Thursday, December 31, 2009

Labor Migration in 2009: A Terrible Year to Be an OFW

The regime of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo changed the face of labor migration in the Philippines. It pursued its labor-export policy aggressively, begging receiving countries to accept more overseas Filipino workers. In the meantime, it shirked its responsibilities toward Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in distress, in many instances even becoming complicit in the abuse of overseas workers.

More at: Labor Migration in 2009: A Terrible Year to Be an OFW - Bulatlat

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ottawa takes steps to protect caregivers -

The federal government is moving to protect foreign caregivers from abuse and exploitation while making it easier for them to obtain permanent residency in Canada.

Nannies will now have up to four years to complete a total of two years of work that is necessary to apply for landed status and will no longer have to undergo a second medical examination when they do. And employers wanting to hire a nanny from overseas will have to pick up the travel costs and provide medical coverage until they are eligible for provincial health plans."

More at: Ottawa takes steps to protect caregivers -

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Relief initiatives for typhoon victims - Migrante Canada

The Philippine Reporter
December 1, 2009

TORONTO–As early as the day after the typhoon Ondoy unleashed death and destruction in the surrounding areas of Metro Manila, Migrante Canada in coordination with Bayan Canada and United Church of Canada already issued callouts to the Filipino community in all cities and provinces. On its part, Migrante-Ontario issued an appeal to everyone to help with the emergency situation.

We are very proud to say that we garnered substantial support - in cash and in kind, from our community from all over Canada - that we have sent through our partners in the Philippines to the intended beneficiaries, to the most affected. We have proven that the spirit of bayanihan or community/cooperation/collectivism, which we inherited from our ancestors, indeed lives on.

FMWM members sorting out relief goods for typhoon victims.

The Filipino Migrant Workers’ Movement (FMWM) donated $200 from its funds, and was able to collect another $270 mainly donations from the residents and staff of Valleyview Residence. Four Balikbayan boxes full of clothes and canned goods courtesy of the Highpark-Bloorwest Physiotherapy Clinic were already sent to the office of Migrante International in Manila.

“It’s always heartwarming to know that there are people who really care for others in dire needs,” said FMWM chair Jonathan Canchela, who is also the coordinator of Migrante Sectoral Partylist in Canada. “We are very grateful to everyone who supported our initiative to help fellow Filipinos affected by recent typhoons back home.”

Benefit concert in Barrie a success

A mini-concert held in Barrie October 24 by the Painswick United Church community together with the Pilipinong Migrante sa Barrie (PMB) raised some $1,262 in relief funds for the survivors of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in the Philippines.

Bon Accord, a quartet popular for their Scottish folk music in the community, wooed the crowd that filled the Oasis Church. Panyolito performed songs related to the environment, how it has been abused by landed and corporate entities, and the need to work together for its protection, preservation and sustenance.

Wilma Delo, president of Pilipinong Migrante sa Barrie (PMB), Pamela Pisco, finance officer, and Alma Bermoy, who took charge of donations for survivors of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, turn over relief funds to Josie Forcadilla of the Justice, Global and Ecumenical Relations Unit of the United Church of Canada (UCC). The UCC channels donations from Canada to National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) flood relief effort and issues tax receipts for donations $20 and above. The NCCP has been consistent in ensuring that help gets to those who need it the most.

Sharon and Alex Constable from the community came up with the idea of the relief effort and got in touch with PMB leaders. This was given support by the church members and Pastor Glen Butler himself.

Wilma Delo, PMB president, in her opening remarks said, “We especially wish to express our profoundest gratitude to the community of the Painswick United Church for having taken on this very generous initiative.”

Delo further goes, “A song composed by our good friend Levy Abad, Jr. entitled Graveyard of the Future puts the message so well: “If we don’t care for Mother Nature now and let greed have its way, then tomorrow Mother Nature will surely sweep us all away.”

“For global warming, climate change is not simply natural phenomena but is the result of people’s abuse of Mother Nature - people in positions of power, local and foreign, engaging in destructive mining practices, denuding the forests, trampling upon land, aquatic resources, and other natural wealth for their own selfish ends. These have caused soil erosion, the destruction of valuable watersheds, bringing about flooding and landslides. These same elements - bureaucratic corruption, foreign domination and corporate greed - are at the root of our people’s sufferings from poverty, landlessness, unemployment and hunger; the very same reasons why we are here as migrants.”

“And so we come together, we build and strengthen bonds of cooperation, solidarity with sisters and brothers of other nationalities. What we have raised in terms of material and financial support provides immediate relief to our kababayans (compatriots) in need. But beyond immediate relief, we look further on to rehabilitation and eventually empowerment of our people towards collective self-reliance, and the rebuilding and building not only of individual homes and communities but of the larger society founded on social justice, prosperity for all and a truly lasting peace.”

Meanwhile, AWARE-Pilipino Family Services held a Halloween Fundraiser October 31 at the Holy Rosary Parish Hall, netting $600 in funds and boxes of relief goods being prepared to go to the Operation Sagip Migrante disaster relief effort.

The Operation Sagip Migrante relief initiative is administered by the Migrante Sectoral Partylist [MSP].


Migrante-Ontario member organizations:
Filipino Migrant Workers' Movement; AWARE; Philippine Advocacy Through Arts and Culture (PATAC); Damayan Migrant Education and Resource Center; Migrante Youth; Migrant Workers and Family Resource Center - Hamilton; Pilipinong Migrante sa Canada (PMSC) - Ottawa; Pilipinong Migrante sa Barrie (PMB) - Barrie

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Second International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees successfully held as a counter-GFMD conference

More than 100 delegates and guests representing 45 organizations of migrants, refugees and advocates from 20 countries, participated in the successful holding of the second International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) held November 1-4, 2009, in Athens, Greece. The assembly, held at the Athens University of Economics and Business, and the Polytechnic University of Athens, was held as a counter-assembly to the government-led Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) that also convened in Athens November 5, 2009.


Following the success of the first IAMR held in Manila in 2008, the second IAMR attracted participants from all global regions, North and South America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Delegates came from as far as Senegal in Africa, Bangladesh in the Asia-Pacific, to Israel in the Middle East.

In a unique ceremony on the opening of the second IAMR on Nov. 1, delegates and guests were treated to a display of different banners, and a chorus of slogans translated into several languages. Delegates themselves participated in the ceremony by rhythmically banging sticks on the tables and walls and shouting slogans, to create noise, an artfully created metaphor - for migrants and refugees wanting to heard, and speaking for themselves.

The Second IAMR was convened by the International Migrants' Alliance (IMA), Migrante International, Asia-Pacific Mission for Migrants, IBON International, Union of Working People of Greece and Migrante Europe, and was firmly supported by the Network of Migrants and Refugees Social Support.

The meaningful and productive discussions, exchanges, workshops, resolutions, side events and mobilizations during the second IAMR faithfully revolved around and upheld its theme: “Uphold and Defend the Rights of Migrants and Refugees Against Exploitation, War and Discriminatory Laws, Amidst the Global Economic Crisis. Oppose 'Fortress Europe' Policies and the EU Return Directive!”

Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, chair of the International League of People's Struggle (ILPS), a global anti-imperialist alliance that supported the IAMR, in his inspirational message to the assembly, fittingly urged the delegates, to expose migration as the result and furtherance of super-exploitation and underdevelopment in impoverished countries and to oppose the prettification of migration as an instrument of development under the auspices of the US-dictated policy of “neoliberal globalization.


Eni Lestari, an Indonesian domestic worker in Hong Kong, and chair of the IMA, in her keynote speech stressed the need for migrants and refugees to speak and act for themselves. She said the unity that was forged with the founding of the IMA was a historical decisive move of migrants and refugees all over the world that needs to be replicated in areas where the IMA member organizations work and do organizing. She called on the need to establish alliances on the country level, to do more coordinative supportive actions to ensure victories in campaigns, to unite and fight against the enforcement of the EU Return Directive, to forge strong unity and solidarity with the local workers and progressive peoples’ organizations to strengthen the unity of the working people, and to continuously expose and oppose GFMD and all other designs by imperialism.

The succeeding three plenary inputs deepened further the insights into the issues of migration and development from the perspective of migrants, refugees and progressive advocates.


