Fight the Fake News! Stop the Vilification of Workers!

May 27, 2020

(TAGALOG VERSION BELOW)

The FAKE NEWS about the real issue of the interview of our kababayan union activist by the CBC went viral.
And because it was fake news, it distorted the truth and sowed lies. The truth was in what our kababayan said, if people listened well to the interview, and it was in the transcript of the interview, if people bothered to read it. There is no basis for the accusations of “no gratitude” and “no shame.”
She acknowledged the help from CERB given by the government of Canada to her and the other workers in the hotel industry. She was truthful when she said that even with the support from CERB, this was not enough if the pandemic continues. On behalf of the workers, she said that ‘we are hoping in the long run or in the long term the government will figure out something for the workers, especially in my industry.” This concern is founded on the harsh reality that the hotel industry was hit the hardest by the pandemic and more than 90% of the workers lost their jobs. The majority are women, many Filipino women and women of colour. According to Unite Here! Local 40, the hotel industry which depends on tourists will be last one to recover when the pandemic ends.
The fake news opened the way to attack the workers and migrants who dare to speak up, stand up, organize for the rights and welfare of everyone. The vilification also spread and encouraged others, including those from the Filipino community, to hate, ridicule, be spiteful and violent, make false claims against her, and spur others on the internet to deport her from Canada. But because of the support and action of people who uphold the truth, this online petition was successfully taken down.
Twisting the truth destroys our community and stokes the misplaced and misguided use of the values of “hiya” and “utang na loob.” It is not a crime to share and tell one’s truth about living under the pandemic. Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE local 40 expressed it simply: “Why should we feel ashamed to tell our stories as immigrants, as women, as working people fighting for a better life? In fact, MORE working people should tell powerful politicians what we need to get through this economic crisis.
Mable Elmore, MLA of Vancouver Kensington wrote on her FB: “Mga kababayan, during this pandemic, it’s more important than ever that folks speak up when they need help….we know it’s [government assistance] not enough and some are being left out. We need to hear from you. It’s not ungrateful to say more needs to be done to help people who are out of work or may soon be out of work. And if we don’t have brave leaders who can speak up for us when we can’t – we’re all worse off as a community.
Human rights, especially during crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, can easily be trampled upon and arrogantly dismissed. Cyberbullying is the use of social media like YouTube and Facebook to engage others on the internet to harm and embarrass people. This is harassment or defamation. There is no reason to harm the reputation of our kababayan and expose her to the anger, vilification, contempt and humiliation from members of the public who are easily fooled by fake news. This is not right, and this has legal consequences. We have laws in Canada against online bullying and harassment.
It is not lost on us that the attacks against workers like our kababayan reflect the situation of workers in the Philippines who dare to stand up for their rights and are attacked by the state and its rabid supporters, not only by vilification but also by violence, arrest and detention, and worse, death.
Cyberbullies have screamed “just keep quiet!” This exposes the truth that many have no awareness of the history and the reality of Filipino migration in Canada.
To keep quiet is to allow the rights of workers to be trampled upon. In the history of Canada, the continuing political action and organizing of the caregivers over the course of many years pushed the Canadian government to make many changes in the program: like the change in having permanent residency for caregivers, removing the compulsory live-in requirement, and doing away with the second medical exam which was fought for by the domestic worker Juana Tejada. For temporary foreign workers, the loud protests of workers and support of the wider community resulted in the rescinding of the mandatory removal requirement of 4 years in, 4 years out for temporary foreign workers. These programs and services for workers and migrant workers would never have happened if they were not demanded and fought for, just like the victorious strike of the hotel workers under UNITE HERE local 40 in 2019.
The living wage program would not have happened if workers had remained quiet and contented with their “dying” wages. At this time, it is the movement of workers, unions, grassroots organizations that make sure that no worker is left behind during this pandemic – and so those who have no work permits or lapsed work permits or expired SIN can apply for the income supports under COVID-19. This happened because workers, unions, the community, and allies expressed their demands and took political action.
This is why we continue to organize and mobilize because hard won gains can easily be clawed back if we keep quiet and become content with crumbs thrown at us.
Migrante Canada stands in support of all workers who continue to stand up, speak up, organize, and mobilize for the rights and welfare of workers, their families, and communities – and do this with their heads high. We are joined by Bayan Canada and Kapit-Bisig Laban sa COVID-19, the mutual aid network to fight COVID-19.

