OFWs take on the fight for the “ST 72”

Middle East-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) has recently launched a petition denouncing the Arroyo regime’s continuing persecution of political dissenters as evidenced in the arbitrary arrest of 72 political activists in the Southern Tagalog region.

Initiated by Migrante Middle East, the petition read in part, thus:

We oppose and will act against the tyrannical hand of Arroyo regime victimizing activists, and warn the inclusion of migrant rights leaders and advocates to be victims of its tyrannical rule.

Overseas Filipino workers and their families cannot and could not remain silent in the midst of the continued repression and political persecution of peace-loving activists who have done nothing wrong but who have unselfishly offered their lives and time for the establishment of a just, democratic, and peaceful Philippines.

The series of reported cases of arbitrary arrest due to trumped up cases filed against activists from Southern Tagalog have reached to the information and concern of our overseas Filipino workers around the world.

It is really uplifting to learn that our kababayans overseas still cares about what’s happening right now in the country, particularly under this regime who violates peoples’ rights – left and right and  with impunity – just so they could cling on to power.

They give a new meaning to the phrase “bagong bayani” or modern day heroes.

For the Arroyo government,  they are “heroes” because it is their hard earned cash that is keeping this bankrupt economy from collapse. But for me, they are heroes because not even the oceans could stop them from doing their patriotic duty of working for a democratic, peaceful and just homeland.

I urge everyone, especially the OFWs to sign the OFW-initiated petition by clicking here. To learn more about the arbitrary arrests in Southern Tagalog, click here.

US heart Gloria

A call center in each province. This is Gloria Arroyo’s vision for the country as told in her speech before the League of Municipalities in the Philippines in Manila Hotel last week.

“Gusto natin magkaroon ng maraming call center sa bansa, hindi natin kayang maglagay sa lahat ng inyong bayan, pero sana naman, lahat ng inyong probinsya [We want many call centers in the country. We can’t put up call centers in every town, but we hope, in every province],” she said in a speech before the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) at the Manila Hotel on Wednesday.

“So I instructed the commission on ICT to make a technical study on the resources needed to transform every province in the country into an ICT enabler,” she said.

So “pleased” was Arroyo with the booming Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector in the country that she unceremoniously came to the defense of one call center company who was reported recently to have laid-off 900 of its employees due to the biting financial crisis.

Arroyo said she was “very alarmed” at the reported layoffs in Advanced Contact Solutions Inc. (ACS), and had it checked.

“So we checked with that center, ACS, and they totally denied it,” Arroyo said in a speech before she switched on the University of the Philippines-Ayala Land Techno Hub in Quezon City on Friday.

“In fact, they are looking for more workers and they were even telling us the story that other call centers like Teletech and others read the news, they called up ACS and said, where are the workers you are laying off? We want to absorb them right away, but ACS said they were not laying off anyone: ‘We’re looking for more,’” she said.

Looks like Arroyo is really determined to transform the entire country into a nation of graveyard shift “zombies”, or as Misunderstood puts it, “sleep deprived, nicotine inhaling, cab riding new breed of Filipinos.”

Glamorous, you think? Hold on, she explains:

We are just like the rest of the working class, overworked and underpaid. We are forced to defend the big banks, superstores, telecoms or any account that we are handling. Just like any proletariat, we are alienated from these giants that we work for. We apologize for things that we do not have anything to do with. We fix problems that to start with, we did not create. We are the cheap, apologetic and docile answering machines on the other end of the line. The receiving end of the ire and rants of shortchanged customers.

So, now that we’ve seen Arroyo’s dream for the country, lets move on to how she intends to make this dream a reality, and fast: Executive Order 758.

The EO allows “qualified foreigners who are granted the SVEG (Special Visa for Employment Generation) shall be considered special non-immigrants with multiple-entry privileges and conditional extended stay, without need of prior departure from the Philippines.”

Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan is self-assured that this presidential directive would create 100,000 new jobs in the country.

Libanan said the new SVEG is timely with the expected slowdown in the global economy next year, and will put the Philippines ahead of other countries in Asia in inviting more foreign capital.

“We are looking forward to the time when less Filipinos would seek employment abroad because we are already bringing the investors and the jobs their investments will create here in our country,” he said.

