STRANDED IN AMSTERDAM: 14 OFWs denied entry back to the Philippines citing government-imposed quota. Migrante International seeks immediate assistance and repatriation for stranded OFWs

Migrante International is calling on President Duterte and his government agencies to give attention to the plight of 14 Overseas Filipino Workers currently stranded in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. According to the OFWs, Philippine authorities refused to allow them to fly back to Manila on the pretext that “it already reached its quota.” Among the fourteen is a domestic helper while all the rest are seafarers from Curacao. Duterte’s task force officials have recently restricted the entry quota of returning OFWs to 1,000 to 1,500 per day depending on the availability of quarantine facilities. 

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These imposed quotas are only meant to allow the Duterte regime to buy time as the country’s healthcare and quarantine facilities remain inadequate to absorb the surge of Filipino repatriates displaced by the COVID-19 crisis. The Duterte regime has been hit by a strong public backlash following widespread reports of OFWs sleeping on airport pavements and under bridges along roads leading to NAIA terminals. Most of whom will be going back to their respective places without receiving a single pence from any of the government’s promised financial amelioration for OFWs and workers. Where is Malacañang’s so-called ‘VIP treatment’ of OFWs? 

Inflicting the world’s harshest and longest lockdown has not really brought desired improvements despite the fact that these heavy-handed measures are backed by President Duterte’s rapacious emergency powers. The government’s debt is projected to swell to Php 9.59 Trillion as it scampers to borrow money left and right and yet the humanitarian crisis experienced by OFWs and their kababayans back home is getting exacerbated by the day. 

Migrante International demands for immediate assistance and repatriation for all stranded OFWs. For all the troubles that they experienced from the Duterte regime’s ineptitude, no OFW should be going back to their families empty handed. It is atrocious that while the Philippines is being buried further underneath a mountainous pile of debt, the overwhelming majority of distressed OFWs are not really getting any substantial amelioration from the Duterte regime. What they got instead are rubbish laws like the mandatory Philhealth premium hike increase and the despicable Terror Bill. There is no truth to Malacañang’s loudly trumpeted ‘VIP treatment’ of OFWs.  It’s clearly a big lie! Enough of the garbage-like treatment of OFWs! Ayuda hindi diktadura!

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“Junk Terror Bill! Ayuda Hindi Diktadura!” — Filipino migrant groups on the 2020 Independence Day Global Mañanita Protest

To commemorate the past anti-colonial struggles for national liberation and its continuing significance in our present day struggle against Fascism and Imperialism, Filipino migrant organizations and formations worldwide joined the Filipino nation on the 12th of June 2020 to mark Independence Day by protesting against the Duterte regime’s Terror Bill. Members of Migrante International and Migrante Philippines braved the rain to come together with other groups and sectors for the People’s Grand Mañanita’ Protest action at UP Diliman on friday. 

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In a statement, Migrante International blasted the Duterte regime for its puppetry to imperialist interests and its continuing garbage-like treatment of OFWs. Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion said, “Fast forward to 2020, our national sovereignty continues to be trampled severely by US imperialist domination and China’s emergent imperialist expansionism. The US-Duterte regime’s neoliberal fornication with foreign imperialist interests has brought horrific wretchedness to our nation at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. Treated like garbage, thousands upon thousands of OFWs have now found themselves either stuck in quarantine facilities or are wandering aimlessly around Metro Manila’s airports imploring to be brought back to their provinces and be reunited with their families. The overwhelming majority of whom received none of the promised financial aid from the government.” 

Concurrently, Migrante Australia, BAYAN Australia and Ugat Pinas held an online cultural program entitled “Haranang Bayan para sa Kalayaan”, featuring patriotic and progressive songs, poems and solidarity messages. In like manner, ACTION-Thailand went live with its online concert “Mga Awit ng Paglaban at Paglaya.” Down under in New Zealand, Filipinos and Kiwis held a candle-lighting protest against Duterte’s terror bill.

The ‘Pagsambang Bayan’ of the Promotion of Church People’s Response Hong Kong (PCPR HK) in the morning was followed by an 11am picket action at the Philippine Consulate conducted by Migrante Hong Kong, solidarity friends and other members of BAYAN organizations. 

