Executed 39 year old household worker in Saudi, another LEP casualty – Migrante

Migrante International expresses its condolences to the family and loved ones of the 39-year old Filipino household worker who was executed in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, 29th of January.  We see her as another casualty of the Philippine government’s decades-old labour export program (LEP).

Countless Filipino household workers suffer abuse and maltreatment from the hands of their employers. Their subjection to overwork, hunger, sleep-deprivation and long-term separation from their loved ones makes them more prone to stress, depression and mental health illnesses leading them to uncontrollable emotions and behaviour in many cases.

Most Filipino domestic helpers stand as breadwinners to their families back in the Philippines where they are afflicted with the rising cost of living due to Duterte’s neoliberal policies like the TRAIN Law. As in previous regimes, President Duterte vowed to turn overseas work to just an option and not a necessity. He likewise promised to make the welfare of OFWs his top concern. On the contrary, his greedy regime continues to treat OFWs as cash cows through numerous state exactions like the impending mandatory SSS coverage and mandatory insurance. This shows that the regime really has no intention of assuming full responsibility in the protection of their welfare but is stubbornly consistent in passing the buck to the private sector like insurance companies.

In short, the government’s labour export program treats Filipinos as commodities for export and OFW pockets as automated teller machines. By the time OFWs get into trouble as in the case of the executed 39 year old domestic helper, they are left nameless and made to languish behind bars, unknown to their families until the day of their execution arrives. The Duterte regime failed to draw lessons from the experience of Jennifer Dalquez who was saved from death row because of united efforts from advocates and concerned citizens here and abroad.

Furthermore, the government should not just readily accept with certainty the guilt imputed to the OFW death row victim. We challenge the Duterte regime to ferret out the truth and probe deeper to find out what led the OFW to commit the murder. There have been cases when migrant workers who were charged with murder actually acted out of self-defense because of severe maltreatment, rape or other assaults they experienced. Like many OFWs, we believe that the Duterte regime must not be too eager to put out this tragedy and move on. The employer must be investigated for previous records of abusive misdeeds towards their former workers. If ever they are found culpable, then the employers must be charged and be blacklisted from hiring household workers.

As long as the Duterte regime stubbornly clings to its labour export program and refuses to address the roots of forced migration, there will be no end to the cycle of abuse, incarceration and execution besetting stricken OFWs. The absence of genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization and the government’s hard-hearted refusal to create a favourable labour environment where national minimum wage is enacted and contractualization is abolished are the very conditions that led to the execution of the 39-year old household worker in Saudi.

 

########

Advertisements

Migrante International condemns murder of NDFP peace consultant Randy Malayao

30 January 2019

Migrante International denounces in the strongest terms the murder of human rights advocate and NDFP peace panel consultant Randy Malayao. While fast asleep, he was shot by a gunman inside a bus in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya at around 2:30 am earlier. Such bloodshed can only be schemed by criminal minds to insulate the predominant oppressive system, against which, a social justice activist like Randy has valiantly opposed for decades.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As a former political prisoner, Randy never wavered from his strong conviction to struggle for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. His undying love for the poor and oppressed led him to actively participate in the peace negotiations. Migrante has always deeply admired Randy for his efforts in the peace campaign seeking to finally address the roots of forced migration. Randy is one of the key persons who helped organize Migrante Isabela during its founding in October 2017. It is now one of the largest and most active chapters of Migrante Philippines. Migrante International will be forever grateful to him for his valuable contributions to the OFW cause.

Looking back at his gallant life dedicated to service, we are outraged that Randy is now part of the ever-increasing number of peace advocates that were sent to the grave for earning the ire of the exploitative ruling elite and the Fascist US-Duterte regime. Meanwhile, hundreds of others remain incarcerated under trumped-up charges as Duterte’s armed minions sow death and destruction in diverse places across the country.

These atrocities are meant to harass, intimidate and terrorize progressive organizations and human rights groups to keep the public from banding together in defiance to the blood-thirsty rule of the US-Duterte regime. However, this will only fan the blazing flame of resistance among the discontented Filipino people.

