“Bertiz is a fake OFW representative and habitual abuser of authority”

Hong Kong migrants call for the removal of “OFW” lawmaker

“ACTS-OFW representative Aniceto ‘John’ D. Bertiz III is not even an OFW. He is in fact an owner of one of Philippines’ biggest recruitment agencies. He is arrogant and disrespectful even to the people he claims to represent. He is a habitual abuser of authority.”

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This was the reaction of Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) after a video of Rep. Bertiz scolding and confiscating the ID of a Manila airport security screener who called Bertiz’ attention for passing through the security scanner without removing his shoes, went viral.

“It was Bertiz who violated the airport security protocol, a security measure that only the Philippine president can be exempted. The least he could have done is to humbly apologize and go through the security screening again,” said Balladares-Pelaez.

“But no! His trapo ego was so hurt that even after ignoring the security personal, he still went back just to scold him and illegally confiscate the poor man’s ID. That is a totally unacceptable behavior for someone who wants to be addressed as an ‘Honorable’ congressman,” Balladares-Pelaez averred.

Balladares-Pelaez also recalled UNIFIL-MIGRANTE’s personal experience of Bertiz’ arrogance.

“In January 2017, we sought a dialogue with Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Undersecretary Joel Maglungsod who was visiting Hong Kong to discuss our demands particularly the abolition of the overseas employment certificate (OEC). To our surprise, Rep. Bertiz also came to the said dialogue uninvited, spoke for almost 20 minutes and lectured us on the need for the OEC and that only his proposed “OFW ID” can replace the OEC,” Balladares-Pelaez said.

Balladares-Pelaez narrated how Bertiz got mad and raised his voice to UNIFIL-MIGRANTE secretary General Eman Villanueva who politely raised his hand wanting to tell Bertiz to not take so much of their time with Usec Joel Maglungsod who was yet to respond to their appeal. “We were all shocked when he shouted at Eman and falsely accused him of being an undocumented migrant after Eman exposed him as a recruitment agency owner,” she added.

The video of the “shouting match” between Bertiz and Villanueva posted by HKPinoyTV also went viral in Facebook. Recently, another video of Bertiz speaking in a mass oath-taking of agricultural and biosystems engineers went viral after he said that those who do not know Bong Go (special assistance to the president) will not get their license. In July this year, Bertiz and his wife were also implicated by an employment agency owner in a Php6.8 million corruption and bribery scandal in DOLE.

“He is not worthy to represent our sector in Congress. He is only representing himself and his kind – recruitment agencies. He is a power tripper and he thinks he can get away with it because of his closeness to Philippine Pres. Duterte and his personal assistant Sec. Bong Go,” Balladares-Pelaez stressed.

“Bertiz has crossed the line so many times. He should be punished by the House of Representatives for disorderly behaviour and be expelled from Congress,” Balladares-Pelaez concluded.

UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK is an alliance of more than 30 OFW associations fighting for the rights and welfare of migrant workers in the territory for more than 30 years.

 

For reference:

Dolores Balladares-Pelaez

Chairperson

UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK

 

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Migrante challenges Duterte gov’t to back the call of domestic helpers in Hong Kong for HK$5,500 minimum wage

Migrante challenged the Duterte government to intercede on behalf of Hong Kong based Filipino household workers in their calls for a $5,500 minimum wage and a $2,500 monthly food allowance which were turned down by the Hong Kong government this week.

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“Dito tunay na masusukat ang malasakit ni Duterte sa mga OFW. The wage increase has long been overdue especially at a time when their families back home are reeling from the peso depreciation and inflation.  Kung hindi pa sa sama-samang pagkilos at pagigiit ng mga DH sa Hong Kong, napako na sana ang kanilang sahod sa US$400 na itinakda sa ilalim ng ‘Supermaid’ program ni Gloria Arroyo noong October 2006,” Migrante International spokesperson Arman Hernando said.

Way back in 2016, Migrant groups in Hong Kong submitted to the Duterte administration their “Hongkong Migrants Agenda” which laid out their collective demands including the call for wage increase but there has never been any considerable action on the part of President Duterte, Hernando lamented.

In 2007, the minimum allowable wage in Hong Kong was only at HK$3,480. Since then, it has only been going up at a yearly average of less than HK$100 as “meager adjustments” made by the HK government to inflation and as their “token response” to the clamor of domestic workers, according to Migrante.

