No to martial law extension, stop the AFP’s “all-out war” against the people – Migrante

Migrante International strongly opposes moves by the Duterte regime and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to extend martial law in Mindanao.

Martial law in Mindanao has resulted in countless deaths, destruction and numerous human rights abuses brought on by the military’s indiscriminate bombings and air strikes.  It has also been used by state forces to carry out harassment, extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and the filing of trumped-up charges against activists, progressives and civil libertarians, not only in Mindanao but in Visayas and Luzon.

It is no secret that militarists and opportunists in the Duterte government want to extend and expand martial law for their own interests. The extension of martial law in Mindanao represents a clear and present threat of an expansion of military rule not only in Mindanao but a military takeover of the government. Such a move will further pave the way for a possible declaration of martial law nationwide.

Migrante International condemns in most vehement terms orders by Defense Sec. Lorenzana to utilize the martial law in Mindanao to carry out and intensify the AFP’s “all-out war” counter-insurgency operations. History has proven that martial law cannot and will not pave the way to peace and stability. Instead, most vulnerable to human rights and violations are the Filipino people — unionists who strike for better wages, farmers and national minorities who struggle for land, the poor who fight for better services and against state repression. Extending martial law in Mindanao will set the stage for the large-scale violation of human rights by the AFP and other state forces.

History has also proven that martial law failed to address the root causes of the CPP-NPA-NDF armed rebellion as well as the Moro people’s struggle for the right to self-determination. Extending martial law in Mindanao, and its possible expansion nationwide, will be a momentous stumbling block to the Filipino people’s aspiration and commitment to a just and lasting peace.

Migrante also condemns in strongest terms the apparent US-hand not only in the Marawi conflict but in moves to extend martial law in Mindanao and expand it nationwide. Filipinos here and abroad resist and reject US involvement in the Marawi conflict and in Philippine affairs. Our nation should not fall prey to the US ploy of wreaking terror and division to advance their economic and political interests in the country and in the region, similar to what they are waging in Syria, Venezuela and other countries where people are asserting their independence.

Nothing good ever comes out of US interventionist wars. The Filipino people will not allow Pres. Duterte to fall into the same trap that happened in Syria, Libya and elsewhere. In line with the US pivot to Asia, the US-hand in the Marawi conflict and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, enabled by US puppets in the Duterte government, has already been exposed. Migrante calls for the lifting of martial law and the immediate pull out of US troops from Philippine soil.

Migrante enjoins all OFWs and their families here and abroad to join the protest against the Duterte regime’s attempt to convene a joint session of Congress on July 22 to extend martial law in Mindanao.

On July 24, Migrante International calls on all peace-loving and freedom-fighting Filipinos all over the world to join the People’s SONA to call the for lifting of martial law, the pull out of US troops and the resumption of the GRP-NDF peace talks. ###

 

 

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“Thanks, but no thanks”, OFWs slam new OFW ID

Flaunted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as President Duterte’s “best gift” to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the OFW ID or the iDOLE is now receiving flak from OFWs and different sectors.

According to Arman Hernando, Migrante International spokesperson, the iDOLE is a haphazard attempt to impress and appease OFWs in time for the president’s next State of the Nation Address (SONA). “Unfortunately, it has been exposed as yet another money-making scheme as quickly as it was hastily launched by the government.”

“How could it be the ‘best gift’ when even the DOLE is clueless on its relevance? There is as yet no implementing guidelines on how it is supposed to function. It will not even benefit all OFWs and only new hires. Worse, the DOLE claims that it will be free of charge, to replace the useless scrap of paper that is the OEC (overseas employment certificate), but it turns out to be seven times more expensive at Php701. Employers are expected to pay for the iDOLE but since when has this stopped them from passing on the burden to recruitment agencies and, consequently, to OFWs?” Hernando said.

“Thanks, but no thanks, President Duterte. Hindi po ito regalo kundi dagdag-perwisyo para sa mga OFW.”

 Hernando said that the government would do well to cease from its “big talk” and instead genuinely address issues that would stop forced migration and put an end to the policy of labor export.

Migrante described Duterte’s first year in office as “a year of big talk, band-aids and business-as-usual” for OFWs and their families.