“Kahit pa kami ay patuloy pang nagsusumikap na maka-alpas sa krisis ng pandaigdigang pandemya at ng ambang pagpapataw ng mataas at sapilitang paniningil ng Philhealth, hindi namin kinakaligtaang lumahok, makisangkot, patuloy na magsuri, mag-aral, kumilos at organisahin ang aming hanay para sa kolektibong pagtutol sa mga mapanupil at maling polisiya gayundin ang paglalatag ng alternatibong programa para sa tunay na kalayaan at demokrasya, (Even though we are striving to overcome the global crisis brought about by the pandemic and the impending imposition of the mandatory Philhealth exaction, we never forget to participate, engage, scrutinize, study, take action and organize our ranks to collectively oppose the repressive and the erroneous policies [of the Duterte regime], as well as taking part in laying out alternative programmes for genuine freedom and democracy)” KASAMMA-KO or Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea said in a statement.

Filipino migrant groups in the US also held picket actions and other activities in their respective cities. A webinar entitled Organizing Solidarity From the Border to Our Homelands was launched with the aim to connect the manifestations of the crisis of imperialism with the inhumane conditions experienced by migrants in the US and the continued political, economic and military intervention in the Philippines and Central America. The online activity was initiated by IMA USA in partnership with other migrant rights’ organizations. 

In Europe, a fundraising event for Typhoon Ambo victims entitled  ‘Take Back Our Roots’ was organized by Migrante organizations and Anakbayan Europa, in collaboration with Silakbo Media. Migrante Europe decried the Duterte regime’s tyrannical approach in the COVID-19 crisis. “The Philippine government’s approach against the spread of COVID19 has become the world’s longest lockdown that was strictly and unequally implemented against the poor majority-many of whom were arrested and jailed while helping others..compared to those violators of quarantine guidelines and health protocols who are in the powers-that-be, where the law is replaced by compassion and padrino-system,” Marlon Lacsamana of Migrante Europe stated. 

Denouncing the Duterte regime’s terror bill, Lacsamana exclaimed, “When enacted into law, this jurisprudence shall become a weapon of the Duterte government to instill fear and terror to the people demanding public accountability. With this law in effect, the people struggling for land, food, jobs and housing; basic social services and democratic rights; national sovereignty and territorial integrity shall become easy targets of persecution.”

With distressing conditions afflicting OFWs touted by the government as ‘modern-day heroes,’ Migrante International vowed to continue exposing the criminal negligence of the Duterte regime. A Filipino cruise ship worker lost her life by suicide on Thursday after repeated flight suspensions further delayed her repatriation back to the Philippines. In Riyadh, an OFW wept in an online video while pleading for help from the Duterte government to rescue them from starving conditions in their shelter. Migrante International has been calling on the Duterte government to fast track the repatriation of stranded Filipino migrants and ensure that medical and psychosocial services are provided to OFWs before and after repatriation. 

Members of Migrante International and Migrante Philippines through its COVID-19 response  have been visiting stranded OFWs sleeping on pavements and under bridges leading to NAIA airports. Malacañang in recent weeks have been drawing flak for its vaunted ‘VIP treatment’ of OFWs. 

“A great number of stranded OFWs sleeping on pavements and under bridges are at risk of facing the same tragic fate that struck Michelle Silvertino, an indigent woman who died waiting for the Bicol-bound bus that never came. Instead of mass testing and amelioration, OFWs and the rest of the Filipino people are encumbered with more troubles through additional state exactions like the mandatory OFW Philhealth membership and premium hike, new taxes for online merchants, and the continuing deprivation of public transportation against the commuting masses,” Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion lamented. 

Migrante International likewise pointed out that since government programs purported to address the COVID-19 public health threat are handled by ex-military and police personalities who treat the crisis as a ‘counter-insurgency’ operation or a ‘law and order’ situation rather than a humanitarian crisis, the pressing needs of the Filipino people are being ignored. The OFW advocacy group deplores the Duterte regime for creating a national task force without a single epidemiologist as member. “All the troubles besetting OFWs and their families back home are proof of the Duterte regime’s failure,” Concepcion concluded. 

