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SUPPORT F15: STOP TRAFFICKING! PACK THE COOURTS!

ImagemmunFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
20 September 2012

 

Reference: Zarah Vinola, Publicity Head, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), U.S. North East, ne@nafconusa.org

 

“Community Celebrates Victory for Florida 15 Trafficked Workers,
But Still A Very Long Way To Go” – NAFCON

 

NEW YORK — 11 months after the first meeting of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) with the Philippine Consulate of New York in October 2011 to present the cases of labor trafficking among migrant workers in the United States, the 15 victims of labor trafficking from Florida, also known as the Florida 15, finally received an initial subsistence fund amounting to $333.33 per victim. This, according to NAFCON, is a small and initial victory in the long pursuit for justice for the workers.

“It is through community support and consistent community pressure that we push the government to answer for its obligations to its distressed nationals,” states Michelle Saulon, the North East Regional Coordinator for NAFCON. According to Ms. Saulon, NAFCON and its member organizations will continue to follow up with the Philippine government for legal assistance and subsistence funds and the immediate prosecution of the traffickers.

 

Florida 15 Trafficked Workers

Florida 15 or F15 is a group of Filipino workers who were recruited between 2008 to 2009 by the Philippine-based San Villa Ship Management Co. owned by Jojo Villanueva to work at different country clubs and hotels in Florida as waiters, cooks, and housekeepers. They were required to pay up to $2500-7000 each for placement fees and when they started working, were given only $6 per hour as opposed to the payrate of $16-17 per hour, and without overtime pay. Many of them were also paid only once a month and paychecks were issued very late.

Aside from the late payment, the agency also failed to renew their H2-B visas without notifying the workers which led to the overstay status of the workers without proper documentation despite the workers’ consistent follow-up. The loss of immigration status also resulted to some being arrested by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency and are pending deportation.

“The ‘Florida 15’ is only one group among the thousands of trafficked victims who are in need of immediate assistance, support and protection for their rights and welfare,” Saulon continued.

The F15 workers are also fighting for their right to obtain T-visas. Atty. Felix Vinluan, immigration and labor lawyer who has helped trafficked Filipino workers over the years, is currently handling the case.

 

Fight Against Labor Export Policy and Human Trafficking

NAFCON acknowledges the institutional and structural problems that breed human and labor trafficking.

“As long as there is no genuine land reform and national industrialization in our homeland, landlessness and joblessness will persist. Coupled with the Labor Export Policy (LEP) implemented by the Philippine government, these policies and practices will continue to cause thousands of Filipinos to migrate overseas, suffer exploitation and become vulnerable to trafficking. We have a whole system of migrant workers’ exploitation ahead of us that needs to be fought against,” states Jonna Baldres, national deputy general secretary of NAFCON.

NAFCON has attended and still continue to deal with cases of human and labor trafficking. Examples that NAFCON handled and supported are the Sentosa 27++ nurses, Arizona 34, South Carolina 12, Adman 11, Teachers from Los Angeles, Maryland and countless individuals, such as Elma Manliguez, Leticia Moratal and Jacqueline Aguirre, who suffered unfair labor laws and regulations, slavery, inhumane working conditions and discrimination from their employers. They were once victims and are now fighting survivors advocating and empowering others to come out and fight for their rights and welfare.

As for F15 workers, they have this to say on their almost 2 years of struggle, “Let F15 be an inspiration for other Human Trafficking victims out there, that never hesitate nor hide in the shadows. Be brave and stand up for your rights as there are still people out there who are willing to take your hand and say we are here to help!”

 

Stop Trafficking Our People (STOP)

Aside from the demands of the Florida 15 workers, NAFCON, with its overall Stop Trafficking Our People (STOP) Campaign, also brings to attention the responsibility of the Philippine government to check and investigate as to why employment agencies such as San Villa Management Co. were allowed to exist and operate in such manner, and why these kinds of agencies are unchecked by the government’s own Philippine Overseas and Employment Agency (POEA) allowing workers to leave the country and be employed by such.

On September 24, the Florida 15, with the support of NAFCON, allied organizations and concerned individuals are calling on the community to pack the court room and mobilize and show support for their case. The action will take place at 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn at the Eastern District court of New York to be followed by a press conference. This action is part of NAFCON’s STOP Campaign and the Dignity and Justice for Immigrants Campaign, a campaign that is pro-migrant, pro-people and pro-Filipino.

The STOP Campaign is currently coordinated by the STOP Task Force. For more information or to volunteer for the STOP Task Force, please contact Michelle at michelle.saulon@gmail.com or Yves Nibungco at yvesnibungco@gmail.com. ###

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2012

Happy 2012: a fabulous new year to all of us!

Let’s see, I started out this new year with anew part-time job negating my life on weekends. I wanted to give it a shot eventhough many folks did advice that it was foolish to have a 3-11 shift every weekends at this point in my life with everything else that I am trying to accomplish. So bottomline- a new opportunity came up which allows me to feel more confident in immediately leaving this weekend job an move on to a more promising venture.

