OFWs in Australia and Hong Kong hold anti-GMA rallies

and call for zero remittance on March 2 & 8

 

February 29, 2008

 

 

Sydney, Australia Hong Kong
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Oust GMA Rally and Urging all Overseas Filipinos:

Zero Remittance Day on March 8!
Sydney, Australia, 29 February 2008,
Outside Philippine Consulate, Wentworth Ave, Sydney

In Sydney, on 29 February 2008, at the Philippine Consulate, Lingap Migrante members (Association of Filipinos and Filipino-Australians in Western Sydney) held a rally calling for the ouster of the President of the Philippines Mrs Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and to show their support for Migrante International's Babay Gloria (Bagong Bayani Ayaw kay Gloria) campaign calling for Zero Remittance Day on March8. They were joined by other cause – oriented groups and human rights organisations: Couples for Christ, Australian Student Christian Movement (ASCM), Ph Gen (Philippine Generation for Justice and Peace – Youth Group), Philippines-Australia Women's Association (PAWA), Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines – Solidarity Group (APDP), Philippines-Australia Union Link (PAUL) and the Migrante Sydney Neigbourhood (Inner West and East Sydney). Total attendance at the rally was 38 people.

Media people from ABS-CBN (TFC) and Bayanihan Times covered the rally. Radio interviews by SBS National Radio (English) and SBS Filipino language program (National) were aired on Saturday.

Speakers from various organisations and groups expressed a common message - they support the call of the Filipino people: OUST GMA! Down with the US-Arroyo regime! Down with 7 years of unbridled corruption!

Nick Cacapit of Couples for Christ in Rooty Hill, Western Sydney prayed for genuine democracy in the Philippines and said that the truth will set us free and God always bless all Filipinos. He urged all Filipinos in Sydney to join in calling for GMA to resign. Later he sang a love song for all Filipinos saying that love prevails. Mr Cacapit made a plea to all Filipinos to love our country and it is time to stand up for truth and that GMA must not obstruct justice and should step down.

Other speakers included Peter Murphy [Philippine-Australia Union Links], Annabel Dulhunty [Australian Student Christian Movement], Juster Rozz Paterno – Ph Gen, Gill Boehringer – Sydney Human Rights Lawyer, Annie Thomson-Migrante Sydney Neighbourhood and Edwin Subijano, Lingap Migrante. Speakers condemned the endemic corruption of the Arroyo regime, but also condemned the pattern of extra-judicial killings and human rights abuses attributed to the regime and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the wholesale exploitation of the Philippine environment by Philippine and foreign mining corporations.

Murphy and Brock called for the Australian government to end Australian Military aid and cooperation with the Arroyo regime as a clear message against corruption, electoral fraud and human rights abuse.

Onofre Andres Jr, Vice-President of Lingap Migrante handed to one of the staff of the Philippine Consulate an Open Letter to the Mrs Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo:
 

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Open Letter to the Philippine President Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo
Malacanan, Manila, Philippines

Lingap Migrante, an organisation of Filipinos and Filipino-Australians in Western Sydney, New South Wales, held a rally today the 29th of February at the Philippine Consulate to protest the corruption of your government. We expressed the growing outrage of Filipinos and their supporters in Sydney at the corruption, human rights violations, and electoral fraud and called for your government to step down.

We have followed through the news account on the abduction and expose of Rodolfo Jun Lozada, former president of state corporation Philippine Forest, in connection with the $329-million ZTE-NBN telecommunications scam. The abduction of Lozada allegedly by presidential agents and police and his surfacing at De La Salle-Greenhills in Quezon City two weeks ago has unleashed a storm of street protests, prayer rallies, and public assemblies in the Philippines. His evidence before a Senate committee on the scandal exposed the depth of corruption surrounding your government and how your allies would do everything to preserve personal interest. Lozada's expose were incoherent with the lies of your government, weaving a string of allegations, which only further exposed a larger network of conspiracy. Indeed, the Senate hearing was but another episode in the attempts of your administration to cross constitutional boundaries, subvert democracy, trample on civil liberties, and violate human rights.
 

With the people still reeling from the scandals of the North and South Rail projects and the fertilizer scam, these events brings into question your integrity and legitimacy as President. Despite being installed by People Power in 2001, your legitimacy has vanished through years of extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses, the electoral fraud in the 2004 Presidential elections, and continuing examples of corruption surrounding your regime and your family.

The people can no longer ignore your government's shameless greed, systemic corruption and the blatant misuse of power by those to whom the people have entrusted the governance of the country.

