We should not let the victim bite the dust – #SaveMaryJaneVeloso legal team

save mj tarp(1)Somewhere out there, a dazed and vulnerable young single mother sits alone and stays up in what seems like endless nights in a cold dingy cell far, far away from her little children and  waiting for what seems to be the inevitable. How could one erase the image of that forlorn look on Mary Jane Veloso’s face? 20 years after Flor Contemplacion.
Mary Jane is a victim not only of soulless creatures who took advantage of her desperation but ultimately of this government and our society that push our poor, young and hopeless to leave everything and risk anything in order to put food on the table and chase their simple dream of living like human beings. 20 years after Flor.
20 years after Flor,  Mary Jane is but  another dispensable commodity of a government who now fall all over itself to save her after apparently doing too little and too late again.  Serious and credible allegations that she was not only deceived and set up but also effectively denied basic due process to adequately defend herself mandate that she be given a fair chance to legally establish her innocence. After all, there is no further motion for reconsideration in the afterlife.
20 years after Flor,  seemingly hard and cold yet fallible laws in faraway lands are poised to ignore all humanitarian pleas storming the heavens with prayers to save the life of Mary Jane.
20 years before Mary Jane, we did not want to see Flor’s stoic face or hear her pained moan crying for mercy and justice as she was delivered to the gallows.
Against all odds, fast and furious steps in local  and international venues are again being explored and exhausted by a team of Filipino rights lawyers just recently retained by Mary Jane’s family to help stop her unjust execution in Indonesia. 20 years after Flor.  #
Reference:
Edre U. Olalia
NUPL Secretary General
Note: Atty. Edre Olalia is the lead counsel of the recently-formed legal team for the #SaveMaryJaneVeloso campaign. He was also part of the legal team for Flor Contemplacion, led by the late Atty. Romy Capulong, 20 years ago.  – Migrante International Media Desk
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Full text of Nora Aunor’s speech at commemoration rally for Flor Contemplacion’s 20th death anniversary

Nora Aunor calls on Noynoy Aquino to resign now!

Nora Aunor calls on Noynoy Aquino to resign now!

The Flor Contemplacion Story: 20 taon ang lumipas

Noon pa man, naniniwala na po ako na an gating mga OFW ang isa sa pinakaaping sector ng ating bansa. Isa rin po sila sa laging napapabayaan ng gobyerno. Kaya nang alukin po akong gawin at gampanan ang buhay ni Flor nang ito po ay isapelikula, hindi po ako nagdalawang-isip. Nang makilala ko po ang pamilya ni Flor ay lalo ko pog naintindihan ang sinasapit ng ating mga kababayan abroad. Kaya di po nagtagal gumawa kami ng dulang DH na tungkol din po sa ating mga kababayang OFW.

Naririto po ako kasama ninyo upang makiisa sa panawagan na ating protektahan at ipaglaban ang mga kababayan nating OFW.

Taong 1995 nang bitayin si Flor Contemplacion sa Singapore at kasabay na namatay ang marami nating akala.

Akala natin ay paraiso ang maging migrante sa ibang bayan. Akala natin ay maaayos ang buhay ng ating mga pamilya sa pangingibang bayan ni tatay o ni nanay. Akala natin ay uunlad din ang ating bayan sa laki ng remittance na ipinapasok ng mga OFW (overseas Filipino worker) sa bansa.

Mali pala. Kaya naman makaraan ang 20 taon mas masahol pa ang kalagayan ng mga migranteng Pilipino ngayon kaysa noong panahon ni Flor. At sa kabila ng walang-patid na mga kaso ng rape, pang-aabuso, pagmamaltrato, paglabag sa mga labor contract, pag-aresto, pagkulong, mas dumami pa ang lumalabas na OFW, na tinatayang 2 milyon bawat taon.

Sa kabila nito, tuluy-tuloy ang lantarang atake sa kabuhayan at karapatan ng mga manggagawa at pamilya sa loob at labas ng bansa. Paparami at papalubha ang kalagayan ng ating mga kababayang nabibiktima ng pwersahang migrasyon at labor export policy ng gobyerno.

Ang Pilipinas ay isa sa mga pangunahing pinanggagalingan ng mga biktima ng human trafficking at illegal recruitment, pang-aabuso, pangmamaltrato, pangongotong, rape at sexual harassment, pang-aalipin, pagpatay, crackdown, diskriminasyon, kalamidad at krisis sa ibang bansa. Lalong dumami, milyun-milyon, ang mga nabiktima sa ilalim ng panunungkulan ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino. Karamihan sa kanila ay napipilitang lumabas ng bansa sa paraang ligal man o ligal, at nakararanas ng mapagsamantalang mga kundisyon sa labas ng bansa.