We enjoin every peace-loving Filipino to rise up and demand justice for Randy Malayao. Let us never allow another innocent life to be slain under Duterte’s tyrannical regime.

Justice for Randy Malayao!
Stop the killings!

51454236_2228199794168149_535517060998889472_n

51419533_3037652322918936_3800430326153478144_n

U.S. Filipinos on visa ban: Address roots of trafficking instead of blaming Filipino migrant workers

January 28, 2019

Migrante USA and GABRIELA USA raise alarm at the recent memo issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) banning Filipino workers from acquiring H-2A and H2B visas from now until January 18, 2020. H-2A visas are temporary visas given to foreigners for seasonal, or temporary, agricultural work, while H-2B visas are for foreign nonagricultural workers. DHS and the Department of State (DOS) cite the increase in the number of Filipino H-2B holders overstaying (in fiscal year 2017) and the high volume of trafficking victims from the Philippines who were originally issued H-2B visas as bases for the ban.

50790839_339313483589739_2105900921396396032_n

In response, Philippine Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview that Filipinos in the U.S. “have to face the music” if they have violated immigration laws and that “America is not the only place where our countrymen can go.”

In contrast to this analysis, Migrante USA Chairperson Bernadette Herrera says, “Simply telling them to look for other countries to go to while the ban is enforced is insensitive and futile. Instead of telling our fellow Filipinos to face the consequences of overstaying or finding jobs in other countries, the Duterte administration should take responsibility of the conditions that force Filipinos to find jobs away abroad, which put them at risk of overstaying and becoming victims of human trafficking.”

“The poor conditions of employment force H-2A/H-2B visa holders to overstay: very low pay, exorbitant visa renewal fees, hardship and debt bondage disabling them to go home after contract. Furthermore, many of our kababayan become victims of human trafficking due to the unscrupulous labor practices of American businesses as well as the deregulated recruitment industry in the Philippines that bureaucrats and private businesses profit of. This ‘guest worker visa program’ is essentially ‘legalized slavery’”, says Susan Pineda, Rights and Welfare Vice-Chair of Gabriela D.C.

The recent DHS decision to ban Filipinos from receiving H-2B visas due to the high volume of H-2B visa-related trafficking stands in contrast to the 2018 U.S. State Department report affirming the 3-year stint of the Philippines in Tier 1 ranking, signifying that the Philippine government is “meeting minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”

“The U.S. government will continue to resort to such stop-gap measures to mask their poorly regulated, for-profit and anti-worker labor and immigration policies that only benefit the 1%. But ultimately, Filipinos will continue to gamble abroad for a brighter future unless there are real productive industries with livable wages and land to till back home,” adds Herrera.

Almost three years after Duterte promised that change would come, today, at least 60% of the workforce or 25 Filipino million workers are engaged in contractual labor without benefits and job security. The minimum daily wage stands below $10 (and as low as $6 a day in remote regions), about half of the family daily living wage (required to sustain a family of 5) of $19. Further, the purchasing power of the Philippine peso is reduced by the inflation rate caused by the new TRAIN tax law. Consequently, over 6,500 Filipinos leave the country every day in search of better opportunities abroad.

###

Migrante USA is an alliance of Filipino worker and migrant organizations dedicated to fighting for rights and welfare of Filipinos in the U.S. and for the genuine democracy and freedom in the Philippines.

GABRIELA USA is a grassroots-based alliance of progressive Filipino women’s organizations in the United States seeking to wage a struggle for the liberation of all oppressed Filipino women and the rest of our people.

Filipino domestic workers to march on vs mandatory insurance by PH govt

Filipino domestic workers are set to protest the mandatory insurance being imposed on them by the Philippine government. According to United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) chair Dolores Balladares, this new imposition is merely a money-making scheme.

‘The Philippine government has yet again thought up of a new way to extort from us through the mandatory insurance. They are not satisfied with all the fees they have been overcharging us and is desperate to collect some more at the expense of overseas Filipino workers,’ Balladares said.

compulsa

Balladares relayed that officially, the mandatory insurance will be paid for by the employer per contract. ‘The insurance will be a burden to employers and is actually redundant as our employers already have purchased insurance for us. This makes the new insurance unneccessary.’