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INDEPENDENCE DAY: Filipino migrants rights’ group blasts Duterte regime for Terror Bill and garbage-like treatment of OFWs

Treading the difficult path of struggle, our forebears rose up to seize power from a major colonial force to attain freedom from foreign subjugation. Though the independence proclaimed on 12 June 1898 was short-lived, we continue to remember those who offered their lives for the cause of national liberation. Migrante International joins the Filipino people in honouring the heroic masses of the past for their bravery and sacrifices. 

Fast forward to 2020, our national sovereignty continues to be trampled severely by US imperialist domination and China’s emergent imperialist expansionism. The US-Duterte regime’s neoliberal fornication with foreign imperialist interests has brought horrific wretchedness to our nation at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. Treated like garbage, thousands upon thousands of OFWs have now found themselves either stuck in quarantine facilities or are wandering aimlessly around Metro Manila’s airports imploring to be brought back to their provinces and be reunited with their families. The overwhelming majority of whom received none of the promised financial aid from the government. 

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PHOTO: 2019 Independence Day, Rappler

A great number of stranded OFWs sleeping on pavements and under bridges are at risk of facing the same tragic fate that struck Michelle Silvertino, an indigent woman who died waiting for the Bicol-bound bus that never came. Instead of mass testing and amelioration, OFWs and the rest of the Filipino people are encumbered with more troubles through additional state exactions like the mandatory OFW Philhealth membership and premium hike, new taxes for online merchants, and the continuing deprivation of public transportation against the commuting masses.  

The most despicable of all is the looming imposition of the Duterte regime’s Terror Bill. While the likes of Sinas, Mocha, Koko and Bong Go are having their heyday of impunity, the Terror Bill will surely be used to further criminalize legitimate dissent and persecute critics and activists. As long as the Duterte regime condones the military presence of the US and China within our territories, and their intervention into our country’s national affairs, the much-vaunted “Independence” remains a hoax. 

Migrante International calls on Filipino migrants and their families to forge stronger unity in resisting the Duterte regime’s Fascist tyranny and dictatorial reign of terror. Walking in the footsteps of our heroic forebears, let us fight for our people’s freedom and sovereignty. Long live our struggle for national democracy!

Ayuda hindi diktadura!

End state terrorism! 

Uphold human rights!

Tunay na Kalayaan, Ipaglaban! 

Tunay na Kalayaan, Hindi Diktadura! 

Junk Terror Bill! 

Junk VFA!  

Atin ang Pinas, US at China, Layas!

 

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Filipino migrants’ rights group assails Terror Bill as it awaits Duterte’s signature

Despite widespread condemnation from different sectors and withdrawals of support from legislators, the Terror Bill that the tyrannical Duterte regime has been rabidly hankering for is finally in Malacañang. At the stroke of a pen, this Terror Bill would further systematize and legalize the organized crime and terror of the state against the Filipino people. Migrante International vehemently denounces the perversity of the Duterte regime to stifle dissent and criminalize resistance against its murderous policies.

Filipino migrants have been among the sectors that were hit the hardest by the COVID-19 crisis. OFWs continue to be treated like garbage and are being dumped at NAIA with the majority of them not even receiving any of the financial aid promised by the Duterte regime. Yet instead of prioritizing the fulfillment of their just demands for amelioration, they were instead whacked with deleterious laws such as the Philhealth premium rate hike and the draconian Terror Bill. 

We have seen how the government has threatened to deport a Taiwan-based OFW for merely expressing her opposition to President Duterte’s outrageous actions. Intimidation and red tagging befalls OFWs who dare to speak up against the regime’s criminal negligence. Worst of all, leading defenders of people’s rights are constant targets of state-sponsored killings like what happened to migrants rights’ activist Jory Porquia who was shot dead in his place of residence by suspected state elements from the police and the military. 

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PHOTO: New York Times

The Duterte regime has squandered billions to bolster its black propaganda against progressive groups like Migrante International that uphold the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and their families. However, the more they vilify us for our social justice mission, the more the Duterte regime exposes its atrocious inutility and destructiveness before the Filipino people and the world. Anger and enmity against Duterte’s bloody reign of terror is mounting to the highest level every single moment.

Migrante International calls on all its member organizations and all Filipino communities overseas to continue opposing the Duterte regime’s Terror Bill. On the 12th of June, let us register our steadfast unity and booming resistance to assert our devotion for justice, freedom and liberty in our beloved country.

