Pinoy Weekly » Isyu Philippine news, analysis, and investigative stories Tue, 12 May 2015 22:16:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How international solidarity helped save Mary Jane Tue, 12 May 2015 20:52:51 +0000 Veloso family shows the candle they lit during the time of expected execution of Mary Jane. Pher Pasion

Veloso family shows the candle they lit during the time of expected execution of Mary Jane. Pher Pasion

The prevailing story on the Indonesian government’s last-minute reprieve of Mary Jane Veloso was that President Aquino “breached protocol” to convince Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo to turn Veloso into a “state witness” against a drug syndicate that victimized her and operates in many countries including the Philippines and Indonesia.

The Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Charles Jose, even said that the local and international protests did not have an effect on Widodo’s decision, and exclusively credited Aquino for the reprieve.

The narrative on the reprieve told by people’s organizations, including migrant and human rights organizations in the Philippines and Indonesia, as well as the Indonesian state body Komnas Perempuan (National Commission on Violence Against Women), however, challenges the Aquino government’s claims. It tells of an extensive, though decentralized, effort by many j bring to public attention, both in the Philippines and Indonesia, the case of Mary Jane Veloso and put pressure on the Philippine and Indonesian governments to grant the reprieve.

It tells a story about shared struggles and experiences. It tells about the power of international solidarity.

Mary Jane's sisters (from left) Darling and Maritess, who were both at the prison island of Nusa Kambangan during the evening of April 28. <b>KR Guda</b>

Mary Jane’s sisters (from left) Darling and Maritess, who were both at the prison island of Nusa Kambangan during the evening of April 28. KR Guda

Start of clamor

By all indications, the public clamor to stop the execution of Mary Jane Veloso started when representatives of Migrante International knocked on the doors of the Veloso family in Brgy. Caudillo, Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija on March 30.

(For a full accounting of the events of the case, from April 2010 to the stay of execution, read Migrante International’s timeline.)

Migrante International, by this time, started inquiring with fellow migrant rights advocates and organizations in Indonesia like Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (ATKI, Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers). On February 6, Migrante confirmed from the Indonesian groups that a certain Filipina named “Mary Jane” was indeed up for execution, pending a judicial review. The group then began seeking help from ATKI and other Indonesian groups.

On March 9, the group mentioned Mary Jane in its statement on the sudden execution of another overseas Filipino worker, Joven Esteva, in Saudi Arabia.In its statement, the group expressed sympathy with the family, and at the same time called on the DFA to swiftly act to prevent an impending execution of another OFW, this time Mary Jane, in Indonesia.

By then the judicial review was already in the Indonesian Supreme Court. On March 25, the Supreme Court rejected the judicial review petition, which was based on claims that Mary Jane did not have a competent translator during the 2010 trial, and that she did not know either Bahasa or English well enough to understand the proceedings.

The Veloso family had just about exhausted every means it knew to save Mary Jane. In her sworn statement signed April 15, Mary Jane’s mother Celia Veloso described her family’s continued efforts for DFA, as well as Philippine Drug Enforcement Authorty (PDEA), to help her daughter since 2010. In at least one instance, said Celia, DFA case officer Patricia Mocom even told her to keep away from media.

That there was no public knowledge or interest on Mary Jane’s case, both in the Philippines and Indonesia until the migrant groups stepped in was evident when Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo officially visited the Philippines on February 9. One agenda in Widodo’s state visit was the signing of a joint declaration on the protection of migrant workers between the two countries. Despite this, however, the Aquino administration did not confirm or deny at that time if Mary Jane’s case was discussed in Aquino’s meeting with Widodo. In Philippine media reports, Malacanang even declined to mention Mary Jane’s name.

(The timeline prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs [DFA], released just this May 4, claims that Aquino mentioned Mary Jane’s case to the visiting Indonesian president. But news reports, both in the Philippines and Indonesia, do not corroborate this. In fact, Aquino’s official statement during Widodo’s official state visit did not mention the case at all.)

After Migrante stepped in and met the Velosos on March 30 came a series of protest actions and activities to drumbeat public interest on Mary Jane’s case.

Vigil in front of the Indonesian embassy in Makati City, PH. Macky Macaspac

Vigil in front of the Indonesian embassy in Makati City, PH. Macky Macaspac

‘We can relate to her’

By the first week of April, Indonesian groups were already hard at work disseminating information on Mary Jane’s case. According to Connie Bragas-Regalado of Migrante International, before the Indonesian groups like ATKI stepped in, the Indonesian public hardly knew anything about Mary Jane. Those who knew about her case only knew her as one of those set to be executed for drug trafficking.

“Before, the Indonesian community did not really know about Mary Jane,” said Ini Iwenki of ATKI’s Indonesian chapter, in an interview with Pinoy Weekly. “Her name came out on March 2015, when the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) included her name as one of those who will be meted the death penalty. Then, all people knew was that she brough heroin to Indonesia.”

Widodo’s campaign against drug trafficking then was popular among the Indonesian public, said Eni Lestari, chairperson of International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA), and herself an Indonesian migrant worker in Hong Kong. “Since drug related issues is hot topic in Indonesia, everyone tried not to talk about it—although many opposed death penalty of the Indonesian government,” she said.

An Indonesian activist shows a placard with names of Indonesian migrant workers on death row. The Indonesians told President Widodo that his government would lose moral authority to appeal for the life of Indonesians on death row if its government carries on with Mary Jane's and the other convicts' execution. From the FB account of <b> Erwiana Sulistya Ningsih</b>

An Indonesian activist shows a placard with names of Indonesian migrant workers on death row. The Indonesians told President Widodo that his government would lose moral authority to appeal for the life of Indonesians on death row if its government carries on with Mary Jane’s and the other convicts’ execution. From the FB account of
Erwiana Sulistya Ningsih

Among the first to be approached by ATKI was Komnas Perempuan (National Commission on Violence Against Women, a state institution comparable in the Philippines to the government institution Philippine Commission on Women). Komnas Perempuan had been one of the most active institutions that advocated against the death penalty in Indonesia, as well as for the protection of Indonesian migrant workers abroad.

In an interview with Pinoy Weekly, Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, Komnas Perempuan vice-chairperson, said that they received a letter (apparently from ATKI) seeking support for Mary Jane’s case during the first week of April. “We discussed (among ourselves) the case and we sent a letter to President (Widodo) to delay the execution,” said Chuzaifah.

Not content with merely submitting a letter to Widodo, Komnas Perempuan decided to conduct a fact-finding mission on Mary Jane’s case. Chuzaifah, with her team, went to Yogjakarta to personally interview Mary Jane.

“During the first day, Mary Jane was emotional in telling her story and saying she was not guilty. The second day, we started to discuss with the lawyer, in detail, her story since the beginning. We tried to explore the trafficking dimension, as a woman, a mother, a member of a poor family, aa well as her married life – really detailed. We did a comprehensive report on her experience and story,” Chuzaifah said.

They then sent a second letter to Widodo. This time, the letter contained Komnas Perempuan’s fact-finding report.

On April 24, Komnas Perempuan, together with another state body, Komnas Ham (Komisi Nasional Hak Asasi Manusia, or National Commission on Human Rights—akin to the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights) and two Indonesian representatives to Association of Southeast Asian Nations or Asean mechanisms (Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights or AICHR, and Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children or ACWC) held a press conference in Jakarta. Its aim was to gather public support for the campaign to save Mary Jane’s life.

Chuzaifah said the presscon was also designed to reach President Widodo himself. “We sent formal letters, but we thought media was the faster messenger to the President,” she said.

By April 25, the day the 72-hour countdown until the execution of the nine death convicts (including Mary Jane) began, ATKI and the women’s and migrant groups, as well as other groups and concerned individuals, began holding a vigil in front of the Widodo’s presidential residence. They reportedly lit a thousand candles to dramatize what by then was already a popular clamor to save Mary Jane from the firing squad.

