United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)

holds its 12th Congress


Posted: December 8,  2010





Photos courtesy of UNIFIL MIGRANTE- HK


HK OFWs celebrate victories of progressive movement
Vow an upsurge of struggle for rights and social changes

With clenched fists and high hopes of meaningful social changes brought by militant struggles of the exploited and oppressed Filipino people including overseas Filipino workers, the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) concluded its 12th Congress attended by more than 300 members and friends of the alliance.

With the theme Create the upsurge of the migrant's movement in HK against attacks to our livelihood, welfare, and rights! Contribute to the strengthening of the national and international movement for liberation and social changes!, members of the UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK reviewed the history and victories of the progressive movement of migrant Filipinos in Hong Kong, analyzed the current situation of Filipino migrants and the people under the new administration of Noynoy Aquino, approved the official reports of the past two years and the plan of actions until 2012, and elected the Executive Committee of the alliance.

Sol Pillas, UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK vice chairperson welcomed those present and led the commemoration of former members and officers of the alliance who passed away. She urged those present to make the 12th Congress a resounding success.

Afterwards, a special video made for the occasion set the tone of the gathering as it narrated the history of the alliance. Borne out of struggles of migrant workers, shaped by lessons learned in the course of struggle, and looking forward to even more advances for the rights and wellbeing of migrants and families through militant struggles, the UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK can very well claim to have led the formation and strengthening of the progressive movement of Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong.

From its formation after the successful campaign against the forced remittance scheme of the former Marcos government, through the successive deceptive regimes, and all the way to the present Aquino government, UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK has continued to live up to its name and principle of uniting the biggest number of OFWs towards the defense of the rights of migrants and families, making significant contribution to the movement for fundamental changes in the Philippines, and developing and strengthening the solidarity of Filipino migrants with migrant workers of other nationalities and the local people of Hong Kong.

Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, chairperson of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN, New Patriotic Alliance) gave the keynote address for the 12th Congress. In her speech, she dissected the current government in terms of its actions and emerging policies as well as posed challenges to the OFWs present to continue to build on the gains of the past struggles in order to further expand the alliance and to enhance its relationship with other groups, alliances, federations and unions.

Among the highlights of her presentation were:

1. The slogans used and promises made by the new President form the campaign period even up to his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) are rapidly proving to be pure rhetoric as shown by his response on matters of economic development and social justice, human rights, armed conflict resolution, and on national sovereignty.

2. The Aquino administration continues to toe the line of neoliberal globalization that has already impoverished the country. No significant program on land reform and national industrialization has been put in place.

3. Corruption still hounds the country and there has been no decisive move to put former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies to trial for corruption and plunder.

4. Victims of human rights violations have not been given justice. The illegally arrested health workers collectively known as Morong 43 remain in prison even though Aquino himself admitted the irregularities of the arrest. Extrajudicial killings have remained rampant for the first six months of the new administration.

5. Despite calls for the review of the Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA, this was not taken up by Aquino in his visit to the US and instead, he focused on getting the US$434-M MCC grant that carries conditionalities for the continuation of neoliberal globalization policies in the country.

6. There has been no concrete advances on the peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF and the BMA-MILF.

7. While it tries to differentiate itself from its predecessor, the Aquino government has maintained the essential economic, political and social policies of the GMA government. The people should be more critical, vigilant, militant and ready to struggle for the long-term interests of migrant workers, their families and the Filipino people in general.

Reports of the Executive Committee were then presented and approved by the body.

The Chairperson’s Report presented by Dolores Balladares highlighted the victories gained by the alliance for the past two years. Balladares reviewed the campaigns launched by UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK on issues pertaining to the rights and wellbeing of Filipino migrant workers in particular and of migrant workers in Hong Kong in general, as well as the solidarity and anti-imperialist campaigns of the alliances.

These included campaigns against excessive fees of the Philippine government like making OWWA and Pag-IBIG fees mandatory to get an OEC and the excessive price of passports. UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK also campaigned for the removal of Labor Attache Romulo Salud from office for abuse of authority. One of the major campaigns of the UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK was its electoral support to Gabriela Women’s Party and other progressive candidates such as senatorial bets Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza. GWP got the highest vote among OFWs in Hong Kong for partylist elections while Ocampo and Maza were able to beat many traditional politicians in the senatorial race.

In terms of campaigns on solidarity framework, these included advocacy on the Statutory Minimum Wage and support campaigns for the people of Iraq and Palestine. The most significant of these campaigns was the one for justice for the victims of the tragic August 23 hostage-taking in the Philippines. The People’s Vigil gathered more than 10,000 migrant workers and local people united in the call for justice.

