FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 6, 2014
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON D.C.— On October 3rd, member organizations of GABRIELA USA from Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C., descended on the U.S. national capital to demand justice for over 300 Filipino teachers who are victims of labor trafficking. It has almost been 1 year since the imprisonment of the recruitment agency owner and primary trafficker, Isidro Rodriguez, in the Philippines last November, and since his release last May, he is still at large. “We demand justice and hold Philippine government institutions accountable for allowing such things to happen, as we are still struggling to gain immigration relief in the US and pursue a human trafficking case against our trafficker in the Philippines,” says Janet Gardose, Vice Chair of Campaigns of GABRIELA Washington DC and one of the trafficked teacher survivors.
Last Wednesday, October 1st, a delegation consisting of teachers and other members of the national alliance GABRIELA USA met with Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, the highest-ranking Philippine government official based in the U.S., to follow up on promises that he made for redress in the trafficking case of the teachers. “Despite the several meetings and attempts to reach out for their help for all of the teachers who have come forward, the process in gaining their support has been bureaucratic and unreliable in responding to the urgent needs of all of the teachers and the countless number of Overseas Filipino Workers lacking protections and experience neglect,” says Jo Quiambao, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA Washington DC. Many teachers have already filed complaints to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in previous years and have not received any recourse to pursue an investigation of poor practices or to ensure migrants are protected. The teachers have been waiting for the support of their own government since 2008.
GABRIELA USA members from across the nation assembled to expose the culpability of the Philippine government in enabling human trafficking through the systematic use of the Labor Export Policy. “I’m a victim of human trafficking and I was so scared of Rodriguez because he threatened our lives. For a long time, I was working for $50 for every 24 hours of work, but I needed to sacrifice for my family. I chose to be a GABRIELA member because I was so scared to be alone, and realized that it is important to fight for justice for myself and other victims,” says Rio Cachola, member of GABRIELA, Washington DC. President BS Aquino perpetuates the exploitative Labor Export Policy, which systematically exports 5,000 Filipinos abroad daily without adequate protections, leaving them to fend for themselves while reaping billions of dollars in remittances per year. Exporting Filipinos out of the country to support their families does not genuinely develop the country.
President BS Aquino neglects to develop national industries and engages in unequal U.S.-imperialist policies, which does not create nearly enough jobs for Filipinos to have a choice to stay home with their families and aggravates the problem forced migration. President Barack Obama continues to impose policies with President BS Aquino, such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, and they have also discussed having the Philippines join the Trans Pacific Partnership, which sacrifices national sovereignty and subjugates the Philippine politics and economy to foreign will. “Such policies will only exacerbate forced migration in the coming years and will further enable human trafficking without addressing the root causes of forced migration and the lack of protections of migrant workers,” concludes Tina Shauf, Campaigns Officer of GABRIELA USA. Additionally, as migrants arrive in the U.S., they are criminalized for their presence despite their victimization as trafficked victims and the important jobs they occupy in the American economy. Filipino trafficked teachers are both pushed out of their country and pulled into a web of problematic issues in the U.S.
The contingent concluded the program with a dance in front of the embassy to celebrate the collective strength it is taking to demand justice, dignity and respect for the teachers. GABRIELA USA demands justice for Filipino trafficked teachers directly from the Aquino administration and urge the Philippine Embassy to support all the teachers in pursuing a human trafficking case with an expedited process of their T-Visas to provide immigration relief.
BS Aquino: Trafficker In Chief!
Immigration Relief for Trafficked Teachers NOW!