Filipinos in the US call for the immediate release of ICE-detained Larry Nicolas

On December 4, friends, loved ones and supporters led by Migrante Portland and Migrante Seattle trooped to the court to demonstrate support for Larry Nicolas who is unjustly detained in a private U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility. The group called for his immediate release and to stop his imminent deportation. The hearing on Larry’s case was however posponed as the judge sought additional information on his condition.

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Larry Nicolas has been a legal and permanent resident in the US for 17 years. In August 2018, on the day of his release from jail, he was secretly whisked away by ICE agents and detained at the Northwest Detention Center, a private immigration prison in Tacoma.

Larry has been struggling with a life-long mental condition which got him involved in a conflict and led to his incarceration. While in jail, he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and was able to get access to mental healthcare and psychiatric services which greatly improved his condition. This led to the dismissal of the restraining order filed against him and was ordered to be released in August 2018.

Nestor Nicolas, Larry’s father criticized ICE agents for withholding information on his whereabouts when he was transferred to Tacoma. Nestor stated,”they should’ve let us know, so we’d know where to find our son. If he didn’t call, we wouldn’t know where to find him. They didn’t let us know. He has a family here. He has kids. He has parents.They should have let us know before they took him to a different city.”

According to Migrante, Larry’s case is a preview of a more massive scale of arrests, detention and deportations of immigrants.

In September, Trump raised a proposal that would punish legal immigrants for accessing social welfare benefits including medical assistance. Migrante blasted this anti-migrant policy as the they likewise called for Larry’s immediate release.

The Nicolas family and Migrante expressed fear that Larry’s deportation would be a “death sentence considering the worsening crisis in the Philippines and the government’s indifference to Filipinos facing similar situations.”

Larry’s daughter Jy’violette stated, “I don’t want my dad deported to the Philippines, not only because he’s a big part of my life, but because he’ll die if he goes to the Philippines.”

In January 2017, when asked about the US-crackdown on immigrants, Duterte said, “If you are not allowed to stay there, get out. If you get caught there and deported, I will not lift a finger.”

Arman Hernando, spokesperson of Migrante International did not mince words as he chastised the Duterte government’s inaction. “Duterte’s inutility in challenging Trump’s Fascist persecution of migrants and their families totally debunks his fake pro-migrant posturing. Duterte is best at glorifying OFW contributions to the economy with US-based Filipinos as number 1 remittance contributor but completely disregards their welfare when they are besieged by harmful immigration policies.”

 

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Links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yFew8dVFN0&list=PLTEMZEIUtw0uJI1d8w1J4RgIDqR2e0Ygk&index=3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5X1RFWFQzk&index=2&list=PLTEMZEIUtw0uJI1d8w1J4RgIDqR2e0Ygk&fbclid=IwAR0JOfr4XfnOeP-JinL6X6NJnIxh_ItKqSwRqxhYpUz2-rFTNsDx1EsEUhE

https://www.gofundme.com/justice-for-larry-nicolas

https://www.facebook.com/MigrantePortland/posts/2809877762428000?comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22O%22%7D

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Mga istranded na Pinay sa Saudi, dismayado sa aksyon ng Embahada at POLO, iginiit kay Duterte ang agarang pagpapauwi

Sa pamamagitan ng isang “indoor protest“, iginiit ng mahigit 30 kababaihang OFWs na mahigit dalawang buwan nang istranded sa Saudi Arabia na sila ay kagyat na mapalaya mula sa abusadong employer at mapauwi na sa Pilipinas.

Indoor Protest

Ayon kay Kristine Arevalo, tagapagsalita ng grupo, si Pangulong Duterte na mismo ang inaasahan nilang umaksyon dahil bigo ang mga ahensya ng pamahalaan sa kanilang kahilingan. “Lahat na ay napuntahan namin. Ang sabi lang ng Embassy wala silang magagawa dahil hindi nila hawak itong case namin. Ang POLO naman ang sinasabi, ang kaya lang nila gawin ay makiusap sa aming employer.”

Ang mga apektadong OFW ay tapos na ang 3-taong kontrata bilang Patient Attendants sa ilalim ng kumpanyang Al Samama Group of Companies at ni-deploy ng mga agency na: Placewell International Services, Ozem Intenational Placement, Greengate Manpower, Al Batra Recruitment na ang iba ay may problema na sa kanilang lisensya sa POEA.

Ayon sa mga OFW, maraming naging paglabag sa kontrata ang employer tulad ng underpayment, delayed na pagpapasahod, hindi makatarungang salaray deductions at lipas na mga iqama. Tiniis nila ng tatlong ang ganitong palakad alang-alang sa kanilang pamilya subali’t hindi na nila pinalampas ang panggigipit ng employer sa kanilang pag-uwi.

