P330B Stimulus Fund unsafe with Malacanang – Migrante

 

 

February 4, 2009

 

 

"How can we trust a corrupt administration which installed itself in power by electoral fraud? P330 billion is more than enough to railroad President Arroyo's charter change, to finance a possible coup-de-etat or another electoral fraud"

--- Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.
 

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Photos courtesy of Migrante International
           
           

 

PRESS RELEASE:

P330B Stimulus Fund unsafe with Malacanang – Migrante

Migrante International, a global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations, rebuked the economic stimulus fund of the present administration saying this would be another source of corruption to finance alleged plan of President Arroyo to perpetuate itself into power beyond 2010.

"How can we trust a corrupt ridden administration which has installed itself into power due to electoral fraud? P330 billion is more than enough to railroad President Arroyo's charter change, to finance a possible coup-de-etat or another electoral fraud," explains Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

According to Migrante the economic stimulus package become more suspicious especially when one of the biggest contributions will come from the private sector workers' pension funds being allocated by SSS President Romulo Neri.

"Neri is a self-confessed witness who refuses to divulge the most hideous corruption case in the country's history in order to protect President Arroyo. For him to apportion 12.5 billion of the workers' money to Malacanang is already anomalous," adds Martinez.

Martinez also pointed out that the allocation from the stimulus fund will only create double budgeting for programs which already exists. He presented the case of the P250 million allocated from the fund of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

"President Arroyo signed Administrative Order 248 last December 4 for OWWA to contribute 250 million to the stimulus package. The said amount was supposed to finance the program of OWWA which has been a part of the agency's annual budget since 1986. As such, Malacanang can easily pocket the said 250 million while OWWA will just continue to utilize the original allotted budget for the said program. The President had already raided the OFW fund during her campaign in the last 2004 election, and she will probably do it again on this coming 2010 election!" exclaims Martinez.

The group was pertaining to the 540 million OWWA funds that were transferred to PhilHealth during the 2004 presidential election. PhilHealth insurance cards were distributed for free during President Arroyo's campaign sorties.

"Enough is enough! We will not let the hard earned contributions of innocent OFWs be utilized again to finance the diabolical plans of the Arroyo administration. We will mobilize our chapters abroad to protest against this corruption stimulus fund of President Arroyo," Martinez ended.

Migrante announced that they will hold a picket in front of the SSS building tomorrow as the kick-off activity of the Protect Our Fund Coalition (PROFUND). The said coalition is also composed of Kilusang Mayo Uno, KADAMAY and Confederation for Unity Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).###

 

     
           
     
           
           

 

PRESS RELEASE: FEB 5

P250-M OWWA fund to government's 'stimulus package' a double insertion

Migrante International today staged a protest in front of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) building to criticize the seemingly 'double budgeting' of the Arroyo administration for its economic stimulus package.

"We smell something fishy with this stimulus package. And as usual, they are targeting the funds of OWWA, which belong to us OFWs," Migrante Chairperson Garry Martinez said.

Martinez pointed out that the allocation from the stimulus fund will only create double budgeting for programs which already exists. He presented the case of the P250 million allocated from the fund of the OWWA which President Arroyo signed under Admistrative Order 248.

President Arroyo signed A.O. 248 last December 4 for OWWA to contribute 250 million to the stimulus package. The said amount was supposed to finance the program of OWWA which in fact, has been part of the agency's annual budget since 1986.

"This program is not new. The president is deceiving OFWs when she presented this so- called package. It's the duty of the OWWA," he said.

He added Malacanang can now easily pocket the said 250 million while OWWA will just continue to utilize the original allotted budget for the said program. The President had already raided the OFW fund during her campaign in the last 2004 election, and she will probably do it again on this coming 2010 election!" exclaims Martinez.

The group was pertaining to the 540 million OWWA funds that were transferred to PhilHealth during the 2004 presidential election. PhilHealth insurance cards were distributed for free during President Arroyo's campaign sorties.

Martinez distrust the economic stimulus fund of the present administration saying this would be another source of corruption to finance alleged plan of President Arroyo to perpetuate itself into power beyond 2010.

