A Primer on Human Trafficking and the Florida 15 Case

prepared by: Anakbayan NJ

What is Human Trafficking?

The crime of human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.

Human trafficking victims are found in all legitimate and illegitimate labor sectors, including sweat shops, agricultural fields, restaurants, hotels, massage parlors, and domestic service.

If you have been forced or deceived into working against your will and are unable or afraid to leave employment, you may be a victim of trafficking.

Violence is often present in human trafficking situations, but exploitation can occur without physical violence and traffickers often use subtle methods of coercion to induce fear and exert power over their victims.

Are Filipinos at risk for human trafficking?

Yes. Filipinos are at risk for human trafficking due to the semi-feudal, semi-colonial Philippine society, where conditions of landlessness, joblessness, low wages, and contractualization are prevalent. The Philippines’ government-facilitated Labor Export Policy (LEP) [learn more about LEP here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SNE5ZphHYo] and the culpability of its various departments such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) have dealings with foreign recruiters undertaking labor trafficking operations.

Are there any known human trafficking cases of Filipinos in the US?

Yes. One case that has surfaced recently is that of the Florida 15, or F15. In this case, a group of 15 Filipino workers were recruited by the San Villa Ship Management Co. (Philippine-based) between 2008-2009 to work at the W Hotel in Miami, Florida as housekeepers and managers. Here are the facts of their case:

  • The workers were required to pay up to $7000 each for placement fees
  • While working at the hotel, their payrate was supposed to be $16-17 per hour, but the agency only gave them $6 per hour without overtime bonus
  • Many were paid only once a month and paychecks were issued very late
  • The agency failed to renew their H2-B visas without the workers’ knowledge leading them to overstay in the US without proper documentation
  • Because of their immigration status, some were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency and are pending deportation
  • San Villa has played deaf to their pleas for help and appeal to work-out their visas
  • All 15 workers have left their employer in Florida and are now employed in the NJ/NY area.
  • They are now seeking the help of Anakbayan’s NY and NJ chapters and our allied organizations to fight with them against deportation, against human trafficking, against illegal recruitment.

Are there any U.S. laws protecting workers against such abuses?

Yes. In the U.S., the Trafficking Victims Protection Act is a federal law that guarantees certain legal benefits and services to victims who are in the U.S. because they were trafficked. The law provides several options for immigration relief to be explored with the help of an attorney.

Once an individual is determined (by a federal agency) to be a victim of trafficking, he or she will become eligible for Continued Presence (CP). CP is a temporary status that allows you to remain in the U.S. for one year (renewable if necessary) during the ongoing investigation or prosecution of the trafficker. Once you obtain CP you can also get a work authorization.

A T Visa is a 4-year non-immigrant status that enables victims to stay in the U.S. and assist federal and/or state authorities in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases.

For those older than 18, in order to receive a T Visa a victim must be complying with reasonable requests for assistance from law enforcement unless unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma. A T Visa recipient must be likely to suffer extreme hardship upon removal from the U.S. Receipt of a T Visa also enables recipients to bring certain family members to the U.S.

There are other forms of immigration relief that may be applicable depending on the victim’s unique circumstances. All options should be explored with an immigration attorney.

What can we do as youth and students? As Filipinos overseas?

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) is leading the launch of a community campaign called the STOP Campaign. As youth and students overseas, in alliance with our kasamas in the Philippines, we can join the STOP campaign which aims to:

  • Fight for the back wages of human trafficking victims from their former employers, including compensation for related damages to their labor trafficking and wage theft cases
  •  Have the removal proceedings against human trafficking victims cancelled
  • Hold legally accountable the former employers of the human trafficking victims by filing criminal charges and maximizing other legal measures
  • Educate and mobilize the community on the reality of modern-day labor trafficking
  • Expose and oppose the Philippine government’s culpability in labor trafficking and criminal neglect of overseas Filipino workers.
  • Encourage and build confidence in other Filipino victims of labor trafficking to come forward and fight for their rights.

Contact us to see how you can get involved! anakbayan.nynj@gmail.com * http://www.anakbayannynj.wordpress.com

Join Anakbayan and be part of the Filipino youth movement in affecting genuine social change in our communities and in the Philippines!

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January 16: Anakbayan NJ Info Session

Time to join the movement.

Anakbayan New Jersey is calling on the Filipino youth of New Jersey to join the growing Filipino youth movement.

Get to know what Anakbayan stands for, why you should be a part of it and meet other like-minded Filipino youth who seek to make a difference in their communities and lasting change back home.

Monday, January 16, 2012

3:00 pm – 6:00pm

Desi Perdesi Restaunrant (584 Summit Avenue, Jersey City, NJ) near Red Ribbon at 5 Corners

For more information, you can call Anjel Baquiran (347)7419722, Melvin Concepcion (201)8923195 or email us at anakbayan.nynj@gmail.com

A Primer on the Typhoon Sendong Calamity

prepared by: Anakbayan NJ

What happened during the Typhoon Sendong?