Starting today, the new minimum allowable wage is at HK$4,520 while the monthly food allowance goes up by HK$22 to HK$1,075 a month. These amounts are still far from the HK$5,500 minimum wage and the HK$2,500 monthly food allowance demanded by domestic workers in Hong Kong. They were hopeful that the approval of the HK$5,500 amount will make their minimum wage at least reasonably closer to Hong Kong’s living wage of HK$9,828.

Yesterday, different migrant groups in Hong Kong castigated the $110 monthly wage increase and the measly additional $22 food allowance for foreign domestic workers, calling it an “insult.”

Eman Villanueva of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body said, “It’s because the government keeps insisting on making ‘affordability’ (or the capability of an employer to hire a domestic helper) a factor in determining how much we should make in a month. But what about the migrant worker’s right to earn a living wage?”

Migrante vowed to heighten its actions in pushing the Philippine government to address their call to end the imposition of “slave wage” rates to Filipino domestic workers worldwide.

Filipino seafarers on troubled waters as they observe National Maritime Week

It is ironic that while the nation observes the National Maritime Week, Filipino seafarers find themselves in troubled waters. Many are either navigating through the sea of unemployment or at the ocean of death and peril.

Photo: Netwave Systems

With the looming EU ban on Filipino seafarers, there are plenty of reasons why it should unsettle MARINA and the Duterte administration. The failure of local maritime training schools in passing the EMSA review on STCW compliance may cause massive job loss for 80,000 Filipino seafarers aboard EU ships. Worse, it may take several years or even up to a decade before the country can redeem its damaged reputation in international maritime safety standards, leaving tens of thousands of our maritime graduates and applicants unemployed.

It is incumbent for MARINA and CHED to meticulously oversee the concrete and actual implementation of all the corrective measures to address training and maritime safety concerns raised by EMSA.

For a long time, agencies in connivance with training schools and MARINA authorities have been imposing various money making schemes by heaping excessive and unnecessary training requirements and fees that rip-off maritime trainees. As a result, the quality of maritime education in the Philippines has deteriorated with half of all maritime schools now unqualified to operate and a large number of trainees and applicants lacking the necessary skills and requirements mandated by international maritime standards.

The Duterte government’s aversion to national industrialization, the absence of a national maritime industry  and the regime’s addiction to OFW remittances forcibly placed a great number of Filipino seafarers at the mercy of overseas deployment to practice their profession which make them vulnerable to abuse at the hands of extortionate manning agencies.

Filipino seafarers are also exposed to many life threatening dangers during navigation. Last Saturday, seven (7) Filipinos were abducted and are currently being held as hostages by pirates off the coast of Nigeria. Migrante is calling on the Duterte government to work on the swift rescue of the kidnapped Filipino seafarers and ensure that they will be able to return safely.

 

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On the deployment ban on Micronesia

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While we acknowledge that POEA’s deployment ban to Micronesia might seem to prevent further abuse, Migrante sees that it may result in the increased vulnerability of Filipino workers to human trafficking and illegal recruitment like what happened to numerous domestic helpers during the deployment ban in Kuwait and the UAE. Abuses continue even after the ban was lifted.

POEA’s instant recommendation to affected workers that they may still apply for jobs in the UK, Saudi Arabia or Japan indicates the government’s unpreparedness to absorb even a small OFW community of 2,000 workers in our local labour market at a time when a greater crisis in the Middle East is already on-going.

As the main enforcer of the Duterte administration’s labour export program, POEA’s pursuit of extracting income from maltreated and unpaid OFWs from Micronesia by driving them away to other countries for deployment is truly lamentable.

Pahayag ng Migrante USA sa bagong polisiya ni Trump hinggil sa immigration

Ang Migrante USA ay naniniwalang ang bagong polisiya na ito ay bahagi ng sistematikong panggigipit at atake ng rehimeng Trump sa mga migrante. Gigipitin nito ang mga nag-aapply ng green card na nakikinabang sa public assistance tulad ng MediCare para sa mga matatanda, pabahay at food stamps. Sa ilalim ng bagong polisiyang ito, higit na magiging mahirap pa ang pagkamit ng status dito sa Amerika na sa ngayon ay sobrang mahal at mahirap na. Kung mapatupad, higit na magiging bias ang proseso ng pagkuha ng green card laban sa mga mahihirap na migrante.

