The Philippine government should not close its eyes

to the plight of undocumented Filipino migrants in the UK


United Kingdom


September 18, 2009




Photos courtesy of Migrante United Kingdom



18 September 2009


The Philippine government should not close its eyes to the plight of undocumented Filipino migrants in the UK

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in the UK are being dishonest in saying that Filipinos are “generally not affected” by the on-going crackdown of UK immigration authorities against undocumented migrants.

The Philippine Embassy in the UK knows very well that the UK has been tightening its immigration laws. Following the introduction of the points-based immigration system, the UK Parliament also recently passed the Citizenship, Borders and Immigration Act of 2009 which made it even more difficult for migrants to remain in the UK or gain permanent settlement in the country.

The Philippine Embassy cannot say that Filipinos are exempt from UK anti-migrant laws. Nowhere in these laws does it state that Filipinos are exempt. In fact, because of so many changes in UK immigration law in the past several years, there are many Filipinos who had originally come to the UK legally, for example as a work permit holder or on a student visa, but now find themselves as having an irregular immigration status through no fault of their own.

The plight of senior carers is a typical case in point. The Philippine Embassy is very much aware of this as it has even expressed support for the plan of the Kanlungan Alliance of Filipino Organisations (of which Migrante UK is a member) to launch a judicial review to challenge the UK Border Agency’s policy in refusing applications for permanent settlement by careworkers because of gaps in their visas and work permits. The gaps in the visas and work permits of senior carers are a direct result of retrospective changes in the immigration requirements for work permit holders.

The Embassy’s own statistics indicates that as of December 2007, there are 203,035 Filipinos in the UK. Of that number, 90,654 are permanent residents, 102,381 temporary residents, and 10,000 irregular residents.

From the government’s own statistics, these 102,381 temporary residents and 10,000 irregular residents are all threatened by the on-going anti-migrant crackdown. The Philippine Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs should not close its eyes on the plight of undocumented Filipino migrants who live in extremely difficult conditions; have difficulty in accessing services such as healthcare; have no legal protection whatsoever; are very much vulnerable to many forms of exploitation and abuse; and are always at risk of arrest and detention.

Migrante UK is doing everything possible to provide some form of assistance to undocumented migrant Filipinos in the UK, in spite of its very meagre resources, without any support from the Philippine embassy. This includes referring migrants to reputable immigration lawyers, arranging access to the UK heathcare system, and even providing advice on how to survive as undocumented migrants.

Migrante UK is doing this because we believe the issue of undocumented migrants is above all, a human rights issue. These people are our people. They have done no wrong and do no harm to anyone. They are not criminals. They are certainly not terrorists. They are here because the Philippine government actively encourages the export of labour and goes out of its way to promote overseas employment. They are here because there are no real jobs back home. They are here because they want to work hard to be able to send money to loved ones in the Philippines. They are here because they need to survive.

For reference:

Vice-Chair, Migrante UK
Chair, Kanlungan
Mobile +447946 429 481

Photos of the picket protest attached.


MIGRANTE United Kingdom
Company Registration No. 6588906




September 15, 2009
Reference: Garry Martinez, chairperson
Mobile: 09217229740

GMA told: Take up crackdown of undocumented migrants in UK visit

The global alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ groups, Migrante International, today asked President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to raise the issue of intensified crackdown of undocumented migrants in the United Kingdom when she visits the country on September 17 and 18.

Garry Martinez, Migrante Chairperson, said UK immigration authorities have stepped up its campaign to rid the country of undocumented workers by conducting a string of harsh raids and on-the-spot checks on workplaces and establishments.

He said the UK government had instituted last year a stiffer penalty system that imposes employers a fine of up to £10,000 for every undocumented migrant they employ. Bosses who hire undocumented migrants from outside Europe also face possible jail time, he said.

On September 14, the UK Border Agency raided three car washes in Spalding Road, Gosberton and caught three Iranian failed asylum seekers. The car washes were fined and issued on-the-spot penalty notices for hiring undocumented workers.

“We are also particularly concerned on the recent cases of Filipino students in UK which recently has been the target of UK government’s intensified crackdown. We received several complaints that migrant students were subjected to interrogations by the authorities due to suspicions that they went to UK to work and not to study,” Martinez added

In 2007, there are more than 2,000 Filipino students in UK who are enrolled in English, IT, Business, National Vocational Qualification Courses on Health and Social Care courses. There numbers dramatically increased due to the existence of agencies that facilitates students visas that charged applicants as much as Php300,000.

“Unfortunately, the Arroyo administration is not doing anything about the Filipino students being victimized by these agencies saying they are not OFWs and therefore does not go through the processing at the POEA,” lamented Martinez.