“They held a candlelighting right in front of the Presidential Palace. It was scary, because of the military in the streets. So of course, it was dispersed. A Migrante member even broke a finger during the dispersal,” said Migrante’s Connie Bragas-Regalado.

Philippine lawyer Edre Olalia talks with his colleagues from Rudyantho and Partners in Indonesia. Photo courtesy <b>NUPL</b>

Philippine lawyer Edre Olalia talks with his colleagues from Rudyantho and Partners in Indonesia. Photo courtesy NUPL

Gathering storm

At that time, Regalado was already with the Velosos, as well as lawyers of the National Union of People’s Lawyers. They were gathering further support from other Indonesian groups, including church-based organizations.

Regalado, together with Mary Jane’s sister Maritess, arrived in Jakarta on April 18. They immediately linked up with ATKI, and informally met Philippine embassy officials. In gathering support, Migrante even sought the help of the Jakarta chapter of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association, whose leaders said they were unaware (and uninformed by the Philippine embassy) of Mary Jane’s case. The UP alumni pledged support for the campaign.

Regalado said they also met with representatives of Komnas Perempuan on April 20.

When NUPL lawyers Edre Olalia and Minerva Lopez arrived in Jakarta on April 21, they already talked with Indonesian lawyers under Rudyantho and Partners (lawyers hired by the Philippine embassy and represented Mary Jane since the appeals stage). In this meeting, the Indonesian lawyers related to Olalia and Lopez that since 2011 they already asked the Philippine embassy to investigate a certain Maria Cristina Sergio who recruited Mary Jane and deceived her into using a luggage that contained a 2.6-kilo heroin.

“Rudyantho and Partners had already requested the Aquino government to investigate Sergio even before the filing of the first petition for judicial review. This would have been instrumental for the appeal,” said Migrante International, in a statement. “They (the Indonesian lawyers) were dismayed to learn that the Philippine government only attended to this after the judicial review had been rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court on March 25.”

In other words, the Philippine embassy practically sat on Mary Jane’s case since 2010 and left it up to Indonesian lawyers since 2011—not even employing PDEA to pursue leads on Sergio in the Philippines. (In her affidavit, Celia Veloso said she contacted the National Bureau of Investigation as far back as 2010 and PDEA in 2011. She also detailed how the DFA kept on giving her the runaround everytime she followed up on the case.)

Meanwhile, the Indonesian groups led by ATKI were already launching a series of protest actions for Mary Jane. All the efforts at bringing the issue to the streets came to a head on April 26, after the announcement of a 72-hour countdown until execution was made. The vigil was attended by many organizations.

“At the time, we (already) got a good response from the public. It became a trending topic (in social media). It became an eye opener to the public on the issue of death penalty (in Indonesia),” said Komnas Perempuan’s Chuzaifah. She also claimed that before the campaign to save Mary Jane, about “70 percent of the public supported death penalty”. But because of the campaign, “it became about 30 percent”.

All these events were happening while Widodo was at the Asian-African Conference, and then at the Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But apparently, he was taking notice of the events in Jakarta.

Preliminary investigation ng Department of Justice sa pangunguna ni Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Azarcon sa kaso laban sa mga illegal recruiter di umano ni Mary Jane Veloso. Pher Pasion

Cristina Sergio (center, in orange). Pher Pasion

Pressure in KL

On April 20, leaders of Migrante International, the Philippine women’s alliance Gabriela, the human rights organization Karapatan, and other Philippine and regional groups, went to Kuala Lumpur for pre-forum activities of the Asean People’s Forum.

In a roundtable discussion attended by Indonesian organizations including Komnas Perempuan, Gabriela mentioned the case of Mary Jane. On April 21, at the talk show of the Asean Women’s Forum, Gabriela’s Joms Salvador and IMA’s Lestari also discussed the case, and began distributing paraphernalia on the campaign. It was attended by about 400 participants, including Indonesian NGOs.

On April 24, an Asean People’s Forum (APF) event that supposedly featured Pres. Bengino Aquino III was organized. With Aquino unable to attend the event, Social Welfare Sec. Dinky Soliman came to represent the Philippine President. By that time, many attendees had already come to know about Mary Jane’s case. Gabriela and IMA, among others, boycotted Soliman’s talk. Together with other groups like the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), among others, they instead picketted outside the venue to further publicize Mary Jane’s case.

Nakiisa rin sa laban ni Mary Jane ang mga delegado ng Asean People's Forum sa Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Kontribusyon

Delegates of Asean Women’s Forum, including members from APWLD, Gabriela, Karapatan and Migrante, step up efforts to help save Mary Jane in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during the pre-meetings of the Asean People’s Forum and Asean Summit. Contributed Photo

“We were appalled that the APF invited Aquino. So when Soliman was about to talk, we timed our picket so she can hear our protests, and at the same time Asian attendees can hear us talk about what has been happening in the Philippines (regarding Mary Jane’s case),” recounted Joan Salvador, Gabriela’s international relations officer, who was at the event.

On April 27, before Widodo left the Asean Summit for Jakarta, delegates of the Asean Youth Forum (whose delegates were also present in the pre-forum meetings) personally handed the Indonesian President a letter asking for stay of Mary Jane’s execution.

This was even before Aquino’s five-minute chat with Widodo in the morning. Aquino allegedly talked about the case. By the afternoon, Widodo had an answer to the Philippine President, which was that in his mind at that point still, the clemency appeal had no basis. In the afternoon, he left Kuala Lumpur for Jakarta, which, by this time, was now abuzz with protests and vigils for Mary Jane.

International Migrants' Alliance Chairperson Eni Lestari speaks with the media about Mary Jane's case during the Asean People's Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Before she became a migrant rights activist, Eni was an Indonesian migrant worker in Hong Kong. Photo from <b>APF</b>

International Migrants’ Alliance Chairperson Eni Lestari speaks with the media about Mary Jane’s case during the Asean People’s Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Before she became a migrant rights activist, Eni was an Indonesian migrant worker in Hong Kong. Photo from APF

New appeal

Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur on the morning of 28th, President Aquino—who by this time was now armed with information on the arrest of Sergio—called Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi about the possibility of turning Mary Jane into a “state witness” against the drug syndicate that victimized her.

The Philippine government’s new position on Mary Jane as a human trafficking victim certainly put credence to Mary Jane’s claims since her arrest in Yogjakarta in 2010. However, these were the very same claims that Philippine government agencies DFA, NBI and PDEA refused to investigate on because “they had no evidence”, Celia Veloso quoted the agencies’ officials as saying.

During the phone call, when Masrudi asked Aquino why the claim that Mary Jane was a human trafficking victim was raised only now, the Philippine President went on to blame Mary Jane herself. “We discovered that she wasn’t cooperating initially, and she is now very cooperative. We have the opportunity in our case to get the necessary evidence to successfully prosecute the illegal recruiters,” Aquino said.

This was, of course, disputed by Mary Jane’s Filipino lawyers, who said that she fully cooperated from the day she got contact with the Philippine embassy after her arrest. NUPL’s Olalia said that the Indonesian lawyers under Rudyantho and Partners said they had asked embassy officials to investigate Mary Jane’s claims since 2011.

Consulting with labor groups

Meanwhile late evening of April 27, the president’s staff called representatives of various NGOs, purportedly for a meeting on the upcoming Labor Day celebrations. One of those contacted was Anis Hidayah, executive director of Migrant Care, which was one of the NGOs that answered Komnas Perempuan, ATKI and Migrante International’s call to help save Mary Jane’s life.

In a report from Rappler Indonesia, Anis explained that she had to catch a midnight train ride from Jember, Central Java to Jurabaya that evening, and then flew to Jakarta in order to arrive in time for the meeting with Widodo. She knew that Mary Jane’s case would be in the discussion.

