MANILA, April 25, 2011â€”Migrante Middle-East (ME) regional coordinator John Leonard C. Monterona has been receiving death threats due to his advocacy of protecting the rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workersâ€™ (OFWs).
In an email, Monterona disclosed to this reporter that someone has been calling him, very early in the morning, telling him that he would be â€œsilencedâ€ if he would not stop his â€œnoisyâ€ campaigns for the OFWs.
â€œBiruin mo, alas-kuwatro ng madaling-araw dito, tumatawag at sinasabi sa akin eh, manahimik daw ako. Ang sabi ko naman sa kanya, walang personalan, adbokasiya lang,â€ Monterona said in his email.
He said that he tried to ignore that call but there are also some other persons bugging him in his phone, telling him to stop his advocacy.
â€œHe told me, â€˜Baka gusto mo ng manahimik? O patahimikin ka na lang. Napaka-ingay mo!â€™ Pero ang sabi ko na lang, katulad noong una, â€œwalang personalan, kamiâ€™y tumutulong lang,â€ the migrant leader said.
However, this reporter learned that threats against Monterona are not a new thing. Monterona revealed that sometime in June 2008, he also received such threats because of his human rights work.
â€œBefore receiving the first threat, I have just issued a statement and exposed then the tragic tale of a Filipina who was raped in the presence of her employer by four of his friends and strongly criticized Philippine embassy officials who he said did not immediately provide assistance to the OFW rape victim. Pero may hinala na kami kung sino ang nagpapadala ng ganitong mga pagbabanta,â€ said Monterona, referring to some embassy personnel who have been offended by harsh criticism issued by the advocate.
â€œI have bases to believe that the people behind this cowardly attempt to silence [me], by issuing threats, from voicing out the deplorable plight of our fellow OFWs, those [are] the same people whose criminal negligence, ineptness, and indifference are put to the spotlight and public scrutiny in the course of our advocacy speaking the truth,â€ he told CBCPNews.
Monterona, meanwhile said, that he cannot be cowed by these threats and has sent this message to the Department of Foreign Affairs and other agencies involved in OFW deployment:
â€œI appeal to these people to stop harassing or intimidating me or any Migrante officers in Saudi Arabia; instead I am urging them to help us, join us in our quest for justice for all OFWs who died mysteriously, those OFWs [who are] victims of injustice, exploitation, abuse and maltreatment.â€ (Noel Sales Barcelona)