Friday, March 9, 2018

International Women’s’ Day 2018

Show Solidarity - Be An Ally in Our Struggle!

Migrant workers are often spoken about and constructed in a variety of ways from “victim” and “runaway”-implies ownership (both mainly applied to women) to  “illegal violater absconder”– criminal to “OFW” and “Hero” by the Philippine state. Each one leads onto different treatment of migrant workers and shapes their behavior and ability to speak out and represent themselves on their rights and demand protection and justice.

On International Women’s’ Day, Kanlungan asked women migrant workers how would they describe themselves:

I'm like a bamboo - even how many typhoons I’m still trying to be strong, so that I will not fall. Sometimes you bow because of so much problems that you are facing constantly. Sometimes I will bend where the wind blows so that I will not be hurt again so much, then I will stand and be strong.

Facing problems is by giving time on how to possibly solve the problem and find solutions. This process is not only applicable to women migrant workers but to all is well. The only difference I think is that you have to make strong decisions as a migrant worker because you are away from home and good friends that always gives you advice regarding the problem that you are facing.

As a woman migrant worker I can describe myself as someone having positive actions in all the problems that I have encountered. Like by avoiding the young sir who was courting me - it is a violation of my right as an OFW.

As a woman migrant worker the hardest part to accept is I'm looking after someone's child while my own kids are hungry for my touch.

As a woman migrant I will describe myself as someone who will not leave the country again if there is job opportunities waiting for me in the Philippines.

I would describe myself as a strong woman because I left my child behind for his future and that's the painful part of being a mother.

I became strong in all the problems that I encountered as a woman migrant worker

As a woman migrant work it was not easy to adjust but in some way I can describe myself as BRAVE

As a woman with power  “ Woman Empowerment”.

Women migrant workers struggle is to be strong, brave and feel powerful in the everyday and in their lives must be recognized, celebrated and be the foundation upon which any interventions are designed to support them. ‘Protection’ for women migrant workers must not be built upon an asymmetrical power relation that undermines their strength.

The struggle for women migrant workers also includes working together with other migrant workers and their allies to fight to reduce the number of “sacrifices” and “problems” they face due to gender discrimination and inequality, exploitation, abuse, control and violence.

Many migrant workers show solidarity with other workers day to day, others have individually or organized as a group to call for their rights and justice, often by social media. These independent practices of mutual support and collective action should be recognized and supported.

We must continue to struggle for ALL migrant workers human and labour rights.

As “women’s rights are human rights”, this includes women migrant workers struggle against systemic discrimination, gender inequality and discriminatory gender norms and stereotypes that underlie certain practices, beliefs and behaviours. Subsequently when we speak of ‘protection’ for women migrant workers these rights must also be included.

There are competing claims to ‘protect’ women migrant workers – some are rights based, others are not – few include women’s rights.

Every time policies of protection for women migrant workers are suggested they must be scrutinized for: the rationale that lies behind, the type of power relations created, whether women migrant workers are central in their development and evaluation and the consequences to women’s and labour rights.

This is now more urgent globally as all migrant workers face increasing surveillance and mechanisms to control them – with some legitimized in the name of humanitarian ‘Protection’. This has added to the considerable risks and dangers facing migrants. ‘Protection’ must be grounded in solidarity with the migrant workers struggles.

Women migrant workers have a voice they just need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen. More must be done to create sustainable space where women migrant workers can collectively bring their demands in person.

Women’s movements must be inclusive with diverse groups of women, including migrant workers representing and speaking for themselves. (Women can become powerful it doesn't need to include the domination of another) All women's work needs to be noticed and valued, not just those that are most visible.

Women migrant workers need to be recognized as political speaking beings, so they can assume positions of authority and influence in their own movement.

                  Celebrate as Women Migrant Workers
                        Who You Are and What You Do!

I am proud that I have seen my children, siblings, nieces and nephews finish their studies and also to provide things they need.

I'm proud to help families and relatives on the financial, you become more independent, strong and smart in making decisions.

I'm very proud to say that I am a strong woman, brave and show to my employers that I have a real principle as a migrant woman, that no one can break my positive decision in life.

I am proud that I was able to help my family and am proud of my profession.

I'm proud of being me. I'm proud that I am not only a woman, but a daughter, sister, mother to my children. But beyond all I've said I'm proud I am a father to my children. I'm proud of myself because for almost 6 years I learned how to become a man. Without asking anybody to support my children. I did it all by myself. I'm proud of myself when sometimes I look back at all the pain and hardship I surpassed. I'm proud I am strong enough.