Balladares also reported on welfare campaign of UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK such as the fund raising for the victims of the typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last year. The alliance – with the help of its sister-federations and organizations – conducted the Oplan Sagip Migrante Kababayan that raised funds for relief operations in the Philippines as well as gave out some cash assistance to migrant workers in Hong Kong directly and severely hit by the two calamities.

The finance report was then presented by UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK Treasurer Betty Palabay and was approved by the body.

Eman Villanueva, Secretary General, presented to the Congress the General Program of Actions for 2011 and 2012. The GPOA detailed how the alliance could make true the call to create the upsurge of the progressive movement and how the contributions could be made to the national liberation movement in the Philippines and anti-imperialist movement in the world. He outlined the tasks of the alliance that centered on strengthening of its current members and expansion of the ranks of the progressive OFW movement.

Solidarity messages were relayed by UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK Deputy Secretary General Vicky Cabantac. The message of International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) chairperson Prof. Jose Maria Sison was read by Ramon Bultron while the message of MIGRANTE International was read by its council member Jun Tellez. The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) also sent a solidarity message that was read by Rey Asis of the IMA Secretariat.




Cynthia Abdon-Tellez of the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW) and HK legislator Hon. Leung Kwok-Hung (more popularly known as Long Hair) also delivered their solidarity messages. Other supporters who sent their greetings were the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), The Very Revd. Dean Andrew Chan of St. John’s Cathedral, Teachers of English Abroad – Korea, Zi Teng, Cordillera People’s Alliance, Kasamma-Ko and chapters of MIGRANTE in Canada, Nagoya, Middle East, Australia and Europe.

Cultural presentations were rendered by LIKHA Cultural Migrants Organization. New songs were also presented to those present including the much appreciated song calling for Aquino to make true his promises and lower passport fee that was sang to the tune of Pinoy Ako.

In recognition to their valuable work, the 12th Congress re-elected the whole Executive Committee to lead the alliance for two more years.

With militance, pride on the progressive movement of OFWs in HK, and commitment to pursue the alliance’s objectives, members of the UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK closed the 12th Congress with the song Migrants on the March to signify their resistance against neoliberal globalization and the exploitation of migrants as well as their thrust to realize the theme of the gathering.

UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK is confident that an upsurge of the movement against attacks to rights and livelihood will come. With this are more victories for the betterment of the condition of migrant workers that shall also serve as bases for a more intensified struggle towards ending the forced migration of Filipinos through building of a genuinely free, democratic, peaceful and just Philippine society.

(as of 28 November 2010)

1. Abra Migrant Workers Welfare Association (AMWWA)
2. Association of Concerned Filipinos (ACFIL)
3. Balili Alab Workers Organization (BAWO)
4. Balungao Overseas Workers Association (BOWA)
5. Binalonan Migrant Workers Organization (BMWO)
6. Cuyapo Association in Hong Kong (CAHK)
7. Evangelization Family - Justice & Peace Net
8. Filipino Friends in Hong Kong (FFHK)
9. Filipino Migrant Women Association (FILWOM)
10. Filipino Migrants Association (FMA)
11. Friends of Bethune House (FBH)
12. HK Villasianians’ Association (HKVA)
13. Janiuaynon Association Hong Kong (JAHK)
14. Junior Association of Migrants (JAM)
15. Komadrona Hong Kong
16. LIKHA Filipino Migrant Cultural Organization (LIKHA)
17. Methodist Church of Filipino Migrants (MCFM)
18. Methodist International Church-Filipino Fellowship (MICFF)
19. Migrante Hongkong Bank
20. Migrante Naguilian
21. Migrante Shatin
22. Mission Volunteers (MOVERS)
23. Occidental Mindoro Association in Hong Kong (OMA)
24. Palawan Migrants Association (PMA)
25. Pangasinan Organization for Welfare, Empowerment and Rights (POWER)
26. Philippine Independent Church Choir
27. Pinatud A Saleng ti Umili (PSU)
28. Sta. Maria de Pila (Pangasinan) Association
29. Tayug Pangasinan Hong Kong (TPHK)
30. Ward Methodist Filipino Mission
31. Women of Philippine Independent Church – Diocese of Antique (WOPIC-Antique)

The Secretariat
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
E-mail: secretariat@unifil.org.hk
Website: http://www.unifil.org.hk
Blog: compatriots.blogspot.com
YouTube: www.youtube.com/unifilhk

Narrative UNIFIL 12th Congress.pdf