From: Filipino Migrant Workers' Union <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, Aug 29, 2010 at 11:23 PM
Subject: Press Release and Photos of People's Vigil for Solidarity and
A sea of Filipinos joined in by Hong Kong Chinese people gathered for the
People's Vigil for Solidarity and Justice for the victims of the tragic
August 23 hostage-taking crisis in Manila held at Chater Road
More than 10,000 people joined the vigil where they sang, prayed and
offered candles, flowers and messages for the victims. Protesters from the
march also held today by Hong Kong groups later joined the vigil and spoke
their views on the tragedy. Two Hong Kong legislators, representatives
from HK church groups, trade union, students and women's groups also spoke
in the event.
The people's vigil was organized by the Filipino Migrant Workers' Union (FMWU),
United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK), Justice and Peace
Commission of the HK Catholic Diocese (HKJP), HK Catholic Commission for
Labour Affairs (HKCCLA), Hong Kong Christian Council (HKCC), Association
for the Advancement of Feminism (AAF), Asia-Pacific Students and Youth
Association (ASA), World Student Christian Federation - Asia Pacific (WSCF-AP),
BAYAN-HK and GABRIELA-HK.
Meanwhile, about 250 Filipinos from Shatin and Ma On Shan in Hong Kong' s
New Territories also held a vigil and candle-lighting for the victims.
This was organized by Migrante chapters in Shatin and Ma On Shan and the
Methodist Shatin Filipino Fellowship.
Below is the complete joint press release of FMWU and UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK
issued on the events today.
A Day of Simpathy and Refelction, A Day for Solidarity and Justice
Joint Press Release
29 August 2010
For reference: Eman Villanueva Dolores Balladares
Tel.: (852) 97585935 Tel.: (852) 97472986
Filipino domestic workers join HK people’s grief and protest
Vigil with local HK people highlights “day of sympathy, reflection,
solidarity and justice”
“This is the first Sunday we’ve been out after the August 23 bloodbath. We
dedicate this day to show our sympathy to the victims of the tragedy, to
reflect on how and why such happens in Philippine society, and to show our
solidarity with the people of Hong Kong in calling for justice.”
This was expressed today by Eman Villanueva of the Filipino Migrant
Workers’ Union (FMWU), as the group took the occasion of its 12th
anniversary program to hold a public program dedicated to the victims of
the tragic Manila hostage-taking and to condemn what they call as a “state
of disrespect to life and human rights” by the Philippine government and
its armed forces.
The peak of the whole day event was the People’s Vigil for Solidarity and
Justice attended by OFWs and local HK people including legislators,
employers, students, workers and the religious. Earlier in the day, an
All-Filipino Interfaith Prayer Offering that gathered church leaders in an
hour of prayers and a Public Speakout and Forum, where OFWs were able to
express their views on the tragedy, were also held.
The two-hour vigil and candle-lighting was jointly organized with local
groups including the Justice and Peace Commission of the HK Catholic
Diocese (HKJP), HK Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs (HKCCLA), Hong
Kong Christian Council (HKCC), Association for the Advancement of Feminism
(AAF), Asia-Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA) and World Student
Christian Federation - Asia Pacific (WSCF-AP). Filipino groups like BAYAN-HK
and GABRIELA-HK also led the event.
Protesters from the rally organized by Hong Kong political parties earlier
in the day also joined in the vigil. The vigil culminated in a symbolic
signing of messages of those who attended in a giant tarpaulin bearing the
call for justice.
“It is our condolence and sympathy that we want to convey. It is the
deeper and systemic problems within the police and the government in the
Philippines that we want to expose. It is our solidarity that we want to
show and the call for justice we share with the Hong Kong people that we
want to echo,” said Villanueva.
Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK),
said that the botched rescue that saw eight people dead and scores more
gravely injured, showed a clear disregard to making the lives of the
hostages a topmost priority. She said that “the low regard for life and
the safety and protection of civilians is a mark of the armed institutions
of the government.”
