Filipino migrant group calls for support for families of crash victims

Migrante Canada is deeply saddened by the death of four Filipino migrant workers caused by tragic vehicular mishap in Innisfail, Alberta.

The migrant workers were on-board a van late Sunday night, March 4, when an SUV travelling in the opposite direction hit the van head-on, killing driver Anthony Castillon, 35, and three passengers - Joey Mangonon, 35, Josefina Velarde, 52, and still-unnamed 39-year-old Filipina.

Another female victim, a 28-year-old Josephine Tamondong who suffered serious injuries, was brought to a local hospital, and is now reportedly out of danger.

The SUV driver, Tyler James Stevens, 29, of Cochrane, Alberta, was unhurt, and is now facing multiple charges including four counts of impaired driving causing death.

“We extend our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims. We know how sad it is to lose someone in the family. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time,” said Migrante Canada Secretary General Christopher Sorio.

Many Filipino migrant workers in Alberta are employed under the Government of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program [TFWP]. According to reports, Castillon, Mangonon, Velarde, and Tamondong had worked at Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. The unnamed victim had worked in a local cleaning agency.

“We call on the Philippine Embassy and Consulate officials in Canada to provide all necessary support to the victims’ families in the Philippines, including repatriation of the bodies and administering what’s due to them under the provisions of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration [OWWA] and the Magna Carta for Overseas Filipino Workers [OFWs],” said Sorio.

“It’s the responsibility of the Philippine government to provide full support to all Filipino nationals particularly in this kind of circumstances.”

Press Release
March 7, 2012


Christopher Sorio
Phone: 416-828-0441

MIGRANTE CANADA STATEMENT On the occasion of International Women’s Day

Migrante Canada extends its warm solidarity greetings to all Sisters in struggle as we commemorate the International Women’s Day to honour the day of working class women.

One hundred years ago, on 8 March 1908, around 15,000 women marched through New York City to demand shorter work hours, just pay and the right to vote. In the same year in Europe, women also set up strikes, protested against welfare cuts and campaigned for equal pay and unionization.

Today, working class women from across the globe carry on the struggle at a time of worsening global economic and political.

Migrante Canada joins progressive organizations like Bayan Canada and other migrant and women's organizations from host countries that advocate for genuine social change and fight for the rights and welfare of migrant workers, who mostly are women.

Since the introduction of the Labour Export Policy (LEP) in the 1970's—the principal dollar earner to prop up the Philippines’ backward, semi-feudal and semi-colonial system of rule—more than 3,000 Filipinos leave the country everyday to search better opportunities abroad.

Canada has become one of the top destinations of Filipino migrant workers. In 2006, Canada welcomed 171,844 temporary foreign workers and live-in caregivers. More than half of them are women.

Many OFWs in Canada have been subject to utter neglect and abuses, sexual harassment, discrimination, contract violation or substitution, lack of basic services, among others. In most cases, the Philippine government in Canada has miserably failed and refused to address these issues.

The Philippines, which ranked fourth in the top remittance-receiving countries in 2010, earned some $6 billion in 2000 and almost $20 billion in 2009. In the 2010 data, the Philippines earned $21.3 billion from its human exports.

Despite being hailed as “modern heroes” for helping the otherwise weak and foreign-exchange dependent economy, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are one of the most neglected sectors in the country.

The Philippine government recently reduced the Legal Assistance Fund (LAF) and Assistance to Nationals (ATN) for OFWs. As a result, it becomes more difficult for Filipinos who are in death row and to those who are currently stranded in war-torn countries to avail of much-needed legal and financial assistance. Adding insult to injury, OFWs are also forced to pay unnecessary and excessive fees such as mandatory PAG-IBIG contribution, OWWA fees, overpriced e-Passport, PhilHealth and NBI documents.

Furthermore, the labor export policy legitimizes the trafficking of our women and children to precarious and exploitative situations in host countries. Without decent jobs and livelihood both in the urban and rural areas, Filipino women are lured, deceived and facilitated by profit-hungry syndicate recruiters and even government officials with promises of different jobs, good compensation, high wages and benefits.

In the face of intensified economic and political repression, we must remember the historic struggle and victory of the women’s movement as our own contribution to the intensifying struggle of the Filipino people. We will unleash a strong mass struggle of women against dire poverty, corruption and tyranny of the Aquino regime.

