Jose “Call Me, Maybe” Cuisia

Advocates charge that Embassy plays "hard to get" with their assistance to Filipino migrant workers.

Advocates charge that Embassy plays “hard to get” with their assistance to Filipino migrant workers.

Listen to Call Me, Maybe Parody for Filipino Migrants

Not quite understanding the relevance of the nickname?

It was prompted by quotes in Philippine media outlets from Ambassador Cuisia. The quotes in response to criticism directed to the Ambassador  regarding the Embassy’s (in)action around allegations of human trafficking and enslaving Filipino migrant workers by Grand Isle Shipyard:

“Sabi ko meron ba kayong reklamo tungkol sa GIS o tungkol sa Black Elk, sabihin niyo na ngayon, para mapaabot natin sa gubyerno,” Cuisia told the workers. Cuisia said the workers did not report any labor violations, as their other Filipino co-workers claimed.

Cuisia said he left his contact information to the OFWs so they can call the embassy privately when their employer is not around, but Cuisia said the remaining workers have not responded to this day

- ABS CBNnews.com, Jan 25

Ambassador Cuisia said he himself met twice with Filipino workers in Louisiana in November and assured them of assistance should they have any complaints against Grand Isle.

“Up to now, the Embassy has not received a single call or email from any of the workers,” he said.

-Embassy of the Philippines Press Release, Jan. 14

It’s this attitude of ‘tossing the ball in the victim’s court,” instead of being more proactive and “running with it” that the campaign questions.

It’s from this perspective that the following parody of the popular Carly Rae Jepsen song was created.

Stream the song using sound cloud here.

Lyrics of Migrant song to Cuisia

We encourage all J4GISFW supporters to make this song their own – add or sharpen verses, create an accompanying video and just popularize it.

Please leave a comment and tell us what you think…

18 Years After Flor Contemplacion’s Death…

PRESS RELEASE

Migrant Rights Advocacy Groups Picket Philippine Embassy
in Support of Abused and Exploited Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Workers

On Monday, March 18th, the day after the death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, supporters of the Justice for Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Workers campaign staged a picket in front of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. to demand the resignation of Philippine Ambassador Cuisia.

Advocates charge Embassy suffering from credibility and trust issues with migrants.

Advocates charge Embassy suffering from credibility and trust issues with migrants.

Flor Contemplacion was a Filipina domestic worker who was executed in Singapore in 1995 based on what many felt were unfounded charges of murder. Flor became a symbol of neglect by the Philippine government towards overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and galvanized a global network of migrant rights advocates through Migrante International.

“We organized the picket to highlight the ongoing neglect by the Philippine government towards its ‘modern day heroes’ in this country,” declared Joanna Quiambao, a member of ILAW, Igniting Leadership and Action with Women. “18 years after Flor’s death, it is shameful we are still witnessing the same lackluster performance by the Philippine government in protecting the Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino workers and scores of other Filipino migrants who have been abused by their employers and recruiters.”

Twenty minutes into the program, Embassy officials invited the protestors to come inside to dialogue on the issue. The Embassy hoped to share information on their actions in regard to the group of Filipino offshore oil workers in Louisiana who are involved in a class suit against Grand Isle Shipyard for alleged slavery and human trafficking.

“The Philippine Embassy’s press release on the meeting, which basically absolved themselves of any shortcomings, shows a continuing lack of introspection and reflection on their work amongst migrant workers including the Filipino offshore oil workers in Louisiana,” remarked Josef Calugay of Katarungan, a local Filipino human rights organization. “Most troubling to me during the meeting was their insistence that they could not take action or be proactive without formal complaints or requests for assistance from the workers — hence their ‘monitoring’ stance for the past 2 years.”

According to Terry Valen of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and the Filipino Community Center in San Francisco, “The basic issue of expecting workers to come forward to them shows a clear lack of understanding of exploited workers or victims of abuse. We deal with this daily in our wage theft prevention work with caregivers and every other kind of worker. Fear of filing a complaint against one’s employer is very real.  Very few independently approach the government or regulatory agencies, and there is clearly a history of OFWs especially being distrustful of the Philippine government specifically.”

Rally participants expressed being uncomfortable when suspected "undercover" Embassy officials enter their ranks and an Embassy staffer continuously photographs them. Building trust apparently not the Embassy's strength.

Rally participants expressed being uncomfortable when suspected “undercover” Embassy officials enter their ranks and an Embassy staffer continuously photographs them. Building trust apparently not the Embassy’s strength.

Calugay agreed. “It really boils down to the fact that the Embassy faces a trust and credibility issue. They cannot expect someone to open up to them during one or two or three meetings. Trust is earned through your actions and past track record — which must not be as stellar as the Embassy thinks if they can’t get workers to talk to them.”

The picket capped an education drive that the Justice for GIS Filipino Workers campaign undertook over the past weekend that started with a community forum in San Francisco on Saturday and a forum in Washington, D.C. the following day.

“There is a real contradiction between the Philippine government’s role as an aggressive marketer and exporter of its people and its responsibility to protect these migrant workers. One role generates money for the government, while the other one entails spending time, money, and resources – which one do you think they would focus on? In the final analysis, the Philippine government is the number one human trafficker of the Filipino people. The meeting did nothing to change this analysis in our minds nor the decision to declare, on behalf of migrant Filipinos in the U.S., Ambassador Cuisia  persona non grata,” ended Calugay.