Indonesian Cabinet Secreatary Andi Widjajanto. <b>Wikimedia Commons</b>

Indonesian Cabinet Secreatary Andi Widjajanto. Wikimedia Commons

During the meeting, Anis said she could not help but cry when asked about the case. She recalled the case of Siti Zaenab, an abused Indonesian migrant worker accused of murder in Saudi Arabia whom Anis personally helped to save from execution. Zaenab was eventually beheaded by the Saudi government.

The report said that Widodo was “irritated” that he only came to know today about the angle that Mary Jane might be innocent—after he had already repeatedly denied clemency appeals from the Aquino government. This echoed Attorney General’ H.M. Prasetyo’s statement questioning claims that Mary Jane was a victim of human trafficking because it surfaced only a few days before the scheduled execution.

(By all indications, the Widodo government was only informed of the possibility that Mary Jane was a victim of human trafficking after the filing of the second judicial review, in April 24, 2015. The Philippine embassy, pressured by Migrante and NUPL was only able to submit a Bahasa translate on the PDEA report on Mary Jane’s claims at the last minute, April 23. The Aquino government, in its previous clemency appeals—DFA claimed that the Aquino government appealed four times—asked Widodo to grant clemency on humanitarian grounds, not on the basis that Mary Jane may possibly be a human trafficking victim. As with other diplomatic appeals based on humanitarian grounds from Australia and Brazil, Widodo dismissed them.)

For her part, Chuzafìah said she used her connections with the inner circle within the Widodo administration to ensure that Komnas Perempuan’s fact-finding report on Mary Jane, as well as news on Sergio’s surrender from the Philippines’ Department of Justice, were in Widodo’s hands.

After the meeting with the NGOs, and still without a decision on the matter, Prasetyo declared that their government would go ahead with the executions. But after 5pm and even with Prasetyo affirming the executions, Widodo was already in consultation with other officials, namely Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto and officials from Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency. By this time, news had arrived to them about the supposed surrender of Sergio to Philippine authorities.

The Philippines’ DFA had already publicly stated that legal and diplomatic efforts to save Mary Jane had failed. But Chuzaifah had confidence that there was possibility of a reprieve. This was also relayed by Mary Jane’s Filipino lawyers to hundreds of supporters outside Indonesian embassy in Makati City, Philippines who were in vigil. She said that although many members of Widodo’s inner circle were in favor of the death penalty, there were some like Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto who were open to dialogue with the labor and migrant groups.

Chuzaifah revealed to Pinoy Weekly that by 10pm of April 28, within hours of the executions, “a source” within Widodo’s inner circle related to her the possibility of a repreive.

“Around 10pm, we heard an important message, that possibly the President (Widodo) would change his mind. I got this information but (was told not to) share this information because it was still in the process,” Chuzaifah said. The source, she said, was “a very important source from the circle of the President”.

“They said that the President was asking a very important person and that this important person said that ‘Mr. President, you have to decide correctly based on your heart.’ This is my language, but more or less like that,” she added.

The executions were to commence by midnight. From many accounts, it was before midnight, as the death convicts were on their way to the execution site, that Mary Jane stopped. She was informed then by the Indonesian authorities that her execution would be stayed.

This development was relayed to Indonesian media several minutes later, and eventually to the attendees of the vigil in Makati City by around 1:30 in the morning. The DFA would officially announce the stay of execution at around 2:30am.

Celia Veloso (left). <b>KR Guda</b>

Celia Veloso (left). KR Guda

Veloso family struggles

During the press conference at the Migrante office on May 1, the Velosos recounted their own ordeal with the embassy officials.

Cesar Veloso, father of Mary Jane, narrated that the DFA tried to separate them from their lawyer Olalia. “They hold my hand and kept pulling me inside. But I kept on calling on attorney (Olalia). I struggled and was able to free myself, which is why I was able to talk to attorney (for his legal advice),” said Cesar.

The Veloso family also decried the DFA’s apparent lack of sympathy for them in talking with them about funeral arrangements even after news of Sergio’s surrender opened up possibility that Mary Jane would be reprieved. “They had a list for the expected wake of Mary Jane. It was detailed there (in the list) that there would be a mass. It detailed what casket would be used, what funeral parlor—it was a complete list,” said Maritess Veloso, sister of Mary Jane. “When they asked for a meeting, we thought we would be talking about the surrender of Sergio, that there would be hope. But we talked about Mary Jane’s wake.”

Maritess also narrated the rollercoaster of emotions during the night of the 29th. At past 11pm, the was told that Mary Jane wanted to see her. But it was the Yojakarta high prosecutor who talked with her. But Maritess said she did not understand the high prosecutor, who talked in Bahasa. Meanwhile, Consul General Roberto Manalo, who by then had already known of the stay of execution, didn’t inform her and Darling (Mary Jane’s other sister who were at the island during the time of execution) that Mary Jane was not among those to be executed. Instead, she said they were left to hear the gunshots and thought that Mary Jane was already executed.

“We were holding hands together with my sister Darling. Then we heard a gunshot… I was crying, screaming Mary Jane’s name, asking why she wanted to see me. I will never forget when I heard those gunshots,” said Maritess.

They later came to know about the reprieve. Mary Jane lived, and the world who helped her win a repreive celebrated her temporary triumph.

With Reports from Darius Galang, Ma. Divine Velarde, Alber F. Jonah, Meliza A. Casipit, Frances Cyril A. Clemente, and John Emmanuel A. Diwas

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Celia Veloso, iba pang nanay binigyang-pugay sa Araw ng mga Ina Sun, 10 May 2015 16:05:07 +0000 Mothers Walk for Mary Jane, isinagawa sa Quezon Memorial Circle sa Araw ng mga Ina. <strong>Pher Pasion</strong>

Mothers Walk for Mary Jane, isinagawa sa Quezon Memorial Circle sa Araw ng mga Ina. Pher Pasion

Bitbit ang mga rosas at mga lobo, sama-samang ginunita ng mga nanay ang Araw ng mga Ina na pinangunahan ni Celia Veloso, ina ni Mary Jane Veloso, sa Quezon Memorial Circle sa Quezon City.

Kasama ang mga grupong Gabriela, Gabriela Women’s Party at Migrante International, tinawag nila itong “Mothers Walk for Mary Jane” bilang patuloy na pasasalamat sa mga ina na sumuporta kay Mary Jane at pagpapatuloy sa panawagan na mailigtas siya at mapauwi na sa Pilipinas.

“Nagpapasalamat po ako at buo naming pamilya sa lahat ng mga tumulong sa aking anak. Bilang ina, kailangan po nating maging matatag at ipaglaban ang para sa atin. Huwag tayong pumayag na habambuhay ay tapak-tapakan tayo,” ayon kay Celia.

Celia Veloso, ina ni Mary Jane, na nag-abot ng mga rosas sa mga ina sa Quezon Memorial Circle habang nagpapasalamat sa mga ina at pagbibigay pagbati sa pagdiriwang ng Araw ng mga Ina. <strong>Pher Pasion</strong>

Celia Veloso, ina ni Mary Jane, na nag-abot ng mga rosas sa mga ina sa Quezon Memorial Circle habang nagpapasalamat sa mga ina at pagbibigay pagbati sa pagdiriwang ng Araw ng mga Ina. Pher Pasion

Ayon naman kay Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmi De Jesus, kanilang ipinagdiriwang ang araw na ito sa diwa ng pagpapahalaga sa mga nanay sa pagtataguyod ng mga isyu sa kanilang komunidad, sa mga isyu ng bayan.

Nakiisa din sa nasabing pagtitipon ang mga ina ng mga overseas Filipino workers na nakakulong sa ibayong dagat. Nanawagan si Editha Dacanay, ina ni Rose Dacanay na nasa death row ngayon sa Saudti Arabia, ng tulong sa publiko.

Gayundin ang tulong na hinihingi ni Maritess Aquino, ina ni Edmar Aquino na anim na tanon ng nakakulong sa Iran.

