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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Press Releases from US Migrants Groups on Jakatia Pawa

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, February 26, 2010 1:27 PM
Subject: Press Releases from US Migrants Groups on Jakatia Pawa

For Immediate Release
Reference: Ryan Leano, Secretary General. Sandiwa- The National Alliance of Fil Am Youth

National Fil Am Youth fights to SAVE JAKATIA PAWA: She could have been our mother!

SANDIWA-USA, The National Alliance of Filipino American Youth is urgently appealing to the Amir of the State of Kuwait not to authorize the death sentence of Jakatia Pawa.

Jakatia Pawa is a 33 year old Filipina domestic worker who is one of the over Ten million Filipinos currently out of the Philippines to provide a better life to their families who are left back home. On April 13, 2008 she was sentenced to death for allegedly killing the 22 year old daughter of her employer whom she has been working for faithfully for five years. She was sentenced without sufficient evidence, no proven fingerprints on the weapon or forensic traces on the victim that links her to the killing.

"A mother of two, Jakatia Pawa is just like many of our mothers who are forced to go abroad, striving hard in order to provide for their loved ones while enduring the pain of being away from them simply because there are not enough means of survival given their economic condition if they stay in the Philippines," states Aurora Victoria David, the West coast Director of Sandiwa.

Jakatia Pawa is now a new addition to the long list of cases of overseas Filipino workers blatantly neglected by the Philippine government. A lawyer was not provided early enough while she constantly pleads innocent throughout the trial. The government sponsors the upsurge of Overseas Filipino workers with its labor export programs and yet it is incapable of providing protection and security for the millions of Filipino citizens working in foreign land.

"In 2008 from US alone, around US$7.8 was remitted to the Philippines and there are millions more remitting globally, it is ironic that the OFW's, the glorified modern day heroes who are barely keeping the degraded Philippine economy afloat are not getting the slightest of attention from the government and instead deliberately corrupts the remainder of their sweat and hard work, especially now during the election season" states Anne Beryl Corotan, the National Chairperson of Sandiwa. "As youth we see and disapprove of the irresponsibility of the Philippine government to provide for basic security and fundamental needs of its citizens abroad. We must do all we can to not let Jakatia Pawa, a young Filipina working mother be another Flor Contemplancion."

Even with the inadequacy of the Philippine government to drain all means to save her life, it is still not too late. The National alliance of Fil Am Youth (SANDIWA-USA), alongside the church people, professionals, and workers is in harmony with the echoing voices of the migrants across the globe in appealing to the Amir of the State of Kuwait to help save the life of Jakatia Pawa by not authorizing her death sentence.

Save Jakatia Pawa NOW!
Justice for Overseas Filipinos Workers!

For Immediate Release
Reference: Michelle Saulon, Email:, Phone: 718 565 8862

Kabalikat Domestic Workers Support Network: Save Jakatia Pawa Now!

Woodside NY – Kabalikat Domestic Worker Support Network, a domestic workers support network is appealing to the Amir of the State of Kuwait not to ratify the death sentence imposed on Jakatia Pawa. We are acknowledging that governments have the right to bring those who commit crimes to justice, but we also express our unconditional opposition to the death penalty as it ultimately violates the right to life.

The death sentence was upheld by the Kuwaiti Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) on January 19, 2010. The sentence will now be submitted to Kuwait's Head of State, the Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al Sabah. It is understood that the decision will be made within two to four weeks.

Jakatia Pawa, a 33 year old mother of two children, is from Zamboanga Del Norte province in southern Philippines. Pawa left the Philippines to earn an honest living as a domestic helper in Kuwait. She has been working for the same employer for five years when the unfortunate crime happened.

On April 13, 2008, even without evidence gathered against her, she was sentenced to death for allegedly killing the 22 year old daughter of her employer. The decision was made even though she was denied the right to legal counsel and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon was not hers. The extreme sentence is unjustifiable and unfair given the questionable circumstances of her case.

Pawa's case shows the vulnerability of Filipino domestic workers overseas. Like the domestic workers in New York, Pawa is one of the thousands of domestic workers forced to work in abusive, dangerous and dehumanizing conditions, without legal protections by the Philippine Government.