On Friday, December 16, 2pm, Typhoon Sendong (Washi) landed in the Philippine area of responsibility. Around 2am of December 17, Typhoon Sendong dropped a month’s worth of rainfall — amounting to 142 milimeters (6 inches)– over Northern Mindanao, the Southern most island in the Philippines. It caused flash floods, overflowing rivers and massive landslides.

What Were the Effects of Typhoon Sendong?

Sendong left 1, 403 dead, 1,089 missing, and an estimated PhP 1- billion damage to property and farmlands. Affected provinces and cities are Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Mr. Diwata in Compostela Valley, and Zamboanga del Norte.

It should also be noted that though Typhoon Sendong dropped only an average of 5-8inches of rainfall (as compared to Ondoy’s 15-18inches), the death toll under Sendong is almost 3-4 times more than Ondoy.

What caused such devastation?

An environmental crisis, caused by unregulated large-scale mining, logging and quarrying, coupled with the Aquino (Noynoy) government’s budget cuts on disaster preparedness and other social services created the conditions for such a calamity.

a. Lack of disaster preparation

The Aquino government vetoed disaster preparation in the P 5-B ($ 116.2 M) national calamity fund in 2011, claiming that the money should be spent exclusively on actual calamities”, and not for “preparation of relocation sites/facilities, and training personnel engaged in direct disaster.”

b. Indiscriminate logging and deforestation

Forests absorb water and keep the land intact during rainy season. Northern Mindanao was a land of lush forests and thriving wildlife. Due to this, it became a hotbed for legal and illegal logging activities of foreign companies. 75% of logging operations in Mindano are legal and has permit from the government. An average of 608 sq.mi of forests are denuded each year. Deforestation such as this leads to fatal flash floods and landslides.

c. Mining and quarrying

Mindanao has a landscape rich in minerals such as gold, silver, copper and various forms of rocks used in industry. This is why the largest foreign mining companies in the country operate on approximately 125,670 hectares (a little bigger than New York City’s total area) of land in this area.The destruction of mountains, plains and other land formations, caused by the extraction of precious minerals, this leads to the elimination of natural waterways such as rivers which then caused the overflowing of rivers that flooded Cagayan de Oro and other affected cities.

d. Land conversion

Land conversion refers to converting vast tracts of arable land to subdivisions and/or pineapple or banana plantations for foreign companies instead of farming land to provide for the needs of the Filipino population. These foreign corporations reap the most profit in disregarding the rights of workers and indigenous people in Mindanao.  For example, an estimated 23,000 hectares (roughly 1.25 times Hudson County’s land area) of upland forests in Bukidnon was cleared out to make way for Del Monte Corporation alone. Rainwater that fell in that area created rapids down to Cagayan de Oro, washing away homes, lives and communities. In addition, displaced peasants and indigenous peoples, victims of corporate land-grabbing, were forced to relocate to disaster- prone areas.

What can we do as youth and students? As Filipinos overseas?

Raising as much funds and other donations are necessary to respond to the urgent needs of our kababayans, and course them through people’s relief efforts such as BAYANIHAN Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation, a project of National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), which works directly in coordination with local grassroots organizations such as BALSA-Mindanao.

We must also continue to deepen our understanding and raise awareness in our communities regarding the environmental situation in the Philippines and the socio-economic factors that create these conditions.  We must come together, organize and take action.

1. Donate to NAFCON’s BAYANIHAN Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Program [ http://www.nafconusa.org ]

2. You can contact us if you want to set up a workshop or discussion at your school regarding the environmental situation and other social issues in the Philippines [ http://www.anakbayannynj.wordpress.com ] , email [ anakbayan.nynj@gmail.com ]

3. Join Anakbayan and be part of the Filipino youth movement in affecting genuine change in our communities and in the Philippines.

NYC Premier of “Sigwa: Rage of Perils and Hopes”

SIGWA: Rage of Perils and Hopes
A film by Joel Lamangan
Screenplay by Bonifacio Ilagan

NYC premiere
Saturday, January 28, 2012
7:00pm

The Greenwich Village School Auditorium (PS 41)
116 West 11th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)

Tickets: $12/each
available for purchase online at brown paper tickets
or by calling (646) 833-8053

This event will be followed by a short commemoration of the
41st anniversary of the First Quarter Storm in the Philippines

Sigwa.gif
About the film:SIGWA (Philippines, 2010), which means storm, is a multi-award-winning film about six young lives caught in the tempest of the First Quarter Storm during the 1970s. Set in persecution, intrigue, torture and betrayal, a bloodstained page in the history of the Philippines. The movie recounts and exposes untold stories of the horror and sins of an abusive regime.

Featuring an all-star cast including Zsa-Zsa Padilla, Tirso Cruz, Marvin Agustin, Dawn Zulueta, and Gina Alajar.  Directed by award-winning film and tv director Joel Lamangan (Mano Po, The Flor Contemplacion Story) and written by award-winning Philippine playwright Bonifacio Ilagan. Both director and writer are former youth activists who participated in the First Quarter Storm in the 1970s and were incarcerated under Martial Law.

