Just a day before the 157th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, the global day of action organized by Migrante International dubbed “Global Online Rally para sa Trabaho, Ayuda at Serbisyo sa Migranteng Pilipino at Pamilya. Paggunita kay Gat Andres Bonifacio at ang Katipunan” drew more than a hundred zoom participants from Filipino migrant organizations and network allies as part of their militant commemoration of Andres Bonifacio’s heroic contributions to the struggle for national liberation and democracy in the Philippines. The event which was live streamed via Migrante International’s facebook page serves as a kick off for the 10-day protest actions (December 1 to 10) which will lead to the International Human Rights Day on the 10th of December.
Footages and photos of relief operations, donation drives, mobilizations and other activities of Migrante chapters overseas and in the Philippines were also shown with musical performances of overseas-based Filipino cultural groups as backdrop. Migrante International chairperson Joanna Concepcion commenced the programme by pointing to the criminal negligence and human rights violations of the Duterte regime. “The government is very prompt when it comes to levying all sorts of state exactions to OFWs,” Concepcion said as she likened the regime’s extortionate actions to “braising Filipino migrants in their own sweat and blood.” Concepcion assailed the removal of the DOLE-AKAP cash aid program in the government’s 2021 budget while Php 19.1 billion gets allotted for the regime’s militarist and anti-democratic machinations.
Atty. Daisy Mandap of The Sun Hong Kong deplored the poor treatment of OFWs who are deprived of essential services they were supposed to receive from government agencies. Mandap cited the case of an ailing OFW who was not even provided with an ambulance upon arrival at the airport in Manila. Migrante Australia Mel Baltazar assailed the Duterte regime’s dereliction towards Filipino international students in Australia who lost their jobs which were their source of income to sustain them in their studies. Members of Migrante Australia raised funds to help some of the displaced Filipino students hit by the crisis.
Migrante members in Saudi Arabia revealed corruption and sexual harassment accusations against Labour Attache Nasser Mustafa as well as the plight of many stranded and repatriated OFWs from Saudi Arabia who received none of the promised amelioration. Rhodney Pasion, deputy general secretary of Migrante Europe, relayed the dire situation of undocumented migrants who are struck by job displacements, starvation and house evictions brought about by the crisis. Pasion lashed out against the Duterte regime for neglecting OFWs in Europe especially undocumented migrants by closing off many embassy and consulate operations during the height of the pandemic.
Lester Ramos of Migrante USA castigated the military’s voracity for funds as Php 4 Billion was slashed from disaster response to jack up NTF ELCAC’s red tagging campaign and malicious assaults against rights defenders and progressive civic groups. Malaya Arevalo of Malaya Movement USA asked, “Is asking for living wages an act of terrorism? Is it terrorism to demand amelioration for the victims of calamities and the pandemic?” Malaya Movement USA has been active in its lobbying campaign to make US politicians and government officials respond to the human rights situation in the Philippines. About 50 members of the US congress signed a letter calling on the Duterte regime and the Philippine Congress to repeal the controversial Anti-Terror Law.
Chris Sorio of Migrante Canada called into mind the contributions of migrants in the 1896 Philippine revolution including Candido Iban and Francisco Castillo, two Filipinos from Australia who joined the Katipunan. Filipino migrant workers were also among the sectors that fought for the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship and the Estrada regime. The Malaya Movement in Canada has gathered 500 signatures in one of its lobbying campaigns at the Canadian government demanding it to respond to the alarming human rights situation in the Philippines.
Kilusang Mayo Uno Chairperson Elmer ‘Bong’ Labog decried the Duterte regime’s neglect of both land-based and sea-based Filipino migrant workers overseas coupled with the aggravating impoverishment of local workers in the Philippines deprived of aid and other social services at the ongoing crisis. Migrante Philippines Chairperson Arman Hernando warned that the country will sink further in peril if the tyrannical Duterte regime is not ousted from power with its bloody record of extrajudicial killings, red tagging, corruption and Fascist reign of terror.
Concluding the protest event, Dolores Balladares of Migrante Hong Kong announced Migrante International’s participation in the Bonifacio Day protest which will be held in UP Diliman on monday morning, 30 November. The Council of Global Unions (CGU) has also set this date as a global day of action for trade union and human rights as well as a day of international solidarity in support of the Filipino people’s struggle against human and trade union rights repression in the Philippines. Different sectors and groups will converge to protest over pressing issues like red tagging and persecution of rights defenders, the Duterte regime’s Terror Law and its repulsive handling of the pandemic.