Justice for Kentex workers! Justice for all Filipino workers!

kentexGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International extends its most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of workers of Kentex Manufacturing Inc. who died in a factory fire last May 13.

Seventy-two workers have been confirmed dead, mostly women, while 20 more remain missing. Witnesses attest that some 200 were present when the fire consumed the factory.

Kentex, a factory located in Valenzuela City, clearly violated general labor standards and occupational health and safety standards. Despite this, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had been quick to state that Kentex passed all inspections and exercised strict compliance with labor standards. However, a fact-finding mission conducted by Kilusang Mayo Uno, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) and the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) Philippines exposed clear violations, among them, the “mishandling of hazardous and flammable chemicals, absence of proper smoke and fire alarm, and fire exits, and apparent absence of fire and safety drills”.

Migrante International calls for justice for the 72++ Kentex workers. We mourn with Filipino workers and the rest of the nation for this grave injustice and negligence, not only of greedy capitalists but of the Philippine government. We rage against these conditions that continue to place our Filipino workers in unsafe environments and, when tragedy strikes, diminish them to mere statistics of “occupational hazards”.

The Kentex tragedy also brings to light the slave-like conditions and unjust wages that Filipino workers are forced to endure. Kentex workers receive a pittance of daily wages (Php202/day), plus an additional Php187-Php220 daily allowance depending on how long they have been working for the company.

Migrante International condemns in strongest terms slave wages that continue to plague millions of our Filipino workers in favour of greed for profit. It is precisely in search of decent jobs and higher wages that the number of Filipino workers and those leaving for labor migration everyday have been on the rise since Pres. Aquino took office.

At least one-fourth of the country’s labor force has gone abroad to find work. Jobs created are highly disproportional to the ever-growing labor force and underemployed. The number of jobless and underpaid Filipinos increased by at least 600,000 during Aquino’s first year in office alone.

While those who do land domestic jobs, as in the case of Kentex workers, suffer very low wages. Worsening joblessness and underemployment feed on already chronically low wages, with the current minimum wage grossly inadequate to sustain even the most humble of families.

The Kentex tragedy is clear and present testament to how detrimental the government’s labor export policy and failure to curb forced migration are to Filipino workers. The Kentex tragedy is also testament to the Aquino government’s criminal government neglect to protect and uphold the rights and welfare of our Filipino workers, whether they be here in the Philippines or abroad.We call on all Filipino migrant workers and the Filipino people to demand justice for Kentex workers and all other victims of occupational accidents. We call on all migrant workers to join us in demanding justice for Kentex workers. ###

 

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Initial victory for Filipino trafficked teachers! Recruiter Rodriguez found guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment, syndicated estafa

wanted isidroGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International welcomes the resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ) finding trafficker Isidro Rodriguez guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment and syndicated estafa.

The resolution, dated April 30, 2015, was in response to the consolidated complaint filed by Batch 6 of at least 300 Filipino teachers victimized by Rodriguez.

Rodriguez duped some 500 Filipino teachers here and in the United States through his agency, Renaissance Staffing and Support, Inc., formerly Great Provider Service Exporters, Inc., with its US partner Green Life Care International, LLC. The PH Embassy in the US said that Rodriguez tops its list of most notorious illegal recruiters and traffickers.

Rodriguez’ victims are all licensed and professional teachers. They were all promised teaching positions in different schools in the US, only later to learn that the said jobs were fictitious and all part of a grand trafficking scheme.

Rodriguez was able to collect a staggering average of Php500,000 from each of them as payments for their “processing, service, pick-up, housing and interview fees”. Most of the payments came from their hard-earned savings, while majority of them resorted to borrowing money from relatives and friends, banks and loan institutions with high interest rates.

Last November, a Manila regional trial court sentenced Rodriguez to 11 years in prison for victimizing a Filipina teacher. The victims bewailed the decision because Rodriguez was convicted for just one crime when he has numerous other pending cases of large-scale and syndicated illegal recruitment and estafa lodged against him. Three batches of teachers have also filed cases of trafficking-in-persons against him at the DOJ.

Since then, Rodriguez has been at large and had since been sighted by witnesses in Spain. He has reportedly continued to victimize Filipino whilst in Madrid. He has two existing warrants of arrest against him for illegal recruitment and estafa. He also has pending complaints against him in US courts by his US-based victims.

