Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia protest

A video which used to be on Vimeo, but isn’t there any more, used to say about itself:

In early August, a Filipina maid was found in the street by police in the emirate of Ajman. She was bleeding and suffering from injuries to her body. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she spent two weeks recovering. She has since been taking shelter at the Philippine Labour Office in Dubai, where she is recounting her story of abuse by her employers.

By Joseph Santolan:

Stranded migrant workers protest in Saudi Arabia

26 January 2011

About 20 Filipino contract workers staged a protest outside of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on January 22. They were part of a group of 57 workers unable to depart from Saudi Arabia and return home to the Philippines. The workers stated that their employers had engaged in deceptive employment practices, and when the workers quit in protest, their companies refused to return their passports or grant them travel documents. POLO, the Philippine government agency responsible for the protection of Filipino workers, has done nothing on their behalf. Many of the protestors have been stranded in Saudi Arabia for a year.

These workers are now homeless and jobless. They have no income, either to provide for themselves or their dependent families at home in the Philippines. Their situation is typical of the plight of thousands of migrant workers from numerous countries who are trapped in Saudi Arabia. The story of these stranded workers is not being reported, other than in small articles buried in the Philippine, Ethiopian, Arabian, and Indonesian press.

According to the most recent data available, released at the end of 2008 by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, 2.26 million Filipino workers are currently employed in the Middle East. Of these, 112,700 are regarded as illegal immigrants. Filipino contract workers in the Middle East sent home remittances totalling $US1.47 billion in 2010.

Driven from the country by the impoverished conditions of their families and a dearth of jobs paying even a subsistence wage, nearly 10 percent of the Philippine population has sought work abroad, including in the US and across Asia.

Sexual Prey in the Saudi Jungle: here.

13 thoughts on “Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia protest

  1. Workers deported for strike over pay

    UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Authorities deported over 50 Bangladeshi workers today for taking part in a strike to demand a modest pay rise.

    An estimated 5,000 workers staged a nearly two-week strike this month to press for a 200 dirham (£34) pay rise from Arabtec, the biggest construction company in Dubai.

    The workers, who live in company-run camps, earn between 700 and 800 dirhams (£120-£140) a month.


  2. Tainted general shoots himself

    PHILIPPINES: A former military chief at the heart of a scandal over accusations that top Filipino generals skimmed money from the army to fund lavish lifestyles committed suicide today.

    Retired General Angelo Reyes was pronounced dead on arrival at a Manila hospital from a single gunshot wound in the chest.

    Gen Reyes, who headed the military from 2001 to 2003, was recently accused of trousering huge sums of cash that had been diverted from key military units.


    14 April 2011


    The Filipino Migrant Workers’ Movement (FMWM) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada extends its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Celito Baccay, 31, a union leader murdered by unidentified gunmen in Dasmarinas, Cavite, Philippines on March 8, 2011.

    Baccay had been a worker for five years at the Maeno Giken Inc., a Japanese-owned steel factory operating inside the First Cavite Industrial Estate (FCIE). Maeno Giken Inc. manufactures steel structures and parts of heavy equipments like container crane, fuel and chemical tanks used locally by different Japanese-owned companies. Half of their products are exported to Japan.

    A fact-finding mission conducted by the Worker’ Assistance Center (WAC), Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), and the Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW) reports that workers of Maeno Giken Inc. claimed that harassment against them heightened when they started to form a union. Workers said they were intimidated by Company Vice President for Operations Gart Dennis Melchor who was very much against the union, bringing his firearms to work often, cleaning and loading the pistols with bullets, in the workplace. They are also aware of Melchor’s connections with the army and police officers.

    Being a board member of the workers union MAGIKWO (Maeno Giken Workers Organization), Celito Baccay was also considered by his co-workers as the union’s founder and the most fearless among the union leaders. This is why Maeno Giken Inc. attempted to coopt Baccay by offering him a promotion. Yet he declined because he knew that it would disqualify him from being a union leader and member. He chose service to his co-workers over his personal advancement.

    We in the Filipino Migrant Workers’ Movement condemn the killing of Baccay as well as leaders of unions and other people’s organizations who assert people’s rights and advance their welfare. While these are done to threaten and silence union leaders and human rights defenders, the perpetrators protect the interests of capital i.e., foreign multinationals and their local hirelings to ensure the continuous flow of profit into their coffers.

    Despite massive protests by human rights advocates and the ILO high-level mission here in the country to investigate trade union repression and extrajudicial killings, there has been no stop to the killings, other repressive measures and rights violations. The presidential election in May of last year was supposed to give Filipinos a more peaceful environment where the basic rule of law should exist, still, even with a new president in place, these criminal acts continue! It is as if these are condoned by elements in the civilian and military bureaucracies. Their failure to take adequate action in response to these dreadful crimes clearly deprives people of their right to life.

    The lack of an efficient police investigation, the government’s being irresponsive to intervene, and the absence of protection for witnesses, are totally unacceptable!

    We join the rest of the Filipino people in seeking justice for Celito Baccay. We call on the Aquino government to conduct an immediate, impartial and more thorough investigation into this heinous crime and into the anti-union activities of the Maeno Giken management.

    Justice for Celito Baccay! Justice for all victims of trade union repression! End the killings!
    Uphold and defend people’s democratic rights!

    Cathy Carpio

    Filipino Migrant Workers’ Movement
    Member: Bayan Canada and Migrante Canada
    Toronto, ON, Canada


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    5 July 2012

    “Home is the Philippines”, Willem Geertman would say whenever asked where his home was. Indeed these words are shared by many among us Filipino migrants here in Europe and in the Netherlands. That these words were uttered by a Dutch national like Willem makes us ponder more deeply about the tragedy of his killing last July 3 in Angeles, Pampanga province.