The group calls on President Arroyo to directly address the plight of more than 200,000 Filipinos in UK during her visit instead of its alleged plan to invite investors and market OFWs as cheap labor.

“Migrante International urges Gloria Arroyo to take up the issue of the unjust and cruel crackdown on undocumented workers in the United Kingdom,” Martinez said. “We have about 10,000 undocumented Filipinos in the UK and almost all of them are now living like rats because of UK’s brutal immigration rules.”

“Instead of spewing lies on the Philippines’ so-called economic resiliency under her administration, Mrs. Arroyo should work for the regularization of undocumented Filipinos in the UK,” he said.

Arroyo will deliver the keynote address in the “The Emerging Markets Summit” hosted by London-based news magazine “The Economist” on September 17-18. ###

Migrante Website:




17 September 2009
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09217229740

OFW victims and families dare Arroyo’s Saudi agenda

Newly repatriated Filipina workers, a sister of two in deathrow, a wife awaiting her husbands’ remains and a wife in fear of his husbands’ life, gathered to challenge Ms. Arroyo’s OFW agenda in her approaching visit to Saudi Arabia.

“If she truly is sincere in protecting the welfare of our kababayans, she must settle all the cases against Filipinos such as contract violations, death sentences, employer abuse … during her 3-day visit. She must also be successful in bringing home all the OFWs in distress,” said Virginita Apuya, a Filipina worker who protested against contract substitution.

Gary Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International which spearheaded the event, said that “we are doubtful in Arroyo’s intentions. We believe that her primary agenda is to clinch more job contracts with Saudi companies that would result to more sufferings of OFWs. The welfare concern is mere lip service to cover-up the governments’ negligence in assisting Filipinos in distress.”

“She must quickly find a way on how to replace the workers who have already left their jobs. Otherwise the remittances, the economy’s saving grace, will surely fall. She is not bothered with the condition that forces OFWs to go back. She is more concerned with the massive repatriations impact on dollar inflows,” explained Martinez.

OFW victims and families shared their own stories of ordeal – the Filipinas who staged a work stoppage against contract violations, Norie Gonzales whose two brothers are in deathrow, Fermie Enera who is worried with the shipment of her husband’s remains and Maria Salvacion Cruz who is asking for assistance for his husband struggling with cancer in Dubai.

Filipinas triumphant in work stoppage

“If not for our collective determination to fight for what is right, we might still be languishing in cramped quarters, struggling with sickness, hunger and near paranoia,” said Charina Sagum, a Filipina caregiver in Jeddah.

Today is the one month anniversary of the work stoppage of 23 Filipina healthworkers who protested against unpaid and reduced salaries. Four of their colleagues are already on flight back to Manila. The others are also believed to follow.

“Once we have regrouped, we will pursue our case against Annasban. And we expect the government’s support on this battle. This is not just for our monetary claims, this is to save other Filipinos who are being victimized and will be victimized by powerful exploiting companies such as Annasban,” stated Sagum.

According to Martinez, Annasban is notorious in contract violations. Migrante has already asked the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) to blacklist the company. But as to their last knowledge, it has just employed 56 more Filipino workers.

Brothers still in death row

Norie Gonzales appealed to Arroyo to free her two brothers from death row.

“It was the Philippine governments’ fault why my brothers were sentenced to death. Ms. President, this is your chance to redeem yourself. Save their lives now”, exclaimed Gonzales.

According to Migrante, the Philippine Embassy failed to provide Rolando and Edison Gonzales lawyers in their first two court hearings. The death sentence was read in the second hearing.

The Gonzales brothers and Eduardo Arcilla were accused of killing 3 Filipinos in April 2006.

“These stories are testament to the sorry state of Filipinos abroad. Welfare protection is all illusion unless the Labor Export Program (LEP) is scrapped. This program is oriented to sell cheap and docile Filipino workforce abroad. A step to eradicating this problem, is by scrapping the OWWA Omnibus Policies who has been in effect for exactly 3 years tomorrow”, ended Martinez.

Migrante will hold a rally at the OWWA National Office to protest the continued mishandling of OWWA funds.###

Press Release: Migrante Middle East
17 September 2009

RP post urged to investigate alleged rape of OFW janitress in Dammam, KSA

Migrante-Middle East, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers organizations in the Middle East, today said it is demanding from the Philippine Embassy to conduct deep and thorough investigation on the alleged rape of an OFW janitress in Dammam, Eastern part of Saudi Arabia.

“Obviously, as per the claim of her Qatar-based OFW brother Dennis Neri, OFW Nerissa did not commit a crime of having an illicit affair, but was a victim of rape,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

As per the reports, the crime happened when OFW Nerissa is about to go home from work when suddenly someone put a handkerchief on her face, and then followed by the commission of the crime by the unknown perpetrators.

