Migrante Canada and Bayan Canada Statement on the Proclamation of Duterte as President

Changing the Lives of Migrant Workers and OFWs: The Great Task of Serving the People

With an overwhelming voice, millions of Filipino voters -including 407,000 overseas Filipinos – have dramatically brought the Filipino nation to still another turning point in our history.  The people have chosen lawyer and politician Rodrigo Duterte to lead them away from the crimes, ills, deceit, feebleness and decrepit morality of the passt Benigno Aquino regime.  The desired change they cry for is certainly obvious: a solution to the basic problems of the country that have plagued the basic masses – widespread unemployment, chronically low wages, contractualization, landlessness, the lack of basic social services, corruption, the rampant violations of human rights and of national sovereignty.  The resulty poverty in the Philippines today marks even the capital region of Manila and its districts, where an average family lives on a measly P22. to P37. a day ($0.60  to $1.01 in Canadian currency).  Such extreme poverty is staggering and ironic in a resource-rich country, where the world’s wealthiest corporations have been allowed to establish huge agribusiness projets and to extract gas, gold and other minerals with little concern for the rights and welfare of local communities.  The plunder that goes on has clear links to poverty, which past governments have shamelessly maintained and supported.

Of course the people want to spit out and trash these problems quickly, and clear the ground for change.  However, the problems have become fixed in a system that has been developed over the decades, and has increasingly worked against the people’s interests.  Like cancer, the system has also invaded foreign shores, to follow and beseige those Filipino migrant workers who have gone out of the country to seek personal solutions, and have been made pawns in a state-enforced labour export policy.  Migrants arrive with great hope, only to find that the cancerous situation for the Filipino nation, wherever it exists, is unrelenting, and they must always struggle to survive.  The old cancerous system from the past century, against which people rose in revolution, has worsened through corruption and the greed of landlords and the business elite, and flourished through the neoliberal policies adapted by successive governments, and moreover, today it has been integrated with a global system set by the self-serving corporate agenda of world trade and business.  This present system of advanced cancer continually abuses the whole Philippine economy, its sovereignty, and its people – wherever they are.

There are now 12-15 million Filipino migrant workers abroad, and their numbers are increased by more workers leaving the country at the rate of 6,000 a day – which is clear proof that joblessness and unemployment levels remain high despite  state declarations to the contrary.  As evidence of the Aquino government’s dependence on migrant workers, by the end of 2015, Bangko Sentral recorded that workers had sent a total remittance of $39 Billion US.  And yet, according to Migrante International’s documentation, many persons in this labour force, an estimated 1/4 of the total labour force of the country, have had to suffer, and still suffer, from injustices such as:  imprisonment (92 on death row); being stranded in war-torn areas; illegal recruitment and human trafficking; increased state exacti0n; a dismal safety and service program; misused OWWA funds.  Over and above all that, they have to bear the tremendous social cost of their lengthy separation from their families, as they bow to the demands of immigration laws.

The solution will not be easy to accomplish, but the people’s organizations can offer their recommendations and proposals to the new  government, and many have already done so.  Migrante Canada and Bayan Canada, trusting that the Duterte government will hold steadfast to its announced political will to serve the people, backs the pro-people agenda already present by Migrante International to government.  We also welcome the government’s idea of setting up as Department for OFWs, provided that it is integrated to an over-all program which moves towards making migrant work an option rather than a forced necessity.

To realize and actualize change in the lives of migrant workers, webelieve that the Duterte governemnt can, within its six years of office, work towards creating the foundations for a decent life for all Filipino workers by bringing about the following, which Migrante International has pinpointed in its proposal:

  • 10 million sustainable jobs in the Philippines within 6 years

  • A stop to contractualization of labour in the country

  • A genuine agrarian reform program

  • Free basic social services such as education, health care and housing

  • A genuine reintegration program for retiring ofws and a universal pension system

  • A planned economy to ensure the trickle-down of OFW remittances to national industrialization and land reform

  • An efficient mass transport system, better internet and IT utilities that OFWs can come home to

  • Fast, efficient and more accessible venues for OFWs in distress, both in the Philippines and abroad

  • Competent and OFW-friendly embassy and department officials

  •  Rights-based bilateral labour and immigration agreements with labour-receiving countries

  • Justice and indemnification for all victims of illegal recruitment and trafficking

  • An end to all schemes and government policies that treat OFWs as mere milking cows

We are at a historic turning point, and the future of the nation is in the balance.  As we, in the organizations of Migrante and Bayan Canada look forward to the changes that the new Philippine government will make in a direction that serves the interests and welfare of migrant workers, we firmly believe that the opening of coordination between the people’s organizations and government authorities will facilitate much-needed change.

If we are to serve the people, we must heed the people.

