BAYAN-HK says “long hands of poverty” extend abroad,
“GMA is calamity personified”

 

Hong Kong

 

July 27, 2008

 

 

   
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Photos courtesy of BAYAN - Hongkong
           

 

Press Release
27 July 2008

For reference: Norman Uy Carnay
Country Information Officer, Tel. No. 96472567

BAYAN-HK says “long hands of poverty” extend abroad
“GMA is calamity personified”

“Poverty is rampant and the economic and political crisis is even worse. We can feel it so even abroad. Truly for the Filipino people, GMA is calamity personified.”

This was the statement today by Norman Uy Carnay, Country Information Officer in Hong Kong of the militant group BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance) as overseas Filipino workers in HK rallied a day ahead of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“As breadwinners of our families, we cannot escape from the tragedy after tragedy that GMA’s policies and inaction to burning issues bring. Every month, we are full of worries as to how we can still shoulder the increasing needs of our families,” he said.

Carnay remarked that the rice problem, the incessant increase in prices of oil and oil-dependent commodities and the Value Added Tax are the major concerns of OFW families that impact Filipinos abroad.

“These are the everyday needs of our families that stretch our budget to the limits. These expenses are on top of what we have to shoulder on education and health that should have been basic services that this government has never delivered,” he added.

According to him, there’s “not a grain of truth” to the projection of progress in the midst of high unemployment, increasing number of poor people, and dwindling budget to basic services.

“Don’t she dare tell us that everything’s well. Don’t she dare tell us that we’re facing a bright future. At the heart of all the calamities we have faced is GMA,” he stressed.

Carnay said that Filipino migrants are enraged with the refusal of the GMA government to heed the people’s demands that will alleviate the hardships that the people face such as the removal of the VAT on oil and the scrapping of the oil deregulation.

“Instead it keeps on exacting from the earning of OFWs through various government fees. It even takes money from what we send to our families through the documentary stamp fee in every remittance,” he revealed.

Meanwhile, he added, it remains silent on issues affecting OFWs in the host country. He mentioned the lack of reaction of the Philippine government to the HK$100 wage increase for foreign domestic helpers in HK that migrant groups have called “too small” as well as the suspension of the levy that migrants believed would lead to massive termination of current FDHs.

“Other consulates have already expressed disappointment over the levy decision but the Philippine Consulate General has remained silent. It just shows how the GMA government mortally fears rocking the labour migration boat that is the only one supporting the country’s economy,” Carnay stated.

Finally, Carnay echoed the calls of groups in the Philippines for GMA’s ouster.

“GMA has committed too many crimes against the people. There is no hope for us as long as GMA is in power. There’s only one call on this SONA but Oust GMA Now,” he concluded.

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Press Release
27 July 2008

HK OFWs protest SONA
“We belie GMA’s claims of development and progress”

“We are the living proofs of GMA’s lies and delusions of progress and development. Filipinos abroad no longer believe the lies that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will spin in her State of the Nation Address (SONA).”

This was declared today by Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-Migrante-HK), as hundreds of Filipino migrant workers in HK trooped to the Philippine Consulate General in a protest action before GMA’s annual SONA.

“It is shameless for GMA to even think of saying that Filipinos can already feel economic development. Everyday, millions of the poor Filipinos struggle to put up with oil price hikes, rice crisis, continuous increase in the price of commodities, unemployment – the list is endless,” she said.

Balladares said that about 33% of Filipinos live below poverty line which is already a conservative figure as the government uses an “unbelievably low poverty threshold”. Thus, she said, the massive flow of Filipinos migrating abroad continues unabated.

“This of course is a most favorable condition for GMA. Labor export is the industry that brings billions of funds to the government that this administration uses for nothing else but corruption and plunder,” she stated.

Balladares maintained that OFWs remain as the milking cows of the GMA government. Aside from the various fees it charges to every OFW, it still gets money from the remittances that OFWs send. For every US$200.00 remittance sent every month, at least $15- 22 in service fees are charged, according to an initial study conducted by Migrante International.

 

“Instead of bringing relief to the overseas Filipinos by scrapping taxes imposed on remittances, the GMA government even charge .15% documentary stamp tax for every remittance transaction. This government’s greediness is unparalleled,” Balladares asserted.
 

     
     
     

 

Balladares said that together with remaining deaf to the demand to address the sliding value of remittances of OFWs, OFWs are also indignant of the lack of protection and services to Filipinos abroad.

She underscored the inaction of the government, through the Philippine Consulate General in HK (PCG-HK), on the recent suspension of the levy by the HK government does not cover ongoing contracts. Foreign helpers expressed concern that such will result to massive termination as employers will opt to get a new employee to avail themselves of the suspension.

“Considering that the majority of foreign domestic helpers here are Filipinos, this government is so afraid of losing the market that the putting our livelihood in jeopardy is something it is willing to overlook,” she remarked.

Balladares also hit the refusal of the PCG-HK to call for a Leader’s Forum that has, in the past, served as a venue for OFW groups to express concern on various government policies.

“When it comes to money it can get from us, the PCG-HK is fast on its feet. But when it is about our rights and protection, it gets immobilized,” she added.

Balladares said that they shall monitor GMA’s statements tomorrow.

“We’re sure she will spout nothing but lies. We shall always be here to say that we have enough of GMA and the only immediate way to take as out of the state of calamity we are in right now is her ouster,” Balladares concluded.


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Ramon Bultron
Managing Director
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
G/F, No. 2 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
Tel. (852) 2723-7536 / (852) 9477-3141
Fax. (852) 2735-4559
E-mail: rbultron@gmail.com / rbultron@netvigator.com / apmm@hknet.com
Website: www.apmigrants.org

 

 
 

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