Who’s afraid of the Migrants’ Tribunal? Members of Migrante Int’l staff harassed by suspected military elements

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International today condemned incidents of harassment of its Home Office staff members by suspected military elements on two separate occasions last week.

Last Monday, September 24, two staff members of Migrante International’s Home Office were eating in a fast food chain near their office in Cambridge, Cubao, Quezon City when they were noticed a suspicious-looking man. The man was seated next to their table. Both staff members were reading when the man suddenly flipped the cover of the book of one of the staff members and asked, “Ano’ng binabasa mo?”

The two ignored the man but decided to leave the fast food chain because they already suspected that he was a military agent. They then proceeded to a nearby supermarket to buy groceries. In the supermarket, another man followed them persistently, up until they took a cab home.

On the morning of September 27, one of the two staff members was on her way to the Migrante International Home Office when she saw the same man from the fast food chain waiting for her at the corner of EDSA-New York in Cubao. When he saw her, the man acknowledged her with a nod and approached her asking, “Nasaan na iyong ka-buddy mo?”. The staff member ignored the man and hailed the first bus that passed by.

Both incidents were immediately reported to Migrante International.

 Migrants’ Tribunal

According to Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, they have reason to believe that the harassment incidents are related to the upcoming Migrants’ Tribunal on Nov28-29, 2012.

On November 26-27, the 5th World Social Forum on Migration (WSFM) will be convening in Manila. The WSFM is one of

the thematic processes of the World Social Forum (WSF). The WSF is a global process of, and by social movements, mass

organizations, civil society, activists and advocates. Around 3,000 delegates and participants from the Philippines and all over the world are expected to participate in the WSFM.

In line with this, Migrante International, together with the International Migrants’ Alliance, May First Movement-USA, Migrante-Europe, the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) and IBON International will be holding a Migrants’ Tribunal on November 28-29 at the University of the Philippines. The Tribunal will further highlight various issues of migration brought on by the neoliberal policy of labor export being implemented by the Philippine government.

“Like the IAMR (International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees), our parallel international activity which was held during the convention of the GFMD (Global Forum on Migration) last 2008, the Philippine government has every reason to be apprehensive. During the IAMR, the Philippine government’s inaction and accountability for the numerous atrocities against OFWs was exposed to the international community. This time around, the Migrants’ Tribunal will be more hard-hitting and more explosive,” Martinez said.

The Migrants’ Tribunal will be attended by at least 1,000 migrants, migrant workers, refugees and advocates from different parts of the world, with judges and expert witnesses from renowned migrants’ organizations worldwide. Its verdict and recommendations will be submitted to the United Nations and other international instruments.

“We strongly condemn the harassment of our members but we refuse to be cowed. This recent incident just proves that the Philippine government is afraid of the unity, solidarity and collective action of OFWs,” Martinez said. ###