“For all his posturing and promises, Duterte has so far done nothing substantial to curb forced migration, something that he promised to make ‘optional and not a necessity’ when he assumed office. Instead, what we have seen thus far is a rehash of the same neoliberal policy of labor export when it comes to peddling Filipinos’ cheap and docile labor to the global market. Talk is cheap, band-aids are temporary and business-as-usual means a never-ending and chronic cycle for OFWs and their families. We do not wish to hear more of the same from President Duterte in his SONA,” he said.

Migrante International will join the BAYAN-led contingent in the upcoming People’s SONA here and abroad on July 24. ###

SUMA 2017: A year of big talk, band-aids and business-as-usual for OFWs and families

State of Migrants, Prepared by Migrante International, June 30, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte, for all his posturing and promises, has so far done nothing substantial to curb forced migration, something that he promised to make “optional and not a necessity” when he assumed office. Instead, what we have seen thus far is a rehash of the same neoliberal policy of labor export when it comes to peddling Filipinos’ cheap and docile labor to the global market.

 

Weak economy resulting in forced migration

Pres. Duterte’s earlier promise to end contractualization by yearend 2016 was widely welcomed even by OFWs because it brought hope of them coming home to decent-paying regular jobs. However, this promise is yet to be fulfilled. In light of the continuing crisis in the Middle East and looming mass deportations of undocumented migrants in the USA and Europe, OFWs are expected to return to the country only to be forcibly driven away again to seek jobs despite risky conditions abroad.

Independent think-tank IBON Foundation estimates that there are still 11.5 million Filipinos who are without work or still looking for more work because of the poor quality of jobs. There were 24.4 million citizens in low-paying and insecure work with little or no benefits in 2016. The most recent Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Order 174 has been exposed to even fortify the practice of contractualization rather than end it.

With the passage of DO 174-2017, packaged as the government’s solution to workers’ problems, contractualization is legalized, aggravating the already rampant problem of labor flexibilization, depressed wages, and, ultimately, more massive unemployment.

Widespread unemployment and contractualization are root causes of forced migration. Fewer Filipinos were jobless in the first quarter of 2017 compared to 2016, but Filipino optimism on job prospects went down as well, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey revealed. According to Trading Economics, a New York-based global economics research institute, unemployment rate in the Philippines rose to 6.6 percent in the first quarter of 2017, from 4.7 percent in the December quarter. This is the highest jobless rate since March 2015.

The gap between the rich and the poor has further widened, with the income of the top 1% of families equivalent to that of the bottom 30% of households (IBON). According to Forbes, 13 of the richest Filipinos made it to its top billionaires of the world in March 2017.

It is in this light that Migrante International fully supports workers’ demand for a P750 national minimum wage. A P750 national minimum wage can significantly reverse the migration of OFWs. If implemented, for every year, around 200,000 workers can opt to stay and contribute their labor and skills to nation-building while living decently with their families.

Based on Migrante’s study, OFWs who receive a basic salary of USD$400-500 per month would prefer to work in the Philippines instead because their income will be at par with the pay they receive abroad.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) shows that since 2011 the country has been annually deploying at least 200,000 OFWs to job positions with salaries ranging from USD$400-500 per month. Majority are household service workers and general laborers in the Middle East who receive monthly salaries of USD$400 1,500 Saudi riyals, respectively. According to 2015 data from the PSA, these OFWs account for 33 percent of the total OFW deployment.

Meanwhile, OFWs are coming back home in droves not because they choose to but because of the effects of an ongoing global economic crisis in host countries. Hundreds of thousands of OFWs are being displaced and retrenched in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. What awaits them in the event of their emergency return? Definitely there are not enough decent-paying domestic jobs available. What the Duterte government offers are mere dole-outs and band-aid solutions that are not long-term solutions to unemployment, low wages and lack of social services.

 

Intensification of labor export

The government’s response to the ongoing crisis in Saudi Arabia is testament to the continuing bankrupty of the Philippines’ labor export policy. Last July 2016, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Sec. Silvestre Bello III promised to resolve the issue of stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia by yearend. Now, a year since, what has the government done so far in response to their plight?