"How can we trust a corrupt ridden administration which has installed itself into power due to electoral fraud? P330 billion is more than enough to railroad President Arroyo's charter change, to finance a possible coup-de-etat or another electoral fraud," he explains.

"Enough is enough! We will not let the hard earned contributions of innocent OFWs be utilized again to finance the diabolical plans of the Arroyo administration. We will mobilize our chapters abroad to protest against this corrupt stimulus fund of President Arroyo," Martinez ended.###

 

 

04 February 2009
Press Release
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson
Mobile: 0921.722.9740

Amid aggressive marketing of OFWs abroad:
Migrante urges gov't to prioritize penalizing illegal recruiters

While the Philippine Overseas Workers Administration (POEA) boasts about half a million available jobs abroad, Migrante International demands penalty for recruitment agencies that continue to function despite complaints and record of malpractice against them.

POEA Administrator Jennifer Manalili said that there are 400,000 job offers particularly in the health care services sector in Canada and Australia and the construction industries sector in the Middle East.

Migrante International Chairperson Garry Martinez denounced the government's ceaseless efforts to deploy more workers abroad while it fails to ensure their protection from recruitment agencies that might breach more contracts and overcharge more clients.

"The government must penalize illegal recruiters first before engaging in more contracts abroad especially at a time of a worldwide economic crisis wherein massive cases of retrenchment are reported. The government must ensure that they do not suffer the same fate as the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who went home from Taiwan this January. They were conned by their recruiters through breach of contract and overcharging in fees," Martinez said.

Martinez cited five agencies that retrenched OFWs accused of breaching the contract and overcharged at least 54 OFWs laid-off in Taiwan. These agencies were Forever Manpower Services (FMS), Network Management Resources Corporation, Filsino Manpower Services, MIP International Services (MIP), and Flourish International Manpower.

For instance, Diona Cepeda, one of the OFWs displaced from a company in Taiwan revealed that MIP collected P94,500 as placement fee from her while the agency only recorded P25,920 in the official receipt. Aside from the placement fee, she also paid P550 for birth certificate and P3,650 for medical test fee. Meanwhile, like the other retrenched OFWs, she now worries on how to pay the lending company for the money she lent to pay for the placement fee. Other OFWs from Taiwan also complained FMS' collection of unnecessary fees such as P2,400 for the company jacket.

Manalili said that out of the 5,404 OFWs displaced from October to January 30, there were about 1,000 cases referred to them. She said that they have settled 130 to 140 of these cases and released P6.5 million in return for placement fees and other costs paid for by OFWs.

However, Martinez said that this refund is inadequate as the amount mentioned is only equivalent to P50,000 for each of the victims while they were overcharged with at least P100,000 for each person.

"Victims, first and foremost, seek justice from their breached contract and conning of these recruitment agencies. They need job security and the reimbursement of the excessive fees they paid to their recruiters. These recuitment agencies must be punished or else, 400,000 more will be conned," Martinez said.###

 

           
     
           
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News Release – January 22, 2009
Reference: Bayan Muna Rep. Satur C. Ocampo, 0917.8226184
For more information: Vince Borneo, Media Relations Officer, 0927.7968198

Amend law to expand legal services for OFW protection in the Middle East – Satur

House Deputy Minority Leader Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) wants to amend Republic Act No. 8042 otherwise known as the Migrants Act of 1995 that is the government benchmark for the protection of our overseas Filipino workers.

“Our OFWs keep our national economy afloat. Filipino migrant workers and immigrants have consistently sent remittances to the homeland that reached US$14.45 billion in 2007, with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) forecasting yearend remittances to hit more than US$16 billion for 2008. I find it only fair that government reciprocate these contributions in many ways such as immediately expanding the legal assistance it extends to migrant workers and overseas Filipinos, both documented and undocumented, in distressful situations abroad,” Ocampo said.

The militant solon filed House Bill 5657 (An Act Expanding Government Legal Services to Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos in Distress, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 8042 or the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995”) to expand the scope and upgrade the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) program to provide full legal assistance to our migrant workers and overseas Filipinos in distress.

