo District Court to personally make her appeal is detained at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau since her karehomen was cancelled on October 11, last year. She has been battling against a deportation order since 2012 for “not disclosing the complete facts about her Filipino husband who had a history of overstay and use of an assumed identity” when she applied for his visa to join her in Japan. It was a mistake that Loida Quindoy regretted and has already paid when her husband got deported back to the Philippines in 2011 and when her permanent residence status was revoked in 2012.

“Why revoke her permanent status and deport her too? What premium does her 22 years of hard work in Japan get? Are they throwing them all away because of one mistake?”, Migrante Japan asked.

“The Ministry of Justice has failed to see the whole picture and just focused on one single mistake. It also failed to recognize that Loida Quindoy is a mother and grandmother of two young girls who live with her in Japan. Deporting her back to the Philippines, her country of origin, would have a devastating impact on the entire family”, Migrante Japan said.

Loida Quindoy’s case is not isolated. There are hundreds of other cases like her who are languishing in detention because of Japan’s intolerance and campaign to criminalize migrants. Under the current rules, even a mere traffic violation can be used as reason for deportation. This according to Migrante Japan, “threatens families of mixed racial background.” A child’s right to have parental relationship with both mother and father is enshrined in Japan’s Constitution and Japan being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is legally bound to uphold and protect these rights. But according to Migrante Japan, these provisions of the law are clearly ignored by the new set of rules and regulations currently being implemented by the Ministry of Justice.

Meanwhile, Migrante Japan castigated the Philippine embassy in Tokyo for not lifting a finger on the case of Loida Quindoy and other jailed Filipinos. The Philippine government should have done something to question the deportation order on Loida Quindoy, according to MIGRANTE Japan. “Instead of appealing her case, the Philippine embassy in Tokyo has sided with the Ministry of Justice by echoing its appeal for Filipino overstays in Japan to go back to the Philippines and avail of its reintegration program”, Migrante Japan lamented.

Today, on the 3rd and final hearing of Loida Quindoy’s case, Filipinos and Japanese supporters who believe that she is unjustly punished held a protest action in front of the Tokyo District Court to appeal for her immediate release and to grant her a “special resident status.” Similar actions were also held by Migrante chapters in Manila, South Korea, Australia and in Hong Kong right in front of the Japanese embassy in the days leading to today’s hearing. They are one with Loida Quindoy and her supporters in calling for the Ministry of Justice to give her a chance to stay and allow her to remain in Japan with her family.

Migrante Japan insisted that Loida Quindoy is a person of good character. She is a community leader and a church leader as well who made enormous contributions to society through her hard work and by religiously paying all her tax dues as well as helping fellow Filipinos embroiled in various welfare and legal issues.

“Loida Quindoy is not a criminal! She is not a bad person. In her 22 years in Japan, she has not been involved, nor convicted of any crime. She deserves a second chance”, MIGRANTE Japan concluded.###

UPDATE ON THE HEARING:

The 3rd and what supposed to be the final hearing on the “karehomen” case of Loida Quindoy was held today, April 26, at the Tokyo District Court. The presiding judge ruled that the medical condition of Loida must be thoroughly examined, and therefore, an unexpected 4th hearing was set on July 5. The presiding judge questioned the panel of lawyers representing the Japan Ministry of Justice for not giving Loida swift medical attention when she badly needed it; that they should have immediately brought her to a private medical institution and have her examined by a professional doctor. The government lawyers argued that “Loida is not the only sick person inside the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau” to which the presiding judge smiled impishly while shaking his head. The next hearing will have the private doctor invited as an expert witness to present his findings on the medical condition of Loida. Looks like the 3rd round is arguably in favor of Loida.

Migrante blasts SSS, Duterte regime for persisting to be social security ‘spoilers’

Tagging the SSS and the Duterte regime as social security spoilers, OFWs and families led by Migrante International trooped to the SSS headquarters on Friday, April 26, to demand the implementation of a genuine social security program. The group calls on the SSS to immediately conduct a comprehensive consultation with all the stakeholders including the local and overseas workers to be able to chart a social security system that would truly redound to the people’s benefit.

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Various sectors are assailing RA 11199 because of its grievous policy of further putting the responsibility of social security on the people. “Instead of assuming its obligation to protect the welfare of its people through an inclusive and comprehensive social security system, what the government did in the enactment of RA 11199 is to ensure additional exaction through premium hike and compulsory collection on OFWs,” said Arman Hernando, Migrante Philippines Chairperson.