As such, Balladares remarked that such new scheme may create friction between employers and the domestic workers. In the end, it may most probably mean that the domestic workers will be the one to shoulder the payment as employers already paid for the insurance under Hong Kong policies.

“In truth, the Philippine government does not care who will finally pay for the insurance as its only concern now is how to accumulate the largest fund at the soonest possible time. With Philippine elections nearing, funds become a necessity that may come from the public coffers or contributions from businesses including companies that may benefit from this compulsory insurance. As usual, the convenient cash cows are the Filipino overseas workers whose vulnerability is exploited by the Philippines for its money-making schemes,” said Balladares.

To show opposition, the group will lead a protest march to the Philippine consulate on Sunday, January 27, at 2PM. They call on all OFWs and even employers who oppose the new fee to join the protest.

“Show our rage. We demand for the revocation of the mandatory insurance,” Balladares Pelaez ended.###

Withdrawal of Labour Attache’s mandatory health check requirement a victory for HK OFWs

Press Statement
22 January 2019

Withdrawal of Labour Attache’s mandatory health check requirement a victory for HK OFWs
March to POLO for the scrapping of OFW Compulsory Insurance still continue! 

Filipino domestic workers laud Philippine Labour Attache Jalilo de la Torre’s immediate decision to permanently rescind the Implementation of Additional Requirement for Contract Processing.

Filipino community leaders strongly expressed their opposition to the pre-employment advisory in a dialogue held at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office on Sunday 20th of January 2019. This outpour of rage resulted in the withdrawal of the proposed mandatory pre-employment health check.

While they appreciate the Labour Attache’s concern on the rising health cases, a mandatory health check before the employment of domestic workers is not the solution; instead this would result in termination of work and loss of opportunity to get proper medical attention in Hong Kong.

The leaders assert that medical attention should be provided to the domestic workers within the period of employment. They propose that instead of the punitive pre-employment requirement for the migrant workers, the POLO can devise pre-employment undertaking for employers to sign for the protection and health security of domestic workers.

Most importantly, the Filipino community urge the POLO to work with the Hong Kong government to implement the policies that would provide health care and protection for the foreign domestic workers such as the 11-hour uninterrupted rest, suitable accommodation, and proper food.

Beyond doubt, the collective voice of the OFWs prove to gain positive and fruitful benefits for their rights and welfare. Without the outrage expressed by OFWs, the mandatory pre-employment health check would have pushed through. The result of the consultative meeting definitely attests to this.

The struggle for our rights definitely does not end here. The mandatory insurance is still being imposed on us by the Philippine Overseas Employment Governing Board. Which is why we are inviting all OFWs to join the rally on Sunday, 27th of January, at 2:00 PM at the pavement of the Court of Final Appeal, before marching towards the Philippine Labour Office (POLO) to call for the non-implementation of OFW Compulsory Insurance and scrap it permanently.

Onwards to greater victories!

###

50745205_1853483038112730_7104573350143328256_n

 

Communique of the Migrante International 8th Congress

Prepared by Migrante International Secretariat

“Boldly expand our reach and lead the struggle of overseas Filipinos and their families to oust Duterte!”

United in this theme, Migrante International successfully held its 8th Congress in Manila Philippines from December 15 to 17, 2018.

The three-day event was attended by 133 participants, 60 of whom are delegates representing 16 countries and territories namely: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Hongkong, Macau, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Philippines.

48275348_10156776728799098_9051283679535431680_n

Along with them were 6 global council members representing the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and the Philippines. Major partners like SANDIGAN or Samahan ng mga Domestic Workers sa Gitnang Silangan, St. John Neumann Migrants Center and Compass PH were likewise in attendance as observers.

The gathering cemented Migrante International’s status as the world’s leading international alliance of progressive Filipino organizations, federations, institution and alliances based overseas and in the country fighting for the rights and welfare of our dear compatriots and their beloved families while actively contributing to the struggle for national democracy and liberation.