There is no place for hate and vilification against anyone, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time for helping each other and being compassionate with one another. There is no place for FAKE NEWS, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

***

TAGALOG:

Naglipana ang FAKE NEWS tungkol sa tunay na isyu ng panayam sa ating kababayang unyonista sa CBC.

At dahil fake news, binaluktot nito ang katotohanan at nagsabog ng kasinungalingan. Ang katotohanan ay nasa sinabi ng ating kababayan, kung pinakinggan ng mabuti ang panayam, at nasa teksto ng panayam, kung babasahin lamang. Walang batayan ang mga paratang na “walang utang na loob” at “walang hiya”.

Kinilala ang tulong ng gobyerno ng Canada sa ibinigay na CERB sa kaniya at sa mga manggagawa sa hotel industry. Hindi nagsinungaling ang ating kababayan sa pagsabi na bagamat may ayudang CERB, hindi ito makakasapat kung ang pandemya ay magpapatuloy. Umaasa rin ang ating kababayan na malalaman din ng gobyerno ang gagawin para matulungan ang mga manggagawang tulad nila na nasa hotel industry. Ang pangambang ito ay nakabatay sa realidad na ang hotel industry ang tinamaan ng matindi ng pandemya at higit sa 90% ng mga manggagawa ay nawalan ng trabaho. Karamihan rito ay kababaihan, maraming Pilipina at ibang women of colour. Ayon sa UNITE HERE local 40, ang hotel industry na umaasa sa mga turista ay isa sa mga huling makakabawi pagnatapos ang pandemya.

Ang fake news ay naging paraan para sa pagbatikos sa mga manggagawa at sa mga migrante na may lakas na magsalita, tumindig, mag-organisa para sa kapakanan at kagalingan ng lahat. Kumalat rin ang kutyain, tangkaan ng marahas, magkalat ng maling paratang at mga pang-aalipusta na naghikayat sa iba, lalo na sa mga kababayan natin, na kamuhian siya hanggang sa mag-udyok sa internet ng pagpapatalsik sa kanya mula sa Canada. Subalit dahil sa suporta at pagkilos ng mga tao para sa katotohanan, isang mahalagang tagumpay ang pagtanggal ng petisyong ito sa change.org

Layunin ng ibinaluktot na katotohanan ang sirain ang ating komunidad at gatungan ang maling paggamit ng “hiya” at “utang na loob”. Walang krimen na mamahayag at ilantad ang katotohanan ng kabuhayan sa ilalim ng pandemya. Ayon kay Zailda Chan, Presidente ng UNITE HERE local 40: “Bakit tayo mahihiyang sabihin ang ating mga kuwento bilang mga migrante, bilang mga babae, bilang manggagawa na lumalaban para sa isang mabuting buhay? Sa katunayan, dapat MAS MARAMI pang mga manggagawa ang magsabi sa ating mga makapangyarihang pulitiko kung ano ang ating kailangan para maigpawan itong krisis pang-ekonomya.

Sumulat rin si Mable Elmore, ang MLA ng Vancouver Kensington: “Mga kababayan, sa panahon ng pandemya, mas lalong mahalaga na magsalita kung nangangailangan ng tulong… alam natin na ito [ang ayuda mula sa gobyerno] ay di sapat at may mga napagiiwanan. Kailangan namin makarinig mula sa inyo. Hindi kawalan ng utang na loob na magsabi na maraming pang kailangang gawin para matulungan ang mga nawalan ng trabaho o mawawalan ng trabaho. Kung wala tayong mga lider na may lakas loob na magsalita para sa atin kapag hindi natin kaya — isang trahedya ito sa ating komunidad.

