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Migrante International started this petition to Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and


Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Human Rights Council Branch-Complaint Procedure Unit

OHCHR- Palais Wilson
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: (+41 22) 917 90 11


Dear honorable members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, 

We, Filipino migrants working and living in Asia, the Pacific, North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including our families in the Philippines are calling your attention to the gross human rights violations committed against Filipino migrants by the government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

We are in support of the June 7, 2019 call of the 11 UN Special Rapporteurs for an independent investigation into the increasing human rights violations in the Philippines. Our children and family members have been directly affected by the thousands of unlawful deaths and police killings as a result of the so-called war on drugs. Our organizations and leaders are maligned, harassed and threatened by state forces. We all suffer from the repressive imposition of Martial Law in the island of Mindanao.

As migrants and migrant families, we are also seeking justice for the violations of our collective civil, economic, political, and social rights under the Duterte administration.

In particular, we have been deprived of our fundamental right to have decent work in our own country. Instead of providing a comprehensive and genuine economic program that focuses on creating domestic jobs to end the cycle of forced migration, President Duterte has intensified its economic policy of exporting its own people as cheap labor. In 2016, the Government of the Philippines exported 2 million+ migrant workers to the Middle East, Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa, Oceania, and Trust territories.   

The Duterte government has continually imposed arbitrary and unjust state exaction fees that single out sea-based and land-based Filipino migrant workers who are already in debt even before beginning work abroad. In 2017, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) earned $5 million in revenue from charging migrant workers processing fees while overseas Filipino workers remittances has reached $33.8 Billion in 2018. 

Land-based overseas Filipino workers are arbitrarily discriminated against by forcing them to pay mandatory monthly social security contribution of both employee and the employer, while all other Filipino workers only pay one third of the premium. All those who refuse to pay for these unjust state exactions will not be allowed to work abroad, a deprivation of our fundamental right to work. 

Despite the billions in fees it collects each year from migrant workers, the Duterte government has spent very little resources to protect us and has neglected its duty in assisting migrant workers in distress. There has been no adequate legal support provided to migrants who are facing legal cases abroad. The number of brutal killings and executions perpetrated against overseas Filipino workers in their host countries has increased under Duterte’s watch. There are 81 Filipino migrants currently on death row, hundreds of migrant workers who have died, while hundreds are in detention in their host countries. In particular, we would like to raise the case of Mary Jane Veloso, a trafficking victim and due to Philippine government neglect was convicted and in death row since 2010. And with the case filed in the Philippines against her recruiter, Mary Jane has been deprived continually of her right to testify in court by the Duterte government itself. 

While the Overseas Workers Welfare Assistance (OWWA) has collected $20 Billion worth of funds from migrants, immigrants and their families in need still have to plead for the release of their funds from OWWA. 

Filipino migrants continue to face severe exploitation, inhumane working conditions, physical, verbal and sexual abuse and harassment abroad. Our lives and security are threatened by the increasingly systematic and cruel discrimination, xenophobia and crackdown on immigrants and migrants, both documented and undocumented in our host countries. Despite documented and reported abuses, the Duterte government has not proactively and aggressively taken steps to defend us. 

Sea-based OFWs and fishermen suffer extreme exploitation in the hands of profit-hungry foreign employers using substandard ships flying Flags of Convenience. The government has not protected our Fishermen in the West Philippine Sea against attacks and harassment from Chinese vessels and militias, and has abandoned its duty of asserting our victory in the Hague Arbitration Tribunal.

After working and living abroad for many years, migrants who wish to return home cannot do so without reservations because there is no adequate government reintegration program which we could avail ourselves of, despite the billions of resources we have already contributed to uplifting the economy of our country through our hard work and sacrifices. Furthermore, migrants will be returning to a country where our basic human rights are being trampled on daily by the tyranny of our own government and state forces. 

The intensifying political tyranny in our country has virtually deprived us of any quick, sufficient and effective remedies against these human rights violations. Duterte as sitting president is immune from suit, and the only way to remove him, by impeachment is now impossible after he has gained control of both houses of Congress. Even the judiciary has become ineffective after President Duterte succeeded in removing the Chief Justice by a mere Quo Warranto case in violation of the Constitutional provision that removal can only be done by impeachment.  

In the meantime, extra judicial killings and arrest of Filipinos continue daily. People’s organizations that have for decades defended and supported the rights and welfare of Filipino people and migrants are being systematically attacked through unscrupulous government regulations, red-tagging, financial witch-hunt and other forms of harassment.  

Therefore, we demand an end to the violation of our collective human rights and hold the Duterte government accountable. We urgently plead with the United Nations Human Rights Council to conduct an independent investigation into the human rights violation committed by the Philippine Duterte government. 

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