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Ilegal na rekruter ng ‘DC Teachers’, pinagpapanagot ng DOJ Sun, 10 May 2015 16:01:15 +0000 wanted-isidro

Poster ng Migrante International para sa paghahanap kay Isidro Rodriguez

Isa na namang inisyal na tagumpay laban sa illegal recruitment ang natamasa ng mga biktima nito.

Inilabas ng Department of Justice (DOJ) noong Abril 30 ang resolusyon na nagsasaad na hatol na guilty kay Isidro Rodriguez sa mga kasong large-scale illegal recruitment at syndicated estafa. Tugon ito sa reklamong isinampa ng ilan sa may 300 guro na nabiktima ni Rodriguez.

Masayang tinanggap ng Migrante International ang resolusyon, na mahigit isang taon matapos tinugunan ng ayuda ng mga guro, na narekruta ni Rodriguez para magturo sa Washington DC, US pero kung saan-saang trabaho ipinasok.

Ayon sa Migrante, inisyal na tagumpay ito para sa nabiktimang mga guro.

Noong Disyembre 18, 2013 pa nang nakipag-usap ang ilang miyembro ng tinaguriang “DC Teachers”, kasama ang Migrante International at Gabriela, sa National Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) sa Department of Justice (DOJ).

“Tuluy-tuloy ang tagumpay ng sama-samang pagkilos at paglaban. Maghihitay kami ng paborableng resolusyon para naman sa motion for reconsideration na isnampa namin ukol sa trafficking cases,” ani Sol Pillas, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Migrante International.

Umaasa sana ang mga biktima, maging ang Migrante at Gabriela, na makasuhan din si Rodriguez sa ilalim ng Republic Act No. 10364 o Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 bilang unang kaso ng human trafficking na mapaparusahan sa ilalim ng naturang batas.

Pero ayon sa Migrante, tila, minaliit ito noon ng DOJ. Saad noon ni Garry Martinez, tagapangulo ng Migrante, “‘Yung mga napapalis na nasa US na may 50 teachers ay dinidinig na yung kaso nila sa human trafficking. (Pero) kapag dito (sa Pilipinas), hindi nila kinonsider na trafficking ito, kahit may mahigit 100 complainant.”

Nakatala si Rodriguez bilang isa sa notoryus na mga illegal recruiter at human trafficker, ayon sa konsulada ng Pilipinas sa Estados Unidos. Mayroon pa rin siyang nakabinbin na mga kaso sa US na isinampa ng mga nabiktima niya at ngayo’y nakabase sa US.

Pawang lisensiyado at propesyunal na mga guro ang nabiktima ni Rodriguez. Hindi bababa sa 500 katao ang mga biktimang ito, sa ilalim ng mga ahensiyang Renaissance Staffing and Support, Inc., (kilala dati na Great Provider Service Exporters, Inc.), at ang katuwang nito sa US na Green Life Care International, LLC.

Umaabot sa hanggang kalahating milyong piso ang nasingil ni Rodriguez sa bawat isa para umano sa “processing, service, pick-up, housing and interview fees”. Pangakong trabaho sa iba’t ibang paralan sa US ang alok sa mga nabiktima, ngunit wala naman palang ganoon na maaabutan ang mga nakaalis ng bansa.

Nasentensiyahan na rin si Rodriguez ng 11-taong pagkakabilanggo noong Nobyembre ng nakaraang taon, sa kasong pambibiktima ng isang guro. Ngunit malayo pa ito sa hinihiling ng iba pang mga biktima dahil iisa lamang ito habang nakaantabay pa ang iba pang patong na patong na kaso kay Rodriguez.

Patuloy rin umano ang pagmamatyag sa mga kinaroroonan ni Rodriguez. Napabalitaang nakita siya sa Madrid, Spain.

Sinabi ni Pillas na patuloy ang kanilang pangangalampag sa DOJ upang aksiyunan ang iba pang mga kaso kay Rodriguez.

“Patuloy ang aming pagmamatyag at pangangalampag hangga’t matamasa ng mga biktima ang hustisya, at panawagan din namin, na arestuhin na sa lalo’t madaling panhon si Rodriguez,” dugtong pa ni Pillas.

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Kaso ni Mary Jane, kailangang batayan ng taumbayan Sun, 10 May 2015 15:50:40 +0000 Preliminary investigation ng Department of Justice sa pangunguna ni Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Azarcon sa kaso laban sa mga illegal recruiter di umano ni Mary Jane Veloso. <strong>Pher Pasion</strong>

Preliminary investigation ng Department of Justice sa pangunguna ni Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Azarcon sa kaso laban sa mga illegal recruiter di umano ni Mary Jane Veloso. Pher Pasion

Nagprotesta ang iba’t ibang mga grupo sa harapan ng Department of Justice (DOJ) sa pagbubukas ng preliminary investigation sa kaso nina Maria Kristina Sergio at Julius Lacanilao, ang itinuturong mga rekruter ni Mary Jane Veloso.

Ayon kay Renato Reyes, Jr., pangkalahatang kalihim ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), kailangang patuloy na manawagan sa pagliligtas at pagpapalaya kay Mary Jane.

“Hindi dapat na hayaan na muling matulog ang kaso ni Mary Jane lalo na’t nasa gobyerno na ng Pilipinas nakasalalay ang kaso ni Mary Jane,” ayon kay Reyes.

Nagbigay ng hanggang Mayo 11 ang DOJ para sa pagsusumite ng lahat ng ebidensiya laban sa mga suspek. Matapos ang nasabing deadline, hindi na tatanggap ng ano pa mang ebidensiya ang DOJ.

Kinuwestiyon naman ni Edre Olalia, abogado ng pamilya Veloso, ang pagbibigay ng mga abogado mula sa Public Attorneys Office (PAO) kina Sergio at Lacanilla. Tanong ni Olalia, kung dapat bang bigyan ng serbisyo ng PAO sina Sergio kung may kakayahan naman itong magbayad ng pribadong abogado.

Hindi naman nakapagbigay agad ng legal na batayan ang mga abogado ng PAO. Binigyan sila ng DOJ hanggang Mayo 11 para isumite ang kaukulang legal na batayan para ipresenta sina Sergio at Lacanilao.

Nagprotesta ang iba't ibang grupo sa harapan ng Department of Justice sa pagbubukas ng imbestigasyon sa kaso ng umano'y mga rekurter ni Mary Jane Veloso. <strong>Pher Pasion</strong>Nagprotesta ang iba't ibang grupo sa harapan ng Department of Justice sa pagbubukas ng imbestigasyon sa kaso ng umano'y mga rekurter ni Mary Jane Veloso. <strong>Pher Pasion</strong>

Nagprotesta ang iba’t ibang grupo sa harapan ng Department of Justice sa pagbubukas ng imbestigasyon sa kaso ng umano’y mga rekurter ni Mary Jane Veloso. Pher Pasion

“Nililinawin namin, may karapatan ang respondents sa abogado. Hindi namin inaalis yan… Ang punto, bakit sa isang taong labas masok ng Pilipinas, in one month tatlo, apat, lima? Paano naging indigent yun? Pinagkakait mo yung nangangailangan,” ayon kay Olalia.

Pinabulaanan din ni Olalia na minamadali ang proceedings ng kaso. Kung talagang inosente sina Sergio nasa bentahe umano ng kabilang kampo na magmadali.

“Ayaw din namin na maparatangan na niratsada. Hindi kami papaya kasi dapat may integridad ang legal proceedings para kung maging tuntungan ito Indonesia ay walang kuwestiyon. Kailangan ang integridad ng proceeding, yung awtoridad ng abogado niya,” ayon kay Olalia.

Samantala, ayon kay Howard Areza, abogado nina Sergio at Lacanilao, mula sa PAO, wala umanong inamin sina Sergio patungkol sa lumabas na balita kamakailan na inamin di umano nila na sangkot sila sa isang international na sindikato ng droga sa imbestigasyong isinagawa ng National Bureau of Investigation.

