Esperon should eye Duterte as number one threat to national security! — Migrante International on perjury case filed by Nat’l Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. against Karapatan, et al

Migrante International condemns in the strongest terms the recent filing of a perjury case by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. against Karapatan, Gabriela, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) on 2 July 2019. This is clearly a bid by the regime to prevent its military officials from facing the court and to extricate their blood-stained hands from judicial liability for all the threats, killings and other Fascist attacks being instigated against rights defenders. 

With the recent efforts by the international community to push for a UN action against the extreme violence perpetrated by state forces, the Duterte regime is now in panic as it goes to unleash all its criminal orchestrations against progressive movements that are actively defending the people’s rights and interests. 

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Photo: Bulatlat

Reeling from the latest round of killings that claimed the lives of many Human Rights workers in the Philippines, Karapatan, et al lodged petitions for writ of amparo and habeas data at the Supreme Court. 

Duterte and Esperon would rather bolster state terror against the Filipino people and their defenders instead of spending their time and efforts to actively pursue national security in the face of China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea. In fact, millions of fisherfolks in our coastal regions are bearing the brunt of the ineptitude of Duterte’s security cluster to which Esperon belongs. As a result, many more Filipinos from these poor fishing communities would now be driven to sign up for overseas jobs in place of their besieged livelihood while Chinese-owned fishing vessels and naval ships are plundering our marine resources and defiling our national integrity. 

After daring the US to fire the first shot at China, Duterte is plainly offering the Philippines as a battleground between two rival military world powers. Esperon should have already realized at this point that the US-Duterte regime itself is the number one threat to Philippine national security. 

Pulling off their inutility, the Duterte regime’s security cluster have fielded military attaches in Philippine embassies overseas adding up to the vast number of unproductive parasites who drain government resources at the expense of Filpino communities abroad. Upon the auspices of Esperon, these military attaches are conducting government-funded seminars where progressive groups like Migrante and Gabriela are red-tagged and demonized to discredit our rights-based advocacies. 

At a time when thousands of OFWs in Saudi Arabia are in need of immediate assistance and evacuation due to the flaring war between Saudi forces and Yemeni fighters, these military attaches are not even lifting a finger to help lay out concrete measures to save OFWs from the growing threat of a full-blown crisis that will stem from the armed conflict. 

As defenders of people’s rights, Migrante International stands with Gabriela, Karapatan and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines as they seek judicial protection from harassment and state-sponsored terror. We will not watch idly as the rights of the people are violated by the blood-thirsty Duterte regime. The day of reckoning is surely at hand. Duterte and his fawning accomplice like Esperon will never escape the tremendous rage of the Filipino people. 

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Release Filipino babies and toddlers from Malaysian detention centres! — Migrante International

Migrante International is appalled at the tormenting conditions of babies and toddlers who are continually incarcerated at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. These are innocent Filipino children below the age of 2 who badly need immediate response from the Duterte government and the Department of Foreign Affairs so that they can be released immediately by Malaysian immigration authorities. 

We were informed that these little ones have been languishing in  detention since 14 June 2019 after a raid was conducted at Plaza Indah Apartment Kajang by immigration officers. It so happened that the mothers who possessed valid visas were not at home when the undocumented toddlers were seized from their relatives. 

 

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Details of the Filipino children’s plight were sourced from Tenaganita, a migrant centre based in Malaysia that is directly dealing with their case. Tenaganita has long been a partner of Migrante International in working for migrants’ rights and welfare. Like Migrante International, Tenaganita is also an active member of the International Migrants Alliance or IMA. No attention could have been drawn to the anguish of Filipino babies and toddlers who are in detention if it were not for groups or institutions like Tenaganita that work for migrants’ rights. 

Both the Philippines and Malaysia are state parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that mandates countries to protect children against all forms of punishment even on the basis of status. It is disheartening to know that the lack of communication and coordination among immigration units in Malaysia contributes further to the unbearable misery of these detained children and their distressed parents. We view this as a harsh course of criminalizing human life just because they happen to be undocumented children from migrant families. 

Scientific studies have shown that children subjected to these kinds of excruciating ordeal are certainly susceptible to psychological stress and emotional trauma which can lead to life-long behavioral consequences. In this view, we reject state policies that countenance the detention and separation of children from their parents for immigration reasons. Not only is this a manifestation of heartlessness and severe cruelty but we feel petrified that such laws even exist. 

Most of these migrant children come from families who have fled from socio-economic hardships in the Philippines and are therefore vulnerable to experience rights violations from traffickers, immigration officers and even from the state which is supposed to guard and preserve the well being of all children regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity and even immigration status or the absence thereof. 

We call on the Duterte government and the Department of Foreign Affairs to ensure the prompt release of these little children from detention so that they can be reunited with their family. In the same manner, we urge the Malaysian immigration authorities to hand the children back to their parents’ custody from whom they will be assured of receiving care and fond supervision as they work on their immigration documents. 