“This is an initial victory for our trafficked teachers. Tuloy-tuloy ang tagumpay ng sama-samang pagkilos at paglaban! We await and continue to demand positive resolutions on the motion for reconsideration we filed on their trafficking cases,” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

In November 2014, the trafficking in persons filed by the first batch of teachers against him was dismissed and referred to illegal recruitment courts, while batches upon batches of large-scale illegal recruitment and syndicated estafa cases against him remain unresolved to this day. They have consequently filed a motion for reconsideration for the TIP case and a motion for speedy trial for the IR cases, decisions for which the teachers await up to this day.

“We call on the DOJ and concerned government agencies to take urgent action. We will continue to be vigilant until justice for all victims is served. Arrest Isidro Rodriguez now!” ###

(WITH PHOTOS) Migrante stages lightning rally in Mendiola to call for Aquino’s resignation

photo courtesy of Pinoy Weekly

photo courtesy of Pinoy Weekly

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International staged a lightning rally in Mendiola today to call for Aquino’s removal from office in light of the series of tragedies and atrocities that have plagued Filipino migrant workers in the past few days.

Barely a week before the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, another overseas Filipino worker (OFW) was beheaded in Saudi Arabia, four Filipinos have been abducted by Islamic State jihadists in Libya, 13 Filipino seafarers are still missing after a Taiwan ship sunk in the South Atlantic Ocean and many other modern-day Flor Contemplacions continue to suffer because of the government’s criminal neglect.

Chanting “Tama na, sobra na, palitan na!”, the rallyists said that these recent atrocities and injustices against OFWs, compounded by Aquino’s other crimes and transgressions against the Filipino people in light of the Mamasapano bloodbath, massive corruption in government, the Yolanda tragedy, poor social services and unending price hikes, further crystalize the demand of Filipinos all over the world to hold Aquino accountable for criminal neglect and incompetence.

Migrante International reiterates the demand for Aquino to resign or be ousted. “We do not want more OFWs to die or be placed in clear and present danger because of government failure and criminal neglect. We want Aquino out,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

“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,” he said.

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.

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”. ###

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Migrante statement on the execution of OFW Joven Esteva 

Most number of OFWs on death row executed under Aquino – Migrante

Global alliance for overseas Filipinos Migrante International expressed deepest sadness and sympathy for the family of Joven Esteva, an overseas Filipino worker who was executed for murder by the Saudi government.

“This is a dark day for migrant Filipinos, a week before we commemorate the death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion. We call for an investigation on why there have been the most number of executions that pushed through under Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s term,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Esteva was the seventh OFW on death row executed within Aquino’s four years in office, the most number of executions under one regime since the Philippine labor export policy was implemented in the 1970s. Another OFW, Mary Jane Veloso, is reportedly set to be executed by firing squad in Indonesia for drug-related charges. Her case is currently under review by the Indonesian Supreme Court.

Martinez said, “We are deeply concerned for other OFWs on death row and those in detention. How many Flors, Carlitos, Jovens and Mary Janes more can we expect to suffer the same fate? There are at least 123 more OFWs on death row, and at the rate the Aquino government is going, we can expect more executions in the next few years. The government has not shown transparency nor accountability for failing to save the lives of our OFWs on death row. Malalaman na lang natin kapag bibitayin o nabitay na.

The plight of OFWs on death row will be one of the major issues that Migrante International will bring forth on March 17, the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion. Members of Migrante International from all over the world will march to Mendiola to reiterate their call for Aquino to step down from office. “We do not want more OFWs to die of government failure and criminal neglect. We want Aquino out.” ###

Filipino migrants hail Erwiana’s victory

10991579_10204596152478023_7759963146395981685_oGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International celebrate the victory of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih after the Wanchai District Court in Hong Kong found her employer guilty on charges of abuse, maltreatment and exploitation.

Migrante International said that Erwiana’s victory is a victory for all migrant workers who continue to stand up against modern-day slavery. “Erwiana continues to serve as a great inspiration for Filipino migrant workers, especially Filipina domestic workers all over the world. Her victory is well-fought and much-deserved. We celebrate her victory as we also prepare to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion this year,” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

Erwiana’s case, the latest most gruesome case depicting the suffering and plight of domestic workers, especially women domestic workers, is testament to how forced migration and labor export have become the worst cause and manifestation of all forms of abuse, oppression and exploitation of women all over the world.