In the US, migrant domestic workers, who are 95% women, are overwhelmed with problems resulting from family separation, long hours of work, low wages, no overtime pay and lack of benefits, and bear the brunt of systemic racism and devaluation of women's labor in the domestic sphere. We, Filipino overseas workers have remitted more than $12.5 billion dollars in 2006, sustaining our families directly affected by the economic and social crisis. We are fully aware that our hard earned dollars are the single most important resource that keeps the Philippine economy afloat.

Modern Heroes is what the Philippine President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo calls the 3000 Filipinos who leave the Philippines every day. Special names is not what we need now, recognition, respect and protection from our government is needed the most especially for Jakatia Pawa and others like her in all parts of the globe.

We believe that she is just one of the many Filipinas who were neglected by the Philippine government. She deserves just and fair trial since her case was unfair to begin with and that the Philippine government must be held accountable for this long overdue process. Therefore all measures should be exhausted to free her and that she could be reunited with her families back home.

Kabalikat is a domestic workers support network based in New York and it aims to address the concerns and well being of a domestic worker in the tri state area. Kabalikat resolve to raise awareness and lend support to issues relevant to domestic workers like the case of Jakatia Pawa, a domestic worker. Kabalikat is located at the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center at 40-21 69th St. Woodside NY. For information, we can be reached at 718 565 8862.

#10 Banuyo St.Brgy.Amihan, Project 3, Quezon City
Telefax: 9114910

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Migrants ask, is Jakatia Pawa still alive?



Migrants ask, is Jakatia Pawa still alive?


Is Jakatia Pawa still alive?


Migrante International expressed worries and ordered the Philippine government to reveal the present status of the case of a Filipina domestic helper who was sentenced to death by the highest court and now awaits the final decision of the Kuwaiti head of state.


"Do not leave us in the dark. The people who are committed to saving her life deserves to know the present status of her case. We need to know so that we can think of appropriate actions other than what we are doing at the present," said Garry Martinez, convenor of the Save Jakatia Pawa Movement and is also the chairperson of Migrante International.


Last January 19, the Kuwaiti Court of Cassation affirmed the death sentence on Jakatia Pawa, a domestic helper who was convicted of murdering the 22 year old daughter of her employer. Based established processes, the sentence will be immediately submitted to Kuwait's Amir for ratification and will take two weeks to a month for him to give the ultimate decision.


Martinez conveyed that they are rattled on the situation that today is the final day for the Amir's final judgement and yet the government is not providing updates to the public. "We are expecting Ms. Arroyo to at least reveal a report on their efforts to save Pawa's life. What happened to VP Noli's trip to Kuwait, did it ever push through," he asked.


According to earlier reports, President Arroyo sent Vice President Noli de Castro to Kuwait to personally appeal for the life of Jakatia Pawa. There were no follow-up reports on the result of this visit.


"We are alarmed because Pawa might just add up to Arroyo's notorious record of having the most number OFWs who died under her term. And what is enraging is that while she is neglecting our kababayans abroad, her government is instituting added state exactions in the name of their welfare," blasted Martinez.


For this year, two new laws on government collections on OFWs are set to take effect. The amended RA 8042 will impose a mandatory insurance fee collection while RA 9679 or the Home Development Mutual Fund Law will collect P100 every month to every OFW.  


Migrante said that they are set to flood the Kuwait government with appeals for Pawa's life next week in time for the country's Independence-National Day. It is believed that on these days the Amir of Kuwait gives clemency to individuals in death row. ###


Saturday, February 13, 2010

DOLE sets interventions vs. proposed Somalia deployment ban

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it is not necessary to
ban the deployment of Filipino seafarers to foreign flagged ships because
interventions are now taking place to address the adverse effects of
piracy-related incidents perilous to them and to the operations of global

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the issues that
brought about the total ban that was recommended to President
Macapagal-Arroyo is being addressed through the implementation of a joint
communiqué or agreement forged between the DOLE and seafarers groups,
manning and shipping sectors and the International Labour Organization and
International Maritime Organization.

Roque said the stakeholders signed the communiqué during the Anti-Piracy
Summit for Filipino Seafarers held last January 8, 2010 at the Amosup Seamen's
Center in Intramuros, Manila.

"We do not recommend the banning of our Filipino seafarers from working in
foreign vessels that ply pirate-infested waters in Somalia as interventions
on how to deal with the piracy problem have been identified during the
anti-piracy summit," said Roque noting that the proposed ban would result in
Filipino seafarers losing their jobs that surely will affect their families
and the Philippine seafaring industry and the economy as well.

Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recommended to the
President the total ban on the deployment of Filipino seafarers to foreign
flagships that ply pirate-infested waters in Somalia.

As provided for by the joint communiqué, three measures are now being
implemented for the protection of the Filipino seafarers against sea piracy.
The measures cover the formulation of anti-piracy regulations, and the
conduct of anti-piracy training and psycho-social counseling for seafarers.

Roque said that more than 200 agencies out of 350 manning firms have already
submitted their anti-piracy training modules to the Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration (POEA). The final approval of the said modules
will be based on the standard training module which the POEA is preparing in
coordination with the Maritime Training Center (MTC).

Based on the POEA Memorandum Circular No. 02, Series of 2010, "all manning
agencies must require seafarers to undergo training on practical measures to
avoid, deter or delay piracy/ attacks prior to deployment." The anti-piracy
training is separate and in addition to the regular Pre-Departure
Orientation Seminar (PDOS) conducted for departing seafarers. In addition,
manning agencies will have to submit to POEA a list of all the trainees each
month indicating the name, date of training and name of company.

Aside from the anti-piracy training, the POEA has also approved a resolution
allowing the deployment of Filipino seafarers on board vessels transiting in
pirate-infested areas provided that the ship owners, principals, managers or
manning agencies will ensure that the vessel will pass within the maritime
security patrol area.

The ship owner and manning agencies will also submit appropriate security
measures such as security escorts or joining convoy to all ships passing
through known pirate-infested areas.

Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is providing
psycho-social counseling and other support services for families and their
kin who could become victims of piracy.

OFW Journalism Consortium

Thursday, February 11, 2010

OFWs told to report abusive employers




The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is looking into the veracity of a report alleging that some Filipino household service workers (HSWs) have been maltreated by their employers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 


Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said there was no mention of the real name of the HSW cited in the report.  However, he instructed Riyadh-based Labor Attache Rustico dela Fuente to determine which particular case the report was referring to.


Roque also took the opportunity to call on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families to contact the nearest Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) or the DOLE and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in the Philippines for assistance in all cases of abuse and exploitation that the OFWs may encounter in the hands of their employers onsite. 


He asked the OFWs' families, in case their kin suffer abuses in their jobs abroad, to contact and coordinate with DOLE and OWWA rather than with certain groups which apparently are just using complaints against OFW abuses and exploitation to advance their propaganda and vested interests.


Distressed OFWs onsite must also immediately contact the nearest POLO for assistance, Roque said.


Seeking other groups would only delay assistance as these groups will also refer the cases of distressed OFWs to DOLE and OWWA, he said adding that it will be more beneficial to OFWs and their kin to directly contact the two agencies for needed assistance.


In a similar development, Roque said efforts have been set in place to improve the delivery of services to OFWs onsite.


He said the Foreign Labor Operations Information System (FLOIS) will soon be implemented to improve the management and operations of 38 POLOs in various destinations overseas, particularly in extending assistance to needy OFWs onsite.  The system will be integrated with the DOLE's Information Systems Plan.


FLOIS, Roque said, will provide Internet-based information on profiles of OFW and their foreign employers and a listing of local and foreign recruitment agencies. 


The DOLE's International Labor Affairs Bureau and the Planning Service have been directed during the recent DOLE-wide planning sessions to complete the FLOIS project early this year to facilitate the provision of assistance and services to OFWs.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Ople challenges BSP to state moral, legal grounds for outsourcing circular


Former labor undersecretary Susan Ople criticized the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for issuing a circular that allowed the outsourcing of human resources in banks and other financial institutions.

"This will lead to the wholesale replacement of hundreds and thousands of regular bank employees with agency-hired contractual workers at lower pay, less experience, and with no job security at all," Ople, a senatorial bet of the Nacionalista Party said, as she challenged the BSP to explain the legal and moral grounds behind its pro-outsourcing circulars.

The daughter of the late senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas F. Ople called on the Department of Labor and Employment to immediately meet with BSP officials to thresh out this intrusion into the department's mandate of promoting industrial peace and decent work. She said that information technology upgrades should not be used as a reason in shedding more regular jobs.

"We cannot afford to shed more full employment jobs amid rising unemployment and underemployment rates. This is a fight for economic survival for regular employees not just in the banking sector, but everywhere else," Ople added.

