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Different stakeholders have gathered on October 1, 2014 at Sardonyx Plaza, Cotabato City and discussed about the possibility of bringing to the barangay level the documentation and monitoring mechanism that would prevent and uphold the rights of victims/survivors of labor trafficking and illegal recruitment in Cotabato City.

About seventy-five (75) representatives from the community-based organizations, barangay local government units, non-government organizations, government agencies and Sangguniang Panlungsod office have attended the Stakeholders Forum: Towards Establishing A Barangay-Level Mechanism to Document and Monitor Labor Trafficking and Illegal Recruitment in Cotabato City.

Led by Kaagapay Overseas Filipino Workers Resource and Service Center, Incorporated in partnership with the Cotabato City Women Council (CCWC), the stakeholders expressed positive feedback on the presented mechanism.

Barangay local government unit (BLGU) as the basic and most accessible unit of government is involved in the recruitment process of overseas/local employment only through releasing of Barangay Clearance/Certification as a prerequisite document in obtaining passport from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Cotabato Consular Office. However, there was no concrete mechanism that would make the BLGU responsible in preventing the incidence of labor trafficking and illegal recruitment in its respective barangay and/or no concrete information and details that could be use to sue/prosecute the trafficker/recruiter. This is the gap seen with the existing efforts of the different concerned agencies like the present formation of Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking (IACAT) and all other initiatives of government and non-government institutions that aim to eradicate or at least lessen the incidence of labor trafficking and illegal recruitment.

The proposed mechanism would authorize BLGUs to record/document the important details such as name of the manning/recruitment agency with its corresponding contact details, name of the recruiter/agent (if any) and his/her contact information and proof of identity, country of work as to where the constituent is applying for work, nature of work that the constituent is applying for and all other relevant information need to obtain before releasing the requested Barangay Clearance/Certification. In this event, any anomalies of the recruitment process could be prevented and the information obtained could be use in filing a case/complaint against involved parties/entities should there be rights violation perpetrated.

The forum also provided opportunities for the stakeholders to learn from each other’s initiatives that could also help develop the mechanism. Barangay Poblacion 6, for instance, requires their constituent to submit COMELEC Certification or Voter’s ID before a clearance is awarded while Barangay Mother Bagua, because of the extensive coverage of the barangay, requires their constituent to submit a signed clearance from the Purok Leader before a Barangay Clearance is released.

Though the advocacy concept is acceptable to the stakeholders, there were challenges, concerns and recommendations raised that also need to be comprehensively considered by all the stakeholders. (1) List of licensed manning/recruitment agencies operating in the area should be provided to the BLGUs, (2) massive dissemination of right information in every barangay about labor trafficking and illegal recruitment and the ways to prevent it, (3) building and strengthening the capacity of the barangay officials as part of establishing the mechanism, (4) community-based organizations, especially members of the Cotabato City Women Council (CCWC), should accompany the BLGUs in monitoring labor trafficking and illegal recruitment in their respective barangay, (5) a local ordinance should be formulated for the purpose of this advocacy through the office of Sangguniang Panlungsod Member Christina Chua as chairperson of the Women’s Committee, (6) concerns about labor trafficking and illegal recruitment shall be integrated to the current formulation of the Gender and Development (GAD) Code of the city and (7) for the City Government to strengthen local economy and employment.


It has been acknowledged that all the stakeholders have differentiated responsibilities over the issue of labor trafficking and illegal recruitment in the city; that it is not only the responsibility of government agencies/institutions or barangay officials but all the members of the community. In such a way, a good image of Cotabato City is established.

 

In celebration of the National Migrant Workers Month and in commemoration of the 116th Philippine Independence Day, around twenty-seven (27) children of OFWs from Cotabato City and Maguindanao, ages 7 – 12 years old, were gathered on June 12, 2014 at Ummah Development Center Foundation, Inc. (UDFI), Cotabato City as part of the Recreational and Educational Program for Children of OFWs.

The program provided an opportunity for the children of OFWs having access to socializing and social learning among them as they have team-building games. It also became a venue for increased views on their basic rights as children of OFWs as these were taught to them. The program also became an opportunity for developed skills on visual arts as they were encouraged and asked to draw what their dreams are as children of OFWs.

In the end, five (5) children were selected and awarded with recognition and special gifts who portrayed the best drawing and interpretation.