“Republic Act 8042 was enacted to protect and promote the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress. But more than a decade after its passage into law, R.A. 8042 urgently needs major improvements if it even were to uplift the 10 million Filipinos working and/or residing overseas,” Ocampo said.

House Bill 5657 also aims to establish a Legal Attaché Office in each country in the Middle East region under the direct supervision of the DFA. The office will be in charge of providing full and appropriate legal assistance to migrant workers and migrants in distress in the respective areas of responsibility of the post.

“The current law is riddled with loopholes that need to be plugged. Our bill aims to streamline and expand legal services to cover all documented and undocumented OFWs in distress facing any type of case on-site and in the pursuit of civil, administrative, criminal, labor and welfare cases against foreign and local recruitment principals and responsible government officials among others,” Ocampo said.

The OFW group Migrante International reports that more than 5,000 overseas Filipinos are languishing in jails worldwide while the DFA cites the particularly distressing situation of Filipinos incarcerated in the Middle East owing to their lack of access to Shariah lawyers among many other specific legal concerns. #

 

ople Under the Bridge
A hundred or so OFWs camp under Khandara Bridge in Jedah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We have already documented some 37 compatriots, five of them women, who were confirmed sleeping under the Bridge. At daytime however, the numbers swell to at least 100.

From migrante campaign <migrantecampaign@gmail.com>

 

           
           

 

Migrants ask for genuine immediate relief
800 more OFWs retrenched in Taiwan

While the government is boasting off more job openings for Filipinos abroad, more than 800 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were retrenched in Taiwan this month alone according to a global alliance of migrants groups.

Migrante International Deputy Secretary General Gina Gaborni urged the government to act immediately to protect the labor rights of and give genuine immediate relief to the retrenched workers.

Martinez said some of these OFWs were intimidated into signing agreements that were disadvantageous to them. He also said that as more and more OFWs are retrenched, the more it is getting harsher for them.

He cited the case of 161 retrenched OFWs from Walton Advanced Engineering Inc who were threatened by a Taiwanese broker that they would not get any separation pay, provision for food and airfare to the Philippines should they refuse to sign the agreement.

Apart from these, they have to pay 20 percent of income tax as they have only stayed in Taiwan for less than 183 days as stated in the Ministry of Finance's policy. Unfortunately, most of the retrenched workers in Taiwan were employed for only four to six months.

Migrante also recorded 162 retrenched OFWs from Inotera, 127 from Tripod, 62 from Ichia Technology, 42 from Chipmos, 32 from Sintek plus 400 more from different Taiwanese companies.

Gaborni said the rate of retrenchment is so alarming and may go over the 11,000 retrenchment projection of OFWs by Taiwan's Council of Labor Affairs.

Gaborni called on the Arroyo administration to stop promising jobs abroad and open its eyes to the real conditions of OFWs. "The government should instead protect and defend the labor rights of retrenched OFWs rather than giving false hopes via jobs abroad," Gaborni said.

He also slammed the so-called livelihood program for OFWs affected by the global financial crisis as nothing but a bogus program since it was designed in a way no OFW can afford.

On December 4, 2008, Presidente Arroyo signed Administrative Order 248, allocating P250 million OWWA fund for expatriate workers. However, Martinez said not a single OFW has been helped by the program.

"In reality, only 10% or P5,000 of the allotted P50,000 for each expatriate worker is available, the rest are in goods. And before anyone can benefit from the program, one has to attend seminars, trainings, draw a feasibility study for a livelihood program plus other requirements," Gaborni said.

He also urged the Congress to investigate and prosecute the rampant overcharging of placement fees for outbound OFWs by recruitment agencies and some government officials.

"It seems like the so-called 'modern day heroes' and 'lifeline of our economy' are also the milking cows of private recruitment agencies in cahoots with corrupt government officials," Gaborni ended.###
 

 

NEWS RELEASE
2 February 2009

GABRIELA PARTY-LIST, RETRENCHED OFWS FILES ‘UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT PACKAGE’

For Reference:
REP. LUZ C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221
Abby Valenzuela (Public Information Officer) 0915-7639619

Gabriela Women's Party, Migrante International and OFW-victims of retrenchment in Taiwan, filed a bill today aiming to create an “unemployment benefit package” amounting to a lump sum of P50,000 for the overseas workers displaced by the global financial crisis.