“Kung tutuusin hindi namin kailangan makiusap kasi tapos namin ang mga kontrata namin. Three years kami mahigit dito at sobra pa sa kontrata. Bakit kailangan pang maki-usap eh karapatan naming umuwi. Karapatan naming makuha ang mga benepisyo namin.” giit ni Arevalo.

Sa liham ng mga OFW kay Pangulong Duterte, inireklamo nila na tila “nabayaran na” ang POLO ng kanilang employer dahil pumayag daw ito sa “pwersahang” pag-extend sa pagpapatrabaho sa mga OFW sa kundisyong pauuwiin na lamang sila sa Pebrero.

“Napaka-unfair naman po. Mag-fo-four years na nga kami dito tapos maghihintay pa kami ng February. Gusto na nga namin umuwi, Ayaw na namin magtrabaho dito!” paliwanag ni Arevalo.

Ayon sa Migrante na tumutulong ngayon sa kanila, ganito rin ang kalagayan ng libo-libong iba pang OFW sa Saudi Arabia na istranded din. Lumolobo ‘di umano ang bilang ng istranded bilang epekto ng “pabagsak na ekonomiya” ng bansa at dahil sa patakarang Saudization.

“Ang masaklap nito, alam na ng administrasyong Duterte ang magiging hagupit sa OFWs ng krisis sa Saudi Arabia subalit wala pa rin itong komprehensibong plano kung paano tutulungan ang mga OFW. Puro pa-bida, wala namang aksyon.” pahayag ni Arman Hernando, Tagapangulo ng Migrante Philippines.

Ayon kay Hernando, isang malaking insulto sa mga OFW at kanilang pamilya ang ginawa ni Duterte nang payagan nitong dumagsa ang mga manggagawa sa Tsina. “Sa ngalan ng pagpapakatuta sa Tsina, ang trabaho na para sana sa mga Pilipino ay binigay pa sa iba.”

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLDoZl8wrvw

#LandedStatusNow: Filipinos in Canada unite with care workers for full recognition of rights under proposed Federal Workers Program

Filipino care workers in Canada joined other nationalities in a broad action of various migrant and care workers’ advocacy groups on Sunday, November 18 to call for permanent landed status, family unity and full recognition of their rights. Likewise, an online campaign #LandedStatusNow was launched to gather signatories for a petition addressed to Canada’s Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

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In unison with other nationalities, Filipino care workers back the petition which calls “to create a Federal Workers Program for Care Workers (FWP) as proposed by Care Workers organizations across the country to ensure that migrant Care Workers come to Canada with their families and permanent resident status (PR).” The proposed FWP will serve as a critique to the current Caregiver Program.

Despite the absence of consultation with care workers, the Caregiver Program was promulgated in 2014 and is set to expire by November 2019. Under this program, home care is labelled as a “temporary labour market need” disregarding the reality of a growing and aging Canadian population. Restrictive and complex immigration procedures have left workers and their families in limbo while others fear deportation.

“Care Workers do the critical work of raising families, caring for an elderly population and ensuring dignity for those who are sick and disabled, without us the economy doesn’t work, yet we get low wages, long work hours, unsafe housing and constant stress. Making these changes won’t just benefit migrants, it will ensure that everyone in Canada is healthy and has a better quality of life,” Cynthia Palmaria of Migrante Alberta stated.

The announcement made by the Canadian government in April stating that it will no longer accept applications for permanent residency from caregivers after that period drew strong objections from the sector which is mostly represented by Filipino migrants.

While the program is being crafted, migrant groups are demanding immediate reforms like ensuring labor mobility, family reunification, removal of the additional English test and post-secondary education requirements for PR applicants, resolving permanent residency backlogs and the enactment of other pro-labor policies.

Aimee Beboso of Migrante Ottawa said, “We are hoping for courageous support from everyday people who will join us for justice and fairness for everyone.”

The mobilizations were held across Canada in major cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa.

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Sagip Migrante relief operation to typhoon victims in Isabela, a success

After Northern Luzon incurred widespread damages due to typhoons Ompong and Rosita in the past two months, Migrante International mobilized its disaster response in the province of Isabela through Sagip Migrante on Saturday, 10th of November.

 

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Different Migrante chapters in Europe: Filipino Domestic Workers Association-UK, Saint Phillips New Worshiping Filipino Community (Earl’s Court, London), Filippinsk Integration Forening (Denmark), Migrante Denmark and Migrante Bologna in Italy sent in their cash donations to aid fellow Filipinos back home reeling from the impacts of the typhoons. The relief goods which included rice and canned goods were then packed in Nueva Ecija by members of Migrante’s provincial chapter led by the family of Mary Jane Veloso.

Notwithstanding simultaneous preparations for this week’s court hearing against Mary Jane’s illegal recruiters, the Veloso family heartily worked up to the late hours of the evening on November 8 empyting boxes and containers to place the items inside distribution bags. The following day, Cesar Veloso set off for Isabela to meet with the teams from Manila’s Migrante Home Office and Migrante Isabela.