Tony Tujan Jr, director of IBON International, tackling the first topic of the plenary on the global capitalist crisis and migrant labor, stressed that labor migration, as a specific means of exploiting international surplus population by imperialism to depress wages and manage falling rates of profit in their homefront, implies that migrant labour issues must be addressed in the full context of imperialism, both in the sending country and the host country. Specific migrant issues and national policies, he further argued, must be put in the context of fundamental relations of trafficking in systemically cheap migrant labour, in solidarity to workers and people’s issues in the colonies and semicolonies and the workers issues in the imperialist home front.

Errikos Finalis of the Union of Working People of Greece, tackled the reality behind 'fortress Europe' and the various actions and resistance being waged by migrants and refugees themselves with the support of progressive European advocates and labor groups.

Teresa Gutierrez of the US-based May 1 Coalition for Immigrants and Workers' Rights, delivered in plenary input no. 3, a critique of sending countries' migration and development policies and strategies.

Nine workshop groups went to work to tackle a broad range of issues related to migrants and refugees, namely: 1) impact of the global crisis on migrants and refugees and people's responses, 2) situation of women migrant workers, 3) marginalization of migrant labor and relations with trade unions and social movements, 4) state repression of migrants, denial of rights to asylum, and the attacks on political refugees under the so-called “war on terror”, 5) urgent issues of the undocumented, their criminalization and 'fortress europe', 6) fighting racism, discrimination, xenophobia and fascism, 7) political empowerment and participation for successive generations of migrants and confronting policies and problems in integration, 8) engaging the UN and other international bodies in upholding and advancing the rights and welfare of migrants and refugees, 9) drawing lessons from campaigns on rights, welfare and resistance, and developing an education campaign on arousing, organizing and mobilizing migrants, refugees and advocates. The reports of the workshops were eagerly listened to and later, the approval of the proposed resolutions animated the delegates into enlightening debates, discussions and clarifications.

The IAMR2 declaration was approved without much controversial debates, and which in essence echoed the following, among others: that the fundamental solution to the problem of forced migration in the poverty-stricken semi-colonial countries is all-rounded development; that his development must be mainly a self-reliant development making use of the local human and material resources; that foreign aid from the wealthy countries is only supplementary and considered as payment of historical debt; that such kind of development can only happen through a radical and fundamental change of the present world order and calls no less for the dismantling of political and economic structures that perpetuate the iniquitous relations between the exploited and exploiting countries.


Before closing, the second IAMR approved the resolution for the IAMR2 participants and IMA member organizations to join and actively participate in the third IAMR in Mexico, again in conjunction with the GFMD meeting in that country. IAMR2 delegates also urged the IMA to lead in the preparations for that next assembly.

The solidarity affair during the last day of IAMR2 on November 3 was very warm and uplifting, amidst the strong rains that drenched Athens the whole day. The cultural performances, done spontaneously but very much engulfed by the spirit of international solidarity, exuded the determination of all delegates to continue the fight of migrants and refugees. Heartwarming poetry was recited, songs were sang, speeches delivered and messages of solidarity shared and read, not one seeking any need for translation despite the language barriers as the solidarity spirit became the medium of expression. It was IAMR2's cultural swan lake, so to speak.

The highlight of the second IAMR was the big demonstration held on November 4. It was organized mainly by the Network of Migrants and Refugees Social Support, with the cooperation of other progressive Greek groups. More than 5,000 people joined the demonstration, with the IAMR2 delegation at the forefront of the march that was determined to reach the site where the official government-led GFMD was being held. From Syntagma Square in downtown Athens, the demonstrators peacefully but militantly shouting slogans against imperialism and the GFMD, marched towards the site of the GFMD, but was eventually stopped from proceeding by a phalanx of Greek anti-riot police.


Teresa Gutierrez, spokersperson of IAMR2 said that governments in receiving countries following the dictates of their principals – the capitalist class, have sought to isolate the migrants and refugees from their natural ally – the working class of these countries. She stressed that the 5000 strong political demonstration showed the unity of the workers and the progressive people of Greece with the migrants and refugees. And thus, Gutierrez declared, we are building a progressive movement of migrants and refugees that stands united and strong and that will not allow the capitalist class to divide us again.

Making their presence felt and the point of their protest march noted and well-covered by the Greek and international media, the demonstrators marched back to where they gathered and dispersed peacefully, after holding a brief program at the site where they were stopped by the Greek police.

Adding further to the success of the second IAMR were four side events, namely: 1) the common forum hosted by the Network of Migrants and Refugees Social Support, held November 1 at the Athens University of Economics and Business, where IMA chairperson Eni Lestari spoke on behalf of the IAMR2, 2) the Migrants-Faith Communities Dialogue on: Strengthening Programs for the Care, Empowerment and Upholding Rights of Migrants and their Families on November 3, 3) the Dialogue and Strategy Meeting between Grassroots Migrants and Trade Unions on the Proposed ILO Convention on Domestic Workers, held November 4, and, 4) the 4th Europewide Conference of Organizations of Filipinos (ECOFIL), that assembled all Filipino delegates based in Europe to discuss the Philippine situation and to define action points on the issues of migration and human rights, transparency and the electoral challenge in 2010.

*This communiqué is prepared by the IAMR2 Secretariat (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) and released on 26th of November, 2009. The IAMR2 secretariat can be contacted at

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Filipino Nurses in Canada: In Search of a Better Life

In this interview with the on-line magazine Bulatlat, our friend from Montreal, Evelyn Calugay, shares her experiences when she decided to move to Canada as a nurse from the Philippines. She also shares her opinion about Canadian policies that are detrimental to foreign-trained nurses.


ALBERTA, Canada — The Philippines has been exporting nurses since the 1960s. Enticed by the promise of a brighter future for themselves and their families, Filipino nurses have since flocked to other countries in the thousands.

The pay may be higher where they end up, but they fall prey to exploitation, misleading integration programs and erroneous policy changes.

Such was the story of Evelyn Calugay, who went to Canada to escape the hard life in the Philippines. She shares her experiences and insights in this interview with Bulatlat.

More at: Filipino Nurses in Canada: In Search of a Better Life - Bulatlat

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Call for solidarity messages to Second International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees

Dear Colleagues, Friends and Delegates to the Second International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees!

Our Second Assembly will take place November 1-4, 2009 in Athens, Greece!

May we request all organizations, and even individuals, to send SOLIDARITY MESSAGES or GREETINGS to the Second International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees.

The messsages/greetings need not be long, and could be just one paragraph (or even catchy one-liners). We will display your messages during the assembly for our Greek friends and assembly participants to see, and compile them as part of our official documentation.

You may also forward this email to organizations or individuals you know that/who are one with us in spirit and principle, to make the Second IAMR a success. All messages would surely inspire the Assembly.

May we have your messages before Oct 31. Please send them to the following email addresses:

Your militant messages and greetings would keep us warm and inspired during and even beyond the assembly!

Long live the struggle of migrants and refugees for their rights and welfare!
Long live the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees!

iamr2 secretariat

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Migrante Canada denounces decision to prevent Migrante Sectoral Party from participating in 2010 elections

Press Release
October 16, 2009
Toronto, Canada

Migrante Canada denounces in the strongest possible terms the decision of the Commission on Elections [COMELEC] to delist the Migrante Sectoral Party (MSP) from the list of registered organizations vying in next year’s party-list election in the Philippines.

“This COMELEC decision is unjust and anomalous,” says Marco Luciano, Migrante International Global Council representative for Canada. “Not only is it a violation of due process leading to the disenfranchisement of a group that has truly served the interests of Filipino migrant workers and their families the world over. It opens the door for the Malacanang-backed party-list groups to dominate the coming party-list election, thus serving the ruling administration’s objective of prolonging its rule.”

What ever happened to due process?

In its Resolution No. 8679 issued October 13, 2009, the COMELEC en banc ordered to delete Migrante and 25 other groups “from the list of registered national, regional or sectoral parties, organizations or coalitions” citing Section 6, item No. 8 of the Republic Act 7941 otherwise known as the Party-List System Act.

This particular section of the Party-List System Act allows the COMELEC to motu propio - "on its own impulse" - remove a sectoral group or party BUT ONLY “after due notice and hearing” if “it fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections OR fails to obtain at least two percentum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections.”

However, the MSP was never guilty of such failures in two preceding elections - in 2004 and 2007.

The MSP participated in the 2004 partylist election, but, unfortunately, failed to garner the required 2% of the votes cast. Then the MSP did not participate in the 2007 election after formally informing the COMELEC months before the election. The failure to gain the two percentum of votes happened only once - in 2004 - not twice, not in two preceding elections; and the "failure" to participate in the election happened only once - in 2007 - not twice, not in two preceding elections. It is therefore erroneous, if not malicious, for the COMELEC to delist the MSP and other sectoral groups on the basis of Section 6, Item 8 of RA 7941.