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Migrante swipes at Duterte anew for neglecting OFWs as war ravages deeper inside Saudi territory

Precisely as how we saw it coming, the US-Saudi conflict with Yemen has now escalated into a full-blown ground battle advancing ever deeper into Saudi’s inland territory. Yet despite our repeated warnings in the past few weeks, the Duterte regime is proving to be even more retrogressive in handling an imminent humanitarian disaster that now threatens almost 40 thousand Filipinos in the border regions of Asir, Jizan and Najran. Up to this very moment, the Duterte regime is still unable to present clear and concrete contingency measures to bring safety and security to imperiled OFWs.

Right at the beginning of June,  the Yemeni Houthi forces were reported to have already crossed the Saudi border seizing 20 positions as a retaliation to the numerous airstrikes in Yemen conducted by the US-Saudi military coalition. The surprise attack is believed to have claimed hundreds of troop casualties from the Saudi side according to major news outlets.

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Photo: Yemeni Houthi fighters by Agence France-Presse (AFP)

On monday, a short video clip was released by the Houthi-operated Al Masirah TV suggesting more strikes on Saudi airports and even possible attacks in the UAE. Last week, a Japanese tanker employing 21 Filipino seafarers was hit by a strong blast. The tanker was navigating at the Strait of Hormuz and as contradictions in the US-claim of Iranian involvement in the attack are getting pointed out, it is apparent that this false flag incident was meant to justify a US imperialist war of aggression in the region against Iran and Yemen. All 21 Filipino sailors were rescued by the Iranian navy.

Time waits for no one and the clock ticking to its deadliest last moment does not seem to ring any sound of alarm on Duterte’s stone-deaf ears as doom appears to lunge towards land-based and sea-based OFWs in the Gulf region. Has the government never really learned anything from the lessons of Libya and Iraq? Or is it really addicted to scrambling at the last minute?

Instead of burying their noses preparing for the worst possible outcome of this flaring Saudi-Yemen conflict, Philippine embassy and consulate officials in Saudi Arabia have been exhausting several weeks of their energy in conducting seminars to rally support for the US-Duterte regime’s brutal counterinsurgency program. OFWs who were present in the seminars recounted how consulate officials demonized and red-tagged progressive groups like Gabriela and Migrante as legal fronts of armed Communist insurgent groups.

This blatant use of people’s resources like consulate facilities to propagate the regime’s lies and falsehoods will in no way address the miseries of OFWs who have long suffered under the government’s corrupt labour export program. It does not in any way unify members of the Filipino community who might need to be mobilized soon for emergency relief and evacuation.

The US-Duterte regime is hell-bent in using all forms of deception to conceal its gross inutility in safeguarding the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers. The more he vilifies the legitimacy of progressive groups championing the democratic interests of the Filipino people, the more that Duterte exposes himself as a worthless fool spawned by a corrupt and dysfunctional system. One can’t help but ask as to where his moronic thoughts are wandering anew at this time when thousands upon thousands of OFWs are facing a clear and present danger on the other side of the world.

We will never allow the Duterte regime and his slavish minions in government to be rendered blameless in their gross indifference. The day of reckoning will come. For our part, Migrante International will continue to advance the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants wherever they may be in the world today.

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Migrante cries out for justice in the wake of Fascist carnage that claimed the lives of Ryan, Nelly, Nonoy and Neptali

Just as we were still trying to take in the tragic news about the cold-blooded murder of human rights defenders Ryan Hubilla and Nelly Balagasa of Karapatan-Sorsogon on Saturday (15 June), another peasant activist was shot dead just hours afterward. Nonoy Palma is a member of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Bukidnon. In the course of this writing, former campaign head of BAYAN-Bicol Neptali Morada was gunned down in Naga City by an armed assailant. These atrocities depict a very grave image gripping our country today. Under the tyrannical reign of the US-Duterte regime, the Philippines has been turned into a vast killing field where the overflowing blood of numerous fatalities cry out for justice.

Seething with rage and anguish, Migrante International strongly condemns this continuing slaughter of human rights workers and activists perpetrated by the ruthless mercenaries of the US-Duterte regime. As our hearts bleed with the grieving loved ones and friends of the slain victims, we deeply mourn for the woeful calamity that has befallen the oppressed and impoverished people of our beloved country.

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The Filipino people are constantly assaulted with impunity by Fascist violence and repression. Even the scantiest of our remaining democratic rights that we seek to guard and preserve are getting trampled. Killing the poor and their defenders as what the vicious US-Duterte regime intends to accomplish will in no way solve our deep-rooted issues of poverty and hardships that afflict the struggling majority.