By Saturday morning, November 10, more than a hundred beneficiaries from a dozen baranggays in Ilagan and Cauayan, Isabela assembled to receive the relief goods.

In September, Sagip Migrante partnered with a local Marikina parish of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente for the distribution of relief goods to some Marikina residents just days after Ompong. The donations were sent by Filipino workers in Israel. Disaster response was also undertaken in Barangay Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal in partnership with the local government unit.

 

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Migrante International expressed gratitude to donors from Migrante chapters in Europe as well as to members and volunteers who actively participated in Sagip Migrante’s relief drive in Isabela.

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Giit ng Migrante Saudi Arabia sa gobyerno ng Pinas: Pauwiin ang 6,000 distressed OFWs bago mag-Pasko

Iginiit ng grupong Migrante – Saudi Arabia ang agarang pagpapauwi ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas sa mahigit 6,000 distressed OFWs. Hiling ng mga OFW ay mapauwi sila bago mag-Pasko.

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Ayon sa Migrante humigit kumulang sa 1,500 ang bilang ng mga stranded OFW sa Jeddah, 1,600 sa Riyadh at 3,000 sa Al Khobar kabilang ang mga Pilipinong manggagawa ng Azmeel Contracting Company. Dagdag pa dito ang mga “undocumented” na hindi rin inaaksyunan ng pamahalaan ang kanilang pagpapauwi.

Ang mga problema ng mga OFW ay inihapag ng Migrante sa pamahalaan sa isang dialogue sa Riyadh noong October 19 kasama ang mga kinatawan ng mga apektadong OFW. Sa kabila ng presensya ni OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac, dismayado ang grupo sa hindi pagdalo ni DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III at Ambassador Adnan Alonto.

“Hinahamon namin si Sec. Bello na palawigin ang pangako nitong tulong sa mga taga-Azmeel para maisama ang iba pang stranded kagaya ng OFWs sa Hidada Contracting Company sa Jeddah, Al Samama Group of Companies sa Riyadh, pati ang mga nasa Bahay Kalinga at deportation centers,” ayon kay Rodel Macalintal ng Migrante KSA.

Noong nakaraang October 16, nagtungo si DOLE Sec. Bello sa Saudi Arabia at iba pang mga opisyales ng OWWA, DSWD, DOH at DFA sa Al Khobar matapos lumaganap sa social media ang kalagayan ng mga apektadong OFW sa Azmeel Contracting Company. Napabalitang mahigit sa 1,470 OFWs ang naiipit ngayon sa riot dulot ng strike ng mga manggagawa. Naiulat na 4 hanggang 5 buwan na ang pagka-delayed ng sahod ng mga manggagawa sa nasabing kumpanya.

Sa monitoring ng Migrante, ganito rin ang kalagayan at panawagan ng mga stranded OFW ng Hidada Contracting Company sa Jeddah na mahigit isang taon na mula nang umapela sila sa gobyerno subalit wala pang linaw hanggang sa ngayon ang kanilang pagpapa-uwi. Ayon sa mga manggagawa, hindi na matapos-tapos ang problema sa pagpapasahod ng kanilang kumpanya.

Gayon din ang sinapit ng mga kababaihang OFW ng Al Samama sa Riyadh na ilang buwan ng hindi pinapasahod at walang mga iqama.

“Nanawagan din ang mga OFW sa loob ng Bahay Kalinga ng POLO at Philippine Embassy na sila ay bigyang atensyon ng pamahalaan na tila nagtutulog-tulugan sa kanilang mga hinaing. Patuloy na dumaragsa ang bilang ng mga distressed at stranded OFW sa mga deporation center at temporary shelter na nangangailangan ng agarang tugon ng gobyernong Duterte na sila ay mapauwi,” dagdag ni Macalintal.

Sa dialogue iginiit din ng Migrante na pabilisin ang proseso ng pagbibigay ng financial aid sa mga pamilya ng stranded OFWs at huwag gawing “selective” ang pagbibigay ng tulong. Nilinaw din nila na hindi sapat ang electronic email response sa kada kasong kanilang inihahapag sa Philippine Embassy. Hamon ni Macalintal, “kung tunay ang kanilang malasakit, dapat mabigyan ng kagyat na tugon ang mga kaso na naihahapag sa kanilang tanggapan.”

 

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Reference:

 

Rodel Macalintal

Spokesperson

Migrante – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

 

MIGRANTE SOUNDS ALARM: Duterte regime to amass hundreds of billions from forced SSS exactions on OFWs

OFW-group Migrante expressed its strongest opposition against the bicameral approval of the bill imposing the mandatory SSS for all OFWs.