In a press conference in Malacanang last November 22, Sec. Bello announced that “only 2,000 OFWs remain to be repatriated in Saudi Arabia”. In the same breath, Sec. Bello said that they “have succeeded in bringing back 3,000 OFWs while the rest have managed to find good-paying jobs in other companies”. This statement is very problematic.

Firstly, the government merely accounts for some 5,000 affected OFWs, still a far cry from the 11,000 it vowed to repatriate early on – and still yet a small percent of the actual number of affected OFWs outside of the three big companies, Saudi Oger Ltd, Saudi Billadin Group (SBG) and Mohammad Al Mojil Group (MMG).

Sec. Bello, in the same press conference, announced that the OFWs opting to transfer to other companies “made it easier for us (the government)”, but he also admitted that the OFWs have not yet been paid their withheld wages and necessary money claims. These statements are not only contradictory but treacherous on the part of the government.

On one hand, while efforts of relief operations and on-site assistance should be lauded, these are short-term and band-aid solutions that do nothing to address the major issues of emergency repatriation, labor issues and comprehensive reintegration for affected OFWs and their families.

Government efforts have also been fragmented, with various agencies involved, particularly the DOLE and Department of Foregin Affairs (DFA), “one-upping” each other in terms of who played a command role in the government’s humanitarian mission to Saudi Arabia. Migrante’s sources in the DFA claim that after the initial and only press conference, where Sec. Bello and DFA’s Perfecto Yasay publicly flanked Pres. Duterte as he welcomed a handful of repatriated OFWs from Saudi, the labor secretary had been reluctant to conduct a follow-up humanitarian mission after he first one in July.

Thus begging the question: Was the DOLE’s objective in the government’s humanitarian mission to Saudi Arabia not really for the main purpose of repatriating stranded OFWs but conducting damage-control for the beleaguered Saudi companies and local recruitment agencies through the facilitation of job transfers?

If so, the promise to “end the Saudi stranded crisis” by yearend 2016 was misleading and bound to fail from the start. Job transfers of crisis-ridden OFWs have been the thrust of the previous governments – as in the case of the MMG workers who initially called for emergency mass repatriation in 2014, were convinced by the PH government to be transferred to other companies, only to enlist yet again for repatration in 2015 after the company they transferred too was also affected by the Saudi crisis.

If Sec. Bello worked mainly to facilitate job transfers, then he only succeeded in buying time for and “rescuing” the companies and local private recruitment agencies instead of the affected OFWs. This is unsurprisingly in line with DO 174 and other deceiving, pro-capitalist and anti-labor policies that the DOLE has been advocating thus far.

Meanwhile, the crisis in Saudi and the Middle East continue to worsen. OFWs, those who Sec. Bello said “opted” to stay on, have not become impervious to the crisis just because they were transferred to different companies. The crisis is also now affecting not only OFWs in industrial and construction sites but those in the service and health sectors as well.

The Duterte government, however, now appears to deem the Saudi crisis fait accompli, problem-solved, and therefore business-as-usual between the Philippine government and its biggest OFW labor importer.

Remittances from OFWs remain at record-high despite the global economic crisis, reaching a record-high USD$26.9 billion in 2016 and accounting for 10 percent of the country’s Domestic Product (GDP). However, although annual remittances increased, its growth rate has been decreasing in recent years. The continuing decrease in growth rate is a constant worry for the Philippine government. If the trend continues, as it is expected to, the governent will be in big trouble because it relies mainly on remittances for its foreign exchange revenues.

This explains the Duterte administration’s thrust to further to seek job markets abroad and intensify its labor export program. Through remittances, the government earns exponentially without having to shell out much capital investment. Even funds for labor export management through agencies sucha as the POEA or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are directly sourced from OFWs or recruitment agencies and employers through an assortment of fees.

Duterte, while mouthing local job generation as the government’s core program to eliminate forced migration, continues to hail the “bagong bayani” and their “contribution to the economy” to further promote labor export. To do this, he has become more aggressive and active in lobbying for job markets and signing of bilateral agreements with host countries in the past year though numerous state visits.

