#SONA2018: OFWs and families call for an end to Duterte’s plunder and tyranny!

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As the Duterte regime commences its third year in office, a thick cloud of darkness hovers above as multitudes fall into despair and misery. Bloodshed and terror dominates while the country descends further into the Hades of tyranny.

 

We can no longer endure the deprivation Duterte has inflicted upon us. Struggling Filipinos are exhausting their meagre income to basic necessities, the prices of which have risen up to insane levels. Inflation rate, now the highest in almost a decade is worsened by the peso’s depreciation to its lowest in 6 years. These woes are attributed to Duterte’s TRAIN Law.

 

Since collections from his TRAIN will never suffice to deal with the budget deficit, by aggressively heaping a huge mountain of debt, the regime pats itself in the back with the assurance that it can always lay hold of the resources extracted from the dirt poor and the struggling middle class to serve as collaterals subsidizing the profit of the ruling elite.

 

The depletion of the country’s dollar reserves to a 6-year low is just one of the many manifestations of everything wrong in an export-oriented, import dependent and foreign-dominated economy. Pursuing Duterte’s Build, Build, Build lunacy, the widening budget deficit would mean another big blow to the poor since his economic mis-management team would resort to imposing severe austerity measures in social services to allocate a bigger chunk of the budget for debt servicing, while reserves are squandered in the importation of construction supplies from China. Meanwhile, the ruling 1% rejoices and is ever grateful to Duterte for his benevolence in securing their profit while the 99% are damned to pay unwanted debts for many generations to come.

 

To address the dilemma brought about by the massive debt and the plummeting currency reserves, the US-Duterte regime is expected to rely on OFWs as cash cows by intensifying its labour export program (LEP) so it can squeeze more dollar remittances and perpetuate modern-day slavery. One of its abhorrent money making schemes is the creation of the Overseas Filipino bank to salvage the dwindling dollar reserves. Instead of ending the LEP, the regime has institutionalized it further through the Overseas Filipino bank.

 

Duterte preoccupies himself with mastering the skills of a con-artist through propaganda offensives of pro-migrants posturing to cover-up the inherent and worsening vulnerability of Filipino migrants under the LEP. To this day, he has failed to address the mass layoffs of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East. Justice remains elusive on the cases of OFW deaths and Duterte continues to be apathetic to the plight of Mary Jane Veloso who is still on death row in Indonesia.

 

At the behest of Chinese private contractors and lenders, the country is set to bring in huge throngs of Chinese labourers to work on these debt-ridden megaprojects. Surely, it has become Duterte’s expertise to trigger resentment among our unemployed labour pool by articulating that colossal deceit that Build, Build, Build would generate jobs for Filipinos.

 

Cementing itself as the country with the highest unemployment and being among those with the worst poverty rate in the ASEAN region, these tribulations will stick around as long as the regime refuses to heed calls for a national minimum wage closer to the living wage and ending contractualization. Without national industrialization and genuine agrarian reform being pushed at the GRP-NDF peace talks, the illusion of growth prevails even if the constitution is changed a thousand times during Duterte’s term. Tragically, at the bidding of their US-imperialist masters, peace spoilers in AFP have blighted the GRP-NDF peace process.

 

Duterte’s charter change obsession does not have anything to do with improving the economy nor creating a strong civil society. Its motivation is to grant more boon to his favoured politico-economic elites as he seeks from them immunization from his imminent prosecution once his reign of terror is over. More treacherous neoliberal and neo-colonial provisions are expected to be enshrined dumping our sovereignty and opening the economy to more foreign control and imperialist interest.

 

Progressives and Duterte’s enemies have exposed him as the biggest patron of corrupt bureaucrats and drug personalities in the Philippines. Obviously, he has surrounded himself with veteran crooks like the Marcoses, Arroyo, pork-barrel queen Napoles, and the notorious drug –linked businessman Peter Lim. Not to mention the thick bond that ties him to his son Pulong who was the subject of a congressional inquiry on drug-smuggling and to his daughter Inday Sara whose husband, Mans Carpio, is known to serve as legal counsel for the landlord-land grabber Lorenzo-Lapanday.

 

Under the US-Duterte regime, the Philippines has become a killing field where the poor gets brutally killed for simply walking outside of the house. Thousands upon thousands have been killed in Duterte’s fake drug war where most of the victims are poor people while big wealthy drug lords and smugglers laugh their asses out. In Mindanao, the Lumads are persecuted for defending their ancestral rights against incursions of the military which protects the interests of big mining lords.

