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. #

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!

Migrante International’s new set of leaders

9698832053422lKudos to Migrante International, the biggest umbrella alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ groups worldwide, for successfully holding its 5th Congress last week at the Communication Foundation for Asia in Manila.

Migrante leaders from North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Middle East elected Garry Martinez as Chairman; Roy Anunciacion as Vice-Chairman; Gina Esguerra, Secretary-General; Gina Gaborni, Deputy Secretary-General and Rina Anastacio as Finance Officer.

Martinez is a former OFW in South Korea where he headed the Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea (KASAMMAKO). He strongly defended OFWs there against the South Korean government’s repressive crackdown and deportation of undocumented workers and against the anti-migrant Employment Permit System. Martinez, in his capacity as the official spokesperson of Migrante International,  came to international attention when he provided a human face in the deadly effects on migrants of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon two years ago.

Garry’s walang-kamatayang soundbyte during the Lebanon Crisis: “Kahit mag-brief pang pula si Cimatu, hindi pa rin nito matitiyak ang kaligtasan ng mga OFW sa Lebanon.” This was his reaction when asked by the media about RP envoy to Middle East Gen. Roy Cimatu’s plan to place Philippine flags on the buses that carry OFWs across bomb and bullet riddled Beirut to Syria during the war.

Garry is a genuine Bagong Bayani. He lied in front of a vehicle just to save an OFW’s life, and for this, he was given the Bagong Bayani Award.

Anunciacion, meanwhile, is a former OFW in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Roy went abroad to help his family at the tender young age of 18. He boarded the plane bound for the desserts of Saudi Arabia clad in a coat and tie, but he nevertheless, ended up being among the first migrant workers who bravely pioneered migrant workers organizing in the Middle East. The Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan, which Roy co-founded during the early 80s, still is actively and ably defending OFWs in the region notoriously known for being the “epicenter of migrants’ human rights violations.”

Migrante’s new Secretary-General, Gina Esguerra, worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong where she was organized. Prior to her election, Gina headed Migrante International’s Migrants Rights and Welfare Committee. Though petite and soft-spoken, Esguerra can easily argue migrants rights even in front of ambassadors, DFA and OWWA officials.

Gina Gaborni, on the other hand, is also a former OFW who headed Migrante Caloocan. She is an active community leader and organizer.

The rights and welfare of women OFWs (the majority of Filipins abroad) would definitely be on top of Rina Anastacio’s mind when she starts working as finance officer of Migrante. Rina worked for Gabriela, the country’s foremost progressive women’s organization before joining Migrante.

Congratulations to the new leaders of Migrante International! Mabuhay kayo!

When did Bohol become part of Metro Manila?

ph_pres_garciaAt first, I saw nothing wrong with the planned inauguration in Bohol of a monument to honor the late President Carlos P. Garcia. In fact I am of the belief that it is but fitting that we honor one of Bohol’s greatest sons who was an ardent nationalist and a staunch defender of our nation’s patrimony.

Garcia during his presidency from 1957-1961 bannered the “Filipino First” policy which put to the fore the interest of Filipinos over that of foreign businesses and the local ruling elite. He also made sure that the tenure of US bases inside our shores are cut from 99 years to 25 years through the Bohlen-Serrano Agreement.

That was quite a feat for a Philippine President during those Post-War times given the left and right lopsided conditionalities imposed by the United States after World War II like the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 and the Military Bases Act which guaranteed US military presence in the country despite their so called granting us “independence” in 1946; and of course, the Bell Trade Act of 1946 which effectively gave US citizens and corporations equal access to our natural resources.

But then I learned who was behind Bohol’s “Carlos P. Garcia Filipino Muna Monument” project. It was Bayani Fernando’s Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA)!

The infamous Bayani Fernando tarpaulins

The infamous Bayani Fernando tarpaulins

What the hell was Bayani Fernando doing, implementing projects and spending taxpayers money outside of his official mandate which is Metro Manila?! Clearly, this man is using MMDA funds to bankroll his dream of becoming President.

Somebody should stop this man, before a) we run out of funds to solve Manila and its environs’ perrenial problem of floods and garbage and b) someone elects him President and he pinkyfies the entire country!

Time for the bishops to back their call with action, but…

Senior leaders of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has gone out last week to issue their strongest denunciation yet of the rampant corruption in the Arroyo regime and called on the people to prepare for the establishment of a “new government.”

Led by no less than CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, the bishops in a press conference pointed to corruption from “top to bottom” as the “biggest culprit and major cause of our nation’s poverty and hunger.”

“In the past few years up to today, we have watched how corruption has become endemic, massive, systemic and rampant in our politics. The faces and symptoms of corruption are overprized projects, multi-billion scams of various kinds, election manipulations, anomalous transactions, bribery of both high and low, unsolved murders of media practitioners. Corruption is a social and moral cancer!”

They also vehemently disagreed with Arroyo’s much ballyhooed slogan “Ramdam ang Kaunlaran” (Progress is felt), saying that it is more of “Ramdam ang Kahirapan. Ramdam ang Gutom” (Poverty and Hunger).

“Twenty million hungry Filipinos will disagree with the proclaimed “Ramdam ang Kaunlaran” with their own experience: “Ramdam ang Kahirapan. Ramdam ang gutom” … The benefits of the much proclaimed economic growth are not felt by the masses.”