Aside from remittances, labor export also provides a tempting alternative to the unemployed and underemployed. Through it, the government insulates itself from its responsibility to create local regular jobs that offer decent wages. Instead, it becomes more convenient to evade genuine and strategic policy reforms to turn the economy around.

The  country’s  economic  situation  has  not  improved  under Duterte’s rehashed neoliberal economic policies. Duterte’s “10-point economic agenda” still relies heavily on foreign investment, debt and export-dependence, particularly the dependence on the export Filipinos’ cheap labor in exchange for remittances.

 

Foreign policy

With regard foreign policies and relations affecting our OFWs and Filipinos overseas, Duterte’s statement that he “will not lift a finger” to help the almost one million undocumented Filipino e/migrants in the US under threat of mass deportation due to US Pres. Trump’s anti-migrant program is very telling of his overall attitude and policy.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), there are currently 3.4 million Filipinos in the US, second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of Filipino populace. Of the 3.4 million, close to one million are undocumented and vulnerable to Trump’s repressive crackdown.

It is the government’s duty to assist Filipinos abroad, regardless of their status. Do we turn our backs on them when they direly need the help of their government? Should any harm befall them in the US, Duterte will be to blame if he continues to tolerate and support Trump’s neo-fascism.

The Duterte government’s position calling on all undocumented Filipinos in the US to “just come home” is also a very insensitive stance. Like all other OFWs, they were forced to seek so-called better pastures in the US (or elsewhere in the world) due to widespread joblessness, contractualization and low wages, landlessness and lack of basic social services. Over the years, OFWs in conflict-ridden areas have opted to stay and risk their lives and welfare because they know that no jobs await them in the Philippines.

The plight of OFWs against racism, xenophobia, rights violations and fascism in host countries is also a very important agenda in the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Unfortunately, the Duterte government has withdrawn from the 5th round of formal negotiations.

 

Welfare and services

The economic compulsion for the government to keep exporting Filipinos to maintain or especially to increase remittances unfortunately overrides and precludes undertaking any measures that (i.e. OEC partial abolition, extension of passport validity, stopping of “tanim-bala” scheme, etc.), directly or indirectly, constrict the flow of migration – even if such measures would immediately prevent the incidence of abuses and migrant rights violations.

Indeed, there has been a growing clamor among (overseas Filipino workers) OFWs and their families for a “one-stop shop” that would cater to better services and  the protection and promotion of OFWs. This is mainly because the present “one-country-approach” being implemented by agencies tasked to provide direct services to OFWs, namely, the DFA, DOLE, OWWA and POEA, has been deemed dysfunctional, anti-migrant and inoperative.

Migrante therefore sees and appreciates the rationale behind Duterte’s proposal of establishing a “Department of OFWs (DOFW)” that seeks to systematize, consolidate and strengthen government efforts to protect our OFWs. This proposal in itself is already an initial critique of the performance of the above-mentioned government agencies over the years.

Migrante, however, forwards serious apprehensions on the basis of its assessment of the performances of existing agencies concerned with dealing with OFW services and welfare.

If a DOFW is to be established, it is imperative that the Duterte administration first thoroughly investigates how current concerned agencies, as well as existing laws and policies, benefited or failed our OFWs and their families. Duterte’s proposal to create a DOFW should not work to merely further institutionalize labor export, but instead address the decades-long clamor of OFWs and their families to put an end to it.

Filipinos are being forced to migrate because of desperation as a result out of the economy’s lack of development resulting in job loss, low wages and lack of livelihood at home. OFWs have borne witness to how insincere, insensitive and inept past governments have been in upholding and securing the protection and welfare of OFWs. The past four decades of Philippine labor export has showcased a more blatant and unapologetic policy that continues to exploit OFWs’ cheap labor and foreign remittances in accordance to neoliberal interests and dictates.

Migrante can only be compelled to support the formation of a DOFW if, and only if, it would work towards the eventual irrelevance of such a department and instead strive for a society in which families do not need to be torn apart just to survive.

 

Prospects

Unless Pres. Duterte makes good his promise to address the root causes of forced migration, it will be a never-ending and chronic cycle for OFWs and their families. If Duterte sincerely wants our OFWs to come back home, we need more regular jobs, higher wages and pro-labor policies, not a labor export policy that has long gone bankrupt.

