“Arrest Sinas! Stop criminalizing distressed OFWs fleeing detention-like quarantine facilities! Scrap mandatory Philhealth and premium rate hike” — Migrante International

In an inter-agency task force meeting aired online on Tuesday night, COVID-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez said that a total of 465 returning OFWs have tested positive for the disease. One solon last month said that 420,000 OFWs are set to return in the next six months as a result of the COVID-19 world health crisis and economic recession. 27,000 are already in Metro Manila and 42,000 are expected to arrive in the next several weeks. 

More than two months into one of the world’s longest and harshest lockdowns, the Duterte regime is still without a comprehensive plan encompassing medical intervention and financial assistance for OFWs.  So just like those who have arrived before them, returning OFWs are expected to undergo the same sorts of ordeal that are afflicting those languishing in temporary quarantine facilities. According to reports, Galvez expressed that there might no longer be enough quarantine rooms to accommodate the additional 42,000 repatriates.

Since the massive influx of OFWs back to the country has already been anticipated early on, there is clear criminal neglect on the part of the Duterte regime. It’s hard to forget the tragic fate that befell one OFW from Kuwait who committed suicide inside a temporary quarantine facility in Pasay City. Fellow occupants of the said quarantine said that they have been stuck there for more than two weeks without getting any medical check-ups nor any financial aid from the government. Prior to their return, many of these OFWs endured abuses from their employers overseas. 

21May airprt

PHOTO: abs-cbn.com/news

Despairing over the loss of their livelihood while struggling to cope up with emotional traumas are terrible afflictions for OFWs. Migrante International’s call on the Duterte government to provide psychosocial support for OFWs under quarantine has fallen on deaf ears. We therefore find Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin’s arrest order against OFWs who fled quarantine facilities as atrocious. It is such a shame that OFWs traumatized by their experiences abroad and in local quarantine facilities are now being treated like criminals by their own government. The regime’s double standard is glaring considering that President Duterte even praised NCR Police Chief Maj. General Debold Sinas as an “honest” and “good officer” despite fierce criticisms from the public for his ECQ violations. Thanks to Duterte’s hypocrisy, Sinas is now acting like a spoiled princess.  

Adding to the troubles faced by OFWs is the impending mandatory Philhealth collection and premium rate hike that will ensue following the expiration of the moratorium on premium payments after the 30th of May. The Duterte regime’s much-vaunted Universal Healthcare Law is just another scam to bleed OFW pockets dry. OFWs in quarantine facilities can attest that they are not getting the healthcare services they deserve. Migrante International supports the demand of OFWs for the complete junking of the mandatory Philhealth membership and premium rate hike. OFWs fed up by the Duterte regime’s inutility are not criminals. Without the financial aid, psychosocial support, medical and transportation services that OFWs deserve to get, the Duterte regime’s temporary quarantine shelter are nothing but detention facilities. 

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Makabayan’s amendatory bill on mandatory Philhealth gets strong backing from OFW advocacy group Migrante Int’l

Following the filing of House Resolution No. 00827 by Makabayan bloc legislators on Tuesday, 5 May 2020, directing the House Committee on Health to conduct an urgent review of President Duterte’s Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Healthcare Act, an amendatory bill was filed today pushing for voluntary Philhealth membership of overseas Filipinos. Bayan Muna Representatives Ferdinand Gaite, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Party-List Rep. Sarah Elago led the introduction of House Bill No. 6698 to the Congressional session today, 7 May 2020.

Welcoming the house resolutions initiated by the Makabayan bloc, Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion is hopeful that it will pave the way to finally put a stop on the imposition of the premium rate hike. “We are very grateful to the Makabayan bloc in Congress for raising the collective sentiments of Filipino migrants against the mandatory Philhealth exaction. This was signed and approved by President Duterte himself and even without the scourge of the COVID-19 crisis, OFWs will surely oppose this unjust and extortionate law.” 

President Duterte recently ordered suspension of Philhealth’s premium rate hike following international outrage from Filipino communities abroad. The resolution cited initiatives from Filipino migrants opposing its implementation. Among them is the online petition which has already garnered more than 410,000 signatories. A joint position statement was also launched by Migrante International signed by about 200 Filipino migrant organizations from different countries around the world. 

makabayanMay

PHOTO: First Makabayan Bloc Zoom Presscon (7 May 2020) regarding the ABS-CBN Franchise, PhilHealth and the Universal Healthcare Law, and human rights violations and other concerns during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (Screengrabbed from Gabriela Women’s Party)

One of the arguments raised by House Resolution No. 00827 states, “PhilHealth should not be allowed to impose a premium rate hike, considering that it has P97 billion reserve funds and net income of P11.6 billion in 2018, not to mention its investment portfolio at P149 billion.” 

Meanwhile, the amendatory House Bill No. 6698 pointed out: “Suspending the PhilHealth premium increase only temporarily relieves the overseas Filipinos of the additional burden. There is a need to truly unburden the overseas Filipinos by allowing voluntary membership, removing the “double” payment, compounded interest for unpaid premium, and unjust premium increases by amending certain provisions of the Universal Health Care Law.”

Discontented by President Duterte’s mere suspension of the mandatory Philhealth collection and premium rate hike, Filipino migrant groups led by Migrante International are set to conduct an online protest on Tuesday, 12 May 2020 to express opposition against what they call “unjust and extortionate” provisions of Duterte’s Universal Healthcare Law. 

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“ABS-CBN shutdown order, a violation against the right of the Filipino people to access information. Bolsters Duterte’s Martial Rule” — Migrante International

NTC’s cease and desist order against ABS-CBN is not only an attack on press freedom but an act of hostility against its 11,000 employees. Just as President Duterte’s underlings attempted to harass and deport a Taiwan-based OFW for merely voicing out her legitimate criticisms, the regime is now launching a much larger scale of assault against free speech and the people’s right to information. It wants fuller control over the flow of information to pervert the everyday accounts of the Filipino public.

