DOLE’s reasoning behind the 90% reduction in overseas deployment of construction workers, very misleading – MIGRANTE

Migrante International considers the purported intention of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to impose a 90 % reduction on the deployment of construction workers overseas due to local demand for Duterte’s Build, Build, Build projects as very misleading. In reality, there has been a huge decrease in the deployment of construction workers in typical destinations like Saudi and other Middle Eastern countries due to the economic downturn in the region.

An ever-increasing number of big construction companies in Saudi Arabia are failing to meet their obligations to their employees and labourers. What the Duterte administration is not telling us in relation to the Middle East crisis is that this has led to thousands of stranded and distressed OFWs in Saudi who have been clamouring for immediate repatriation.

On top of the economic crisis, Middle Eastern countries like Saudi and Qatar are vigorously implementing the nationalization (Saudization, Qatarization, etc.) of their labour sector. Saudi Arabia is already beginning to curtail the issuance of job orders as it proceeds to prioritize its own nationals in job placements.

Based on POEA figures, the overseas deployment of construction labourers and welders experienced a 31 % plunge in 2017. This is several times bigger than the average or overall 4 % drop in the total deployment of OFWs in the same period. DOLE’s attempt to smokescreen the real situation by citing Duterte’s Build, Build, Build is pure deception.

We see this as the Duterte regime’s mode of seeking damage control on the issue of its onerous deals with China which highly favoured Chinese contractors that require placement of Chinese workers. This is highly suspicious considering the timing of DOLE’s pronouncement of the 90 % deployment decrease was made just after its high-level committee meeting with other government agencies wherein they sought to address the issue on the influx of foreign workers in the Philippines.

Imposing a cut back on overseas deployment will not address the issues of Filipino workers. In fact, it goes against their desire to get their families off the hook from the rising prices of goods due to Duterte’s TRAIN Law and the agony of underpaid work caused by low wages. Filipino workers can only dream of having in their own country the benefits of free services like housing, free transportation, food and medical care which many have experienced overseas before the crisis began.  Many Filipino labourers are wary that the absence of these free benefits and services in the Philippines will only exacerbate the seasonal nature of their project-based contractual occupation.

Clearly, the Duterte regime has no intent in building the conditions that will make Filipino workers stay in the country as it refuses to reverse the government’s anti-worker policies that perpetuate contractualization, low wages, hazardous working conditions, absence of benefits and poor social services.

 

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Duterte’s onerous loan agreement with China worsens displacement of Chinese and Filipino workers – Migrante

President Duterte’s continued defilement of our sovereignty allowed China to dictate the Philippine government’s implementation of the Build, Build, Build program. Aside from placing our natural resources and other national assets as collateral, the ludicrous favour extended by the regime towards Chinese firms and contractors further ordained China’s displacement of its workers as seen in the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines. This condition only proves that Duterte’s infrastructure madness does not truly generate employment opportunities for Filipino workers.

Contrary to the Duterte regime’s original bloated hype that the Build, Build, Build program will provide more employment opportunities for Filipinos at home, the Philippines is actually facing the worst jobless “growth” since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. In May last year, Budge Secretary Benjamin Diokno wooed OFWs to take advantage of the government’s program which in his projection is set to generate 1.1 Million jobs annually. However, thousands of Filipinos continue to leave the country daily for overseas employment and the Philippines still has the highest unemployment rate in the ASEAN region.

The government’s $24 Billion debt laden infrastructure deal he signed with China in 2016 is now increasingly marred with controversies following an exposé spearheaded by former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares disclosing the one-sided provisions in the US$62 Million loan agreement for the Chico River Irrigation Pump project.

Migrante does not subscribe to the view that Chinese workers are to be blamed for stealing jobs from Filipinos. It is the unequal trade and investment agreement signed by Duterte with China that is depriving Filipinos of employment opportunities.

In its on-going trade war with the US, China has crafted the US$1 Trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) heightening its superpower ambitions by seeking a larger control over global trade through directing the entry of Chinese state-owned and private firms that require hiring Chinese workers. Remittances from overseas Chinese workers would allow China to increase its foreign currency reserves.

