San Francisco, California – The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, in conjunction with Migrante Northern California and GABRIELA-San Francisco, hold a vigil and rally on Tuesday, March 17 at 6pm in front of the Philippine Consulate General (447 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94108) to expose the abuses suffered by Filipino workers abroad, and to demand action by Philippine government for its citizens abroad.
March 17, 2015 marks the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion. She was a Filipina domestic worker in Singapore who was charged for double murder without due process and, after four years in prison, was hanged on March 17, 1995. Many in the international community believed that Flor Contemplacion was innocent, or that, if she had committed the murders, she did so in self-defense. The Philippine government under Ramos’s administration provided little support that came too late, spurring widespread outcry and mass protest both in the Philippines and internationally.
Twenty years later, it is clear that little has changed. Today, an estimated 6,092 Filipinos leave the Philippines daily (Source: IBON Foundation, 2015). Many of them face exploitation and abuse, yet receive little support from the Philippine government as promised. In the U.S., for example, there are hundreds of teachers who were trafficked by Isidro Rodriguez through his agency licensed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). They paid as much as US$20,000 only to find that there were no jobs for them in the U.S. after all. Despite the Philippine Department of Justice’s dismissal of their initial trafficking complaints, 300+ teachers in the U.S. and PH have founded the organization GURO to continue their fight for justice.
Internationally, one migrant Filipino worker was just executed in Saudi, two are in death row in Indonesia and UAE, thirteen seafarers are lost in Taiwan, and migrant workers were recently beaten by the royal family in Saudi. There are at least 123 more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on death row in foreign countries.
“We can see that Flor Contemplacion’s case was not an isolated incident. OFWs continue to be abused and exploited, yet the Philippine government gives them untimely and insufficient support, if any at all,” stated Michael Tayag, Regional Coordinator for NAFCON-NorCal. “Rather than protecting its workers whose remittances keep the Philippine economy afloat, rather than creating jobs and addressing poverty in the Philippines, it encourages their migration for work and stands idly by as they face trafficking, discrimination, wage theft, and even imprisonment and execution.”
Angelica Cabande, Co-Regional Coordinator for NAFCON-NorCal, states, “Today, we are exposing the Philippine government under the Aquino administration for its neglect of OFWs. We are holding a vigil to commemorate the death of Flor Contemplacion, and we are rallying to seek justice for the Flor Comtemplacions of today. We call our community to action in holding the Philippine government accountable for not only responding to the challenges faced by Filipinos abroad, but also addressing the poverty, landlessness, and corruption in the Philippines that pushed starving OFWs to other countries in the first place. We celebrate the many victories migrant workers in the U.S. have already achieved, and we know that the fight must continue!”
About National Alliance for Filipino Concerns
The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) is an alliance of over 30 organizations that advocate for the rights of Filipinos in the United States, carrying out campaigns to stop deportations of immigrants, end the trafficking of Filipino workers, and bring about change in the Philippines so that Filipinos are not forced to leave for livelihoods abroad. Visit www.nafconusa.org for more information.