Migrante International stands in solidarity with the thousands of ABS-CBN employees whose families will now have to face grimmer days ahead due to the loss of their livelihood and employment. Duterte’s wranglings against ABS-CBN attest to his personal vendetta against the company. How can this regime even do such monstrosity to the thousands of families right at this terrible period of crisis? The country is now lying flat on its back but the Duterte regime would rather see to it that thousands upon thousands are added to the vast number of Filipinos gripped by hunger and deprivation. 

We find it woeful for this to occur just days after International Workers’ Day and World Press Freedom Day. While we were still left baffled by ABS-CBN’s closure, we were struck anew by the horrible news of a media worker shot dead in Dumaguete City. Migrante International is one with the media community in demanding justice for Rex Cornelio of 93.7 FM Dumaguete. 

In many provinces outside of Metro Manila, ABS-CBN is the only TV station available on air. Tens of millions are now without access to important news and information at a time when COVID-19 is ravaging the country. In places where communication signals are too weak, watching ABS-CBN’s TV programs could be the only way for them to keep track of the general situation in places, whether it be in the Philippines or abroad, where their loved ones live. 

President Duterte is just too spooked by the mass awakening and growing outrage of the Filipino people against the injustices being committed by his regime. For OFWs and their families, the ABS-CBN shutdown is Duterte’s way of clamping down on media entities exposing his extortionate agenda against OFWs as in the mandatory Philhealth exaction and premium rate hike. The closure of the Philippines’ largest network comes at a time when the Duterte regime is repelling enormous criticisms due to the Philhealth controversy. 

Just as how crony capitalism got ahead during the Marcos years, POGO operations and Dennis Uy’s expansion into entertainment and media business are expected to reach their apex at the back of a hard-pressed media community.  Even without an official declaration, it is pretty evident that Martial Law is currently underway, and Duterte is using the same Marcosian tactics to suppress civil liberties in favour of his despotic rule. Migrante International calls on all Filipinos to fight for their right to information and defend the media community from Duterte’s Fascist attacks. 

#NoToABSCBNShutdown

#DefendPressFreedom

#MediaFightBack

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“Suspension won’t suffice for long. Scrap Philhealth premium hike now!” — Migrante International

Scrambling to save face from the uproar caused by the Philhealth premium hike which Duterte himself signed and approved, Malacañang and Health Secretary Duque directed its temporary suspension. This initial gain is attributable to the strong opposition raised by Filipino migrant communities far and wide. One of the petitions raised by OFWs calling for the removal of the mandatory premium hike has already garnered more than 400 Thousand signatories. In addition, a joint position statement launched by Migrante International is also gaining ground, signed by 180 Filipino migrant organizations from different parts of the world. 

One thing is clear though from Spokesperson Harry Roque’s announcement – suspension will not suffice for long. The Duterte regime is merely dousing cold water to the Philhealth issue in its attempt to sedate the loud outrage of Filipino migrants against this unjust and extortionate law. OFWs are not asking for a mere suspension. They want it completely scrapped. 

 

Migrante International likewise backs the strong opposition of OFWs against Senator Bong Go’s call for a ‘palugit’ or extension of the pre-IRR status quo. Even without the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, the premium hike will still be rejected by Filipino migrants. Senator Bong Go is the current chair of the Senate Committee on Health so we are not surprised why he is still vouching for Duterte’s disgraceful UHC Law. As seen on his Facebook page, OFWs are refuting his claim that the benefits under Duterte’s mandatory Philhealth exaction outweigh premium payments since there are no Philhealth accredited hospitals abroad. Furthermore, Filipinos have never lost sight of the corruption scandals that have been plaguing Philhealth year in year out.

President Duterte better avail himself of the resumption of Congressional session today by ordering for a complete repeal of the mandatory Philhealth exaction from the Universal Healthcare Law. Duterte can’t just simply wash his hands clean from responsibility when he even certified UHC as urgent back in 2018 and the tiered premium hike is clearly stipulated in Chapter 3 – Section 10 of Republic Act No. 11223. Until we see efforts to amend the Universal Healthcare Law, Duterte’s recommendation to make the payment for OFWs voluntary, still is yet to be seen. His recommendation also leaves out overseas Filipinos who are dual citizens when both overseas Filipinos and migrant workers will be severely affected by the mandatory premium increase.

In support of Filipino migrants, Migrante International will continue to register its protest against President Duterte’s Philhealth premium hike and other unscrupulous state exactions. OFWs deserve to get steady and efficient relief at this time of crisis. The Duterte regime better stop treating Filipino migrants as milking cows to subsidize big private profit in a country dominated by profit-oriented healthcare facilities. 

#ScrapHindiSuspension

#ProteksyonHindiKoleksyon

#TulongHindiKotong

#SerbisyoHindiNegosyo

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STOP THE MANDATORY COLLECTION OF PHILHEALTH PREMIUM INCREASE! Joint Position Statement of Filipino Migrant Groups on PhilHealth Circular No. 2020-0014

STOP THE MANDATORY COLLECTION OF PHILHEALTH PREMIUM INCREASE!

Joint Position Statement of Filipino Migrant Groups on PhilHealth Circular No. 2020-0014 

On 22 April 2020, PhilHealth Circular No. 2020-0014 entitled “Premium Contribution and Collection of Payment of Overseas Filipino Member” was officially made public. This is in fulfillment of President Duterte’s Universal Healthcare Law which was signed on 20 February 2019 which sets mandatory coverage to all Filipinos under the country’s National Health Insurance Program. 

Philhealth3a

Since last year, we and many other Filipino migrant groups have already expressed opposition to the proposed collection, At this time, an online petition initiated by OFWs opposing Philhealth’s mandatory collection has already garnered almost 300,000 signatures. This, together with visible reactions in social media platforms clearly show the rejection of OFWs to this scheme by the Duterte administration’s Philhealth. The petition (https://bit.ly/2yn9BMr) is poised to muster more support in the coming days.