    We, migrant Filipinos, deeply mourn his death, and strongly condemn the perpetrators of the cowardly act. We send our sincerest condolences to his immediate family, friends, colleagues, and our compatriots back home – the small farmers, indigenous peoples and student, whom he had served and shared with the most fruitful and productive years of his life as an advocate for the environment, peasant rights, human rights, justice, freedom and democracy.

    We don’t know Willem personally, but we, Filipino migrants, share a common simple goal with him – to improve lives. Willem became an environmental, peasant and human rights advocate because he wanted in his own small way to improve lives. We, too, as migrants, are here abroad, because we want to improve lives too, the lives of our loved ones back home. Our goal and those of Willem’s advocacies are closely intertwined. Willem gave up the comforts and opportunities in the Netherlands to live with the marginalized in the rural areas back home, where poverty, unemployment, hunger, oppression and militarization continue to afflict our people. Willem knew that our country is a paradise, yet it is being desecrated, plundered and exploited by foreign big businesses with the complicity of the authorities in the Philippine government.

    These are the same basic reasons why we have been forced to migrate abroad, because we also want to improve the lives of our loved ones left behind, because there is nothing for us under a country run like a big hacienda by a landlord president.

    We may not have the same advocacies of Willem, but we now come to the realization that those advocacies Willem had was his own small way of confronting the reasons for our forced migration abroad. Land for the landless, sustainable environment, respect for the human rights of peasants, workers, indigenous peoples, genuine development, democracy, justice and peace – ideals that Willem shared and worked for, ideals that would ensure there would be no more forced migrations in the future.

    That Willem should now be forever silenced by the evil implementors of Oplan Bayanihan – a US-designed measure to stifle the Filipino people’s just resistance – is one big lesson for us migrant Filipinos – that the oppressing few who thrive on the suffering of the oppressed majority, continue to water the fields, so to speak, that sustain the resistance of the people’s movement for genuine change in the Philippines.

    Thank you Willem for being with the suffering and oppressed Filipino masses. Thank you Willem for your dedication and martyrdom – they teach us Filipino migrants, the priceless and shining meaning of your solidarity, and those of our Dutch and European friends.

    Mabuhay ka Willem!

    Long live international solidarity!

    MIGRANTE Europe

    Postbus 15687, 1001 ND Amsterdam



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    18 December 2013

    Stand up for the human rights of Filipino migrant workers

    Over 10 million Filipino men and women are working overseas on short term contracts because of the abject failure of successive Philippines governments to meet basic economic needs since Marcos in the late 1960s. This in itself is a massive breach of human rights set out in the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights which came into force in 1976.

    In December 2000, the UN General Assembly designated December 18 as International Migrants Day. A decade earlier, on December 18, 1990, the UN adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. Almost 25 years later, migrants continue to struggle for their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    Although a signatory to the Convention, the Philippine government has never strayed from its reliance on the policy of labor export to generate billions in remittances for the nation and to address the perpetual problem of joblessness. In fact, the number of Filipinos who leave the country has steadily grown since the Convention was signed by the Philippines. Choosing this path instead of people’s sustainable development removes an individual’s right to determine their future by removing the choice to stay in the Philippines and earn a decent living.

    Although the current BS Aquino government has claimed that it is making domestic job creation a priority so that migrants can return, the policies the administration chooses to implement make that an elusive goal. Its acceptance of the Bali WTO package will continue to undermine local agriculture, food sovereignty, and industry which are key for jobs and livelihood. It is these very policies that have been implemented in the Philippines for decades that have trapped the Philippines in a chronic economic crisis, and in a cycle of deficit and mounting debt. It has created the kind of impoverishment that forces individuals to migrate out of necessity and desperation despite the heavy financial, physical and emotional cost to themselves and their families.

    At the same time, the Philippine government has done little to protect the rights of migrants who face slave-like work conditions, sexual abuse, and human trafficking among other abuses. Doing so would undermine the image they are trying to promote of a cheap, subservient workforce available to fuel worldwide industries, work in the fields, run ships, and fill service jobs. It would put at risk the mirage of a stable and growing investor-friendly market which, in reality, is being propped up by the billions remitted yearly by Filipino migrants.

    It is within this context that the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines stand with migrants who are challenging the anti-people model of “migration for development” and “managing migration”. This false model was called into question most recently at the Fourth International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR4). Through this model of “migration for development”, governments are happily passing the responsibility and burden of financing development onto migrants’ shoulders. They are abdicating their responsibility to create people-centered development in their respective countries, which is impossible to achieve within the neoliberal framework.

    As has been the case with the human rights crisis in the Philippines, the government is unwilling to address the landlessness and joblessness that is at the root of the crisis and promotes shallow resolutions which at the end ultimately benefit the elite and maintain the status quo. We are acutely aware that the vast majority of human rights violations in the Philippines have been committed against individuals and communities who are doing what the Philippine government has refused to do in addressing landless and joblessness.

    ICHRP stands hand in hand with migrants in the Philippines for the right to people-centered development. We stand and fight with migrants struggling for a future where there exists opportunities for a just and humane way to sustain their basic needs and to flourish. We stand for the right to organize against the economic and political forces that are behind forced migration and the human rights crisis in the Philippines.


    Canon Barry Naylor
    Chairperson, Global Council
    International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)
    Office: +44 (0) 116 261 5371
    Mobile: +44 (0) 775 785 3621

    Peter Murphy
    General Secretary, Global Council
    International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)
    Mobile: +61 418312301

    Katrina Abarcar
    Member, Global Council
    International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)


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