Monterona said this is a continuing, seems to be never-ending saga of numerous cases of sexual abuses against our OFW women here in the Mid-East amid the absence of genuine protection mechanisms for their well-being and rights.

“We will be getting in touch with the Philippine Embassy pressing them to conduct deep and thorough investigation abut her case and will see to it that the culprit will be sent to jail,” Monterona added.

Monterona said her becoming pregnant due to the rape incident that took placed should not be an excuse and not be reason for her imprisonment.

“She is the very victim her, and she deserved all the help and assistance from the RP post including her immediate release from prison, medical services and hiring of lawyer to file an appropriate case against those alleged perpetrators,” Monterona added.

Monterona said that it is the long standing demands of OFWs in the Middle East particularly in Saudi Arabia to come up with a genuine protection mechanisms for OFWs well being and that their rights should be secured and protected as migrant workers as per the declared state policy of the RP government and the UN Convention for the protection of Migrants and members of their families.

“But it seems under the Arroyo govt., these legitimate demands and calls of our fellow OFWs remains unheard and unattended despite Mrs. Arroyo’s previous trips in the Kingdom and in the Middle East; she will be visiting Saudi Arabia in the coming days but again it is just a futile trip if she could not effect and material the protection our OFWs demand from its government,” Monterona added.

“Mrs. Arroyo needs to visit Saudi Arabia for one thing –the continued sell out and peddling of Filipinos labor at a very cheap and low price, and thereby claim that she is true to its 1-M jobs to Filipinos abroad in line with its intensified labor export program despite no guarantee on OFWs protection and welfare,” Monterona added.

Monterona ended saying a government that solely defend on its migrant workers’ billions of remittances is indeed a bankrupt government run and manage by the perceived most corrupt Arroyo administration.

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012



Press Release
23 September 2009

Malicious individuals using, misrepresenting Migrante
Fellow OFWs alerted to contact legit members and officers only

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East today said it received several reports from its different chapters in the Middle East specifically from Migrante chapter in Al Khobar that there are individuals maliciously using Migrante’s name and are rendering “counselling” only to put distress OFWs into a more troubled situation.

“We would like to alert our fellow OFWs especially those in distress to be careful dealing with individuals misrepresenting Migrante claiming that they are members and officers but only to find out that they are not officers/members, and are giving wrong advises and are asking for money in exchange of the “counselling” services they have rendered to distress OFWs seeking assistance,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said these malicious and unscrupolous individuals pretending to be Migrante members or officials are desperate enough to destroy the name and credibility of Migrante as the most active OFWs group providing assistance to distress, run away, and stranded OFWs in the Middle East.

“We will not allow that Migrante’s name, proven and untarnished records of serving fellow OFWS to be used and tainted by these wicked individuals just to advance its own narrow selfish interests by duping distress OFWs and who are collecting money from OFW victims of abuses and maltreatment,” Monterona added.

Monterona said such was the case of OFW Peter (not his real name), who requested anonymity, that he approached to a person who introduced himself as Migrante official in Al Khobar.

OFW Peter, a family driver, said he was scolded by her lady employer because it has been calling him on his cell phone for several minutes but he failed to respond and took sometime to notice that her lady employer is waiting for quite sometime at a mall where he dropped it. Due to this incident, OFW Peter was nearly slapped by the angry husband of her lady employer and was told that he’ll be fired from his job.

Monterona said the incident prompted OFW Peter to look for someone who could give him advise and guide him on what to do, until somebody told him that he knew a Migrante official where he could ask for assistance and advise.

“These malicious individuals using Migrante’s name advised OFW Peter to run away from his employer and that they will provide him a temporary shelter only if he will give them 1,500 Saudi riyals,” Monterona added.

Doubting the intentions of these malicious individuals who introduced themselves as Migrante officials, OFW Peter called the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Al Khobar and state his case; and that someone on Migrante is helping him but asking an amount.

POLO official asked OFW Peter the name of these “people from Migrante” but found out that he is not the one Migrante has officially tasked to attend welfare cases.

“Migrante chapters in the Middle East have designated officials to attend welfare cases and that all rights and welfare cases must come through them before offcially endorsing it to the attention of the concerned RP posts/officials for its action,” Monterona averred.

Monterona said distress OFWs are advise to get in touch only to Migrante officers who have their official Identification Card issued by the respective Chairpersons of different Migrante local chapters in Saudi Arabia and in the Middle East.

Monterona said ditress and run away OFWs could directly call him on his hotline mobile number 056 497 8012, which is open 24/7 so that he could refer their case to the attention and action of Migrante welfare case officers and guide them what to do and endorse their case to RP posts concerned.

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012
#63 Narra St., Brgy.Claro, Project 3, Quezon City
Telefax: 4210768