Pillas said, since Contemplacion’s execution in 1995, the “feminization” of labor migration driven by the rise in number of domestic workers and caregivers going abroad has perpetuated very specific vulnerabilites that women migrant workers face because they are women. “They suffer sexual discrimination and other gender-specific abuses, exploitation and violence in the sorts of work where they tend to predominated. This is especially the case for domestic workers.”

“They are most vulnerable to abuse and often mistreated by employers. Many are beaten and raped, and many are murdered. They are lowly-paid and do not enjoy social protection, isolated and discriminated against and without legal recourse because their work is not considered as work and not covered by any existing legal frameworks. Worse, their marginalization is implicitly condoned by States as principal agents peddling domestic workers like ordinary commodities without guarantee of protection or avenues for redress of grievance,” she said.

Migrante International also extends its solidarity with other migrants’ organizations and advocates that fought for Erwiana. The Justice for Erwiana and All Migrant Domestic Workers Committee, of which Migrante is part, led 5,000 domestic workers and supporters in a protest march and rally in Hong Kong last year. Other Filipino and migrant domestic workers also held solidarity actions and activities for Erwiana as her case was being heard.

“But, while we won this battle, a war continues to rage. There are still many Erwianas and Flors elsewhere in the world who have fallen victim to trafficking, abuse, exploitation and government neglect.  May Erwiana’s recent victory further encourage Filipino migrant workers to unite, organize and galvanize collective action to oppose anti-migrant policies and end modern-day slavery,” Pillas said.

Migrante International and its chapters all over the world are gearing to kick-off its year-long “Remember Flor@20 Campaign” on March 17, the date of Contemplacion’s death anniversary. ###

 

Most number of OFWs on death row executed under Aquino – Migrante

photo from remate.ph

photo from remate.ph

Global alliance for overseas Filipinos Migrante International expressed deepest sadness and sympathy for the family of Carlito Lana, an overseas Filipino worker who was beheaded for murder by the Saudi government.

“This is a dark day for migrant Filipinos, especially for those on death row abroad. We call for an investigation on why there have been the most number of executions that pushed through under Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s term,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Lana was the sixth OFW on death row executed within Aquino’s four years in office, the most number of executions under one regime since the Philippine labor export policy was implemented in the 1970s.

Martinez said that Lana’s family sought their help when he was arrested and that they have been monitoring the status of case since. Lana admitted to killing his employer out of self-defense.

“He was suffering abuses in the hands of his employer. When the crime happened, he even rushed his employer to the hospital but they met a vehicular accident on their way. That was when the Saudi police arrested him. From the start, we have questioned the Philippine government if he was given legal assistance given the nature of his case,” Martinez said.

He said, “We are deeply concerned over the fate of other OFWs on death row and those in detention. There are 123 more OFWs on death row, and at the rate the Aquino government is going, we can expect more executions in the next few years. The government has not shown transparency nor accountability for failing to save the lives of our OFWs on death row.”

Migrante also demanded an explanation from the government on why funds for legal assistance for OFWs in distress have been slashed since 2010, while there have been reports that P52 million in legal funds for OFWs were unused since 2011.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) attributed the unused funds to a clause in the Migrant Workers Act stipulating a “ceiling” to the amount of assistance that is allowed per OFW in distress. “We find this justification unacceptable and extremely irrational. On top of OFWs on death row, there are at least 7,000 OFWs in jails abroad, some awaiting death row sentences. The common occurrence is they get arrested and undergo investigation without any representation or legal counsel. Because of this, they are deprived of due process and go straight to jail without any legal assistance from the PH government,” Martinez said.

“In the case of Lana, we will not be surprised if, at all, it will be discovered that legal assistance was offered only at the last minute. The same happened to the first five who were executed.”

Lana’s execution came a mere five days before December 18, International Migrants’ Day.

The plight of OFWs on death row will be one of the major issues that Migrante International will bring forth on December 18. Members of Migrante International from all over the world will march to Mendiola to reiterate their call for Aquino to step down from office. “We do not want more OFWs to die of government failure and criminal neglect. We want Aquino out.” ###