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