It is important that we must continue to strengthen our solidarity globally as we intensify our struggles against the labour-export policy that institutionalizes and legalizes the exploitation of Filipino migrant workers particularly women workers. We must put our strength together to end labor exploitation and violence against women here and abroad. We must stand united in our cause towards a strong Filipino militant movement here and abroad.

Sulong kababaihan, sulong!

Mabuhay ang migranteng kababaihang Pilipino!

Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!

8 March 2012

Maru Maesa

Open Letter to All Electoral Candidates

April 20, 2011

Dear Candidates,

RE: Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Policies

Migrante-Canada, a Canada-wide organization comprised of Filipino TFWs, established immigrants and citizens would like to inform our membership and the public about your position regarding the plight of TFWs across the country.
  • A recent Auditor General’s report found that Canada’s TFW program leaves migrant workers vulnerable to a range of abuses. Examples include TFWs having to pay thousands of dollars to unscrupulous recruiters; not being the promised wages by employers; and being subject to inhumane living and working conditions.
  • In 2007, the Philippines was Canada’s largest source country for immigrants and TFWs combined. Apart from the Americans, Filipinos comprise the majority of TFWs coming to Canada. A recent article came out from the Globe and Mail (March 11, 2011) citing the Philippines as the new “top source” of immigrants to Canada.
  • The number of TFWs in Canada has increased dramatically in the last several years. In 2008, there were an estimated 250,000 TFWs in the country compared to 100,000 in 2002.
In light of the greatly expanding number of TFWs along with the rising cases of abuses documented by Migrante-Canada and other migrant organizations, we would appreciate your response to the following questions regarding Canada’s TFW program:

1. Do you support the continued use and expansion of Temporary Foreign Workers to address Canada’s labour shortage?

2. Given that many TFWs are unable to access Employment Insurance because their SIN is co-terminus with their work permit or their work permit “prevents them from being available for work” – how will you and your party ensure that unemployed TFWs receive the EI benefits they have been contributing into?

3. There are now little or no federal services for unemployed TFWs. How do you propose to address this?

4. Although TFWs technically are able to receive a reimbursement for their CPP contributions when they leave Canada – many are unaware of this. Do you believe it’s necessary to collect CPP from TFWs even when by nature, they will not be staying in Canada long enough to collect this pension?

5. How does your party propose to monitor the situation of TFWs to ensure their protection?

6. Do you support eliminating the 4 year cap and 4 year ban for Temporary Foreign Workerss?

7. Please comment on the proposal for an industry specific, instead of an employer specific work permit.

8. What are your proposals regarding errant employers? How can they be made more accountable and / or be penalized for the violation of a TFWs rights and welfare?

Thank you for your attention to this important issue. All responses will be made public and posted on our website to assist voters in deciding which candidate and party is most capable of protecting the interests of TFWs.

For more information, please contact:

Jane Ordinario for British Columbia: 604-961-7794
Aubrey Makilan Delacruz for Alberta: 403-392-8286
Jomay Amora-Mercado for Manitoba: 204-509-2491
Christopher Sorio for Ontario: 416-752-1210
Sid De Guzman for Quebec: 514-735-8012
Jonathan Almocera for New Brunswick:


Christopher Sorio
Secretary General, Migrante Canada


Migrante Canada Member Organizations: Migrante-BC, Migrante-Alberta, Damayan (Manitoba), Migrante Manitoba, Fiipino Migrant Workers Movment (Ontario), iWworkers (Ontario), Pilipinong Migrante Sa Barrie (Ontario), Migrante Youth (Ontario), Philippine Migrant Society of Canada – Ottawa (Ontario), PINAY (Quebec), Filipino Workers Support Group (Quebec), Parents Support Group (Quebec), Domestic Workers Association of Quebec, Aklan Association of Quebec, BIBAK Organizing Committee (Quebec), Filipino Migrants Organizing Committee (New Brunswick)

Execution of 3 Pinoys underscores crisis of PH labor export policy

Migrante International expressess its deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of Sally Ordinario, Ramon Credo and Elizabeth Batain on this fateful day. The entire Filipino nation grieves with them and comes together in indignation with the Philippine government's failure to save their lives.

The execution of Sally, Ramon and Elizabeth highlights how Filipinos are victimized many times over by a system that continues to drive them towards life and death situations.