Junk Terror Bill!
Ayuda hindi diktadura!
End state terrorism!
Uphold human rights!

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Hundreds of OFWs stranded at NAIA; Filipino teacher in Thailand commits suicide; Where’s the ‘VIP treatment’ ??? — Migrante International asks Malacañang

“COVID, no work, no pay, no job, wala lahat. Di ko na kaya…Hindi ko na po alam ang gagawin ko dito sa Thailand. Hindi na ako makakain, di man lang ako makauwi sa Pinas.” These were the last words penned by Melvin Cacho, a 27 year old Filipino teacher in Thailand who was reported to have committed suicide due to depression. Cacho is just one of the hundreds of thousands of distressed OFWs who are severely hit by state negligence amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Migrante International is saddened by his tragic passing and we share the pain of loss with Melvin’s loved ones in the Philippines. 

As early as April, we have already called out the Duterte government for excluding OFWs from more than a hundred countries (including Thailand) from its Php10K DOLE AKAP cash aid program. There were only 29 countries listed under Department Order No. 212 where OFWs can apply for cash assistance. It is no wonder that OFWs from countries outside of the Duterte government’s priority list feel forsaken and isolated. 

Meanwhile, more than a hundred OFWs were left stranded and had to lie down on the walkways outside the entrance of NAIA terminal 2 on Thursday midnight, June 4, while waiting for their flights back to the provinces. This is in stark contrast with how seamlessly Duterte and his IATF officials have flown to Davao City a few days ago. This means that the only VIP treatment we are seeing applies to President Duterte and his lackeys, so Malacañang better stop fooling the public that OFWs are experiencing the same level of comfort and efficiency. OFWs have been incarcerated in quarantine facilities for more than a month and they’ll be returning back to their provinces with the overwhelming majority of them not receiving a single penny from the government’s promised financial aid. 

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PHOTO: ABS-CBN News (4 June 2020)

With the railroading of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, the Duterte regime’s priority is really to suppress dissent. Public service is not in President Duterte’s vocabulary. His criminal ineptitude is unparalleled even by his crooked predecessors. Despite the hundreds of billions spent in the Philippines and abroad by the Duterte regime for propaganda, it is miserably failing to aromatize its stinking image now that its rottenness and inutility is being laid bare and experienced by returning OFWs. 

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Open Letter to the 18th Congress, House of Representatives: Filipino migrant organizations and migrants’ rights advocates oppose Anti-Terrorism Bill

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Filipino migrant organizations and migrants rights advocates across different countries around the world unanimously express our strongest opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Bill which undermines democracy in the Philippines. Any attempt to nullify due process and equal protection before the law must be rejected. The Constitution provides that no law shall be enacted depriving any person of his life, liberty and property without due process of law. Warrantless arrests and arbitrary detentions for up to 24 days deprive accused persons of their right to legal remedy and are contradictory to the bill of rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. 

Despite the hundreds of billions of funds allocated for intelligence, the police and the military, there was still no assessment made on the implementation of the Human Security Act. This means that there are no concrete reasons that should compel Congress to enact the Anti-Terrorism Bill which creates conditions harsher than what Filipinos have had during the Martial Law period of the Marcos dictatorship. 

It is deplorable that at the height of the global pandemic and economic crisis, the government is prioritizing a bill that enables the weaponization of the law to criminalize legitimate dissent. There has been no attempt at all from the Duterte government to solve the extrajudicial killings perpetrated against rights activists and community defenders. Instead, the open pronouncements of death threats live on national television has become the new normal as the predominating culture of impunity becomes even more glaring. And these threats are being fulfilled by lawless state elements. 

With more than 200 thousand distressed OFWs stranded overseas, Filipino migrants agonize over the fact that the Anti-Terrorism Bill has been prioritized by the Duterte government over more pressing and urgent calls for amendments on the Universal Healthcare Act which imposes mandatory Philhealth and premium rate hike on overseas Filipinos. What the Filipino people really need at this period are mass testing, mass transportation, food relief, quality healthcare services, adequate quarantine facilities, and financial amelioration. 

We appeal to our legislators to listen to the real time demands of their constituents by delivering the urgent needs of the Filipino people at this period of crisis. 