“Yung confession na sinasabi hindi ko alam kung saan nila kinuha. In fact, hindi ko alam kung bakit isinama doon sa resolution. Hindi ko malaman yung mga facts doon kung saan nila kinuha,” ayon kay Areza.

Ayon naman kay Olalia, hindi pa sila nakakakuha ng kopya ng nasabing imbestigasyon na pag-amin umano nila Sergio.

Nakatakda naman sa Mayo 20, 25, at Hunyo 1 ang mga susunod na pagdinig para bigyan ng sapat na panahon ang mga inaakusahan sa kanilang counter affidavits.

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Binhi ng Isang Aklat Fri, 08 May 2015 04:04:43 +0000 Magandang gabi po. Nang mapatay ng militar si Recca Noelle Monte noong Setyembre 2014, mabilis na bumuhos ang mga sulatin, mahaba at maikli, tungkol sa kanya. Naging araw-araw ang Throwback Thursday at naglabasan ang mga larawan kasama siya. Walang abi-abiso sa taba o payat, kinis o gaspang, kintab o tuyot ng mukha, laki o liit ng buhok ng mga kasama niya sa larawan. Sabihin pa, marami sa mga sulatin at larawang ito ang nakita at nabasa sa Facebook.

Para sa huling parangal ni Recca sa Church of the Risen Lord, tinipon ang mga sulatin at larawang ito ng matatalik na kaibigan at kasama niya at inilathala sa isang booklet. Kaunti lang ang kopyang inilimbag, dahil para lang talaga iyun sa pamilya Monte at malalapit na kasama’t kaibigan. Mahaba ang titulo ng booklet – Recca, karugtong ang lahat ng pangalan niya sa pakikibaka.

Ang booklet na ito ang binhi ng librong inilulunsad natin ngayon. Dahil sa pagluluksa at pangungulila, may mga kaibigan at kasamang paulit-ulit na binasa ang booklet. Napansin nila na iba’t ibang bahagi ng buhay at pakikibaka ni Recca ang pinaksa ng mga sulatin, at bihira ang puntong naulit. Samantala, nagtuluy-tuloy pa ang pagbuhos ng mga sulatin tungkol kay Recca at ang mga larawan niya.

Pabalat ng librong "Recca: From Diliman to the Cordilleras"

Pabalat ng librong “Recca: From Diliman to the Cordilleras”

Hanggang sa may nagkaroon ng ideyang palawigin ang booklet at gawin itong isang buo at “tunay” na libro. “Dapat lang!” ang sabi ng mga kaibigan at kasama ni Recca. Mahigit isang dekada siyang miyembro ng New People’s Army o NPA, bukod pa sa ilang taong naging aktibista. Noong namatay siya, isa na siyang lider ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, ng isa sa mga panrehiyong organo nito. Hindi kalabisang sabihing kasama siya sa “the best and the brightest” ng aming henerasyon – at “the warmest” din, patunay ang napakaraming nagmamahal sa kanya.

Ang huwaran ng mga kasama at kaibigan niyang nakaisip na gawin itong libro ay ang Edjop: The Unusual Journey of Edgar Jopson na isinulat ni Benjamin Pimentel, Jr. Ang tinutukoy ay iyung orihinal na bersyon na nalathala noong 1989, hindi iyung UG, An Underground Tale: The Journey of Edgar Jopson and the First Quarter Storm Generation na binagong bersyon ng nauna at inilathala noong 2006. Sa huli kasi, ginamit ang buhay at pakikibaka ni Edjop laban sa NPA at PKP, na kinakasapian at pinapamunuan ni Edjop noong napatay siya ng militar.

Anu’t anuman, mahalaga sa aming henerasyon ng mga kabataang aktibista noong ikalawang hati ng dekada ’90 at maagang bahagi ng mga taong 2000 ang librong Edjop. Buhay na kwento kasi ito ng puspusang pakikibaka ni Edjop sa panahong iyun ng batas militar – una sa kilusang paggawa, sa Metro Manila, at pagkatapos ay sa Mindanao. Mababasa sa libro kung paano siya tumindig sa gitna ng mga tunggalian, sa sarili at sa loob ng Kilusan. Itinatangi ng marami sa amin ang mga bahagi ng libro na naglalarawan ng pamumuno niya, kung paano siya bilang kadre ng PKP. Sabi sa libro, halimbawa, parang barkada lang ang mga namumuno sa Mindanao noong bago siya dumating, pero naging pormal ang mga pulong nang siya na ang kalihim.

Ngayon gabi, masayang-masaya tayo na narito na ang ating libro. Palakpakan natin ang napakagandang librong Recca: From Diliman to the Cordilleras! Para sa pagkuha niya sa proyektong ito, palakpakan natin ang larawan ng makabayang guro at editor ng libro, si Prop. Judy M. Taguiwalo! Para sa napakahusay niyang pagbubuo, paglalatag at pagdidisenyo ng mga sulatin at larawan, palakpakan natin si Karl Fredrick M. Castro! Para sa mahusay at mabilis na paglalathala sa libro, palakpakan natin ang Southern Voices! Para sa kanilang mahuhusay na ambag, palakpakan natin ang napakaraming kontribyutor sa librong ito!

Nagagalak man tayo ngayon sa paglulunsad ng aklat, lagi’t lagi nating inihahabol na may mga kaakibat na panawagan ang librong ito. Isigaw natin ang mga panawagang ito. Katarungan para sa mga martir ng Lacub, Abra! Palayain si Kennedy Bangibang, bilanggong pulitikal! Syempre pa: Mabuhay ang pambansa-demokratikong rebolusyon!

Nagagalak po tayo ngayong gabi na ang booklet na binhi ng librong ito ay sumibol na at naging isang magandang aklat. Hangad natin na ang librong ito, ang Recca: From Diliman to the Cordilleras, ay maihasik sa maraming bahagi ng bansa at maging binhi rin – ng maraming malayang kamalayan, ng maraming malayang bisig, lahat para sa isang malayang bayan!

08 Mayo 2015

* Talumpating hindi nabasa, dahil nahiya, sa paglulunsad ng Recca: From Diliman to the Cordilleras noong 22 Abril 2015 sa Quezon Hall, Unibersidad ng Pilipinas-Diliman.

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Dispatches: Walking in Fear in the Philippines Thu, 07 May 2015 07:23:12 +0000 By Carlos Conde for Human Rights Watch

Human rights and indigenous peoples rights activists in Southern Mindanao. <b>Davao Today</b>

Human rights and indigenous peoples rights activists in Southern Mindanao. Davao Today

In a country where extrajudicial executions by state security forces are a longstanding problem, potential victims take any threat seriously. So when farmers’ rights activist Eduardo Regidor noticed that three armed men were trailing him around Davao City last week, he sought refuge in the local offices of one of the Philippines’ largest human rights organizations, Karapatan. Regidor had recently filed a complaint with Karapatan against local elements of the military, so he had good reason to be fearful.

Regidor’s hunch proved right. The very next evening, one of those same three men tried to forcibly enter the Karapatan compound via the front gate, while the two others tried to scale the wall. They fled when police arrived on the scene. Regidor wasn’t harmed, but several staff and volunteers saw the attempted assault unfold. Among the witnesses were victims of military abuses in the area, including a woman allegedly raped by a soldier.

Karapatan has long been a target of the Philippine security forces. The military has often linked Karapatan and other nongovernmental groups holding decidedly left-wing political views with the rebel New People’s Army (NPA). The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging an insurgency against the government since 1969. The conflict has sparked extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture; and many of the victims have been human rights defenders. Defending victims of human rights abuses by the Philippine security forces can have dire consequences – in several instances during the Benigno Aquino presidency, human rights defenders have been targets of violent attacks. In 2013 a senior military official described Karapatan as an “enemy” of the state, putting the group at particular risk.