To genuinely address the problem of forced migration, economic policies should focus on developing the national economy by advancing local industries, agriculture and basic services.

Migrante International fully supports the call and struggle for national industrialization and genuine land reform as the ultimate solution to the problem of forced migration. ###

 

Lift martial law, US troops out of PH soil, resume GRP-NDF peace talks! – Migrante

Migrante International joined today’s BAYAN-led Independence Day protests to condemn the ongoing martial law in Marawi and the direct intervention of US special forces against the Maute/ISIS threat in Mindanao.

“We call on President Duterte, as the Commander-in-Chief, to immediately halt the airstrikes and double-time evacuation efforts to save Marawi from carnage. We call on all peace-loving and freedom-fighting Filipinos to unite against the terrorist groups connected with US-CIA-created ISIS, and resist military take-over of Mindanao,” said Arman Hernando, Migrante International spokesperson.

Hernando also called on Filipinos around the world to resist and reject US involvment in the Marawi conflict. “Our nation should not fall prey to the ploy of foreign powers to wreak terror and division to advance their economic and political interests, similar to what they are staging in Syria, Venezuela and other countries where people are asserting their independence and democratic rights,” he said.

“Nothing good ever comes out of US interventionist wars. The Filipino people should not allow Duterte to fall into the same trap that happened in Syria, Libya and elsewhere. In line with the US pivot to Asia, the US-hand in the Marawi conflict, enabled by US puppets in the Duterte government, is now further exposed. We call for the lifting of martial law and the immediate pull out of all US troops.”

“Instead, we should all strive to achieve a just and lasting peace. A militarist and Marcosian policy will never be the solution to the deeply-rooted problems of our society. Duterte should stand by his declaration of an independent foreign policy and rejection of US control in the country. An independent foreign policy can and should be addressed compehensively by the Duterte government while pursuing the GRP-NDF peace talks,” Hernando said. ###

 

Reveal concrete contingency measures for OFWs in Qatar now, DOLE, DFA urged

image from philstar.com

Migrante opens Crisis Hotline for OFWs in Qatar

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International today called on the Duterte administration to reveal in concrete terms its contingency measures for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families in light of the escalating crisis in Qatar.

“We initially welcomed the DOLE’s announcement of a deployment ban as a prompt precautionary measure, we are not too keen with the partial lifting of the said ban, however, within less than 24 hours. Why keep sending our Filipinos to Qatar when the situation there is obviously still unstable? Yet, as before, our OFWs are forced to choose between a potentially risky situation over definite joblessness here in the country, and the government can offer them nothing in return but the hasty partial lifting of the ban,” said Arman Hernando, Migrante International spokesperson.

Hernando said that the DOLE and the DFA should have first disclosed to concerned OFWs and their families the government’s concrete steps in ensuring the well-being and protection of at least 270,000 Filipinos in Qatar.

“We have been receiving reports from our Qatar chapter. Filipinos are at a loss. Saan sila tatakbo kung sakaling lumala ang sitwasyon? The embassy has set up hotlines but many of Filipinos are located in far-flung camps or are working as household service workers, without access or means to reach PH posts. Hundreds are stranded in camps, their wages withheld since January of this year, awaiting resolution of their labor disputes. What of the kafala system?” Hernando said.

The kafala or sponsorship system is an immigration and labor system that binds an OFW to their sponsor or employer, whose written consent is required should they opt to leave the country. Employers often abuse this power to confiscate passports, withhold wages and force migrant workers into slave-like conditions.

“With the escalating situation in Qatar, a simple declaration from the DOLE that they are ‘prepared’ for emergency repatriation will not suffice. We call on the government to not repeat the mistakes of previous administrations and instead prepare for active intervention to locate, secure and ensure the safe exit of Filipinos from potential conflict areas. Apart from sweeping announcements, there remains no clear blueprint from the government on how it plans to effect emergency repatriation if or when it ever takes place,” Hernando said.