To expose the monstrous crimes of the US-Duterte regime, Migrante International fully supports all efforts to raise the dreadful human rights situation in the Philippines to the United Nations and other international bodies. A joint petition will be submitted by different rights advocacy groups to UN special rapporteurs who have openly expressed their desire to probe the brutal killings in the Philippines. Duterte’s intimidation of human rights workers and activists, order to bomb Lumad schools, his sexist denigration of women, and his threat to kidnap and torture auditors at one point are just some of the regime’s many instances of violent incitements.

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Photo: BICOLTODAY.com

Duterte has not brought law and order to the country. Instead, he has dragged the entire nation to disgrace by presiding over lawlessness and widespread disorder through the brutality of his state forces. Streets and alleys have become execution grounds where the blood of destitutes and committed servants of the people are shed to appease the supreme butcher in Malacañang. It is now a very dangerous place for our children and our loved ones back home. Allowing Duterte to remain at the helm of his pestilential reign of terror is the clear road that leads to national perdition.

Nevertheless, we shall face these tribulations with unified strength and action. Before us is the compelling task of building society’s waxing resistance to its broadest and most zenithal form. Only by advancing the national democratic struggle will we be able to truly ascribe honor to the bravery and sacrifice of these devoted rights defenders. They have not perished and their names will never be blotted out from our memories. Ryan, Nelly, Nonoy and Neptali are still alive through our indestructible fervour and collective pursuit of life, justice and freedom for the downtrodden Filipino people.

 

Justice for Ryan Hubilla!

Justice for Nelly Balagasa!

Justice for Nonoy Palma!

Justice for Neptali Morada!

Stop the killings!

 

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References:

  • Joanna Concepcion, Chairperson, Migrante International,

USA contact number: 1 (909) 969 3313

Email: chair.migranteintl@keemail.me

 

  • Arman Hernando, Chairperson, Migrante Philippines;

PH Contact nos. 0967-277-53-32

 

Migrante decries Philhealth ‘ghost claims’ and Duterte’s fake ‘Universal Health Care’

Migrante decries Philhealth ‘ghost claims’ and Duterte’s fake ‘Universal Health Care’

The recent Philhealth scandal involving unlawful ‘ghost claims’ by WellMed points to the rotten state of a profit-oriented and privately-dominated healthcare system in the Philippines. Since Philhealth membership is mandatory for OFWs, it is just one of the many state exactions being relished by the corrupt Duterte regime. Migrante views this crime as a horrible offence against OFWs and their dependents.

At this period when many OFW families are battered by the unreasonably high cost of healthcare and all sorts of state exactions, we find it insulting that our hard-earned contributions are getting funneled into the over-bloated pockets of reprobate thieves.

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Photo: Inquirer.net

Recently, the Duterte regime has been bragging about its Universal Health Care Law which automatically enrolled all Filipinos under Philhealth membership. Contrary to what the name suggests, there is really nothing universal about Duterte’s much vaunted healthcare law. In fact, we see this as just another government scam to subsidize private profit.

There is no question that the privately-dominated healthcare system in the country enables large-scale corruption. Massive theft has been going in for many years. Since 2013, over Php 154 Billion was lost due to fraud and overpayment. What’s more outrageous is that the Duterte regime is hell-bent in recovering this huge amount of losses through a hike in the contribution rate of Philhealth members.

Migrante International is one with OFWs and their families in opposing this atrocious hike. OFW pockets are being suctioned dry with various forms of state exactions while corrupt vultures feast on our hard-earned money.

Likewise, we find it troubling that the Duterte regime is exempting Philhealth board member Francisco Duque III from investigations. Duque was Philhealth president in 2004 when his involvement in the Php 500 Million malversation scandal was bared. Duterte asked all the rest of the current Philhealth board members to resign. What makes Duque so special above the rest?

Despite the Duterte regime’s excessive braggadocio, the Philippines is stricken with underfunded hospitals that are rapidly getting devoured by intensified commercialization and privatization. Our Filipino healthcare workers are forced to endure being overworked in long shifts under meager pay and poor facilities. This painful reality is driving thousands of Filipino healthcare professionals to search for better opportunities overseas.

Instead of building adequate infrastructures for public health services, the Duterte regime fastens itself to neoliberal economic policies that systematize the gobbling of public funds to fill the coffers of big private entities.

Such is the deteriorating state of the Philippine healthcare system. This most recent Philhealth scandal is just a dot in the larger scheme of corruption in this field. The profit-oriented and privately-dominated healthcare system overindulged with subsidies from the Philippine government through public contributions in Philhealth is in itself the biggest form of theft that deprives Filipinos of their right to genuine universal health service.

Through unified actions, Migrante International will continue to expose the neoliberal attacks being perpetrated by the Duterte regime against Filipinos here and abroad. OFWs and their families will not stand idly as legalized plunder occurs under Duterte’s watch.

