Sunday, April 8, 2007

Justice for Fely

Greetings friends,
The mysterious death of Felisa "Fely" Garcia, 58, a Filipina domestic caregiver found dead by an alleged suicide in her bedroom last March 14 in the Bronx, NY has prompted the Filipina domestic workers support network known as KABALIKAT, an organizing project of the Philippine Forum, to aggressively seek justice for Fely Garcia.

We mourn the tragic death of Fely Garcia. However, we aim to fight for her life. We will not dwell on the lack of her presence next to us today. Rather, we will fight for the justice that she did not see in her lifetime. We must collect our voices and let our demands for justice be heard!

Sign on the the Justice For Fely Garcia! Campaign! Join the many Filipino community members, here in New York and globally, in our campaign for a fallen sister!

in solidarity,

Valerie Francisco
This petition will be delivered in installation demonstrations to the Philippine consulate beginning on:
Monday, April 9, 200710:00 AM556 5th Avenue New York, NY 10036
Join Philippine Forum/KABALIKAT Domestic Workers Support Network and many other community-based organizations!
We, the undersigned, express our sincerest sympathies for th e loss of Felisa "Fely" Garcia, 58, found dead in her closet by her landlord last March 14, 2007 in the Bronx, New York. Garcia had left four suicide letters in an envelope in the kitchen for her landlord to find. In one of the letters, Garcia describes she faced "abuse and harassment" from her employer, who remains unnamed.

3,000 Filipinos leave the shores of the Philippines daily, filipino overseas contract workers, largely women, are being deployed to different countries around the world to work as domestic workers, nannies, elderly caregivers, among others. On the global stage, our people are exposed, generally, with no rights to protect them.

As the Philippine economy fails to improve under a system reeking with corruption, we can expect that this aggressive outmigration, touted as an economic solution to our homeland's troubles and downturns, will produce more cases like Fely's that will not be handled properly because the orientation of our consular offices abroad is not to help migrants with their basic problems, but help them remit their earnings back to the Philippines.

We recognize that the startling statistics of bodies of overseas workers returning dead to the same Philippine shore they left are deplorable. Often killings and homicides of migrant workers are casted off as suicides by authorities and foreign governments. Without proper and objective investigations, the deaths of migrant workers are forever forgotten. Philippine Consulates and Embassies are more interested in closing cases of maltreatment, distress and death rather than actually offering assistance and pursuing investigations for victims of abuse like Fely.

In the US, Filipino domestic workers are suffering in dehumanizing conditions: living in isolation, lacking contact with their families, often without benefits and sometimes working without pay. These issues have brought about unbearable lives for Filipino domestic workers here in New York and all over the globe.

We lambaste for the Philippine Government via the Consulate and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for never contacting the family in the Philippines about their mother’s death and investigation until 2 weeks after her death. Holding back such information is inhumane and insensitive to the Garcia family.

In receiving a letter of official authorization by Garcia's family to act on their behalf, Atty. Arnedo Valera and Philippine Forum/KABALIKAT have been negotiating for monetary support for the necessary expenses for Garcia's medical procedures, transportation costs back to the Philippines, and other expenditures. Recently, partial support received from these negotiations is covering Garcia’s return home. We demand that the Philippine Consulate stay true to their word and provide full financial support for Fely Garcia!

Acting on behalf of the Garcia family in the Philippines, we, domestic workers, Filipino community members, community organizations, women’s advocates, and allies demand a:

1. full and unbiased investigation from the New York Police Department of all parties involved in Fely Garcia’s death ;

2. complete disclosure of details of the case, investigation and autopsy from the New York Police Department and the Philippine Consulate to Garcia’s legal advisor, Attorney Arnedo Valera, and the Garcia family;

3. total financial support of necessary expenses for Garcia's medical procedures, transportation costs back to the Philippines shouldered by the Philippine Consulate;

4. concerted initiative from the Philippine Consulate to assist the Justice For Fely! Campaign in pursuing a second investigation for the death of Felisa Garcia; and

5. an allocation of resources from the Philippine Consulate to collaborate with local community-based and grassroots organizations to create a long-term task force to research, understand, analyze and support Filipino domestic worker issues.
The Philippine Forum, a community service organization in Queens, is a founding member of National Alliance for Filipino Concerns(NAFCON). KABALIKAT Domestic Worker Support Network is program of Philippine Forum working with Filipino domestic workers in New York City.
To make a donation to the Justice for Fely Campaign, make checks to Philippine Forum, write Justice for Fely on the memo, and mail to Philippine Forum at 54-05 Seabury Street, Elmhurst, New York 11373.
For more information on the Justice for Fely Campaign, contact the Philippine Forum/KABALIKAT at 925-726-5768 or email To get to the Philippine Forum office, take the V, G and R trains to Grand Avenue/Newtown Station in Elmhurst, Queens. Exit on Southside of Queens Boulevard . Walk towards 54th Avenue and turn left on Seabury St . Take the side entrance to the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown.