STOP POLITICAL PERSECUTION.
CONTINUE THE PEACE TALKS NOW!
Migrante Canada and Bayan Canada condemn, all over again, the continued blatant and rampant
violation of human rights of innocent civilians and of people from progressive organizations who have
dedicated their lives to advocating for justice in the Philippines. We condemn, more than ever, the
relentless war that has been carried out through the reckless militarization of rural areas by troops and
paramilitary, through the decades, under the aegis of the Philippine government.
We specially condemn the fact that this reckless militarization has plagued the country, despite the 5-
month old unilateral ceasefire declared by President Duterte, as a sign of his intention to pursue talks
about peace. However, as we now know from reports, contradicting such offered signs of goodwill, as
of January 2017, 51 battalions have been deployed to Mindanao alone, and the state's troops were
deployed to about 500 villages across the country. The people have always asked for justice, knowing this is the way to lasting peace. Just as we, alongside many, praised President Duterte' sresum
ption of peace talks with the CPP-NDF
NPA, we now condemn the recent results of his withdrawal of the government panel from the talks,
and his latest declaration of an "all-out war". We condemn the new counterinsurgency program, which
started early this year and has escalated rapidly.
• January 20, the killing of Alexander Ceballos, regional council member for the National ederation of Sugar Workers, and threats dealt to other agrarian-reform activists in Negros;
• February 3, the killing of Lumad leader Renato Anglao, Secretary General of Tribal
Indigenous Oppressed Group Association or TINDOGA;
• February 6, Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines re-
arrested NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario and threatened to re-arrest thirteen (13) other NDFP
These events took place quickly, in glaring contrast to the long-drawn out silence of government
regarding the request voiced out by human rights advocates to bring justice to around 40,000 victims
of human rights violations and the voices asking the government to carry out the president's previous
promise to free the close to 400 political prisoners languishing in jails.
With such a start, Oplan Kapayapaan, obviously can only be as merciless to non-combatants as other
programs in the past, and already tells the nation that it will produce the opposite of its name, bringing
more suffering to more numbers of people. We join other organizations hoping for peace in the Philippi
nes as we urge the Duterte government to continue the peace talks and to complete the positive disc
ussions that have begun and forge agreements regarding the social and economic reforms much needed by the people. We all are at a crucial point in our history which can decide the direction of our nation.
We dream of a society where families are not separated due to the urgent need of survival
The heightened suffering of the vast numbers of Filipinos through the recent decades has proven a dark
nightmare of a false democracy. Ironically, of course, it has increasingly become a pleasure dome for
the elite and their lapdogs. We utterly condemn this result of successive Philippine governments
submitting to an enforced tutorial under its colonizer, the American government.
We, alongside the people, call for the the Philippine government to respect previously signed
agreements, and continue on with the peace talks! We call for an end to trumped-up cases that have victimized many members of progressive groups! We call for a stop to all forms of political persecution of members of progressive people's organizations and development workers! SGD.
Chairperson, Migrante Canada
Continue the peace talks, Firm up reforms
We express our deep disappointment over the declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte to terminate the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), especially at a time when both sides have already made substantial, accelerated and historic progress in the negotiations.
In the pursuit of the Filipino people’s aspirations for economic development, social justice, genuine democracy and lasting peace, we strongly urge Pres. Duterte to reconsider and push on with the peace talks.
The just-concluded Third Round of talks in Rome, made accelerated progress in the discussion of each panel’s versions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). Both sides recognized the problem of landlessness and rural poverty, and they agreed in principle to the free distribution of land to farmers and farm workers. This is a historic first in any Philippine administration and in the 30-year history of the talks. This is also a first in any peace negotiation in the world! They also agreed to continue discussions and to forge other agreements on national industrialization, economic development, and environmental protection.
During the Third Round, the two sides also exchanged complete drafts for a proposed agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms. They exchanged views on the proposal for a federal form of government and the need for certain constitutional guarantees and safeguards demanded by the people.
The two sides then agreed to meet again for a Fourth Round of talks in April, in Oslo, Norway. They vowed to continue working on the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement for Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and to unify their versions of the agreements on social and economic reforms and that on political and constitutional reforms.
