Filipino migrants mark Flor Contemplacion’s 20th death year with “People Power” for Aquino’s removal  

resignGlobal alliance of overseas Filipino Migrante International unites with other sectors and Filipino communities worldwide in calling for the resignation of Pres. Benigno Aquino III from office in light of the Mamasapano bloodbath.

“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 (overseas Filipino workers).” This was the statement of Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez as their group participated in today’s “Kapit-Bisig sa EDSA para sa Katotohanan at Pananagutan”.

Martinez said, “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?”

Martinez said that since Aquino took office, OFWs and their families have borne witness to his government’s criminal neglect and incompetence, especially when dealing with OFWs in distress. “We have wanted him out since he first jeopardized the lives and welfare of OFWs during the Manila hostage tragedy. Since then, OFWs have experienced unforgivable government neglect, the biggest budget cuts for OFW services, more exorbitant state exactions and fee impositions, anti-migrant polices that have placed our welfare at stake and an ever-worsening domestic crisis that has aggravated forced migration.”

“These, compounded with Aquino’s involvement in the pork barrel scam and the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and Aquino’s failure in leadership during the Yolanda tragedy, we have no qualms now lending our voices to the growing clamor for Aquino to resign,” Martinez said.

Remember Flor@20

According to Martinez, OFWs worldwide are in support of a “People Power” for the removal of Aquino and the formation of a People’s Council to replace him.

“It cannot be more fitting that 20 years after the death of Flor Contemplacion, Filipino migrants and their families are once again roused into collection action and determination to exercise their democratic right to bring about regime and system change. This is the best tribute and commemoration to Contemplacion’s memory and legacy and to the sacrifice of millions of our bagong bayani,” he said.

Flor Contemplacion was a Filipino domestic worker who was hanged in Singapore on March 17, 1996 for allegedly murdering another Filipina. Her case stirred wide indignation over the Philippine government’s inaction and failure to save her life, and brought to national and international awareness the plight of OFWs and families.

Martinez enjoined all freedom- and justice-loving Filipinos all over the world to launch and join protest actions calling for Aquino’s removal from office. “Tama na, sobra na, Aquino resign na!”

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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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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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. ###