As a mother I am proud that I have established my family and sent my children to school even though I am a solo parent.

I'm proud I was able to defend myself and help others as well.

I'm proud that I was able to establish and send my children to school. As a parent, education is the only thing they can inherit from me. I'm happy because my children are studying hard, even though how tired I am in my work, my sacrifices are with it.

I am proud because I was able to withstand being a mother and father to my children (to support their studies)

I am proud because in some ways I was able to go to another country at least I have learned a lot from the country where I was.

Women migrant workers strive to cope and develop themselves often in very difficult circumstances – whilst building many other peoples lives upon their shoulders.

                   Show these women the RESPECT they deserve!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Hands Off our Passports!!!


The Labour Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad, is heading a delegation to Kuwait and other GCC countries to ensure “sufficient protection” for overseas workers against the background of the recent Filipino deaths and the subsequent deployment ban. He reported that President Duterte has ordered the team to ensure that the passports of Filipino workers are deposited with the Philippine embassy.

Filipino migrant workers strongly reject this proposal, especially the idea that it would mean they would be better protected in Kuwait (or elsewhere):
“They are our personal documents, they have no right to hold them.”
“ Nobody, even the employer, nor agency or embassy cannot hold it”
“That is wrong. The passport is not in their name, it’s in the migrants name”
“ What is the purpose then of us paying to make our passports?”
“ Its better that the owner should have it. This is important to us”
Legally their claim is supported by Article 9c, ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers (2011) – which has been ratified by the Philippines.

Each member state shall take measures to ensure that domestic workers are entitled to keep in their possession the travel and identity documents.
Practically, how could they send remittances? A passport is required as an identity document for the money transfer from abroad.
This proposal’s emphasis on labour regulation will not improve the protection of migrant workers rights, safety and welfare. Filipino migrant workers regularly express distrust and criticism of some embassy staff. Some report experiencing a culture of impunity despite the discrimination, corruption and/or coercive practices such as physical violence, psychological intimidation and verbal threats they have encountered. Thus enhancing the control and power these government officials have over them through holding their passports is unlikely to improve their situation.

“ It is not a secret to everyone that the embassy are incompetent”
“ They are easily bought with money. I do not agree they should hold them”

Some workers recall the horrendous abuse of power present in the ‘sex-for-flight’ abusive practice - women workers who sought help were subjected to systemic sexual exploitation and commodification by Philippine officials in GCC countries, in exchange for their repatriation flight home.
Migrant rights advocates have proposed many policies to improve migrant workers protection in this situation - few have ever been put into action.
As a worker states: “what they need to do is organise the system. It is the computer age already and yet they have not developed. They are the one holding the system and have all the information about us” to monitor our workplace conditions and improve protection.
Ultimately, workers situated in a position of inequality and immobility renders them at risk of exploitation, abuse and violence. A key component of protection for migrant workers should be to establish A SAFE AND LEGAL EXIT from exploitative and/or abusive workplaces.
Migrant workers should be active participants in the development of all policies that affect their lives.
Kanlungan Centre Foundation Inc.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Call for Transparency and an Audit of all Filipino Migrant Workers on Death Row or Languishing in Prison Abroad.


Call for Transparency and an Audit of all Filipino Migrant Workers on Death Row or Languishing in Prison Abroad.

Jakatia Pawa, a domestic worker from Zamboanga lost her life today when she was executed in Kuwait for allegedly stabbing her employer's 22-year-old daughter whilst she slept on May 14, 2007. Kanlungan offers our condolences to her family, especially her two children (aged 18 and 16) who have lost their mother in this cruel and inhuman way.

The notification of the scheduled execution was only published on the day eliminating any last intervention and inhumanely preventing a final goodbye with her family in person. She informed her family the day before by telephone. No one’s life should end in such a torturous manner.

Since 1989, Kanlungan have handled many legal cases involving migrant workers who faced or were executed overseas such as the cases of Flor Contemplacion, Sarah Demetera and Sarah Balabagan.

It’s common for serious doubt and sometimes evidence challenging their guilt to come to light. Jakatia professed her innocence since the day she was arrested in 2007. She argued the victim’s family members had a stronger motive to kill her because of an alleged illicit love affair with a male neighbour. Philippine Senator Cynthia Villar reported that the DNA found on the murder weapon did not match that of Jakatia. The death penalty is wrong given it is an irreversible punishment - the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated.  

