The United Filipino Organization is clueless as to who may have started the text boycott campaign against Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Juan T. Guerrero's businesses following the latter's strong objection to federalization.
“We asked around but we can't determine who or what group issued that text campaign,” said UFO co-chair Ed Reyes.
He said that, while he respects everyone's freedom of speech, he said guest workers, particularly Filipino workers, may want to take it easy on the subject.
“I understand that some [guest workers] may be frustrated and impatient with what's happening but let's take it easy. Let's try not to get involved in any business boycott,” he said in an interview yesterday.
Reyes said a boycott campaign against any local business would eventually hurt fellow guest workers.
“I'm not taking sides but I think that we should consider the employees who would be affected by any boycott,” he said.
He cited that Herman's Bakery employs about 30 Filipinos, and some of them have been on island for 10 years or more. He said some Herman's Bakery employees have expressed fear about the boycott threat.
Western Union also employs a significant number of Filipinos, as in the case of other businesses ran by Guerrero.
Reyes said he believes that Guerrero is not against Filipinos or nonresident workers per se-as shown by his public support for some Filipino activities such as the annual Pistang Pinoy.
“He [Guerrero] personally attends our events. He has been supportive of our activities. He also employs a lot of Filipinos,” said Reyes.
Earlier, Guerrero who is currently in Washington D.C. to oppose the federalization bill pending at the U.S. Senate, said his position reflects that of the Chamber.
“Don't shoot the messenger,” he appealed in an interview.
The text campaign, which started Tuesday this week, was apparently launched by certain nonresident workers who reacted to Guerrero's staunch position against federalization.
The text goes: “owner of Western Union & Hermans Bakery is against federal takeover! Do not patronize his business!!! Pass txt pls.”
A week ago, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce issued its position on S. 1634 or the CNMI federalization bill pending at the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The chamber opposes the proposed granting of resident status to long-term nonresident workers in the CNMI, among others. The Chamber said the prior years should not count toward the residency status of these workers. Instead, any claim of residency status should be counted beginning on the day when such a bill is signed into law.
The federal immigration bill, S. 1634, or the NMI Covenant Implementation Act, aims to grant qualified nonresident workers in the CNMI a status that would allow them to travel, work, and study in the U.S.
Eligible workers would be those who have lawfully resided in the CNMI for “at least five years prior to the date of enactment of this Act and who apply, during a one-time limited window, to be indefinite non-immigrant CNMI residents.”
The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chaired by Democrat Senator Jeff Bingaman held a public hearing on the bill last night.
The proposed measure allows the federal government to take over immigration in the CNMI and to handle its guest workers program.
The bill seeks to eliminate the guest worker program within 10 years or no later than Dec. 31, 2017.