Delegates were made aware of the significant timing of the event since it was held at the back of the recently concluded Intergovernmental GCM (Global Compact for Migration) Conference in Morocco where 164 UN member states including the Philippines adopted the agreement. Migrante International shattered the government-held myth on migration as tool for development. The 8th Congress likewise served as a major build-up event for the December 18 International Migrants Day which was observed by Migrante members around the world.

Importantly, leaders and representatives of OFW communities viewed the event as their opportunity to hand down their final verdict on President Rodrigo Duterte as he approaches the latter leg of his term.

Opening the 8th Congress with a welcome address was Garry Martinez, outgoing chairperson of Migrante International. In his opening remarks, he pointed the delegates to the great challenges facing Filipino migrants as they struggle against the tyrannical attacks perpetrated by the US-Duterte regime.

Julie de Lima, an NDFP peace panel member and a migrant community leader herself delivered the keynote speech buoying the member organizations to expand and consolidate Migrante International and strengthen the international campaign to oust the US-Duterte regime. In her statement, she hailed Migrante International for being a worldwide presence in upholding the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants while doing the same for their families left behind back home. The history of struggle among compatriots for national liberation and democracy was likewise recounted vis-a-vis with how one US-controlled regime to another perpetuated the roots of forced migration and the labor export program.

In exposing the crimes of the US-Duterte regime, Julie de Lima bid Migrante to work further by reaching out to the people, state and private institutions as well as in various international bodies and formations in host countries. She underlined the necessity of placing the organizing work among seafarers as a top concern in the next 4 year plan. Migrante International will be very much strengthened when it succeeds in organizing seafarers. Meanwhile, abiding more religiously on social investigation and a more systematic approach in reaching out to migrants must be carried out.

Surging forward in international solidarity work to support class kins from other migrant nationalities in host countries must be steered towards the anti-imperialist struggle. Julie de Lima likewise stressed that Migrante International must strengthen itself to be at the core of building the broadest international united front by attending to the tasks of representation, solidarity and proto-diplomacy.

In the same manner, Migrante International must likewise involve itself in the broadest international front to fight climate change and promote environmental protection. Lastly, to counter the falsehoods and lies of the US-Duterte regime and its army of paid trolls, Migrante International must have a robust propaganda machine consisting of writers, IT techies, and a strong presence in digital and print media campaigns led by committees and organs for propaganda at all levels.

Providing input on the international situation was Amy Padilla of IBON International. She spoke about the onslaught of neoliberalism and imperialism and how the citizens of the world are waging a massive liberatory struggle to break free from the clutches of militarism and the final stage of monopoly capitalism.

Sonny Africa of IBON Foundation likewise presented an overview of the Philippine situation while supplying the audience with facts and figures that mark the country’s faltering economy accompanied by the exacerbation of authoritarian and exploitative elitist rule.

After the keynote speakers delivered their inputs, each global council member representing major territorial divisions namely the US, Canada, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Europe and the Philippines reported on the current profile of Filipino compatriots in their respective regions as well as the issues and highlights of their campaigns from 2015 to 2018. Furthermore, each global council member provided updates on important organizational developments and expansions within their respective divisions in the past three years.

A significant leap in the organizing work among compatriots in the global regions is the historic founding and formation of Migrante USA in September 2018. The area and magnitude of work facing Migrante USA is immense since the US is host to the highest number of overseas Filipino compatriots numbering up to 4.7 Million people, 59 % of whom belong to the working class. At at time when the tide of mass resistance and political awakening is fast swelling among Europeans, it is likewise significant to laud the establishment of Migrante Europe in December 2016.

In December 2017, Migrante Philippines was founded as the US-Duterte regime was wreaking havoc while employing state terror to tighten the grip of the ruling elite and its imperialist masters over the country. The organizing work of Migrante Philippines among the families of OFWs, returned migrants and advocates further boosts the growth of progressive organizations in the Philippines to advance the struggle for liberation and national democracy. These great developments in the global regions will pave the way for a more vibrant and robust future for Migrante as a whole.