 

As puppets of US imperialist interests, the AFP upon the order of Duterte and CIA-Lorenzana reduced Marawi into ashes and placed the entire Mindanao under Martial Law. Maranaos are enraged that big swathes of land have been dedicated to the construction of another US-EDCA compliant military base while the rest are handed over to Chinese-led consortiums. The US-Military industrial complex, the World Bank, IMF and other foreign ODA sources are the main beneficiaries from the destruction of Marawi.

 

We have also seen how this bloodthirsty and misogynistic Duterte regime opens its welcoming arms to foreign bankers, development-aggressors and militarists but on the other hand, Duterte unleashes his lackeys to harass the likes of Sister Patricia Fox, an advocate for peasants’ rights whose deportation order was just issued. Recently, Methodist missionaries from the US and Africa were expelled and blacklisted after their release from detention. Their only crime was putting their faith into action by commissioning themselves to asserting justice for the poor and the oppressed. Under Katay Digong’s watch, more rights-advocates from civil society organizations and the religious sector have been either killed or arrested on trumped-up charges. A dreadful atmosphere of impunity has enveloped the country.

 

In response to the vicious neoliberal and fascist attacks of the US-Duterte regime, migrants and their families join hands with the Filipino people under one broad umbrella to oppose Duterte’s shameless plunder, emergent authoritarianism, wanton violation of human rights, and relentless attack on sovereignty. The US-Duterte regime should remind itself that there will always be an end to his fascist whoredom, for the power of the people is stronger than his delusions of omnipotence. In unison with workers, peasants and the rest of the exploited spheres, we will fight for justice, life, liberty and democracy.

 

Our rallying cries: End labour export, stop modern-day slavery! No to Charter Change! Enough of Duterte’s plunder and tyranny! Tama na! Sobra na! Wakasan na!

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On the derogatory remarks of Kuwaiti social media influencer Sondos Alqattan against Filipino household workers

July 20, 2018

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PRESS STATEMENT

Migrante and SANDIGAN (Samahan ng mga DH sa Gitnang Silangang) vehemently condemns the degrading remarks made by Kuwaiti social media influencer Sondos Alqattan who ranted against giving day-offs to Filipino household workers and allowing them to keep their passports. By projecting herself as a slave-owner, Sondos exhibits intoxication in her overinflated ego and false sense of superiority. At a time when many all over the world are going to and fro online to acquire knowledge and access more information, Sondos should have known by now that workers have rights too and they deserve just and humane treatment from their employers. Instead, Sondos continues to cling to a backward outlook which literally belongs to the dark ages.

 

We strongly demand that she offer public apology and genuinely express remorse for her disgusting statements. It would also be more valuable to her if she can visit the Philippines to witness for herself the appalling poverty that grips many Filipino families and find out what hardships OFWs had to go through in government agencies before they can finally be deployed abroad.

 

There is no doubt that maltreatment of Filipinos in Kuwait and in many countries persist. What is even more outrageous is that the Duterte regime continues to act as a pimp who willingly furnishes foreign countries with cheap and docile workers from the Philippines to serve as cash cows for his pro-elite TRAIN and Build, Build, Build lunacy.

 

An apology from Sondos will surely give respite to our offended netizens but what OFWs ultimately long for is the total elimination of the roots of forced migration. As long as the Duterte regime stubbornly refuses to impose a national minimum wage, end contractualization, pursue national industrialization and institute genuine agrarian reform in the Philippines, there will be more cases like that of Demafelis and we shall hear more grim stories in the future about OFWs being at the receiving end of insults and inhumane treatment overseas from cynics like Sondos Alqattan.

 

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Duterte chains OFWS and families to slavery and poverty

14 July 2018

PRESS STATEMENT

 

As Duterte gears for the State of the Nation Address and commences his third year in office, the Philippines is certainly in the midst of perilous times. OFWs and their families are chained to be yanked further into the sinking sands of the tyrant’s rule.

 

His brashness committal in taxing the poor to relieve the rich via TRAIN Law is set to thrust the prices of basic commodities to traumatic levels in the coming years. The anguish against TRAIN’s first phase is already apparent and yet, it is only just the initial part of our ordeal. Filipinos will be tormented in the years to come with the TRAIN law’s succeeding 4 phases.

 

The country’s inflation rate, now the highest in the ASEAN region was maliciously smoke-screened by the regime’s redefinition of inflationary factors to moderate its appalling figure. The objective was to deceive the public with brazen lies about the country’s growth rate which is nothing but illusory as it fails to achieve a significant dent on poverty.