Migrant workers face discrimination in societies and in the justice systems, thus are more likely to be sentenced to death in unjust circumstances.  There have been cases where migrant workers with mental health problems were unfairly executed. Extenuating circumstances such as migrant workers being subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse by their employer are very rarely considered. Scapegoating migrants for the crimes of their employer’s family members is common. This is compounded by the many well-documented obstacles to access to justice for migrant workers, which remain due to lack of commitment and political will to overcome them.

We have observed that the lack of legal assistance or delayed assistance from the state that resulted in either death or prolonged incarceration of our fellow compatriots.  Sometimes the lack of concern and support from embassy officials, recruitment agencies and even their own families aggravates the situation. Blaming the victim and lack of empathy also exacerbates the suffering of migrant workers.

Access to justice of migrant workers should not only be limited to court legal assistance and raising “blood money”, as we have experienced in the case of Sarah Dematera. A holistic approach in handling legal cases should be adopted that includes other interventions such as psychosocial counseling and welfare assistance and also a much quicker response to realise the rights of the migrants and their families.

Apart from the people appallingly condemned to death, many hundreds if not thousands of migrant workers are also suffering and waiting for justice; such as the men in Saudi Arabia hoping that the courts will ensure they are paid their long overdue salaries and end of service benefits - rather than them joining the many who have experienced wage theft with state complicity.

It is important to remember that Jakatia Pawa’s tragic story did not begin with her legal case. Like many others it is grounded in the root causes of why Filipinos seek employment in countries abroad. In the case of Jakatia Pawa, she was underemployed overseas as a domestic worker holding a bachelors degree in banking and finance. It’s time to end the Philippines aggressive labour export regime and develop an economy with shared prosperity and equal opportunity for all.

We must guard against any normalisation of a culture of violence experienced by migrant workers whether its verbal and physical abuse or sexual and gender based violence or violation of their right to life.

As 88 people from the Philippines (and numerous others) currently face the death penalty worldwide: we call for all countries that still use the death penalty to immediately halt all executions and commute all death sentences to prison sentences. It is a timely reminder of why the death penalty should not be passed here in the Philippines.

We hope that Jakatia Pawa’s cruel death will be the last.

Kanlungan Centre Foundation, Inc.
77 K-10 Street, East Kamias, Quezon City

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Migrant Workers Conference Declaration 2015 released for International Migrants Day

                            Migrant Workers Conference Declaration 2015
                                     released for International Migrants Day
                                                                                                               18 December, 2015
     We the Migrant Workers, employed in many countries around the world, gathered together from different parts of the Philippines (and whilst still abroad)
To unite as one voice:

1. We want our voices to be heard directly, not through others.
The best way to understand our situation is to let us speak for ourselves.
Hear our voice. 
For the longest time we were silenced and excluded and other people spoke and decided what is best for us. 
We must speak for ourselves, after all we are the real experts in migration:
We live day by day as one.

2. They call us 'Heroes' but we do not feel that we are treated that way.
 They call us 'runaways' when we only want our freedom, to be treated as decent human beings. 
We want to be recognised as someone who contributes to our own development,
our family, societies and the world.

3. Like other human beings we laugh, we cry, we dance 
and deserve to feel safe, be respected and have our dignity. 
We are not only victims, We are workers, risk takers, courageous people, survivors, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, fighters, singers...
Our identity is diverse and rich. 
We are not 'illegal' nor 'irregular', we are who we are. 
The story of a migrant worker is deep like the sea. Not simple.
Like anyone else we have dreams, we want to live comfortably, study and work.

4. We are viewed as someone who sends remittances, balikbayan boxes,
someone who earns for our family, pays to send our children to school, 
Someone who sends perfumes, wine, appliances...
Why not also view us as human beings who want to be listened to and need love, affection, understanding and support when our life is hard.

5. The only way we can change our predicament and problems is by
uniting, marching together, speaking up and taking a stand. 
We have the power to make changes .
We have the numbers - 12 million!!

6. We stand in solidarity with all Migrants,
who are experiencing the same things that we are experiencing in the workplace and community.
Let us not allow our nationalities, our colour, sex or religion to divide us.
We are important ,We must represent ourselves, on our own terms.

7. We are claiming our space. 
We must raise the status of migrant workers. 
 Let us decide on our priorities and speak for ourselves on our issues.
We remain hopeful and must never give up!
We will continue to unite and let our presence be felt in all corners of the world.

