Withdrawal of Labour Attache’s mandatory health check requirement a victory for HK OFWs

Press Statement
22 January 2019

Withdrawal of Labour Attache’s mandatory health check requirement a victory for HK OFWs
March to POLO for the scrapping of OFW Compulsory Insurance still continue! 

Filipino domestic workers laud Philippine Labour Attache Jalilo de la Torre’s immediate decision to permanently rescind the Implementation of Additional Requirement for Contract Processing.

Filipino community leaders strongly expressed their opposition to the pre-employment advisory in a dialogue held at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office on Sunday 20th of January 2019. This outpour of rage resulted in the withdrawal of the proposed mandatory pre-employment health check.

While they appreciate the Labour Attache’s concern on the rising health cases, a mandatory health check before the employment of domestic workers is not the solution; instead this would result in termination of work and loss of opportunity to get proper medical attention in Hong Kong.

The leaders assert that medical attention should be provided to the domestic workers within the period of employment. They propose that instead of the punitive pre-employment requirement for the migrant workers, the POLO can devise pre-employment undertaking for employers to sign for the protection and health security of domestic workers.

Most importantly, the Filipino community urge the POLO to work with the Hong Kong government to implement the policies that would provide health care and protection for the foreign domestic workers such as the 11-hour uninterrupted rest, suitable accommodation, and proper food.

Beyond doubt, the collective voice of the OFWs prove to gain positive and fruitful benefits for their rights and welfare. Without the outrage expressed by OFWs, the mandatory pre-employment health check would have pushed through. The result of the consultative meeting definitely attests to this.

The struggle for our rights definitely does not end here. The mandatory insurance is still being imposed on us by the Philippine Overseas Employment Governing Board. Which is why we are inviting all OFWs to join the rally on Sunday, 27th of January, at 2:00 PM at the pavement of the Court of Final Appeal, before marching towards the Philippine Labour Office (POLO) to call for the non-implementation of OFW Compulsory Insurance and scrap it permanently.

Onwards to greater victories!

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Migrante raises alarm over passport fiasco

Migrante International expresses its utmost alarm over the massive passport fiasco which now places extensive amounts of private personal information of passport applicants under serious threats. This is indeed distressing considering that it occurred while we are fast approaching the midterm national elections. We fear the dangerous implications it pose on the welfare of our dear OFWs. Aside from the consequent inconveniences it will cause them, any private information leaked will surely make OFWs and all the other passport applicants vulnerable to identity theft and other fraudulent schemes.

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We demand that the Department of Foreign Affairs clearly present to the public all the actions that it will undertake to oblige the private contractor to turn over and subsequently delete the data it currently holds. The fact that its contract has already been terminated means that it should no longer have any business in retaining all the private information it collected from passport applicants. Hence, their continued possession of enormous volumes of sensitive data is already a serious form of leakage and an infringement on the right to privacy.

As OFW advocates of national integrity, we have always opposed the direct control and involvement of profit-driven private entities in many government transactions and projects. Corruption has been pestering many government agencies for so long since the government’s compliance with neoliberal policies normalizes the engrossment of public officials in striking deals with big private contractors whose only aim is to maximize their profits at the expense of the welfare and security of OFWs and the Filipino people in general.

Moreover, if the government is impotent in protecting the passport data from being held hostage by a “pissed-off” private contractor, we can definitely have a broad idea of how much worse it can get once the implementation of the national ID system is in full swing. Under the present system, the government has this strong preference to prostituting our sovereignty by awarding large-scale contracts to dubious foreign contractors just like the 12-year Php1.6 Billion contract awarded by the Philippine Statistics Authority to US-based firm UNISYS which has figured prominently in data breach controversies overseas.

There is no doubt that investigations will never suffice unless the privatization of data processing in the Department of Foreign Affairs and all the rest of government agencies is ceased to give way for the development and improvement of in-house capacities. Allowing foreign contractors to access and control data processing is already a threat to national security and public safety. Blaming previous administrations and purportedly holding the culprits accountable while sticking to the same old rotten system of privatization will just appear to be mere grandstanding unless the government and the DFA wilfully decides to adopt a nationalized program in the processing of public data.

For whatever inconveniences this passport fiasco will inflict on the public, Migrante International demands that a full refund of the passport processing fee be distributed back to all affected passport applicants. In the implementation thereof, we warn the DFA not to make life difficult for all the people affected by this mess.

