June 30, 2009
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (63-905-421-7305)
Arroyo's junket could have supported 8.9 million peasant households
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of
the Philippines) lambasted President Arroyo's excessive travels abroad and
claimed that it could have been used to support hundreds of thousands of
peasant families of the country. The group believed that Arroyo's frequent
travels abroad are connected to her offer the selling of lands to foreign
countries and agro-corporation. Moreever, the Commission on Audit reported
that the cost of her travel from 2002 to 2007 has exceeded P2 billion and
2007 figures disclosed P693 million, P392.8 million higher that the P300.2
million budgeted, while allocated for 2008 and 2009 was set to P408.6
million and P436 million, respectively.
"Mrs. Arroyo's malversation of public funds through her junket is a very
serious crime against the people. These hard-worked funds are being
lavishly spent by Arroyo and her cohort lawmakers in Congress abroad while
the whole country is facing a worsening crisis. It should have been used
to support the people, particularly the peasants who are already landless
and impoverished," opened Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General.
"A small but livable `bahay-kubo' sized 8 by 8 ft. costs about P20,000,
while a `kalakian' carabao costs about P25,000 and a complete hand-tractor
costs about P180,000. Added, they cost P225,000. Thus, Arroyo's P2 billion
travel expenses could have helped 8.9 million peasant households,"
"Arroyo's travel expenses alone could have made a difference to the
peasantry, but she wasted it all on foreign and local trips. Worse, her
trips abroad are all about selling the country's rich lands to foreign
countries and agro-corporation which would surely displace peasants
nationwide," Ramos added.
The group also criticized the Arroyo government for pushing the lifting of
the ban to 100% foreign ownership of land throught Charter Change
(Chacha). The Arroyo government is allocating 3 million hectares to
foreign agro-corporations, where 1 million has. are reserved for the
partnership of Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco to Kuok Group of Malaysia,
based in Hongkong, 1 million hectares to Fuhua Co., a hybrid rice
corporation of China, 400,000 has. to ADGZAR also from China, another
400,000 has. for Bio-Enery NL a Japanese firm based in the United Kingdom.
The group believed that Arroyo's recent trips to Japan, South Korea,
Brazil, U.S., Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Italy, U.A.E, Syria, Russia and other
countries significantly deal about the selling of the country's lands.
"The Arroyo government is doing the exact opposite of what the Filipino
peasants clamor for. The peasants are struggling for Genuine Land Reform,
to own the lands they till and develop, the Arroyo government is selling
about a tenth of our country's lands to foreigners. Peasants also face
eternal poverty brought about by the economic crisis, thus, needing much
support, Arroyo and her gang are abroad enjoying like newly-weds spending
public money. The irony is real, and this irony pushes the peasantry to
struggle resolutely," Ramos said.
"Today, we are joining the broad anti-Chacha rally led by the Bagong
Alyansang Makabayan, all over the city of Manila. We are ceaseless in
campaigning against Chacha and the ouster of Gloria Arroyo. She has much
blood debt to the Filipino peasants and we couldn't wait the moment she's
out in power so that she could answer for her crimes against the
peasantry," the peasant leader shared.
"We should all unite to disrupt Arroyo's dictatorship and for justice and
democracy to be realized in the country. All patriotic forces should act
now as Arroyo is already selling our country to foreigners. We do not want
our children and grandchildren to be slaves in our own country," Ramos
25 June 2009
PRESS RELEASE #1:
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994
Migrants group assails DFA for condoning modern-day slavery in Sabah
A global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations staged a picket in
front of the Department of Foreign Affairs building in Pasay City to
criticize the agency in ignoring the practice of bonded labor against
Filipino nationals in Sabah, Malaysia.
According to Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, the
Philippine embassy in Malaysia is planning to whisk the 15 Filipinos back
to the Philippines through the ‘backdoor’ to avoid the filing of criminal
and labor cases against the See Hoy Chan Plantation. The company is
allegedly practicing bonded labor in its farm estate in Sabah.
“The staff from the Philippine embassy is due to arrive today at the
plantation allegedly to help them, but instead of defending the aggrieved
Filipinos and assisting them to get compensated by filing charges against
labor violations, we expect that the15 OFWs will instead assisted to exit
through the Sandakan – Zamboanga route like fugitives,” Martinez revealed.
The OFWs in distress are Joenel Caro, Roland Casis, Nelio Casquejo, Ruben
Cortel, Moisis Cortel, Michael Duran, John Mark Libuna, Vicente Libuna,
Rene Lim, Ariel Lorena, Ian Rey Lorena, Butch Pastolero, Quizy Pastolero,
Romeo Pedregosa and Zandro Camda. They are all working in a company called
See Hoy Chan Plantations in Jalan Jeroco, Sabah.
“Ambassador Victoriano Lecaros continuous to ignore the fact that modern
day slavery exists in Sabah where thousands of Filipino nationals are
working in palm plantations, poultry farms and construction sites. Failing
to file charges against the Plantation company is tantamount to covering
up the crimes they have committed. It is incumbent upon Ambassador Lecaros
to expose the predicament of Filipinos suffering in Sabah,” Martinez
Migrante likewise rebuked Ambassador Lecaros for claiming that diplomatic
teams were deployed to Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan to provide assistance to
Filipino nationals in Sabah. A fact-finding mission, in which Migrante was
a part of, to investigate the conditions of OFWs in Sabah, revealed
“We would like to inform Ambassador Lecaros that we were able to talk to
some members of the diplomatic team. An Embassy official in the diplomatic
team, who requested anonymity, informed us that they were sent to Sabah
only to issue passports. If they are really there to help distressed
Filipinos, they could have easily gone to the plantation. Our Post in
Malaysia is an Embassy of pathological liars,” exposed Martinez.
