PRESS RELEASES: Filipinos in NY-NJ Demand Phil. Gov’t Own Up to Its Responsibility and Ship Relief Boxes

PRESS RELEASE
23 November 2009

Reference: Jonna Baldres, Migrante International Coordinator – US East Coast, jonnabebeh@gmail.com, (718) 5658862

Filipinos in NY-NJ Demand Phil. Gov’t Own Up to Its Responsibility and Ship Relief Boxes

Help ship aid immediately!

Almost two months into the relief efforts following the tragedies that struck the northern part of the Philippines, Filipino migrant organizations from New York and New Jersey vow to continue the fight to demand the Philippine Government to ship the relief boxes immediately to the Philippines. In light of this, members of the different migrants’ organizations in the US North East region will mobilize and troop to the Philippine Consulate in New York on Monday, November 23, to express this demand.

“Though the consulate has dropped the taxes, lifted the ban on used clothing, and let donors (National Alliance for Filipino Concerns or NAFCON) send their donation boxes to DSWD and ‘for further delivery’ to intended recipients (Migrante International) — which has always been supposedly its responsibility in the first place — it has still refused to help in shipping the donation boxes,” said Rusty Fabunan of Philippine Forum in New York, a member organization of both NAFCON and Migrante International.

Migrant organizations in the US East Coast, such as the Philippine Forum with chapters in both New York and New Jersey, the Filipino youth group Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), and the Moro cultural group, Kinding Sindaw, have all participated in the Bayanihan for Typhoon Disaster Relief spearheaded by NAFCON and the SanDiwa National Alliance of Filipino-American Youth. In the North East region alone, these migrant organizations have raised almost $10,000 in those 2 months and collected over 400 boxes of donations to be sent to the Philippines.

“The Philippine government said that they have no money for shipping of donations? Where then did they get the money for their lavish dinners and expensive trips to the US if the government has no money? Where do the funds collected by the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) from the 3000 Filipinos leaving the Philippines everyday go?” asked Julia Camagong, Co-Executive Director of Philippine Forum and the US representative to Migrante International Global Council.

Last August, a Washington Post article revealed that Arroyo and her entourage spent $15,000 for their dinner after meeting with US President Barrack Obama on July 30 in Washington DC. Aside from this, the New York Post also published an article exposing Arroyo’s $20,000-worth dinner party at Le Cirque, a French fine-dining restaurant in Manhattan during the same week. Lest we forget, reports of Consul General Rebong renting a $10,000-a-month condominium at the posh Trump Tower on First Avenue in Manhattan also made the buzz in 2005. These, among others, are some of the Arroyo administration’s track record on corruption.

“If they can spend that much for an apartment of one person or one dinner for less than a hundred people, then they can definitely allot something for the shipping of relief boxes that can feed and keep hundreds of our kababayans warm and sheltered. And besides, the Filipino community in the US has already done its part. It’s now the Philippine government’s turn to make sure that relief from its hard-working migrants reaches the typhoon victims in the Philippines,” said Yves Nibungco, Chairperson of Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, also a member organization of both NAFCON and Migrante International.

These migrant organizations said that while they are still finding ways to ship the donation boxes, they will continue to pressure the government to “do its job” by shipping the donations for free, as it should have more networks and funds than the migrants who actually have meager or no money left to send to their families back home.

Filipino migrants, represent!

“Aside from its refusal to help ship the boxes, the Philippine government has been remiss in addressing other Filipino migrants’ concerns in a lot of circumstances. And the intention to run and represent the migrant Filipinos in Congress that will genuinely address issues of Filipino migrants in a long-term basis, not just in times of calamities, is one that has been quashed recently by the ruling regime through the disqualification by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC),” said Camagong.

Last 2004, Migrante Sectoral Partylist (Migrante International’s political partylist) ran but failed to reach the 2% of votes needed to win one partylist seat. In 2007, Migrante decided not to run and informed the poll body of the Commission of its decision, in writing. The Commission then ruled this as “losing the election” twice (with the non-participation also considered by the poll body as “losing the election”), which has been made basis for Migrante’s being disqualified.

According to Migrante, COMELEC did not even call for a hearing before issuing the decision. Moreover, five (5) partylists with the same situation as Migrante’s were allowed to run. Last October 26, Migrante filed a verified opposition to the poll body’s decision to disqualify but it has been dismissed once more by the COMELEC last November 19.

“This only shows that the Philippine government had let its ‘bagong bayani’ down once more and proves that it continues to play deaf in heeding the migrants’ voices,” said Camagong.

The mobilization will also be part of Migrante’s 12 days of protest to express and continue to fight for the right to be represented in Philippine Congress. Aside from Migrante, other progressive partylist groups such as Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Sectoral Partylist, Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) Sectoral Partylist, and Ang Ladlad Partylist (for LGBT) were also disqualified.

“We will not stop until our fellow overseas kababayans’ hard-earned efforts are won,” ended Camagong.

For more updates, please visit http://bayanihan4ondoy.wordpress.com. ###

Photo by Eddie Veridiano
Photo by Paul Gullas
Photo by Philippine Forum
Photo by Philippine Forum
Photo by Philippine Forum
Photo by Philippine Forum

 

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