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After deadly missile strike on Saudi airport, Duterte government falls short in drawing lessons from similar events in Libya and Iraq – Migrante

On the 23rd of May, Migrante International issued a statement slamming the Duterte government for its failure to lay out contingency measures to assist OFWs in regions close to the Yemeni border. After the deadly missile strike in Abha on Wednesday, we are outraged that the Duterte administration remains stone-deaf in hearing our calls to ensure the safety of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia as the Philippine government displays the same ineptitude it has shown during the previous outbreak of armed conflict in Libya, Iraq and Syria.

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Instead of readying concrete contingency measures, the Department of Foreign Affairs only re-echoed almost the same consulate advisory issued by its office in Jeddah last month. Will the government wait once more for thousands of Filipinos to be caught up in the deadliest last minute before it even lifts a finger?

Now that airports and control towers are being targeted, it will no longer be safe for Filipinos to be airlifted to safety from these regions. According to the Consulate in Jeddah, in regions closest to the Yemeni border, about 15,000 Filipinos work in Jizan and 7,850 are in Najran. In the Asir region, there are 13,000 OFWs in the city of Khamis Mushayt alone. The city is close to the King Khalid Air Base which experienced a deluge of airstrikes a few days ago.

The Yemeni Forces vowed to launch more attacks in response to what it claims are “US-Saudi crimes of aggression” on the Yemeni people. What’s striking is that Saudi Arabia is increasingly becoming more incapable of intercepting drones and missiles launched from Yemen as airstrikes rapidly advance forward into its inland territory. This should already ring the loudest  alarm into the deaf ears of the Duterte regime and his officials.

Signs of exacerbation have been staring at Duterte’s face in the last few months and yet embassy and consulate officials in Saudi wasted several weeks electioneering for Duterte’s anointed candidates in the recently-concluded midterm national elections. This vile apathy demonstrates how much weight the Duterte government places on its lust for power than looking after the welfare of imperiled OFWs.

Once again, Migrante International reiterates its call on the Duterte government to ensure that concrete actions are already in place to readily assist OFWs in need of immediate evacuation in all locations of Saudi Arabia within missile range. It should draw lessons from similar periods in the past when it only responded upon the moment when lives have already been lost.

As long as the Duterte regime stubbornly clings to its rotten labour export program, Filipinos abroad will remain under threat as collateral damage in countries jolted by armed conflict. OFWs and their families will not stop at nothing less than making the Duterte regime and his government officials accountable for their negligence.

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Migrante lauds Wulandari’s release. Calls for Mary Jane Veloso’s freedom

Finally reunited with her family, Migrante International extends its heartfelt wishes to Dwi Wulandari as she begins her life anew. We are elated that she has finally achieved justice after suffering terribly from her ordeal which started back in 2012 upon her arrest for alleged drug smuggling in the Philippines.

On March 29, the Court of Appeals ruled that she was innocent of all the charges. The original life sentence verdict handed by the Pasay City Regional Trial Court in 2017 was overturned after an appeal on her case was raised with the help of public lawyers. Arrested in September 2012 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Wulandari was charged with smuggling illegal drugs into the Philippines.

Just like Mary Jane Veloso who is still on death row in Indonesia, Wulandari was a victim of big international trafficking syndicates and drug smugglers who have been preying  on vulnerable migrants. Many of these trafficking victims embarked overseas to fulfill their dreams of better lives for their loved ones, only to be tricked by vicious traffickers who reverse migrant aspirations into dreadful years of nightmare and torment.

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(Photo by Jakarta Post) Dwi Wulandari (center) embraces her loved ones upon her return in East Java on Sunday.

We welcome this recent Court of Appeals (CA) decision to overturn Wulandari’s verdict. How we wish that the appellate court granted the same favor to Mary Jane Veloso when she pleaded for her right to deposition in Indonesia. Since CA barred Mary Jane from testifying against her traffickers, the Veloso family are now fighting for her life in the Supreme Court.

May Wulandari’s case be a strong message to the Supreme Court of the Philippines as we reiterate our call to let Mary Jane Veloso speak the truth so that justice will finally be served.  We want all the international human trafficking syndicates and big drug smugglers to pay for their crimes against Mary Jane Veloso and Dwi Wulandari.

Mary Jane’s Supreme Court case has been dragging for months. We fervently hope that Wulandari’s new found freedom will be reciprocated by the Indonesian government with a bestowal of clemency for Mary Jane Veloso so she can be finally relieved from the debilitating years of suffering and incarceration.

As Dwi Wulandari begins her new life in sweet reunion with her family, Migrante likewise longs for the moment when Mary Jane Veloso will finally be granted her freedom and be reunited with her loved ones. Migrante International vows to continue pursuing justice for all OFWs and their families who continue to be afflicted by the Duterte regime’s deadly labour export program and by his stiff refusal to address  the roots of forced migration in the Philippines.