Leaders of the Banking and Financial Unions and employees' union officers from the Philippine National Bank (PNB), Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI), Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), Citibank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), Veterans Bank and Planters' Bank are up in arms against the BSP circular.

BSP Circular 268 sets forth policies related to outsourcing of jobs including identification of functions and operations that could be outsourced to service providers.

Among the operations that can be outsourced are Information Technology Systems/Processing, Data Imaging, Storage and Retrieval, Clearing and Processing of Checks, Printing of Bank Deposit Statements, Credit Card services, Printing of Bank Loan statements, credit investigation and collection, processing of export, imort and other trading transactions, messengerial, courier and postal services, security guard services and vehicle service contracts.

Ople said that with this circular, only managerial positions will be retained, leading to a massive demolition of regular jobs and weakening of trade unions within the banking sector.

"Clearly, there is a sensitivity chip missing on the part of the BSP and unless it withdraws Circular 268, it should brace itself for a firestorm of protests not only from bank employees but also from leaders and members of the entire labor movement," Ople warned.

The circular states:

Section 4.1  Subject to prior approval of the Monetary Board, banks may outsource data imaging, storage, retrieval and other related systems; clearing and processing of checks not included in the Philippine Clearing House System; printing of bank deposit statements; and such other  activities as may be determined by the Monetary Board. The bank concerned must submit the same documentary requirements listed in  Section 3.2 hereof, except where they exclusively pertain to information technology operations. 

Section 4.2. Banks may outsource credit card services; printing of bank loan statements and other non-deposit records, bank forms and promotional materials; credit investigation and collection; processing of export, import and other trading transactions; transfer agent services for debt   and   equity  securities; property appraisal; property   management services; messenger, courier and postal services; security guard services; vehicle service contracts; janitorial services; and such other activities as may be determined by the Monetary Board. 

"Such issuances given its impact on the lives of so many bank employees should have gone through consultations with bank unions, the labor department, and other stakeholders. The BSP should realize that one of the major push factors for migration is the lack of regular jobs in the country. Ironically, the chief tracker of dollar remittances is now pushing more workers out the door with its circular," Ople lamented.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

With looming protest, Pag-IBIG backs out mandatory OFW membership Gabriela-HK calls to stop government exaction from overseas Pinoys

"It is a victory for the militant and vigilant OFWs resisting schemes for government exactions. While the GMA government is bent in squeezing more income from our labor, we shall always be there to fight its schemes every step of the way."
This was declared by Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, chairperson of Gabriela in Hong Kong, after Pag-IBIG president and CEO Jaime Fabiaña categorically declared that they will not force OFWs to become members of Pag-IBIG nor will it be made a requirement to process OFW documents. Fabiaña issued the statement in a forum with leaders of OFW organizations yesterday at the Philippine Consulate General.
According to Abdon-Tellez, the plan to make Pag-IBIG a mandatory requirement for OFWs came on the heels of their successful campaign opposing the forced membership of OFWs to the OWWA to enable them to get an overseas employment certificate. Since November last year, a moratorium has been imposed on the OWWA collection for an OEC.
"The militance that OFWs in Hong Kong have shown has forced Pag-IBIG to think twice about the mandatory membership. We shall surely be even more vigilant for while it will not be implemented now, there is always the possibility that it will be slyly enforced if we let our guards down," she added.
The Gabriela-HK chair hit the government for being a "consistent extortionist" to OFWs. She also noted that government exaction intensifies especially at the onset of every electoral poll.
"Just before the 2007 elections, the POEA Guidelines on hiring Filipino household workers was implemented that carried provisions for training and accreditation requirements which translated to more fees for migrant Filipinos. Now, a few months before the 2010 polls, here comes the mandatory Pag-IBIG membership. It is reasonable to assume that the GMA government, desperate to oil its faltering electoral machine, has its eyes again on OFW money," she remarked.
Additionally, the group recalled that in 2004, the GMA government forced the transfer of the OWWA Medicare Fund to PhilHealth after, then PhilHealth head and now, Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque sent a missive to GMA saying that the transfer will have a significant impact to the year's elections.
"Together with progressive partylist representatives and other Philippine groups, we resisted the POEA guidelines that forced GMA to exempt current OFWs from the rule. We vow to work for a decisive victory against the mandatory OWWA and Pag-IBIG membership schemes. We were, and will be, consistent in our opposition against government exaction plans," she added.
The group said that they will use the scheduled proclamation rally of Gabriela Women's Party in Hong Kong this Sunday, February 7, to call for the scrapping of the mandatory Pag-IBIG membership provision of RA 9679. She said that the call, together with other concerns on government exactions, will be forwarded as an OFW agenda to Makabayan-Nacionalista Party senatorial bets Rep. Satur Ocampo and Rep. Liza Maza who will grace the coming rally.
"The mandatory Pag-IBIG membership is still a Damocles sword poised above our heads. Ocampo and Maza have championed the rights of OFWs in the past and we are sure that they shall do so again with this current government exaction scheme that will not be used for OFW interests," she remarked.
Abdon-Tellez said that they will oppose the new rule as vigorously as they resisted other government exaction policies.
"OFWs are sick and tired of being the milking cows of the GMA government and we look forward to the day that she is removed from power after the May elections. With this new order to make membership to Pag-IBIG mandatory, it is even more definite that there will be no love lost between OFWs and GMA once she is out of office," she concluded.