Martinez added that the said Embassy official has not been authorized to
handle any legal or labor issue concerning Filipino nationals since this
may cause political complications to the Philippine claim to Sabah.
“Based on the statements of the Filipinos we interviewed, the embassy’s
diplomatic teams allowed the overcharging of passport fees. Issuance of
passports in the Embassy at Kuala Lumpur only cost RM196 (Php2,548) while
Filipinos in Sabah pay as much as RM250 (Php3,250). Embassy officials
should be thoroughly investigated and, if found guilty, must be
immediately prosecuted for their crimes before they victimize more
Filipinos who are already suffering in Sabah,” Martinez demanded.
Migrante emphasized that overcharging OFWs who are allegedly receiving
slave-level wages is inhuman and unforgiveable. The group revealed that
poultry farm workers in Kota Kinabalu receives as low as Php3,900 a month
without any day-off. The amount would be further cut into half due to
deductions for working permit and travel expenses incurred upon their
“Not only are Embassy officials liars, they are also callous and
heartless. We can not imagine how these people can stomach to exact more
money from our poor kababayans in Saba. They are thriving on the anguish
of other people. We demand that Ambassador Lecaros be recalled immediately
and that a thorough investigation on the Philippine embassy in Malaysia be
conducted,” Martinez concluded.####
PRESS RELEASE #2:
Migrante: New immigration
rule in KSA puts runaway migrants in
The largest overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) alliance today urged the
government to protest the latest immigration rule in the Kingdom Saudi
Arabia that blacklists foreign workers who runaway from their employers.
Asserting that hundreds of migrant workers in the Kingdom are forced to
runaway from their employers to escape physical/sexual abuse, maltreatment
and other unspeakable forms of violence, Migrante International Chairman
Garry Martinez said the new rule means “double jeopardy for runaway
migrants in Saudi Arabia.”
“It is like victimizing the victims all over again,” he said.
“By putting runaway migrant workers in a blacklist, the Saudi government
essentially shuts down the chances of these poor migrants’ from obtaining
justice while their abusive employers go unpunished,” Martinez further
“This is why we are calling on the Philippine government to take decisive
action by protesting this inhumane immigration rule,” he said adding:
“With the threat of horrific deportation proceedings further aggravated by
another threat this time of blacklisting among OFW runaways in the
Kingdom; the Philippine government should not be contended with issuing
mere warnings on the new rule just like what our Consulate General in
Jeddah is doing.”
“Rather, it should intervene in behalf of our compatriots in the Kingdom
and confront this draconian rule head on.” ###
27 June 2009
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994
Migrante calls for urgent rescue of 20 Pinays in Saudi harem
In a press conference held in a restaurant in Quezon City, a global
alliance of Filipino migrant organizations revealed that 20 Filipinas are
being repeatedly raped in a recruitment office in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
According to Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, two
Filipina domestic helpers were just rescued this Tuesday, June 23, 2009.
The OFWs’ rescue was facilitated by Migrante Middle East.
Prior to the rescue, the said Pinay OFWs were allegedly being held in the
office of Maqpoon Belahodood General Service Company, a recruitment agency
owned and being managed by a certain Abu Khalid. The said domestic helpers
are now staying in the Philippine embassy in Saudi Arabia.
“Two domestic helpers who were recently rescued were able to tell us by
phone of their harrowing ordeal while still in the hands of their Arab
recruiter. The said victims were raped by Abu Khalid and we are now very
much worried of the situation of other Pinays who were left behind in the
said premises. Twenty lives are at stake here and the government should
act on this immediately,” warns Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante
The group likewise presented to the media Aileen Baldiray, a domestic
helper who also stayed in Abu Khalid’s recruitment office last May and
gave a detailed account of their plight together with twenty more
“Abu Khalid also tried to rape me. It was about 9:00 in the evening when
he summoned me to his office downstairs. Upon entering the room, he told
me to sit down in front of his desk and casually told me of his sex life.
When he noticed that I was already getting nervous, Abu Khalid immediately
took off his clothes. I grabbed a pen that I saw in his desk and warned
him that if he pursues with his evil plan I would be forced to stab him,”
According to Aileen, Fellow Filipinas staying in the said building have
already forewarned her when Abu Khalid summoned her. They too have been
raped in the same office when Khalid called them regularly during the
evening. They also claim that sometimes, Abu Khalid would even let his son
or a friend rape them.
“Khalid became reluctant when he saw me with the pen. He then shouted at
me to get out of the office and told me that I was the only Filipina in
the building he was not able to ‘taste’ yet and that he will make sure
that he will be able to rape me next time around,” added Aileen.
Aileen was able to leave the premises of said agency and stayed a while in
the Philippine embassy before she was repatriated back to the Philippines
last June 7, 2009.
“We demand that the Arroyo administration conduct an immediate rescue
mission to save the 20 Filipinas who are still being held in the harem of
Abu Khalid. The Philippine embassy in Saudi Arabia should also ensure that
the said Filipinas be brought to a hospital for a medical treatment and
that criminal cases be filed against Abu Khalid,” Martinez said.
The group likewise calls on the families of the victims to contact
Migrante so that the local recruitment agencies here in Manila should also
be held accountable. Migrante identified the said recruitment agency as
AFT Company whose office is located in Ermita, Manila.
“We likewise urge President Arroyo to put on hold its intensifying labor
exportation program. The biggest number of OFWs leaving the country are
domestic helpers and their main destination is Saudi Arabia, a country who
doesn’t even recognize the right of domestic helpers to have a day-off,”