Signed: 

  1. Migrante International
  2. International Seafarers’ Action Center
  3. United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
  4. Abra Migrant Workers Welfare Association
  5. Association of Concerned Filipinos
  6. Cuyapo OFW Association Hong Kong
  7. Filipino Friends
  8. Filipino Lesbian Organization
  9. Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers Union
  10. Filipino Migrants Association
  11. Filipino Women Migrant Association
  12. Friends of Bethune House
  13. Likha Filipino Migrants Cultural Organization
  14. Luzviminda Migrante
  15. Migrante Naguilian
  16. Migrante Pier
  17. Migrante Shatin
  18. Migrante Tamar
  19. Migrante Tsing Ti
  20. Migrante Tsuen Wan
  21. Migrante Yuen Long
  22. Migranteng Artista ng Bayan
  23. Organic Cultural and Environmental Organization
  24. Philippine Independent Church Choir
  25. Pinatud A Saleng Ti Umili (PSU)
  26. Pangasinan Organization for Welfare, Empowerment and Rights
  27. Samahang Migrante
  28. Sta Maria Migrants Association
  29. Filipino Migrant Workers’ Union (FMWU)
  30. FMWU City Hall Chapter
  31. FMWU Chater Garden Chapter
  32. FMWU Chater Road Chapter
  33. Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society
  34. Annak ti Maeng Tubo-HK
  35. Baggak Cultural Group
  36. Bangued Migrants Workers Association
  37. Bucay Migrants Workers
  38. Bucloc Overseas Workers Association
  39. Ganagan San Juan Association
  40. Lacub Migrants
  41. Lagangilang Overseas Association
  42. Langiden Migrants Organization
  43. Lapaz Migrants Association
  44. Licuan-Baay HK Association
  45. Maeng Tribe of Abra Luba-HK
  46. Malibcong Migrants Association
  47. Timpuyog Ti Tayum
  48. BAYAN Hong Kong & Macau
  49. Cordillera Alliance Hong Kong (CORALL)
  50. GABRIELA Hong Kong
  51. Gabriela Hong Kong Bank
  52. Filguys Association
  53. Promotion of Church Peoples’ Response (PCPR) – Hong Kong
  54. Anakbayan Europe
  55. International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – Europe
  56. Migrante Partylist – Europe
  57. Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) – Europe
  58. Migrante Austria
  59. Ugnayang Pilipino sa Belgium (UPB)
  60. Migrante Cyprus
  61. FOA – Au Pair – Demark
  62. Migrante Denmark
  63. Nagkakaisang Pilipino sa Pransya (NPSP)
  64. GABRIELA – Germany
  65. GABRIELA – Roma
  66. Migrante Bologna
  67. Migrante  Caserta
  68. Migrante Firenze
  69. Migrante Mantova
  70. Migrante Milano
  71. Milan OFW Kapitbisig
  72. UMANGAT – Migrante
  73. GABRIELA Switzerland
  74. Migrante Bern
  75. Kabalikat
  76. Linangan
  77. Makabayang Samahang Pilipino (MkSP)
  78. Migrante Amsterdam
  79. Migrante Netherlands Den Haag
  80. Migrante Utrecht
  81. Pinay sa Holland – GABRIELA
  82. Samahan ng mga Kabataan sa Netherlands (SAMAKA-NL)
  83. Bayanihan Leicester
  84. Campaign for the Human Rights in the Philippines-UK
  85. Filipino Domestic Workers Alliance (FDWA)
  86. GABRIELA London
  87. Kanlungan Filipino Consortium
  88. Migrante Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  89. Gabriela Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  90. FAPS INTERNATIONAL – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  91. Samahang Migrante Manggagawa Nagkakaisa sa Riyadh (SAMAKABA-MIGRANTE) – KSA
  92. JEDDAH FILIPINO SOCIETY – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  93. Migrante Qatar
