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!