3 July 2010
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09393914418
Migrante to Noy: Heed wangwang of
OFWs in distress
Migrante International today called on Pres. Noynoy Aquino to urgently
heed the wangwang (distress calls) of overseas Filipino workers in death
row, seeking immediate repatriation and overstaying in jails abroad.
In a press conference, Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson,
presented cases of OFWs "that cannot afford to wait for Pres. Aquino's 100
days to finish."
"Kung galit si Pres. Aquino sa mga wangwang, ibahin niya itong wangwang na
distress call ng ating mga OFW. Kumbaga, tulad ito ng wangwang ng
ambulansya na kailangan ng agarang lunas at kung hindi'y maaaring ikamatay
ng ating mga kababayan ," Martinez said.
Martinez said that according to data gathered by their Migrants Assistance
Committee, there are currently 101 cases of OFWs in death row, of which 66
are from China and 26 from the Middle East; while 226 are stranded and
languishing in Filipino shelters in the Middle East, Somalia and Taiwan.
He also urged Aquino to immediately address the sending back home of the
remains of six OFWs majority from the Middle East Region.
There are also hundreds of OFWs, he added, who are presently overstaying
their sentences in jails abroad.
"They are enduring the most deplorable and cruel of conditions and are
lacking much-needed legal and financial support from the DFA, Philippine
embassies and consulates.”
Martinez accompanied to the press conference relatives of Joselito Zapanta,
Nerissa Neri and Sergio Garcia who tearfully appealed to Aquino to provide
aid and assistance to their loved ones.
Zapanta was sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia last April. He accidentally
killed his abusive employer in self-defense. He already appealed his case
before the designated deadline last May 1 but his relatives say that the
DFA has neglected to them update since.
Neri was drugged and raped by a Bangladeshi national in Saud Arabia in
August 2009. Her employer sent her to jail "for having an illicit affair"
upon discovering that she was pregnant. No thanks to the government, Neri
will soon be released because her rapist was caught. However, she will
still receive 50 lashes, according to Muslim law. Priority must be given
for her immediate repatriation.
Garcia is a cargo salesman in Jeddah who has served his one year jail
sentence but is yet to be released. His family has also not yet received
word from the DFA.
" We expect Aquino to make public his plans and course of action on these
cases as soon as possible," Martinez said.
He urged the president to seriously review and consider Migrante's
"10-point migrant challenge" which presents viable solutions to address
the protection, welfare and defense of OFWs, including the immediate
release of the yearly P1 million Legal Assistance and P1 million
Repatriation Fund for migrant workers and OFWs in distress. ###
#10 Banuyo St.Brgy.Amihan, Project 3, Quezon City
10-Point Migrants Challenge to
President-apparent Noynoy Aquino
The incoming administration to be
headed by President-apparent Noynoy should never take labor export as a
tool for development and should see forced migration as an effect of the
worsening problem of unemployment in the country.
There is no way to solve forced migration but to aggressively pursue local
job generation through improving our local agriculture and industry by
implementing genuine agrarian reform and nationalist industrialization.
While strategically looking forward to ending forced migration, the new
president should take the following viable steps that will provide
immediate relief to OFWs and their families, and solve the worsening
problems of Filipinos abroad.
1. Prosecute President Arroyo for corruption of OFW funds and other
crimes against the Filipino migrant workers
Call for a thorough and immediate investigation of the OWWA Funds sourced
from the US$25 welfare fund contribution and interest income of
• The P530 million Medicare fund diverted to Philhealth Corporation which
was used for Arroyo’s 2004 presidential bid. The P260M bogus claims
exposed by then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo himself just to justify
OWWA Medicare fund transfer to Philhealth under the present Arroyo
• The un-audited US$293,500 for the Middle East Preparedness Team headed
by General Roy Cimatu during the US war of aggression to Iraq where
repatriation of OFWs never took place
Make Arroyo criminally liable for wanton neglect of OFWs in distress
(abused, maltreated, stranded, jailed, in deathrow);
Make Arroyo accountable for continuously deploying OFWs to high-risk and
2. Ensure Justice and indemnification to migrant victims of human
rights violations, and make erring officials accountable.
Work for the establishment of a special court for migrant workers. It
takes several months to several years before a decision is made and
justice served on complaints of OFWs filed at the POEA or NLRC. As to
filing criminal charges against recruitment agencies or illegal recruiters
in local courts, OFWs find it very difficult to shoulder costs for all the
Forge agreements with receiving governments that will ensure that
violators of migrant rights will be punished;
File cases against abusive and erring officials with the Ombudsman, the
Committee on Human Rights and other legal remedies, the Congress Committee
on Overseas Migrants Affairs and the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment
and Human Resource Development. Investigate the direct involvement of
government officials in TESDA, DOLE, POEA, OWWA and DFA officials in
illegal recruitment activities.