The historic gains achieved thus far in the peace talks, coupled with the festering poverty, social inequity and injustice, and trampling on the rights of the Filipino people are more than sufficient compelling reasons to trudge forward on the path to peace.
We continue to hope for peace and support the Filipino people’s aspirations for peace based on justice. What is most important is that the people’s struggles for national liberation, social justice, economic development, and democratic reforms will continue, and the roots of the armed conflict will be addressed. Only then can just and lasting peace be achieved in the Philippines.
Friends of PMSC
Please hit the link and sign on to the call for peace talks. Please circulate through your networks.
1. Signing on to the (online) statement: Continue the peace talks, Firm up reforms.
December 18 2016
MIGRANTE CANADA STATEMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS DAY
LONG LIVE THE MOVEMENT OF FILIPINO MIGRANT WORKERS! WE, THE PEOPLE, ONCE MORE SAY THAT WE NEED LAND, DECENT WAGES AND JOBS, AND ALL THE RIGHTS THAT WE, AS MEMBERS OF A DEMOCRATIC NATION, DESERVE. ONCE MORE, WE CONDEMN THE BANKRUPT LABOR EXPORT POLICY THAT HAS, FOR FOUR DECADES, FORCED US INTO SLAVERY, UNJUST TREATMENT, AND THE TORTURE OF SEPARATION FROM OUR FAMILIES. WE ALSO CONDEMN THOSE AUTHORITIES, AGENCIES AND PERSONS WHO HAVE, IN THE NAME OF THE LABOR EXPORT POLICY, ALL
THESE YEARS, SQUEEZED US DRY WITH COSTS FOR TRAINING, CONSULAR, IMMIGRATION, TRAVEL, PROCESSING, DOCUMENTATION AND OTHER RELATED MATTERS!
This year, as migrant workers and their families observe the 20th anniversary of the founding of Migrante
International, Migrante Canada clearly and firmly states the urgent call for the Duterte government to
finally take action and fulfill its promises to pave the way for better working and living conditions in the
Philippines. We call upon this government, now six months in office, to be true to its vow to ensure that
this present generation becomes the last generation of migrant workers to make that immeasurable
sacrifice of for their families: leave for foreign lands so that the families they love may survive!
In lands such as Canada, we migrant workers continue to work in conditions where we are open to
exploitation and abuse because there are no safeguards and accessible laws to protect our rights as
workers and human beings. We have had to fight throughout all these decades so
that host governments would recognize us and act upon our just demands for our rights.
Recently, on December 13, the Trudeau government abolished the 4 years in-4 years out ruling set by the
Harper government, mainly because of our fierce fight against it. In Migrante Canada's statement for
International Migrants' Day last year, we pointed out the ruthlessness of the 4-and-4 rule. We pointed out
why it is cruel: we said that the rule “definitely cuts down job security of the worker, increases
competition for a job, and increases the volume of temporary workers coming into Canada. The result
for workers in Canada: the bulk of labour in Canada will all be dumped in the temporary status category
and will fix it in the lowest income bracket of the Canadian economy. The result for migrant workers:
more unemployment, more poverty, more dismal conditions."
We have triumphed over this threat, and know that through the efforts mainly of migrant workers, the
Trudeau government has listened to us on this score. There is more work ahead of us. We are still in the
same overall condition of injustice and danger, because, as temporary workers and as foreign migrant
workers, the value of our labour is still not duly recognized and we as workers and human beings are not
effectively protected by law. The domino effect of the different featured rules and regulations of the TFWP
or Temporary Foreign Worker Program still falls in the same direction: these all work against the interest of
the worker. We have to fight to remove all these anti-worker domino chips systematically stacked against
us. The principal demand of the migrant workers movement was, and remains as: perm
anent resident status upon arrival. Migrante Canada clearly stated that in its submission to t
he HUMA Parliamentary Committee when it reviewed the TFWP.
Again, we say that "Permanent residency gives a worker a secure foothold
in the Canadian democratic system. It gives the migrant worker the same protective laws
and rights that the local resident-worker and citizen-worker has. It gives him the right to bring h
is family to Canada. It also gives him the right to unionize, allowing access to a complete system of labour
laws, and presents opportunities to participate in a labour movement that can potentially push labour conditions up, not down."