  94. Gabriela United Arab Emirates
  95. Migrante Seattle, USA
  96. Migrante Portland, USA
  97. Migrante Napa-Solano, USA
  98. Migrante Daly City, USA
  99. PAWIS East Bay, USA
  100. PAWIS San Jose, USA
  101. Migrante Los Angeles, USA
  102. Migrante Long Beach, USA
  103. Migrante Orange County, USA
  104. Migrante New York, USA
  105. Migrante New Jersey, USA
  106. Migrante Youth New York, USA
  107. Migrante Chicago, USA
  108. Migrante Washington D.C., USA
  109. Anakbayan Washington DC
  110. Anakbayan Daly City, USA
  111. Anakbayan East Bay, USA
  112. Anakbayan De Anza, USA
  113. Anakbayan Silicon Valley, USA
  114. Anakbayan Santa Cruz, USA
  115. Anakbayan Los Angeles, USA
  116. Anakbayan University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  117. Anakbayan University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
  118. Anakbayan San Diego, USA
  119. Anakbayan Long Beach, USA
  120. Anakbayan Hawai’i, USA
  121. Anakbayan Chicago, USA
  122. Anakbayan University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
  123. Anakbayan Detroit, USA
  124. Anakbayan Queens, USA
  125. Anakbayan Manhattan, USA
  126. Anakbayan North Jersey, USA
  127. Anakbayan Rutgers, USA
  128. Anakbayan Washington, D.C., USA
  129. Anakbayan Atlanta, USA
  130. League of Filipino Students San Francisco State University, USA
  131. Migrante Manitoba, Canada
  132. Migrante BC, Canada,
  133. Migrante Alberta, Canada
  134. Migrante Ontario, Canada
  135. Migrante Ottawa, Canada
  136. Alberta Care Workers Association, Canada
  137. Kabisig Society of Fort Saskatchewan
  138. Philippine Migrant Society of Canada (PMSC)
  139. PINAY, Canada
  140. Association of Filipino Parents, Quebec, Canada
  141. Filipino Indigenous Association of Quebec, Canada
  142. Aklanon Association
  143. Migrante Canada
  144. MIGRANTE Aotearoa New Zealand
  145. MIGRANTE Aotearoa – Palmerston North
  146. MIGRANTE Aotearoa – Christchurch
  147. PINAY Aotearoa – New Zealand
  148. Migrante Builders Aotearoa
  149. Union Network of Migrants (UNEMIG), NEW ZEALAND
  150. MIGRANTE Australia
  151. Lingap Migrante – Western Sydney Australia
  152. Migrante North Hornsby, Sydney Australia
  153. Migrante South West – Sydney
  154. Philippines Australia Women’s Association
  155. Migrante Kultura
  156. Migrante Melbourne
  157. Migrante Melbourne East
  158. Migrante Melbourne North – Samahang Tatak Pinoy
  159. Migrante Melbourne Northeast
  160. Migrante Melbourne West
  161. Migrante Perth, Australia
  162. Advance League of People’s Artists (ALPA), Australia
  163. AnakBayan Sydney
  164. AnakBayan Melbourne
  165. BAYAN Australia
  166. Gabriela Australia
  167. Gabriela Greater Sydney
  168. Gabriela Victoria
  169. Gabriela Perth
  170. Philippines Studies Network in Australia (PINAS)
  171. Promotion for Church People’s Response (PCPR) Australia
  172. KAFIN Saitama – Migrante
  173. MIGRANTE Japan
  174. MIGRANTE Macau
  175. KASAMMAKO – Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggawa sa Korea
  176. New Era Foundation
  177. Pag-Iribang Bicolnon in Korea
  178. TERESA Women’s Organization
  179. EPS Korea
  180. Osan Migrants Centre
  181. MIGRANTE Taiwan
  182. ACTION – Association of Concerned Filipinos in Thailand
  183. Migrante Youth
  184. Migrante Philippines