Immediate recall of officials with notorious record of neglect and are
conniving with exploitative employers and human trafficking syndicates;
Establish a monitoring system on the conduct of government officials in
exercising their functions as mandated by RA8042 and other related
memoranda, circulars and executive and department orders.
3. Provide direct services and assistance to migrants and their
Reorient the OWWA, POEA, DFA-OUMWA and RP posts into true service
Work for the increase of the annual P1M Legal Assistance and P1M
Repatriation Fund for migrant workers and OFWs in distress through the
General Appropriations Act as mandated by Republic Act 8042 or the Magna
Carta for Oveseas Filipinos and Migrant Workers Act of 1995, as amended by
Push for a review of the annual OWWA budget. The current budget allocates
70% to administrative expenses and only 11% is allocated to on-site
services and should be granted to all migrant workers and OFWs in distress
regardless of their status;
Immediate provision of legal assistance to OFWs in deathrow (Dondon Lanuza,
Gonzales Brothers, Eduardo Arcilla, Joselito Zapanta and more others) and
detention, and scrap DFA policy of no legal assistance to jailed OFWs
unless they are already given a death sentence;
Significantly increase the numbers of deployed Legal and Welfare Attaches
over Police Attaches especially in countries with large concentration of
OFWs and high presence of OFW abuse and exploitation – Middle-East,
Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan;
Revamp and reorient the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminars (PDOS) from a
money-making program for recruitment agencies to a genuine program
educating migrant workers and their families of their rights and
Create a comprehensive reintegration program for OFWs that is not grounded
on providing financial loans;
Institute a system that will address the social costs of migration. Fund a
comprehensive study to identify how to mitigate effect of migration to the
Create migrant programs in schools and barangays to increase the peoples’
awareness on migration especially the OFW families.
4. Repeal anti-migrant laws.
Scrap the OWWA Omnibus Policies (OOP) imposed and implemented by OWWA
Board of Trustees through OWWA Board Resolution No. 038 and push for the
reinstatement of the Legal Assistance Program, Medicare Program, General
Financial Assistance Program and on-site services for migrant workers. The
OOP limits OWWA Funds for OFWs to access while significantly increases the
conditions for corruption;
Scrap the Memorandum Circular No. 04, New POEA Guidelines on the
Deployment of Household Service Workers (under Gloria’s Supermaid
Scrap the Mandatory contribution of OFWs to the PAG-IBIG Fund.
5. Ensure protection and work for the legalization of undocumented
Protection and legalization of undocumented Filipino workers needs urgent
action as crackdown operations become more massive due to more stringent
and harsh immigrant laws such as the Return Directive of the European
Union. This in aftermath of the global economic and financial crisis.
6. Create a comprehensive program for the protection for the migrant
women and minors.
Push for a more accessible and fund-assured protective mechanisms for
women and minors to include interventions, legal representation and
Push for the establishment of additional safe shelters for women and
minors with in-house social workers, doctors and psychiatrists as support
services to victims of rape and sexual abuse, maltreated and victims of
7. Stop all forms of illegal recruitment and trafficking.
Push for an independent body to track down and investigate erring
recruitment agencies (ex. Sentosa) and push for their prosecution and
imposition of stiffer penalties to life imprisonment;
Conduct extensive education information and dissemination on illegal
recruitment and trafficking from the barangay level and up;
Push for an independent investigation of the involvement, directly or
indirectly, of government officials especially those from TESDA, POEA, BI/NAIA
and the Department of Foreign Affairs, and;
8. Scrap all exorbitant and excessive state exactions and other fees.
Move to scrap all excessive government fees, taxes and charges such as the
mandatory US$25 Welfare Fund contribution on a per contract basis,
mandatory PAG-IBIG contribution, mandatory Consular Sponsorship fees in
Macau (even if the Macau government doesn’t require it), additional fees
on passport (such as Comelec certification), application and training
9. Forge bilateral agreements based on international labor standards
and other instrumentalities. Review the massive deployment of OFWs to
Scrap existing exploitative bilateral agreements -- Unified Contract
(Saudi Arabia), Employment Permit System (South Korea), JPEPA (Japan);
Actively campaign for the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights
of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Actively participate
in the campaign for the establishment of an International Convention on
Domestic Workers and the International Maritime Convention for Seafarers;
Push for the review of all existing agreements or other diplomatic
relations, and foreign policies entered into by the Philippine government
with the receiving governments especially those that involve Filipino
labor. Work for the collation and critique of the existing national
policies of receiving governments vis-à-vis international conventions,
norms and other related documents;
Design education curriculum which will include CARHRIHL, international
conventions and norms, obligations of states under international law to
respect the rights of migrants and labor;
Seriously address the worsening problem of OFWs in Saudi Arabia. Over the
years Saudi Arabia maintains to be the topmost destination of OFWs.
