Migrante slams surveillance of Int’l Home Office


photo from humanrightsphilippines.net
photo from humanrightsphilippines.net

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International condemns in strongest terms the recent incident of surveillance of its International Home Office by men believed to be state agents.

Last night, July 1, at 9:10 in the evening, Migrante staff Alfie Hernando went out of their office in Cambridge Street, Cubao to buy cigarettes when he noticed two military-looking men taking photos of the headquarters’ second floor which is visible from across the street.

One of the men was about 5”3 feet in height, wearing a baseball cap, plain blue shirt, jeans and rubber shoes. He was medium-built, dark-skinned and had thick eyebrows. The other man was about 5”6 feet, wearing a blue-red-yellow striped polo shirt, jeans and rubber shoes. The taller guy was clean-cut, had a leaner built, prominent cheekbones and deep round eyes.

Hernando approached the two and asked them what they were doing. He asked them why they were taking photos of the office, and if they were members of the police or military. The two just stared at him and slowly walked away from the scene. It was then that Hernando noticed that the man in baseball cap carried a body bag and a military jacket on his arm.

Hernando said that the two men continued to ignore him and quietly walked from Cambridge to Colombia Street. He followed the two men and started shouting at them, “Sino kayo? Anong unit kayo? Harassment iyang ginagawa niyo! Tumutulong kami sa mga OFW at hina-harass niyo ang mga volunteer namin!”. It was then that the two men walked hurriedly from Colombia and took a turn at Imperial Street.

Hernando went back to the office to report the incident to other staff members and they immediately went to the barangay to file a police blotter.

Migrante International expressed alarm and grave concern over this incident and other reported cases of what appears to be “coordinated harassment” of political activists and offices of progressive organizations.

“We deplore this blatant act of surveillance, harassment and violation of our privacy by suspected state elements. Should anything happen to our staff and volunteers, we will hold accountable state elements who have been engaging in series of intensified harassment of political activists and members of progressive organizations in the past few weeks,” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

“We call on all freedom-loving Filipino migrants to condemn this recent act of surveillance and harassment of Migrante staff. We vow to be vigilant and continue to be of service to Filipino migrants and their families despite and in spite of this attempt to intimidate us. We will continue to be critical of government policies that place our migrant workers and their families in distress, immininent danger or at risk of death,” Pillas said.

Pillas said that the recent incident comes at a time when Migrante and its chapters all over the world are preparing for big mobilizations for the coming People’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27 that “will indict the Aquino administration for all its crimes and sins against Filipino migrants and the people”. ###