Sa kabila nito, nananatiling hungkag at ilusyon ang “matuwid na daan” at pagpapakitang-tao ni Noynoy, na hindi na natin aasahang magpapatupad pa ng matinong programa para sa mga OFW.

Ang totoo, si Noynoy mismo ang pangunahing tagabenta, pahirap at pahamak ng ating mga kababayan. Dahil sa kanyang mga patakaran at kawalang-aksyon, dahil sa kanyang pagpapakatuta sa imperyalistang dayuhan, siya mismo ang nagtataboy sa ating mga manggagawang Pilipino na lumabas ng bansa. At dahil sa kanyang patuloy na pagpapatupad ng patakarang labor export, siya ang pinakamasahol na pangulo para sa migranteng Pilipino at pamilya.

Ibig sabihi’y tumitindi pa ang kahirapan, sahod-alipin o di-nakabubuhay na sahod, kawalan ng empleyo, at pambubusabos sa loob mismo ng ating bansa. Pinalala pa ito ng pangungulimbat sa kaban ng bayan ni Aquino at kanyang mga alipores. Dahilan ito para lalong maghimagsik ang migrante at mamamayan.

Pero tama ang akala na may paraan pa. Kung tayo’y nagkakaisa at sama-samang nakikibaka. Hindi lamang ang mga migrante at kanilang pamilya kundi kasama ang malawak na bilang ng mamamayan.

Walang araw na hindi tayo nakikipaglaban sa mga kaso ng karapatan at kagalingan ng mga migrante. Ngunit ang mga ito’y kagyat at pansamantala, at pabalik-balik lang na mga problema.

Ang higit na mahalaga’y lutasin mismo ang ugat ng problema. Hindi na natin kailangang mangibang-bayan pa kung may trabaho sa bansa na kayang bumuhay ng pamilya. Kung may pambansang industriyalisasyon. Kung may tunay na reporma sa lupa. Kung may tunay na pagbabago sa bulok na sistema.

Hindi na natin kailangan pa ang maraming biktima ng pangangalakal, pang-aalipin at pagsasamantala. Hindi na natin kailangan ng mga pamilyang naulila’t nagdurusa para sabihin sa ating mga sarili: “Tama na, sobra na! Noynoy, resign na!”

Kailangan na natin ng tunay na pagbabago sa lipunang ito. 

Noynoy, papet, pahirap at pahamak sa migranteng Pilipino at pamilya! Nakabubuhay na sahod sa Pinas, hindi trabaho sa labas! Serbisyo, hindi negosyo! Proteksyon, hindi koleksyon!

Labor export policy, ibasura! Tama na, sobra na! Noynoy, resign na! Umalis ka na diyan! Ito po ang gusto ko at gusto nating lahat. ###

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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. ###

(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.” ###

20 years after Flor Contemplacion’s death, more women OFWs abused, exploited and enslaved under Aquino’s term

flor @ 20 iconOn International Women’s Day, Migrante International gives tribute to all Filipina migrant workers who continue to fight against abuses and exploitation, and stand in solidarity with them in the struggle against forced migration and modern-day slavery being espoused by the Aquino administration’s more aggressive labor export policy.

Under the administration of Pres. Aquino, more women overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been forced to migrate and leave their families. An estimated 6,092 Filipinos leave the country daily (IBON Foundation, 2015 data) – among them, mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, grandparents who were forced to face dire straits and uncertain conditions abroad due to widespread joblessness, landlessness and dismal social services here in the country. This figure is an increase of 50% percent from 4,030 OFWs a day in 2010, when Aquino took office. To date, women OFWs make up more than half (55%) of the stock estimate of OFWs, outnumbering male OFWs especially in the service sector (Center for Filipinos Overseas, 2012).

Women OFWs face very specific vulnerabilities because they are women – sexual discrimination and other gender-specific abuses, exploitation and violence in the sorts of work they tend to predominate. This is especially the case when women OFWs migrate for work that is in line with their traditionally-defined reproductive roles in society (i.e. domestic workers, nurses, caregivers, etc.).

According to Migrante’s annual databank (2013-2014), more women OFWs faced all sorts of hardships and exploitation during the past year. Of the 174 cases of repatriation handled and facilitated by Migrante’s Rights and Welfare Assistance Program (RWAP), 138 are women. Majority of them were physically, verbally and emotionally abused, overworked, underpaid and suffered work-related violations.

Of the 104 cases referred by Migrante to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) from 2013 to 2014, 88 cases involved women OFWs who were illegally dismissed or terminated or were victimized by abusive recruiters and employers. 45 out of the 60 cases endorsed by Migrante in that same period to the National Labor Relations Commission, meanwhile, (NLRC) involved women OFWs.

