Statement on the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion: OFWs worse off than ever, call for Aquino’s removal from office

flor @ 20 iconIt was 1995 when Filipina domestic worker Flor Contemplacion was hanged in Singapore and her death uncovered the naked truth of the tragedy of forced migration and the policy of labor export. Contemplacion’s case aroused wide indignation over the Philippine government’s inaction and failure to save her life and brought to national and international awareness the life and death situation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Twenty years after her death, we continue to bear witness to the lives and struggles of thousands and thousands of Flor Contemplacions. These last years under the Aquino administration have been the most grueling times for OFWs and their families – series of executions of OFWs on death row, civil wars and threats of wars of aggression in the Middle East and North Africa region, countless cases of abuses, maltreatment and involuntary servitude, hundreds of thousands stranded, criminalized and victimized by crackdowns abroad, trafficking and illegal recruitment with impunity and a more worsened state of government neglect and incompetence.

Combined with the continuing onslaught of a global economic crisis that is translated into unending spates of price hikes and the Aquino administration’s corruption, betrayal of public trust, treachery and intensification of privatization, liberalization and deregulation policies in favor of foreign interests, these are arguably the worst of times for our 13 to 15 million OFWs and their families.

Through these all, it has become more apparent that the Aquino administration is no different from previous regimes with regard OFW affairs. Despite Malacanang’s pronouncements, the Aquino government’s consequent actions and overall economic and political programs belie his promise of treating OFWs as an urgent national priority.

The series of executions of OFWs on death row, the biggest number so far under one regime, are glaring examples of just how insincere, insensitive and inept the Aquino government is in upholding and securing the protection and welfare of our workers overseas, while ironically also showcasing a more blatant and unapologetic labor export policy that exploits our OFWs’ cheap labor and influx of remittances but sadly offers them nothing in return, especially in times of need.

Indeed, if there is one thing that summarizes all government efforts thus far in response to the plight of our OFWs in distress these past years, it is the betrayal and criminal neglect of our OFWs in times of crisis and emergency.

There is also the real and present problem of the repatriation/deportation of possibly tens of thousands more of OFWs after the initial return of thousands from the MENA region. They face graver threats here than abroad because the government offers them nothing substantive and sustainable to address their families’ economic needs. Instead, what the government offers are mere dole-outs and, unfortunately, the prospects of returning abroad.

Instead of addressing the root causes of forced migration through genuine land reform and national industrialization, Aquino had further opened up the national economy to abuse and exploitation of our workers’ cheap labor by foreign capital and interests fueled by the greed for OFW remittances.

Migrante International strongly believes that for as long as the labor export policy is in force, there can be no genuine protection for our OFWs. Government programs and policies, through the continuance of the labor export policy, will not serve to protect and uphold OFWs’ rights but only exist to further exploit and abuse.

What our OFWs and their families need during these hard times are actions and programs from a government that would enforce the creation of jobs at home, ease the onslaught of price hikes and provide sufficient social services in order to curb, if not stop, forced migration. This is why, on the event of Flor Contemplacion’s 20th anniversary, we not only remember her legacy but re-commit ourselves to the lessons that her death taught us.

Undeniably these are the worst of times for our OFWs and families but these are also the greatest when migrants organize themselves to help and support each other when nothing is to be expected from the Philippine government.

Twenty years after Flor Contemplacion’s death, our OFWs and their families are now collectively confronting the struggles and challenges of their plight, and together we shall hold accountable the Aquino administration for every single OFW’s life that has been placed under threat and danger. This, undoubtedly, is the best way to commemorate Contemplacion’s 20th death anniversary.

Twenty years after the death of Flor Contemplacion, Filipino migrants and their families are once again roused into collective action and determination to exercise their democratic right to bring about regime and system change. We join other sectors of society in calling for Aquino’s accountability for all crimes done to the Filipino people. Tama na, sobra na ang pagpapahirap, pagpapahamak at panloloko sa migrante at pamilya! Aquino, resign na!

Migrante International is part of NOW! (Noynoy Out Now!), a broad multisectoral formation calling for Aquino’s resignation and the formation of a People’s Council to replace him. ###

OFWs in distress, families join calls for Aquino to resign

11001918_10153040766514098_5536910407980611270_n“Kung naging pabaya, pahamak, inutil at hugas-kamay si Pang. Noynoy Aquino sa madugong operasyon sa Mamasapano, matagal na niyang ginagawa ito sa aming mga OFW.”This was the statement of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their kin in a press conference today as they joined calls for Aquino to resign.

