Global alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and families Migrante International today expressed outrage with the Philippine embassy in Japan over Ambassador Manolo Lopez’ latest statement that it has no budget for airfare for Filipinos who want to go home in light of the multiple calamities that continue to hit the country.
Philippine Ambassador for Japan Manolo Lopez released the statement following clamor from Filipinos in Japan who wish to be evacuated and repatriated to the Philippines. In the same breath, however, Lopez called for the evacuation of embassy personnel and their dependents in Tokyo amid panic rising due to looming nuclear meltdowns, enraging further Migrante and its members in Japan.
$883M in OFW remittances from Japan
According to Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, the Philippine embassy’s statement is “unacceptable if not incredible” considering that OFW remittances from Japan surpassed those from other Asian nations, which comprised 12 percent of total OFW remittances in 2010. Remittances from Japan peaked at $883 million last year.
“Ang taas ng kinikita ng gobyerno mula sa mga OFW sa Japan at tapos ngayon ang sasabihin ay walang pondo para sa kanila? One thing that summarizes the Philippine government’s response to the plight of our OFWs in distress these past few months is its ‘betrayal and criminal neglect’ of our OFWs in times of crisis and emergency. Una sa Libya, wala na raw silang magagawa. Ngayon naman sa Japan, wala raw silang pera. What do they expect OFWs and their families to do? Just accept their ineptitude and insensitivity and expect nothing from them?” Martinez said.
Ire of OFWs in Japan
Meanwhile, Lopez’s unilateral decision to evacuate embassy personnel and their dependents in Tokyo got the ire of OFWs in Japan who are grappling to help more than 6,500 directly-affected compatriots in the northeastern part of the country.
“This is the most silly and heartbreaking news we’ve heard so far, especially coming from the highest official of the Philippine Embassy,”said Migrante-Japan spokesperson Nestor Puno.
“Amid all the efforts of the Filipino community, many of us operating our Sagip Migrante Centers in Nagoya and Tokyo almost 24 hours daily, we could not fathom this very serious act of betrayal and cowardice and utter lack of concern and respect for our distraught kababayans, many of whom may still be trapped, injured or dying. Lopez is clearly running away from us, betraying his Constitutional duty to help and protect us, especially in grave times like this,” Puno said.
Puno said that the Philippine embassy in Tokyo is “a bunch of useless, insensitive and inept officials who sleep while on duty, exact heavy financial burden on us and betray us in times of our needs.”
“We will not allow this kind of betrayal to happen while everybody is caught in the middle of efforts to secure the safety and security of every single Filipino in Japan. Even while we are very busy assisting victims and their anxious families back in the Philippines, we call on the Department of Foreign Affairs and President Aquino to immediately recall Lopez for his recent decision is detrimental to the overall safety and well being of our people. We do not want him here anymore because he spells danger to all of us,” Puno said.
Puno said that Lopez does not fit the job and he should be the one immediately repatriated. “We do not want him here anymore because he puts the life of every Filipino in serious danger.”
Martinez said that Migrante International supports Migrante-Japan’s demand for Lopez’ recall.
Tomorrow, March 17, Migrante and its chapters will mark Flor Contemplacion’s 16th death anniversary with a big protest rally against the Aquino government’s betrayal and neglect of OFWs. ###