On the SC ruling allowing Mary Jane Veloso to testify

Migrante International welcomes the Supreme Court decision to finally allow Mary Jane Veloso to give her testimony against her traffickers through written deposition. With this ruling, Mary Jane will be able to bring to light the horrors of her ordeal. This will likewise allow the authorities in the Philippines and Indonesia to examine how big international drug and human traffickers victimize unsuspecting migrant workers and travellers. It shall also serve as a precedent for overseas Filipinos who may in troublesome circumstances later find themselves victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment. 

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PHOTO: Rappler

We recognize that this significant SC decision is also engendered by the untiring efforts of Mary Jane’s family and supporters who refused to just let her case be swept away into oblivion. Migrante International is grateful to all those who stood by with the Veloso family right from the beginning up to this latest phase in her family’s legal battle here in the Philippines. We thank our allies both here and abroad for their outpouring of support in our last ditch effort to ensure that Mary Jane be presented as the prosecution’s last witness on October 28 which is the final court hearing set by the Nueva Ecija RTC for the presentation of prosecution witnesses.

Our hopes are now high that with Mary Jane’s presentation of her written testimony, it shall make way for that much awaited moment when she will be finally reunited with her loved ones in the Philippines. More than ever before, Migrante International will continue to fight for the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and their families, more so for those who are in the most adverse situations. 

 

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Let Not Mhelody Bruno Be Just Another Statistic – Let Justice Be Hers!

Migrante Australia, a national alliance of Filipino migrant organisations raises concern over the death of Filipino transgender woman Mhelody Bruno, 25 years old, who was reportedly killed while on holiday in Australia. The police reported that Mhelody was found unresponsive in a home unit on Tarcutta Street, Wagga Wagga, where paramedics conducted CPR before bringing her to the hospital. Despite efforts to revive her, she died shortly after 10:00AM on Sunday, 22 September 2019. Mhelody was about to return to the Philippine but she was killed just a week before her flight home.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Mhelody’s family in Surigao and will do what we can to assist them in this time of grief and uncertainty. We echo their cry for justice for the crime committed against Mhelody Bruno.

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PHOTO: Rappler

This is the second time this year that a Filipino national died whilst working in regional Australia. Last March 2019, Jerwin Royupa was killed allegedly after jumping from a vehicle following an altercation with his employer. His death remains unresolved.

Also about two years ago, Charma Annear was brutally murdered by her estranged husband in November 2016 in the remote country town of Laverton, Western Australia. The WA Supreme Court found Mr Mervin Annear, guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced in April 2018 with 10-years imprisonment.

This spate of violent and suspicious deaths of Filipino nationals experiencing exploitation as migrant workers or as tourists must be stopped and the Australian criminal justice system must do its work to bring justice to the families of these victims.

We call on all concerned government agencies and the Filipino community in Australia to extend support and assistance to Mhelody Bruno’ family as they seek justice and the repatriation of her body back to the Philippines.

We also extend the invitation of the Filipino community in Wagga Wagga to a Vigil for Mhelody/Justice for Mhelody on Monday, 1 October 2019, 7:00-10:00PM at Victory Memorial Gardens, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

Justice for Melody Bruno!

Migrante Australia P O Box 606, Laverton 3028, Australia * Email: migrante@ilpsaustralia.com Contacts: George (Butch) – 0413 041514(VIC); Mel – 0414 247154(WA);; Manny (Bebot) – 0404 105899(NSW) Lina – 0407 841010(NSW); Berlin – 0499 303911(Albury-Wodonga); Reyvi – 0421 116776(Vic) Steph – 0422 171969(VIC)

On the appointment of Mocha Uson as OWWA Deputy Executive Director

It is not a surprise that Duterte is recycling a degenerate like Mocha Uson. He needs to beef up his army of apologists and attack dogs to distract us from the worsening socio-economic conditions facing millions of Filipino people. Mocha Uson’s active participation in discriminating against and demonizing OFW activists who are critical and outspoken about his policies, poor record and criminal neglect in addressing their concerns serves Duterte’s political agenda in silencing organized voices who are defending their democratic rights.