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On Bonifacio Day: Migrants, “modern-day heroes,” rise against modern-day slavery, fascism and imperialism

Born 155 years ago, Andres Bonifacio lived for just a little more than three decades, and yet this great revolutionary leader who rose to lead great throngs of brave warriors to demolish Spanish colonialism in the Philippines continue to inspire many generations of Filipinos in their struggle for national democracy.

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More than a century after the withdrawal of Spanish forces, the age old troubles of poverty and oppression continue to grip millions of Filipinos. The heinous treachery of Emilio Aguinaldo has been recurrently embodied by puppet presidents from one US-controlled regime to another.

The Duterte regime is a perfect epitome of this Aguinaldo type of treason detested by the Filipino masses. It abominably presides over the gang rape of our country by emergent and established imperialist powers like China and the US.

Itching to offer his Build, Build, Build program to China, Duterte dragged the Philippines into dirty deals with big Chinese corporations. At the cost of our territorial integrity and energy security, a joint exploration deal was likewise laid down eyeing the exploitation of the rich gas reserves in the West Philippine Sea.

Migrante recognizes that these debt-ridden deals with China aggravate the Duterte regime’s exploitation of OFWs as milking cows to guarantee the country’s capacity for debt-servicing. As the country descends into the sinking sands of debt burdens brought about by corrupt neoliberal policies,   OFWs will bear the brunt of numerous and exorbitant state exactions like the mandatory insurance and SSS coverage.

Battered by Duterte’s TRAIN law, OFWs and their families back home are crying out against the agonizing 9-year high inflation rate, the worst in the ASEAN region. Under these excruciating neoliberal policies, there is no way that Filipinos will be able to get rid of their economic hardships.

Furthermore, the influx of foreign workers from China is a slap in the face of millions of OFWs who left their homeland due to the worsening poverty and unresolved issue of unemployment.

Like many Filipino workers, these Chinese workers are underpaid and overworked by exploitative Chinese firms which earned contracts for Duterte’s Build, Build, Build projects. This proves that debt-driven foreign investment on infrastructure neither translates to job generation for Filipinos nor does it improve working conditions.

120 years since the mock surrender of the Spanish forces to deceitful American troops, the prevailing problems of landlessness still plague majority of our poor farmers. Killings and harassments of organized peasants persist as the Fascist regime’s primary stance to stamp out dissent in the countryside. Up to this moment, families and supporters of the SAGAY9 massacre victims are aggressively persecuted by AFP-PNP and their paramilitary goons.

Just yesterday, Fascist elements from AFP and PNP illegally detained several dozens of Lumad students and teachers in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. Among those detained were members of the rescue team which include ACT Teachers Partylist Representative France Castro, former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo, and Pia Malayao of Katribu. They have been falsely charged of trafficking minors when in fact, they were only rescuing school children from the AFP-trained terrorist Alamara paramilitary group that closed down the Salugpongan community school. This is utterly detestable considering that Imelda Marcos and other big wealthy criminals still roam freely and even enjoy parties despite their convictions.

All bloodthirsty brutes from AFP and PNP enjoy the full backing of US imperialist aggressors. To this day, US imperialism remains the bloodiest and most destructive neocolonialist power in the Philippines as manifested in its direct involvement in all aspects during the destruction of Marawi and the three-pronged war being carried out by its puppet, the US-Duterte regime. The persecution of progressive people’s organizations through the US-dictated Oplan Kapayapaan will be intensified by Duterte’s Memorandum Order No.32 and his recently pronounced desire to form a death squad that will target idlers whom he branded as “prospective NPAs.”

In addition, the ever expanding presence of US troops both in our territorial lands and waters like in the West Philippine Sea grooms the Philippines into the main battleground between the US and China in the event that a military confrontation breaks out between the two rivals. All these imperialist expeditions must be vigorously opposed.

We Filipinos must learn from the revolutionary lessons drawn out by the heroic life of Gat Andres Bonifacio. Casting away the colonial mentality of mendicant dependence on foreign powers, we enjoin the Filipino masses to assert our sovereignty and strengthen our democratic force through our collective struggle in unity with the oppressed peasants, workers and all exploited sectors of our society.

By getting rid of the US imperialist grip on the Philippines and ending the Fascist reign of its puppet Duterte regime, only then will we be enabled as a people to freely chart our own course as a nation in the interest of the greater masses. Go forth and uphold our struggle for national democracy and liberation to address the roots of forced migration through genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.  With all our might, let us terminate the Fascist reign of terror and the neoliberal attacks of the evil US-Duterte regime.