The dangers for groups like Karapatan are especially great in areas that are strongholds of the NPA. This includes the eastern and southern Mindanao regions, where Davao City is located.

But there is little to keep security force personnel who commit abuses in check. Despite the arrest last year of the notorious retired army major general Jovito Palparan, who has been implicated in abduction, torture, and enforced disappearances, the Philippines government rarely prosecutes members of the security forces for serious human rights abuses.

The Philippine government needs to get serious about protecting human rights defenders, and investigating those who threaten or attack them. It could start by identifying and arresting the three men who attacked Karapatan’s offices last week. Until the government shows that it will no longer tolerate these grave threats, Eduardo Regidor and others who speak out will continue to walk the streets in fear.

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Mga lider-kawani ng gobyerno, hinaharas ng militar Tue, 05 May 2015 18:55:51 +0000 Mga sulat na ipinadala sa iba't ibang lider-kawani bago ang Mayo Uno. <b>Darius Galang</b>

Mga sulat na ipinadala sa iba’t ibang lider-kawani bago ang Mayo Uno. Darius Galang

Ferdie Gaite ng Courage <b>PW File Photo</b>

Ferdie Gaite ng Courage PW File Photo

Sa likod ng malaking pagkilos ng mga manggagawa noong Mayo Uno, Pandaigdigang Araw ng Paggawa, naganap ang panghaharas sa mga kawani at manggagawa ng pamahalaan.

Isiniwalat kamakailan ng Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Empoyees (Courage) ang panghaharas sa mga nasa pamunuan ng mga unyon ng mga kawani sa pamahalaan.

Ibinahagi ni Rosalinda Nartates, tagapangulo Consolidated Union of Employees of the NHA (CUE-NHA) na nakapailalim sa Courage, na isang Capt. Evangelista ng Philippine Army ang nakapirma sa isang sulat-kamay sa liham na kanyang natanggap. Isa pang lider ng unyon ang nakatanggap na kaparehas na liham.

Hindi lamang si Nartates ang nakatanggap ng kaparehas na liham. Ibinunyag din ni Manny Baclagon, tagapangulo ng Social Welfare Employees Association of the Philippines-Department of Social Welfare and Development (SWEAP-DSWD) na nakatanggap siya ng kaparehas na liham, na ipinadala direkta sa kanilang bahay.

Nag-ulat din ang National Food Authority Employees Association ng kahaintulad na liham na nilagdaan ng isang Capt. Mandiwang at isang “Jay.”

Bukod sa mga liham, nag-ulat din si Tess Gonzales ng Kapisanan Para sa Kagalingan ng mga Kawani ng MMDA (KKK-MMDA) ng pagmamanman ng dalawang hindi nagpakilalang lalake sa sa kanilang opisina.

Diumano’y hinahanap siya at hiniling na magpunta sa isang lugar upang makapag-usap. Nang tumanggi si Gonzales, nagpakilala ang dalawa bilang galing sa mga unyon, ngunit umalis nang tinanong ang kanilang mga pangalan.

Sa mga sulat na ito, nakasaad ang mga numero ng kanilang umano’y lalapitan, upang umano’y makipagtulungan, dahil ayon sa mga liham, alam na ng nagpadala ng liham na naibunyag na ang kanilang “pagiging miyembro ng nangununang organo ng Communist Party of the Philippines”.

Sinabi ni Ferdinand Gaite, tagapangulo ng Courage, na direktang atake ito sa kanila at walang ibang sisisihin kundi ang gobyerno kapag may nangyaring masama sa kanila.

“Patunay ito na matagal na nila kaming minamanmanan, alam nila kung saan kami nakatira, anong oras kami pumapasok at umuuwi,” ani Gaite.

Pinanatili niya na walang ginagawang masama ang kanyang mga kasama sa Courage.

“Kung mayroon man kaming aaminin, iyon ang krimen ng organisadong pagkilos upang isulong ang mga karapatan ng mga kawani ng pamahalaan at isulong ang tunay na serbisyo publiko,” sabi pa ni Gaite.

Malaki ang kanilang hinala na nakadugtong ang mga liham at paniniktik sa paghahanda ng pagkilos para sa Mayo 1. Inalala rin nila ang nangyari kay Randy Vegas at Raul Camposano, dalawang kasapi ng Courage na dinakip at ikinulong sa Bikol sa mga gawa-gawang kaso na isinampa ng militar.

“Ang aming pagsali sa pagkilos noong Mayo Uno ay patikim lamang sa mga nalalabing buwan ng pamamahala ni Pangulong Aquino na nagpahirap sa mahigit 1.4 milyong kawani ng pamahalaan,” pagtatapos niya.

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Gobyerno: Dambuhalang employer ng kontraktuwal na paggawa Thu, 30 Apr 2015 19:21:32 +0000 Pagpapanawagan para sa pambansang minimum na sahod, sa harap ng tanggapan ng National Housing Authority, noong Nob. 2014. <b>Kontribusyon</b>

Pagpapanawagan para sa pambansang minimum na sahod, sa harap ng tanggapan ng National Housing Authority. Kontribusyon

Sabi nga raw, di ka magtatagal sa trabaho kung di mo ito mahal. At kung mahal mo ang trabaho mo, ito rin ang magpapaangat sa buhay mo. Pero paano kung minahal mo ang trabaho mo, pero di ka man lang umasenso, at wala pang benepisyo?

Ganito ang pakiramdam ni Boni (di-tunay na ngalan). Admin assistant personnel siya sa isang opisina ng Department of Social Welfare and Development, at 18 taon nang nagtatrabaho rito. Dahil matagal na siya sa trabahong ito, alam niya ang halaga niya sa opisina. “Dahil admin assistant ako, kung ano ang kailangan nila, ako ang humahawak. Kaya kailangan talaga nila ako,” ani Boni.
Pero sa kabila nito, hindi pa rin siya ginagawang regular na empleyado. Taun-taon pa rin siyang pumipirma ng kontrata.

Mahalagang trabaho

“Kailangan ang trabaho (ni Boni) kaya hindi siya matatanggal,” ani Manuel Baclagon, tagapangulo ng Social Welfare Employees Association of the Philippines (Sweap), pambansang samahan ng mga empleyado ng DSWD.

Paliwanag niya, nakakatanggap naman ang mga kontraktuwal ng benepisyo, maliban pa sa suweldo. Pero may dalawa pang kategorya sa kanila. “’Yung casual-contractual, iyan ‘yung mga temporary lang. Mayroong nire-renew ang kontrata bawat anim na buwan, o bawat taon. Pero may parehong benepisyo sila sa regular na mga empleyado. Ang pangatlong category, iyon ‘yung tinatawag naming cost-of-service workers or Memoramdum of Agreement (MOA) workers,” aniya.

Pinakamasahol ang kinalalagyan ng huli. “Iyung MOA workers, iyan ‘yung walang employer-employee relationship sa DSWD. Ang binabayaran lang sa kanila, ‘yung (nakasaad sa) kontrata nila,” ani Baclagon.

Parang “pakyawan” sila. Kung ang regular ay may tinatanggap na sahod na P10,000 sa isang takdang item, ganun din daw ang tatanggapin nila. “Pero hanggang doon na lang. Walang benepisyo ang MOA worker. Wala silang 13th month pay, walang Christmas Cash gift, walang clothing allowance, leave benefits. Hindi rin sila entitled sa collective negotiation agreement (CNA) benefits,” paliwanag pa niya.

Mas marami na

Ang nakakapag-alala, pinaka-maraming bilang na ng empleyado ng kagawaran ang kontraktuwal. Sa 23,000 na mga manggagawa ng DSWD, lagpas sa kalahati nito’y MOA workers. “Dito sa DSWD, nationwide, (pinakamarami) ang nasa special projects tulad ng sa conditional cash transfer at iba pang special projects. Sa 23,000 na iyan, ang permanent lang ay 2,000. ‘Yung casual o contractual, 9,000. Kaya may 12,000 na tinatawag namin na MOA workers,” ani Baclagon.