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Duterte is putting the hard earned money of OFWs at easy disposal of a government official with a record of wasting people’s money in purveying fake news and senseless junkets. He has appointed someone whose actions are contradictory to the mandate of OWWA to care for the welfare of all OFWs, regardless of their beliefs, and whose actions have been more detrimental than helpful to the interests of our OFWs such as the “rescue mission” she co-organized in Kuwait last year– a publicity stunt that only placed the lives of our migrant workers in harm’s way.

It is clear that Duterte is not serious in resolving the mounting problems facing our OFWs and we are extremely concerned that discriminatory practices in the delivery of services to our OFWs who are not loyal to Duterte will be rampant.

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“Resist and remember the continuing horrors of Martial Law!” — Migrante International on the 47th anniversary of the Martial Law proclamatio

Coveting after autocratic rule, President Ferdinand E.Marcos signed Proclamation No. 1081 (PROC. 1081) dated 21 September 1972 placing the entire Philippines under Martial Law. Following this declaration, the US-Marcos regime wasted no time arresting activists and shutting down hundreds of institutions deemed critical of government policies.   

Hundreds of media outlets were closed down and Marcos assumed both legislative and executive powers. It did not take long before the impoverished many sank further into the abyss of economic cataclysm. Contrary to the delusional claims of Marcosian worshipers about the Philippines being among the richest countries in Asia that time, it was actually during this period that our country saw itself overtaken by one Asian country to another in terms of development.

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Fast forward to 2019, the Philippines is still trapped within the pangs of Fascism and constant economic crisis. The US-Duterte regime seeks to outdo the dictator Ferdinand Marcos by turning the Philippines into Asia’s largest killing field. Ordinary people and activists alike risk illegal arrests, trumped-up charges, torture and execution. 

On 5 July 2019, Bryan Conje, the son of a Saudi-based OFW was found lifeless after being shot by the Navotas police. No stable jobs await OFWs returning to the Philippines. Only death, terror and misery abound. Similar cases of killings in the name of Duterte’s “war against drugs” and “crimes” have resulted in casualties numbering thousands. 

Most of the bloody operations conducted by the police target poor communities. Meanwhile, Mayor Sanchez who was convicted in the rape and murder of UP students along with other big time criminals from wealthy families were let loose by Duterte from incarceration. 

The bloodbath in the countryside is just as worse as in the cities. From 2017, rights groups have already recorded 87 people killed in the island of Negros alone. Fifteen (15) of which were shot in just one week by military and police elements during the last week of July this year. It is no coincidence that these violent killings are rampant in places where Duterte sends additional military and police forces to contain perceived “threats against national security.” 

Duterte has been augmenting the number of troops in Negros since November 2018 when he signed Memorandum Order 32. This is just a part of Duterte’s Executive Order 70 institutionalizing the “Whole-of-Nation Approach.” With most of the slain coming from poor peasant communities fighting for their small farms against big wealth landowners and landgrabbers, it is President Duterte himself that should be branded as the number one threat to national security. 

In accordance with EO70, the Duterte regime has likewise formed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict under the guidance of officials from both AFP and PNP. Attacks against progressive organizations are becoming more brazen even in the arena of public media. The entire state machinery has been parading an array of fake news and false information to delegitimize the advocacies of people’s defenders.

In seminars conducted by NTF attaches overseas, red tagging and vilification of Migrante International is prevalent. Military Attache – Col. Antonio Faro Olaguera and Philippine Embassy Second Secretary Allan Hencel U. Campos have been visiting international schools in Saudi Arabia where there is a significant number of Filipino students to conduct such seminars. 

Using government resources, the Duterte regime is driving a wedge among overseas Filipino communities to prevent OFWs from finding out the truth about the government’s rotten labour export programme. 

