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

View Album
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