 

  1. The mandatory 3% is only the first phase of a tiered payment computation which is set to increase year by year reaching 5% in 2024. This is in addition to all the other draining state exactions imposed by the Philippine government. 
  2. Overseas Filipinos are treated as “direct contributors” that have to pay BOTH the employer and employee’s share. Citing Hong Kong as an example where OFWs have a minimum salary of HK$ 4,630   (Php 30,095), the total contribution for 2020 would amount to HK$ 1,667 which is equivalent to Php 10,835.50 (Php30,095 x 0.03 x 12 months). By 2024 and onwards, upon implementation of the 5% increase on the monthly contribution, this would spike up to HK$2,778 or Php 18,057 yearly.
  3. Members who fail to make payment after the due date will be penalized and required to pay all missed contributions with monthly compounded interest.
  4. This increase overburdens OFWs who are already troubled by retrenchments and loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. An overwhelming number of OFWs are not even covered by President Duterte’s DOLE-AKAP cash aid program and repatriated OFWs have been crying out on the government for steady and efficient amelioration.
  5. OFWs are already covered by existing insurance and healthcare programs in their host countries which renders Duterte’s mandatory Philhealth coverage as useless for Filipino migrants abroad. Why charge them yet again? 
  6. Since regular contribution to Philhealth is part of OEC requirements, no OEC will be issued to OFWs who are unable to complete their Philhealth payments. Duterte broke his campaign promise of removing the OEC requirement.
  7. Members who fail to make payment after the due date will be required to pay all missed contributions with monthly compounded interest. This is extremely painful for OFWs who are unable to finish their contracts because of abuse and maltreatment 
  8. OFWs will have to shoulder both employee and employer contributions. This means that they will be charged twice. 
  9. Corruption in Philhealth: President Duterte himself has claimed last year that a whopping Php 154 Billion has been lost to Philhealth’s ghost patients and deliveries funneled mainly to profit-oriented private healthcare facilities. Why are OFWs and  Filipino migrants being forced to shoulder government losses caused by corruption? 
  10. Subsidizing private profit: While underfunded public healthcare and medical facilities are fast deteriorating, mandatory Philhealth collections are bound to benefit profit-oriented private healthcare facilities as public hospitals are engulfed by the government’s privatization program.
    Our Demands:

 

  1. Stop the mandatory Philhealth premium exaction.
  2. Enforce a moratorium on all state exactions at this period of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. 
  3. Remove punitive penalties.
  4. Junk OEC.
  5. Establish a genuine universal health care program through free medical and health services.
  6. Enhance and strengthen the public health care system in the Philippines. 

Instead of building more pro-people infrastructures for public health services and establishing a genuine universal health care program where medical and health services are free, President Duterte is clinging on to neoliberal economic policies that extort money from the public to fill the coffers of big private entities. This in itself is legalized theft that preys on our already overburdened Filipino migrants. 

Our opposition to this unjust state exaction will not stop with the petition. Migrante International encourages everyone to join our kalampagan and other forms of online protests and creative actions to oppose the Duterte government’s mandatory Philhealth exaction. 

We, Filipino migrants, affix our organizations name herewith to signify our support to the content and demands written on this position paper and to express our strong and collective opposition to the mandatory collection of Philhealth contributions.

Signed:

  1. Migrante International (Global Alliance of Filipino Migrant Orgs in 24 countries)
  2. Migrante Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  3. Gabriela Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  4. FAPS INTERNATIONAL – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  5. Samahang Migrante Manggagawa Nagkakaisa sa Riyadh (SAMAKABA-MIGRANTE) – KSA
  6. JEDDAH FILIPINO SOCIETY – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  7. Migrante Qatar
  8. Gabriela United Arab Emirates
  9. Migrante Seattle, USA
  10. Migrante Portland, USA
  11. Migrante Napa-Solano, USA
  12. Migrante Daly City, USA
  13. PAWIS East Bay, USA
  14.  PAWIS San Jose, USA
  15.  Migrante Los Angeles, USA
  16.  Migrante Long Beach, USA
  17.  Migrante Orange County, USA
  18.  Migrante New York, USA
  19. Migrante New Jersey, USA
  20. Migrante Youth New York, USA
  21. Migrante Chicago, USA
  22. Migrante Washington D.C., USA
  23. Anakbayan Washington DC
  24. Migrante Manitoba, Canada
  25.  Migrante BC, Canada,
  26. Migrante Alberta, Canada
  27. Migrante Ontario, Canada
  28. Migrante Ottawa, Canada
  29. Alberta Care Workers Association, Canada
  30. Kabisig Society of Fort Saskatchewan
  31. Philippine Migrant Society of Canada (PMSC)
  32. PINAY, Canada
  33. Association of Filipino Parents, Quebec, Canada
  34. Filipino Indigenous Association of Quebec, Canada
  35. Aklanon Association
  36. Migrante Canada
  37. Anakbayan Europe
  38. Campaign for the Human Rights in the Philippines, United Kingdom
  39. Europe Network for Justice and Peace in the Philippines
  40. Federation of Domestic Workers Association (FDWA), UK
  41. Filipino Ecumenical Migrants Ministry – IFI,
  42. FOA-Au Pair, Denmark
  43. Gabriela Germany
  44. Gabriela London
  45. Gabriela Roma
  46. Gabriela Switzerland
  47. Kabalikat Netherlands
  48. Kanlungan Filipino Consortium, UK
  49. Makabayang Samahang Pilipino (MkSP), Netherlands
  50. Migrante Austria
  51. Migrante Bologna, Italy
  52. Migrante Como, Italy
  53. Hyper Megara Fitness Club, Italy
  54. Marias Zumba, Italy
  55. Zumba Energetic Moms, Italy
  56. Laguna and Friends Association (LAFA), Italy
  57. Villasinians of Italy
  58. Kaisahan ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Italya- KAMPI Rome
  59. Samahan ng Magdalo Roma
  60. KasamaKo Greece
  61. Migrante Denmark
  62. Migrante Europe
  63. Migrante Firenze, Italy
  64. Migrante Iceland
  65. Migrante Ireland
  66. Migrante Mantova
  67. Migrante Milano
  68. Migrante Netherlands Amsterdam
  69. Migrante Netherlands Den Haag
  70. Migrante Utrecht
  71. Migrante UK
  72. Migrante Zurich
  73. Milan OFW Kapitbisig
  74. Nagkakaisang Pilipino sa Pransya
  75. Pinay sa Holland – Gabriela
  76. Promotion of Church People’s Response Europe
  77. Samahan ng mga Kabataan sa Netherlands (SAMAKA-NL)
  78. Sentro Pilipino Chaplaincy (SPC)
  79. Ugnayang Pilipino sa Belgium (UPB)
  80. Umangat Migrante
  81. Babaylan Germany
  82. MIGRANTE Aotearoa New Zealand
  83. MIGRANTE Aotearoa – Palmerston North
  84. MIGRANTE Aotearoa – Christchurch
  85. PINAY Aotearoa – New Zealand
  86. Migrante Builders Aotearoa
  87. Union Network of Migrants (UNEMIG), NEW ZEALAND
  88. MIGRANTE Australia
  89. Lingap Migrante – Western Sydney Australia
  90. Migrante North Hornsby, Sydney Australia
  91. Migrante South West – Sydney
  92. Philippines Australia Women’s Association
  93. Migrante Kultura
  94. Migrante Melbourne
  95. Migrante Melbourne East
  96. Migrante Melbourne North – Samahang Tatak Pinoy
  97. Migrante Melbourne Northeast
  98. Migrante Melbourne West
  99. Migrante Perth, Australia
  100. Advance League of People’s Artists (ALPA), Australia
  101. AnakBayan Sydney
  102. AnakBayan Melbourne
  103. BAYAN Australia
  104. Gabriela Australia
  105. Gabriela Greater Sydney
  106. Gabriela Victoria
  107. Gabriela Perth
  108. Philippines Studies Network in Australia (PINAS)
  109. Promotion for Church People’s Response (PCPR) Australia
  110. United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
  111. Abra Migrant Workers Welfare Association
  112. Association of Concerned Filipinos
  113. Cuyapo OFW Association Hong Kong
  114. Filipino Friends
  115. Filipino Lesbian Organization
  116. Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers Union
  117. Filipino Migrants Association
  118. Filipino Women Migrant Association
  119. Friends of Bethune House
  120. Likha Filipino Migrants Cultural Organization
  121. Luzviminda Migrante
  122. Migrante Naguilian
  123. Migrante Pier
  124. Migrante Shatin
  125. Migrante Tamar
  126. Migrante Tsing Ti
  127. Migrante Tsuen Wan
  128. Migrante Yuen Long
  129. Migranteng Artista ng Bayan
  130. Organic Cultural and Environmental Organization
  131. Philippine Independent Church Choir
  132. Pinatud A Saleng Ti Umili (PSU)
  133. Pangasinan Organization for Welfare, Empowerment and Rights
  134. Samahang Migrante
  135. Sta Maria Migrants Association
  136. Women of Philippine Independent Church – WOPIC Antique
  137. Filipino Migrant Workers’ Union (FMWU)
  138. FMWU City Hall Chapter
  139. FMWU Chater Garden Chapter
  140. FMWU Chater Road Chapter
  141. Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society
  142. Annak ti Maeng Tubo-HK
  143. Baggak Cultural Group
  144. Bangued Migrants Workers Association
  145. Bucay Migrants Workers
  146. Bucloc Overseas Workers Association
  147. Ganagan San Juan Association
  148. Lacub Migrants
  149. Lagangilang Overseas Association
  150. Langiden Migrants Organization
  151. Lapaz Migrants Association
  152. Licuan-Baay HK Association
  153. Maeng Tribe of Abra Luba-HK
  154. Malibcong Migrants Association
  155. Timpuyog Ti Tayum
  156. BAYAN Hong Kong & Macau
  157. Cordillera Alliance Hong Kong (CORALL)
  158. GABRIELA Hong Kong
  159. Gabriela Hong Kong Bank
  160. Filguys Association
  161. Filipino Lesbians Organization (FILO)
  162. Promotion of Church Peoples’ Response (PCPR) – Hong Kong
  163. Danza Filipina 
  164. DOMO Hong Kong 
  165. Women Dance Club the Original HK
  166. The Silent Majority Hong Kong 
  167. FilReflex – Filipino Reflexologists Hong Kong 
  168. HK CIASI 61892
  169. Federation of Luzon Alliance Group  (FLAG) of Hong Kong 
  170. National Organization of Professional Teachers (NOPT) Hong Kong 
  171. Global Alliance Hong Kong
  172. Magdalo Hong Kong
  173. United Philippine Taekwondo Organization (UPTO)
  174. Ellen Dancers
  175. Social Justice for Migrant Workers
  176. UMELA Hong Kong
  177. ROAD Hong Kong
  178. Share Hong Kong
  179. KAFIN Saitama – Migrante
  180. MIGRANTE Japan
  181. MIGRANTE Macau
  182. KASAMMAKO – Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggawa sa Korea
  183. New Era Foundation
  184. Pag-Iribang Bicolnon in Korea
  185. TERESA Women’s Organization
  186. EPS Korea
  187. Osan Migrants Centre
  188. MIGRANTE Taiwan
  189. ACTION – Association of Concerned Filipinos in Thailand
  190. Migrante Youth
  191. Migrante Philippines

 

FILIPINO MIGRANTS MANIFESTO (Mayo 1, 2020)

FILIPINO MIGRANTS MANIFESTO 

Mayo 1, 2020 

Kami, mga organisasyon na nagtataguyod para sa karapatan ng mga migranteng Pilipino at aming pamilya ay nanawagan sa administrasyong Duterte na pakinggan at dagliang ipatupad ang mga panawagan ng ating mga kababayan na nasa ibayong dagat at kanilang pamilya. Ang panawagan na ito ay napapanahon sa gitna ng COVID19 pandemya: 

 

SA PANAHON NG COVID19, KAILANGAN GAWIN NG GOBYERNO ANG SUMUSUNOD:

  1. Paggawa ng komprehensibong planong medical at pangkabuhayan para labanan ang krisis covid-19. 
  2. Tuloy-tuloy na serbisyo ng mga Embahada, POLO at OWWA. Sa panahon ng tumitinding krisis hatid ng COVID19, ipakita nila ang tunay na paglilingkod sa ating mamamayan.
  3. Libreng pamimigay ng mga health supplies tulad ng face masks, sanitizers lalo na sa mga kababayan na undocumented, at-risk at personal protective equipment para sa ating mga frontliners sa loob at labas ng Pilipinas. 
  4. Dagliang pagpapatupad ng ayudang pinansyal na sasapat sa aming pang araw-araw na pangangailangan sa panahon ng pandemya at habang walang maayos na hanapbuhay.
  5. Dagliang ipatupad ang moratorium sa paniningil ng contributions sa PhilHealth, SSS at iba pa. Itigil at ibasura ang OEC. Gawing libre ang emergency travel document pati na ang repatriation assistance sa lahat ng mga nangangailangan. Ipatupad ang masaklaw at libreng serbisyo sa transportasyon para sa mga dumarating at umaalis na mga manggagawang migrante.
  6. Libreng COVID19 testing para sa ating mga marino at ibigay ang tamang kompensasyon sa mga sapilitang pinauuwi sa Pilipinas at putol ang kontrata sa trabaho.
  7. Ipatupad sa kagyat ang libreng mass testing sa Pilipinas, lalo na sa mga balik-manggagawa na nanggaling sa iba’t ibang bansa. Itigil ang pagbibigay ng pribilehiyo nito sa iilan na mga politiko, taong-gobyerno at matataas na uri. 
  8. Magtayo ng mas maraming libre at maayos na quarantine facilities at temporary shelters para sa mga balik-manggagawa sa bawat rehiyon, probinsya, bayan at munisipalidad sa bansa na may sapat na masustansyang pagkain, hygiene supplies, health services tulad ng psycho-social counseling at steady supply ng internet para sa regular na komunikasyon sa mga pamilya. 
  9. Tugunan ang pangunahing pangangailangan ng aming pamilya sa Pilipinas tulad ng pamimigay ng libreng pagkain, gamot, multi-vitamins at iba pa na pangangailangan bilang depensa sa COVID19 virus.
  10. Unahin ang interes ng mamamayang pilipino at hindi ang interes ng mga malalaking korporasyon at mga dayuhan.
  11. Kagyat na magkaroon ng paghihigpit sa mga pumapasok na mga dayuhan  mula sa mga bansang mataas ang kaso ng COVID19.
  12. Seryosong pag aralan at ipatupad ang pagkakaroon ng disente at maayos na trabaho sa Pilipinas sa pamamagitan ng tunay na industriyalisasyon at repormang agraryo sa lupa at itigil ang pagtrato sa aming mga migrante bilang kalakal. 

Signed: 