Monday, February 01, 2010

DOLE assistance to Filipino repatriates from Haiti assured

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque assured that all forms of
assistance will be provided to the returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW)
from Haiti.

"We will extend whatever assistance that is available for them," Roque said,
following the arrival of additional five (5) OFWs (Victor Torrizo, Viccina
Torrizo, Allan Vincent Torrizo, Badette Villagracia and Art Raymart
Villagracia) on Saturday, comprising the second batch that the government
repatriated from the quake-devastated country.

Roque said he has already directed OWWA and the regional offices of DOLE to
use every means necessary to make sure that the welfare of these OFWs will
be well-taken cared of.

"I have also tasked all the concerned agencies of the Department to conduct
a needs assessment analysis to the repatriates to identify the kinds of
assistance they need," the Labor Chief added, as he stressed the importance
of this process to fast-track the provision of the necessary assistance.

He said, DOLE will explore every possible effort to retrain and retool these
OFWs to make them more competitive in the future and ready for possible
deployment to other countries.

The first batch of Filipino repatriates from the quake-ravaged country of
Haiti arrived last Friday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)
Terminal II on board PAL Flight PR 103. They are Gregorio Bacurin, Donna
Bacurin, Rucelle Cruz, Sonny Maning, Rosario Santos and Mikaela Santos.

Roque said, the repatriates underwent a debriefing session and brought to
the doorsteps of their homes for a well-deserved rest.

Ordeal in Haiti

"Nabagsakan ang kamay at paa ko ng semento habang nasa third floor ako ng
opisina. Gumuho ang buong building namin at gumapang lang ako sa isang
maliit na butas kaya ako nakaligtas," said Donna Bacurin, with tears rolling
down her cheeks as she was being given first aid treatment by the Red Cross.

She added that she was not even given the chance to have an x-ray because
many hospitals were either destroyed or already filled with badly-injured
people. "Kaya nga, napakalaki ng aking pagpapasalamat sa Department of Labor
at Philippine government sa kanilang magandang ginawa," she said.

On the other hand, Rosario Santos, mentioned that she has just went for a
gas refill, when the quake completely destroyed the facility, instantly
killing everyone on site. "Maraming salamat sa gobyerno natin sa
napakagandang pag-handle nila sa amin noong nasa Haiti kami, hindi nila kami
pinabayaan," Santos added.

Gregorio Bacurin, husband of Donna pointed out that he saw lifeless bodies
lined-up on the streets of Port au Prince, while the government of Haiti
struggled to put order to the chaotic scene of the quake.

"Hindi pa nga kami halos natutulog simula noong nagkalindol kasi natatakot
kami, baka kasi magkaroon ng aftershock at madisgrasya kami," he added.

He also revealed that they were sleeping in an open lot beside their house
for fear that their house might collapse anytime an aftershock hits.

"Nagkaroon din ng patrolya ang mga kalalakihan sa aming Filipino community
doon para maprotektahan ang aming komunidad at mahadlangan ang mga
magnanakaw na nagkalat sa paligid," he further said.

He exclaimed that he is very happy to finally return safe and sound here in
the Philippines, as he expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the DOLE, OWWA,
DFA and the Philippine government for bringing them back home.