From the Php 4.64 Billion worth of voluntary contributions garnered by SSS from OFWs in 2016, the amount is set to increase by 3000 % next year 2019. According to Migrante’s estimate, that would translate to Php 144 Billion in the first year of implementation alone.

Duterte Gatasang Baka

“The Duterte regime will be amassing hundreds of billions from SSS collections at the expense of OFWs who are already burdened by numerous state exactions. Forcing all OFWs to be covered as compulsory SSS members is outrageous since this exaction will be on top of the US$144 mandatory insurance recently enacted under the Duterte regime through POEA,” Migrante International spokesperson Arman Hernando said.

Under the proposed Social Security Act of 2018, the mandatory SSS membership will include both sea-based and land-based OFWs as the monthly contribution rate is set to go up to 12 % or Php 2,400 per month in 2019. From then on, Migrante warned that it is expected to gradually increase reaching 15 % by 2025.

As early as March 2017, SSS president and chief executive Emmanuel F. Dooc has been pushing for its passage. In previous years, Migrante said that OFWs were successful in opposing the mandatory SSS contribution even during the early stages of the proposal way back in the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo up to the Aquino administration. Migrante deplores the bicameral approval as a railroading of the bill since no extensive consultations among OFWs were ever conducted by SSS.

The bill will necessitate the government to negotiate labor agreements with host countries to compel foreign employers to pay the required monthly contribution for OFWs.

“In the case that host countries refuse to get the compliance of foreign employers on this SSS scheme, OFWs themselves will be forced to fully pay for the entire monthly contribution rate. That is painful considering that many OFWs are enslaved through unpaid work besides suffering from other contract violations,” Hernando lamented.

Hernando likewise warned that this could incite antagonism from foreign employers against OFWs for just recently, POEA issued a resolution requiring employers to pay for the premium for the insurance coverage of returning OFWs.

Furthermore, Hernando also said that the outcome of this SSS scheme would likely be similar to the scandals that rocked the government in previous years due to the fat bonuses received by SSS executives.

“We are alarmed considering that in times past, huge sums of money from SSS collections have ended up as hefty perks and bonuses for government executives while SSS members have to content themselves with minuscule pensions and benefits. It is appalling that the Duterte regime had the temerity to push this bill just when the election campaign season is about to kick-start a few months from now. What impression are they trying to convey to OFWs and their families from this timing?” Hernando asserted.

Once the bill gets signed by Duterte, it will be the largest monetary accumulation imposed by the government on OFWs in the history of the Philippines’ labor export program. Migrante vowed to vigorously block the compulsory SSS contributions for OFWs.

“We will never allow this sinister policy to plunder our OFWs. This is the time for OFWs and their families to unite and resist this vicious attack against our subsistence. We have already demonstrated in the past that we can emerge victorious in our collective struggles. Together let us charge forward and strongly oppose this extortionate policy of the Duterte regime,” Hernando concluded.

Reject forced SSS exaction!

Proteksyon hindi koleksyon!

 

In his talks with Jokowi, Duterte must address the plight of Mary Jane and other Filipina drug trafficking victims imprisoned in Indonesia — Migrante

As Duterte is expected to meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Bali today for the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering, Migrante underscored the urgent need of discussing the case of Mary Jane Veloso as the OFW group is also monitoring the two other Filipina drug trafficking victims imprisoned in Indonesia.

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Migrante International spokesperson Arman Hernando said, “On the back of having other Filipina victims of drug trafficking detained in Indonesia, it is all the more necessary for Duterte to explain to Jokowi the case of Mary Jane Veloso and finally allow her to testify against the international drug and human traffickers who victimized her.”

Even if the sentence on the other Filipina victim in Semarang was only life imprisonment, Migrante is adamant that Mary Jane’s testimony is crucial in setting the precedent to help all the victims of the international drug syndicates.

The group likewise revealed that the Indonesian government was surprised that despite the admission on Mary Jane’s innocence by trafficking suspects Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, their conviction remains to be seen after the Court of Appeals junked Mary Jane’s right to deposition.

Relating his recent prison visit to Mary Jane in Indonesia last month, Arman Hernando said, “the Indonesian government is asking why it’s taking so long for Philippine authorities to hand down a conviction against traffickers Sergio and Lacanilao and why Mary Jane is still not allowed to testify.”

Hernando does not see Duterte’s seriousness in completely vanquishing the machinery of international drug and human trafficking syndicates.

“The Duterte government’s negligence in securing justice for Mary Jane and for the other trafficking victims perpetuates the privilege and immunity of big drug lords and traffickers. In fact, another Filipina drug trafficking victim is currently detained in a penitentiary right there in Bali where President Duterte is currently attending the ASEAN Leader’s meeting,” Hernando lamented.

President Duterte is set to return back to the Philippines tonight after the conclusion of the ASEAN Leaders’ event.