At a time when the armed conflict between Saudi and Yemen has already escalated into a full-blown ground battle deeper inside Saudi territory as early as June this year, Philippine embassy and consulate officials should have been spending their time working on concrete contingency measures to secure 40 thousand Filipinos in border regions. 

For more than two decades, Migrante International has upheld the rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workers. It has served to amplify the voices of OFWs in distress left unheard and neglected by a government reeked by greed and corruption. We will not stand idly as the Duterte regime intensifies its brutal repression of dissent to prevent us from raising the legitimate grievances of Filipino migrants. 

As we march with democratic forces to magnify our resistance against Duterte’s Fascist rule, let us remember those who have gone before us in their sacrifices. Altogether, we shall smash the Duterte regime’s abuse of power and make him accountable for his crimes. More than ever before, let us stand united and surge forward to wrest power from those that seek to oppress and slay us. Only the people’s active resistance will save our country from being thrown back into the bloody clutches of absolute tyranny and dictatorship. 

Never again! Never forget!

Demokrasya, hindi diktadura! 

 

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As last hearing nears, Migrante International implores SC to allow Mary Jane Veloso to testify against her traffickers

On September 26, the last hearing for the presentation of prosecution witnesses in the cases for human trafficking, illegal recruitment and estafa filed against Mary Jane Veloso’s recruiters namely Ma. Cristina P. Sergio and Julius Lacanilao will be held at the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court (RTC). Migrante International ardently yearns for the Supreme Court to uphold the right of Mary Jane Veloso to present her testimony via written deposition. 

As a victim of human trafficking, it is incumbent that Mary Jane Veloso be allowed to participate in the legal process as it is the only way for the judicial authoritities to accord her the chance to see that perpetrators are brought to justice. It is the major function of the criminal justice system to ensure that victims like Mary Jane Veloso obtain redress through judicial procedures. 

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PHOTO: (GMA News) Mary Jane’s mother Nanay Celia Veloso during a picket held before the gates of the Court of Appeals last year.

The country’s Anti-Trafficking Act adopted from the UN Protocol underscores a “victim-centred approach” to minimize retraumatization of victims. Languishing in prison for almost a decade, Mary Jane Veloso is currently being made to pay for a crime she did not commit. Worst, vital testimony against a big international drug trafficking syndicate remains unheard by entities in our very own criminal justice system following the Court of Appeals decision to deny Mary Jane Veloso of her appeal to testify against her traffickers in the only mode allowed by Indonesian authorities.

The plight of migrants wretched by government negligence and inaction is epitomized in the life of Mary Jane Veloso herself. May the Supreme Court rise to the occasion and bring deliverance to Mary Jane who walks through the valley of the shadow of death on a daily basis. She is still on death row and the time to save her life is now.

May her voice be heard as we amplify our struggle to uphold the rights of those who are forever condemned to neglect and oblivion. Migrante International calls on all Filipinos to gird on their armour in the battle to end the scourge of illegal trafficking. May justice prevail and we long for the day when Mary Jane Veloso will finally be reunited with her loved ones just as we long for a future where society will no longer be torn apart by the need to survive. 

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“Hands off our Migrante members in Negros!” — Migrante International to Duterte and AFP

In a forum conducted at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos and University of St. La Salle by the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army in Bacolod City on 24 August, Migrante International along with other progressive groups representing different sectors were maliciously tagged as “NPA recruiters.” 

Migrante International strongly denounces this vilification campaign which is meant to stoke repressive and violent attacks against members of progressive organizations. It is no secret that organizers, volunteers and rights workers belonging to advocacy groups are being subjected to many forms of harassment. Enduring threats and surveillance from military and police elements, many end up getting abducted, tortured or killed. 