Concurrently it also hosts to the most number of reported cases of human
rights and labor-related violations. There are also no instituted
mechanisms for the protection of migrant workers in the country;
Decisively enter into a comprehensive agreement with the Arabian
government that will give protection to 1.5 million Filipinos in the
10. Provide migrant workers genuine representation in government or in
Work closely with genuine migrants’ organizations to ensure the promotion
of a pro-people migrants’ agenda;
Ensure the representation of genuine migrants’ organizations in the
process of crafting legislation so that the migrants’issues, concerns and
rights will always be included in committee hearings, resolutions and
bills and in their respective legislative agenda;
Push for the review of the OAV law an its conduct and the Partylist System
Act and for reforms to ensure that migrants and other marginalized sectors
be afforded equal representation in Congress.###
Cases and needs legal assistance (some of the current cases being handled
by Migrante’s Rights and Welfare Program January 2009-April 2010
June 1, 2009
HON. CARMELITA DIMZON
Overseas Workers Welfare
Dear Administrator Dimzon,
Greetings amidst trying times!
We are writing you to formally
convey the complaint of the Annasban OFWs against Welfare Officer Nestor
Burayag who we assume is directly in charge to look into the situation of
the workers currently on work stoppage against gross contract violations
and are clamoring for immediate repatriation.
According to the OFWs, Welof
Burayag is deliberately delaying the repatriation of the OFWs by not
securing with the Annasban Company the documents necessary for the release
and repatriation of the workers. Based on the communications of the
involved recruitment agencies to us and the families of the OFWs, they
have already provided air tickets or are willing to arrange tickets except
that their exit visas are not yet prepared. Welof Burayag is also forcing
the workers to pay deployment costs instead of asking the Annasban
management to waive the costs.
Moreso, Welof Burayag is not
providing the basic survival needs of the workers – food, water and
medicines since they started their protest. According to the OFWs, they
are rarely given supplies. Because of this, they are already subsisting
from toilet water. Medical assistance was also not provided even if the
workers are already facing serious illnesses.
We believe that Welof Burayag is
not just performing his assigned duties as a welfare officer. He has
consistently deprived assistance to our kababayans and wantonly went
against the request for assistance
We demand an urgent investigation
on his conduct and sincerely consider removing him from his post.
Government officials of this character should be stripped off from duty as
they are more of a danger rather than a helping hand.
We would also like to inform you
that we are studying the prospect of bringing this case to the Office of
the Ombudsman as the workers have gathered enough evidence necessary to
prove his disservice.
Thank you very much. We hope that
this complaint will be given immediate resolution.
Fearing possible reprisals to Pinoy community in HK
MIGRANTE calls for peaceful resolution of Manila hostage crisis
An alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) groups worldwide has called
on the Philippine government to exhaust all means necessary to bring the
ongoing hostage crisis in Manila to a peaceful resolution.
“We are calling on the Aquino administration to pull out all stops to
ensure that the ongoing hostage crisis will be brought to a peaceful
resolution so as not to expose our thousands of our compatriots in Hong
Kong to possible attacks and reprisals,” said Migrante International
Chairperson Garry Martinez.
At 10:00 o' clock this morning, a dismissed Police officer took hostage a
bus load of Hong Kong tourists at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila. The
police officer, Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, was reportedly demanding
his reinstatement to the police force.
The Migrante leader said that we have more than 150,000 Filipinos working
in Hong Kong and most of them are domestic workers.
He said the ongoing hostage drama in Manila, if not handled well by
Philippine authorities, will likely expose Filipinos in Hong Kong to
possible violent reprisals in the former British colony. ###
‘Major, major blunder’: OFWs shouldn’t suffer from police, gov’t lapses in
Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez today said that overseas
Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong should not be made to bear the brunt
for police and government incompetence in yesterday’s Manila hostage
“We express our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of the
victims. Alam po namin kung gaano kasakit ang maranasang sinusundo ang
isang mahal sa buhay na nakakahon at isang malamig na bangkay na,”
The migrant leader said that they, together with members of the Filipino
community in Hong Kong, are in unity with calls of the Hong Kong
government and nationals demanding justice for the victims and
accountability for lapses of the Manila police and the Philippine
“Heads must roll for the deaths and measures should be urgently enacted to
heal strained diplomatic relations. For our OFWs, what happened was a
‘major, major blunder’ of the Aquino administration. Our OFWs in Hong Kong
and elsewhere should not be in any way obliged to defend what was clearly
an unorganized and incompetent handling of the hostage crisis,” Martinez
He also called on the Philippine government to “ensure at all costs that
the rights and welfare of our OFWs in Hong Kong are not jeopardized.”
