Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) all over the globe today joined protests on Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s 100th day in office. Members of Migrante from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Asia Pacific, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States launched internationally-coordinated protests against budget cuts on assistance to nationals (ATN) and legal assistance funds (LAF) for OFWs in the 2011 national budget.
According to Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, “For OFWs worldwide, Aquino’s first 100 days in office was more of a nightmare than a honeymoon period.”
“The president himself admitted the budget cuts on his first 100 days report yesterday, despite attempts by the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to cover-up the big, bad and brutal budget cuts,” he said.
Migrante International earlier slammed the DBM’s “spin” to cover-up OFW budget cuts by padding it with so-called cash balances in the 2009 and 2010 LAF. “Palusot lang ito at matagumpay na nailantad ng ating mga bagong bayani. Mukhang kahit si Presidente ay hindi kinayang panindigan ang panlilito at pagpapaikot-ikot ng DBM para pagtakpan ang malaking kaltas sa budget ng mga OFW.”
Martinez also specifically criticized Aquino for the government’s failure to peacefully resolve the Manila hostage tragedy, which affected the lives, safety and job security of tens of thousands of OFWs in Hong Kong.
OFWs in Saudi Arabia shaved their heads in protest, while OFWs from other countries trooped to Philippine embassies or held in-door activities in solidarity with fellow kababayans in their respective countries. Filipinos in Hong Kong, meanwhile, are set to converge in a big protest rally on Sunday.
Here in the Philippines, returned and visiting OFWs, OFW victims, families and advocates joined the BAYAN-led multi-sectoral rally in Mendiola.
According to Martinez, Aquino failed to fulfill his promise to “direct the DFA, POEA and OWWA” to provide protection and welfare services for Filipino nationals abroad.
In Aquino’s first 100 days, he said, no urgent action has been done to address the cases of 108 OFWs in death row, 7,000 in jail and thousands stranded and awaiting repatriation. “Sa halip, binawasan pa ang budget sa kabila ng milyong dolyar na kinikita ng gobyerno mula sa mga OFW remittance at sa milyon pang nakokotong nito mula sa ating mga OFW.”
“The Aquino administration’s budget framework alone contradicts his declaration to curb forced migration by providing sufficient decent jobs at home. Instead, there is not much difference from previous administrations’ framework of deregulation, liberalization and privatization, thus further intensifying labor export at the expense of genuine national development,” he said.
“Para sa mga OFW, ‘zero’ ang grado ni PNoy sa unang 100 araw niya sa pwesto. Kung hindi reresolbahan ni PNoy ang hinaing at mga pangangailangan ng ating mga OFW, hindi malayong maglunsad ng isang ‘zero remittance day’ ang mga kababayan natin bilang pangtapat sa bokya niyang grado,” Martinez said. ###