By Marites Palma
Filipinos in Hong Kong celebrated International Migrants’ Day by handing a petition to the Consulate demanding the abolition of the overseas employment certificate and a halt to the collection of a Php550 terminal fee, “tanim bala,” and opening of door-to-door boxes.
The protesters solidified their ranks by forming an alliance called NO FEE (Network of OFWs Against Excessive Government Fees).
They also demanded the removal of Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina who initiated the opening of balikbayan boxes, and Manila airport general manager Jose Honrado, who insisted on adding the terminal fee to OFW air ticket prices.
The petition was accepted by Vice Consul Fatima Quintin.
Some 100 organizations joined the march-rally from Chater Road to Admiralty.
During the assembly, different leaders spoke in front of the marchers expressing their anger at the Philippine government for collecting different fees from the OFWs illegally.
They said the government only knew how to extract money from millions of OFWs worldwide, but they did not even care for them and neglected their rights as OFWs.
“Sila ay mga bingi at bulag dahil hindi nila naririnig ang hinaing ng mga OFWs, hindi nila nakikita ang paghihirap at paglapastangan sa mga karapatan ng bawat Pilipinong manggagawa sa labas ng bansa,” Sanny delos Santos said, directing his tirade at the Philippine Consulate.
Migrante dirctor general Eman Villanueva said International Migrants’ Day was a celebration of all the fruits of the overseas workers’ sacrifices in fighting for the rights of every foreign domestic worker, just like the successful legal battle of Erwiana Salustiyaningsih against her abusive employer, the recent $100 increase to the minimum wage, and the implementation of an appointment system in securing OEC.
The new system of obtaining OEC ended the agony of OFWs queuing up 4-7 hours on the Admiralty footbridge just to get that piece of paper.
He ended his speech by saying, “Ngayong taong 2016, kailangang paghandaan ang nalalapit na election, kailangang maging usapin sa eleksyon ang mga issue tungkol sa migrante, tanungin ang mga kandidato kung ano ang kaya nilang gawin at kung ano ang mga nagawa na nila sa mga OFW.
“Kailangang magbantay kung sino ang dapat maluklok sa gobyerno sa darating na halalan.”