Save OFW Jakatia Pawa!

Save doomed OFW, workers group appeals
By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:18:00 01/23/2010

A MIDDLE EAST-BASED FILIPINO MIGRANT workers’ group has asked Malacañang to make good its promise of saving the life of domestic helper Jakatia Pawa, who was sentenced to death by a Kuwaiti court in 2007 for killing the daughter of her employer.

The Kuwaiti Supreme Court recently affirmed the death verdict on the 31-year-old Zamboanga del Norte native, now detained at the Kuwait Central Jail, according to Migrante-Middle East.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, appealed anew to the Palace to “exhaust all means to ensure the commutation of (Pawa’s) death sentence,” which was upheld earlier by Kuwait’s Court of Appeals.

In an e-mail, Monterona told the Inquirer they were “preparing for the same battle waged by various OFW groups all over the world to save (Filipina maid) Flor Contemplacion,” who was sentenced to hang by Singaporean authorities in 1995 for the murder of her young ward and a fellow domestic helper.

“We’re watching closely the case of Jakatia Pawa. Mrs. Arroyo once said she would intervene on her case, as well as those of 40 other OFWs on death row. We’ll see if the President will be true to her word or break her promise,” Monterona said.

On the Govt’s plan to automate the voting in HK, Singapore

The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Commission on Elections have recenty inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to pilot test the automated voting of Filipino overseas absentee voters in Hong Kong and Singapore.

A total of 128, 272 Filipino voters in both countries are expected to cast their ballots in the first ever automated Philippine elections abroad. It is also said that the Philippine Government has set aside P40 million for the planned automated voting.

While the automation of the Filipino overseas vote is indeed a welcome development, I believe there are some questions that the COMELEC and the DFA should address:

The first thing Philippine election authorities should address is the question of HOW are they going to go about the automated balloting in the two OFW rich countries. They say that more than 128,000 Filipino voters in both countries are expected to participate; so if the automated counting machines (Precinct Count Optical Scan) can accomodate only 1,000 voters per precinct according to the COMELEC, does it mean the COMELEC will be deploying 128 PCOS machines in HK and Singapore?

Second, where does the government plan to set up those machines? Will they be placed only inside the Philippine Consulate or will they be scattered to different locations around HK and Singapore?

According to the COMELEC’s Calendar of Activities for the 2010 elections, overseas absentee voters will start casting their ballots starting April 10, 2010 until May 10, 2010. If they are going to automated the HK, Singapore vote, will the machines be deployed there for a period of one month?

What if a machine breaks down, will there be spare machines or will those be coming from the Philippines as well?

Lastly – and I think this is the most important – who are going to man the PCOS machines for the possible month long balloting? Will it be the Consulate officials? If so, are they trained and familiar with the technology?

The government should address this questions right away so as to forestall any apprehension of a possible wholesale disenfranchisement of thousands of voters in HK and Singapore.

These two countries have been consistently placed among the top 10 countries who have the highest number of registered Filipino overseas absentee voters. It would be unforgivable if their votes wouldn’t count in May 10, 2010.

COMELEC delists Migrante, OFWs enraged

Migrante: Bayani sa Ekonomiya, Bayani sa Politika

Migrante: Bayani sa Ekonomiya, Bayani sa Politika

Overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) from all over the world are fuming mad over the recent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution delisting Migrante Sectoral Party (MSP) from the list of qualified Party-List groups for the May 10, 2010 elections.

In Resolution No. 8679, promulgated by the COMELEC en banc on October 13, 2009; the poll body ruled to delete Migrante and 25 other groups from the list of registered party-lists for allegedly failing to “participate in the last two (2) preceding elections OR fails to obtain at least two percentum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections.”

Immediately, Migrante issued a statement condemning the COMELEC ruling saying that such a move from the poll body was “anomalous” and “unacceptable.”

“The Comelec decision is highly irregular since it veered away from the process where partylist are only removed from the list after due notice and hearing as provided by law. This time, however, the Comelec issued a resolution to remove 26 partylist groups first then asked concerned parties to just submit written opposition if there are any. This is unacceptable,” Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International exclaimed.