 

While you and your allies stuff yourselves with your ill-gotten wealth, the Filipino overseas contract workers who prop up the Philippine economy are left to life of destitution without support and protection from your government. The report from the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) said "Philippine Embassy officials in Kuwait for their

indifference to the appalling plight of 50 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Gulf Link Transport Company. These OFWs have resorted to eating expired foodstuffs and picking up sellable items from garbage cans just to be able to buy something to eat." This is unacceptable. ►

 

Sydney, Australia
     

 

Therefore, Lingap Migrante joins in the call of the Bishops of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines - "In this season of Lent, let us have the courage to be set free from the sins of injustice, oppression, suppression, violence. Let us claim our right for the truth. Let us be in solidarity with those who risk their lives to bring meaning to our own lives as a people, and to put pressure to this government to be truthful in its governance, respect the will of the people, and establish appropriate structures, not for their own interest, but for the common good".

You have to step down now Mrs Arroyo. Your government is a failed government. The Filipino people in the Philippines and all over world are ashamed at the way your government ran our beloved country for the past seven years. It is also appalling to see your government's subservience to the US government.

The Filipinos are now standing up to reclaim our dignity. Let the Philippine Congress and mass movement committed to genuine democracy, nationalism and stand against oppression and exploitation, take charge in running the country and prepare for a clean and honest election.

On behalf of Lingap Migrante

(Association of Filipinos and Filipino-Australians in Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

(Signed)
Onofre Andres Jr (Vice-President
Contact Details: Lingap Migrante (Association of Filipinos and Filipino-Australians in Western Sydney)
Mailing Address: P O Box 1168, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012
Email: lingap.migrante@gmail.com
 

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Photos courtesy of Migrante - Australia

 

           
HONG KONG
           

 

Press Release
28 February 2008

For reference: Dolores Balladares
Chairperson
(852) 97472986

“Our money is not for corruption and plunder”
HK OFW group calls for No Remittance Day to oust GMA

“Our money should not be used to support a most corrupt regime. No Remittance Day is our way of expressing: Enough with corruption. Enough with plundering our money..”

This was announced today by Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK), in a protest action to call for the resignation of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in relation to her and her husband’s involvement in the US$329.5 million NBN-ZTE scam.

The said protest, added Balladares,was their contribution to the expected huge Interfaith Prayer Rally organized by major Churches, broad anti-corruption movements and militant groups including BAYAN tomorrow, February 29.

The group said that No Remittance Day is a call they will start to drumbeat in Hong Kong and later on to OFWs in other countries.

“For a day each month starting March 2, we will call for a No Remittance Day to express our condemnation of the blatant corruption in the Philippines led by the First Couple. There is no way that OFWs will just sit down and let plunderers rob people’s money with impunity,” she declared.

Balladares said that the call is an expression of civil disobedience of migrant workers whom she said, are gravely disgusted by the “shamelessness” of GMA and her camp to cover up the NBN-ZTE scandal, downplay the anomaly or “hypocritically discourage” people’s protests.

“Our refusal to remit is our complete withdrawal of trust and confidence to this government. There is no relief for us in a regime that has only brought calamity after calamity to OFWs and our families,” she said.

Balladares relayed that OFWs have had their share of getting “robbed” of their money and rights by the government including the various anomalies that hounded the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and even the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) that has issued policies that merely aim to collect more money from overseas Filipinos.

For years, various OFW groups have called for an effective investigation on the OWWA Funds that many believed have been GMA’s “kitty fund” and were not used for concrete improvement of services and assistance to OFWs.

Meanwhile, the recent POEA Memorandum Circular No. 04 that banned direct hiring and was deemed as another way for the government to collect funds, was suspended early his month after OFWs protested in many countries.

“The NBN-ZTE scam is a brazen and grand heist. This we will never let pass especially now that OFWs are experiencing hardships just to make ends meet for the needs of our families,” she remarked.

Balladares lamented the current situation of OFWs whose salary cannot keep up anymore with the dollar slide and high prices of commodities in the Philippines. This situation, she said, is even aggravated by the lack of actions of the GMA government to their issues and to the cases of distressed migrant workers such as the stranded OFWs in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“GMA has no more credibility – moral, political and legal – to govern. There is no other more timely and appropriate demand but for her to resign or be forced to by people’s actions,” she said.
 

Balladares reported that they will also set into motion a Text Brigade to encourage OFW family members and friends in the Philippines to join the action tomorrow.
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“Our money is best spent in what shall give us temporary relief from the grave issues we face. That is for the ouster of GMA,” she concluded.#

(Note: March 2 is the first Sunday of the month. This is the period wherein most OFWs in Hong Kong remit to their families in the Philippines.)

 

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Photos courtesy of UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK

 

           
           

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