But our problems, rooted in the Philippines, actually grow because of a globalized pattern of neoliberal
policies. In our 2015 statement on International Migrants' Day we also said and we shall repeat it this year:
We call upon Prime Minister Trudeau to resolutely review its (government's) foreign trade agreements
with migrant-sending countries like the Philippines and see the connections with the immigration policies
brought into operation by the previous government. We again call upon the Prime Minister to:
"take the necessary steps towards the immediate ratification of the U.N. Convention for the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families" and again ask that the Canadian government ratify
"C189, the UN Domestic Workers Convention, 2011."For the four decades that the LEP has remained a policy that has sent out millions of migrant Filipinos and harvested financial gains from the labor export trade, we and our families have not seen anything which has actually been done by the Philippine government
to serve our interest, or serve the interest of the huge masses of impoverished Filipinos,.
In connection to the Philippine government's financial gain from the LEP, we must ask again: Why doesn't
the Philippine government use the migrant workers' 10% addition to the Philippines' GDP to improve the
lives of the masses in the country, many of whom are families of migrant workers? Through the years under various presidents, the Philippine government has: aggressively implemented RA8042, come out with the amended RA 10022, followed it with the OWWA Charter Law, continued the extortion of migrants, made cuts in the budget for services for migrants, and has done so many other anti-worker deeds - chiefly made by the agencies of DFA, DOLE and OWWA. The bankruptcy of the LEP's rules and regulations is now summed up in the need for a Department for OFWs, as announced by the Duterte government. The efficacy of this department remains to be seen. As for Canadian corporations in the Philippines, particularly those in the resource-extraction industry, we again challenge them to prove that their financial gain can be justifiable, in the face of the violation and suffering of indigenous peoples and of the majority of Filipino people, who are displaced, militarized,
tortured and also killed, often just for voicing out the violation of their rights. This is the true "face of migration" - the worsening conditions in the Philippines of the millions of impoverished people who are left behind by the millions of family members who were forced to migrate.
Long live Migrante International! Repeal the Migrants’ Act of 1995! Scrap the Labor Export Policy!
Create regular jobs and decent wages in the Philippines! Vigorously oppose the neoliberal attacks against Filipino workers in the Philippines and Filipino migrant workers!
Reference: Tess Agustin
Chairperson, Migrante Canada
PMSC STATEMENT ON SITUATION IN GREECE
Who pays for austerity?
PMSC joins the movement to oppose cuts to public services in Greece just to pay foreign debt.
Greece is not alone. Many countries in all parts of the world are feeling the pinch of having to depend on financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions to keep their economies afloat.
Everywhere, inequality is rising. Public services are being cut due to government budget deficits, yet corporations continue to benefit from bail-outs and laws that protect their ever-increasing profits. They pay very little in taxes despite their immense wealth.
PMSC-Ottawa extends its support to the Syriza government and the people of Greece in the lead-up to the referendum on the terms of its financial assistance program that will take place on Sunday, July 5. The people of Greece have suffered harshly and unjustly from devastating austerity cuts to their public services, massive public sector lay-offs and pension cuts. With unemployment reaching 25 percent – and a youth unemployment rate nearly double that amount – Greece’s creditors have ruled out modest stimulus measures in favour of imposing a permanent recessionary economy through more draconian cuts.
Economic growth that enriches the elite and multinational corporations should not be on the backs of workers, families, students, children and pensioners!
PMSC STATEMENT ON CHANGES TO THE LIVE-IN CAREGIVER PROGRAM
Over the past two decades, the Philippine Migrants Society of Canada-Ottawa (PMSC), along with other advocates for migrant workers’ rights, has been calling on the Canadian government to address the vulnerability of foreign caregivers in Canada. Yet the changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) that are being considered will make the situation worse, not better!
We called for the granting of permanent residence to live-in caregivers at the outset. The demand for live-in care giving is not a temporary one. It is support that is much needed by Canadian families on an ongoing basis in the absence of a child care or elder care system in the country.