Conviction of Kian’s murderers point to Duterte’s hand in EJKs

Migrante International welcomes the decision of the Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 125 in convicting police officers PO3  Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda and PO1 Jerwin Cruz for murdering  17-year old and OFW son Kian delos Santos. This court decision is highly significant as it confirms the involvement of officers from the Philippine National Police in perpetrating extrajudicial killings in the  Philippines under the bloody reign of terror of the US-Duterte regime.

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We count on judicial authorities in ensuring that these murderers will fully serve their sentences in jail. Let this be a stern warning to all uniformed personnel who got blood on their hands. For the growing masses of Filipinos who pursue justice,  this is viewed as an ominous handwriting on the wall for Duterte who is the chief instigator of state-sponsored killings.

The prevailing question now is what happens to the thousands upon thousands of unresolved cases of killings? We call on all the bereaved families and friends of the victims to come out and assert the attainment of justice for their loved ones. Duterte and his murderous state agents must pay for their crimes.

Likewise, it is crucial that all of us remain vigilant on the next steps that will be undertaken by the defense team of the convicts to appeal for the court’s verdict. In numerous times, Duterte has vowed that he will fully support and protect any police that will be prosecuted for these killings. Last September, Duterte himself admitted his sinful role in extrajudicial killings.

More outrageous, Caloocan City Police Senior Superintendent Chito Bersaluna who was sacked after Kian’s murder was promoted this year as Bulacan’s provincial chief and led the violent dispersal and imprisonment of leaders and supporters of the NutriAsia workers’ strike. This madness must stop! Duterte’s addiction to impunity must be countered by the people’s dissent and resistance.

Just very recently, the Duterte regime issued Memorandum Order 32 deploying additional troops to Samar, Negros, and the Bicol region to quell “lawless violence”. While the groups targeted are not cited,  we dread that the Fascist forces of the regime will use this decree to intensify Fascist attacks on peasants clamouring for genuine agrarian reform. At the back of the approaching campaign period, this may be used to repress and harass supporters of the opposition in the countryside.

In the same manner, Duterte’s pronouncement on the formation of death squads to slay idlers in transport terminals whom he branded as prospective NPAs is seen by many as a go signal to assassinate and target leaders and members of progressive people’s organizations operating in urban areas.

Migrante denounces all Duterte’s efforts to cement his criminal reign of terror and bloodshed in the Philippines. We call on the OFW family of Kian to work with other families of victims in attaining justice. For this pursuit, the Filipino people must unite and stand with the families of victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines to hasten the enforcement of judgment on the perpetrators by judicial authorities.

Stop the killings! Stop the attacks!

Justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings!

End Duterte’s reign of terror!

 

Stop the attacks on “migrants’ caravan.” End US imperialist plunder of Central America!

In strongest terms, Migrante International denounces President Trump’s use of violence through his federal agents who have been driving back desperate migrants away from the US-Mexico border. Scenes of terrified mothers and children screaming as chemical weapons are lobbed at them by heartless border security personnel somewhat depict images of Jews being gassed by Nazi mass murderers.

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President Trump’s use of chemical agents against migrant children and women deserve worldwide condemnation. Having the nerve to state that nobody comes to the US unless they come legally is pure hypocrisy on his part and of the ruling powers that Trump represents. For decades, US imperialism has illegally intruded Central American countries in violation of their sovereign rights. It continues to build and expand military bases in the region to arrest the rising tide of resistance from the struggling masses.

Migrants who form this “caravan” mostly come from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to flee from the enormous humanitarian crises brought about by US imperialism. This proves that  US-crafted neoliberal economic policies under CAFTA or Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement brought more misery to the citizens of these countries and has utterly failed to uplift their lives.

CAFTA was only meant to reconcentrate wealth on the hands of monopoly capitalists while ordinary citizens wallow in ever-increasing exploitative conditions. The pro-capitalist agreement intensified the mass exodus of Central Americans suffering from depressed livelihood opportunities and their lack of access to basic social services.

US imperialism stole their wealth and for many decades, the people of Central America have struggled to reclaim their countries from imperialist plunder but in all their attempts, one US administration to another launched brutal military and economic interventions to repress democratic rights and protect the interests of monopoly capitalists salivating after the abundance of the region’s natural resources.

For the longest time, US imperialism is the chief destabilizer not only in that region but in many countries across the globe including the Philippines. It has overthrown left-wing governments in Latin America and installed dictators who subserviently supported the bloody counterinsurgency campaigns waged by US imperialism.