A big flood down in the southern Islands of Mindanao, Philippines is the starring feature of 2012. Activation and reactivation of the Bayanihan relief and rehabilitation program for the victims of calamities in the Philippines. I really pondered hard about the relationship between a natural disaster and man-made ones.

So if you want to learn the quick specifics, below is a primer on it created by Anak bayan new jersey.

A week ago, another land slide happened right in Compostella Valley. It is amazing how quick and the focus of relocating the local minres in the area where the landslide occured killing hundreds of the residents around the area. The international media was on that spinning the effects of mining to our environment. Meanwhile, this types of catastrophes happen at least every three months in various areas of the archipelago where corporate mining happens— and I don’t hear any quick and sweeping attempts of getting these foreign owned mining corporations from: a. STOP MINING and b. Provision of aid to local residents who were displaced and affected by the physiological negative effects of mining in the human bodies and in the environment.

let me clarify-these local residents were mining the mountains- illegally the government said. BUT I genuinely question, the legality of foreign owned mining corporations in Philippine archipelago as well. It is also not in the hush hush that there is a tighter bond and frienship between these big foreign companies and the governement, from local to the national— best friends forever!

You know, I am not an environmental scientist- but I do have a nursing, public health and international studies in this little pinay belt (If feaudal minds are only enticed by people who have the right speak on such matters). But, truth is, simply being integrated with the masses can give you all the facts and figures we all need on the negative effects of mining to the living and non living environment. Well, below are some thoughts I’d like to share with you again on what’s behind these calamities.

A Primer on the Typhoon Sendong Calamity

prepared by: Anakbayan NJ
What happened during the Typhoon Sendong?

On Friday, December 16 2pm, Typhoon Sendong (Washi) landed in the Philippine area of responsibility. Around 2am of December 17, Typhoon Sendong dropped a month’s worth of rainfall, amounting to 142 milimeters (6 inches), poured over Northern Mindanao, the Southern most island in the Philippines. It caused flash floods, overflowing rivers and massive landslides

What were the effects of Typhoon Sendong?

Sendong left 1,403 dead, 1,089 missing, and an estimated PhP 1-billion damage to property and farmlands. Affected provinces and cities are Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Mt. Diwata in Compostela Valley, and Zamboanga del Norte.
*It should also be noted that though Typhoon Sendong dropped only an average of 5-8inches of rainfall (as compared to Ondoy’s 15-18inches), the death toll under Sendong is almost 3-4 times more than Ondoy.

 
What caused such devastation?

An environmental crisis, caused by unregulated large-scale mining, logging and quarrying, coupled with the Aquino (Noynoy) government’s budget cuts on disaster preparedness and other social services created the conditions for such a calamity.
a. Lack of disaster preparation
The Aquino government vetoed the P 5-B ($ 116.2 M)  disaster preparation plan in the 2011 National Budget, claiming that the money should be spent exclusively on “actual calamities”, and not for “preparation of relocation sites/facilities, and training personnel engaged in direct disaster.”

 

b. Indiscriminate logging and deforestation
Forests absorb water and keep the land intact during rainy season. Northern Mindanao was a land of lush forests and thriving wildlife. Due to this, it became a hotbed for legal and illegal logging activities of foreign companies. 75% of logging operations in Mindano are legal and has permit from the government. An average of 608 sq.mi of forests are denuded each year. Deforestation such as this leads to fatal flash floods and landslides.

 

c. Mining and quarrying
    Mindanao has a landscape rich in minerals such as gold, silver, copper and various forms of rocks used in industry. This is why the largest foreign mining companies in the country operate on approximately 125,670 hectares (a little bigger than New York City’s total area) of land in this area.The destruction of mountains, plains and other land formations, caused by the extraction of precious minerals, this leads to the elimination of natural waterways such as rivers which then caused the overflowing of rivers that flooded Cagayan de Oro and other affected cities.

 

d. Land conversion
Land conversion refers to converting vast tracts of arable land to subdivisions and/or pineapple or banana plantations for foreign companies instead of farming land to provide for the needs of the Filipino population. These foreign corporations reap the most profit in disregarding the rights of workers and indigenous people in Mindanao.  For example, an estimated 23,000 hectares (roughly 1.25 times Hudson County’s land area) of upland forests in Bukidnon was cleared out to make way for Del Monte Corporation alone. Rainwater that fell in that area created rapids down to Cagayan de Oro, washing away homes, lives and communities. In addition, displaced peasants and indigenous peoples, victims of corporate land-grabbing, were forced to relocate to disaster- prone areas.

What can we do as youth and students? As Filipinos overseas?

Raising as much funds and other donations are necessary to respond to the urgent needs of our kababayans and course it through people’s relief efforts such as the BAYANIHAN Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation project of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)which works directly in coordination with local grassroots organizations on the ground, such as BALSA-Mindanao.

We must also continue to deepen our understanding and raise awareness in our communities regarding the environmental situation in the Philippines and the socio-economic factors that create these conditions.  We must come together, organize and take action.