  1. Migrante Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 
  2. Gabriela Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 
  3. Migrante Qatar 
  4. Gabriela United Arab Emirates 
  5. Migrante Seattle, USA
  6. Migrante Portland, USA 
  7. Migrante Napa-Solano, USA
  8. Migrante Daly City, USA
  9. PAWIS East Bay, USA
  10. PAWIS San Jose, USA 
  11. Migrante Los Angeles, USA
  12. Migrante Long Beach, USA
  13. Migrante Orange County, USA
  14. Migrante New York, USA 
  15. Migrante New Jersey, USA
  16. Migrante Youth New York, USA 
  17. Migrante Chicago, USA
  18. Migrante Washington D.C., USA 
  19. Migrante Manitoba, Canada 
  20. Migrante BC, Canada, 
  21. Migrante Alberta, Canada
  22. Migrante Ontario, Canada 
  23. Migrante Ottawa, Canada 
  24. Alberta Care Workers Association, Canada 
  25. Kabisig Society of Fort Saskatchewan
  26. Philippine Migrant Society of Canada (PMSC)
  27. PINAY, Canada 
  28. Association of Filipino Parents, Quebec, Canada 
  29. Filipino Indigenous Association of Quebec, Canada 
  30. Aklanon Association 
  31. Anakbayan Europe 
  32. Campaign for the Human Rights in the Philippines, United Kingdom
  33. Europe Network for Justice and Peace in the Philippines
  34. Federation of Domestic Workers Association (FDWA), UK
  35. Filipino Ecumenical Migrants Ministry – IFI, 
  36. FOA-Au Pair, Denmark 
  37. Gabriela Germany 
  38. Gabriela London
  39. Gabriela Roma
  40. Gabriela Switzerland 
  41. Kabalikat Netherlands
  42. Kanulungan Filipino Consortium, UK
  43. Makabayang Samahang Pilipino (MkSP), Netherlands 
  44. Migrante Austria 
  45. Migrante Bologna, Italy 
  46. Migrante Como, Italy 
  47. Migrante Denmark 
  48. Migrante Europe 
  49. Migrante Firenze, Italy 
  50. Migrante Iceland
  51. Migrante Ireland 
  52. Migrante Mantova 
  53. Migrante Milano 
  54. Migrante Netherlands Amsterdam
  55. Migrante Netherlands Den Haag 
  56. Migrante Utrecht 
  57. Migrante UK 
  58. Migrante Zurich 
  59. Milan OFW Kapitbisig 
  60. Nagkakaisang Pilipino sa Pransya
  61. Pinay sa Holland – Gabriela 
  62. Promotion of Church People’s Repsonse Europe 
  63. Samahan ng mga Kabataan sa Netherlands (SAMAKA-NL)
  64. Sentro Pilipino Chaplaincy (SPC) 
  65. Ugnayang Pilipino sa Belgium (UPB) 
  66. Umangat Migrante 
  67. The Right Reverend Antonio N. Ablon, Iglesia Filipina Independiente 
  68. Fr. Aris Miranda, Camillan Task Force
  69. AOTEAROA – NEW ZEALAND
  70. MIGRANTE Aotearoa New Zealand 
  71. MIGRANTE Aotearoa – Palmerston North
  72. MIGRANTE Aotearoa – Christchurch
  73. PINAY Aotearoa – New Zealand
  74. Migrante Builders Aotearoa
  75. Union Network of Migrants (UNEMIG), AUSTRALIA
  76. MIGRANTE Australia
  77. Lingap Migrante – Western Sydney Australia 
  78.  Migrante North Hornsby, Sydney Australia 
  79. Migrante South West – Sydney
  80.  Philippines Australia Women’s Association
  81.  Migrante Kultura
  82. Migrante Melbourne
  83. Migrante Melbourne East
  84. Migrante Melbourne North – Samahang Tatak Pinoy
  85. Migrante Melbourne Northeast
  86. Migrante Melbourne West
  87.  Migrante Perth, Australia 
  88. Advance League of People’s Artists (ALPA), Australia 
  89. AnakBayan Sydney
  90. AnakBayan Melbourne
  91. BAYAN Australia
  92. Gabriela Australia
  93. Gabriela Greater Sydney
  94. Gabriela Victoria
  95. Gabriela Perth
  96. Philippines Studies Network in Australia (PINAS)
  97. Promotion for Church People’s Response (PCPR) Australia
  98.  United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
  99. Abra Migrant Workers Welfare Association
  100. Association of Concerned Filipinos
  101.  Cuyapo OFW Association Hong Kong
  102. Filipino Friends
  103. Filipino Lesbian Organization
  104. Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers Union
  105. Filipino Migrants Association
  106. Filipino Women Migrant Association
  107.  Friends of Bethune House
  108.  Likha Filipino Migrants Cultural Organization
  109. Luzviminda Migrante
  110. Migrante Naguilian
  111. Migrante Pier
  112. Migrante Shatin
  113.  Migrante Tamar
  114. Migrante Tsing Ti
  115. Migrante Tsuen Wan
  116.  Migrante Yuen Long
  117. Migranteng Artista ng Bayan
  118. Organic Cultural and Environmental Organization
  119. Philippine Independent Church Choir
  120.  Pinatud A Saleng Ti Umili (PSU)
  121.  Pangasinan Organization for Welfare, Empowerment and Rights
  122. Samahang Migrante
  123.  Sta Maria Migrants Association
  124. Women of Philippine Independent Church – WOPIC Antique
  125. Filipino Migrant Workers’ Union (FMWU)
  126. FMWU City Hall Chapter
  127. FMWU Chater Garden Chapter
  128. FMWU Chater Road Chapter
  129. Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society
  130. Annak ti Maeng Tubo-HK
  131. Baggak Cultural Group
  132.  Bangued Migrants Workers Association
  133.  Bucay Migrants Workers
  134. Bucloc Overseas Workers Association
  135.  Ganagan San Juan Association
  136. Lacub Migrants
  137. Lagangilang Overseas Association
  138.  Langiden Migrants Organization
  139. Lapaz Migrants Association
  140. Licuan-Baay HK Association
  141. Maeng Tribe of Abra Luba-HK
  142. Malibcong Migrants Association
  143. Timpuyog Ti Tayum
  144. BAYAN Hong Kong & Macau
  145. Cordillera Alliance Hong Kong (CORALL)
  146.  GABRIELA Hong Kong
  147.  Gabriela Hong Kong Bank
  148. Filguys Association
  149.  Filipino Lesbians Organization (FILO)
  150. Promotion of Church Peoples’ Response (PCPR) – Hong Kong
  151. KAFIN Saitama – Migrante
  152. MIGRANTE Japan
  153. MIGRANTE Macau
  154. KASAMMAKO – Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggawa sa Korea
  155. New Era Foundation
  156. Pag-Iribang Bicolnon in Korea
  157. TERESA
  158. Osan Migrants Centre
  159.  MIGRANTE Taiwan
  160. ACTION – Association of Concerned Filipinos in Thailand
  161. Migrante Philippines 
  162. Migrante BC

 

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“Duterte is the virus. Social justice is the cure!” — Migrante International on the 2020 International Workers’ Day

To commemorate the struggles of the working class, Migrante International extends its militant salutations to all Filipino workers in the Philippines and abroad. This year, we mark International Workers’ Day at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic and recession brought the entire world into a grand scale halt. Prior to its outbreak, many countries have been inundated with torrents of mass protests and national strikes that struck fear and panic among the world’s ruling elite. With workers in colossal numbers displaced from production and commercial facilities, this global crisis has cast a light on those who toil as the real generators of wealth and progress. Woefully, these are the very same people who are oppressed, exploited and alienated from the fruits of their own labour.

In the Philippines, the cycle of forced migration has driven out millions of Filipinos to the farthest corners of the world. Many even found themselves working in war torn and depressed countries, risking life and limbs just to support their loved ones back home. Year after year, President Duterte has been spouting lies, deceptions and false promises to Filipino workers who are up to now tormented by contractualization, slave wages and absence of genuine social safety nets. At this troublesome period, OFWs are among the most vulnerable sectors battered by the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to the latest figures posted by the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are 1,677 confirmed COVID-19 cases and  201 related deaths among Filipino migrants. These cases come from 46 countries and territories. Deplorably, based on Department Order 212, DOLE’s US$200 cash aid to OFWs will only cover 29 countries. Contradictions abound with DOLE’s numbers in its claim that there are only 89,436 displaced OFWs. Upon looking at the number of requests for assistance, there are now 230,000 OFWs seeking cash aid from the Duterte government. This might even be bigger had there been no repeated suspensions in the processing of aid requests. 

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According to one lawmaker, at least 420,000 OFWs are expected to return to the Philippines due to the global recession. However, due to Duterte’s unpreparedness and his failure to lay out a comprehensive plan, DOLE’s initial targeted number of beneficiaries was only 150,000. Among those excluded from Duterte’s DOLE-AKAP cash aid program are OFW frontliners, stranded OFWs in the Philippines, terminated household workers whose cases are misinterpreted as non-COVID related, jailed OFWs, trafficking victims, education / cultural exchange migrants and vast numbers of OFWs outside of the 29 priority countries enumerated by DOLE. 