Unlike in traditional migrant-receiving countries, the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines is not due to a shortage in our local labour pool but because of the conditions imposed by China’s investments and loans to the Philippines.

We find the Duterte government’s claim that Filipino workers are unskilled as abhorrent. Under the regime’s thrust of drooling over loans and enormous importations of construction materials from China, Duterte is literally pump-priming China’s economy at the expense of Filipinos and our country’s sovereignty. Since these projects will increase property values in the Philippines, it is only the ruling elite who will benefit while the 99 % will bear the brunt of a jobless and debt-stricken economy.

Chinese and Filipino workers alike are victims to this unequal treaty signed by the Duterte regime with China. The exploitative labour conditions perpetrated by China and its corporations are not secretly shrouded. Under China’s Belt and Road Initiative which is now ravaging in other countries, there have been documented cases of lowly-paid and illegally trafficked Chinese workers who experienced exploitative and hazardous working conditions. This is totally the same story with many of our overseas Filipino workers.

Migrant workers are not criminals. Their right to live and work in dignity and security must be respected regardless of whether they are documented or undocumented. Let us not allow the Duterte regime and the government of China to treat migrants as bargaining chips in their onerous loan agreements.

Junk the unequal trade agreements between the Philippines and China! Reject the unequal conditions tied to the aid imposed by China! Uphold Philippine sovereignty!

Advance genuine land reform and national industrialization! Duterte’s Build, Build, Build will not bring about genuine industrialization and jobs!

No to the criminalization and exploitation of undocumented migrants and workers!

Filipino migrant and workers stand in solidarity with Chinese migrants and workers!

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Migrante stands in solidarity with Chinese and Filipino migrants. Duterte and China to blame for intensifying labour export

Migrante International stands in solidarity with Chinese and Filipino workers who are victims of the labour export program implemented by China and by the Duterte regime. We denounce the racist antagonism being sown by xenophobes that seek to set workers from both countries against each other.

Migrants are not criminals and their right to live in dignity and security must be respected regardless of whether they are documented or undocumented. Everyday, they endure the pain of banishment from their places of origin just to bring food on the table for their loved ones back home. It is only rightful that they be treated just as the way we want overseas Filipino workers to be treated in any host country.

The influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines only proves that Duterte’s Build Build Build program is a failure and does not really generate employment opportunities for our own Filipino workers. Instead, Filipinos are only being burdened of subsidizing the private profit of wealthy capitalists and big private contractors through Duterte’s TRAIN Law.

It is also a testament to the failure of China to improve the lives of its own workers in its adoption of the capitalist system of production. As a result, China is now involved in the capitalist exploitation not only of its own workers but that of the labour forces of other countries. It is taking advantage of the Neoliberal policies being adhered to by countries like the Philippines to establish its emerging imperialist ascendancy. China’s capitalist disposition of placing profit over people is fueling labour unrest among mainland Chinese workers.

Conclusively, it is President Duterte himself who provoked Filipinos over the threat to our country’s sovereignty by providing a bigger sway to China in dictating how the Philippine government will go about with implementing its Build Build Build program. Just as how it is done in the Philippines, China intends to address its economic slowdown and tame the resentment of Chinese workers by luring them to overseas employment. We see this as one way China can boost its foreign currency reserves through remittances to mitigate the effects of its ongoing trade war with the US, its main imperialist rival.

Hands off Filipino migrant children! Migrants are not criminals! – Migrante International

Migrante International fully stands in solidarity with Filipino migrant children in Israel who are now facing detention and deportation. We feel despair that young Filipino children have been victimized twice by an unjust cycle of forced migration. Due to the scarcity of opportunities in the Philippines, their parents left for Israel to experience a better life for themselves and for their children. They belong to millions of overseas Filipinos who were stricken by the Philippine government’s labour export program wherein Filipinos are marketed to foreign countries so that they can keep the economy afloat through their remittances and the various state exactions imposed by state institutions.