The second set of this program will be for the 13 – 20 years old OFW children on June 20 – 23, 2014 at Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur during the 8th Mindanao Youth Camp of the Alyansa ng Kabataang Mindanao para sa Kapayapaan (Alliance of Mindanao Youth for Peace).


 

In commemoration with National Migrant Workers’ Month, Kaagapay once again launched its annual PaaralangPangkaunlaran: Mindanao Grassroots Special Studies on Migration, Development and Human Rights. This year’s focus is among children of OFWs with the theme, ‘Enhancing Values of Children of OFWs’ which aims in providing spaces for children of OFWs to share their experiences as a way of determining basic problems of the family and the ways to address them.

On June 15, 2013, twenty-two (22) children of OFWs ages 5-9 years old were gathered. Through draw and tell, they were able to express their feelings about their parent being away and how they are taken care of in their absence.

The following are the major points of their expressions as shown in their own drawings:

1) Loneliness and sadness felt of both children and their mother because of separation.

2) Left under the care of father or grandparents.

3) Knowledge on income/money for school or acquiring property (house) as the major reason why their parent(s) left.

Some of the children are observed to have lack of confidence. When asked about their preference whether they wanted their mother/father to leave, majority of them preferred the presence of their two parents because of insufficient care and wrong treatment from the guardian.

 

This intervention for children of OFWs shall be organized everySaturday for the whole month of June with the financial support from Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development (CCFD).

 

12 November 2013

On October 15, 2013, a 7.2 magnitude killer earthquake devastated the Visayas region costing thousand of lives and properties. This was after a two-week long stand-off between Philippine troops and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City in Mindanao that killed hundreds of people and paralyzed the city’s economy and brought fears, panic and dislocation of peoples.

Impact of these two incidents are still fresh in the minds of everybody in the country wherein affected populations are still on the verge of rebuilding their lives when super typhoon Yolanda, respectively known as Haiyan internationally, hit the central part of the country (Eastern to Central Visayas and Northern Mindanao) on 7 November 2013 that left thousands of dead people and billions of destroyed properties (industries to farm) while search and retrieval are still on going. Cadavers of humans and animals and destroyed properties and infrastructures are scattered everywhere in the affected areas mainly in the Visayas region with four million estimated affected population. Victims and survivors left with no option but to survive in whatever ways and means resulting to ransacking of stores and establishments for food, water, clothing and other means of survival. Generally the picture is a total chaos, devastation and desperation and the condition put the survivors in a very miserable situation.

For several times, the government structures and mechanisms that are supposed to be responsible in responding to the needs of the victims and survivors failed to do their duties. Institutions such as charity foundations, non-government organizations and volunteer organizations and among others remained to be the first to respond. Way back on the case of typhoons Ondoy, Pablo and Sendong, the government agencies and institutions were very slow using system installation, accounting of victims, etc. as excuses of this failure. In the case of typhoon Yolanda, after five days, more and more victims are starving to death despite the announcement of the stocks of supplies and donations from local and international donors.

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Ngayong ika-22 taong paggunita sa Pandaigdigang Araw ng mga Migrante (International Migrants’ Day), ang Kaagapay OFW Resource and Service Center, Inc. ay nakikiisa sa lahat ng mga migranteng manggagawa at kanilang pamilya, mga grupo at organisasyon sa buong mundo na patuloy na nakikibaka at sumusulong sa karapatan at kapakanan ng mga migranteng manggagawa sa buong dako ng mundo.

Ang pagpatibay ng United Nations sa Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families noong ika-18 ng Disyembre taong 1990, ay isang paraan ng pagkilala sa karapatan ng mga migranteng manggagawa kahit sa anong bansa at estado ng kanyang pangingibang bansa.

Sa konteksto ng bansang Pilipinas, ang araw na ito ay kumikilala sa sakripisyo at pagdurusa ng mga OFWs at maging ng kahalagahan nila sa ating lipunan. Simula pa man ng panahon na ang pamahalaan ng bansa ay tumataguyod sa patakaran ng pagtrabaho sa ibang bansa ay iba’t-ibang mukha ang pag-abuso at pagyurak sa karapatan ng mga Pilipinong migranteng manggagawa sa iba’t-ibang lebel ng pangingibang bansa; mula sa mga kamay ng mga oportunistang recruiters hanggang sa mga kuko ng mga malulupit at mapanirang amo.

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by camp26

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