Lumiit na nga ang bilang ng mga empleyado ng DSWD. Matapos ipinasa sa local government units ang mga programa at tauhan ng ahensiya noong 1991, umabot sa 10,000 na lang ang natirang mga kawani. Ang iba rito’y napunta sa mga LGU.

“Mga 1995, may special projects na ipinatupad. (Umabot sa) 2,000 ang regular at ang casual/contractual. (Umabot sa) 2,000 ang MOA workers,” paliwanag pa niya. Halos exponential ang paglago nito. Noong taong 2000, naging 6,000 na sila. “So 2,000 yung (regular), 4,000 ’yung (MOA),” ani Baclagon.

“Noong ipinatupad na ang CCT, dumami na. Tapos may special projects pa. Kasi, maraming foreign-funded projects, (at may) social pension din. Tsaka ’yung iba pang projects. Ngayon, 23,000 na nga kami nationwide,” aniya.

Mapapansing karamihan sa mga proyekto ng DSWD ay pagtugon sa kahirapan, pero di naman nauugat ang kahirapan ng bansa.

“Parang ang solusyon kasi ng gobyerno, pansamantalang maresolba ang kahirapan,” tuloy niya. Hindi nito natutugunan ang ugat ng kahirapan, tulad ng kawalan ng lupang mabubungkal ng mga magsasaka, at walang industriyang mag-eempleyo ng malaking bilang na mga manggagawa. Kaya pati ang empleyong inaalok ng ahensiya, pansamantala, mababa ang sahod, walang benepisyo. Nananatiling mahirap ang mga empleyado. Samantala, papalit-palit lang ng pangalan ang mga proyekto ng DSWD.


Sa pagpasok ni DSWD Sec. Dinky Soliman, lalong dumami ang MOA workers.

“Biruin mo, saan ka nakakakita ng programa na may direktor na MOA. Sa (CCT), meron pa kami. Sa (proyekto sa) disaster, iyung direktor, MOA rin. Lahat ng mga importante sa department, pinusisyunan ni Soliman ng MOA officials,” ani Baclagon.

Ang problema, walang pananagutan ang mga opisyal na MOA. “Wala ngang employer-employee relationship eh,” aniya. Kaya dapat sana’y regular ang mga natatalaga sa responsableng mga posisyon. “Pabor ang MOA sa kurap na mga opisyal, kasi madali kang makakapagpasok (ng tao at walang pananagutan),” sabi ni Baclagon.


Sinabi pa ni Baclagon na pinag-iigihan nilang nasa unyon ang pag-oorganisa at pakikipagkaisa sa mga kapwa-empleyado na kaswal o kontraktuwal.

“Puwede naming ipagmayabang na kami lang ang unyon na nakapagpanalo ng CNA benefits sa MOA workers. Marami ring job order sa ibang (ahensiya), pero wala silang benepisyo,” aniya. Naipanalo pa ng Sweap ang employer-employee relationship ng ahensiya at MOA workers. Ngayon, nagkaroon na ang MOA workers ng health cards.

Gayunman, marami pang kailangang ipaglaban.

“Ang (prayoridad) namin, CNA. Pangalawa, ang employee rights in terms of selection, promotion, tsaka scholarship availment,” sabi pa ni Baclagon. Itinutulak din nila ang bereavement assistance, maging ang pagtataguyod ng mga kooperatiba.

Kasabay nito, kaisa sila sa paglaban ng mga manggagawa sa gobyerno at pribadong sektor. Ipinaglalaban nila ang taas-suweldo sa mga kawani, ang pagtalaga ng national minimum wage sa lahat ng mga manggagawa, at kalahok sila sa paglaban sa kontraktuwalisasyon.

“Tutol kami sa lahat ng kontraktuwal na iskema ng paggawa para lang maiwasan (ng mga employer at ahensiya ang paggalang) sa mga karapatan namin, tulad ng benepisyo at nakabubuhay na suweldo. Karapatan din ng mga kontraktuwal na mag-unyon,” sabi pa ni Baclagon.

Sa bahagi ni Boni, batid niya ang pangangailangang lumahok sa laban. “Ang ipinaglalaban namin, lahat maging regular, hindi lang casual/contractual, hindi lang MOA,” ani Boni.

Pagkakaisa ng mga manggagawa, sa pribado at pampublikong sektor, ang kailangan.

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Makasaysayang welga ng mga manggagawa sa La Tondena Thu, 30 Apr 2015 19:12:39 +0000 Kasama ng mga manggagawa ng KMU sina Luis Jalandoni, Coni Ledesma at Randy Echanis na nagdiwang ng ika-40 anibersaryo ng welga sa La Tondena. <b>Kontribusyon</b>

Kasama ng mga manggagawa ng KMU sina Luis Jalandoni, Coni Ledesma at Randy Echanis na nagdiwang ng ika-40 anibersaryo ng welga sa La Tondena. Kontribusyon

Tama na! Sobra na! Welga na! Unang umalingawngaw ang panawagang ito sa unang pinakamalaking welga sa ilalim ng batas militar, halos 40 taon na ang nakararaan – ang La Tondena strike.

Ito’y sa kabila ng pagbabawal sa welga ayon sa General Order No.5, na ibinaba ng dating diktador na si Ferdinand Marcos sa ikalawang araw ng batas militar. Liban sa welga, bawal din ang piket, rali, demonstrasyon at anumang tipo ng sama-samang pagkilos.

Gayunman, 800 manggagawa ng La Tondena Distillery sa Velasquez, Tondo, Manila, na karamiha’y kababaihan, ang naglakas-loob na nagwelga at bumasag sa “katahimikan” ng batas militar noong Oktubre 24-25, 1975, sa kabila ng banta ng pang-aaresto at pagkakakulong sa kanila.

Bitbit nila sa welga ang isyung mainit noon hanggang ngayon—kontraktuwalisasyon. Inilaban ng mga manggagawa na gawing regular ang may 600 kaswal (na tinagurian nang kontraktwal) at 500 pang ang turing ay “extra” gayong lampas na sa anim na buwan. Nais din nilang maibalik ang lahat ng kaswal na tinanggal at gawing regular.

Kagyat na hinarang ng tropa ng Metropolitan Command (Metrocom) ang mga lumabas na manggagawa at, kahit buntis, ay pinagpapalo at pinilit na sinakay sa Metrocom bus papuntang Camp Crame. Hindi nagpapigil ang noo’y mga pari, madre at seminarista na nakikiisa sa welga, kasama sina Fr. Joe Dizon at Sr. Mary John Mananzan, at agarang sumampa sa estribo at nangunyapit sa pinto at mga bintana ng bus para samahan ang mga welgista. Noo’y nanawagan ng suporta ang Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) at Church-Labor Center sa welga.

Hindi naitago ng diktadurang Marcos ang pangyayaring ito, di tulad ng iba pang naunang protesta ng mga manggagawa sa ibang lugar. Halimbawa, nakapaglunsad ng piket ang mga manggagawa ng Lirag Textile Mills, Malabon, noong 1974, dahil sa mababang sahod at nagmartsa ang mga manggagawa ng Gelmart sa Paranaque.

Noon namang 1973, isang taon matapos ideklara ang batas militar, nag-sitdown strike ang garment workers sa Canlubang, Laguna, gayundin sa Gentex, Libis, Quezon City at sa Pampanga Sugar Mills.

Bahagi ng pahayag ng mga manggagawa ng La Tondena sa kanilang welga.

Bahagi ng pahayag ng mga manggagawa ng La Tondena sa kanilang welga.

Malawak na suporta

Natatangi ang La Tondena hindi lamang sa ipinakitang militansiya ng mga manggagawa kundi maging sa inaning malawak na suporta sa mga kapwa mangaggawa sa iba’t ibang pabrika at pati na sa iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan, tulad ng mga alagad ng simbahan, sa panahong ang batas na bakal ni Marcos ang umiiral.