Aside from the lack of due process, Migrante also said the COMELEC committed a blunder when it deleted 5 of the 26 Party-lists just because they failed to get 2 percent in one election and was not able to participate in another election. The 5 groups were
Migrante, Abanse Pinay, AK, PCDO-ACTO and PGBI.

“This clearly negates the qualifier in the provision wherein the instance of failure should be committed twice and in two preceding elections,” Martinez asserted.

The Migrante leader likewise denounced the COMELEC’s “desperation” as it is purposely trimming down the list of participating party-list groups in 2010. He noted that if the official ballot for the 2010 elections would be “ridiculously long” because of the number of party-lists wanting to participate, the COMELEC has no one to blame but itself.

“It was the sole agency that approved the registration of those partylist who cannot even be considered as part of the marginalized sector as defined in the Constitution. The Comelec’s desperate scheme to reduce the numbers of participating partylist groups at present should not be done at the expense of the true and legitimate representatives of marginalized sectors,” Martinez protested.

He lamented that only ones who’ll stand to benefit from this “anomalous” ruling are “Malacanang backed party-list groups” such as Maria Lourdes Arroyo’s (sister of the First Gentleman) Ang Kasangga Partylist and Jovito Palparan’s (notoriously known as The Butcher) Bantay Partylist.

“Unfortunately, it is only the Malacanang backed partylist groups who are going to benefit from this Comelec decision while legitimate representatives of the marginalized sectors of our society are getting denied of their right to due proccess,” he said.

Martinez said his group is preparing to file a formal protest before the COMELEC. Protest actions from Migrante chapters and its allied Filipino organizations all over the world are also in the drawing board to express the OFW sector’s collective sentiment towards the unjust COMELEC ruling.

Black Friday Protests

Elsewhere around the world, OFWs are up in arms.

Filipinos in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has declared to hold Black Friday Protests in the Kingdom to protest the COMELEC ruling.

Migrante2“Delisting MSP means delisting OFWs in the political arena,” exclaimed Migrante Jeddah Chapter Chairperson Bob Fajarito as he called on all his compatriots in the Kingdom to wear black every Friday as a sign of their united disappointment. He also encouraged OFWs to bombard the COMELEC with protest letters via email.

For his part, Migrante Saudi Arabia Chairperson A.M. Ociones said COMELEC Resolution No. 8679 “marginalized the migrants even more.”

“Definitely, this is contrary to the real intent of the Partylist Law of encouraging the participation of the un-represented and marginalized sectors of society in the democratic process of nation-building,” he said.

Ociones said the Migrante’s deletion would be a big blow to OFWs all over the world, most especially in the Middle East which has been touted to be the “epicenter of migrants’ human rights violations.”

Said Ociones: “With the proven track record of Migrante in fiscalizing the government to act in favor, and respond to the most pressing needs of OFWs, getting MSP in the next Congress as Party-list representative is the greatest hope the Filipino migrants can ever achieve.”

Meanwhile, Marco Luciano of Migrante Canada asserted that the COMELEC’s en banc decision “is tantamount to suppressing the rights of a party that seeks nothing but to represent in the House of Representatives the millions of Filipino migrants all over the world.”

“Not only is it a violation of due process leading to the disenfranchisement of a group that has truly served the interests of Filipino migrant workers and their families the world over. It opens the door for the Malacanang-backed party-list groups to dominate the coming party-list election, thus serving the ruling administration’s objective of prolonging its rule,” he said.

COMELEC robbed OFWs twice

Filipinos from down under also joined like minded kababayans all over the globe in deploring the COMELEC’s move.  Dennis Maga, National Coordinator for Migrante New Zealand said that overseas Filipinos were robbed of their votes by the COMELEC twice: “first, through its failure to ensure the registration of more OFW voters; and now, by unjustly disqualifying Migrante from the 2010 party-list elections.”

“It is the height of injustice that the Commission on Elections, in a recent en banc resolution, qualified the Malacañang-supported fake party-list groups like the one represented by the notorious Jovito Palparan to gain a seat in Congress, while disqualifying the leading and genuine advocate of the welfare of the marginalized overseas Filipino workers.”

Photos coutesy of Yboy Macatiag