“Unite against racism! Justice for George Floyd and for all victims of social injustices!” — MIgrante International

Migrante International vehemently denounces the brutal murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department. We extend our support and solidarity to the millions of people in the US and around the world who have taken into the streets to demand justice and equality. Filipino migrant communities mourn with the friends and loved ones of George Floyd who are grief-stricken by his tragic passing.

The violent repression by US authorities of poor, black and migrant communities in the United States coincides with the imperialist wars of aggression being waged by the Pentagon in countries whose people are asserting their right to national liberation and self-determination. Aside from the vile and endless military interventions perpetrated by the US war machine, the nations of the world are battered by US-led neoliberal assaults. These crimes against humanity have led to the displacement and forced migration of hundreds of millions of people around the globe including Filpinos who are continually peddled by the Duterte regime’s labour export programme. 

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PHOTO: Anakbayan UIC

US imperialism is designed to oppress and strangulate the people into submission as it gives the utmost breathing space for members of the ruling class who have enriched themselves through plunder and exploitation. In the same manner that the American people have had enough of Fascist tyranny and impunity, Filipinos are standing up against the bloody Duterte regime which has been using US military aid in its fetish for mass bloodshed. We can’t breathe and it is time to fight back and get rid of racism and oppression by creating a democratic society that truly values people’s lives and freedom. 


Justice for George Floyd! 

Black Lives Matter! 

End police and white supremacist terror! 

Down with US imperialism and state fascism!

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Malacañang’s so-called ‘VIP treatment of OFWs’ decoded as ‘Very Important Palagatasan’ or milking cows for the Duterte regime

Since Congress busied itself last week with the Duterte regime’s Terror Bill which criminalizes legitimate dissent, the government has proven anew what it really meant by giving OFWs the ‘VIP treatment.’ The month of May ended with President Duterte failing to certify Makabayan bloc’s House Bill 6698 which aims to make Philhealth membership mandatory for OFWs and seeks removal of the penalties and premium rate hikes. 

President Duterte’s suspension of the mandatory Philhealth and premium rate hike is only temporary and therefore won’t suffice to permanently stop the forcible extortion of OFWs. In a media interview in May, Philhealth Vice President for Corporate Affairs Dr. Shirley Domingo herself said that collections will resume on the 1st of June. She added that only Congress will be able to decide otherwise because it would mean revising the Universal Healthcare Act which was signed and approved by President Duterte in February 2019.

With 42,000 OFWs initially expected to be repatriated in the coming weeks, DOLE reported yesterday that the number has already swelled to 100,000. Migrante KSA (Saudi Arabia) fears that as many as 200 thousand OFWs in KSA stand to lose their jobs due to business closures and retrenchments. According to the media, many distressed OFWs are still languishing in quarantine facilities because the government lost their swab test results. Some of these OFWs have sought help from Migrante International to voice out their anger against the government for treating them like detainees. 

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“LONG WAIT. It’s a long, agonizing journey home for many OFWs stranded in Metro Manila. Here, OFWs wait to get into the PITX terminal in Parañaque City on May 28, 2020.” Image caption by Rappler Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

OFWs are blasting Malacañang for making them appear as recipients of government benevolence when in fact, payments for their swab tests, hotel accommodations and repatriation actually come from their own sweat and blood. All these were sourced from their contributions to Philhealth, OWWA dues and the contractual obligations of their manning or recruitment agencies. Despite handing over billions of OFW contributions to the parasitic government, Filipino migrants themselves attest that they are really indeed treated like garbage. We have heard it from OFWs themselves in media interviews and from their testimonies in social media. 

What Malacañang really means when it says that OFWs are being given ‘VIP treatment’ is that they are ‘Very Important Palagatasan’ or milking cows for the Duterte regime. Filipino migrant communities are weary of the Duterte regime’s empty rhetorics so all over the world they will continue to bang their pots and pans in their Global Kalampagan to demand that they be treated humanely and not like criminals just as how DFA Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin regarded distressed OFWs who escaped from quarantine facilities when he ordered their arrests. Even more appalling is the Duterte regime’s Terror Bill which imputes the terrorist-tag on the legitimate actions of advocacy groups upholding the interests of oppressed and marginalized sectors like workers, peasants and Filipino migrants. No amount of intimidation and persecution will stop Migrante International from carrying out its social justice mission for Filipino migrants and their families neglected, peddled and extorted by the inept Duterte Fascist regime. 

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“Government apology to OFWs is worthless with criminalization of dissent!” — Migrante International

With the Duterte regime hankering to jail dissenters with the adoption of a more ferocious ‘Anti-Terrorism Bill,” it is self-evident that the government’s apology to OFWs through DOLE Secretary Bello is totally worthless. OFWs need more than empty apologies. They need concrete actions from the government by addressing their immediate needs. Thousands of them are going back to their provinces without even receiving a single pence of financial aid. Instead, they are being struck with draconian laws that criminalize organized actions and expressions of legitimate criticisms. 