Tuloy, kahit kontrolado ni Marcos ang mass media, kumilos naman ang iba’t ibang unyon at organisasyon ng mga mamamayan para ibalita ang welga ng La Tondena. Laksa-laksang polyeto dala ang panawagang ‘tama na, sobra na, welga na” ang kumalat sa publiko. Nilaman ang balita ng mga independyenteng publikasyon tulad ng popular na Signs of the Times at underground publications tulad ng Ang Bayan, Liberation, Balita ng Malayang Pilipinas at umabot pa ito sa foreign press. Lumaganap ang karanasan ng welga ng La Tondena mula Luzon hanggang Mindanao.

Hindi rin nagtagal at nailabas din ang mga welgista sa Crame at naipagtagumpay ng welga na maging regular ang 300 manggagawa.

Tatlong buwan makalipas ang welga ng La Tondena, binago ni Marcos ang batas sa welga at ginawa na lamang bawal ang welga sa mahahalagang (“vital”) industriya. Ngunit napakasaklaw at nakalilito ang depinisyon ng “vital industries”, kung kayat hindi malinaw kung saan puwedeng magwelga nang legal.

Hindi nagpapigil ang mga manggagawa. Pumutok ang mga welga sa iba’t ibang kapuluan sa 14-taong paghahari ng batas militar. Pinalakas at pinalawak pa ng mga manggagawa ang kanilang pagkilos. Noong 1976, lumahok ang mga manggagawa sa 10,000 rali ng mga mamamayan sa Plaza Bustillos laban sa batas militar. Sinindihan pa ng welga ng La Tondena ang pagbubuo ng maraming unyon at mga alyansa ng mga manggagawa.

Malawak na pagkilos

Noong Mayo 1, 1975, nabuo ang Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) sa Metro Manila, na idineklarang ilegal ni Marcos noong 1977. Pero noong Mayo 1, 1978, naitatag naman ang Kapatirang Anakpawis (KAP) na kinapalooban ng mga lider-unyonista mula sa Metro Manila, Cavite at Laguna. Muli ring dinakip ni Marcos ang mga lider nito.

Gayunman, matapos muling magpalakas, hindi na lamang sa Luzon kundi sa buong bansa, isinilang ang Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) noong Mayo 1, 1980, sa gitna ng rumaragasang kilusang manggagawa at, sa loob ng 35 taon hanggang ngayon, ay tumitindig bilang tunay, palaban at militanteng sentro ng kilusang manggagawa.

Sa militanteng pagkilos, napapurol ng kilusang manggagawa ang bisa ng batas militar at ng pagbabawal sa welga. Mahalaga ang mga pagkilos na ito, mula pa sa karanasan ng mga naunang manggagawa tulad ng La Tondena, para mag-ambag ang kilusang manggagawa sa tuluyang pagtatapos ng batas militar sa bansa.

Nang alisin ang batas militar noong 1981, humirit pang pataas ang bilang ng mga welga na umabot ng isanlibo. Mula 1981 hanggang 1985, naitala ng Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) na 245 ang taunang average ng welga kumpara sa 48 lamang bawat taon ng 1976-1980. Ngunit ito’y mga bilang na naitala lamang.

Gayunman, naalarma pa rin ang gobyerno ni Marcos at naglabas ng mga batas na nagpapahigpit ng mga kondisyon para makapagwelga ang mga manggagawa, na patuloy na pinapatupad at pinalala pa ng mga sumunod na administrasyon, tulad ng pagbabawal ng barikada sa welga at assumption of jurisdiction. Ang mga paghihigpit na ito ay umaabot pa sa extra-judicial killings tulad ng pagpatay sa mga lider-manggagawa.

Ngunit hanggang sa ngayon hindi nito masupil o makitil ang mapanlabang diwa ng mga manggagawa.

Hindi pa nga tapos ang kasaysayan ng La Tondena. Hindi isinusuko ng mga mangaggawa ang karapatang magwelga gaano man kahirap o kahigpit ang sitwasyon. Batas na ito ng kanilang pakikibaka dahil welga ang angking sandata ng uri laban sa pang-aapi at pagsasamantala.

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STATEMENT | The people have prevailed, now heads must roll Tue, 28 Apr 2015 19:50:14 +0000 Militant jubilation. KR Guda

Militant jubilation. KR Guda

It is with utmost jubilance that we announce to all Filipinos and supporters here in the Philippines and around the world that the Indonesian government has suspended the implementation of the death sentence on our kababayan Mary Jane Veloso until all proceedings in the Philippines is finished. 

We express our most heartfelt joyous solidarity with the Veloso family – Tatay Cesar and Nanay Celia, Christopher, Maritess, Darling and the rest of Mary Jane’s siblings, Michael, and most especially to Mac-Mac and Darren who have captured our hearts and further fortified our resolve to fight for Mary Jane’s life to the end. We feel your triumph because it is also ours. We rejoice with you. You have become every Filipino’s family, and Mary Jane every Filipino’s daughter, sister and mother.

We said that only the people can save Mary Jane. We fought the good fight, we would like to think the best fight that we could have ever waged, and because of this we have prevailed.

The whole Filipino nation and the world now cry tears of joy but, collectively, with peoples of other nationalities, we rage against the injustice done to Mary Jane. We will continue to fight for justice for Mary Jane, justice for all migrant workers and justice for the Filipino people.

Now, heads must roll.

The Filipino people still unite in the stance that Aquino and his government did too little, too late for Mary Jane. If not for national and international pressure and censure, Aquino would not have been compelled to take urgent action. Right to the end, Aquino had the gall to put on a stoic face and declare, when asked why his last-minute suggestion of turning Mary Jane into a witness against big drug rings came up just now, that “details of the case came into light only in the last few days” and that Mary Jane “did not cooperate at first.” Lies upon lies upon lies to the end, nothing could be farther from the truth. Because of government neglect and passivity, Aquino had placed Mary Jane on the brink of death.

Now, heads must roll. We condemn and hold accountable the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Aquino himself for the sufferings of Mary Jane and her family. As we rejoice we continue to rage.

We now express grave concern for the lives of other Filipinos on death row and in jails abroad. How many more Mary Janes will suffer the same fate? The government has not shown transparency and accountability for failing to save the lives of Filipinos on death row. Mary Jane would have been the eighth Filipino executed abroad within Aquino’s term, the most number of executions under one regime since the Philippine labor export policy was implemented in the 1970s.

More importantly, we blame the Aquino government’s labor export policy for placing Mary Jane and millions of our migrant workers at risk and in grave danger.

Mary Jane was driven to desperation by extreme poverty, landlessness and enormous pressure as the caretaker of her children. She hailed from a poor family of sakadas (farm workers) in Hacienda Luisita. In her letters, she said so herself that she merely dreamed of a better future for her children and her family.

Mary Jane was forced to go abroad because the Aquino government had offered her nothing substantive and sustainable to address her family’s needs. Instead, what it had offered were programs that do nothing to address widespread unemployment and landlessness, the root causes of forced migration.

Mary Jane had been victimized by a trafficker, but Aquino’s labor export policy is the worst form of state-sponsored trafficking of Filipinos. In his five years in office, Aquino has indisputably become the “Trafficker-in-Chief” of migrant workers like Mary Jane.

Today, we celebrate the people’s victory by demanding a change to the very system that preyed on Mary Jane’s desperation and almost took her life. We come together for every Filipino’s life, honor and dignity. We do not want more Mary Janes to suffer because of the Aquino government’s failure and neglect.

Only Aquino’s ouster from office will give Mary Jane the justice she truly deserves.


Justice for Mary Jane! Justice for all migrant workers! Justice for the Filipino people! Oust Aquino!


Garry Martinez

Chairperson, Migrante International

2:15am, April 29, 2015

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