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Vol. V,    No. 24      July 24 - 30, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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Why Ofws Want Gloria to Resign

Migrants are understandably outraged over the recent expose of Mrs. Arroyo's massive electoral fraud during the last elections.  She stole and denigrated our historic first time overseas absentee votes.  She flagrantly violated the sanctity of the ballot and now, she dares hide under "image make-overs", public relations gimmicks, smear campaigns and outright harassment tactics directed against those demanding her resignation.

The following is a glimpse into some of the reasons why many migrants and their families want Gloria to resign:

1.  She is guilty of the gross misuse and plunder of the P8 billion OFW trust fund at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.  She demonstrated this clearly when she essentially ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs on March 12, 2003 to charge OWWA US$293,500 to cover the Philippine government's so-called preparations for the then impending US invasion of Iraq.  This was evidenced by her handwritten "Ok charge to OWWA" note on the memo requesting the funds.

2.  She is also responsible for the transfer of approximately P530 million from the OWWA Medicare Fund to PhilHealth – a move instigated in 2002 by then PhilHealth President Francisco Duque who explained the infusion of OFW funds into the ailing PhilHealth coffers will have a "significant bearing on the 2004 national elections…"

3.  Under her administration, benefits and welfare assistance at OWWA has gone from bad to worse.  OFWs and their dependents were hit with the anti-migrant OWWA Omnibus Policies passed September 2003.  Under these new policies, many OFWs were disenfranchised from accessing services while some legal and medical assistance programs were diminished or wiped out completely.

4.  She single-handedly jeopardized the lives of 1.5 million OFWs in the Middle East when she declared her avid support for Bush's so-called War on Terror and unjust wars of aggression.  As such, we hold her responsible for the (at least) 11 OFWs killed, 21 injured and 4 abducted in Iraq and Afghanistan.

5.  During the past four years, OFWs are also increasingly victims of the Arroyo administration's criminal neglect of their rights and welfare.  Along with being abused and exploited by employers and host governments, the Arroyo administration often serves us a double-whammy by criminally neglecting our rights and welfare and playing deaf to our cries for justice.  Numerous unsolved cases of OFW "mysterious deaths" attest to this.

It is also distressing to note that instead of being alarmed over the exodus of Filipino workers overseas, Mrs. Arroyo actually boasts about how her goal of exporting one million workers this year is on target.  We agree with Archbishop Rosales when he pointed out that the exodus of OFWs manifests the utter failure of this administration's economic policies.

For these reasons, migrants that demand Gloria's resignation are on solid ground.  Thus, the option of sending their remittances through informal or non-bank channels – to manifest their withdrawal of support against Gloria's anti-migrant and anti-people regime is a valid one.

Instead of Mrs. Arroyo, we support calls for the creation of a Transition Council composed of representatives of various sectors and organizations, including migrant groups.  Among the items this council can oversee is the implementation of pro-people reforms and the subsequent election of a new leader.

Clearly, Mrs. Arroyo has no moral or legal basis to the Presidency and given her systematic betrayal of our rights and welfare, we resoundingly reiterate – Gloria Resign Now!

For reference:  Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson, Migrante International
July 21, 2005

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