Bay Area Filipino Migrants Lead Zero Remittance Day Action against Pork Barrel

(Bay Area, CA) Joining world-wide actions, more than fifty Filipinos protested in front of the Philippine consulate, September 19th, in San Francisco chanting, “Tama na, sobra na! Pork Barrel, i-abolish na!” (That’s enough it’s too much Pork Barrel must be abolished now!).

The action, led by Migrante Northern California and joined by dozens from many other organizations, conveyed the outrage that millions of Filipinos throughout the world are feeling in response to the abuse of Public Funds by the highest officials in the Philippines including President Benigno Aquino III and his personal allies.

According to Edwin Herrera, a member of Migrante-Nor Cal, “Government officials don’t have a plan to uplift the poor and are only thinking of how they can fill their pockets with the funds that are intended for the people. Politicians are using the system to protect their vested interests and those of their partners and close associates. That is an example of why the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer in the Philippines.

As a part of their action, the protesters joined in Migrante International’s world-wide call to halt all remittances to the Philippines for one day. “Every month migrant workers send their hard earned income to support their families back home in the Philippines and it is shameful for these politicians to get away with stealing funds from the poor. We want all remittances to stop on this day to show Aquino that migrants are united against Pork Barrel.”

Members from other Filipino organizations that joined the protest such as Babae San Francisco and the League of Filipino Students San Francisco State held placards saying “Zero Remittance Day for Zero Pork” and “Gobyernong Korap, Mamamayang Naghirhirap”, (The government is corrupt the people always struggle!)

Migrante Nor-Cal highlighted in their program filled with speakers and cultural performances that Pork Barrel is only one example of a much deeper problem in the Philippines. Migrante connects this pork barrel scandal to an over-dependence of the Philippines on migrant labor. Remittances, which in 2012, totaled 22 billion dollars annually is widely understood as one of the main contributions which keep the country afloat despite widespread political and economic corruption.

“Political corruption is one of the root causes that keep Philippine society dwarfed and depressed. These conditions force millions of our “kababayans” to find work abroad, separating us from our loved ones and families. The sacrifice of OFW should not go unrecognized. Migrante-Nor Cal urge our “kababayans” to unite and call for the Abolition of the Pork Barrel and to re-channel such Public Funds to social services, including repatriation and assistance to all distressed OFWs around the world”, Bernadette Herrera, another member of Migrante Nor-cal concluded.
Migrante Nor-cal is a grassroots organization of Filipino workers that fights for the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and Over Seas Workers, in the Bay Area. It is also a chapter of Migrante International which promotes migrants’ rights and dignity against all forms of discrimination, exploitation and abuse in the work place and in the community and resist all anti-migrant policies For more information on Migrante Nor Cal and Migrante International email migrantenorcal@gmail.com ###

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