And so, the bishops argued that the time to rescue our country from its “pitiful state” and rebuild it “economically, socially and politically” is NOW.

“The time to start radical reforms is now. The time for moral regeneration is now. The time to conquer complacency, cynicism and apathy and to prove that we have matured from our political disappointments is now. The time to prepare a new government is now.”

They said, the country’s liberation from poverty and hunger “may yet serendipitously happen” and that they are actually “dreaming, praying and hoping” that the “needed liberators” will somehow “effectively and uncompromisingly reform our country” in a “courageous, peaceful way.”

Of course, this call from the country’s prominent bishops has spooked Malacanang Palace especially since this came on the heels of former agriculture secretary Joc-Joc Bolante’s scheduled return to the country after facing deportation from the United States. Bolante is widely perceived to have masterminded the diversion of more than P728 milion worth of fertilizer funds to finance Arroyo’s presidential campaign in 2004.  He and his role in what was dubbed as the “grand acricultural theft”,  holds the key to finally pin down Arroyo and cause her eventual downfall.

Unsurprisingly, the palace’s official heckler cum secretary of justice, Raul Gonzalez, has lashed out at the bishops, saying that what they said are political in nature and could be considered seditious.

“They were talking about removal of president, sweeping statements about graft and corruption.  They’re doing clearly political statements. They have crossed the line on separation of church and state,” said Gonzalez.

Today’s Inquirer editorial is right. The bishop’s statements can never be considered seditious  unless we are still living in the Spanish times where one can easily be charged as a ‘filibustero’  and ordered executed via  garrote for criticizing the government.

Maybe Gonzalez were already born during that era (haha!) but of course this is not the cause of this senior citizen’s selective senile dementia : It is his untiring devotion to defend Arroyo and the status quo no matter what, even at the expense of justice that he is sworn to protect and uphold!

“The bishops’ statement is both emphatic and cautious; it is clear about the ills it attacks, but it uses the right language in attacking them. Thus, contrary to Gonzalez’s blithe attempt at intimidation, there is nothing seditious about the bishops’ appeal to the people to “prepare a new government.” Calling on the people to exercise their sovereign prerogative and prepare a new government is an exercise of political maturity,” says the Inquirer editorial.

The Inquirer lauded Lagdameo and his fellow bishops for doing “all Filipinos a signal service,” for getting us asking questions again.  Questions not about the veracity of all the allegations of corruption involving Arroyo and her ilk – because the majority already knows that they are true  anyway considering the lengths that the establishment have resorted to (EO 464, executive priviledge, extrajudicial murders etc) just to cover them up – but about the alternative to the detested Arroyo regime.

Unfortunately, the bishops never expounded on what exactly did they mean by “new government” and who are the country’s “needed liberators” that they had hoped would free us from the muck we are currently in. But one of the bishops, Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz, has hinted that what they may very well be “dreaming, praying and hoping” for is for the military to step in.

Cruz unequivocably answered “OK yun” when he was asked if he favors the military to lead the radical reforms needed in government. Journalist Ellen Tordesillas jotted-down the question and answer portion of the bishops’ press conference:

Asked if Arroyo can lead the radical reforms, he replied, “Siempre hindi.”

Q: How about Vice President Noli de Castro?

Cruz: Walang ganyanan.

Q: How about Senate President Manny Villar?

Cruz: Walang ganyanan.

Q: How about House Speaker Prospero Nograles?

Cruz: Walang ganyanan.

Q: How about Chief Justice Reynato Puno?

Cruz: Pwede.

Q: How about AFP Chief Alexander Yano?

Cruz: Okay yun.

Q: Have you met with General Yano?

Cruz: Tama na. tama na.

No where to go but ‘oust’ for the bishops

While it is true that the military component is a vital ingredient in a successful people power uprising, it is still the people who is decisive. Absent the millions of people in the streets calling for the ouster or removal of Arroyo, any action from the military will not only prove to be futile, it will not be truly representative of the Filipino people’s sovereign will.

Also, for Cruz to confidently proclaim “OK yun” to the AFP Chief’s lead is so scary that it might be viewed by some hawks within the armed forces as an outright endorsement by the Church of a military junta to replace the Arroyo regime. Note that Cruz only answered “Pwede” (maybe) to Chief Justice Puno, who hands down has more credibility than the other names mentioned.

The bishops’ statements are merely a timely reiteration of what we as a people should do. They aren’t inciting us to sedition, they are only reminding us of our collective task to exorcise the evils of corruption committed with impunity by this evil regime, of our moral duty to renew our calls for Arroyo to step down immediately so genuine and pro-people reforms can start to take place.

It is no where to go but ‘oust’ for these bishops, especially for the CBCP President. This is why it is imperative for him to take the lead in strengthening the united front of the broad masses of the Filipino people against the corrupt and morally bankrupt Arroyo regime. He should refuse to take part in any move that will pave the way for a military junta as an alternative to Arroyo. Instead, he and his influential CBCP should support the setting-up of a transition council, composed of different sectors of the society, that would institute urgent and much needed economic and political reforms in the country while the nation prepares for a free and democratic elections.