Mar 12, 2011

pre-Araw ng Dabaw

Dugang suhulan

Mar 11, 2011

OFWs, groups all set for March 17 protest

Global alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Migrante International today held a press conference with returned OFWs from Libya, families of OFWs in Saudi and other OFWs in distress to announce their grievances and demands to the Philippine government in light of the series of crisis and calamities that have wrought havoc to the lives of Filipino migrant workers and their families in recent months.

Migrante International announced that OFWs, their families and other progressive sectors of society are all set for national and international protests on March 17, death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, against government neglect and attacks on the rights of welfares of OFWs around the world.

OFWs from Libya air complaints

Around 30 returned OFWs from Libya expressed their grievances over the absence of assistance from Philippine authorities in evacuation and repatriation activities, and what they called "government misinformation"  on the present situation of their co-workers who are still left in Libya. The returned OFWs expressed concern for the safety of at least 15,000 Filipinos who are still in Libya.

They are also gravely worried that they would not be able to get their unreleased salaries and other benefits and demanded government assistance for their claims.

Some OFWs who have only been in Libya for three months have also complained that they were made to pay the costs and premium of the mandatory insurance coverage by their recruitment agencies. Republic Act 10022 or the amended Migrants' Act imposed a mandatory insurance coverage effective late last year for all agency-hired OFWs. It is stated in the Act that costs of the mandatory insurance should be paid by employers and in no way shall be charged to OFWs. 

Transparency in gov't plans for Saudi crisis

Meanwhile, Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez called for transparency from the Philippine government in light of escalating protests in Saudi Arabia and other areas in Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Since end of January, sporadic protests have erupted around the Saudi region and are expected to intensify. March 11 marked Saudi protesters' 'Day of Rage' calling for government reforms from the ruling monarch. Thousands of protesters were violently dispersed by the Saudi National Force upon orders from the King.

"Kung sa Libya na 30,000 ang Pilipino ay nagkumahog ng gobyerno, ngayon pa lang ay dapat handa na sila sa anumang scenario dahil 1.8 milyon ang Pilipino sa Saudi. Hindi na uubra ang tsamba lang dito, nasaan na ang konkretong plano?" said Martinez.

Martinez said that until now there is still no appointed Philippine Ambassador in Saudi. He also urged the government to immediately announce and inform OFWs of viable evacuation plans and details. "We are not alarmists. It is always better to safe than sorry, and judging from the way the government handled the crisis in Libya, the government should be transparent in their plans. Hindi dapat para bang secret ito na hindi pwedeng malaman ng publiko. Our chapters and members in Saudi can even help in the information-dissemination and the families of OFWs here have the right to know."

Martinez said that the Philippine government should start off by facilitating the immediate repatriation of stranded OFWs who have been awaiting government assistance even before the protests erupted, among them, 1,000++ OFWs in the deportation center in Al-Mina terminal in Jeddah; 3,500++ stranded over-staying  and runaway OFWs, mostly women and children, with expired or cancelled work visas Kingdom-wide; 600++ OFWs in deportation center cell numbers 14 and 16 in Jeddah; 1,000++ in Dammam, Eastern region of KSA; 1,200++ OFWs who have already finished their sentences but are still in jail.


Martinez also called on the Philippine government to act in haste to inform the public and families on the state of OFWS after the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. There are 305,00 Filipinos in Japan and 250,000, including undocumented OFWs, in Tokyo alone, according to Migrante-Japan.

Migrante and its chapters worldwide are coordinating via "Sagip-Migrante" with the aim to coordinate efforts from Filipino communities and families here and abroad for disaster-preparedness and information dissemination in light of war, calamities and other emergencies. "Sagip-Migrante" is the same network that launched coordinative efforts from migrants and families after typhoon Ondoy. ###

Lindol at tsunami

Nagising ako sa sunod-sunod na alert mula sa aking Tweetdeck kanina. Nagmadali akong i-check ito at nagulat ako sa aking nabasa. Niyanig ng napakalakas na lindol ang northeastern na bahagi ng Japan. Sinundan pa ito ng malakas na tsunami at ngayon ay lumikha ng napakalaking pinsala sa Japan. 

Nakakatindig-balahibo ang mga larawan at videos na nakapost sa internet; mga kotse na parang mga laruang plastic na inanod ng tsunami, mga gusaling nasira at mga usok mula sa mga nasusunog na bahay at gusali. Binaha ang internet, lalo na ang twitter, ng mga komento ng mga pag-aalala lalo na para sa mga kababayan na kasalukuyang nagtratrabaho sa nasalantang bansa.

Sa ngayon, nakataas pa arin ang Tsunami Alert Level 2 sa 19 na probinsya sa Pilipinas matapos ang malakas na paglindol sa Japan. Ayon sa Philvols, ito ang mga probinsya ng Batanes, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Quezon, Aurora, Camarines Norte at Sur, Albay, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Northern at Eastern Samar, Leyte, Surigao del Norte at del Sur, Davao Oriental at Davao del Sur.

Halos lahat ng residente ng Davao ay nakatutok ngayon sa balita at nagaasam na masagot ang kanilang mga katanungan. Lalamunin ba ang Davao at ang mga karatig na probinsya ng mga dambuhalang alon? Magkakaroon din ba ng malakas na lindol sa Pilipinas? End of the world na ba?

Maraming residente, lalo na ang mga may kamag-anak at kaibigan na nasa Japan ay gumagawa ng paraan upang kumustahin ang kalagayan ng kanilang mga mahal sa buhay.

Sa mga ganitong kalagayan, inaasahan natin ang pamahalaan na gumawa ng mga kaagarang aksyon upang isiguro ang kaligtasan ng mga mamamayan.

Attached dito ang statement ng Migrante-Japan:

MIGRANTE Japan on Ambassador Manuel Lopez:
"Act Swiftly and Competently to Help Filipino Victims of Strong Earthquake"

Migrante Japan and Task Force RESPECT express concern for Filipino migrants living in areas most affected by the devastating 8.8 earthquake that hit Japan around 2 o'clock in the afternoon today, March 11, 2011.

We are particularly curious about the plans of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo to help affected Filipinos in the Norther Part of the country, especially Sendai which is directly affected by the 30-meter tsunami that hit the northern coastline hours after the earthquake.

We call on Ambassador Manuel Lopez to act swiftly to determine the extent of damage to our compatriots living in the areas affected, to secure their safety and to extend all necessary support and assistance to them.

Migrante Japan notes that most of the estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Filipinos in Northern Japan are marriage migrants, entertainers, trainees and factory workers. Many of them, especially those living along the Sendai coastline may have already lost their homes and possibly their jobs as well, and therefore, need immediate support in terms of rescue and evacuation.

We hope that the Philippine Embassy will not follow the lead of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which handled the the political crisis in Egypt and Libya indecisively and incompetently.

In crisis situations like this, Filipinos are known for their "bayanihan" spirit.  However, we dare our government officials to take the cudgel for our distressed compatriots instead of just prodding Filipino communities in Japan for much needed help.

Task Force RESPECT
March 11, 2011