Ramon Bultron , Migrante International’s newly-elected deputy secretary general, presented the global trends on migration and development. He also gave feedback and significant insights on the Global Compact for Migration and how the agreement still propagates the myth of migration as a tool for development. Atty. Edwin dela Cruz of the International Seafarers Action Center spoke about the current developments in the international shipping industry, the situation of seafarers and the importance of advancing the organizing work for the sector.

The second day commenced with recognition and approval of new members by the voting body of delegates. A US-based institution, the Filipino Migrants Center was welcomed to the fold and membership was likewise granted to other newly established mass organizations and country-wide / region-wide formations.

With the active participation of the entire plenary, members of the presidium discussed the rules of participation which formally oriented all delegates to the form and conduct of all proceedings in the 8th Congress.

To have a more pronounced and clear-cut description of the movement’s nature, contents of Migrante’s orientation were reviewed and updated in light of the ever changing dynamics and internal conditions. The plenary affirmed its viewpoint that Migrante International is an entity composed of progressive organizations of overseas compatriots.

A better grasp on the history of Philippine migration patterns and each regime’s intensification of the labor export program (LEP) necessitated  the rephrasing of some paragraphs in the LEP segment and the inclusion of major additions describing the period spanning the US-controlled regimes of Estrada, Arroyo and the incumbent Duterte regime. Contributions of Filipino compatriots in the revolution against Spanish and American colonial powers zeroed in on the significance of continuing the people’s struggle for national liberation in all its forms up to the present times under a semi-colonial and semi-feudal system.

Totally grasping the direct relationship between the struggle for the rights and welfare of our overseas compatriots and the need to advance the movement for social change in the country was deemed crucial. For a long time, rights and welfare has been reduced to mere counselling. However, it is an integral issue in the Filipino society. The time has come to reclaim its political essence and stand firm in our affirmation that Rights and Welfare is a national democratic agenda and a major basis of our AOM (arouse, organize, mobilize) work among Filipino migrants. Campaigning on related issues addressed to host countries are to be undertaken with other nationalities.

New figures related to the profile of overseas compatriots were likewise added. Included therein were new paragraphs related to the rising number of Filipinos as international students overseas as well as the major issues hounding seafarers in the international maritime industry. Completing the update on the orientation document was the affirmation that Migrante International is an integral part of the national democratic movement in the Philippines to effect social change for the benefit of the Filipino people even if the main arena of work is among overseas compatriots.

Contextualizing on the Fascist attacks by the regime as backdrop, the executive committee report delved on the triumphs of Migrante International in continually expanding and consolidating its membership. The lessons of the past and the challenges that lie ahead were enumerated including stirring up the fight for rights and welfare and the strengthening of mass organizations.

In addition, the Executive Committee gave recognition and expressed support over the establishment of Migrante Philippines in December 2017 in its strong resolve to further promote the rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos alongside stepping up the organizing work among OFW families, returned migrants and migrants’ rights advocates at the home front.

Admonitions were pronounced against NGOism and reformism in engaging with allies, traditional organizations and institutions. Migrante International tasked itself on advancing its leadership in the International Migrants Alliance to consolidate its members by strengthening their political aptitude.

Discussions and debates on the proposed amendments to the constitution was followed by the election of new executive committee members. Receiving unanimous vote from the body of voting delegates are the following newly elected officers:

Joanna Concepcion, Chairperson
Arman Hernando, Vice Chairperson
Dolores Balladares Pelaez, Secretary General
Ramon Bultron, Deputy Secretary General
Victor Salloman, Finance Officer

After the new executive committee was presented to the congress body of delegates and participants, each global region appointed their representatives to the Global Council. The new Global Council members are the following:

Joy De Guzman, (USA)
Norman Carnay, (Asia-Pacific)
RJ Maramag, (Europe)
Marco Luciano, (Canada)
Gerry de Guzman, (Middle East)
Cherry Clemente, (Philippines)

Cristina Palabay of KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights and Beverly Longid from the International Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-determination and Liberation concluded the second day with a discussion on the human rights campaign and the need to isolate the Duterte regime in the international community through a more intensified campaign work and lobbying. With upbeat enthusiasm among Congress delegates and participants, the third day began with Carol Araullo of BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) presenting on the challenges under the Duterte Regime. Araullo asserted that the future of the country is in our hands and that our organized and collective struggle will triumph over the Fascist Duterte regime.