Guess what type of “jobs” Libanan and his boss are referring to? B. P. O. Arroyo wants to have call centers in every province, remember?

But for Migrante International, Arroyo’s order validates the “semicolonial set-up” we have in the country.

“…foreign corporations are given free reign to plunder and exploit our resources indefinitely, while our workers are nailed to deplorable working conditions and slave-like wages,” Garry Martinez, Migrante Chairperson said.

Martinez said that this would “step up the labor export program of the Arroyo government and the hegemony of big foreign corporations and businesses in the country.”

The long and short of it.. We have a tuta (puppet) for a president and here’s the proof.

Never mind if the people are transformed into overworked and underpaid “zombies”, so long as she remains the “US’ best friend”.

o0o

Click here to see why call centers, even in each of the country’s provinces, can’t stem the massive migration of Filipino workers abroad.

OFWs to boycott Globe

Below is a press release from the biggest OFW group worldwide saying that they are “in the thick of preparing for a boycott of all Globe Telecommunication products and services that caters to the OFW and their families’ market.” This call  stemmed after the telecom giant filed false charges against a known labor lawyer Atty. Remigio Saladero, Migrante members Bayani Cambronero and Frances Tolentino and 27 others who are political activists from the Southern Tagalog Region.

Largest migrant group preparing for a global boycott of Globe

Migrante International, who has more than a hundred overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in 22 countries under its umbrella, said today that they are now in the thick of preparing for a boycott of all Globe Telecommunication products and services that caters to the OFW and their families’ market because of its false charges against stalwart leaders fighting for basic human rights including migrants’ rights.

“Globe earned the ire of Migrante over the telecom giant’s connivance with the Arroyo government and the military in fabricating trumped up charges of arson, destruction of property and conspiracy to commit rebellion against Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chief legal counsel Atty. Remegio Saladero and 27 others including Bayani Cambonero, the founding member of Migrante-Southern Tagalog and Frances Tolentino, Coordinator for the Migrante Sectoral Party in 2004,” declared Migrante chairperson Garry Martinez.

The charges made were in connection with the alleged bombing and burning of a Globe cellsite in Lemery, Batangas last August 2, 2008.

Martinez said, “Atty. Saladero is a friend and a staunch defender of union workers and OFWs in distress.” “His group had frequently referred to Atty. Saladero cases of OFWs who were victims of illegal recruitment, contract violations among other labour related cases.” “While Cambonero and Tolentino worked tirelessly in promoting migrants’ rights.” Martinez added.

“Not any of them are terrorists, contrary to what Globe and the Arroyo regime allege,” Martinez said.  “It is such a shame that Globe who benefited enormously from the OFW sector, is party to the escalating political persecution of activists and their defenders by the Arroyo regime,” he continued.

“Even now, as we speak, our various chapters abroad are conducting an information campaign about Globe’s active role in the Arroyo regime’s persecution of leaders-activists of the mass movement. ” Martinez ended.

Martinez added that Migrante was “in the thick of preparations for a worldwide boycott of Globe products and services until Saladero and the others are freed.”

“We enjoin our global ranks in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Atty. Saladero, and demand for the dropping of trumped up charges agianst Migrante members Bayani Cambronero and Frances Tolentino and the rest of the accused,” Martinez concluded. #

Feel-good stories

Early this week, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez implored the members of the media to come up with more ‘feel-good stories’ about Mrs. Gloria Arroyo in light of the global financial crisis.

“What our country needs today are feel-good stories, those that touch the heart,” he said in Filipino in an interview on dzRB radio.

Reached by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Golez said it was important “that the media show both the positive and negative stories, especially at this time of crisis when the media can be an instrument to unify our people.”

“What we need now is unity. We should unite to confront the same problem, which is the financial crisis,” Golez added in the phone interview.

But how the hell can the media report ‘feel-good stories’ if the Filipino people isn’t feeling good at all largely because of Arroyo’s skewed economic policies, unjust taxes and corrupt ways? In fact Filipinos feel ‘worse off now’ compared to last year, according to an independent poll.

Malacanang has gone this desperate and amateurish that they are demanding the impossible from the media. To borrow the Palace’s official heckler, DOJ Sec. Raul Gonzalez’s words, they are “squeezing blood from stone” with their request.