SIGWA received 13 nominations from the prestigious 2011 FAMAS awards in the Philippines, including Best Picture. It won the 2011 FAMAS Awards for Best Story, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (Allen Dizon).
sponsored by:
Road to Resistance
Peoples Art: Shaping the Society of the Future

co-sponsored by:
Anakbayan New York/New Jersey
BAYAN USA
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE-Gabriela)
New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP)
Philippine Forum

FLASH Open Mic II Open Mic Fundraiser

Anakbayan New Jersey is co-sponsoring FLASH’s second open mic this coming Friday, Jan.6. 50% of the funds raised will go directly to the BAYANIHAN Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation efforts.

If you want to sign up as a performer, please be there by 7:00pm. Performances will start at 8:00pm.

General Admission is only $5!!

Performers please contact Sean the performer at sean.villena@gmail.com
There will be a 5-7 minute time cap and we will only take as many performers as allowed within the time constraint of the space.

COME OUT, SUPPORT and SPREAD THE WORD.

click this for facebook event page

NDAA WILL NOT QUELL THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF DISSENT AS GLOBAL CRISIS ENSUES– BAYAN USA

News Statement

January 2, 2012

Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA, email: chair@bayanusa.org

Filipino-Americans across the US, under the banner of BAYAN USA, and their supporters condemn the last minute moves by President Barack Obama to railroad the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on New Year’s Eve 2011. In one fell swoop, the White House has not only played a key role in the intensification of political repression in the United States and worldwide, it has ruthlessly exposed its true character of being first and foremost a loyal representative of the ruling 1%.

Threatened by the upswing of class rage and social unrest over intolerable structural economic and political inequities, as recently exemplified by the resilience of the Occupy Movement, the ruling 1% believes that the authorization of the US military toconduct warrantless arrests and indefinitely detain anyone—including US citizens–on US soil or anywhere in the world under the guise of national security will somehow quell growing dissent in the US and internationally by invoking fear. However, history has continuously proven that oppressed peoples readily shed their fear, even in the midst of the state’s repressive apparatus, to fight for the basic right to livelihood and dignity amidst a crisis created by monopoly capitalism, or the over-concentration of the world’s wealth in the hands of a minority elite determined to maintain its hegemonic control.

The worsening of the protracted global economic malaise continues as monopoly capitalism’s crisis of overproduction has spawned the crisis of public debt through its scheme of neoliberalism. While neoliberalism, under the guise of “free market capitalism”, has long-forced semi-colonies such as the Philippines and other parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America into chronic debt and abject poverty, it has now erupted mercilessly against working people in advanced capitalist countries such as the US, Canada, and the members of the European Union. Neoliberalism’s financialization of capital has produced an acute debt crisis in the US that has ushered in record-breaking unemployment, under-employment, housing foreclosures, lack of access to food, health care, education, and other social services for working people in order to pay off a debt not of their own making.

Amidst human suffering, the ruling financial oligarchy continues to tow the lie that it can recover from the crisis by siphoning trillions in public funds to bail out big banks and financial firms to stimulate economic growth, thereby justifying back-breaking budget cuts and austerity measures on working families. In order to seize control of overseas markets and cheap raw materials, the ruling 1% must act through its lackeys in Washington to beef up its military industrial complex by throwing in more public funds to wage endless overt wars of aggression, proxy wars, covert counter-insurgency operations, militarization, and other forms of intervention abroad. In fact, the NDAA was signed as part of a defense spending bill that would allocate over $600 billion more in US tax dollars towards the country’s war machine, now granting it unlimited powers to act domestically. This includes targeting US activists who express solidarity for national liberation struggles abroad against US intervention, as well as support for governments asserting national sovereignty.

The Filipino people got a taste of abusive expansion of military powers, warrantless arrests, and indefinite detentions during the period of martial law under the former dictatorship of US puppet Ferdinand Marcos. But not even martial law, including the illegal detention and torture of thousands of dissidents throughout the Philippines, could stop a growing and fearless peoples movement for democracy and human rights that was decisive in ousting the Marcos dictatorship, reviving civil liberties, and opening democratic space in the country. It was through the people’s fight against US-directed fascist dictatorship in the Philippines that BAYAN Philippines was born in 1985.

It is expected that the minority of monopoly capitalists, in order to survive the very crisis it created and prolong its inevitable demise, will consolidate itself to concoct schemes of political repression to subdue peoples resistance. But this tiny and fragmented front of monopoly capitalists is no match for the broadening united front of oppressed peoples around the world engaged in class struggle for a better alternative. The NDAA and all other forms of repressive legislation will not succeed in quelling the righteousness of dissent for as the long as the global crisis continues. BAYAN USA proudly links arms with working people in the US to build a movement through education, organization, and mobilization that will defeat the NDAA and all other assaults on democracy, human rights, and civil liberties. ###

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BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 15 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org