FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2014
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
“STOP! STOP TRAFFICKING OUR PEOPLE!” echoed across the United States last Monday, on the death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, a Filipino domestic worker who was unjustly executed in Singapore. GABRIELA USA led actions that launched a national campaign to demand Justice for Filipino Trafficked Teachers. Rally contingents in Washington DC, San Francisco and New York City chanted and spoke out in front of the Philippine Embassies and Consulates. Teachers courageously shared with consulate representatives their traumatic experiences as victims of human trafficking.
Since 2003, an estimated 300 teachers have been illegally recruited and trafficked to the U.S. by Philippines-based recruitment agency owner Isidro Rodriguez. They experienced fraud and abuse in the hands of Rodriguez, and were often abandoned and left to survive on their own, jobless and without proper documentation. Case complaints have been reported to Philippine Embassy officials in the past as well as to the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). Even after several cases of human trafficking brought to the attention of the Philippine Consulate over the course of several years, including cases like the Grand Isle Shipyard oil rig workers, Sentosa nurses, the Florida 15 and now Filipino teachers, the response of the Philippine government to the needs of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) has consistently been inadequate and unsatisfactory.
The Labor Export Policy and unequal U.S.-imperialist trade policies put people into extreme poverty and force them to separate from their families and migrate instead of investing in the genuine development of the country. “There will be more Isidro Rodriguezes out there unless we address the corrupt practices of the Philippine government, which work hand-in-hand with recruiters and loan sharks to take advantage of people’s desperation,” says Tina Shauf, Campaigns Officer of GABRIELA USA. Addressing the human trafficking issue is not just about prosecuting unscrupulous recruiters, but also holding accountable government institutions that enable for this practice to happen all too often. “On the death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, we publicly condemned President Noynoy Aquino’s administration’s neglect and lack of responsibility to its people, and we demand a STOP to this abuse and exploitation!” concludes Shauf.