“For OFWs and their families, Aquino’s role and Malacanang’s consequent efforts to cover-up his accountability in the Mamasapano tragedy is the last straw. Patunay lamang ito na kung kayang ipain at isubo ni Aquino ang sarili niyang hukbong sandatahan sa tiyak na kamatayan, paano pa ang mga kawawang OFW at mamamayan?” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

In the press conference, Pillas was joined by Noela Garcia, a victim of maltreatment and sexual harassment; Olivia Ramos who was used as a “human target” for her employer’s firing practice; the mother of Rose Dacanay, an attempted rape victim and OFW in Saudi jail after being falsely accused for killing her employer; and, relatives of workers in RHM Company in Saudi who are currently seeking immediate repatriation due to labor violations and withheld wages.

According to Pillas, the distressed OFWs represent the situation of OFWs who fell victim to the Aquino government’s neglect and abandonment. “All of them bear witness to this government’s criminal neglect and incompetence. All of them have sought the government’s help and have been found wanting. All of them have no qualms now lending their voices to the growing clamor for Aquino to resign.”

Chanting, “Tama na, sobra na, Aquino resign na!”, the OFWs said that they feel for the widows of the PNP-SAF and the loved ones of the others killed, injured and displaced by the Mamasapano bloodbath.

For her part, Ramos said, “Taus-puso ang aming pakikidalamhati sa kanila dahil alam namin kung paanong maghugas-kamay sa responsibilidad ang gobyerno. Nakikiisa kami sa mga nananawagan para sa katotohan at pananagutan. Matagal na naming ayaw sa gobyernong ito.”

“Kahit nakauwi na ang ilan sa amin, patuloy pa rin ang panawagan namin para sa hustisya pero nananatiling walang aksyon ang gobyerno. Kaya naman natutuwa kaming mas marami na ngayong namumulat at nananawagan na paalisin si Aquino sa pwesto,”Garcia said.

Pillas added that it is now more clear who Aquino’s “real boss” is. “The US’ hand in the attack cannot be denied. It is now clear that under direct orders from the US, Aquino by-passed the chain of command at the expense of sending hundreds of Philippine troops to suicide missions, in blatant disrespect of any existing peace pacts and national sovereignty.”

Amid coup rumors, Pillas called on all patriotic officers and personnel of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to instead join the Filipino people in calling for Aquino to step down from office. She also enjoined all freedom- and justice-loving Filipinos all over the world to launch and join protest actions calling on Aquino to resign.

Migrante International supports the formation of a transition council to replace Aquino. On March 17, the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, Migrante and its chapters and affiliates worldwide will be holding a “Global Day of Action for Aquino’s Resignation”. ###

On Dec. 18 Int’l Migrants’ Day, OFWs from 16 countries march to Mendiola to call for Aquino’s ouster

oustFive days after the execution of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Carlito Lana in Saudi, Filipino migrants from all over the world marched to Mendiola calling for the ouster of Pres. Benigno Aquino III.

Migrante chapters in the Philippines and from 16 different countries gathered in Manila today to commemmorate International Migrants’ Day by demanding accountability from the Aquino government for the worsening conditions of Filipino migrants and their families.

The march was participated in by delegates from Migrante chapters in Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Italy, Austria, United Kingdom, Netherlands, United States, Canada and Australia. Delegates from Migrante chapters in Davao, General Santos, Socsargen, Calabarzon, Tacloban, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Pampanga, Pangasinan and the National Capital Region were also present.

“Today, we call for an end to forced migration and modern-day slavery. Today, we stand with OFWs all over the world in the continuing protest against a corrupt, anti-people and anti-migrant government that has treated OFWs as milking cows. Today, we stand with Filipinos all over the world in condemning Aquino’s corruption and subservience to foreign dictates,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez called on all Filipino migrants and their families to join the movement calling for an end to the Aquino regime. “After four years of corruption, mendacity, puppetry, oppression and human rights violations, Aquino has once again roused the Filipino people into collective action and determination to exercise their democratic power to bring about regime change as mounting calls for his ouster continue to gain strength around the country and all over the world.”

The marchers presented a chain- and whip-brandishing Aquino effigy depicting how Filipino migrants have become “modern-day slaves” because of the regime’s more aggressive and unapologetic labor export policy.

Martinez said that under the Aquino administration, OFWs have experienced unforgivable government neglect, the biggest budget cut for OFW services, more exorbitant state exactions and fee impositions, anti-migrant policies that have placed their welfare at stake and an ever-worsening domestic crisis that has aggravated forced migration.

Meanwhile, Aquino and his cohorts’ involvement in the pork barrel scam and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is yet another “unforgivable” for Filipino migrants and their families.

Martinez said that it is indefensible reprehensible and outrageous how Aquino and his cohorts have squandered billions of pesos in DAP and pork while scrimping on funds for Filipino migrants in distress and their families. “DAP is not savings. DAP is not good. DAP was not done in good faith. DAP did not produce good results. What Aquino did through DAP was to pull in billions of pesos into a huge sum of presidential pork. DAP was used for bribery, patronage politics and to consolidate Aquino’s clique in government in time for the 2016 elections. Filipinos around the world want Aquino out. We do not want him to stay until 2016,” he said. ###