He cited previous experiences in Egypt, Syria, Libya and other conflict-ridden places in the MENA (Middle East-North Africa) region. “Because of lack of information, our OFWs have resorted in braving dangerous streers and locations to get to terminals to exit posts. Forces in the Gulf region are now re-aligning and we have witnessed enough to safely say that potential violence and stife might erupt. The government should cease its ‘wait-and-see’ attitude now and not a moment to waste. Huwag na sanang maulit ang nangyari dati sa Egypt, Libya at Syria na ang ibang mga gobyerno ay na-evacuate na ang kanilang mga kababayan at ang mga OFW na lang natin ang naiwan,” Hernando said.

For its part, Migrante International opened its Crisis Hotlines to OFWs in Qatar. OFWs and their families can contact Migrante through mobile number 0921-2709079, or via email at rights.welfare@migranteinterantional.org, or by leaving a message at www.facebook.com/migranteinternational.

Migrante International will also be requesting for a dialogue with the Qatar embassy in Manila to seek information on the current situation in there.

Hernando said that the current situation in Qatar and the MENA region should be a “wake-up call” for the Duterte government to stop implementing a labor export policy.

“There are roughly four (4) million OFWs in the MENA region alone, not by choice but because of forced migration brought on by joblessness, low wages and lack of basic social services. Iyong mga kakauwi pa lang mula sa Saudi Arabia, kalakhan sa kanila ay bumalik na o lumabas na naman ng bansa. Instead of subjecting our workers to the same vicious cycle, the government should seriously instigate an overhaul of the system and focus on national industrialization and genuine land reform to create more domestic jobs at home. The government’s labor export policy is ultimately accountable for placing our OFWs in the situation they are in now.” ###

Migrante lauds Gabriela Partylist for seeking review of Migrants’ Act of 1995

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos and families today commended Garbiela Women’s Partylist for filing a resolution calling for an evaluation of the Migrants’ Act of 1995, or Republic Act 8042, amended by RA 10022.

The Migrants’ Act of 1995 was signed into law 22 years ago, on June 7, National Migrants’ Day, as a response to strong public condemnation after the execution of Flor Contemplacion.

“Twenty-two years after the enactment of R.A. 8042 or the Migrants’ Act of 1995, to say that the plight of Filipino migrant workers has worsened is a gross understatement. If Pres. Duterte wants to protect our OFWs and curb labor migration, he must begin at questioning the labor export policy institutionalized in this law,” said Arman Hernando, Spokesperson of Migrante International.

Before session ended, Gabriela Women’s Partylist lawmakers Rep. Emmi De Jesus and Rep. Arlene Brosas filed House Resolution 1056 or the “Resolution directing the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs to conduct a comprehensive review, in aid of legislation, of Republic Act 8042 or otherwise known as the Migrante Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, as amended by Republic Act 10022 to evaluate its effectivity in the promotion and protection of Filipino migrant’s rights and their families and resolve the root cause of forced migration in fulfillment of Article II Sec. 18 and Article XIII Sec. 3 of the 1987 Constitution.”

In a position paper circulated in Congress, Migrante argued that “the Migrants’ Act of 1995 intensified the commodification of people as it continues to promote the Labor Export Policy and the extraction of unfair taxes and unjust fees from migrant workers.”

Migrante also asserted that the law “took away the responsibility of the Philippine government towards OFWs and their families and passed this on to private recruitment agencies and employers abroad.”

To concretize the government’s adherence to labor export since the enactment of the Migrants’ Act, Migrante cited data from POEA showing yearly increase of OFW deployment from 1995 to 2015. From 1995, the OFW deployment of land-based new-hires increased by 140% in 2015.

“The more revolting fact is that even after the death of Flor Contemplacion, the government unabatedly continued deploying the most vulnerable section of OFWs, the domestic helpers. By 2015, 533 domestic helpers are being deployed every day, an increase of 207% from 2015. And they are all treated like slaves,” lamented Hernando.

Hernando stressed that despite of the guarantees under the law, OFWs are still exposed to various abuses by their employers and incapable of seeking justice. Repatriation, recruitment violation and criminal cases involving Filipino migrant workers continue to flood the offices of POLO, POEA, OWWA and such other government posts daily.