For January to February 2015 alone, Migrante’s RWAP has already handled at least 50 cases of violence against women (VAW) OFWs, ranging from physical assault, sexual harassment, attempted rape, rape, sex trafficking to verbal abuse and emotional torture.

The current onslaught of the global economic crisis also further intensifies abuses and violations faced by women OFWs. The worsening crisis makes them more vulnerable to trafficking, criminalization of irregular or undocumented migrants, and drives them to tolerate more abuses in the workplace. The worsening crisis under the Aquino regime conceives for them more desperate conditions, locally and abroad.

Under the Aquino administration, the number of trafficked OFWs, mostly women, has reached a staggering 1.3 million, according to 2012 data by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. Many of them migrated to work through legal means but were later coerced into exploitative conditions, drug trade or white slavery.

Unfortunately, the Aquino government lacks the political will and competence to fully address these cases. Twenty years after the execution of Flor Contemplacion, many others like her have come after. Many abused, exploited and maltreated women OFWs are yet to attain justice, with government support and assistance generally lacking. Twenty years after Flor Contemplacion’s death, many women migrant workers have organized themselves to continue to organize in efforts to confront the struggles and challenges of their plight.

Today, marching with us are modern-day Flor Contemplacions, courageous women OFWs from different parts of the world and their families who braved their plight and survived. They continue to call for justice. They realize that forced migration and modern-day slavery can only ever be stopped on a day when our citizens will no longer be forced to face dire and dangerous conditions overseas out of desperation, poverty and hopelessness. They unite with other women and sectors of society in calling for the removal of Aquino from office. Migrante marches with them in solidarity with the women’s struggle for freedom and national democracy. This International Women’s Day, we salute and honor them and other women OFWs around the world.

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. 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”. ###

 

Kin of OFW who died under mysterious circumstances in Saudi decry white-wash by PH gov’t

rochelle masubay picThe family of Rochelle Lechido Masubay, a Filipina domestic worker who died under mysterious circumstances in Taif, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, slammed government officials for “white-washing” and “covering-up” the cause of her death.

Masubay’s death was declared a “suicide”. Her family, however, suspect foul play. Masubay’s family also said that the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) Welfare Employment Office asked them to sign a “quit-claim” and “compromise agreement” supposedly as requirement for the repatriation of her remains. (Please see attached documents)

Masubay, a native of Tacloban, Leyte and mother of two, was deployed to KSA by Fors Recruitment Agency on May 25, 2014. Her common-law husband Rodolfo Malinao was able to talk to her for the last time on June 26, 2014. Despite multiple efforts, he was not able to contact or talk to her since.

Last January 2015, Malinao went to the office of Fors Recruitment Agency to report her missing. They told her that she had been dead since October 16, 2014 and that she committed suicide. Her death certificate, however, indicates her date of death on July 1, 2014. (See attached document) 

Malinao said that the agency’s staff told him that Masubay committed suicide. They told him that Masubay allegedly locked herself up in her room for two days prompting her employer to call the police. When the police forcibly opened her door, she was found dead with a knife stuck to her heart.

On February 3, 2015, Malinao went to the POEA to arrange for the repatriation of her remains. It was only then that he was able to secure her death certificate from the Saudi Ministry of Interior Civil Affairs and a certification from the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah ruling “suicide” as the cause of her death.

It was also then that he was asked to sign a Quit-Claim in exchange for Php119,240 from a certain Pioneer Insurance Agency. In the document, Malinao was asked to state that he would not file any criminal or civil complaint against Fors Recruitment Agency, the POEA or “any administrative agency”. Malinao said that he was forced to sign the document because they told him that it was the only way to expedite the repatriation of his wife’s remains. (See attached)

“First of all, we demand to know the real circumstances of Masubay’s death. Why did it take too long, half a year, for the family to be informed of her death? Worse, the family was duped into signing a compromise agreement ensuring that they would not file any charges, under the pretext that such a document is a requirement for the repatriation of her remains.” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

Pillas called on the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine government to investigate Masubay’s death and the reasons for the “compromise agreement”. “They are obviously hiding something. The family has strong reason to believe that Masubay did not commit suicide. Nowhere in the repatriation process does it state a compromise agreement as a requirement for repatriation. What reasons does the POEA have to white-wash or cover-up Masubay’s mysterious death?”

Pillas said that Migrante International is presently coordinating with Masubay’s husband in Caloocan and her family in Tacloban. “We join her family in their quest for justice.”

Masubay’s remains arrived in Tacloban last February 14, 2015. Yesterday, her neighbors and friends in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan held a candle-lighting activity calling for justice for her death as she was laid to rest in Tacloban.

Pillas said that they will campaign for Masubay’s case as Migrante International gears to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion this year. 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. ###

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