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. ###

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”. ###

 

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”. ###

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”. ###

“Aquino, Pontio Pilato!” Filipinos worldwide enjoined to transform “Nat’l Day of Mourning” to “Global Day of Mourning for Justice”

image courtesy of Luisita Watch

image courtesy of Luisita Watch

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International extended its most heartfelt condolences to the families of those who died in the Mamasapano clash.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those killed from both sides. To the 44 PNP-SAF who were cold-heartedly sent to their own execution and to the MILF fighters who defended what to them are their territories especially as the Aquino government has practically recognized this assertion through a peace pact which is yet to be approved by Congress. They were sent to their own death row on specific orders. Heads must roll, and the biggest bloated head should be made accountable most of all,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez slammed Pres. BS Aquino’s primetime speech last night, saying that “the speech elicited more questions than answers and it also made clear to the public that Aquino and his clandestine operators have blood on their hands.”

“Aquino did a Pontius Pilate, and Pontius Pilate had the gall to quote the Bible. He offered no sympathy, no categorical answers and no clear solutions and plans of action. All he did was double-speak, he evaded the questions with the clear intent of sowing more confusion among the public. He delivered all these with the sole purpose of exonerating himself of all and any accountability, short of declaring to the nation and the world that he is practically a clueless commander-in-chief,” Martinez said.

Martinez said that the public should continue to be relentless in pursuing answers to questions that arose because of the bloodbath. “If the so-called mission involved a high-ranking target, why were the AFP and PNP top brass and the DILG kept under the dark? What were the roles played by alleged operators ex-Gen. Purisima and Exec. Sec. Ochoa? What was Aquino himself doing in Zamboanga on the weekend of the mission? Why were US troops in the area and present during the clearing operations?”

“The most pressing question: Who gave the go-signal? This was deliberately not answered by Aquino. He obviously knew of the planned attack and for this alone he should step down from office.”

Martinez added, “As to who gave the orders, the question must be asked: Aquino, sino ang tunay na boss mo? The US’ hand in the attack cannot be denied. If it is true that the US called the shots, at the expense of sending hundreds of Philippine troops to suicide missions, in blatant disrespect of any existing peace pacts, then what should be under serious fire now are not efforts for peace by any party but any and all military treaties and agreements with the US. Pinag-aaaway-away ng US ang Pilipino sa kapwa Pilipino, Pilipino sa Pilipino ang nagpapatayan, dahil sa pagkatuta nitong si Aquino sa tropang Kano.”

Martinez called on all patriotic officers and personnel of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to join the Filipino people in calling for Aquino to step down from office, and to join the movement for a just and lasting peace in the Mindanao and the rest of the country through a genuine peace pact between the Bangsamoro and the PH government and the resumption of the GPH-NDF peace talks.

He also enjoined all freedom- and justice-loving Filipinos all over the world to transform Friday’s “National Day of Mourning” into a “Global Day of Mourning for Justice” to denounce Aquino’s accountability in the Mamasapano clash. ###

Position paper on Memorandum Circular-08 (MC-08), Series of 2014, implementing guidelines for the integration of international passenger service charge (IPSC) in the airline ticket point of sale, or the automatic inclusion of the Php550 NAIA terminal fee in airline ticket sales

photo courtesy of gmanews.tv

photo courtesy of gmanews.tv

Prepared by Migrante International, November 2014, updated January 2015

Migrante International strongly protests the automatic inclusion of the Php550 terminal fee in airline tickets. This new rule was enforced via Memorandum Circular-08, Series of 2014, following a memorandum of agreement between the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and airline carriers.

MC-08 was supposed to have been effective last November 1, 2014 but its implementation was postponed as a result of a temporary restraining order issued by the Pasay Regional Trial Court in response to a petition filed by various stakeholders.

This year, the MIAA once again announced that the implementation of MC-08 is scheduled anew on February 1, 2015, indicating that the TRO has been effectively lifted.

This position paper enumerates the main reasons for Migrante International’s strong opposition to the imposition, and consequently, its call for the scrapping of MC-08.

MC-08 violates Section 35 of RA 10022 clearly stipulating that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are exempt from paying airport taxes, documentary taxes and terminal fees.

MC-08 defines OFWs as among “locally-recognized exempted passengers” and recognizes the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) as an “exemption certificate” certifying OFWs’ exemption from payment of the IPSC. However, it in the same breath offers a mechanism for “refund” for exempted passengers “on or after departure date”. The refund mechanism in itself corroborates that MC-08 has all intents and purposes to breach Section 35 of RA 10022 by providing clear opportunities for its direct violation.

