BERMUDA-IMMIGRATION-Angry Filipinos pull out of Bermuda Day parade

HAMILTON, Bermuda, CMC – Members of the Filipino community say they will not participate in Bermuda’s Day parade because of recent statements attributed to Home Affairs Minister David Burch.

The Association of Filipinos in Bermuda said the decision by Burch to bring in new visa requirements for citizens of the Philippines, Dominican Republic and Panama as part of the efforts to crack down on women being brought here as prostitutes or as wives in “sham marriages” had caused “untold amounts of abuse to be directed at Filipino women”.
In a letter sent to the minister and copied to other legislators, including Premier Dr. Ewart Brown, the association said a decision had been made not to participate in the May 24 parade that will also be attended by visiting St. Kitts and Nevis prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas.

“We the Association of Filipinos in Bermuda would like to register our very strong objection to your statement when you referred to the Filipinos, the Dominicans and the Panamanians as prostitutes.
“We find this statement particularly offensive as this has caused untold amounts of abuse directed at the Filipino women by some members of the Bermudian community. We can only imagine the same disgusting comments are being made to the Dominicans and Panamanians.”
The association said it believes the stance is contradictory to earlier statements by Burch when he said he had noticed an increasing trend of abuse of workers generally, adding that that sort of behaviour would not be tolerated.
“Due to the derogatory comments that are being made to members of the Filipino community, the decision has been made that we will not participate in the Bermuda Day parade so that our members will not be subject to further public ridicule and verbal abuse.”
Burch outlined the new visa requirements at the beginning of April and as of May 1 citizens from the three countries would have to apply to British embassies for visas with the information then e-mailed to Bermuda’s Immigration Department with the minister then deciding whether or not to grant the visa.

“For some time now concern has been expressed about the ill treatment and the potential for abuse
and victimisation involving nationals from these three countries. When persons want to escape economic hardship, whether it be pursued through a sham marriage or by having a child for a Bermudian, problems do occur,” Burch said then.

He said the Department of Immigration had received complaints and “investigated cases where women have been brought to Bermuda specifically from the Dominican Republic for the purposes of
prostitution.

“There have also been a number of cases where marriages with persons from Panama, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic involved significantly older Bermudian men married to women in their
early 20s …”
A spokeswoman said Burch had no further comment to make on the matter.

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