The package will be funded by a “contingency fund” from the national budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Bureau of Immigration.

“An act allocating a contingency fund as unemployment benefit for overseas Filipino workers who have been repatriated due to expiration of contract or retrenchment,” the bill is geared towards providing permanent assistance not only for migrant workers laid off and to be laid off by the current crisis, but also for the OFWs who will lose their jobs after the crisis.

Data from DOLE showed more than 4,000 Filipino workers around the world have already lost their jobs and are coming back to the country, though Migrante International say it far exceeds that number.

“This package is the government's way to give back to the OFWs it has relied on and slaved on for the longest time to prop up the economy,” Ilagan said.

“Aside from providing assistance being the responsibility of the government through its different departments, the OFWs have already paid for their repatriation costs with the exorbitant fees charged to them every time they leave the country, such as the $25 OWWA membership fee,” she said.

-----
Abegail Rose L. Valenzuela
Public Information Officer
Office of Rep. Luzviminda C. Ilagan
Gabriela Women's Party
SW-601 House of Representatives,
Quezon City
Telefax: 9315586
Mobile: 0915-7639619
 

           

 

12 February 2009
PRESS RELEASE:
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson
Mobile No: 0909217229740

Migrante:COMELEC exactions on passports Spell Extortion for OFWs

In a time of such a severe crisis, how can the government have the still have the guts to squeeze more funds from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)? This was the question raised by the largest global alliance of migrant Filipino groups, Migrante International.

In a protest in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs' (DFA) buliding in Pasay City, members of Migrante International denounced the government's continuing implementation of requiring a voter's registration certificate for anyone who wants to get a Philippine passport.

"This is clearly another burden and an additional cost to aspiring OFWs as one has to pay P75 to the Comission on Elections before applying for a passport," Migrante Chairperson Garry Martinez said.

Martinez said they have received numerous complaints from aspiring OFWs regarding the requirement. He stated that this violates the rights to travel and shows the government's dictatorial tendency.

He also scored the P250 overtime fee being charged by the DFA for every passport being processed during Saturdays.

Martinez said this and other exorbitant fees only illustrate the government's shameless act to haul in more funds from Filipino citizens. This will particularly affect OFWs who are already reeling more than P17, 000 state fees they have to pay for required documents.

"P75 multiplied by the number of OFWs who leave daily (4,200) is equal to an additional P315,000 daily income for the government," Martinez said. "This amount will steeply increase when one factors in the other Filipino travelers who use passports."
 

 

 

 

He mentioned it was just a humble estimate as the DFA's goal is to increase the number from 3,500 to 10,000 passports per day.

Martinez also revealed that the aggressive efforts of the DFA to provide passports is but a part of the government's labor export policy as it particularly targets OFWs. It must be remembered that the Arroyo's government's response to the crisis is to sell more OFWs.

"From January to November, 2008, 236 mobile passport services were establishedcarry out resulting to 87,612 passports within 10 months. Right now, the DFA is planning to establish five more regional consular offices. With the crisis, the only ones interested to travel are the very rich or the OFWs who are desperately ready to gamble on a life working like slaves abroad rather than suffer through the crunching poverty here," he said.

Meanwhile, migrants in Italy have marched in front of the Philippine Embassy to protest the unreasonable increase of consular fees.

In an open letter to President Arroyo, Migrante-Italy expressing their opposition to "the newly implemented increase of fees including the passport because it is arbitrary, anomalous, undemocratic and unjust since we were not informed neither consulted prior to its approval."

Migrante reiterated its message to the Arroyo government: Stop additional and exorbitant state exactions. "Instead of squeezing OFWs dry, Arroyo should focus on creating jobs in the country. Mrs. Arroyo is hell bent in courting rich countries to sell out OFWs just to save her bankrupt economic policies," Martinez ended.####

           
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