Migrante International denounces the brazen red-tagging committed by NTF ELCAC in its social media account. In its Facebook page, NTF ELCAC displayed the names and logos of progressive groups whom it accuses of being sectoral organizations of the CPP NPA. This blatant vilification endangers the lives of Migrante members who are persecuted for their open defiance and opposition against the Duterte regime’s anti-people policies, one of which is the imminent imposition of the mandatory Philhealth and premium rate hike. 

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Kadamay has condemned the killing of its national secretary-general Carlito Badion, whose body was found near a highway in Ormoc City on May 28. Investigators claim they are looking into several motives. But Kadamay said that Badion had been receiving death threats, supposedly from state agents, when he was actively involved in anti-demolition and public housing occupation campaigns in Metro Manila and nearby areas. More details to follow. Photos from investigators courtesy of Kadamay. PHOTO: Pinoy Weekly

Just a day after congress approval of the 2020 Anti-terrorism Bill, Carlito Badion was killed by AFP elements. Badion is the national secretary general of the urban poor advocacy group Kadamay. Prior to his tragic death, he has been subjected to repeated red tagging and has received numerous death threats from state elements. Migrante International condemns this brutal shedding of innocent blood by Fascist mercenaries of the Duterte regime. We call on all our member organizations in different parts of the world to denounce and protest this vicious killing and demand for justice. 

Justice for Carlito Badion! 

Junk terror bill!

Resist tyranny!

Stop the killings!

 

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“Enough of the Duterte regime’s garbage-like treatment of OFWs” — Migrante International

More than a month after being stuck in NCR, OFWs complain that they are being dumped like garbage in Metro Manila’s airport terminals. Despite huge sums of money squandered by the government’s national task force in funding overseas propaganda roadshows to delude OFWs into believing that things in the Philippines have changed for the better, it cannot be denied that our repatriated kababayans are being made to feel the maximum brunt of the Duterte regime’s ineptitude. Conditions of OFWs waiting at the airport stunned aid workers from Migrante International and Kilusang Mayo Uno who brought some food rations to our starving balikbayans yesterday. 

Famished and made to sit close to heaps of junk airport equipment, our kababayans whom the government repeatedly tag as ‘modern-day heroes’ are treated like outcasts as they haplessly await for their provincial flights. Many of these repatriates are now penniless after a month-long wait for medical services and financial aid that never came. They now rely on meal rations brought to them tardily at the airport. It is mind-boggling at how Duterte’s government officials look impressive at their efficiency in organizing parties and other spectacles but are proven to be repugnant imbeciles when it comes to delivering services for distressed Filipinos. 

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PHOTO: GMA News Online

Migrante International has also received accounts from OFWs themselves that they were asked for their passports at the airport which they are unable to provide because they are being held by their recruitment agencies. Waiting all-day and all-night long, many OFWs deplore that they can’t even take a bath to relieve them from the excruciating heat. Some seafarers recounted that they were already brought to the airport even if they have not yet taken their swab tests. 

The hardships inflicted on OFWs by government negligence is already taking its toll. With thousands of seafarers still stranded aboard ships, we still have not seen any action from the Duterte government to come to their aid. A 32-year old seafarer committed suicide recently on a ship called Scarlet Lady owned by Virgin Voyages. Innumerable Filipino migrant workers both sea-based and land-based are already at the height of mental distress. The Duterte government must see to it that psychosocial services be provided to them before and after repatriation. 

What could be much worse than the Duterte government’s imminent extortion of OFWs through the resumption of the mandatory Philhealth and premium rate hike three days from now? Migrante International calls on President Duterte to put a stop on this day-light robbery and focus on helping Filipino migrants at this period of crisis. OFWs are likewise appealing to OWWA to constantly provide their necessities like food, water, toiletries and comfortable waiting areas at the airport. Medical attention and flight priorities must be given to the elderly, pregnant women and physically challenged OFWs. The national government’s coordination with provincial LGUs is a must so as to avoid further troubles for OFWs whose hopes and energies have already been exhausted by the horrible times they spent in government quarantine facilities. As what Filipino migrants have repeatedly demanded before, they want a comprehensive plan to be laid out as 42,000 more are expected to be repatriated in the next few weeks. Enough of the Duterte regime’s garbage-like treatment of OFWs!

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