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.