The General Program of Action for 2019 to 2021 hinged on strengthening and expanding our fold through educational and campaign work. The aim is to achieve 100 % growth in membership by 2021. Campaign for concrete political and economic issues must be underlined to bolster the oust movement against the Duterte regime. Improvement in strategies for organizational expansion, alliance work, international solidarity work, and internal affairs are to be translated through more creative methods and intensified efforts. Special tasks include enhanced vigilance in the upcoming electoral season, full support for the electoral campaign of Manggagawa Partylist and the senatorial candidacy of Neri Colmenares as well as advanced preparations for the 25th anniversary of Migrante International on 2021.

The 8th Congress climaxed with the strong and unanimous call by OFW leaders from different organizations, federations, alliances and institutions under Migrante International for the ouster of the US-Duterte regime due to his innumerable crimes against migrants and the Filipino people through the constant barrage of tyrannical and neoliberal attacks perpetrated by the entire state apparatus.

In a parody just before lunchtime, Duterte was depicted as the Grinch who constantly spoils and shatters the Christmas wish-list of Filipino migrants. Duterte the Grinch was captured and sentenced to ouster as demanded  by the audience. The final verdict was read out loud before the congress body.

Formal proceedings concluded with the adoption of two major resolutions. To systematize coordination between the home office and the member organizations for rights and welfare cases, a plan to hold a major Rights and Welfare training and conference this 2019 was framed. Another important resolution was on the human rights campaign and lobbying efforts against GRP under the US-Duterte Regime. Migrante International will take on significant role alongside ICHRP (International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines) and Karapatan in leading this international campaign. The resolutions passed included supporting local campaigns like Stop the deportation of Loida Quindoy, Justice for Larry (Nicolas), campaign against education trafficking, etc.

Warm greetings and messages of solidarity poured in especially during the solidarity night from the following: Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, Makabayan Senatorial Candidate Neri Colmenares, International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS), International Migrants Alliance (IMA), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Gabriela, Kalumaran, and from Sumifru workers under NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU (Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm – National Federation of Labor Unions – Kilusang Mayo Uno), ILPS Philippines, Kilusang Mayo Uno, National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI).

The second to the last highlight of the three-day event was an evening filled with cultural presentations. Tatay Cesar Veloso recited Mary Jane’s poem Isang Kislap ng Pag-asa / A Spark of Hope. Dessa Ilagan performed solo pieces from the album Saka Lamang Papayapa: Mga Awiting Peacetalks. Edwin Quinsayas of Sikad (Sining Kadamay) excerpted monologues from the theater piece Sa Digma ng Halimaw.

Tag-ani Performing Arts Society performed on stage a 20-minute excerpt from the musicale Pagsambang Bayan followed by cultural presentations from each global region consisting of Migrante International delegates.

To close the 8th congress, a special finale was rendered by Sining Bulosan as a prelude into a moving tribute that featured a 10-minute slideshow honoring the martyrs’ contributions to the struggles of compatriots. In our struggle for justice and genuine freedom for every oppressed Filipino, their valiant sacrifices will forever be inscribed with utmost esteem in our collective memory.

Girded with zeal and fervour, delegates and participants of Migrante International 8th Congress went forth far and wide to build upon the triumphs of yesteryears while bearing in mind the great lessons that strengthened and consolidated its commission to serve the immense community of overseas Filipinos in the struggle for national democracy and liberation in the Philippines. As Migrante International marches forward to its 25th year on 2021, it hoists a stronger resolve to realize its vision of a society that will never be torn apart for the need to survive.