Hear the people’s cry! Let the people’s voice be heard!

 

 

Reference:

Chandu Claver, Bayan Canada

Tess Agustin, Migrante Canada

 

 

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Genuine democracy and freedom, not fake independence!

Statement of Bayan Canada on June 12, 2014

The true commemoration of June 12 is the continuation by the Filipino people of the  struggle for true independence from the corrupt political system and from foreign intervention.

Bureaucratic corruption, feudal exploitation and forced migration

The political system in the Philippines is absolutely rotten to the core.  The Napoles P10 billion pork barrel scam is just one example of this.  These past months have exposed President Aquino’s role in defending the pork barrel system and in covering up corruption scandals. Having prior knowledge of a list of those involved in the scam, such as his allies and key Liberal Party leaders, he has filed charges only against his political opponents in order to divert public outrage against his government and to cover up his own role as the pork barrel king.

Aquino’s posturing cannot fool the Filipino people.  While the corrupt elites play politics and accumulate wealth and power, the people struggle to make ends meet, provide a livelihood for their families and a future for their children.

Landlessness as a result of the scourge of land monopoly still exists.  President Aquino and his haciendero family avoid genuine land reform and prevent poor peasant farmers from owning, tilling and making productive the lands of the Cojuangco-Aquino’s Hacienda Luisita. But with the general rule of land monopoly and avoidance of any real agrarian reform in the Philippines, the Filipino people are left to face hunger and abject poverty. They are displaced by land conversion and development aggression and the degradation of the environment due to large scale mining and deforestation.  Millions migrate to the cities and become part of the urban poor; desperate and debt-ridden, many take their chances for recruitment to work abroad.

Nowhere is this situation more apparent than in the lives of migrants who are forced to leave in search of meaningful jobs that do not exist in their country.  While working abroad, migrants are left on their own, practically abandoned by the reactionary Philippine state. They are left without any protection or support while experiencing the difficulties and discrimination in defending their rights as foreign workers in affluent nations where policies become more and more xenophobic and anti-migrant as the world capitalist crisis hits home.

Here in Canada, migrant workers are pitted against working people who are accused of stealing local jobs.  Policies are even made stricter preventing migrants from ever setting roots in the country they work in, despite the fact that they contribute to the economy and generate profit for the capitalists through their labour.

EDCA – a deterrent to peace and magnet for war

The Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the US and Philippines is hyped as the solution to the ongoing aggression of capitalist China in the South China Sea, including in the disputed areas of the Philippine territorial waters. EDCA turns the entire Philippines into one gigantic American military base; it easily becomes a target for the enemies of the US and escalates the tensions between the Philippines and China. US imperialism, not wanting to risk an all-out war with China makes grand postures but will not defend the Philippines in the long run.  EDCA will bring back the US bases on Philippine soil but on a larger scale. Along with this are the usual effects of US military presence which include the displacement for locals, unhampered movement of US military personnel, subcontractors and equipment, rape of Filipino women and increased violations of human rights. Meanwhile it would mean restricted access for Filipinos within US military facilities while the Filipino tax payers pay for the bills. It would mean for Filipinos the displacement of their families, the constant threat of war and possible injuries or even deaths at the hands of foreign soldiers during “joint” military exercises and campaigns. As in the past, the people will be pushed to oppose the presence of foreign military on their homeland.  Peace will be more elusive with the implementation of EDCA. The benefits of EDCA to the people are nil while the cost to Philippine sovereignty is great.

All signs do not point to a truly independent and sovereign nation but to one with “huwad na kalayaan” or fake independence.  The only hope for an independent and sovereign nation is for the Filipino people to continue the struggle for National Democracy against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. ###

JUSTICE FOR WILLEM GEERTMAN, WELL-LOVED DUTCH COMMUNITY WORKER, A DEAR FRIEND TO THE FILIPINO PEOPLE

Statement of BAYAN, MIGRANTE and PHILIPPINE SOLIDARITY NETWORK IN CANADA

BAYAN, MIGRANTE and the Philippine Solidarity Network in Canada vehemently condemn the cold-blooded murder of Dutch NGO worker and missionary Willem Geertman by two motorcycle-riding men believed to be military agents on July 3, 2012 in Angeles City, Central Luzon.

The assassination of Willem Geertman is the latest in the train of extrajudicial killings under the Aquino administration, numbering 76 in the report of KARAPATAN (Movement for the Advancement of Human Rights) at the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in Geneva in May this year.  Several countries urged the Philippines to end impunity in extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture and bring those responsible to justice, including Major General Jovito Palparan Jr, former Governor Joel Reyes and the perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre.

Geertman is the second foreign national killed under the Aquino government.  In October 11, Italian missionary Fr. Faustino “Pops” Tentorio, who devoted his life to the peasants and indigenous Lumad in Mindanao, was brutally killed.