According to her, such conduct is deeply ingrained in the orientation,
training and operation of the police and the whole armed forces. “They are
not based or directed by respect to human rights such as the right to life
or due process and so wantonly conduct actions without any consideration
to its outcome. Thus, an operation that should have saved lives ended up
in the killing of almost half of the innocent hostages,” she stated.
Balladares said that “the competence of the police and the Philippine
armed forces is not on saving and protecting people’s lives and rights but
on ending and violating them.” This she said is shown by the spotty human
rights record of the Philippine police and armed forces that is mired with
cases of corruption, involvement in organized crimes, torture of suspected
criminals as well as extrajudicial killing, illegal arrest and enforced
disappearance of activists and human rights defenders.
This sentiment was also echoed by Axel Pinpin, secretary-general of the
peasant group KASAMA-TK in Southern Tagalog who was in Hong Kong for a
visit and who also offered poems for the victims of the tragedy and human
rights abuses in the Philippines.
“The same police unit – the Manila Police District – who conducted the
whole rescue operation was also the same unit who violently dispersed the
peaceful action of farmers in July 3 this year for genuine agrarian
reform. It just showed that when it comes to saving lives and respecting
human rights, they are incompetent. But when it is about fascism and
repression, they can do it with flying colors and even with eyes closed,”
Finally, Balladares said that the show of solidarity between OFW groups
and the HK people on the day’s events will continue as they monitor the
investigations being conducted on the tragic hostage-taking as well as the
reported backlash on Filipino migrants in Hong Kong.
“There have been reports of unfortunate reactions by a few Hong Kong
people against Filipino migrants such as arbitrary termination of
contracts and some cases of verbal harassment. We shall together stand
guard against these.
But we do believe that the concern of the overwhelming majority of HK
people is more on making sure that the Philippine government and officials
take responsibility and accountability to what happened to their
compatriots. Our call is the same for Filipinos who have also been
victimized by the human rights violations stemming from the very policies
of the government. The culture of impunity in the Philippines must end,”
United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
2/F., New Hall, St. John's Cathedral,
4 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong SAR
Tel. (852) 3156-2447 Fax. (852) 2526-2894
A Day to Remember, A Day of Hope*
Sympathy for the victims poured, reflections on the tragedy were
expressed, the call for justice ruled, and people’s solidarity resounded.
It was supposed to be the 12th anniversary celebration of the Filipino
Migrant Workers’ Union (FMWU). But as tragedy struck more than 20 Hong
Kong Chinese tourists in what is now known as the Quirino Bloodbath, the
FMWU decided to offer the day for the hostage-taking victims and for the
Filipino migrant workers and Hong Kong Chinese people to express their
sentiments on the condemnable conduct of the Philippine police and
government that led to the death of eight hostages and serious trauma to
Together with Filipino organizations such as United Filipinos in Hong Kong
– MIGRANTE, BAYAN-HK, and the women’s group GABRIELA-HK, the whole-day
program was designed in order to extend the Filipino migrant workers’
condolences to the victims, give an opportunity for the migrant workers to
ponder on how and why the tragedy occurred, highlight the overwhelming
call for justice and show that people’s solidarity is paramount at this
time when both Filipinos and the Hong Kong people are in grief and
Local Hong Kong organizations and regional groups such as the HK Justice
and Peace Commission of the HK Catholic Diocese (HKJP), HK Catholic
Commission for Labour Affairs (HKCCLA), HK Christian Council (HKCC),
Association for the Advancement of Feminism (AAF), World Student Christian
Federation – Asia Pacific (WSCF-AP)and the Asia-Pacific Students and Youth
Association (ASA) readily expressed their support to co-organize the
People’s Vigil for Justice and Solidarity that shall be the culminating
event of the day.
A Day of Sympathy and Reflection
In the morning, Filipino religious leaders from Christian churches and the
Moslem community led more than a thousand Filipino migrants for an
Interfaith Gathering to offer solemn and heartfelt prayers for the
victims. This was then followed by a Public Speak Out where Filipino
migrant workers freely expressed their views on the August 23 tragedy,
what they felt as they saw, read and heard of the events, and why justice
and solidarity should be advanced.