The response of the government is heading in the opposite direction. Instead of permanent residence upon arrival, they are now going to add live-in caregivers to the growing pool of vulnerable temporary foreign workers who have low prospects of becoming permanent in Canada. Temporary foreign workers are vulnerable because they are not in a position to speak against abusive working conditions and other contract violations, as they constantly face the threat of deportation if they lose their jobs. The likelihood of abuse is even higher for live-in caregivers as they tend to work long hours without being paid overtime – sometimes in slave-like conditions.
A few changes that the Canadian government is considering are positive. The proposal to make live-in arrangement optional will help to set limits to work hours, as they can leave their employers’ homes at the end of day. We have called for this change for many years!
But without eliminating the vulnerability that comes with temporary status, and the requirement to have a work permit that is tied to a specific employer, the situation will not change!
The Canadian government is planning to replace the Live-in Caregiver Program with a program that will have much stricter eligibility requirements and subject to admission caps. Many caregivers will not be successful in becoming permanent under this program. Yet they will endure hardship as temporary foreign workers in Canada, having been forced to migrate to escape joblessness back home. They will work under difficult conditions in the hope that they will become permanent and finally re-unite with the loved ones they left behind. But Canada is taking this away.
We have to end vulnerability once and for all. We again ask the Canadian government. PROTECT CAREGIVERS AND SUPPORT CANADIAN FAMILIES BY GRANTING CAREGIVERS PERMANENT RESIDENCE ON ARRIVAL!
Eliminate vulnerability rooted in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program!
Moratorium is not the way to go!
On April 24, Minister Kenney of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) declared a Canada-wide moratorium of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) for the Food Services Sector, effective immediately. The moratorium, along with a review of the program, was Kenney’s response to the serious allegations of the TFWP by employers, particularly in the food services industry.
This means that ESDC will no longer process new or any pending Labour Market Opinions (LMO) for the food services sector. Jobs affected range from food counter attendants, kitchen helpers, food service supervisors and servers, chefs, cooks, butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers, sales clerks, janitors, cleaners, to security guards and related occupations. Any unfilled positions that are tied to previously approved LMOs are suspended as well. Labour Market Opinions are prerequisites to obtaining temporary work permits.
Rather than addressing the root of vulnerability faced by temporary foreign workers in the hands of employers and unscrupulous recruiters, this moratorium makes it worse by punishing migrant workers already in Canada. Those who are at the tail-end of their contracts are in limbo, unable to renew their work permits. As a result, they can be deported through no fault of their own.
Many temporary foreign workers have travelled from afar and incurred debt or used their lifetime savings to land jobs in Canada, because there are no jobs for them in their home countries. In countries such as the Philippines, people are forced to migrate due to economic and political conditions that serve foreign business interests. Without national industries that can create jobs, they have no choice but to seek jobs elsewhere and leave their families behind.
When Canadian employers hire them as cheap, vulnerable labour, migrant workers become convenient scapegoats. They are pitted against Canadian workers, and depicted as workers stealing jobs from locals. This fuels racism and anti-migrant and anti-immigrant sentiments.
For as long as employers have access to cheap migrant labour, they have no incentive to pay decent wages or improve working conditions to get the workers they need. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program should not be the answer to Canada’s permanent labour shortages. Better wages and working conditions for workers, and permanent residency for migrant workers, is the right and just way to go!
12 May 2014
Statement on Human TraffickingCharges against Filipino Diplomat
Migrante Canada, a Canada-wide alliance of 19 Filipino migrant and immigrant organizations, is
calling on the Philippine government to immediately respond to the charges filed by the Ottawa police against
Philippine Cultural Attaché Bueneflor Cruz and her husband Robert Cruz. Bueneflor worked as a staff member in the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa before she and her husband left Canada in early 2014. Bueneflor Cruz is charged with human trafficking for purposes of labour exploitation and Robert Cruz is charged with uttering death threats and mischief, including the withholding of the identification documents of their nanny.
In the news reports, the Ottawa Police Services Inspector said that the Filipino nanny who had entered Canada legally was in the couple’s employ and was "controlled" by the couple for more than four years. Her identification papers were allegedly seized by the couple. "She was working every day, under conditions that wouldn't be appropriate for anyone here in Canada,” the Ottawa Police Services Inspector said.
“To be violated by the very people who are supposed to be there to help protect and advocate for your rights and welfare is a slap on the face of all Filipino migrant workers, most especially when these workers are deemed as major sources of revenue through the billions of remittances they send year after year to the Philippines,” said Aimee Beboso, the Chairperson of the Philippine Migrant Society of Canada (PMSC), a member of Migrante Canada. The Philippine government has been sending migrants to Canada for decades. Over 600,000 Filipinos make Canada their second home making their contributions to the Canadian economy. In addition, the remittances of Filipino overseas workers (OFWs) help prop up the ailing Philippine economy through their remittances. Dollar remittances from OFWs reached $1.867 billion in May 2013. In the previous year 2012, these remittances comprised 9.22% or $ 1.972 billion of the total $21 billion. The Philippines belongs to the top six (6) source countries of dollar remittances.
Despite this, Philippine government services to protect the welfare and interest of millions of OFWs, if not absent, are lacking and remain insufficient. .
“To compound this situation, the Filipino OFWs get diplomatic staff like Bueneflor and Robert Cruz who treat their own kababayan (compatriot) like a slave, " declared Tess Agustin, the Chairperson of Migrante Canada. “This conduct is unacceptable. We demand that criminal and other charges against the couple be seriously pursued by the Canadian government. We demand a full investigation and the filing of charges by the Philippine government, specifically the Philippine Dept of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa – diplomatic staff cannot hide nor invoke diplomatic immunity for violations of human rights, in this case, human trafficking." Last year, the British Columbia case of human trafficking which resulted in the precedent setting decision of the guilty verdict against the employers remains a victory for all victims of human trafficking. Leticia Sarmiento, the Filipino nanny trafficked from Hong Kong to Vancouver, BC, was the important witness in this case; she found the courage to stand and speak out against her employers and in doing so, got justice for herself and inspire other victims to speak out.
Migrante supports the Filipino nanny abandoned by her employers Bueneflor and Robert Cruz. Migrante will
continue to monitor the case closely, work to ensure that the interests and welfare of migrant workers are upheld and remains committed that justice is done and that the employers are tried and punished.
Tess Agustin, Chairperson, Migrante Canada
Ipaglaban ang demokrasya sa ating bansa!
Mourning lives lost in the Ampatuan Massacre and taking action for change
On November 23, 2009 over 57 Filipinos met their violent and painful deaths in the hands of gun-wielding goons of a political rival. The victims were travelling in a six-vehicle convoy to register the candidacy of Esmael Mangudadatu for mayor. They were stopped and brutally killed by 100 men who were allegedly led by Mayor Datu Unsay Ampatuan, the son of the province’s influential Governor. At least twenty-seven of the victims were journalists, two were human rights lawyers, and most of them were women. Shot at close range, beaten and raped, their bodies were later recovered in a shallow mass grave.
The next Philippine election is still six months away, but the bitter and violent political wars have already begun. For many Filipinos, this is nothing new. Vote-buying, bribery, fraud, intimidation, violent assaults and killings have characterized elections throughout the country’s history. The rich and the powerful fight among themselves and they use ‘guns, goons and gold’ to win. This time, the alleged perpetrators are political allies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Despite the explusion of the Ampatuans from the ruling Las-Kampi-CMD party, signals from the Presidential palace indicate that the friendship between the Ampatuan family and President Macapagal-Arroyo will remain unaffected.
This sad and grim reality has left the majority of Filipinos voiceless and poor. Millions have already left to live and work overseas to escape the dire economic and political situation that has resulted from Philippine-style democracy. But migrant Filipinos can make a difference. As we light a candle for each of those who died so senselessly, we can ask ourselves, how do we take this opportunity to take up the fight for change? We need to make our voices heard!
Please join the Philippine Migrants Society of Canada in Ottawa (PMSC) in condemning the Ampatuan massacre and demand justice for those who have become the latest victims of the tragedy of Philippine politics!
We must support the STOP THE KILLINGS CAMPAIGN! Together we can make a difference!