Just as in the Philippines, the US military likewise formed, financed and trained paramilitaries, death squads and army units to butcher Central American peasants and evict minorities from their ancestral lands. Abject poverty accompanied by grave violations of human rights,land-grabbing, torture of activists and exploitation of workers are the main drivers of forced migration leading to the banishment of millions of Central Americans from their homelands. Trump is just reaping the outcome of the havoc US imperialism has been sowing on these countries.

As long as the US and its puppet governments place private profit as their foremost priority over the welfare of their people, forced migration will continue to persist in the region.

Migrante International stands in solidarity with the “migrants caravan” and with all Central Americans who vigorously resist and struggle against US imperialist and neoliberal dictates. We demand that US immigration authorities look into their plight and lend ears to their pleadings. Migrants and advocates must surge forward in building unities with all sectors to stamp out the ferocity of Trump’s anti-migrant attacks and the rampage of US imperialism.

OFWs to bear the brunt of Duterte’s loans from China

On the back of the country’s worsening unemployment and the on-going socioeconomic turbulence in traditional OFW deployment destinations like the Middle East, the Duterte regime is eyeing China as the primary alternative labour market for Filipino workers. With the state-visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, we expect that Duterte will likewise be wooing Chinese investors to take the plunge into his Build, Build, Build program.

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Despite throwing too much weight around China’s 2016 investment pledges worth $24 Billion which was projected to create a million jobs annually, most of which have not yet materialized. The Philippines remains to have the highest unemployment rate in the ASEAN region and a September SWS survey revealed that 22% or 9.8 million Filipinos are unemployed while pessimism on job availability rose to 16%.

At the expense of Filipino employment, many Chinese funded projects and investments are hiring considerable number of Chinese labourers. This is a slap in the face of every OFW who left due to unemployment in the country and just another proof that investments in infrastructure do not really translate into the actual generation of stable and secure jobs for Filipinos. Instead, they are meant to suction wealth upwards into the hands of the ruling elite.

The regime is creating illusions of growth and heightened economic activity through its Build, Build, Build program. Bereft of a strong industrial base, the Philippines has long been dependent on foreign borrowings and importations to realize its infrastructure madness.

Migrante maintains that this debt trap will only reinforce the regime’s exploitation of OFWs as milking cows. Money generated from additional state exactions like the mandatory SSS and the burdensome TRAIN law only serve as guarantees to China and other foreign lenders on our capacity for debt-servicing.

As lenders from China and the US along with local oligarchs rake super profits from pro-elite infrastructure projects, generations of Filipinos to come will have to bear this debt burden imposed upon them by the Duterte regime.

Our country does not deserve to be treated as a platform of strife between imperialist powers. We Filipinos will never allow ourselves to become collateral ropes in the imperialist tug-of-war between China and the US. Through the militant struggle of Filipino migrant workers in unity with the broad masses, we shall crush this imperialist plunder to put an end to the Duterte regime’s mockery of our national integrity.

 

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Reference: Arman Hernando, Spokesperson, Migrante International, 0932-509-50-54

Justice for Tuti! Save all migrant workers on death row!

Migrante International stands with the family of Tuti Tursilawati and the Indonesian people in demanding justice. We denounce the Saudi government’s blatant disregard for the life of a rape victim who suffered the worst forms of cruelty while working overseas. Sentencing a woman who acted in self-defense against sexual assault is utter injustice and a total violation of the principles of human rights.

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It is indeed sorrowful to hear about Tuti’s tragic end in the gallows at a time when we were also lauding the release of Jennifer Dalquez who was saved from death sentence. We mourn with Tuti’s family as they grieve over her bitter passing.

Among many countries, Indonesia and the Philippines are both afflicted with the deadly combination of labor export and forced migration. Under this growing trend worldwide, Tuti will never be the last migrant to perish unless labor sending governments address the roots of forced migration which are ravishing many families and communities in poor countries.

Every migrant and ordinary citizen can draw lessons from Jennifer Dalquez’ new found freedom and Mary Jane Veloso’s reprieve from death penalty for only by working together and rising up for our rights, we can save lives and prod authorities to look at the plight of migrants who were unjustly sentenced to death or are languishing in jail.

Now more than ever, we call on all migrants and all the citizens of the world to close ranks and demand justice for all foreign workers who continue to be the subjects of abuse and cruelty.

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