 

The country’s overdependence to remittances from OFWs can no longer cope with the plummeting dollar reserves, the lowest in 6 years, and the peso’s depreciation. Our national currency has sunk to its weakest level in 12 years, hiking inflation since imports like rice and oil are paid in dollar terms. Adding insult to injury is the increased value of our foreign debts.

 

Expect the regime to heighten its labor export program as a quick fix to this dilemma. More Filipinos will be peddled for enslavement in foreign lands as life in the Philippines becomes unbearable as hell under this regime, while private contractors on the other hand plan to bring in Chinese laborers as dictated by Duterte’s Chinese lenders.

 

Instead of devoting the coffers to improving public services and human development, the bulk goes to debt-servicing and importation of construction materials to finance the regime’s pro-elite and anti-poor Build Build Build program. Duterte’s lethal infrastructure madness will not generate long-term employment for our local workforce but is only meant to surge wealth upward mainly for the benefit of private contractors and foreign lenders who will rake more super-profits from ODAs or Official Development Assistance, a euphemism for our country’s source of massive debt.

 

All for the sake of US-Duterte’s bootlicking subservience to imperialist interests; the regime razed Marawi to the ground, undermined our territorial sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, terrorized Lumad schools, and forcefully evicted farming communities and poor neighborhoods to give way to big multinational corporations at the cost of thousands of human lives.

 

With Duterte’s emergent authoritarianism now at hand through his degenerate libido for Charter Change and bloodshed, migrants and their families are united with the rest of the Filipino people in directing their rage against the US-Duterte regime’s tyrannical rule. We, OFWs and families, will not let Duterte drag our countrymen to damnation.

 

We cry out: End labor export, stop modern-day slavery! Enough of Duterte’s plunder and tyranny!

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Justice for Joanna Demafelis and Other OFW Deaths in Kuwait! Justice for All OFW Victims of Government Neglect!

We mourn with the family and loved ones of Joanna Demafelis who suffered unimaginable cruelty from the hands of her employers in Kuwait. For over a year, Joanna’s body was stuffed inside a freezer found inside an abandoned apartment. Investigators found physical signs of torture.

Migrante International points to the blood stained hands of Duterte as the primary culprit for his regime’s failure to keep its promise of protecting the lives of OFWs. It was not too long ago when last year’s execution in Kuwait of Jakatia Pawa has caught the country by surprise. The Philippine embassy in Kuwait received official information about her execution 18 hours before it was carried out. There was negligible response from Duterte as he is known to be a supporter of death penalty.

One year on, there’s still no let up to the ever-increasing number of brutal killings and executions perpetrated against OFWs in their host countries under Duterte’s watch. Duterte himself acknowledged that there were more than a hundred OFW deaths in Kuwait last year and more than a dozen of which are currently being investigated due to possible foul play.

Filipino workers continue to clamor for the government to address the roots of forced migration and end its labor export program. Duterte’s hardline pronouncements against Kuwait remain to be mere grandstanding and sheer hypocrisy unless problems marking labor conditions in the Philippines are resolved. The Philippines continues to be notorious for labor woes and anti-poor policies hounding its local workforce forcing millions to search for better life abroad. Recently, the Duterte administration enacted TRAIN or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion which spiked the prices of commodities upward. Migrante decries the heartless stance of the Duterte regime towards Filipino workers here and abroad.

Migrante challenges Duterte to investigate erring officials who failed to look into the plight of OFWs in distress. We call on the Duterte administration to publicize the bilateral agreement it intends to sign with Kuwait with regards to the protection of Filipino workers and ensure that the voices of OFWs will be heard and their demands be included.

As we grieve with the loved ones left behind by Joanna Demafelis, we echo the outcry of OFWs worldwide in calling for her attainment of justice and for many other OFWs who suffered the same fate. May the perpetrators be punished as we also raise our call for justice for all the many victims of the government’s negligence towards distressed migrants in dire need of immediate help. ###

The Real Devil Unmasked

THE REAL DEVIL UNMASKED

By Migrante-Philippines

Before proceeding to NAIA to welcome more than a hundred OFWs from Kuwait, Duterte once again uttered colorful language to mask himself as a sacrificial lamb being led to the slaughter.

“You come home and I will sell my soul to the devil to look for money so that you can come home and live comfortably here,” Duterte said during the oath-taking event for newly appointed officials.