—————————

Members present in the Congress: USA: Migrante USA, Migrante Los Angeles, Migrante Orange County, Migrante New York, Migrante Washington DC, Migrante Long Beach, Migrante Daly City, Migrante New Jersey, Migrante Youth Fort Washington, Migrante San Diego, Filipino Migrant Center. CANADA: Migrante Canada, Migrante Ontario, Migrante Alberta. EUROPE: Umangat-Migrante Italy, Ugnayang Pilipino sa Belgium, Pinay sa Holland, Migrante Switzerland, Filipino Domestic Workers Union. MIDDLE EAST: Migrante Riyadh – KSA, Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan, Migrante UAE, Samahan ng mga Migrante Manggagawa sa Qatar. ASIA-PACIFIC: Migrante Taiwan, Migrante Nagoya, Migrante Macau, Migrante New Zealand SOUTH KOREA: New Era Foundation, Pagiribang Bicolnon, Aguman, HONG KONG: Pinatud a Saleng Ti Umili, Filipino Lesbian Organization, Abra Migrant Workers Welfare Association, Likha Filipino Migrant Cultural Organization, Association of Concerned Filipinos, 7. Pangasinan Organization for Welfare Empowerment and Rights, Friends of Bethune House, Migrante Pier, Filipino Migrant Women Association, Filipino Migrant Workers Union, AUSTRALIA: Migrante Melbourne, Migrante Perth, Anakbayan Perth, Migrante Melbourne North. PHILIPPINES: Migrante Philippines, CHAPTERS: Migrante Youth-University of Rizal System, Migrante Isabela, ATIS Abra Migrants Desk, Migrante Nueva Ecija, Migrante Cavite, Migrante Caloocan, Migrante Central Visayas, Migrante General Santos, Migrante Davao

Observers: Gabriela Switzerland, Samahan ng mga Domestic Workers sa Gitnang Silangan (SANDIGAN), Kalipunan ng Migranteng Pilipino at Pamilya (KMPP), St. John Neumann Migrants’ Center – Redemptorist Church, Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Compass PH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Migrante raises alarm over passport fiasco

Migrante International expresses its utmost alarm over the massive passport fiasco which now places extensive amounts of private personal information of passport applicants under serious threats. This is indeed distressing considering that it occurred while we are fast approaching the midterm national elections. We fear the dangerous implications it pose on the welfare of our dear OFWs. Aside from the consequent inconveniences it will cause them, any private information leaked will surely make OFWs and all the other passport applicants vulnerable to identity theft and other fraudulent schemes.

passbrea

We demand that the Department of Foreign Affairs clearly present to the public all the actions that it will undertake to oblige the private contractor to turn over and subsequently delete the data it currently holds. The fact that its contract has already been terminated means that it should no longer have any business in retaining all the private information it collected from passport applicants. Hence, their continued possession of enormous volumes of sensitive data is already a serious form of leakage and an infringement on the right to privacy.

As OFW advocates of national integrity, we have always opposed the direct control and involvement of profit-driven private entities in many government transactions and projects. Corruption has been pestering many government agencies for so long since the government’s compliance with neoliberal policies normalizes the engrossment of public officials in striking deals with big private contractors whose only aim is to maximize their profits at the expense of the welfare and security of OFWs and the Filipino people in general.

Moreover, if the government is impotent in protecting the passport data from being held hostage by a “pissed-off” private contractor, we can definitely have a broad idea of how much worse it can get once the implementation of the national ID system is in full swing. Under the present system, the government has this strong preference to prostituting our sovereignty by awarding large-scale contracts to dubious foreign contractors just like the 12-year Php1.6 Billion contract awarded by the Philippine Statistics Authority to US-based firm UNISYS which has figured prominently in data breach controversies overseas.

There is no doubt that investigations will never suffice unless the privatization of data processing in the Department of Foreign Affairs and all the rest of government agencies is ceased to give way for the development and improvement of in-house capacities. Allowing foreign contractors to access and control data processing is already a threat to national security and public safety. Blaming previous administrations and purportedly holding the culprits accountable while sticking to the same old rotten system of privatization will just appear to be mere grandstanding unless the government and the DFA wilfully decides to adopt a nationalized program in the processing of public data.

For whatever inconveniences this passport fiasco will inflict on the public, Migrante International demands that a full refund of the passport processing fee be distributed back to all affected passport applicants. In the implementation thereof, we warn the DFA not to make life difficult for all the people affected by this mess.

########