“Moreover, the COMELEC’s en banc decision is tantamount to suppressing the rights of a party that seeks nothing but to represent in the House of Representatives the millions of Filipino migrants all over the world,” Luciano adds. The MSP announced in September its intention to run again in the party-list election, cognizant of “existing policies and laws that are detrimental to the interest of migrant Filipinos and in order for Overseas Filipino Workers [OFWs] to be represented by their own partylist.”

“Why disenfranchise the MSP which has been in the forefront of helping many distressed OFWs and their families since its formation in 1996?” says Luciano, noting the courageous work of Migrante and its allied organizations in many parts of the world.

If the COMELEC wants to unload itself of election work next year, they should have made efforts to get rid of many sham party-list groups, like Bantay and Kasangga, supportive of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime while masquerading as representatives of the marginalized sectors. Let the axe fall on these bogus groups, but not on the Migrante Sectoral Party which truly represents the interest of the Filipino migrants.

“We call on all Filipino migrants around the world to condemn the COMELEC’s unjust decision,” Jonathan Canchela, chair of the Filipino Migrant Workers’ Movement [FMWM], said in a separate statement.

“We encourage them to voice out their opinions against this oppressive decision delisting the MSP from the list of qualified sectoral groups hoping to participate in the electoral process next year. Let the dissenting voices of the Filipino migrants be heard,” says Canchela, who also announced that FMWM and other Migrante Canada member organizations are planning to launch consolidated protest actions in response to this decision of the COMELEC.«

Jonathan Canchela – Tel: +1 647.833.1023

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hundreds of Philippine temporary workers pick tomatoes in southern Ontario

Dear IMA-Canada members and friends,

On Sunday, October 4, 2009, Migrante Ontario spokesperson Maru Maesa and myself went to Southern Ontario. We drove west from Toronto for about four hours to Kingsville, a small town southeast of Windsor, Ontario. Going through a long road by the fields the drive felt longer than it was. Upon entering the town of Leamington, the town before Kingsville, we started seeing rows of long tent-like structures wrapped in what seems to be tarpaulin. These greenhouses looked more like something out of a sci-fi movie. (In photo: Maru Maesa (centre - 2nd row) & Marco Luciano (3rd from right) with new friends in Kingsville.)

I was invited by a friend to attend a health fair for migrants. He is with Justicia 4 Migrant Workers, an organization that organizes Mexican and Carribean agricultural workers. After setting up our table, farmworkers started coming in. Surprisingly there are close to 40 Filipino farmworkers that came to that event.

Most of these workers came directly from the Philippines. A lot of them came from the northern provinces like Baguio, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte. There were some that came through Vancouver. They were recruited to work as carpenters and construction workers for the Olympics. When they get to Vancouver, there were no jobs for them and that their agency "shipped them" to Southern Ontario. During "off season" they work four days a week and four hours per day (@ 9.70 per hour). They live in apartments outside the farm. One workers said that she along with 8 of her co-workers live in one bedroom apartment. She said that most of the workers live in similar conditions.

What's interesting to know is that there are more than 300 of them in the Leamington / Kingsville area working in different privately-owned farms. One farm in particular employs 100 Filipino farmworkers. One worker said that he is expecting his brother in law to come from the Philippines sometime in the spring of 2010 along with another 200 farmworkers.

Marco Luciano
Migrante Ontario

You are invited to view Migrante's photo album:
Farm Visit, Kingsville, Ontario - Oct 4, 2009

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Monday, September 21, 2009

G20 Summit: Putting Profits and Monopolists Above the People: IMA

Press Statement
of the International Migrants Alliance on the G20** Meeting
September 20, 2009

If the G20 will have their way, there is no hope that the people can cope with the current depression gripping the world. Worse, there can never be a future where social justice prospers and where the dignity of all workers – including (especially) migrant workers – is upheld. Saving the neoliberal globalization still is the major agenda of member countries of the powerful G20. The group is a champion of the very same policy that has put the world in the worst financial crunch in recent history.

People around the world are reeling from the impacts of the financial crisis that stemmed from the crisis of overproduction inherent in the monopoly-ruled global economy. Though the G-20 projects its meeting in the United States as one that will find ways to get the world out of the economic rut it is now in, it is without doubt that the priority of the G-20 will be on how to save the big monopolists and banks that have been the ones cornering profit and production at the expense of human lives. Meanwhile, the people of the world are left with a worsening social, economic and political condition.

Millions of people have lost their jobs or have been made insecure and temporary in their employment. Agriculture, a pillar for our livelihood and right to food, has also suffered with the worst impact to landless peasants already living under severe feudal and semi-feudal exploitation. The number of people going hungry has reached over one billion. Even so-called middle class is rapidly finding it hard to cope with the rising prices of goods. Access to education, health and public services has become even narrower than before with compelled privatization of these services. States continually slash budgets for services while giving unprecedented leeway and perk to businesses especially the monopoly-capitalists.

The people’s discontent is on the rise. To curb any form of dissent, policies have been enacted that curtail the civil and political rights of the people such as the right to protest and assemble, the right to unionize and even the right to free expression. Migrant workers around the world are some of the first to feel the brunt of the global crisis. Even before the crisis, migrants have already been made vulnerable to exploitation by the various laws set by host countries to limit their rights. Now with the crisis, hundreds of thousands are laid off from their jobs and summarily deported back to their home countries. After years of benefiting from migrant labor, businesses and labor-importing states now have no hesitation in letting go of migrant laborers.

Undocumented migrants are also hard hit by the economic slump. Border control of host countries are made even tighter and thousands of undocumented are regularly rounded up and are arrested, detained and eventually deported. They are treated as no more than criminals despite the fact their economies have benefited much from their cheap labor. The EU Return Directive is exemplary of the draconian methods used by states to violate the basic social and democratic rights of migrants.

The million-strong protest action of immigrants and undocumented workers in US in 2006 showcased the dire condition of undocumented migrants that is expected to get even worse in the near future. Xenophobia and racism is also fanned to shift public opinion in favor of mass termination of migrant workers and the crafting of labor policies that are detrimental to the rights of migrants. As what happens every time economic crisis sets in, migrant workers are made scapegoats for the rising unemployment among local workers that causes a divide among the working class – migrants and locals – in many countries.

In labour-exporting countries, migration has become the main industry that sustains their economies. Migrant remittances and income from government charges have been the steady sources of dollars and funds for these countries. On top of the economic gains, labor export has also helped in stopping the social volcano that is always on the brink of exploding in crisis-ridden countries that export workers.

Currently, even migration is being integrated in the framework of neoliberal globalization. Through the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) that is in the grip of powerful countries – considering that it is a product of the OECD – migrant workers are transformed into commodities and migration is molded to produce the biggest profits for host countries, sending countries and monopoly-capitalist banks.

Remittance is the main concern of the GFMD. The billions of dollars that migrant workers remit is an irresistible well of funds sorely needed by monopolists in their relentless drive for capital accumulation. Though the GFMD coats itself with motherhood statements on the rights of migrants, its major concern is still unmasked by its very own aim of “making migration work for development” – it is using remittances and other income from migration for the kind of development that is actually not for the grassroots.

IMA stands with the migrants and all the toiling people of the world in further exposing and opposing neoliberal globalization and those that push for it like the G20. We call for jobs in our homeland, we call for equality and livelihoods for social justice for the oppressed and exploited. Such will not be had with the G20. Such can only be achieved through struggle and people’s international solidarity.

Jobs in our Homeland!
Livelihoods for Social and Democratic Justice!

Reference: Teresa Gutierrez, IMA Deputy Secretary General, May 1st Coalition Co-Coordinator

** What is the G 20? -- On September 24-25, 2009 the city of Pittsburgh will host the next summit of the G20, a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s largest economies who meet twice yearly to discuss and coordinate the international financial system. Around 1,500 delegates, including heads of state, will be attending along with more than 2,000 members of the media, and thousands of police and security agents tasked with squelching dissent.

