On May Day: U.S. Filipino Workers and Migrants Fight Against Tyranny and Call to Oust Duterte!

Bernadette Herrera, Chairperson of Migrante USA, speaking at the post-summit action in front of the U.S. Embassy on April 6, 2019.

Inspired by the historic resistance of Chicago workers and activists on May Day 1886 and by the current militant movement of workers in the Philippines and around the world, Migrante USA and Filipino migrant workers in the U.S. continue to fight against the tyranny and rising dictatorship of President Duterte in the Philippines while linking arms with the workers of the world to fight for liberation.

The growing socioeconomic and political crisis in the Philippines forces 6,500 Filipinos to leave the country in search for jobs and livelihood, with a significant number of them being abused, trafficked, jailed or killed abroad due to very little protection from the Philippine government. The U.S. houses more than 4.7 million Filipinos making it the largest population living outside of the Philippines out of the 12-15 million of Filipinos living in the global diaspora. Despite the record amount in remittances contributed by Filipino migrants to the Philippine economy reaching $33 billion in 2018, Filipinos abroad see little to no palpable improvement in the conditions back home. Under President Duterte, there has been nothing but empty promises, worsening economy and a rising death toll.

Worsening socioeconomic and political crisis in the Philippines

Duterte promised to use his iron will to punish corrupt officials and drug lords, create jobs, end contractualization and bring OFWs back home. Instead, he has shielded drug lords and corrupt officials from accountability, and has signed into effect the TRAIN Law which has increased the tax on commodities resulting to lower consumers’ purchasing power. This has a major effect on migrants who send a record amount in remittances to their families, contributing $33 billion in 2018 to the Philippine economy. It also means more working hours for breadwinnners abroad just to be able to send more money but with diminished value.

A year after Duterte signed Executive Order 51, supposedly ending illegal contractualization, the majority of Filipino workers still remain contractual–without job security, benefits, with race-to-the-bottom wages, and little to no environmental safety and workplace hazard protections. The broken promise has prompted more than 150 notices of strike and an unprecedented coalescing of the largest federation of labor unions on May 1st last year.

Under the banner of his Operation Tokhang or the war on drugs mostly targeting the urban poor, Duterte continues to produce widows and orphans as killings climb past 30,000. The killings involving late night raids where victims supposedly fought back or nanlaban, used to be carried out in the urban areas, but similar operations were recently conducted against farmers in the countryside as in the killing of the Negros 14. The regime has also stepped up its efforts to silence dissenters as it continues to kill, jail and harass human rights defenders, people’s lawyers, labor leaders, activists, organizers and anyone critical of the government.

Desperate to railroad their charter change into passage, inserted with provisions serving the elite and their foreign counterparts, Duterte and his cohorts are actively using government funds and employing deceit and fraud to win seats for the Senate in the upcoming May 13 elections. Consolidating the majority of the Senate brings Duterte’s dictatorship closer to fruition.

Neglect of Filipino migrants

In the U.S., Filipino workers and migrants suffer both from  Trump and Duterte’s anti-worker and anti-immigrant policies. Larry Nicolas and Maria Luna are two Filipinos currently under threat of deportation who have yet to receive support from the Duterte government. Further, with their prior criminalization and incarceration, they fear going back to the Philippines and landing in the crosshairs of the police enforcing the war on drugs.

Filipinos continue to be trafficked to the U.S. More than a dozen former workers of the closed-down Rainbow Bright daycare facilities in Daly City, California were trafficked by the Gamos family based in the same city aided by individuals in the Philippines. In Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, dozens of teachers were trafficked from the Philippines and some are under threat of deportation. Yet, when these cases reached mainstream news, Philippine state representatives did not proactively offer support.  And when directly brought to them through dialogue, they yielded to red tape and claimed lack of decision-making power in providing concrete financial and legal support.

Instead of uplifting the lives of kababayan in distress, embassies and consulates in the U.S. would rather do its publicity stunt to sanitize the tyrannical reputation of the regime and deploy its deceitful police through the Police Community Relations Group. Despite the increases to P1 billion Assistance to Nationals (ATN) fund and P400 million Legal Assistance Fund (LAF), these funds dedicated to overseas Filipinos remain abstract and inaccessible to them.  

Repression breeds resistance

Amidst state neglect, workers forge solidarity among themselves and with the community. Amidst repression, the people mount resistance. Duterte’s undeniable tyranny has compelled the people in the U.S. to take a stand with the Filipino people against the human rights violations and rising dictatorship. A year after the creation of Malaya Movement in the U.S., it has resolved to call for the ouster of Duterte. At the same time, Migrante USA calls on the Filipino community in the U.S. to the guard the people’s vote and to vote for progressives in the Senate, such as Neri Colmenares and the rest of the Makabayan 11.

In an effort to strengthen worker solidarity, Migrante USA and Bayan USA spearheaded the U.S. tour of Ed Cubelo from KMU and Mong Palatino from Bayan NCR. Coordinated actions in San Francisco and Los Angeles for BPO workers in the Philippines led by CWA, APALA, Migrante and Bayan highlighted this solidarity.

Migrante USA and its member organizations continue to amplify the collective call against deportation, against trafficking and exploitation as well as the clamor for human rights and democracy in the Philippines and throughout the world.

Sahod, trabaho at karapatan, ipaglaban!

Trabaho sa Pilipinas, hindi sa labas!

Serbisyo hindi negosyo, proteksyon hindi koleksyon!

Oust Duterte Now!

Workers of the world, unite!

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