NZ Migrants’ group to Aquino: Re-channel P50M fund to help OFWs

AS MORE media and citizens’ groups clamor for the Supreme Court to nullify the Cybercrime Prevention Act, Migrante Sectoral Partylist (MSP) – Aotearoa New Zealand chapter called on Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino to spend the P50M fund to help Overseas Filipinos in distress instead of allocating such amount for the implementation of the grossly unpopular law.

“We would like to remind President Aquino that under his watch, four (4) Filipinos were executed in China because of lack of legal assistance and support from the Philippine government on the onset of their arrests.  According to Migrante International, at the time of their appeals, the budget for Overseas Filipinos’ legal assistance fund (LAF) was slashed by 50 percent – from P50 million in 2010 to P27 million  in 2011, when it is clearly stated in the law that the LAF should be at least P100 million.  We urge the President to re-channel the P50M fund to protect and save more overseas Filipinos facing death row,” Francisco Mangulabnan, coordinator of MSP – Aotearoa New Zealand chapter stated.

“Social networking is widely used by Overseas Filipinos since it is the cheapest and fastest way of communication and expressing the sentiments of Filipinos scattered around the globe.  I myself like to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE a lot on Facebook especially on news, cartoons and images with political themes including those that are very critical of corrupt Philippine politicians.  With the new Cybercrime Law, I am one of the millions who are threatened that simply liking, commenting, and sharing something on Facebook that may be interpreted by government to be libelous would put me to jail,” Mangulabnan noted.

“Aside from the fact that many Filipinos have become victims of maltreatment, abuse, labor violations and foul play, Filipinos have also been caught in the midst of calamities, wars and political crises that endangered their lives.  In Christchurch, New Zealand, Filipino nurses were among those who died when massive earthquakes hit the city.  How can the government prepare in assisting Overseas Filipinos who may face similar calamities and wars when it keeps decreasing budget for us?,” Mangulabnan asked.

“Instead of slashing the budget for Overseas Filipinos, the government must increase funds to protect them.  When President Aquino comes to New Zealand on 22nd October, it would be pleasing to hear from him that he had called for the repeal of the Cybercrime Law and had pledged not to sign another repressive law and that more funds would be allocated for Overseas Filipinos needing urgent assistance.  Overseas Filipinos who keep the Philippine economy afloat deserve more protection and benefits, not government neglect and threats to their freedom of expression as brought by the Cybercrime law,” Mangulabnan said.

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