This summit, and the predecessor meetings in April 2009 in London, occurs on the heels of the worldwide financial meltdown that has been severely impacting hundreds of millions around the world. Since its inception, the G20 has been a tool used to promote a world vision based on the ability of capital to move as it pleases, at the expense of labour, human rights and the environment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pushing for fundamental changes in the Live-in Caregiver Program - Migrante-Ontario

Press Release
September 14, 2009

Reaction to Government of Canada’s response to proposed recommendations by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration

Migrante-Ontario is extremely disappointed at the Conservative Government of Canada’s response to the recommendations presented by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in its May 2009 report Temporary Foreign Workers and Non-Status Workers. (*Photos care of Migrante Ontario)

In its response released August 19th, the Conservative Government issued a sweeping blow against the hope of many foreign temporary workers including live-in caregivers. The Government through Minister Jason Kenney of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, outlined its strong opposition to proposed changes in the Live-in Caregiver Program.

The government has opposed the following vital recommendations of the Standing Committee: 1) “provide for a possible one-year extension of the three-year period during which a live-in caregiver must complete 24 months of employment in order to be eligible to apply for permanent resident status;” 2) the implementation of the “Juana Tejada Law;” and the 3) removal of the ‘live-in’ requirement.

This almost blanket opposition to vital recommendations reflects the government’s lack of understanding of what caregivers have been going through all these years. It was a slap on the face of all caregivers who suffered and are suffering from cruel conditions that LCP brings. By opposing the proposed fundamental changes, the government has done a great disservice to the most vulnerable workers in Canadian society.

The Conservative Government also opposed the possibility of granting all foreign temporary workers a “pathway to permanent residency” arguing that “labour needs are not all permanent” and “some other needs fluctuate with the economy and are sometimes unpredictable.”

We think however that the government fails to see the importance of labour in the context of human necessity. We need to understand that many of these foreign workers have left their country in search of a better life in Canada, hoping that they would stay long enough to provide for their families. If the government does not provide them with the opportunity of becoming permanent residents, many of them may just soon go back again to ground zero in terms of providing their families even with very basic needs. This minority government should stop treating its foreign temporary workers like disposable goods.

Many caregivers and advocates including us were thrilled when the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration released its recommendations last May followed by another report in June entitled Migrant Workers and Ghost Consultants. The timing then was perfect as it happened after the Ruby Dhalla scandal. But we know that a lot of politics comes into play in the process of pushing for policy reforms in the legislative setting. We also understand that the reports need the approval of the majority in the House of Commons.

But the hopes that caregivers and advocates have clung to for a long time may just have been dashed once more. With the negative response from the Harper government, the fate of the two landmark reports has become unclear. The impending threat of election makes it more difficult for caregivers and advocates to expect the passage of the reports.

Should there be an election soon, we can expect the various political leaders to include the issue of fundamental changes to the LCP in their platforms. They will take this opportunity to commit to certain reforms in favour of caregivers and other foreign temporary workers.

For us – the community – this is a time to reassert our basic demands such as to allow caregivers to come as landed immigrants without conditions; implement the “Juana Tejada Law” or the removal of the second medical exam when caregivers apply for permanent residence; make the work permit job-specific instead of employer specific; and remove the mandatory live-in requirement. This is a time for us to insist on solid commitments from the candidates, and to make a case against political leaders who deal with us through false and broken promises. ##

Maru Maesa

Tel: +1 416-831-3372
Migrante Ontario blog

Sunday, September 13, 2009

All migrants, refugees, advocates and friends invited to 2nd International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees, Athens, Greece, Nov. 1-4, 2009

The 2nd International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR2) in Athens, Greece is quickly approaching. The first IAMR was successfully held in Manila, Philippines in November last year.

The IAMR is the migrant and refugee challenge to the inter-government-led Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) which is holding its third session in Athens, Greece, on Nov. 4-5, 2009, to continue discussions surrounding migration and development.

Tess Tesalona from the International Migrants Alliance - Canada (IMA-Canada) will be heading the delegation to IAMR2. She invites all interested migrants, refugees, advocates and friends who would like to attend this migrant-led conference to contact her and complete the accompanying documents as soon as possible.

The cost of the conference and accommodation is a very reasonable Euros 150.

For questions or comments please contact Tess Tesalona or Malcolm Guy at:
or by phone at +1 514 342-2111 (leave a message for Tess or Malcolm if necessary, please mention the IAMR)


Please find below the links for IAMR2 documents in PDF format:

The participation form (with interactive form fields). All participants should immediately complete this form and send by e-mail: or Fax: +1 514 842-9858 :

Invitation to the 2nd International Assembly
of Migrants and Refugees in Athens, Greece
November 1-4, 2009 :

And the detailed list of workshops (as of September 15, 2009) :

Visas for Greece: Canadians must have a valid passport (must be valid at least three months beyond period of intended stay). No visa is required for a stay of up to three months, provided coming for touristic purposes.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Philippine kidnapping case has link to Vancouver and Migrante International

By Carlito Pablo
Publish Date: August 13, 2009

Faint from the torture inflicted on her, the terrified young woman was taunted by one of her tormentors.

“Do you think the Canadian government can do anything for you?” the man said. He called her “Maita”.

But her name wasn’t Maita. Nor was she a Canadian.

The woman was Melissa Roxas, an American citizen visiting the Philippines, the birthplace of her parents. An aspiring artist based in California, she was gathering material for a writing project when she and two companions were abducted in the town of La Paz in Tarlac, a province 120 kilometres north of Manila, on May 19. (PHOTO: Melissa Roxas talks to supporters when she returns to Manila to demand justice)

Taken to what she believed was a military camp and accused of being a communist rebel, Roxas was repeatedly beaten, choked, and threatened with execution. At one time, plastic bags were pulled down over her face and secured around her neck until she started suffocating. She was released six days later, on May 25.

Who is Maita, and was Roxas’s abduction a case of mistaken identity? Is there a Canadian connection to this case?

Read rest of article at: Philippine kidnapping case has Vancouver link

Monday, July 27, 2009

People's SONA in British Columbia: Filipinos raise voices in opposition to Philippine President

The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights and MIGRANTE B.C. combine its collective voices in opposition to the State of the Nation (SONA) address of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her devilish scheme to perpetuate herself in power well beyond 2010.

As overseas organizations of Filipino migrants and immigrants and human rights advocates in Canada, we closely follow the developments in the Philippines. We are well aware that the Arroyo regime has kept the Philippines in an ever worsening political and economic crisis; that it continues to wage a counter-insurgency campaign against its own people and that it does not care that it has a notorious human rights record that has claimed more victims and spawned more intensive militarization than any of her predecessors; and that it has made a name for itself in corruption schemes that benefit the her First Family, her cronies and her loyal allies in the Legislature.

President Arroyo’s evil plan to stay in power is strongly reminiscent of the maneuvers of the late dictator Marcos to stay in Malacanang well beyond the two-Presidential term limits and his eventual declaration of Martial Law. Arroyo’s plan in her desperate fight for political survival is already in place with the swift passage of House Resolution 1109 that would call for a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass), which in turn will move for changes in the Philippine Constitution, also known as Charter Change (Cha-Cha). As early as her SONA in 2005, Arroyo already made public her preference for Charter Change and for a parliamentary form of government.

The grand scenario would then involve the transition to a parliamentary form of government making it possible for Mrs. Gloria Arroyo, who will most likely run for and win as Representative of her district in Pampanga in the 2010 elections, to run for Prime Minister. Under a parliamentary system, the Prime Minister is not directly elected by the people but is chosen by the majority party in the legislature. There are no term limits for Prime Minister so Gloria Arroyo can stay strapped to the seat of power and run the Philippines until she is bald and toothless.

Arroyo’s survival plan also ensures that she enjoys immunity, and thus protected from any lawsuit that will certainly come from the families and relatives of those who have been killed, disappeared, detained, tortured, and displaced by her forces of terror.

And if her political schemes do not work, there is nothing to prevent Arroyo from declaring the country under martial rule or emergency rule which also gives her insurance to stay in power, surrounded by her army and her principal supporter, the United States government.

Let this be her last SONA, her farewell to a people who would oust and replace her if she does not step down willingly. Arroyo believes the myths that she peddles to the public and refuses to see that in the last nine years, the people have seen record joblessness, falling household incomes, increasing poverty, fiscal crisis, unprecedented debt and debt service, social service cutbacks, increasing landlessness, and deeper Philippine underdevelopment. She continues to peddle Filipino men and women to work abroad with no regard for their protection but only mindful of their remittances that prop up her shaky economy. She has wantonly sold the country’s national patrimony and national sovereignty to foreign and imperialist ownership, interests and profits.