The scorching heat of the noonday sun did not stop ordinary Overseas
Filipino Workers (OFWs) from expressing their dismay and anger at the
ineptitude of the Philippine authorities in handling the crisis. Their
testimonies on how their employers and the Hong Kong public took offense
on the actions and statements of President Noynoy Aquino himself during
and after the crisis fueled their grave disappointment at how insensitive
the government was to the plight of migrants who were equally incensed but
also, at the same time, anxious at how the anger of the Hong Kong people
could impact them.
Speakers in the program delivered clear messages that Filipino migrants
The tragedy did not only show the inability of Philippine authorities to
resolve such crisis. Running even deeper was the systemic issue of how the
Philippine Police and even the whole Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
do not put protecting lives and upholding human rights as topmost concerns
in their actions. The orientation and training of these institutions of
the Philippine government were not directed towards service to the people
but towards repression and wanton disregard of people’s rights. As one
migrant worker succinctly quipped, “they were ready and equipped to
massacre peasants and farm workers in Hacienda Luisita but were incapable
of saving hostages.”
The state of human rights in the country was further highlighted by the
poems written and read by poet-peasant activist Axel Pinpin who was
himself a victim of police brutality and repression. Renowned late labour
leader Crispin Beltran – whose life of fighting against injustices and for
human rights was narrated in the book simply titled “Ka Bel” – was also
commemorated. Meanwhile, Filipino migrant workers also expressed their
views on various human rights themes through their own poems they made
The Public Speak Out then proceeded with more testimonies and messages. A
Filipino lawyer and human rights activist said that another tragedy that
the recent events showed was that the system that exists in the
Philippines is one where the people are forced to extreme actions just so
their grievances can be heard by the government who supposedly has a duty
to listen and act when the people speak. An ordinary migrant worker also
lambasted the “To Serve and Protect” slogan of the Philippine Police as an
empty rhetoric given the various crimes police officers have been
implicated in. As what another OFW said, “if this is really true, why do
we cringe when we see them?”
In between testimonies and messages, cultural presentations further
impressed the messages that the program wished to convey. LIKHA Filipino
Migrants Cultural Organization interpreted the songs Manggagawa (Workers)
and Pahayagan (Newspaper) that showed the oppression against workers and
repression against the people. A mix of progressive and popular songs
appropriate for the day’s theme were rendered and taught to the migrant
Even before the People’s Vigil started, some Hong Kong Chinese already
joined the program and expressed their views. A group of former university
students, who heard of Filipinos receiving the unfortunate backlash of the
tragedy and decided to rove around Central to express their love and
support for Filipinos through songs, also took part in the program and
sang The Beatles popular hit “Imagine”.
A Day for Solidarity and Justice
At around 5:00pm, the crowd already swelled to a couple of thousands. By
the time the People’s Vigil started at 6:00pm, a sea of more than 10,000
people – mostly in black, wearing white ribbons, sitting on the road or
standing on the pavements - covered the stretch of Chater Road where the
program was held. Many Hong Kong Chinese who joined the 80,000-strong
march led by members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) earlier that day
proceeded to join the vigil and sat and stood side-by-side with the OFWs.
The vigil, conducted in English and Chinese, started with a song of
tribute to the victims. Local Hong Kong Chinese took turns in condemning
the tragedy and President Aquino’s leadership and inactions actions in
such a time of crisis. Doris Lee of the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC),
Elizabeth But from HKCCLA, Eric Lai of the Chinese University Students
Union (CUSU) and Mabel Au of the AAF all spoke against the handling of the
hostage crisis but also raised their concerns to the spate of human rights
violations committed by the Philippine government, the police and the AFP
against the people in the Philippines. They hit the prevailing culture of
impunity also shown by the lack of accountability and responsibility by
Philippine authorities over the botched rescue operation.
