During GMA's stopover in Hong Kong:

Pinoy migrants stage lightning rally against GMA's junket visit


June 28, 2009


Lighting rally at Arroyo stopover in Los Angeles, June 20, 2009



GMA should be in jail, not spending people''s money abarod in her junbkets

Lightning rally in front of the Island Shangri-La Hotel where GMA stayed with Mike Arroyo and a whole entourage of congressmen and their spouses.


Despite the very short notice, still more than 300 overseas Filipino workers trooped to the Island Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong where Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her entourage are billeted. The protesters consisted of members of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK), Bangon Pilipinas Movement - Hong Kong Chapter, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan - Hong Kong (BAYAN-HK), Jesus is Lord, GABRIELA - Hong Kong, CIBAC Partylist - Hong Kong Chapter, Filipino MIgrant Workers Union, United Pangasinan in Hong Kong (UPHK), Cordillera Alliance and Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society.

Protesters lambasted GMA for plundering people's money and for her plans to extend her term through a charter change. They shouted "Layas!" ("Leave!") to her to mean that she must leave Hong Kong as well as her position.


Quote from the column of Ellen Tordesillas:


Katulad na lamang nitong panay na panay na paglalamyerda ni Arroyo kasama ang pamilya at mga Palaka niya sa kongreso sa iba’t-ibang parte ng mundo.

Hindi yata nakukunekta marami sa atin na halos isang bilyon piso na nagastos ni Arroyo sa kanyang mga biyahe sa ibang bansa ay nakakapag patayo sana ng mga paaralan at nakapag-empleyado sana ng mga teachers na dapat hindi na pumunta sa Hongkong, Singapore and Middle east para maging katulong.

Sana nakapagpatayo ng mas maraming government hospitals at nabigyan sana ng mas malaking pera ang Philippine General Hospital para hindi na kailangan pumunta sa ibang bansa ang ating mga nurses at doktor.



Photos courtesy of UNIFIL-HK



Press Release
28 June 2009

For reference: Dolores Balladares Norman Uy Carnay
UNIFIL-HK Chairperson BAYAN Country Information Officer
Tel. No.: (852) 97472986 Tel. No.: (852) 96472567

"Junk ConAss/Cha-Cha and GMA's Ouster are the OFWs' Clamor"
Pinoy migrants in HK rally against GMA's junket visit

“The only clamor of OFWs are for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down, junk Charter Change and end her lies and crimes against the people.”

This was declared today by Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) as OFWs led by the group and BAYAN-HK conducted a lightning rally in front of the Island Shangri-La Hotel where GMA was reportedly billeted with Mike Arroyo and a whole entourage of congressmen and their spouses.

The said ‘working visit’, according to a Palace’s release, was in response to the ‘clamor’ of OFWs for a dialogue with her.

“If there was indeed a clamor, why was her trip to HK kept a secret up to the last minute? If indeed there was a clamor for a dialogue, why was there no announcement for one from the Philippine Consulate? No organization here knew of her arrival. It is so obvious that this trip is just one of her numerous junket trips that serve no other interest but hers alone,” Balladares remarked.

According to Balladares, as of Saturday night, reports about where GMA will be still conflicted. However, information the group gathered alleged that GMA and party swung by Hong Kong to celebrate her husband’s birthday together with about 70 congressmen and their spouses.

“Such a squander of the people’s money is abominable considering that the Filipinos are reeling from a worsening economic crunch. This has just again shown GMA’s shameless disregard to the people’s condition in the same way she disregards people’s demands in order to push her own agenda,” she added.

Meanwhile, Norman Uy Carnay, country information officer of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in Hong Kong, said that the side trip was a just a way for GMA to give more time for the furor over the railroading by her allied congressmen to pass House Resolution 1109 that shall pave the way for a constituent assembly “as she has done so in the past in times of intense political scandals.”

“Con-Ass is Gloria’s key to stay in office and keep the long list of charges of fraud, plunder and human rights violations at bay. The despicable way of skirting the issue, at the expense of public funds, is GMA’s trademark,” he added.

Carnay also hit the reported plan of GMA to meet with OFW Mildred Perez who gained recognition when she returned a bag with HK$350,000 she found in a trash bin, to its owner.

“The Philippine’s queen of lies, fraud and deceitful schemes has no business conferring honors to honest, toiling overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). If she was in Perez’ shoes, she surely would have taken the money, hidden it in any of her or her husband’s accounts, then came back to the trash bin to dig for some more cash or just rob passersby. Such is the greed of GMA,” he said.

Finally, Balladares said that no amount of information blackout can keep Filipinos from protesting wherever GMA goes.

“Be it in the US, Japan or Hong Kong, the stench of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her disregard of the people over her own agenda follows her. As always, OFWs shall give GMA the most-deserving welcome for criminals like her: with protests and calls for her ouster,” she concluded.#

Eman Villanueva of UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK
Guy Benitez of FMWU
Josie Pingkihan of Cordillera Alliance

Representative of Bangon Pilipinas - HK

Norman Uy Carnay of BAYAN-HK Pastor Edgar Robles of Bangon Pilipinas Rema Cunanan of GABRIELA-HK


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," computed Ramos.

"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 declared. #



25 June 2009
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 lamented.

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 contrary facts.

“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 recruitment.

“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.####



Migrante: New immigration rule in KSA puts runaway migrants in
“double jeopardy”

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 explained.

“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 International.

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 Filipinas.

“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,” says Ailene.

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,” Martinez concluded.###