Ang karapatang pantao, lalong- lalo na sa panahon ng krisis tulad ng pandemyang COVID-19, ay madaling tapakan at ipagwalang bahala. Ang cyberbullying ay ang paggamit ng social media katulad halimbawa ng Youtube at Facebook para himukin ang ibang tao sa internet na saktan at pahiyain ang kapwa nila. Ito ay harassment at defamation. Panliligalig at paninirang-puri. Walang dahilan na saktan ang pagkatao ninuman at ilantad ito sa poot, pang-aalipusta, panunuya, at pag-iinsulto ng publiko na pinaniwalaan ang fake news. Ang ganitong asal ay hindi tama. Ito ay may mga ligal na kahihinatnan. May mga batas tayo sa Canada sa online bullying at harassment.

Hindi rin lingid sa atin na ang mga atake sa mga manggagawa tulad ng ating kababayan ay larawan din ng mga manggagawa sa Pilipinas na tumitindig para sa kanilang karapatan at sinasagot hindi lamang ng pang-aalipusta mula sa estado at mga masugid na alipures nito, kundi pati ng karahasan, pagdakip at pagkulong at minsan, kamatayan.

Nabanggit rin ng mga cyberbullies na dapat “tumahimik na lamang.” Ito ang nagpapakita na marami ang walang kamalayan sa kasaysayan at realidad ng migrasyong Pilipino sa Canada.

Ang resulta ng pagwawalang-bahala ay ang lalong pagyurak sa karapatan ng mga manggagawa. Sa kasaysayan ng Canada, ang patuloy na pagkilos at pag-oorganisa ng mga caregiver sa loob ng maraming taon ang nagtulak sa pamahalaan ng Canada na gumawa ng maraming pagbabago sa programang ito: tulad ng pagkakaroon ng permanent residency para sa mga caregiver, pag-alis ng compulsory live-in na requirement, at pag-alis ng second medical exam na pinaglaban ng domestic worker na si Juana Tejada. Sa mga TFW, ang ingay at protesta ng mga manggagawa at suporta ng malawak na komunidad ay nagresulta sa pagbasura ng mandatory removal na 4 years in, 4 years out. Ang mga programa at mga serbisyo para sa mga manggagawa ay hindi mangyayari kung hindi ito ilalahad at ipaglalaban, tulad ng matagumpay na welga ng mga hotel worker sa ilalim ng UNITE HERE local 40 noong 2019.

Ang programang living wage ay hindi mangyayari kung tumahimik at nakontento ang mga manggagawa at nagpasalamat sa kanilang “dying” wage. Sa panahong ito, ang pagkilos ng mga manggagawa, mga grassroots na organisasyon at mga unyon ang nagsisiguro na walang manggagawa na maiiwan na walang ayuda sa panahon ng pandemya — kaya kahit na walang work permit o expired na ang SIN, makakapag-aplay pa rin ang mga migranteng manggagawa sa mga ayuda gawa ng COVID-19. Ito ay dahil sa pag-iingay at pagkilos ng mga manggagawa, unyon, komunidad, at maraming mga kaalyado.

Kaya patuloy na lang ang pag-oorganisa at pagkilos natin dahil madaling bawiin ang mga pinaghirapang mga tagumpay kung tayo ay magsasawalang-kibo at magkakasya sa mga mumo na itatapon sa atin.
Naninindigan ang Migrante Canada sa lahat ng manggagawa na patuloy na nagsasalita, nag-oorganisa at nag-momobilisa para sa karapatan at kagalingan ng mga manggagawa , ng kanilang pamilya at ng ating komunidad – at ginagawa ito ng taas noo. Kasama namin ang BAYAN Canada at ang mutual aid network ng Kapit-Bisig laban sa COVID-19 sa pagsuportang ito.

Walang lugar ang pagkamuhi at ang pang-aalipusta kahit kanino, lalong lalo na sa ilalim ng pandemyang COVID-19. Ngayon ang panahon para magtulungan at magmalasakit sa isa’t isa. Walang lugar ang FAKE NEWS, lalong lalo na sa panahon ng pandemyang COVID-19.

#NoToFakeNews | #NoToCyberBullying
For reference:
Maria Sol Pajadura, Chair, Migrante Canada
Christopher Sorio, Chair, BAYAN Canada

Update: After publication on Philippine Asian News Today, some language in this statement has been adjusted.

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