The Second Regional Council Meeting of Migrante Europe was held at Opera Don Guanella, Como, Italy on 19-20 January 2019. The Vice President for Internal Affairs, Rafael Joseph Maramag, chaired the proceedings.
Representatives of member organizations who attended the Regional Council meeting were: Rhodney Passion – Migrante Bologna; Franklin Irabon – Migrante Milan; Mike Montemayor – Kapit-Bisig Migrante; Ann Brusola – Gabriela Rome; Maitet Ledesma – Pinay sa Holland Gabriela; Manuel Singson -Makabayang Samahan ng mga Pilipino sa Netherlands (MKSP); Elnora Held – Gabriela Germany; Kendy Sario -Ugnayang Pilipino sa Belgium (UPB); and Rafael Joseph Maramag – Kanlugan UK.
Also in attendance were observers and personalities from various institutions and organizations, namely: Rev. Fr. Joseph Nweke SdC, Officer –in – Charge Opera Don Guanella Como; Fabbio Cani, Spokesperson Como Senza Frontiere (Como Without Borders); and Don Giusto Della Valle, Parochial Priest Rebbio-Como.
Migrante Europe Vice President for Internal Affairs Rafael Joseph Maramag addressed the opening of the meeting and he presented the outline of topics for the two-day meeting.
Franklin Irabon, the General Secretary of Migrante Milan welcomed the participants, briefly shared the historical background of the venue, its significant role to the life of migrants and refugees, and its relationship to Migrante Milan.
Migrante Europe Secretary General Ann Brusola emphasized the positive results which collective action had brought on her report of mass campaigns for the last six months.
The PLAN OF ACTION 2019
Maitet Ledesma, Migrate Europe Vice President for External Affairs, presented the Communique of the Migrante International 8th Congress | Migrante … ???
Migrante Europe’s plan of action for the year 2019 adheres to the General Program of Action of Migrante International 2019-2021. Major campaigns to be launched for the first quarter of this year are as follows:
1. Oust Duterte
2. Petition and protest against the disqualification of Manggagawa Partylist 3. Neri Colmenares sa Senado
OUST DUTERTE CAMPAIGN
The Regional Council Members of Migrante Europe fully support the call to oust Rodrigo Duterte from power. Duterte’s promise of change to millions of Filipinos was a sham. On the contrary, he is putting the nation in greater misery.
Migrante Europe remains steadfast to the call for ending state sponsorship of terrorism: Stop the killings! End Martial Law in Mindanao! From the start of Duterte’s term until September 2018, Karapatan had documented 196 victims of political killings, 157 of whom were peasants. There were at least 2,000 illegal arrests. Military operations continue to harass and displace residents, with 446,816 victims of forced evacuations and 71,298 individuals harassed and threatened.
Duterte’s bloody drug war death toll could be as high as 27,000 (Phil. Commission on Human Rights). The rising death toll has faced stinging criticism for targeting the urban poor and failing to take down any kingpin drug dealers.
At least 74 minors have been killed in police operations (July 2016- December 2017), notably the brutal killing of Kian Loyd de Los Santos, 17 years old and a son of an overseas Filipino worker (August 2017).
Emaciated by cancer and mistaken as a drug addict, Allan Rafael, 35 years old, a former migrant worker, was detained, beaten and tortured by the police, and died four days later after his arrest in detention.
Duterte is guilty and liable for his crimes against humanity (IPT 2018, Brussels).
Stop the TRAIN! While the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN Law increases the Filipino workers’ take-home pay, it also increased taxes on sweetened beverages, cigarettes, cars and fuel. And although this only affects a few products, other industries that widely use these are passing on the burden of the increased prices to their consumers. Now, even the prices of meat, vegetables, and rice have increased.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), has filed a petition before the Supreme Court to declare the TRAIN Law unconstitutional for being anti-poor and passed in Parliament without a required quorum.
MANDATORY SSS MEMBERSHIP AND EXACTIONS TO OFW
Migrante Europe will continue to oppose all forms of exactions, unjustifiable and excessive fees being imposed by the Manila government, most recently the “Social Security Act of 2018” making the membership in Social Security Systems (SSS) compulsory to overseas Filipino workers.
Dialogues with Philippine embassies and consulates, lobbying, petition signing, forum, and mobilizations in different areas of responsibility will be initiated and conducted.
EXPANSION OF MEMBERSHIP
Migrante Europe has 15 member organizations all over the region, and for this year, each member plans to recruit one new organization for the alliance.
These new organizations will also be encouraged to join the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS).