Arroyo has not learned the lessons of history. The people’s protests that are fueled by poverty, resistance, desire for human dignity, nationalism and a genuine desire for comprehensive change in society grow bigger and bigger each time. These will be the most decisive factors that will dictate the course of events in the coming months.

It is the march of the people in the streets and in the countrysides which will prevail, not the nefarious dance of the Cha-Cha or the evil spectre of Martial Rule.###

Vancouver, Canada

July 27, 2009

Philippine migrants in Canada call for Zero Remittance Day July 27

Migrants Say No to Cha-cha, Calls for Zero Remittance Day on July 27!

Damayan Manitoba, a progressive organization of Filipino migrant workers in Manitoba and a member-alliance of Migrante International and Bayan Canada, denounces President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Charter change (Cha-cha) and her desperate move to remain in power beyond 2010.

On 2 June 2009, Arroyo's cohorts in the Philippine House of Representatives swiftly passed House Resolution 1109 enabling themselves to convene the House as a "constituent assembly" (Con-Ass) with the power to amend the Constitution - even without the concurrence of the Senate. Cha-cha will pave the way to change the government set-up from presidential to parliamentary form, allowing Arroyo to run again as a member of Parliament without any term limits and become Prime Minister.

Aside from changing the form of government, Cha-cha also proposes several economic agenda. Cha-cha will push for the removal of certain nationalist and protective provisions in the Philippine Constitution, allowing 100% foreign ownership of land; allowing foreign capitalists to own public utilities, schools and mass media; allowing US military bases to return to the country; and subsequently removing certain provisions that protect our basic civil rights.

Intensifying political repression

With Oplan Bantay Laya II in effect, extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearances, torture, intense militarization in the countryside and other forms of human rights violations continue to be committed with utter impunity .

According to Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights), extrajudicial killings have already claimed the lives of 1,013 victims, 202 persons have been involuntarily disappeared while 1.036 have been tortured since Arroyo came to power in 2001.

Among these HR violations was Melissa Roxas’ case, a Filipino-American and an active member of Bayan USA who was abducted and tortured by suspected elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The Arroyo government has still not taken any significant action to arrest this continued spate of killings. Its commitment to upholding the rights of its citizens is plain political rhetoric, not a genuine pursuit of justice.

Even UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston strongly criticized Arroyo regime's human rights record. In his most recent report on the UN Human Rights Council, he cited that the ongoing Arroyo’s counter-insurgency program and the AFP’s target to eliminate the revolutionary forces by 2010, are some of the factors that lead to the growing number of human rights violations.

A few weeks ago, several bombing incidents occurred in different government offices. A bomb exploded in the Office of the Ombudsman, while a bomb was found inside the Department of Agriculture. It is believed that the bombthreats in Metro Manila are just being used as a tactic to divert public's attention from the current issues concerning the GMA administration and might be used as an excuse to declare “emergency rule” or “no elections”scenarios.

Anti-OFW Arroyo regime

Damayan Manitoba joins its compatriots from other overseas Filipinoorganizations across Canada and all over the world in condemning and calling for the ouster of this despotic, anti-people and anti-OFWs Arroyo regime who threatens to surrender our national independence and interests.

Due to massive unemployment and lack of decent-paying job opportunities in the Philippines, around 3,000 Filipinos, mostly women, leave the country everyday to work abroad as OFWs.

Filipinos numbering 8 million, or approximately a tenth of the population,now live and work in 194 countries and territories around the world, with concentrations in North America, Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Europe.

According to Migrante International, this migration which started by waves in the course of Philippine history has become an almost daily phenomenon since the government initiated its labor export program (LEP) in the 1970s.What was initially meant as a temporary measure to address the country’s unemployment problem has become a regular fixture, massive and systematic in scope, and bruited about as a tool for national development.

This is mainly because OFW remittances have kept Philippine economy afloat.From $659 million in 1984, these remittances have grown to a staggering $16 billion by the end of 2008, making labor export the top dollar earner in the country.

However, these remittances were earned at tremendous costs to Filipino migrants and their families who had to endure long years of separation and suffer from various forms of exploitation, abuse, discrimination, violence and terrorism.

Thirty-five (35) OFWs are currently languishing in death row: one (1) in Brunei, one (1) in the US, two (2) in China, four (4) in Kuwait, nine (9) in Saudi Arabia, and ten (10) in Malaysia. Four of these are women.

Migrante’s Middle East chapter estimates that some 10,000 OFWs are currently stranded in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Jordan, Libya and Syria. The numbers, though, are climbing everyday. Most of them are runaways, escaping from abusive employers or illegal recruiters or stuck because of retrenchment or unexpected change in visa rules. Three-hundred sixty (360) of them in 2007-2008 were repatriated home upon Migrante’s intervention and assistance but thousands more were awaiting government help especially those brought in detention or deportation cells, in camp-outs under bridges or in consular/embassy premises.

Migrante estimates that around six to eight dead OFW bodies are being brought home everyday. The causes of death were usually suspicious and unknown.

In Canada, live-in caregivers and temporary foreign workers are vulnerable to exploitation, discrimination, harassment, unfair labor practices, denial of access to health care, onerous contracts, unjust living condition, deportation and violence. Abuses ranged from exorbitant and anomalous placement fees to unjust wages.

Damayan Manitoba, along with all Migrante chapters all over the world, urges all Filipino migrants in Manitoba to join the “No Remittance” day on July 27 as legitimate and fair protest action against Arroyo’s neglect of OFWs’ rights and welfare. The No Remittance Day action condemns Arroyo’s betrayal of our people’s trust, putting our future and our nation’s wealth and patrimony at risk.

Damayan Manitoba also calls on Pinoys and OFWs in Manitoba to encourage their families and relatives back home to join protest actions against Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) scheduled on the 27th of July.

OFWs and their families have enough reasons to say No to Cha-cha and end the anti-people, anti-OFWs and most corrupt Arroyo administration!

Enough is enough!

No to an Arroyo dictatorship! No to emergency rule! Never again to Martial Law!

Statement by Damayan Manitoba
contact number: 204-509-2491
email address:
Damayan Manitoba (Caring for one another) is a solidarity and advocacy organization for Filipino migrant workers in Manitoba.

References: Orli Marcelino, +1 204-218-7100 or Jomay Amora-Mercado, +1 204-509-2491

Sunday, July 26, 2009



By: Migrante B.C.

It was a history lesson unlike any other. Told through archival and current images, nationalist poetry, songs and dances, the story of the Philippines and its people from pre-colonial period to the present is that of a proud and brave lineage and history. (Photo: Bibak dance group)

Organized by MIGRANTE B.C. in collaboration with the Vancouver Public Library's Multilingual Services, the July 12th event drew at least 270 people to the library's MacKay Room. Mothers with their toddlers and babies in strollers, school-aged Filipino-Canadians, seniors, families, neighbours and MIGRANTE members and supporters made it a truly community event –– and more, with the presencence of Canadian friends and guests.

MIGRANTE B.C. brought together local organizations and resource people for a program that showcased not only the community talents but also the network and community relationships that MIGRANTE B.C. has built up. Mable Elmore, the MLA from Vancouver-Kensington, gave a warm welcome to the audience and lauded the collaboration between MIGRANTE B.C. and the Vancouver Public Library.

The BIBAK men in their traditional G-strings and the women in their woven skirts danced to the sound of the brass gongs and opened the program; when they came out later for the finale, they had the children and adults in the audience joining them in the collective dance. As the bamboo poles pounded the floor, the young dancers from La Riva Dance Studio had everyone clapping and swaying with their Tinikling dance and, much later with their American- inspired modern dances. The Filipiniana Dance Troupe of the Ginintuang Seniors Brigade of B.C., in their Filipina dresses, wowed everyone with their Spanish- influenced waltzes and their agile footsteps. The new MIGRANTE B.C. Cultural Group performed a Muslim dance and an interpretative choreographed piece of "Ang Manggagawa" (The Worker).

"I have seen those dances before but not this way, where you contextualized them in history," said one of the seniors in the audience, impressed by the show. One woman remarked that she was pleasantly surprised to see the old and young generations of Filipinos represented in the community dance numbers.

Poetry was recited by Senor Paco Tejero who delivered Jose Rizal's "Mi Ultimo Adios" in Espanol which brought back memories of Spanish classes and memorization of that same poem to many Filipino adults in the audience. Aileen Villeta of the MIGRANTE BC Cultural Group recited two short pieces on the migration and hardships of Filipino overseas workers. MIGRANTE youth member Charisse Curata held everyone spellbound with her rendition of Andres Bonifacio's "Pag-Ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa" (Love for One's Native Land) and Rom Dongeto's "Isang Bansa Para sa Mga Bata" (A Nation for our Children) which tells of the one dream, one vision that all Filipinos share, which is to make the Philippines a nation for our children, wherever we may be.