If Golez really wants to read positive stories in the papers, maybe he should convince his boss to step down or to consider early retirement instead.

Now this certainly is good news!

Freudian slip

Following the obvious Palace instigated Senate coup that saw the removal of Sen. Manny Villar from the Senate Presidency, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza’s prayer at the start of today’s cabinet meeting provides us a hint of what’s in store for us under the new Senate leadership.

“Bless the President so we will have forbearance, good health, the tolerance to lead this nation up to 2010 and perhaps who knows even beyond,” Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said at the end of the opening prayer he led at the start of a Cabinet meeting in the Aguinaldo State Dining Room on Tuesday.

Embarrased, Arroyo could only say, “Oh my God.”

So the cat is out of the bag. Arroyo wants to hold on to power even beyond 2010, of course, through charter change.

I hope “God” wasn’t listening when Dureza made the prayer.

Hangga’t may Mendiola

Here’s another one of my poems for the Hacienda Luisita massacre martyrs.

Hangga’t may Mendiola

Sa pagbulwak ng dagat ng mga kuyom na kamao

Tangan ang katwiran at diwang di yuyuko

Sa Mendiola ang pakay, Sa Mendiola hahantong

Sa Mendiola ang larangan, Sa Mendiola ang paghuhukom


Ang di magmamaliw na inspirasyon

Ng mga buhay na nabuwal, sa dambana mo’y

Ningas sa aming kapasyahan,

Tanganan ang duguang plakard

sa paligid mo’y nagkalat,

at sumulong sa landas

ng ganap na paglaya.


Sa Mendiola naganap

Ang madudugong labanan

Piping saksi sa pag-usad ng kasaysayan

Simbolo ng paglaban

Sa bawat kaapihan

Lunsaran ng masa

Ng bawat labanan


Hangga’t may Mendiola

Ang bayan ay may pag-asa

Hangga’t may kaapihan

Ang bayan ay may Mendiola


Dahil doon matatagpuan

ang mata ng katapusang sigwa,

kung saan isasambulat

ang naipong galit ng dusta’t dalita


Gigibain ang pader at aalpasan ang tarangkahan

Dudurugin ang nagkukubling halimaw

Sa palasyo ng kapangyarihan!


Sapagkat tiyak ang pagbabalikwas ng masang binusabos,

Sa Mendiola ang simula, Sa Mendiola rin magtatapos!

Justice for the Hacienda Luisita Martyrs!

In the afternoon of November 16, four years ago, armed agents of the state carried out a brutal massacre of 14 striking farm workers including women and children in the sprawling sugar plantation, Hacienda Luisita. Aside from those dead, more than 200 were also wounded during the incident.

I wrote this poem a day after the massacre.

Ang alamat ng pulang asukal

May tatamis pa ba sa asukal na pula,

na ipinunla ng bisig ng mga

magsasaka?


Pinanday ang tamis

sa loob ng asukarera

ng mga manggagawang

ka-alyado nila.


Sa Hacienda Pilipinas

ang lupa ay tigib,

sa yamang likas

at biyayang hatid.


Na siya namang kinislot

at saka ikinahon;

ng mga sa lupa’y palalo

at mga panginoon.


Tinuring na busabos

ang mga kamay na bumubungkal,

sa Hacienda sila’y prinenda

sa ngalan ng kapital.


Nilukuban ng sumpa

ang taniman ng tubo;

at tumubo mula rito

ang nagbabadyang delubyo.


Natuto ang mga api

na diligin ng dugo,

ang lupang kinamkam

ng mga palalo.


Sa talas ng karit

at talim ng asarol,

binungkal ang lupa

at tinanim ang pagbabangon.


Pula ang resulta

Ng binhing ipinunla,

Pula ang asukal!

Pula rin ang dagta!


Wala na ngang tatamis pa sa asukal na pula,

na ipinunla ng bisig ng mga magsasaka.


Pinanday ang tamis

sa loob ng asukarera,

ng mga manggagawang

ka-alyado nila.


Sapagkat sa tanglaw at taliba

ng uring manggagawa

susulong ang magsasaka

sa ganap na paglaya!

Paglaon ang taniman ng tubo’y magiging sementeryo.

Libingan ng tanikala ng mga api noon,

at puntod ng mga dating panginoon!