Curing a defective Romulo

Malacanang has reportedly “cured” Alberto Romulo’s “defective” appointment as Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary by simply antedating his appointment papers from August 10, 2010 to July 1, 2010.

But while defective appointments such as that of Romulo’s can easily be cured with just a slight of hand from Malacanang, can we ever cure a defective Romulo?

A relic from the previous Macapagal-Arroyo regime, Romulo was never a stranger to earth shaking controversies that rocked his leadership at the Foreign Affairs Department.

Beheadings

It was during Romulo’s term at the DFA that not one, but six overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were executed abroad. The six OFWs are: Antonio Alvesa, Sergio Aldana, Miguel Fernandez, Wilfredo Bautista, Reynaldo Cortez and Jenifer Beduya.

All of them were beheaded largely because of the DFA’s patented mishandling of their cases. In the case of Beduya, for example, the DFA only provided him with an interpreter and not a lawyer during the initial and most crucial stages of his trial.

Beduya was beheaded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia October 2008.

Passport price increase

Romulo is also responsible for the meteoric rise in the cost of Philippine Passports. This was due to the onerous contract entered into by Romulo for the new electronic-Passports.

Migrante International, the largest alliance of OFW groups worldwide, has assailed the P857 Million E-Passport contract as “illegal, unethical and grossly overpriced“.

“Romulo has squandered millions of pesos in corruption via the e-passport project when the DFA had failed to provide welfare services, protection and assistance to OFWs, especially those in distress and facing death row,” Migrante said.

Thanks to Romulo’s onerous E-Passport contract, Passport costs shot up to P950 to P1,200 from P550 to P750 in the Philippines. Passports prices abroad  were higher and went up to as much as thrice the previous rates.

Budget cuts

Notwithstanding the left and right allegations of criminal negligence on the plight of distressed OFWs;  a cool, calm and collected  Romulo didn’t even raise any objection to the Palace instigated budget cut to the funds intended for helping OFWs abroad.

When Malacanang wanted to slash more than 50 percent to the combined budget of the Assistance to Nationals Fund (ATN) and Legal Assistance Fund (LAF) of the DFA, all Romulo can say was:

“In the spirit of teamwork and (because of the) gaping deficit…we abide by the decision of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to cut our budget… “

He said he is fully supportive of the President’s ‘austerity program’ to reduce the budget deficit “that’s why we are not going to ask for any increase in our budget.”

Never mind if the drastic budget cuts would spell doom to the more than 7,000 jailed; 10,000 stranded and 108 OFWs on deathrow.

Curing Romulo

Romulo, with his defective appointment finally ‘cured’, can now sleep soundly at night knowing that he can no longer be charged with usurpation of authority and misrepresentation for his acts from July 1 until August 9, 2010.

But then again, can an antedated appointment ever cure a defective Romulo?

If we are to ask an entire army of OFWs, whose condition has dramatically deteriorated with Romulo at the DFA’s helm, I think the answer is NO.

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.

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. #