“We reject the Migrants’ Act of 1995 as we reject the commodification of migrant workers in the unjust Labor Export Policy of the government,” concluded Hernando.

On June 7, National Migrants’ Day, Migrante International will hold a forum dubbed “SUMA 2017: The State of the Filipino Migrants and their Families under the Duterte Administration” to be held in University of the Philippines – Diliman. ###

 

OFWs press Duterte to stop airstrikes in Marawi, call for unity against US-backed terrorism and military rule

“We call on President Duterte, as the Commander-in-Chief, to immediately halt the airstrikes and double-time its evacuation efforts to save the Marawi people from carnage. We urge all peace-loving and freedom-fighting Filipinos to unite against the terrorist groups connected with US-CIA-created ISIS, and resist military take-over of Mindanao.”

This was the message of Migrante International as Pinoys abroad hold a “Global Day of Action for Peace in Mindanao” in response to the escalating conflict in Marawi and heightened military operations in the rest of Mindanao after the declaration of Martial Law on May 23. Local authorities stated that sixteen civilians have been killed, but Marawi city citizens reported that hundreds are possibly dead and thousands are still trapped in gunfights.

“Our nation should not fall prey to the ploy of foreign powers to wreak terror and division to advance their economic and political interests, similar to what they are staging in Syria, Venezuela and other countries where its people are asserting their independence and democratic rights,” said Arman Hernando, spokesperson of Migrante.

Migrant groups and Filipino communities in Europe, Middle East, Asia, Australia and North America held various forms of actions to air their solidarity and concern for their fellow Filipinos in their homeland.

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GLOBAL DAY ACTION OF OFWs AGAINST MARTIAL LAW

“Malayo man sa bansang Pilipinas, hindi maalis ang aming pangamba para sa seguridad ng ating mga kababayan na naaapektuhan ng nagaganap na palitan ng putukan sa paggitan ng Maute group at militar. Mahigpit kaming nakikiisa hindi lamang sa mga taga-Mindanao bagkus ay sa lahat ng Pilipino saan mang sulok ng Pilipinas at sa buong mundo dahil ngayon mas kinakailangan ang pagbubuklod-buklod at hindi ang pagkakahati-hati,” plead the group Nagkakaisang Pilipino sa Pransya in a statement.

Overseas Filipino organizations also called on the Philippine government to immediately lift Proclamation No. 216 declaring a state of martial law in Mindanao, and resume the peace negotiations with groups addressing the roots of economic strife and armed conflict in the Philippines like the CPP-NPA-NDF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In the USA, Filipino church leaders, students and social justice activists rallied in front of the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco to condemn the declaration. “We appeal to President Duterte to lift the martial law in Mindanao and urge him to refrain from extending martial law to the entire Philippines. We believe that this militarist approach will not resolve the problem, but instead will put more lives in danger and further aggravate the insecurity in the area,” said Terry Valen, President of the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns (NAFCON).

NAFCON also launched a campaign calling for donations for conflict-afflicted communities in Marawi and Mindanao.

In Australia, the Filipino community in New South Wales marched during the Blacktown City Festival and performed “Singkil for Peace in Mindanao” in solidarity with the people of Marawi.

In Europe, OFW groups lead by Fr. Herbert Fadriquela Jr., Anglican Chaplain of the Filipino Community of the Diocese of Liecester in the United Kingdom, expressed alarm on the declaration of martial law and suspension of the ongoing peace negotiations.

“Under military rule, the just and lasting peace we aspire for shall recede farther away, more human rights abuses and violence would reign in our land,” decried Fr. Fadriquela of Migrante Europe.

Migrante asserted that “an iron fist policy is not the solution to the deeply-rooted problems in Philippine society such as poverty, violence and lawlessness. These problems should be addressed comprehensively by the government while pursuing peace talks towards achieving just and lasting peace.” ###

https://www.migrante.eu/5524-2/

http://nafconusa.org/2017/05/notomartiallaw/

http://nafconusa.org/2017/05/supportmarawiandmindanao/

https://www.migrante.eu/ofws-europe-raise-fear-human-rights-abuses-martial-law/

https://www.facebook.com/migrante.nsw