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We lament that once again, these families are being forcibly evicted anew from a place which for many years they have learned to love as their home. Once they get back to the Philippines, these children and their families will have to adjust to an even harsher life that may eventually drive them to search for greener pastures in other countries where they are likely to face the same challenges they have experienced in Israel. Such is the cycle of forced migration that hounds not only Filipino migrants in Israel but likewise their compatriots in other countries.

As advocates for migrants’ rights and welfare, our position is firm that migrant families and children do not deserve to be treated like outcasts. Migrants are not criminals. No person should be declared illegal on the basis of their nationality or status and they deserve to be given the chance to integrate in society, most especially children who were born and have lived all their lives in the host country.

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Importantly, it is incumbent that the roots of forced migration in the Philippines like landlessness among farmers, unemployment, homelessness, and the absence of national industrialization be addressed by the Philippine government so that no Filipino would ever have to leave their country out of necessity and hopelessness.

Lastly, we extend our gratefulness to the United Children of Israel (UCI) who have come to the aid of these Filipino children. We appreciate the support they provide to Filipino migrants in these trying times. It is our utmost hope that advocacy work for the rights and welfare of migrants and children continue to flourish in Israel, the Philippines and in the rest of the world.

 

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On the 33rd anniversary of the EDSA uprising: Migrant sector decries system which enables tyranny

On the 25th of February 2019, Filipinos will commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the EDSA People Power uprising which culminated with the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship. Citing his “busy” schedule, President Duterte is most likely to skip the anniversary rites anew. For somebody who just had an exclusive Hongkong getaway, this is just his excuse to avoid being reminded of an event in Philippine history which hounds his closest political friends, the Marcoses.

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For the OFW sector, former dictator Ferdinand Marcos was the primary culprit who orchestrated the systematization and institutionalization of the bankrupt labour export program (LEP). It was one of his schemes to keep the discontented masses from rising against his oppressive rule.

Even after the former dictator’s removal from power in 1986, there were those from among his deluded minions who have been working to distort and revise history in his favour. However, none of them can match the US-Duterte regime’s exertion to rehabilitate the political weight of the Marcoses. This is likewise evident in Duterte’s approval in burying the former dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and in Sara Duterte’s campaign for Hugpong ng Pagbabago which consolidated the loathsome Marcos-Duterte alliance with the rest of the dirtiest and most corrupt personalities in Philippine politics.

Thirty-three years after the overthrow of the US-Marcos regime, a new and even worse despot is sowing death and destruction to a much bloodier scale. The Martial Law extension in Mindanao and Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32 in another one-third of the country puts on a cloak of legality to justify his reign of terror.

Through the backing of his US-imperialist masters, the Duterte regime regularly upgrades the level of enmity it is waging against the Filipino nation by daily filling his vessel with the blood of the people’s defenders. To this day, AFP and PNP continues to persecute and besmirch survivors of the Sagay 9 massacre. State agents persist in circulating black propaganda against NDFP peace consultant Randy Malayao who was killed while fast asleep. The US-Duterte regime employs the same Marcosian tactics of slapping trumped-up charges, arrests, abduction, torture and assassination against rights activists and progressive mass leaders.

Approaching the midterm national elections, we are certain that state-sponsored violence is on a rampage while crooked elements of the elitist state pressured COMELEC to disqualify progressive partylist candidates — People Surge, Aksyon Health Workers and Manggagawa Partylist. On the other hand, fake partylists backed by big private interests are having their heyday since they smoothly made it to the roster of candidates. It is clear that the Duterte regime wants to disfranchise marginalized sectors and deter them from fielding pro-people representatives.