EDUCATION AND INFORMATION DRIVE
Continuous political education to membership and Migrants Orientation to new members will be conducted. Migrante Europe has a list of resources, including documentary and full-feature films for internal and public viewing that may broaden our understanding of various social issues and concerns. These films, in particular, can encourage migrants to organize and mobilize themselves: Sunday Beauty Queen, Sa Liyab ng Libong Sulo, Lola, Revolution Selfie, The Guerilla is a Poet, etc.
Statements in response to urgent issues and calls will be widely distributed.
WOMEN AND OBR
Programs for women migrants will be implemented. Women orientation and women consciousness programs will be conducted, particularly for women organizations like Gabriela chapters in the region. There are chapter members which are planning to join the One Billion Rising events this year. Synchronized event is on March 8, 2019
LABOR DAY – May 1, 2019 a coordinated Day of Protest.
1. Petition signing to allow the Manggagawa Party-list to participate in the May 2019 elections
Migrante Europe will lead the petition signing in Europe to protest the disqualification of Manggagawa Partylist by the COMELEC and to allow the MP to participate in the upcoming May 2019 parliamentary elections.
The Commission on Elections disqualified the group in December 2018 after it failed to mention in its application for registration that it is “not an entity funded or assisted by the government.”
The 1987 Constitution allocated half of the seats for party-list representatives in Congress to labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, among others, for the first 3 consecutive terms after its ratification.
Manggagawa Partylist is a huge sector of workers including Migrante, transport workers, urban poor (Kadamay), and Kilusang Mayo Uno.
2. Neri Colmenares sa Senado
Neri Colmenares was a three-term Congressman in the Philippines House of Representatives. He has a proven record of pushing for and helping pass pro-people legislation resolutions while in the Congress. Migrante Europe will lead the campaign in the region for Neri Colmenares to win a seat to the Senate.
Colmenares said that if elected senator he would immediately go to work to remove excise taxes from the oppressive TRAIN Law. He will aggressively address the rising prices of basic goods and fight to increase the minimum wage, among others.
On the second day of the Regional Council Meeting, Father Joseph Nweke, SdC delivered the opening prayer and expressed his warmest welcome to the Regional Council delegates and observers. Father Joseph is the current Responsible Person of the Opera Don Guanella Como. The establishment was founded in the 6 April 1886, on the initiative of Blessed Luigi Guanella to assist the homeless, the young and old people without family.
Don Guanella Como welcomes migrants in distress. The Migrant Reception Center (Centro di Acccoglienza Migranti) recently hosted 20 political asylum seekers, and now under the process of the integration program. The center also offers Italian language lesson, skills trainings and professional formation for migrants.
Don Giusto Della Valle, the Parochial Priest of Rebbio –Como, expressed his appreciation to be invited to the meeting. Don Giusto (Fr. Giusto) was formerly assigned in Cameroon, and very much familiar with the problems of African people which are similar to many oppressed people in the world.
He believes that “the land is for all and the government has the responsibility to protect its people. The church believes that private ownership is not important, that our world is dominated by the giant capitalist, that a small percentage of people control the world’s resources, and with this situation, we can understand the existence of migration.”
For the past years, more than 36,000 migrants have died at sea trying to reach European shores. Just recently, more than 60 migrants are believed to be missing after the rubber boat they were on sank in the Mediterranean Sea.
Today, migrants are the center of discussion and being treated negatively. The current Security Decree of Prime Minister Salvini in Italy threatens many migrants. The Church, on the other hand, is welcoming migrants. Father Giusto and his community are involved in education and socio-cultural formation for migrants and refugees. He welcomes Migrante Europe for future collaboration with his community.
Fabio Cani, Spokesperson of Como Senza Frontiere (Without Borders) expressed his solidarity to Migrante Europe and its Second Regional Council Meeting.
Como Senza Frontiere, founded three years ago, is a network that aims to bring together all the issues and voices of individuals, associations, movements, political forces, seekers of truth and justice for all victims of the genocide that has been going on for decades of an ever less united Europe and ever more ”fortified”.
The network adheres and commits itself to change the perception of Italians about the phenomenon of migration by promoting activities aimed at building a world of peace, and by conveying solidarity, non-violent, anti-racist and anti-fascist information.
Fabio encourages migrants and Migrante Europe to take part in this network because it is open to the possibility of deeper relations with other cultures and other ideas. He concluded that peace is not the absence of war, but a matter of justice, a matter of rights. Rights should be applied equally. If not, it is only a privilege for some, but not a right for all.
Migrante Europe delegates joined the March for Peace (Marcia Della Pace) in Como, Italy 20 January 2019. The marchers called `to stop the genocide in the Mediterranean Sea and appealed to the Italian Coast Guard to intervene.´
MIGRANTE EUROPE SECOND CONGRESS
The 2nd Congress of Migrante Europe will be held at Como, Italy on December 6-8, 2019.