This statement was made after the tragic story of Joanna Daniela Demafelis shocked the public. For over a year, her corpse was stuffed inside a freezer and initial investigations reveal signs of torture. Several more cases of OFW deaths in Kuwait are also undergoing investigation and Duterte himself said before the media in Davao that there are as many as 120 Filipinos who died in Kuwait last year. Eventually, Duterte ordered a deployment ban of domestic workers to Kuwait. Just before we could even bind our emotional wounds caused by these gruesome horror stories, Malacanang made a mockery of newly-arrived repatriates by driving them away once more as China is now being considered by his regime’s labor authorities as the next destination of displaced OFWs.

Masquerading as an “Angel of Light,” there is no doubt that Duterte the devil has mastered the art of deception and trickery. Has he not even realized the glaring contradiction when he expressed his wish to have OFW repatriates live comfortably in the Philippines only to expel them the next moment? Certainly, no words can describe the uplifting feelings of their loved ones after heaving a sigh of relief knowing that their mothers, fathers or siblings are finally back home safe from the shadows of death in a distant land instead of arriving inside a casket. But alas, they are to be sent away anew by no other than one of the manifestations of the devil himself, President Rodrigo Duterte. As the Philippines accumulate piles of debt from Chinese loans and as one land mass after another in our territorial waters is being devoured by China, our hardworking people are pimped out by the government’s atrocious Labor Export Program.

More appalling, Duterte expressed gratefulness to contractual kings Lucio Tan and Gokongwei and vowed to protect their business interests for shouldering the flights of OFW repatriates. It is no secret that these vicious wolves that Duterte are dressing in sheep’s clothing are among those who torment local Filipino workers with low wages and contractual jobs that prod them to search for greener pastures overseas. It is quite ironic that Duterte even demanded from the Kuwaiti government to improve their labor conditions for Filipino workers when in the first place, those OFWs left the Philippines because they are afflicted back home with greater labor woes perpetuated by these very same wolves he graciously showered with flattering remarks. Adding insult to injury, access to government services continue to be poor and prices of commodities soar unabated due to the US-Duterte regime’s unscrupulously enacted TRAIN or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion. Truly, these features of forced migration are the roots of all evil besetting our workforce.

Migrante is firm in its position that in order to finally end forced migration, the Philippines needs to institute labor reforms like enacting a national minimum wage closer to the living wage and totally abolishing all forms of contractualization. Importantly, it must also endeavor to address the wretchedness of agriculture through a genuine agrarian reform coupled with national industrialization. These reforms could have been tackled had the US-Duterte regime and his peace-spoilers in the military did not terminate the GRP-NDFP peace talks which was already on the final stages of presenting the CASER draft or the Comprehensive Agreement for Social & Economic Reforms.

Unless these reforms are achieved we can always expect Duterte the devil and his succeeding heirs to continue resorting to all forms of deception and arrogantly stand as false messiahs in lying wonders. It is essential that the Filipino people guard their hearts and minds against deceitful serpents wallowing in puppetry and subservience to foreign imperialist interests. Indeed, the US-Duterte regime is drunk in the wine of his neoliberal fornications. ###

Never again to a fascist dictatorship! Resist tyranny! Makibaka, huwag matakot! – Migrante

Today, wherever we may be in the world, Filipinos come together to pay tribute to the heroism of Gat Andres Bonifacio on his 154th birth anniversary. But this year’s tribute goes beyond commemoration. Today, we unite to strongly condemn and hold accountable the fascist US-Duterte regime for crimes  perpetrated in its Marcosian all-out war against the Filipino people.

We are gathered today in protest with other sectors because overseas Filipinos and their families stand against Duterte’s fascism and tyranny. We condemn in most vehement terms the government’s mass murder under the banner of the regime’s three wars – the war against the Moro people, the bloody “war on drugs” and the anti-people Oplan Kapayapaan. We vow to fight Duterte’s political suppression and repression of its critics and perceived enemies. We vow to resist and reject any and all forms of curtailment of our hard-fought freedoms and civil liberties.

The recent surge of arrests, harassments and extrajudicial killings “tokhang-style” by military and police forces against legal activists across the country in light of the GRP’s termination and sabotage of the GRP-NDFP peace talks and Duterte’s threats of a “crackdown” indicate that the president has completely turned his back on just and lasting peace.