For 2019, the SSS expects an additional collection of P31 Billion on premium hike alone. Should the mandatory collection of SSS premium on OFWs push through, the agency will be adding P4.8B yearly to its funds. What is worse according to Hernando is that RA 11199 gave the government total access to the proceeds of SSS collection by acquiring the right to ‘borrow’ its reserve fund. “Isn’t it shameful for a government to exact money from its people under the premise of social security then take and utilize a significant part of it to answer for its expenditures or lend it to big private businesses?” Hernando asked. Migrante evinced that RA 11199 should be suspended pending a careful review and proscription of its iniquitous provisions.

“Amidst ever-increasing prices of basic commodities and social services, rising unemployment and worsening labor conditions, the people cannot shoulder additional burden such as the premium hike and P2,400 monthly compulsory SSS contribution on OFWs. What we need right now is a social security program that would uplift us from our economic hardships. Instead of additional collection, what the SSS and Duterte should immediately do is to release the promised P1,000 additional monthly pension and guarantee that the expanded maternity leave benefits will be fully enjoyed by its members. Long overdue, Duterte should also immediately heed the workers call for a P750 national minimum wage and the end of contractualization. To guarantee a living wage and job security is to assure workers’ social security,” Hernando asserted.

Migrante further demands that there should be no program that would implement a compulsory collection of premiums, much less, a rule that would bar the OFWs from working abroad should they fail to pay the collectible amount by the SSS. “To enjoy the fruits of our labor, what we are truly aspiring for is a social security system that is subsidized and assumed by the government. “We dare say to SSS and Duterte: Do not make the local and migrant workers your milking cows. Spoilers are those who exploit us further by exacting money to finance a market-driven social security program,” said Hernando.

Migrante culminated the action by bidding on all workers, local and abroad, their families and all people to join the Labor day demonstrations on May 1st and bolster the fight for a greater social protection, better living condition and a just and equal social order for all.###

Migrante Europe calls on Comelec and embassies to adopt personal voting by overseas Filipino workers

The postal voting to being implemented by the COMELEC for overseas Filipino workers in Europe in the Mid-Term Election is strongly protested by Migrante Europe.

According to the communications received by Migrante Europe chapters and members from the Philippine embassies and consulates, they have adopted postal voting. There will be no personal voting for the purposes of the 2019 National Elections for senators and party-list representatives.

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Postal voting for overseas Filipino workers is a procedure whereby ballots are sent by postal mailing to the voters and returned by post, in contrast to voters who are voting in person at a polling center or electronically via an automated election system.

“This new voting policy and procedure by the COMELEC may result in disenfranchisement and nonparticipation of thousands of registered Filipino voters in Europe,” lamented by Fr. Herbert Fadriquela Jr., chairperson of Migrante Europe.

According to Republic Act No. 9189, Sec. 2 – “It is the prime duty of the State to provide a system of honest and orderly overseas absentee voting that upholds the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot. Towards this end, the State ensures equal opportunity to all qualified citizens of the Philippines abroad in the exercise of this fundamental right.”

“Many registered voters don’t have stable addresses and there is no guarantee that they will receive their ballots, or if the returned ballots will be received by the embassies or consulates. We are appealing to the COMELEC and to the Duterte government for Filipinos to be given an option to get their ballots from the embassies and to adopt as well the personal voting of migrant Filipinos in Europe;” said Rhodney Pasion, Europe Electoral Campaign Coordinator.

Meanwhile, Migrante Europe chapter in Northern Italy had a positive dialogue with the Philippine Consulate in Milan last Sunday, 31 March 2019 regarding electoral concerns. The April 5 deadline for the submission of forms for the overseas absentee voter who changed their addresses was prolonged until April 15. For those who request to get their ballots from the embassy/ consulate, it was extended until April 30.

To guarantee the transparency, accessibility, and accountability of the 2019 national elections, the following are the demands of Migrante Europe:

• An option to vote by allowing personal voting to the polling centers;

• An option to receive the ballots by allowing to get it at the respective embassies and consulates;

• Satellite voting centers;

• Immediate notification related to absentee voting including the arrival of ballots.

“We call on the Commission on Elections and the Duterte government to address this urgent issue on ‘voter disenfranchisement’.” If the government is sincere to promote the active participation of the broadest number of Filipino overseas workers in the national elections, personal voting of OFWs should be adopted during the Overseas Absentee Voting to start on April 13-May 13, 2019,” concluded by Fr. Herbert. ###

For reference:

Rhodney Pasion
Europe Electoral Campaign Coordinator
Email: rhodneypaion1@gmail.com

Revd. Fr. Herbert F. Fadriquela Jr.
Chaplain to the Filipino Community
Diocese of Leicester
Church of England
Chaiperson, Migrante Europe

Email: contact@migrante.eu