Award-winning Artist Bert Monterona's two huge murals, "Continuing Revolution" and the "Historical Struggle," flanked either side of the wide screen and attracted a lot of interest, inquiries and admiration from the audience. Monterona, who now makes his home in Vancouver, is a Lumad from Mindanao.

A young Chinese student with a Filipino host family came away from the event with more clarity in her understanding of the situation in the Philippines and why she sees so many Filipino domestics in Hongkong. A father who came with his three young children repeatedly said that the presentation was very good, that it was the right length, and for a history lesson, "it was not at all boring!" "This should be shown widely to as many audiences because the understanding of Philippine history is very important," he suggested. Parents also remarked on how their young children listened attentively and watched the Philippine history on the screen.

Congratulatory telephone calls and e-mails from those who saw the show were made to MIGRANTE members with the suggestions to have it shown again! MLA or Vancouver Kensington Mable Elmore. who gave the inspirational remarks at the event, expressed her admiration and thanks for a program that was excellently done.

The library display of Tagalog books, DVDs and children's materials not only brought home the fact that the Vancouver Public Library has a Tagalog collection but also encouraged several members of the community to register for cards so they could borrow some of the display items. "I did not know you had Tagalog DVDs! I pay to borrow those at the Filipino video store!" exclaimed one MIGRANTE member, who immediately signed up for a library card. Delia Felipescu, the Multilingual Services outreach librarian, who worked with MIGRANTE for this event, spoke highly of MIGRANTE's collaborative work with the library and was thrilled to see an enthusiastic community turnout.

Indeed, everyone came away truly proud to be Pinoy/Pinay! For more information on how you can show the same history presentation to your groups, please contact Migrante BC at or call 604.408.0830. Migrante B.C web site:

For photos, please go to:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Migrante International calls for Zero-Remittance Day July 26

Manila, Saturday, July 18, 2009 -- "Zero Remittance on the First day of Con-Ass, July 26: this is our clarion call to all and sundry who would try to subvert further the last modicum of democracy in our country."

This was the reiteration of Migrante International's resolution in a press conference held at the Cypress Café in Manila, Philippines, today. A little over a week before the last State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA), the largest alliance of Filipino migrant organizations also unveiled the plans of its chapters across the globe to "register their protest actions against the convening of a constitutional assembly (con-ass) by Congress or any dastardly scheme to extend the term of PGMA, through a con-ass, emergency rule or coup."

"To many OFWs, PGMA is the epitome of everything we distrust and hate about government: pabaya, mukhang pera, sinungaling at mandaraya!," declared Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International. "Thus, we want to be absolutely clear that this SONA will truly be her last."

"More and more OFWs and their families want to 'stand and be counted' as they realize the importance of their economic and political role in Philippine society," continued Martinez, "and they are increasingly realizing how they can, indeed, send a strong message to the government."

Vanessa Valmadrid, the wife of an overseas Filipino worker (ofw) in Taiwan, present at the press conference, also declared: "My husband will support this Zero Remittance day call of Migrante. I told him that my daughter and I understand that no remittance for a day is nothing compared to all the hardships we endured as OFWs. Para sa aming OFWs, ang kapabayaan ng gobiyernong ito ay mas kasuklam-suklam kaysa sa mga dinaranas na pangaapi naming sa kamay ng mga dayuhan. Mas masakit malaman na pagkatapos kang pagkakitaan ng husto ng gobiyerno, parang trapo ka lang na ihahagis kung wala na silang perang makukuha sa iyo."

Valmadrid, a worker in Taiwan retrenched last December, is still waiting for the government to resolve cases she filed against her recruitment agency continued, "Ngayon ko nakikita ang kahalagahan ng pagkilos ng mga OFWs!"

"Kasama kaming migranteng Pilipino sa nagmamartsang sambayanan laban sa Con-Ass!" added Martinez. He cited the growing strength and growing awareness of organized OFWs and their families as he enumerated their various protest activities building up to the SONA as they heed the call for a Countdown to the SONA starting July 20.

"For the first time in history, a synchronized Black Friday protest on July 24 will simultaneously be held by our Middle East chapters in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, a thousand strong kababayans in Hongkong under the banner of UNIFIL will be marching on the streets on the 26th, simultaneous with our kababayans in South Korea. Halfway across the globe, our kababayans in Canada are also gearing up for a simultaneous action in all key areas of Canada. Our counterparts in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom have signified their intention to join the Zero Remit campaign while Migrante Australia will be holding a protest action at the Philippine Consulate in Sydney on July 27."

"Sa ilalim ng pamahalaang US-Arroyo, lalong lumala ang kalagayan naming OFWs. This government is so greedy and so desperate to stay in power that it is selling our kababayans like slaves: available to anyone for the right price. PGMA does not care if OFWs are in countries that are at war, or blatantly violate international labor standards, or have had thousands of cases of violence against women! declared Garry Martinez, chairperson of the largest alliance of Filipino migrant organizations across the globe. PGMA's only interest in us is for us to bring home the bacon, so to speak—through exorbitant state exactioons and remittances to keep the economy afloat."

Migrante International and its chapters in the country will also be conducting protest actions and will be joining all chapters around the world for a synchronized protest on the eve of the SONA.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees prepares to meet in Athens

The International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) is an assembly where migrants and refugees speak for themselves through their grassroots organizations supported by a broad spectrum of migrants rights advocates, progressive workers' groups and social movements.

The First IAMR held in Manila, Philippines last October 2008, embodied the autonomous voice of the migrants and refugees through their own gathering. It challenged the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) process and its agenda of promoting migration for development through remittances. The IAMR in Manila presented the true picture of modern slavery in labor migration and debunked the notion of development by exporting human labor.


The 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) will be held in Athens, Greece on November 4-5, 2009. The first was held in Brussels in July 2007 and the second in Manila in October 2008. The GFMD is a multilateral and state-led initiative under the aegis of the United Nations (UN). It purports to facilitate dialogue among sending and receiving countries, but in reality, the rich countries dictate the agenda and main thrusts in the GFMD. They impose their own self-serving concept of development and define the modalities in “managing” the flow of cross-border migration.

Two things make the GFMD in Athens particularly significant. It will take place in the midst of the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression. It will also take place in Europe where migrant workers particularly the millions of undocumented face an uncertain future in an increasingly unfriendly environment with the imminent implementation in 2010 of the EU Return Directive.


The Second IAMR will be held in Athens, Greece on November 1-4, 2009, in conjunction with the government-led GFMD and the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) meeting. The Second IAMR will focus on urgent migrant and refugee issues, particularly the situation and protection of the rights of undocumented migrant workers and refugees.

The Second IAMR in Athens, Greece will be a four-day gathering that will include plenary discussions, workshops, street mobilizations, bazaar, cultural solidarity, networking and most especially sharing of experiences and action plans among migrants, refugees and advocates.


Uphold and Advance the Rights of Migrants and Refugees Against Exploitation, War and Discriminatory Laws, Amidst the Global Economic Crisis! Oppose 'Fortress Europe' and the EU Return Directive!


1) Bring to the fore the urgent issues and challenges facing migrants and refugees all over the world and take the progressive positions on such issues especially in the face of the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression;
2) Challenge the EU claim of being an open and humanist society in the face of a growing list of draconian laws and measures being taken against migrants and refugees such as the EU Return Directive.
3) Expand and strengthen the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) as a militant and progressive alliance of organizations of migrants and refugees, and advocates of migrants rights;
4) Develop a broad international advocacy network that will continuously engage states and official multilateral bodies regarding issues and concerns affecting migrants and refugees;
5) Adopt a program of action/campaigns around general and specific issues on migrants rights and welfare.