Aside from fake partylists, the propaganda machine of the evil Duterte regime is hell-bent in building the dominance of lies and fake news to deter the press from exposing the truth. We have seen this in the recent arrest of Rappler’s Maria Ressa at the pleasure of a Manila bay reclamation contractor William Keng. For this, it has become apparent that the struggle for defending press freedom is neither distant nor separate from the struggle of the urban poor as millions of them face eviction and displacement for the sake of private development in Manila Bay. It is incumbent for the Filipino people to hold the line and prevent falsehood from taking over. Concretely translate our devotion to justice and truth by actively mobilizing the organized masses in defense of their socio-economic rights.

At the back of the regime’s fealty to crony capitalism, our people’s economic rights are being violated through harmful neoliberal policies that burden the people with unjust statutes like the TRAIN Law, the Rice Tariffication Law, and state exactions whacked on OFWs like the mandatory insurance and the mandatory SSS coverage.  The massive external borrowing and legalized extortion for Duterte’s Build Build Build program is meant to subsidize private profit.

Meanwhile, Duterte’s thrust to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility deserves the abhorrence of OFW families for their children are targeted casualties of Duterte’s fake war on drugs just as in the tragic deaths that befell OFW sons Kian delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz. Just recall how state agents last month humiliated and terrorized children during a drug raid in Navotas while in contrast, gentle treatment was showered by arresting officers on Kenneth Dong who is Duterte’s friend and a big-time drug smuggler implicated in the Php6.4 Billion shabu shipment. To date, more and more EJK victims get added to the thousands of “drug war” casualties.

For over three decades after that fateful day on EDSA, the Filipino people remains subjected to the same problems of abject poverty, injustice and oppression reflecting the same deplorable reality that plagued the Philippines for centuries. The roots of forced migration that banished millions of Filipinos overseas remain firmly planted.

On those occasions when a corrupt tyrant is about to be knocked down from power, the economic elite and their imperialist masters benefiting from such evil reign would exigently anoint their successor of choice. We clearly understand that unless we completely dismantle and overthrow the unjust system that breeds corrupt despots subservient to imperialist interests, social transformation will remain elusive. Without justice, there shall be no peace in our days.

As we commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the EDSA uprising, let us remember those who fought the Marcos dictatorship from the very time of its inception for the uprising did not happen overnight. Let us hail the heroism of student activists of the First Quarter Storm; the workers of La Tondeña in 1975 who defied the protest ban as well as the peasants who rose up in the line of fire to defend their lands.

Let us draw inspiration from their legacy in our present-day struggle for national democracy. The battle that lies ahead remains tough. Before us is a long and narrow road to national liberation. Unlike the EDSA thoroughfare, it is wedged with thorns and drenched with the blood of those who valiantly struggled before us. Let us remain steadfast as we traverse this path. Marching with the Filipino masses, we shall charge forward to achieve a just and democratic society.

 

 

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Rice Tariffication Law, Duterte’s death sentence to the Philippines’s local rice industry — Migrante

Migrante International considers the signing of the rice tariffication bill by President Duterte as a death sentence to our local rice industry. From opening the country to the deluge of imported weevil-infested rice to bringing in more importations, this law is the final nail in the coffin that will spell a tragic ending to the livelihood of millions of rice farmers.

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The Philippine government has been claiming that agricultural trade liberalization ensures food security for Filipinos. In reality, we can attest at how this country has deteriorated from being among Asia’s largest rice producers to being one of the world’s top rice importing countries.

No other than Agricultural Secretary Emmanuel Piñol himself admitted that the imposition of the rice tariffication law is the country’s fulfilment of its commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This law is set to worsen the record $41.44 Billion trade deficit caused by Duterte’s insane adherence to unfair trade practices and other neoliberal economic policies. His regime is rubbing more salt to our country’s economic wounds as this would escalate importations while local production further declines.

Many of our dear OFWs hail from peasant backgrounds in the countryside and they fully understand the repercussions that this law would entail to their families’ livelihood back home. As more farmers find rice cultivation unbearable due to the regime’s inclination towards importations, many will be forced to sell their lands to greedy developers and rice millers will find their storehouses empty.