MC-08’s mere recognition of OFWs’ exemption from the payment of the terminal fee does not mean that it does not have intent to violate the law, nor does a refund mechanism correct this very violation. Rather, it paves the way for indirect and/or direct violation of RA 10022 by exacting illegal fees from OFWs obscured only by a supposed “refund mechanism” to justify it.

It is significant and imperative to state in this argument that Section 35 of RA 10022 was borne out of the collective unity and action of OFWs against onerous state exactions and other illegal fees. That MC-08 attempts to disparage this historic achievement is unacceptable, a direct insult to OFWs and an infringement of their hard-earned rights.

MC-08 is discriminatory and a burden to OFWs and other exempted passengers

While MC-08 provides that it aims to “remove unnecessary barriers to travel and simplify travel regulations” and that it attempts to “address the congestion in all Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminals with the increasing volume of passengers” by “promoting smoother, seamless, convenient, safe and hassle-free travel experience”, it only envisions such for a portion of its passengers and discriminates against exempted passengers, including OFWs.

Simply put, it aims for better, more efficient and “decongested” aiport terminals not for the entire passenger population but at the expense of OFWs – more than 5,000 leaving the country on a daily basis.

MC-08 will mean another process that OFWs can do without. OFWs, pre-departure, have already gone through all the trouble of fulfilling requirements for the OEC. To make them undergo another tedious refund process is clearly an added burden.

The refund process is another unnecessary step that OFWs have to face. It is nothing but another extortion scheme banking on OFWs’ inconvenience and exasperation. To be able to get a refund, OFWs are required to present an assortment of documents that they would otherwise not bother to procure because they would have been conveniently covered already by the OEC. Does the government hope to exact more illegal fees from OFWs through this?

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration estimates 5,031 OFWs leave the country everyday. This would mean a total of Php2.8 billion in potential daily earnings for the government should OFWs find it too cumbersome to get a refund, or a Php1.009 trillion for a year!

It is also interesting to note that the MIAA had been forwarding the proposal to automatically include the Php550 terminal fee in airline tickets since 2011 but found it hard to get the approval of even the airline carriers.

In a letter from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the MIAA dated July 8, 2011, in response to the latter’s request for legal advice for the proposal, the DOJ stated, “Also, despite several attempts made by the MIAA in integrating the PTF (passenger terminal fee) in the airline tickets, the airline companies have been consistently reluctant in agreeing to the proposal in view of the existence of the exemptions to this charge particularly RA 6847 (The Philippine Sports Commission Act) and RA 10022. Airline companies contend that they will incur additional administrative burden of requiring proof of exemption.”

Further, the DOJ directed the MIAA to “craft a system of collecting the PTF while, at the same time, giving due regard to those who are exempt.” Based on statements made by the MIAA, however, there is no special mechanism crafted by the agency. It deemed it “impossible” to create even a data base of OFWs to aid in the recognition of their exemption upon airport ticket point of sale. And following airline carriers’ initial reluctance, they cannot be relied upon to craft a likewise system themselves. The sole burden then of showing proof of entitlement for exemption and/or refund/reimbursement lies on OFWs  alone.

Interestingly, MC-08 also does not seem knowledgeable of the fact that majority of agency-hired newly-hired OFWs (not Balik-Manggagawa) have their airline tickets purchased by either their employers or recruitment agencies who are not authorized to hold or present their OECs. This is another loophole in the new rule that inconveniences not only on OFWs but their employers and agencies as well.

MC-08 is contradictory to its supposed objective

Lastly, MC-08 attests that it hopes to comply with “internationally accepted standards of airport accomodation and service” by “promulgat(ing) rules and regulations governing the planning, development, maintenance, operation and improvement of the airport”. However, again, in the same breath it underestimates such a noble endeavor by simplistically surmising that the problem lies only in the “congestion and queuing problems (that will) escalate further as traffic volume continuously increases”.

MC-08 will not decongest NAIA’s crowded terminals, it will worsen it through its haphazard and discriminatory implementation. MC-08 is not the solution for the congestion of airport terminals. Long queues are merely results of a bigger and more entrenched problem in the management, maintenance, operation and improvement of airport terminals. Unless these bigger, more entrenched problems in the airport system are addressed, MC-08 will only be a superficial solution, if at all, to the problem, at the expense of OFWs and other exempted passengers and in violation of existing laws. ###