Without efficient and steady relief, mass starvation and morbidity awaits hundreds of thousands of OFWs and their families. Worse, the Duterte regime is brushing off calls for a moratorium on state exactions imposed on OFWs. Viciously, there’s no stopping Duterte’s lust to crush our pockets dry by whacking Filipino migrants with a mandatory philhealth premium rate increase. From the current 3%, the Philhealth premium is set to increase annually up to 5% in 2025. This year alone, OFWs are expected to pay between Php 10,835 to Php 21,600 which is a one-year worth of Philhealth contribution and Duterte in his insatiable greed intends to increase this every year. Without a sound public health infrastructure, this is only meant to subsidize private profit in a country dominated by profit-oriented medical facilities.

Furthermore,  repatriated OFWs have repeatedly slammed OWWA for the deplorable treatment they received. At the beginning of April, OFWs in an over-crammed OWWA shelter in Pasay City decried their conditions. They were without food, water and were made to sleep on the floor. This was just a few weeks after OWWA bragged about its prepared hotel accommodations for repatriated OFWs. Due to ‘miscoordination’ between OWWA and DILG, about 320 OFWs were stranded for several hours after getting barred on their way to their quarantine shelters in Lian, Batangas. In March, 131 Filipino migrants from Sabah were stranded after the passenger ships carrying them were denied entry by port authorities. Instead of bringing them to quarantine facilities, AFP’s Western Mindanao Command proposed that the repatriates be brought to Sibakil Island, an uninhabited in Basilan where they will be packed in scorching tents far distant from healthcare and social welfare facilities. AFP literally wanted to convert the entire island into a concentration camp for returning migrants from Sabah. It can’t be denied that AFP Westmincom was at the height of its gross stupidity. 

In one temporary quarantine lodge in Pasay City, an OFW with a history of abuse from his previous employer in Kuwait committed suicide just a few days ago. Her fellow OFW occupants in that lodge related that they’ve already exceeded the two-week quarantine period and yet they have not undergone health check-up nor received any psychosocial support throughout their stay. Just before their repatriation, many of them endured maltreatment and exploitation from their employers abroad and yet the Duterte government has not provided psychosocial support for these troubled OFWs in quarantine. By now, these OFWs should already be spending their time with their families since they have already exceeded the two-week quarantine period but they’re still confined up to this very moment. Without financial aid and medical attention, quarantine shelters are nothing but plain detention facilities. 

President Duterte’s intentional misplacement of priorities is glaring. It started as early as 2016 when he made a Php 31 Billion budget cut for health. Despite the Philippines being ravaged by waves of epidemics like measles, polio and dengue, the 2020 budget allocation for the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine was slashed by 57 percent. Under Duterte, polio resurfaced in the Philippines after almost two decades of successful eradication. In March, Filipinos were at a loss after Duterte’s war chest for COVID-19 consisted of a Php 14 Billion allocation for Tourism. President Duterte still has Php 85 Billion accumulated from his emergency and contingency funds. Moreover, unpaid taxes from POGO has reached Php 50 Billion. All these could be used to address the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Yet, he would rather drag the country further into debt and has even rejected calls for a debt moratorium. 

Turning a blind eye to the pleadings of the Filipino masses, the Duterte regime is resorting to Fascist violence to quell legitimate dissent. Eager to look for a punching bag and divert people’s attention from the regime’s inutility, Duterte’s bootlickers in DOLE and MECO ganged up on Linn Ordidor, an OFW in Taiwan whom the Philippine government wanted to be deported for openly criticizing Duterte’s ineptness. Thanks to Roque’s stupidity, what started out as DOLE’s ass licking servitude towards Duterte is now turning into a full-blown rift with Taiwan. 

It has gone further to criminalizing volunteerism and humanitarianism. Just yesterday (30 April), suspected state elements from PNP gunned down Jory Porquia, a former OFW and one of the leading voices in Iloilo upholding the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and their families. His murder follows weeks of harassment and black propaganda campaign by PNP, led by Molo PNP Chief Engelbert Banquillo. During the protest caravan held today in Iloilo to offer tribute and demand justice for Porquia, PNP disregarded social distancing measures themselves by cordoning dozens of protesters to arrest them. Humanitarian volunteers delivering food relief to starving urban poor communities are likewise harassed and arrested while civilians committing petty quarantine violations suffer a similar fate, worse, others end up getting killed. In contrast, Malacañang defended Mocha Uson’s violation of quarantine rules by organizing a mass gathering for quarantined OFWs in Batangas. The Duterte regime’s hypocrisy and the impunity of the likes of Koko Pimentel and Mocha Uson are absolutely detestable. 

The Duterte regime’s ‘shoot them dead’ policy bares its extreme hatred towards the Filipino masses. It is an outright declaration of war with the all-out support of Duterte’s imperialist masters. Starving Filipinos are compelled to either stay home and bite the dust or go out to be devoured by Duterte’s predatory state forces and mercenaries who are proving to be worse than the COVID-19 virus itself. 

History has shown us that there is a limit to the forbearance of the Filipino people. In a twinkling of an eye, the all-consuming fire of our collective rage will explode right on Duterte’s face. No power on earth will stop the Filipino people from rising up again. With full conviction, Migrante International is one with all the workers and oppressed people of the world in holding high the torch of the international struggle for liberation, democracy, social justice and the total emancipation of the world’s toiling masses from the grip of imperialist domination and all forms of neoliberal and social oppression. Holding fast to our national democratic struggle, we shall bring forth a new future. May we never waver in finding strength from one another. From every vale and hill, let justice and freedom ring. Migrant workers of the world unite! Let us charge ahead and vanquish our foes.

Ayuda hindi diktadura!

Lunas hindi dahas!

Solusyong medikal, hindi militar!

Mass testing, hindi killings!

Resist tyranny!

Duterte resign!

 

URING MANGGAGAWA, HUKBONG MAPAGPALAYA!

KALUSUGAN, KABUHAYAN AT KARAPATAN, IPAGLABAN!

LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

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Justice for Jory Porquia! Stop Duterte’s attacks on OFW critics and migrant rights activists! 

At around 5:00 am this morning, Bayan Muna coordinator Jory Porquia was shot dead in his place of residence in Brgy. Sto. Niño, Arevalo District, Iloilo City by unidentified men. His murder follows weeks of harassment and black propaganda campaign by Molo PNP Chief Engelberto Banquillo who has been blocking the feeding program and other humanitarian efforts led by Porquia and Bayan Muna volunteers in the city. According to witnesses, Banquillo even told relief beneficiaries more than a week ago to reject food donations being distributed during Bayan Muna’s relief operations as they may contain the COVID-19 virus. It is clear that the Duterte regime is bull-headed in criminalizing volunteerism and humanitarianism at this period of crisis. 

Porquia is a migrant rights activist whose work as an OFW architect brought him to Saudi Arabia, Singapore and later on in China. In whichever country he was, Porquia committed himself to extending a helping hand to OFW victims of abuse, maltreatment and government neglect. Upon his return to the Philippines, he served as a Migrante organizer and Bayan Muna coordinator in Iloilo. He was one of the leading voices in the province of Iloilo for the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and their families. Migrante International strongly denounces the murder of Jory Porquia and the continued persecution of rights activists under the tyrannical reign of terror by the Fascist Duterte regime. 

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His tragic murder also coincides with deportation efforts by Labour officials in the Duterte regime against Linn Ordidor, another OFW critic of Duterte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pushing for its despotic follies, the regime has gone to the extent of disrespecting authorities in Taiwan and disregarding their own immigration policies. The United Nations has called out the Duterte regime for using the public health crisis as a “pretext for repressive measures.” Duterte’s ‘shoot them dead’ order and his Martial Law threat is already being enforced harshly by state forces through perpetration of various human rights abuses and killings. 

With pain and sorrow, we grieve with Jory Porquia’s loved ones, friends and his fellow Bayan Muna members for his demise. We call on all Filipino migrant organizations and their solidarity partners to protest these Fascist attacks. Let us resist Duterte’s attempt to totally eliminate legitimate dissent and trample on our constitutionally guaranteed democratic rights. Protect critical voices and expose Duterte’s murderous and despotic rule before the international community. 

Justice for Jory Porquia!

Bigas hindi bala!

Ayuda hindi diktadura!

Solusyong medikal, hindi militar!

Stop the killings!

Resist tyranny!

Duterte resign!

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Without financial aid and medical attention for OFWs, quarantine shelters are nothing but plain detention facilities — Migrante International

For a quarantine to be effective in minimizing the spread and risk or disease, it must be accompanied by preventive healthcare and medical attention. Since the start of the lockdown, repatriated OFWs have been brought to “quarantine facilities” for observation which is supposed to take a maximum of 14 days. However, as OFWs from a Pasay lodge have related, they still have not received any form of financial relief or health services from OWWA or from any other government agency. It came to a tragic point that one of the OFWs in the temporary OWWA shelter ended up committing suicide due to extreme stress believed to be caused by depression, anxiety and government neglect. The OFW suicide victim had a history of abuse and maltreatment by her previous employers in Kuwait. OWWA should have already seen beforehand the necessity of psychosocial intervention for OFWs under quarantine. 

One week to go and these OFWs in OWWA’s temporary shelter in Pasay will have been under quarantine for an entire month. Where is the Duterte government’s promise that these OFWs will be brought back to their respective provinces? Without aid and medical attention while under quarantine, this is appearing to be more like mass detention of OFWs confined in “temporary OWWA shelters.” After the suicide tragedy of the OFW from Kuwait, OFWs from that same lodge are now being told that they will be transferred to another quarantine facility but they want none of it since it only increases their risk of exposure to the pandemic. In fact, they should now be transported back to their provinces as promised by the Duterte government. 

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From the moment of their arrival at the airport, OWWA should already have prior knowledge that many of these OFWs have had various traumatic experiences during their time overseas. Looking at the Duterte government’s inutility and negligence in its handling of “quarantine” measures, it is proving to be just another major source of trauma for OFWs. Worse, the Duterte government is hell-bent on mandatorily extracting Philhealth collections even at this period of crisis. The Duterte regime’s terrible greed is more than likely to outlast this pandemic. 

Migrante International calls on President Duterte and his government agencies to provide financial relief and medical attention to all OFWs under quarantine. They have families to support and without any income, the hunger and hardships being experienced by their loved ones add up to their distress. This should likewise be the time for the Duterte government to stop extracting Philhealth collections. Travel assistance for OFWs who have completed the fourteen-day quarantine must be undertaken straight away so they can return back safely into their respective families. Our clamour for justice for the OFW suicide victim endures and we call on all OFWs and their families to continue pressing the Duterte government to ameliorate them for their hardships and agonies. 

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Investigate and sanction Macauyag and other MECO officials pestering Ordidor — Migrante International

In a move similar to that of Pontius Pilate, Labour Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III is washing his hands by leaving poor OFW Elanel Egot Ordidor out in the open to be devoured and torn apart by overzealous bootlickers from MECO. From the start, there was nothing sound in the judgment of Labour Attache Fidel Macauyag when he squandered government resources and his working time threatening a poor OFW who was only expressing her views. 

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PHOTO: Focus Taiwan

For a long time, MECO and DOLE, both of which are under the executive branch of government have failed to stop the brokerage system in Taiwan that has been bleeding OFW pockets dry. At present, they have even raised their level of impotence by acting as cyber Nazis. Through EO70, President Duterte himself is to blame for turning diplomatic and foreign missions into Gestapo-like institutions tasked to persecute critical Filipino groups and individuals based overseas. 

POLO’s primary mandate is to uphold the rights and welfare of OFWs and that includes their democratic right to freedom of expression. Since they have veered off from this mandate and have assumed their roles as Duterte’s attack dogs, we strongly demand that Labour Attache Fidel Macauyag and all the rest of MECO officials involved be investigated, sanctioned and charged for their harsh actions towards Ordidor. 

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