In their message, LegCo members Hon. Lee Cheuk-Yan and Hon. Cyd Ho
stressed to their compatriots that migrant Filipinos should not be the
target of the people’s anger but the system and governance that led to
such a tragedy. They said that Filipino migrants are also victims of the
system of corruption and low regard for human rights in the Philippines.
They called for the Hong Kong people to spare Filipino migrants from
actions that they deem express their sentiments. This was warmly welcomed
by the audience while OFW leaders also pledged to stand guard against such
The community prayer was led by Rev. Phyllis Wong of the Kowloon Union
Church, Sr. Maria Salome Moe from the Catholic Church and Ptr. Joram
Calimutan of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
To show their grief and drumbeat the
call for justice, Filipino and Hong Kong Chinese who joined the vigil
signed the huge banner bearing the message of condolence and for justice
with their own messages and names. Lit candles and flowers were put around
the banner while the songs Let There Be Peace and Bridge Over Troubled
Water were sang in the background. A rousing rendition of “We Shall
Overcome” closed the historic event.
The show of solidarity between the Filipinos and the Hong Kong Chinese
people was astounding.
Leaders and members of the HK Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU)
thanked the organizing groups for the event as it overwhelmingly showed
the solidarity of the Filipino people to the people of Hong Kong. The Hong
Kong workers signed the condolence banner en masse as they expressed the
uplifting of their spirits at the show of support and solidarity by the
Filipinos present shook the hands and also thanked speakers from the Hong
Kong Chinese groups for their messages. One OFW said that what they said
and the solidarity shown banished her fears of racial backlash against
Filipinos that many others shared because of irresponsible rumors. Another
Filipino worker relayed that her employer, upon seeing her presence in the
vigil, even called her up in the middle of the program to express his
appreciation and urged her to finish the program. Still another OFW
relayed that she was allowed by her employer to go to the People’s Vigil
even if it was not supposed to be her day off.
One OFW also said that after the August 23 tragedy, her employer stopped
talking to her. But after her employer saw the huge OFW turnout at the
People’s Vigil on the television, their warm relationship resumed.
Truly the message that the People’s Vigil aimed to relay reached the Hong
A Day to Remember, A Day of Hope
The day’s events showed that Filipinos do share the grief of the Hong Kong
people over the death of their compatriots. It also showed that Filipino
migrant workers also do question the system that paved the way for such a
tragedy to occur.
Filipino workers also share the call for justice – justice to the victims
of the hostage-taking crisis and justice to those who have been victimized
by a system that breeds human rights violations. It is on this call that
Filipino migrant workers are in solidarity with the Hong Kong people and
shall continue to push until achieved by the victims, the Hong Kong
people, the OFWs and the Filipino people.
The August 29 program carried the theme A Day of Sympathy and Reflections,
A Day for Justice and Solidarity. Indeed, it was.
For Filipino migrant workers and the Hong Kong Chinese people, it was a
day to remember. It was also a day filled with hopes to live by in the
FMWU Hong Kong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 4:44 PM
Subject: A Narrative - "A Day for Sympathy and Reflection, A Day for
Solidarity and Justice"
We are sending you the narrative of our activity last Sunday dubbed as "A
Day for Sympathy and Reflection, A Day for Solidarity and Justice" part of
which was the "Peoples' Vigil for Solidarity and Justice" which we co-organised
with some local organisations and NGOs. This is our way of expressing not
only our condolences and sympathy to the victims of the 8.23 tragedy but
also our collective desire for justice.
We would also like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to
the Filipino migrant organisations and individuals who spent their rest
day to join this event and show their solidarity to the victims and the
Hong Kong people. And to all the local Hong Kong groups, Churches, NGOs
and individuals who joined us on this important day, your presence and
participation meant so much for the Filipino community in Hong Kong.
Long Live International Solidarity!