Sally, Ramon and Elizabeth were victims of large drug syndicates who took advantage of their unawareness, vulnerability and desperation to earn a living for their families. If anything, their plight and deaths have made the government and the Filipino people aware that for as long as masterminds, operators and coddlers of international drug trafficking syndicates remain scot-free, there will be more victims like them who will be trapped in the unjust situation of being drug mules. To date, there are more than 70 Filipinos on death row in China alone for the same offense.

Indeed, no Filipino goes out of the country with a death wish. When Sally, Ramon and Elizabeth went to China, when the 122 others on death row and more than 7,000 in jails abroad left, they were full of hopes and dreams to provide a better future for their families, especially for their children. Our 15 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), likewise, were compelled to leave the country to seek so-called greener pastures abroad in the absence of jobs, livelihood and decent living conditions in the Philippines. Unfortunately, this crisis of forced migration continues to be aggravated by the Philippine government's promotion and advancement of a labor export policy that has become more systematic and sophisticated over the decades.

These last few months have been grueling times for OFWs and their families -- the execution in China, civil wars and wars of aggression in Libya and looming elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa region, the earthquake in New Zealand and most recently the multiple disasters that hit Japan. Combined with the continuing onslaught of a global economic crisis that is translated into unending spates of price hikes and the Aquino administration’s intensification of privatization, liberalization and deregulation policies in favor of foreign interests, these are arguably the worst of times for our 15 million OFWs and their families.

Through these all, it has become more apparent that the Aquino administration is no different from previous regimes with regard its adherence to the policy of labor export. The Aquino government’s consequent actions and overall economic and political programs bare the sad fact of how our OFWs are being treated as cheap commodities for export. The present predicament of our OFWs are glaring examples of just how insincere, insensitive and inept the Aquino government is in upholding and securing the protection and welfare of our workers overseas, while ironically also showcasing a more blatant and unapologetic labor export policy that exploits our OFWs’ cheap labor and influx of remittances but sadly offers them nothing in return, especially in times of need.

Instead of addressing the root causes of forced migration through genuine land reform and national industrialization, Aquino had further opened up the national economy to abuse and exploitation of our workers’ cheap labor by foreign capital and interests through his so-called flagship program, the PPP (public-private partnership). Migrante International strongly believes that for as long as the labor export policy is in force, there can be no genuine protection for our OFWs. Government programs and policies, through the continuance of the labor export policy, will not serve to protect and uphold OFWs’ rights but only exist to further exploit and abuse.

What our OFWs and their families need during these hard times are actions and programs from the government that would enforce the creation of jobs at home and ease the onslaught of price hikes in order to curb, if not stop, forced migration. What our OFWs and their families need from the government during these hard times are fundamental and radical reforms that would deviate from the government's continued implementation of the labor export policy.

The deaths of Sally, Ramon and Elizabeth and the sacrifices of their families should serve as a potent slap on the face of the Philippine government to work and push for the building of a self-reliant economy to stop labor export and promote social equity and justice for the advancement of genuine national development.

March 30, 2011
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 0939-3914418

Migrante-Alberta’s Solidarity Message to the AFL Conference on Equity

The Filipino migrant organization Migrante-Alberta expresses its support for Alberta Federation of Labour’s 2011 Equity Conference with the theme, “Diversity and Inclusion: Equality vs. Equity.”

We join the AFL, and the growing number of people of colors, in their struggle to make Alberta a fair and just place for all cultures and races of society.

According to AFL, the number of visible minorities in Alberta had increased by close to 40 percent from 2001 to 2006 alone.

It is not surprising that Filipino workers and immigrants are part of this growing visible minorities. Because of the deteriorating economic conditions in the Philippines, many of our fellow Filipinos are forced to seek employment across the globe. This puts them at risk for abuses, discriminations and false promise of better future.

In Canada, the Philippines ranked 5th among countries that export workers in 2009, sending as many as over 29,000 workers to this country. And for many of us, although having already earned university-level education, work as low-skilled labourers in fastfood restaurants, meat processing facilities or in farms as seasonal workers. Immigrants from the Philippines to Alberta placed second, next to China, in a 2006 survey by Census Canada.

We hope that through a thorough examination of the biases and stereotypes that form the bases for prejudice and discrimination in our society, the conference succeeds to develop strategies to improve workplace conditions.

Be assured that Migrante-Alberta will stand beside you in your endeavour to achieve a fair and just society for all workers.

26 Feb 2011

*Migrante-Alberta is a chapter of Migrante-Canada, an alliance of progressive Filipino migrant/immigrant organizations from B.C. to New Bruinswick.