Consequently, this will force farmers and their children to be among the many thousands of Filipinos who leave the country every single day to seek a better life overseas. No doubt, Duterte’s rice tariffication law is part of the prevailing course of forced migration to beef up the regime’s labour export program.

Let us bear in mind that the rice tariffication bill was signed just a week after President Duterte staged a drama for the sake of big landowners and property developers by walking out of a cabinet meeting after expressing frustration over the slowness of the country’s land conversion process. Duterte is very much eager to wipe out agricultural lands and turn them into commercial properties. This is the kind of regime that no monster could rival when it comes to viciousness and insatiable greed.

The only way to salvage Philippine agriculture and bring about economic security and progress to our farmers is to address the age-old problem of landlessness by adopting a genuine land reform program through free land distribution coupled with subsidies to the tillers. Without genuine land reform, there can be no way this country can industrialize.

We OFWs and our families will never allow the US-Duterte regime to continue tormenting us with US-WTO dictates. Together, we stand in solidarity with our farmers as we resist Duterte’s despotic reign.

 

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References:

 

  • Joanna Concepcion, Chairperson, Migrante International,

USA contact number: 1 (909) 969 3313

Email: jcconcep@gmail.com

             

  • Arman Hernando, Chairperson, Migrante Philippines;

PH Contact nos. 0967-277-53-32

 

 

Migrante decries delisting of Manggagawa Party-list. Hits bastardization of the party-list system

Migrante International decries the recent disqualification of Manggagawa Party-list from the list of accredited party-list groups that will run as candidates in the upcoming 2019 midterm elections. We view this as a rabid attack on progressive party-list groups that are striving for genuine representation of marginalized sectors. The bastardization of the party-list system in favour of bureaucrat capitalism is an affront to our country’s already besieged-democratic process.

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With most of the accredited party-list groups without any credible track record in serving the grassroots and the sight of COMELEC bowing down to pressure from Malacanang, we are truly convinced that these aberrations are ushering the complete takeover of the House of Representatives by political dynasties and big business interests.

Unlike most of the other party-list groups that were formed merely for the fulfilment of Duterte’s tyrannical whims and dictates, Manggagawa Party-list is slated by nominees that have long fought for the rights and welfare of oppressed sectors like OFWs, jeepney drivers, the urban poor and labour unions.

Meanwhile, fake OFW party-lists like Bertiz’s ACTS OFW Party-list and Mocha Uson’s AA-Kasosyo Party-list are backed by trapos and private recruitment agencies. ACTS OFW Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz III who claims to be the lone representative of OFWs in the 17th Congress figured notoriously for yelling at OFWs in Hongkong a few years ago. He is also the CEO of Global Asia Alliance Consultants, a recruitment agency that was suspended for irregularities.

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Mocha Uson’s AA-Kasosyo Party-list is among the entities tied to Janet Lim Napoles’ Php10 Billion pork barrel scam. Dubbed as the “fake news queen,” Mocha Uson was previously slammed by concerned citizens for being among the masterminds of a propaganda-driven rescue operation that endangered the safety of Kuwait OFWs. The fiasco led to a diplomatic crisis to the point that the Philippine ambassador was expelled by Kuwait.

OFWs are longing for a genuine House representation that will uphold their interests and ensure that they get shielded from the harmful costs of the government’s labour export program. As Manggagawa Party-list pushes to favour higher wages, junk burdensome state exactions and eliminate contractualization, Migrante is certain that it is the greedy ruling elite that are behind the COMELEC’s delisting of progressive party-list groups.

Under the Duterte regime’s pro-elite reign of terror and repression, faithful servants of the Filipino masses can no longer count on making it smoothly to the halls of Congress as active participants of representative democracy without getting shoved and troubled by a corrupt electoral system that consistently obliges itself in ensuring the overwhelming predominance of corrupt political dynasties, hacienderos, plunderers and criminals in the government’s legislative branch.

We will never allow the Duterte regime to drown out the voices of OFWs and other marginalized sectors. No setback will stop us from drumming our legitimate calls until we have fully realized the national democratic aspirations of the Filipino people.

 

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