Willem Geertman worked for Alay-Bayan Luzon, a non-government organization that addresses issues of poverty and landlessness, disaster risk reduction and environmental concerns in Central Luzon.  He was dearly-loved by the poor peasants, farm workers and the community that he served.  He was known for his courageous advocacy in defense especially of the farmers in Hacienda Luisita, and his compassion for disaster victims and victims of human rights abuses.

Indeed the Aquino government knows no bounds in disposing of those who get in the way of the foreign and local elite interests that it serves – so much so that it has taken to physically eliminating foreign nationals who serve the interests of the poor and the oppressed. Meanwhile it continues to promote and protect foreign mining and other corporate interests, and welcomes the entry of more US troops and warships into the Philippines.

We join the progressive community and all freedom and peace-loving groups and individuals in demanding a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.  We call for justice for Willem Geertman and all victims of human rights violations and an end to impunity NOW.

7 July 2012

Dr Chandu’s message to the Montreal organizers of Cordillera day 2012

Video message

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=3576595328519

The Illusion of Aquino’s “Tuwid na Daan”

Street theater, Aquino's SONA

Photos of Montreal People’s SONA

Press Statement

BAYAN CANADA

June 24, 2011

After one year in office, President Benigno Aquino III has not improved the lives of the Filipino people. His promise of “Tuwid na Daan” (straight path) is nothing but the crooked and edgy path for the Filipino people to tread on. His campaign promises during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) have become illusions for the majority of the people.

Misguided by the illusion of popularity, the Aquino administration refuses to address the chronic problems of the country. These are the rampant unemployment and poverty, inadequate social services, continuing human rights violations committed with impunity, landlessness, continuing rise in the prices of basic commodities, uncontrollable prices of gasoline and petroleum products, and destruction of the environment.

These problems, further encouraged by the government’s labour export policy, continue to drive many Filipinos to leave the country to work abroad. At least 4000 men and women leave the airports everyday to work overseas; there are 10 million Filipinos working in 196 countries and territories.

If President Aquino is sincere in keeping his promises, he needs to concretely act on these. In the socio-economic front, instead of taking the neoliberal economic path, he and his economic managers must take the path to national industrialization and genuine land reform. Instead of dole-outs and short-term socio-economic programs like “Pantawid Pasada” (gas subsidy to drivers) and conditional cash transfer (CCT), the Aquino administration must undertake long-term socio-economic measures that will bring lasting, not temporary, relief to the people’s suffering. The Aquino administration needs to look beyond economic rhetoric and failed policies of the past regimes.

Like his predecessor the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, President “Noynoy” Aquino has opened the country to foreign capital and investments. President Aquino has aggressively attracted foreign investors and has placed little or no restrictions to their operations.  In particular, we refer to Canadian mining companies that operate in the Philippines which have not complied with genuine, free, prior and informed consent from the indigenous peoples and which have put profits before environmental destruction and displacement of peasant and indigenous communities.

Fighting corruption is empty rhetoric when President Noynoy Aquino has shown no urgency in prosecuting Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her cohorts for their graft and corruption, as well as the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of those who advocate for social change. Declaring that the Filipino People is the President’s “Boss” carries no weight when the same President also wages an all out war against the people with the US-inspired state counterinsurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan. President “Noynoy” Aquino cannot profess to be for peace until he orders the general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty of all political prisoners.

The first year of President Aquino has therefore been found wanting. The state of the nation, the state of the people has only gone from bad to worse.

-30-

END THE INJUSTICE! FREE THE MORONG 43 NOW!

Press Statement                                                                                                                                                                                               November 5, 2010

Reference:

Joey Calugay, 514-947-3662, jcalugay2@yahoo.ca                                                                                                                          Yasmeen Khan, 613-558-1625, yazmaryam@hotmail.com

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Canada [BAYAN Canada] today joins Bayan in the Philippines, people’s organizations and advocates of the Morong 43 in different corners of the globe in calling on President Benigno Aquino III to order the immediate and unconditional release of these health workers who are now in their ninth month of detention.  The 43 – that include two doctors, two midwives and a nurse – were arrested on February 6, 2010, on the basis of a defective search warrant issued and on evidence planted by state forces. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Early on in those nine months, some of them were subjected to grueling physical and psychological torture, and various forms of indignity. They were denied legal counsel and family visits in Camp Capinpin, a military prison camp in Tanay, Rizal.

Today, women detainees Judilyn Oliveros and Mercy Castro have already given birth while in detention. Both are under hospital arrest at the Philippine General Hospital. Both mothers have fought for their right to breastfeed their babies. The other health workers are still detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.