Ang Migrante USA ay kasama ng malawak na hanay ng mga migrante at progresibong mga alyado sa pagtutol sa palisiyang ito. Hinihikayat namin ang mga migranteng Pilipinong apektado nito o may tanong na lumapit sa amin sa pamamagitan ng pag-email sa info@migranteusa.org o pagtawag/pagtext sa (724) 824-3163.

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Migrante blasts Trump’s “leave the US or starve to death” new immigration policy

Trump’s proposal of denying green cards to immigrants who avail of social welfare benefits for housing, food and medical assistance is cruelty and injustice to the highest level. It is akin to ordering immigrants to leave the U.S. or starve to death. We have seen how ICE atrociously tore families apart and bred xenophobia but this recent proposal of targeting legally documented immigrants is an intensification of Trump’s Neo-Fascist agenda which would set a precedent to other immigrant-receiving countries. This is similarly a haunting reenactment of some of Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws which led to the Holocaust.

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Himself a descendant of immigrants, Trump is fully aware that this policy would mean vulnerability to starvation and infirmities for millions of immigrants who for ages have been among the prime builders of the US economy which include the more than four million strong Filipino community.

Duterte is quick to glorify Filipino migrant workers for their economic contributions but is unwilling to extend assistance when they face attacks through anti-immigration policies. We challenge Duterte to stand up against this new policy that endangers the welfare of Filipinos in the US. Migrante is calling on Filipino migrants in the US and elsewhere to unite and fight against this cruel anti-immigrant policy.

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Domestic Helpers mula sa Middle East iginiit sa DOLE ang taas sahod

Naghain ng petisyon para sa pagtaas ng sahod ang Samahan ng mga Domestic Helper sa Gitnang Silangan (SANDIGAN) sa Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) sa Intramuros, Manila ngayong Biyernes. Iginiggiit ng grupo na gawing $700 mula sa kasalukuyang $400 ang buwanang minimum na sahod ng mga Household Service Workers (HSW) sa Middle East. 

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Ayon sa petisyon ng grupo, bumaba na ng 35% ang halaga ng sahod ng mga HSW dahil sa tuloy-tuloy na inflation mula pa noong 2006. Ayon sa kanilang pag-aaral, kung ibabatay sa komputasyon ng Purchasing Power of the Peso ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, ang USD$400 o Php20,000 noong 2006 ay nagkakahalaga na lamang ng Php13,000 noong Hunyo 2018. Lalo pa pa daw itong bumagsak dahil sa higit pang pagsirit ng mga presyo laluna ng mga pagkain nitong mga buwan ng Hulyo at Agosto dahil sa TRAIN Law.

Oktubre 2006 nang ipatupad ng pamahalaan ang POEA Governing Board Resolution No. 5 Series of 2006 (Increasing the entry level minimum salary of all household workers deployed overseas to US$400.00) bilang bahagi ng HSW Reform Package o programang ‘Supermaid’ ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Mula noon ay napako na ang sahod ng mga domestic helper sa Middle East sa $400/buwan.

“Malayong malayo na ang halaga ng aming sahod sa P45,000/buwan na kinakailangang ng bawat pamilya para mabuhay ayon mismo sa NEDA. Bilang mga breadwinner, alam naming hirap na hirap na sa pagba-budget ang aming mga pamilya kahit pa may iba pa kaming kabuhayan. Kung may trabaho man ang aming asawa o ibang myembro ng pamilya, hindi rin ito sapat dahil iregular din ang kanilang kabuhayan o kontraktwal sa paggawa,” ayon sa petisyon.

Inilinaw ni Pinky Alamo, Tagapagsalita ng SANDIGAN, na “hindi man papantay sa itinakdang nakabubuhay na sahod, malaking ginhawa na ang maibibigay ng hinihiling naming $700 minimum na sahod. Isang hakbang ito para sa aming paglaya mula sa sahod-alipin na kalagayan sa Middle East.”

Iginiit din ng SANDIGAN, kasama ang Migrante International, ang pagrepaso sa HSW Reform Package at palitan ito ng programang “tunay na nagsusulong ng karapatan at kagalingan” ng mga domestic helper.

“Sa higit na sampung taon mula nang nailunsad ang HSW Reform Package, hindi na muling nabalikan at napag-aralan ang mga polisiya para protektahan at pangalagaan ang aming kapakanan at karapatan. Dahil na rin dito, nagpatuloy lang ang pagluwal ng Pilipinas ng milyong domestic workers nang hindi napapaunlad ang mga programa ditto,” ayon pa sa inihaing petisyon.