        Our lives, Our issues, Our future, Our right- Stand up, Speak out!
Kanlungan Centre Foundation, Inc.
77 K-10 Street, East Kamias, Quezon City


Friday, September 18, 2015

26th Anniversary Kanlungan

Listening, watching and speaking out: Acting in solidarity with migrants and asylum seekers

Listening, watching and speaking out: 
Acting in solidarity with migrants and asylum seekers

The unfolding chaotic and distressing situation in Europe largely stems from the dominance and longevity of government policies focused on securitisation aimed at deterring migrants and asylum seekers from entering.
This continues to lead to untold human suffering and many deaths.

In recent weeks migrants and asylum seekers have protested and marched in Europe standing up for their rights and demanding humane treatment.  

“If we could go anywhere else we would, but we have family in... I need to be with them”
“Why are they making me risk my life to be with my family when I know I should get asylum if I get there?”
“Freedom, freedom, we want peace.”

“Stopped waiting, started walking”

“We walk, we walk…. We make our own decisions, not wait for solutions”
We are people too”
People begun to listen and a movement of solidarity has begun offering a ‘welcome’, transport, voluntary assistance and a place in their homes.

There have been petitions and demonstrations in solidarity in Europe, around the world and online calling to:

save lives, protect people, change mindsets, recognise ‘our common humanity’,
open borders, ‘welcome refugees’; recognise the contributions and labour demand for migrants and refugees; take a stand for ‘what type of community, society we want to be’; an end to policies that separate families and to put a ‘heart’ back into policy making.

They have also made visible EU states complicity in the creation of many of the ‘root causes’ for peoples movement for protection and better livelihoods that means that they particularly have a responsibility to act.

Now is the time to unite and continue the call for human rights-based migration policies with decriminalisation and safe and legal routes for migrants and asylum seekers.

Join the people’s movement – Stand up for all migrants! Act in solidarity with them!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Closer to Home: Calling Again for Solidarity with All Migrants!


Closer to Home: Calling Again for Solidarity with All Migrants!

We mourn and are deeply saddened by the loss of life of 61 people from Indonesia who drowned travelling in an overcrowded boat in poor weather. They were attempting to return home from Malaysia to Tanjong Balai, Indonesia to share the Eid al-Adha holiday with their families. Amongst the dead were 37 men, 23 women and a young girl, whilst 20 were rescued by fisherman and a search and rescue operation.

Malaysia’s refusal to officially recognise its true demand for labour in its economy contributes to the creation of these undocumented workers, who can be exploited as cheap labour without social protection. There is estimated to be up to 2 million undocumented Indonesian migrants workers in Malaysia. Denied safe and legal routes these low-income workers are forced to make dangerous clandestine journeys resulting repeatedly in tragic preventable deaths.

Untold deaths at sea of migrants are appallingly becoming a familiar sickening phenomenon in the region (and elsewhere in the world) – many Rohingya have died trying to escape systematic persecution for decades; many people have died over the years on perilous sea journeys as undocumented migrants, with smugglers or at the hands of human traffickers; or as forced labour in the fishing industries. Where is the justice for all these deaths? The daily reality for too many low-income migrant workers continues to be living in fear and face discrimination, exploitation, violence and death.

Now is the time to put people before profit!

These human tragedies of migrants that spark media frenzy are in reality often the latest exposure of long-standing situations that represent in part states’ resistance to: develop and enforce rights-based migration policies, recognise labour demand and migrants contributions; and respond and guarantee rights of asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution. This visibility of these human rights violations demonstrates there must be a strengthened call to protect through prevention.

We must act to provide and ensure migrants can live in dignity without risking their lives.

In response to the rising number of deaths of migrants we often rightly call for recognition of our common humanity to act. However the credibility of this call will be weakened if we don’t also insist that it is regardless of immigration status, nationality, religion, race, gender or any other status of migrants.  

We must value all human life equally, everywhere.

We reiterate our Regional Call for Migrants’ Rights:

Now is the time for ASEAN member states to demonstrate the collective political will to convert responsibility into practice and demonstrate a commitment to the rights-based protection and access to justice of all migrants.
Now is the time for ASEAN to show solidarity, respect for human rights for all and move beyond rhetoric to abide with the principle of being people-centred.
We urge the entire ASEAN community to unite and be in solidarity all migrants
- Remain vigilant and steadfast in ending these injustices against migrants.

Let us always act in solidarity to guarantee the rights of all migrants
to protection and justice everywhere in the world

Kanlungan Centre Foundation, Inc.
77 K-10 Street, East Kamias, Quezon City