Protest of Migrante International:

Stop using OFWs for media gimmick!

Genuine service for OFWs now!


September 23, 2009




Photos courtesy of Migrante International



23 September 2009
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994

Arroyo’s arrival from KSA met with protest from Migrants sector

Stop using OFWs for media gimmick! Genuine service for OFWs now!

This was the battle cry of Filipino workers and their families in a press conference held in time for President Arroyo’s arrival from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“For sure, Arroyo will be arriving in style using the 120 OFWs as her unwilling accessories to bolster success in her 3-nation swing. We do not blame the OFWs for jumping in to her junket, they just want to be home and get away from the nightmare that the Philippine government has given them,” said Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Martinez said that “if she truly wants to rescue our kababayans, she could have instructed the Philippine Embassy to repatriate them way earlier, did not leave a hundred more languishing at the deportation center in Hajj Airport, and sent a chartered flight to save more than 200 OFWs stranded in Maldives. And if she really was concerned with their welfare, she should have intervened in the numerous cases of contract violation, abuse and death sentence against Filipinos abroad.”

Migrante gave the information that the stranded Filipinos in Jeddah and the islands of Maldives are not receiving any help from assigned Philippine consulates and embassies. They also cited OFWs reports of not seeing “even a shadow” of a representative from Philippine authorities.

Martinez also said that “instead of delivering grandstanding statements on welfare protection, she could have done concrete actions like scrapping the Unified Contract scheme that absolves abusive employers and criminalizes OFW runaways. She could have also punished embassy officials that drive away Filipinos to go back to their cruel employers.”

According to the group, the Unified Contract was proposed by the Saudi National Recruitment Committee to impose provisions in the contract of OFWs working in the Kingdom which were detrimental to the interest of OFWs especially domestic helpers. The said proposal was signed by then DOLE Secretary Pat Sto Tomas in 2002 despite criticisms.

Filipino deportees left behind in Jeddah

Last September 18, Abdul Jalil Sinal, a Filipino at the deportation center in Jeddah called Migrante and accounted that they are 88, 37 men and 51 women. One has already died, 6 have LBM and 5 have difficulties in breathing. He also reported that 30 people are being cramped in 8x8 meter cells and food and water is hardly available.

Sinal also reported on the next day that Godspray Espinas was brought to the hospital. Mila Espinas, his mother, informed Migrante that his son has a weak heart and undergoes medication.

Migrante confirmed that according to the accounts of the OFWs, the Philippine Embassy has not sent any individual to give them support.

“Wala ka talagang maasahan sa embassy. Sa totoo lang mas gugustuhin pa ng mga Pinoy na magpahuli sa police kaysa lumapit sa ating embahada. Imposibleng hindi nila alam ang kalagayan ng mga kababayan natin sa deportation center,” said Anwar Sinal, brother of Abdul and also worked in Saudi Arabia last year until February 2009.

Still no help for OFWs in Maldives

“Contrary to what OWWA announced in September 10, help is still nowhere to be found. Two weeks has already passed since we have informed the DFA, POEA and OWWA about the plight of the OFWs in Maldives. Nasaan na ang ipinagmamayabang ni Carmelita Dimzon na kaya nilang mapauwi ang ating mga kababayan sa loob ng 48 oras,” exclaimed Martinez.

Martinez added that they have informed the DFA and Philippine Embassy in Bangladesh that the workers were being forced to sign resignation papers before they process exit clearances and air tickets, and yet they did not do anything to intervene to fast track the repatriation.

More than 200 Filipinos working for the rehabilitation of Tsunami stricken Maldives islands complained of unpaid 5-month salaries and inadequate food and water.

Armando del Mundo, one of the workers, phoned Migrante and said that “dahil mukhang wala na talagang darating na tulong, makikipagsapalaran na kami sa Male kahit walang tiyak na matutuluyan, kaysa naman mamatay kami sa gutom at sakit dito.”

They have decided to use their last few money to rent small boats and proceed to the capital of Maldives which is 36 hours away by boat from their present location. The Filipinos are situated in three remote islands – Villingili, Dhandhoo and Maamendhoo.###




22 September 2009
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994

Migrante slams Arroyo’s ‘heartless media gimmick’
Oops she did it again!

A global alliance of Filipino migrants and their families has slammed President Gloria Arroyo for again using distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as propaganda tool to shore up her image.

Migrante on Monday assailed Arroyo for deliberately delaying the repatriation of 120 stranded OFWs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia so that she can use them as “photo-ops” when she arrives in the country Wednesday. Speaking over the radio this morning, Palace spokesperson Cerge Remonde announced that Arroyo will personally bring home the stranded OFWs staying at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Center in the Kingdom.

But Migrante reported that during a dialogue with OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon more than a month ago regarding the issue of stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia, Dimzon confidently assured the group that the OWWA can repatriate the OFWs in two days. The dialogue was facilitated by Senator Loren Legarda.

“The two days have long been over and yet no repatriation has happened. And now this. We believe there could be no other reason for the delay but to indulge Arroyo’s proven penchant for photo-ops. She plans to parade these poor OFWs before the media when she arrives on Wednesday in a desperate bid to justify her extravagant junkets overseas,” said Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Over the weekend, Migrante dared OWWA to bring home all 300 stranded OFWs even before Arroyo lands in the Kingdom if only to disprove suspicions that the government is deliberately putting off the stranded OFWs’ repatriation in time for Arroyo’s arrival.

“Stranded OFWs have fallen sick and some have already died in overcrowded and stomach-turning deportations centers in the Kingdom. Her audacity to delay their repatriation for a photo-op speaks volumes on how this administration treats our OFWs.”

“On Wednesday, the nation will again stand witness to yet another one of Arroyo’s heartless media gimmicks at the expense of our poor OFWs,” Martinez concluded.###

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