“Hindi dapat pagbayaran ng ating mga OFWs ang kapalpakan ng gobyerno sa
naganap na trahedya. We demand to hear concrete measures by the Philippine
government and the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong to prevent untoward
incidents from happening to our kababayans. Mangyayari lamang ito kung
maagap na mapapanagot ang mga nagkulang.”
Martinez also appealed to the Filipino community in Hong Kong to stay calm
and be vigilant.
So far, the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong has reported at least one
(1) OFW whose contract was pre-maturely terminated by an employer as a
result of the tragedy. He said that he fears that tension and emotions
would be more intense once the bodies of the victims arrive in Hong Kong
There are more than 150,000 Filipinos working in Hong Kong, most of them
domestic workers. ###
Garry Martinez, Chairperson,
#10 Banuyo St.Brgy.Amihan, Project 3,
7 August 2010
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09393914418
OFWs to troop to POEA vs. ‘bawal na Pag-Ibig’
Mandatory contribution legalizes ‘kotong’ from OFWs
Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez today said that
mandatory Pag-Ibig contribution from overseas Filipino workers is another
form of “legalized kotong.”
“Wala talagang natutuwa sa bawal na Pag-Ibig, lalo na ang ating mga OFW na
lagi na lang nakokotongan ng gobyerno. This added burden is unfair,
unreasonable and we question its real intent,” Martinez said.
The POEA recently released Memorandum Circular 06-2010 (MC06-2010)
compelling OFWs to pay, upon registration and deployment, an initial
membership contribution of P600 for six months as a pre-requisite for the
issuance of their Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).
Martinez announced their plans to hold a picket protest at the Philippine
Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) main office next week.
MC06-2010 was effective last August 1 as a result of Republic Act 9679, or
the Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009, placing informal sectors
under mandatory coverage of the Pag-Ibig fund.
Employer, not OFW, should pay
Sec.2 Declaration of Policy of RA9679 clearly states that the fund should
come from “mandatory contribution support of the employers.” Furthermore,
it states that “failure or refusal of the employer to pay or remit….shall
not prejudice the right of the covered employee to the benefits.”
Martinez said, however, that the law “became muddled and misleading” in
the IRR (implementing rules and regulations) of RA9679.
He cited Rule V, Fund Coverage and Membership, Sec. 1, d. stating that
while “coverage under the Fund shall be mandatory for Filipinos employed
by foreign-based employees whether deployed here or abroad, or a
combination thereof,” their foreign-based employers “shall not be subject
to mandatory coverage.”
“These irregularities once again entail the virtual passing on of fees
meant for employers to OFWs. Despite what is clearly stated in law, the
government unfortunately has no sound-proof mechanism to ensure that
employers would pay their share. Saka maaasahan ba natin ang mga employer
na magbayad para sa mga OFW kung minsan nga pati sahod hindi nila maibigay?”
“How is this different from the $25 contributions to OWWA which was
originally charged to employers but is now another mandatory imposition on
Martinez also said that OFWs are being forced to pay when they are not
even ensured of the housing benefits. He cited Sec. 11 of the RA stating
that only members who have the “ability to pay” will be granted housing
“How will the Fund’s Boart of Trustees determine if OFWs have the ability
to pay? Hindi naman pala lahat ng nagbabayad ay makakakamit ng pabahay.
Paano kung isa kang OFW na mababa lang ang sahod, o di kaya’y contractual
lang at hindi aabot ang paghuhulog sa required maturity period for loans?
Nagbabayad ka lang pala para sa wala. Kotong lang talaga ito,” Martinez
Not only OFWs
Lastly, Martinez said that there is a need to forge the broadest unity not
only among OFWs but other sectors as well because RA9679 is “a blanket
measure that would affect even private employees, the self-employed,
informal sector such as cigarette vendors, household helps and the like,
and even full-time housewives.
“Mandatory na ito para sa lahat. Isa itong malaking kalokohan. Hindi ito
makatwiran at lalong dagdag-pahirap sa mamamayan, especially the
marginalized sectors,” Martinez said.
He called on the Aquino administration to stop the imposition of RA9679.
“If the president has the interests and welfare of OFWs at heart, he
should first conduct consultations with OFWs before imposing more
questionable and onerous fees. Tanungin niya muna ang mga OFW kung ano ang
totoong gusto namin at kung ano ang dagdag-pahirap para sa amin.”
Martinez also said that they plan to seek a dialogue with vice president
and housing head Jejomar Binay “to bring to his attention OFWs’ vehement
opposition to the mandatory imposition.” ###
#10 Banuyo St.Brgy.Amihan, Project 3, Quezon