1. Donate to NAFCON’s BAYANIHAN Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Program.
www.nafconusa.org

2. You can contact us if you want to set up a workshop or a discussion at your school regarding the environmental situation and other social issues in the Philippines.
www.anakbayannynj.wordpress.com,  email us at anakbayan.nynj@gmail.com

3. Join Anakbayan and be part of the Filipino youth movement in affecting genuine social change in our communities and in the Philippines.

NAFCON at PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE DAY PARADE 2011!

by Philippine Forum-NewYork on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 1:47pm
 

This Sunday, June 5, please join the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) at the Philippine Independence Day Parade! Let us wear our brightest RED shirts to symbolize our message: STOP TRAFFICKING OUR PEOPLE and STOP THE ABUSE OF OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS (OFWs)!

 

Meeting place at 37th St between Madison and Park Avenues @ 1030am. Look for NAFCON flag. See you there! Please pass! Thank you!

 

Some photos of NAFCON contingent from previous years:

PIDC 2007 (Justice for Sentosa Nurses ++!!!)

 

PIDC 2008 (Got rice? Got independence?)

 

PIDC 2008 (Got rice? Got independence?)

 

PIDC 2009 (NO to CHA-CHA! NO to CON-ASS!)

 

PIDC 2009 (NO to CHA-CHA! NO to CON-ASS!)

 

PIDC 2010 (Bagong Pagbabago!)

 

PIDC 2010 (Bagong Pagbabago!)

 

 

Let us continue marching for the rights and welfare of Filipinos abroad and at home! This year, let us march for our trafficked brothers and sisters and say “STOP TRAFFICKING OUR PEOPLE!”

 

Mabuhay ang manggagawang Pilipino! Mabuhay ang Migrante!

 

www.nafconusa.org

PARA SA MIGRANTE

Para sa mga Migranteng Pilipino ng Buong Mundo. Maraming salamat sa lahat ng mga kasamang patuloy na nakikipaglaban sa tunay na karapatan ng mga masang nasa ibayong dagat at patuloy na inuugnay ang pakikibaka sa ating inang bayan.
Salamat kay Raul Menchavez sa pag bigay ng lakas ng loob at suporta sa musikang makabayan, Kay Roberto Ang na patuloy na isinasalarawan ang tunay na buhay sa larangan ng sining. Salamat ulit sa mga kasama lalo na sa New York at New Jersey na patuloy nagbibigay gabay at tibay ng loob. Higit sa lahat, Salamat sa masang walang humpay na nagbibigay ng inspirasyon at aral, sa masang pinggagalingan ng tunay na lakas.
Mabuhay ang Migrante!
Taospuso; cling2x

Wanna Go Home

NAFCON-SanDiwa’s TYPHOON-ONDOY disaster relief and rehabilitation program

September 26, 2009
Anne Beryl Corotan
National Chairperson
SANDIWA, the National Alliance of Filipino American Youth
40-21 69th St. woodside, NY 11377

Dear Kababayan;

Our motherland, the Philippines was struck by a historic typhoon last September 26, 2009 putting over 26 provinces under a state of calamity. The Philippine Almospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (pagasa) released that the historic 85 kph typhoon “Ondoy” surpassed the highest 24-hour rainfall in June 1967 in Metro Manila. The 15th tropical cyclone entered eastern Luzon Island from the Pacific Ocean Saturday afteroon and was expected to leave at 230 km west north Iba, Zambales by Sunday morning towards the South China Sea.

The rain continue to fall and the flash floods are rising over resident’s rooftops  leaving over 280,000 people affected. Filipinos were evacuated but  many are still stranded and the number of casualties are increasing. Migrant families express their concerns and worries towards their families and friends devastated by the calamity.

The National Alliance of Filipino American Youth, SanDiwa is the youth arm of a bigger alliance, NAFCON, the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns with member organizations in over 13 major states in the United States. These two alliances in colloboration with all its member organizations, individuals, allies and related coalitions are currently nationally coordinating relief actions to facilitate support and aid to the victims of the calamity.

We are asking for your kind support in making sure that we provide immediate relief to the victims by donating relief goods, most especially medical supplies, clothes, blankets and other basic necessities to be sent back to the Philippines. The drop off center  in North East will be at the Bayanihan Community center, the national office of NAFCON and SANDIWA at 40-21 69th St. Woodside, New York 11377.

If you would like to participate in NAFCON’s  “typhoon ONDOY”-BAYANihan disaster  relief and rehabilitation program please reach out to us by calling the center at 7185658862,  Anne Beryl at 5169011632 in east coast or Ryan 6265344971in west coast. You can also email us at Sandiwa.national@gmail.com.

Thank you very much for all your support and let us once again relive the spirit of bayanihan and together let us try all our efforts to ensure that our families and friends get the support they direly need from our kababayan right now. Maraming Salamat po!

Sincerely;

Anne Beryl Corotan
National Chairperson
SANDIWA, The National Alliance of Filipino Concerns.

I Told My Heart