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Media Advisory: J4GISFW DC Activities for March 17 and 18

Media Advisory for March 17 and March 18
Contact: Katrina Abarcar (202) 656-0739

DC Community Organizations Host Forum on US Modern Day Slaves -
Filipino Guestworkers Exploited by Grand Isle Shipyard

On March 17 and 18, local organizers for the Justice for Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Workers campaign will organize public activities including a forum and picket to support Filipino migrant workers who have died or were injured or exploited while working for Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS). The attention to the November 16, 2012 Black Elk Energy Co. oil rig explosion, which killed three Filipino migrant workers and wounded several others, brought to light a federal lawsuit filed by former Filipino guestworkers charging GIS of abusive and exploitative working conditions akin to slavery

Verticle banner LA to DC

In addition to being made to work under unsafe conditions, the migrant workers alleged that they were paid approximately $5/ hour for 10-14 hour days with no overtime. Their pay was also deducted $1000- $3000/ month for employer housing that consisted of 4-6 workers sharing a single 10 feet by 10 feet room. Bunkhouse lockdowns, a 10:00 PM curfew, constant surveillance from security cameras, and limited communication with the outside world were also enforced. Workers also endured discriminatory practices from their employer such as restrictions on religious practices and threats of termination and deportation if workers failed to comply with their employer’s strict rules.

In light of the tragic Black Elk explosion, GIS Filipino migrant workers and their families have spoken out against the flagrant abuses and injustices they’ve suffered. Their campaign has garnered national attention and is continuing to gain momentum.

Several national organizations, including the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) , International Migrants Alliance-USA, and the National Guestworker Alliance, answered the workers request to help make their struggle public. They organized a “Solidarity and Fact Finding Mission” in New Orleans in February that brought around 50 supporters from across the U.S. and dozens more from the Louisiana area to show their solidarity with the struggling workers.

In the DC area, Katarungan (Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights in the Philippines) and ILAW (Igniting Leadership and Action With Women), have taken up the call and are helping bring their issue to the nation’s capital.

“It is especially timely to highlight this issue with the current discussion around immigration reform.” states Joanna Quiambao of ILAW. “There is a lot of talk on the need to secure the borders but what about the workplace? In our eyes, it is not migrants crossing borders that are the biggest threats to secure, well-paying jobs in the U.S. It is employers that violate our laws and the rights of migrant workers so they can rake in the largest profits possible.”

Katarungan and ILAW will also be organizing a picket in front of the Philippine Embassy calling for the Philippine Ambassador Cuisia’s resignation. The call highlights these organizations’ view that the Embassy has done little to protect Filipino workers as shown in the lack of  support of former GIS Filipino workers and other Filipino migrant workers in dire need of help in the U.S.

“With all due respect to the Ambassador, when lives are on the line and allegations of trafficking and slavery are exposed, simply dropping your calling cards and waiting for distressed migrants and their lawyers to feed you information is not acceptable,” states Dr. Dante Simbulan, advisor of Katarungan. “As is the case with the continuing killing of social activists and advocates in the Philippines, giving lip service, and taking half measures after deaths have occurred,  is not only reprehensible, it also smacks of injustice and provides little comfort to the victims and their families.  We demand a  leadership that is proactive and aggressive in protecting and defending the rights of Filipino migrant workers!”

The scheduled events are as follows:

Sunday, March 17, 2013
4:00pm to 7:00pm – Community Forum and Sharing, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1525 Newton Ave

Monday, March 18, 2013
11:30 – Picket in Front of the Philippine Embassy, 1600 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20036

** For more information on the community forum and rally, contact Pia Rivera at pia@ilawomen.org**
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Campaign Shirt Portraits!

Photo Credit: Pia Rivera 2013

Photo Credit: Pia Rivera 2013

These folks chose to buy the campaign’s shirt and get their photos taken as a small gesture to show their support for the Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Migrant Workers struggle against trafficking, slavery and government neglect.

Interested in showing your support? Check out the Donate & Take Action! tab for ideas.

Click on image to get a pdf copy of this poster

Latest TV News Coverage of GIS Filipino Workers’ Claims of Exploitation and Wage Theft

Just released yesterday!

Filipino guestworkers allege company cheated them, kept tax refunds

Another great news segment by Brendan McCarthy on WWL-TV from New Orleans — this time about the alleged stolen tax refunds that D&R kept from the workers through forgery, fraud, coercion, and theft.  As the brave FAST members and other migrant guestworkers continue to speak out and tell the truth about what happened to them, GIS, D&R, and other labor traffickers will have to answer for these allegations of abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and now blatant wage theft!  Mabuhay ang FAST!

(See the previous news segments in their “Eyewitness Investigation: Pipeline to the Platform”, linked at the above site and on our media tab, too.)

SF Solidarity Action for FAST Workers: Top Story on “The Real News Network”

Through People Power Media’s coverage, the Solidarity Action in San Francisco for the J4GIS Fil-Workers Campaign is now the top story on “The Real News Network” – a major independent news media source online.   Thanks to Dyan Ruiz and Joseph Smooke for covering this action!

Filipinos in San Francisco Rally Against Modern Slavery

Here’s the new website for People Power Media: http://www.peoplepowermedia.net/