It is no secret that militarists and opportunists in the Duterte government want to extend matial law in Mindanao and expand it for their own interests. The looming extension of martial law in Mindanao represents a clear and present threat of an expansion of military rule not only in Mindanao but a military takeover of the government. Such a move will further pave the way for the installation of Duterte’s one-man rule.

History has proven that a fascist dictatorship cannot and will not bring about peace and stability. Instead, most vulnerable to human rights and violations are the Filipino people — unionists who strike for better wages, farmers and national minorities who struggle for land, the poor who fight for better services and against state repression. Clearly, Duterte’s pretext of a “revolutionary government” will set the stage for the large-scale violation of human rights by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and other state forces.

History has also proven that a fascist dictatorship failed to address the root causes of the CPP-NPA-NDF armed rebellion as well as the Moro people’s struggle for the right to self-determination. Extending martial law in Mindanao, and its possible expansion nationwide through a so-called “revolutionary government” or Duterte’s “federalism”, will be a momentous stumbling block to the Filipino people’s aspiration and commitment to genuine socio-economic reforms and a just and lasting peace.

Migrante also condemns in strongest terms the apparent US-hand not only in the Marawi conflict but in moves to extend martial law in Mindanao and expand it nationwide, especially after US President Trump’s expression of overwhelming support for Duterte during the last ASEAN Summit. Filipinos here and abroad resist and reject US involvement in Philippine affairs. Our nation should not fall prey to the US ploy of wreaking terror and division to advance their economic and political interests in the country and in the region, similar to what they are waging in Syria, Venezuela and other countries where people are asserting their independence.

We will not be intimidated. Makibaka, huwag matakot! Migrante International enjoins all Filipinos and their families worldwide be ever vigilant and continue with efforts to mobilize the broadest number of Filipinos in the Philippines and around the world to call for an end to Duterte’s fascist rule. ###

 

Shame on Duterte for refusing humanitarian aid for Rohingyas – Migrante

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International strongly criticized the Duterte government for voting against the United Nations General Assembly committee draft resolution calling for humanitarian aid access and for Myanmar to grant full citizenship rights to Rohingya Muslims.

Shame on the Duterte government. Pres. Duterte’s negative vote is yet another testament to his government’s stance on human rights and social justice and his cold-blooded prejudice against the poor and oppressed.

The Rohingya crisis is not just an issue of border security or trafficking. It has turned into a humanitarian crisis that the UN and the ASEAN should resolve immediately in the most humane and compassionate way. It has become a concern of all freedom-loving peoples and the responsibility of all states around the world.

The world continues to watch in horror as thousands of trafficked Rohingyas are being left to die, without proper food, shelter and protection, women and children being raped, as ASEAN states continue to refuse them entry into their borders.

Migrante International also expressed grave concern over news reports of migrant detention camps and mass graves uncovered along the Thailand-Malaysia border. Thailand’s cruel and militarist crackdowns on trafficked victims and undocumented migrants continue to plague the Rohingya peoples and other trafficked victims.

Migrante International also strongly criticized the Myanmar government for discriminating against the Rohingyas, treating them inhumanely and criminalizing them as illegal migrants.

Migrante International stands in solidarity with our brother and sister refugees and asylum-seekers. Migrants, particularly Filipino migrant workers, are not oblivious to the horrors, hardships and harshness of being turned away, rejected, prosecuted, criminalized and spurned. Where there are conflicts and wars, so Filipino migrants are. Where there are restrictions and stringent immigration measures, so Filipino migrants are. Where there are uncertainties and threats of imminent death, so Filipino migrants are.

​Filipino migrant workers are also no strangers to civil strife in their homeland.​

In the Philippines, thousands of Lumad communities have been displaced due to martial law and militarization in Mindanao. Heightened attacks on indigenous communities, especially on Lumad schools, have caused thousands upon thousands to flee their ancestral lands in search for protection and in fear of their lives.

The bigger tragedy is that these attacks are perpetrated by the Duterte government through the military, given license by a counter-insurgency program patterned after the US Counter-Insurgency Guide on “war on terror” – the very same policy that has caused millions of migrants and refugees to flee their lands, by the same proponents that uphold labor export and other neoliberal policies that drive peoples to forced migration in search of so-called greener pastures at the risk of danger or even death.

Migrante International calls on all Filipino compatriots and fellow migrants around the world to stand in solidarity with the Rohingyas. Migrante International calls on all Filipino compatriots and fellow migrants to oppose imposed borders and merciless immigration and refugee policies that trample on the fundemental rights of refugees and migrants of the world.

No to borders. H​umanity and compassion should know no barriers. ###