Amidst the spate of killings in Negros instigated by Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32, this endless redtagging threatens the lives of our Migrante officers and members. This will also take a toll on OFW victims being assisted by our Migrante chapters in Negros. Migrante Negros has always been active in raising the cases of OFW victims like when it sought justice for mistreated OFW Jessie Lloren who died last year just days after returning from Kuwait. 

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PHOTO: From Adrian Bobe’s FB wall

The Duterte regime’s vilification campaign also extends overseas through the deceit-lated seminars conducted by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Using public funds and government resources, NTF-ELCAC agents have been going around in Philippine embassies and consulates abroad. The Duterte regime is dead set at discrediting the resounding record of Migrante International in extending assistance to our fellow OFWs. 

AFP’s rehashed tall tales are only meant to justify the regime’s bloody crackdown on the opposition and its planned militarization of schools and communities. If Duterte’s militarist honchos think that Filipinos will just sit idly as the last fragments of our democratic rights are quashed, they are grossly mistaken. 

OFWs know very well that poverty is one of the root causes of the conflict because it is what forcibly drove them to work overseas. No wonder OFWs were among the sectors that ardently pushed for the resumption of peace talks back in the early days of the Duterte presidency. It can be recalled that the group Kababayan4Change was formed to raise the people’s agenda to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. Instead of addressing the roots of the armed conflict, the Duterte regime has bolstered the plagues of inequality and oppression in the country. 

Migrante International has prominently contributed to upholding the rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos. OFWs disillusioned by government negligence continue to seek out our assistance. Aside from offering help to OFWs in distress, Migrante has also raised the level of political consciousness among members of the Filipino community abroad by exposing the roots of forced migration and the rottenness of the government’s labour export programme. 

The Duterte regime is terrified of collective action from high-minded OFWs and citizens engaged in the struggle for socio-economic change. The only changes the regime have in mind are destructive impositions targeting the poor which all the while will further enrich the local ruling elites supportive of imperialist dictates. 

Duterte’s Fascist reign stands opposed to the interest of the vast majority of the Filipino people. Migrante International calls on all freedom-loving Filipinos to register our strongest defiance against tyrannical suppression. Let us unite and confront state terror with our impenetrable collective resistance. 

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“Turn our anguish into collective valour and determination to thrash Duterte’s forces of doom” — Migrante International on the National Day of Mourning vs. state-sponsored killings

If only our eyes were a fountain of tears, we might weep day and night for the unrelenting slaughter of the most impoverished amongst our people. Striking terror, the US-Duterte regime delights in the blood of the slain masses. His Memorandum Order 32 signed on 22 November 2018 has already yielded 87 fatalities in Negros alone with 17 killings occuring on the last week of July this year. 

Hankering to justify these state-sponsored attacks, Bato dela Rosa along with members of the military and police have launched a red scare and black propaganda campaign to denigrate student activists and progressive organizations who are known for championing social justice and national democracy. We see no other motive for these Fascist machinations other than criminalizing dissent, militarization of schools and to continue the regime’s bloody persecution of all marginalized sectors in Philippine society. All for the interest of the ruling class. 

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The US-Duterte regime is a destructive killing machine that constantly feeds human flesh and entrails to its predatory vultures in AFP and PNP. It is hell bent on piling more victims on a soaring mountain of corpses. Let us then rise up and put an end to this dreadful sight by registering our loudest dissent and condemnation against these atrocities. 

As the regime seeks to dash even the last remaining morsels of our democratic rights and freedom, now is the best time to be militant activists and unleash bold resistance against tyranny. Now more than ever, the country needs more activists of heroic caliber in order for the illumined masses to save this nation and future generations from pestilent damnation. 

In unison with all freedom-loving Filipinos, Migrante International joins the nation in observing the National Day of Mourning to protest against the killings perpetrated by the US-Duterte regime. Let us turn our anguish into collective valour and determination to thrash Duterte’s forces of doom that have been ravaging incessantly in every underprivileged corner of our country.

#DefendNegros

#HandsOffOurYouth

#StopTheAttacks

#StopTheKillings

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