Eman C. Villanueva
Filipino Migrant Workers' Union - Hong Kong (FMWU-HK)
c/o APMM, G/F., No. 2 Jordan Road,
Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
Tel. (852) 2723-7536 / 9758-5935 / 9104-1411 / 9031-1602
Fax. (852) 2735-4559
The FMWU is affiliated with the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU;
Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body (AMCB); and the International Migrants
DON’T BLAME THE MEDIA FOR THE HOSTAGE CRISIS
Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom
27 August 2010
The Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom cautions the
Aquino government from using the recent hostage crisis in the Philippines
and the blame game going on against the media to institute restrictive
policies against the press.
Even before an investigation of the police’s conduct of the botched rescue
operation has been launched, criticism against the press that covered the
incident has swelled, with officials suggesting measures – even a law! --
that may be used to violate freedom of the press or restrict journalists
from effectively doing their job.
President Benigno Aquino added fuel to the anti-media sentiment by saying
that the media coverage of the hostage-taker’s brother being arrested
“further agitated the hostage-taker,” despite the fact that it was clear
the manner of the arrest was at issue, not whether journalists were there
to record it.
We view these unfair criticisms against the press as an effort by the
government to shift the blame from itself because of its incompetent
handling of the crisis. As the Hongkong Journalists Association pointed
out, “nobody can tell if the same tragedy would not have taken place
without the presence of the media. What we can be sure of is that without
the presence of the media no knowledge of this horrific tragedy would have
been known to the outside world.”
An effect of this blame game encouraged by the Aquino government is that
there are more stories coming out now about the media’s conduct than about
the massive, system-wide corruption in the Philippine National Police,
which is at the root of the hostage crisis. The allegation against Sr.
Insp. Rolando Mendoza – that he extorted money from a person he and his
team earlier arrested – indicates how brazenly corrupt many police
officers have become.
On the other hand, Mendoza’s claim that he had been treated unfairly, if
true, indicates how the government has failed to uphold the interest of
police officers. This can be traced directly to the same massive, and
system-wide corruption that has bedevilled the PNP for decades.
While we share the frustration by many that the live, blow-by-blow
coverage of the hostage crisis shamed the Philippines to the world, that
does not justify the antipathy toward the media that the Aquino government
has helped unleashed. What shamed Filipinos was not the conduct of
journalists covering the incident; what shamed Filipinos was the
incompetent conduct and the inadequate and confused response by the
Although media should certainly reexamine their conduct and determine
which areas they can improve, they would serve the public interest best if
they instead monitor whether the PNP and the authorities are really taking
steps to improve THEIR conduct and avoid another fatal blunder.
What’s needed in incidents like these is effective leadership on the
ground. Journalists are willing to cooperate with the authorities, we have
no doubt about that. The government should not use the recent hostage
crisis to violate press freedom and emasculate the media.
This is the copy of the open letter
that Migrante BC sent to the Hong Kong Trade and Economic Office
(Canada) which is the official representative of the Hong Kong SAR
Government in Canada.
of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Republic of China
Consultant, Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office
Burrard Street, Vancouver BC V6C 3P2
of Migrante B.C. send its condolences to the families of the eight
Hong Kong passengers who died from the shooting. We also extend our
sympathies to the other passengers who were injured and traumatized, as
well as to their families. What happened last August 23th in
Manila was senseless and very tragic.
immigrants and migrant workers here in B.C., we have friends, co-workers
and even employers who are from Hong Kong. We share in your loss and
We are also
deeply dismayed and angered at the conduct of the negotiations and the
resolution of the hostage crisis by the Philippine authorities.
Migrante B.C. joins the many voices calling for a thorough
investigation and inquiry into the police conduct of the rescue operation.
nothing to justify the actions of Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza,
however desperate he may have been. Taking innocent civilians hostage and
shooting them is unforgivable and need to be condemned.
mishandling of the hostage situation by the police and government
authorities, as well as its aftermath, has shamed the Philippine nation.
The August 24th Hostage Incident must never happen again. #
On behalf of
E. Woodstock Avenue
Vancouver, BC Canada V5W 1N1
Tel. No.: 604.254.5850