There is no reason why Aquino cannot direct the justice department to file a motion withdrawing the criminal charges against the 43 before the Morong Regional Trial Court and the Metropolitan Trial Court. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has indicated that her recommendations to President Aquino should lead to the release of the detainees. The President himself has admitted that the search warrant was defective. The courts would then have no choice but to release the 43. And with this simple act, Aquino would have been able to end the injustice done to these community health workers.

Furthermore, the Aquino government granted amnesty to 300 rebel soldiers detained by the Arroyo regime for staging three coup attempts, even before a Makati Trial Court could even decide on the case of one of the rebel officers.  Why then can it not order the release of the innocent 43 health workers who want nothing more than bring medical services to the poor?

The Aquino government has always been saying they want to rectify the injustices committed by the Arroyo regime. It is time to right these wrongs. And President Aquino can start by freeing the Morong 43, releasing all political prisoners and addressing all cases of human rights violations committed by state forces.

Free the Morong 43!

Release all political prisoners!

Justice to all victims of state repression!

An Open Letter to President Benigno Aquino III

Dr. Claver with his wife Alice who was caught in the crossfire and became a victim of an assination attempt on the doctor's life in 2006.

I am Chandu Claver. My family was the target of an ambush by suspected State agents nearly four years today on July 31, 2006 in the province of Kalinga. My wife Alice was killed, as a result. Because of continuing threats on what remained of my family, I was forced to seek political refuge in Canada. In the Canadian hearing connected with this, I testified that the death of my wife was linked to the present Philippine counter-insurgency
Operation Plan Bantay Laya which specifically targets civilians and social activists. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has found my claim for refuge to be valid and has declared me and my family as Convention Refugees.

Like many hopeful Filipinos hungry for change, I have intently listened to your recent State of the Nation Address. As a victim of the extra-judicial killings perpetuated in the name of Oplan Bantay Laya, and as one of the families actively continuing to seek justice, I found your speech very disappointing.

I had hoped to hear from you bold and definite steps to stem the carnage that has resulted in more than 1000 bloody executions and more than 200 abductions. I had hoped that you would prevent more killings by at least putting Oplan Bantay Laya under review. I had hoped that you would implement the recommendations of the United Nations Special
Rapporteur Phillip Alston on the matter. The link of Oplan Bantay Laya to the killings and disappearance has been established many times in the recent past by respected institutions, both in the Philippines and abroad. But you never even mentioned Oplan Bantay Laya in your speech.

I had hoped that you would make some positive pronouncements regarding the plight of political prisoners, especially the Morong 43 – health workers like me, who have been languishing in jail since February on obviously trumped up charges. Considering all these, I am hoping that this is not because you are afraid of intimidating the military institution.
In your speech, it was good that you had initiated steps to try to solve the cases of the six new cases under your administration. But your failure to mention any plans to solve the very large number of extrajudicial killings and disappearances during the past administration made me very uneasy.

This fear was increased when you laid down your intention with the Truth Commission. The only reference to going after human rights violators as part of the Truth Commission was a short vague phrase about “going after killers”. Much of your speech was spent painting a very detailed and graphic picture of the corrupt practices of the past administration. In contrast, you only mentioned a very few vague words on an issue that has taken the precious lives of many and devastated countless family members. I cannot
help coming away with a very strong suspicion that you would prefer not to deal with the problem of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. To me, it felt that you were washing your hands of the cases occurring in the past administration, and that your lack of adequate reference to the issue felt like you were sweeping the dirt under the rug. I fervently hope that I am wrong in thinking that.

At the very minimum, I had hoped to hear from you a clear and unequivocal warning that members of the military linked to these killings would face the full force of the law. This was a crucial statement that human rights organizations (both in the Philippines and abroad) have long been recommending to the previous administration. This was a
necessary first step that we believe would serve as a strong warning that would start to counter the “culture of impunity” related with these killings and disappearances. This initial statement would start the process of preventing similar tragic events.

But Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was never able to make that simple statement. You have not done that in your SONA speech either, nor in any of your public speeches. I can only think of three possible reasons why you did not make that crucial, simple and logical statement: that you harboured hidden feelings that the killings served a good purpose; that you did not have the will to go against the military establishment; or your speech writer forgot to put it
in. Which is it, Mr. President?

We need the killings to stop. Your spokesman had declared that extrajudicial killings are not your administration’s policy. Then prove it, sir – shut down Oplan Bantay Laya, and truly investigate and actively prosecute the military perpetrators and their political coddlers, whether in the past administration or in yours.

For as long as the perpetrators of these extrajudicial killings and disappearances believe that their leaders are tacitly approving their heinous crimes through inaction and mixed signals, the blood will continue to flow. And unless you act more decisively, that exactly is what would happen. ##

Chandu Claver
chandu_claver@yahoo.com
31 July 2010