1) The Impact of the Global Economic and Financial Crisis on Migrants
2) The Situation of Women Migrant Workers
3) The Precarisation (Marginalization/Exclusion) of Labor, especially Migrant Labor, and the Relations with Unions and the Social Movements
4) The Violation of the Rights to Asylum and the Plight of Refugees
5) The Urgent Issues of the Undocumented, Their Criminalization and 'Fortress Europe'
6) Fighting Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Fascism
7) The Continued Attacks and State Repression on Migrants and Refugees under the so-called War on Terror
8) Political Empowerment and Participation for Successive Generations of Migrants and Confronting Policies and Problems in Integration
19) Engaging the United Nations and other International Bodies within the Framework of Upholding and Advancing the Rights and Welfare of Migrants and Refugees
10) Drawing Lessons and Celebrating Successful Campaigns on Migrant and Refugee Rights and Welfare, and People's Resistance

11) Developing An Education Campaign/Program to Increase our Capabilities and Skills to Arouse, Organize and Mobilize Migrants, Refugees and Advocates


The Second IAMR is being convened by the following: the International Migrants' Alliance (IMA)-Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), IBON International, Class March (Greece), ATIK (Germany), Migrante Europe (The Netherlands)


IAMR Athens, Greece Contact Details:

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Postbox: 15687, 1001 ND Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Grace Punongbayan, head of secretariat
Mobile: +31-6-33056411

See also: International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees unites migrant workers in Manila

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Round table on alliance building in Montreal

Montreal, June 28, 2009 -- In the wake of the successful 2nd National Migrant Justice Gathering held in Waterloo, IMA-Canada members in Montreal organized a successful round-table discussion on widening the migrant alliance in Quebec and Ontario with guests Ramon Bultron from Hong Kong and Alfredo Barahona from KAIROS.

Migrant workers from the Philippine Migrants Society of Canada / Pilipinong Migrante sa Canada (PMSC) based in Ottawa also attended the meeting held at the South Asian Womens Community Centre (SAWCC).

Friday, June 26, 2009

2nd National Migrant Justice Gathering held in Waterloo, Ontario

The Second National Migrant Justice Gathering was successfully held at the University of Waterloo, Canada, June 20-21, 2009. Members of IMA-Canada from Montreal, the Greater Toronto Area and Vancouver joined migrant workers, union organizers from the Agricultural Workers Alliance and the United Food And Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), and advocates from across Canada to discuss how to strengthen networking and alliance building. The first national gathering of migrants had been held in 2006.

The participants heard testimonies from Filipina migrants working as Live-In Caregivers and Thai factory workers under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program in Canada. Both groups raised the problem of the lack of control of unscrupulous recruitment agencies who charge huge sums to bring workers to Canada -- $13,000 in the case of one Thai worker.

The keynote speech was given by Ramon Bultron, Managing Director of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) in Hong Kong. "The most significant of the recent efforts to establish networks and alliances of migrants and advocates is the formation of the International Migrants Alliance," Bultron said. "In June, 2008, under the slogan, 'for years, others have spoken on our behalf, now we speak for ourselves' more than 110 groups from 25 countries met in Hong Kong for the founding assembly."

Bultron pointed out that more than 70% of IMA members are grassroots migrant workers as well as immigrants and that the first elected chairperson of the IMA, Eni Lestari, is an Indonesian domestic worker in Hong Kong.

Bultron invited participants to attend the upcoming Second International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR2) in Athens, Greece, this November 1-4, 2009. He explained that the IAMR was an alternative conference to the World Bank and IMF-backed Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) that would also take place in Athens in November. "Since migrant workers are essentially excluded from the GFMD, we considered it important once again to provide a place where migrants can 'speak out', network, and organize," Bultron said. The first IAMR was successfully held last year in Manila, Philippines.

Participants underlined the important role that Alfredo Barahona and Connie Sorio from KAIROS Canada had made to ensuring the successful holding of the 2nd national migrants gathering.

A coordinating group was set up during the conference to continue building alliances and helping to organize the third National Migrant Justice Gathering to be held in 2011, with the UFCW promising to help with translation facilities to make sure migrant workers can participate fully.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Marriage migrants call for rights protection amidst global crisis

Statement released by AMMORE
(Action Network for Marriage Migrants Rights and Empowerment)

June 2009

On this traditional month for weddings
Marriage migrants call for rights protection amidst global crisis

The implementation of the policies of neoliberal globalization that led to the worst global recession has pushed women from underdeveloped and developing countries into transnational marriages that often put them in worse destitution, distress and death.

The traditional perception that getting married in June will bring a lifelong honeymoon all the more remains an illusion for women who grasp at the only opportunity to improve their condition which is marriage migration.

Without doubt, the proliferation of marriage bureaus, internet matchmaking, aggressive advertisements for brides on the media, and other modus operandi has eradicated the honor and dignity of marriage.

A record number of 300,000 Filipinos, 92 percent of whom are women, are married to foreigners mainly from the United States, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Korea. This number has tripled in just a span of eight years from 7,819 in 1998 to 24,954 in 2006, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Apparently, the systematic export of people including marriage migrants has generated for the sending government, revenues in the form of fees that the foreign husbands pay to buy their foreign brides and the remittances that the women later send to their families that are desperately in need.

Despite all these profits, however, governments of countries of origin abandon their responsibility to protect their nationals who fall victims of domestic violence by their foreign husbands as well as discriminatory policies by the government in the country of destination.

To address their situation, the AMMORE (Action Network for Marriage Migrants’ Rights and Empowerment) vows to strengthen or help develop grassroots marriage migrants in the host countries and develop and strengthen the link with women organizations in both sending and receiving countries.

Upon its formation, network members immediately launched the “unVEIL!” campaign, which as the name connotes, uncovers the core of state repression that marriage migrants face like systematic discrimination and allowing the condition to perpetuate violence against women such as domestic violence, trafficking, statelessness, government neglect, loss of socio-economic opportunities, slavery and even death.

On this bridal month, AMMORE reiterates its commitment to pursue the unVEIL! campaign by encouraging marriage migrants to take action and unite together to fight for their rights and well-being.

In addition, AMMORE has designed a Comparative Research on Equity and Access for Marriage Migrants (Migration and Welfare Laws, Policies and Programs of Receiving Countries) ready for implementation in key countries such as Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia.

Education work and public information are necessary for the marriage migrants to develop and empower themselves. Because of the unequal development of grassroots marriage migrants’ movement in every home and host country, it is quite significant to learn from the experiences of each country especially the advanced.

This is the purpose of an exchange visit that will be undertaken in Japan and South Korea next month. It is hoped that the experience will strengthen the marriage migrants’ unity, coordination and cooperation on crucial issues that affect their lives and their families. Also, this is a chance to lobby with government officials in the host country on the plight and protection of the rights of marriage migrants.

All these issues and concerns shall eventually cease for the marriage migrants through solidarity with strong and sustained internationally coordinated actions.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

How to become members of IMA-Canada

Dear friends in the IMA,

Warm greetings from Hong Kong!

The IMA Secretariat has been receiving emails from groups wanting to join the IMA. I am sure that some of you may have been receiving the same or are already recruiting.

In this regard, we would like to provide you with the process on how to become a member of the IMA. Based on Article V of the IMA's Constitution and By-laws:

a) Any interested organization may submit a letter of intention to any IMA member.
b) The member organization will forward this application/letter together with a letter of recommendation to the ICB.
c) The ICB will then decide whether to approve the application or not. Whatever the decision is, it will be reported to the IMA Assembly.

The requirements for membership are the following:

a) letter of intent
b) copy of the organization's constitution and bylaws
c) organization's program of activities

The membership form will be sent to the interested organization. Membership/annual fee is pegged at Euro 20 (CAN $35).

We hope that this information is helpful to everyone. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

In solidarity,

Rey Asis for the IMA Secretariat


For friends in Canada please contact IMA-Canada
or call +1514 342-2111 (pls leave message)

Pour nos ami-e-s québécois et canadiens, svp contacter IMA-Canada
tél: +1514 342-2111
(veuillez laisser un message)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Les masques de la discrimination

Stéphane Baillargeon
Le Devoir - lundi 01 juin 2009

Des travailleuses domestiques manifestent pour recevoir la protection de la Loi sur la santé et la sécurité au travail (Photo: Jacques Grenier)

Malgré les demandes répétées de modifications de la loi, les aides domestiques du Québec, majoritairement originaires des Philippines, sont toujours exclues du régime de la santé et de la sécurité au travail. Elles manifestaient de nouveau hier contre cette situation jugée discriminatoire.

À peine deux douzaines de personnes ont manifesté hier matin au parc Nelson-Mandela de Montréal, contre l'exclusion des travailleuses domestiques du régime de santé et de sécurité au travail. Cette discrimination a été présentée comme un «apartheid social», d'où le choix symbolique du lieu de la manifestation.

La Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse a également parlé d'une discrimination grave dans un avis déposé en décembre dernier. L'organisme a même évoqué une triple faute fondamentale puisque les personnes touchées sont écartées de la protection légale pour des raisons de sexe (il s'agit surtout de femmes), de condition sociale (elles sont pauvres) et d'origine ethnique (elles viennent très souvent des Philippines).

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Nine women migrant workers arrested in Leamington, Ontario

Justice for Migrant Workers reports that nine women migrant workers have been arrested in a workplace raid in Leamington, Ontario.

In the early morning of Wednesday, May 27, 2009, Immigration Enforcement swarmed Lakeside Produce arresting nine women, one of whom is pregnant. They were all being detained in the Windsor County Jail.

“We are outraged by these arrests,” says Chris Ramsroop of Justica for Migrant Workers. “These attacks destroy our communities. Instead of attacking the immigration system, we are attacking workers who put food on our table.”

These latest arrests mark an alarming trend of workplace raids by the Canada Border Service Agency. In April, CBSA conducted large scale raids throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Southwestern Ontario, where over 80 migrants were arrested and deported.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

IMA condemns Canadian gov’t for immigration raids

Crackdown is omen of worst things to come

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) denounces the Canadian government in the strongest possible terms after its Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) rounded up and detained last week over 100 migrant workers considered illegal in the Greater Toronto Area.

These raids, according to Canadian authorities, are a part of the three-month probe into illegal immigration after a more stringent immigration policy was imposed a few months ago.

“The crackdown on our fellow migrant workers in Canada is not only unjust but inhuman and equally terroristic,” said Eni Lestari, chairperson of the IMA, a global alliance of grassroots migrants and immigrants’ organizations. “By branding illegal workers (or those as called holding precarious immigration status) as criminals, the Canadian government is only sowing a climate of fear among the migrant community and terrorizing those who are already in vulnerable situations.”

The CBSA-imposed crackdown, stated Lestari, will only push illegal migrants into more dangerous and slave-like jobs instead of helping them become regular workers in Canada.

Lestari likened the crackdown to the massive arrests, detention, inhuman treatment and deportation of migrants in the U.S. during George W. Bush’s term. “Apparently, Harper is doing a Bush as he seems to be following into the footsteps of his Big Bully Brother.”

Lestari expressed concerns that these state-instigated attacks are an omen of worst things to come for migrant workers not only in Canada but in the rest of the world.

“Stephen Harper’s government is not the only one brandishing its iron fist on migrant workers,” said Lestari. “As the global financial crisis worsens, governments in Europe and several countries in Asia-Pacific are now eyeing migrant workers as their primary targets. From more repressive anti-migrant policies to lower subhuman wages, migrants will face more than just crackdowns and possibly even more brutal racist attacks if such policies are left unchallenged.”

The IMA expressed solidarity and support with migrant organizations and migrants’ rights advocates who are now campaigning for the immediate and unconditional release of all arrested migrants as well as the implementation of a regularization program for all migrant workers as a better alternative.

The IMA also called on all its members and networks in Canada and other global regions to express solidarity with the affected migrant workers there.

“We will not condone these raids. An attack on one migrant is an attack on all of us,” concluded Lestari.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Migrante Ontario rallies against anti-immigrant raids

5 April 2009

We stand together with migrant workers and migrants’ advocates today to condemn the recent raids on workplaces and homes conducted April 3 by immigration enforcement authorities. Close to a hundred people – Chinese, Thai and Filipino among them - were arrested and detained.

We express deep concern for the way these migrants were treated as criminals being handcuffed for hours. Regardless of status, these migrant workers are not criminals. They are “the unrecognized hands that contribute a lot to the economies of the countries they work in and countries where they come from.”

It is regrettable that instead of choosing to implement comprehensive immigration reform that can be just and equitable, the Harper government and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney have chosen the enforcement path as response to the immigration problem.

Undocumented migrants have the same desire just like us to provide for the well being of their families. The existence of undocumented migrants is a part of the whole phenomenon of the forced migration of people and the commodification of human labour.

The worsening economic and political conditions that they faced in their home countries force them to migrate and seek fortune regardless of their status.

Like all migrant workers, they are sources of cheaper and docile labor force found in sweatshops, farms and even in households though where most do not enjoy many benefits and rights that the former enjoy including medical insurance. Despite their status, the contributions of undocumented migrants to the economies of Canada and their home countries are undeniable.

We believe that we need a clear and fair immigration policy.

Crackdown operations must end. Those arrested must be treated humanely and not as criminals.

Non-status workers have human dignity and human rights that should be respected at all costs.

Governments at both provincial and federal levels must work to ensure that the protection of workers must be put in place regardless of the worker’s status.

The Canadian government should initiate a comprehensive review of immigration policy that includes addressing the regularization of non-status migrants.

Migrante Ontario

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Les Philippines: quand l'avenir est ailleurs... |

Avec cette série de reportages, le journaliste Gino Harel vous propose un survol des principaux enjeux économiques et sociaux auxquels sont confrontées les Philippines. Des enjeux qui, à cause de la crise financière mondiale, doivent être considérés sous un jour nouveau.

Accueil et réportages -

Friday, March 20, 2009

In Memory of Juana Tejada, Bagong Bayani par excellence

Migrante International, the global alliance of Filipino migrant workers, together with her family, met the remains of Juana Tejada, the OFW* heroine from Toronto, Canada, who finally lost her battle with cancer, at the Pair Pags Center, Ninoy Aquino International Airport Avenue in Pasay City, Philippines. (Photo Alex Felipe)

Juana Tejada, a former caregiver under Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program, was hailed a hero among OFWs and Filipino immigrants in Canada because of her key role in amending section 38(2) the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of Canada. The amendment highlighted the inclusion of the Live-in Caregiver Class to the list of applicants who should automatically be granted exemption from the “good health” requirement. This is known to as the Juana Tejada Law.

“We give our highest salute to Juana Tejada,” Migrante Chairperson Garry Martinez exclaimed. “She is, indeed a female OFW par excellence, who while battling the debilitating disease of cancer, relentlessly worked for the rights and welfare of caregivers in Canada.”

It is to be remembered that last year, after she was diagnosed with cancer, Canadian authorities told her she could not stay as she would be a burden to the Canadian health care system. Tejada had been working as a caregiver in Canada for two years, fulfilling the two year eligibility period, under the Live-in Caregiver Program, for a permanent residency. Her case sparked a campaign to amend the immigration law and eventually led to the Juana Tejada Law.

Martinez continued, “Our commemoration of March 8, International Women’s Day, will certainly be more meaningful as we add Juana’s name to the list of resolute and courageous women we will remember. It is not so much her triumph but her dignity and commitment to struggle against an oppressive system is what will inspire many of us to go on with the struggle for, not only for migrants rights, but for the emancipation of the toiling masses from exploitation.”

At the airport, Migrante conducted a short tribute, while draping a Migrante banner on the coffin as a symbol of their homage to Tejada. Tejada’s remains will be brought all the way to her home province, Abra.

20 March 2009
Garry Martinez, Chairperson, Migrante International, +63 9217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Liaison, Migrante International, +63 9212708994

*Overseas Filipino Worker

Sunday, March 15, 2009

L'ultime bataille de Melca

Melca Salvador laisse dans le deuil son fils de 12 ans, Richard. C'est Evelyn Calugay (à droite) qui a recueilli l'enfant Photo: André Tremblay, La Presse

par Isabelle Hachey La Presse

Melca Salvador était une battante. Elle s'était démenée pour améliorer son propre sort, celui de son petit garçon, celui des travailleurs immigrés qui subissent leurs malheurs en silence. Elle avait vaincu les bureaucrates fédéraux en obtenant l'asile au Canada.

Elle vient de perdre sa dernière bataille. Il y a deux semaines, Melca a été emportée par un cancer.

Retour en arrière. L'affaire Melca Salvador a éclaté en août 2000. La domestique philippine était alors sur le point d'être expulsée parce qu'elle n'avait pas respecté les règles d'un programme fédéral destiné aux aides familiales immigrées. Son crime: être tombée enceinte. Et s'être fait mettre à la porte par ses employeurs montréalais.

Cinq ans plus tôt, Mme Salvador avait quitté son archipel aux horizons bouchés. Elle avait d'abord échoué en Égypte, où elle avait fréquenté un compatriote, avant de débarquer à Montréal à l'automne 1995. Elle ne savait pas qu'elle était enceinte. Ses employeurs non plus. Quand ils l'ont découvert, deux mois plus tard, ils l'ont congédiée sur-le-champ.

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