On the event of Flor Contemplacion’s 17th death anniversary, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) led by Migrante International held a rally at the Mendiola Bridge to protest US wars of aggression and deployment of troops in the Asia Pacific region, including the Philippines.
Migrante International, a global alliance of overseas Filipinos and families, also condemned the Aquino government’s puppetry and subservience to US dictates on the country’s political and economic affairs, imperiling migrant workers and the Filipino people.
With them were returned women OFWs who were recently repatriated from Syria. The OFWs, who recently formed an alliance called “OFW Survivors from Syria”, recounted their traumatic experiences in war-torn Syria and their criticisms of the Philippine government’s slow action and lack of system in its repatriation efforts in Syria.
They called on US-NATO forces to get out of Syria, fearing for the lives of OFWs who are still there. Last February 24, an OFW was killed in Homs during an ambush attack. Twenty-three-year-old Meran Prieira Montezor, a native of Camarines Sur, died along with her employer’s child when unidentified gunmen opened fire on the car they were riding.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of our fellow Filipino in Syria. We condemn the escalating violence being instigated and aggravated by US-NATO troops and rebels funded by imperialist forces. It is high time that the Aquino regime reviews it foreign policy of staunch support of US wars of aggression and deployment of US troops,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.
“Kailangang magkaisa ang mga migrante at pamilya laban sa panghihimasok ng mga tropang Kano saanman sa mundo. Kung hindi mga abuso, karahasan at gera ang dulot ng mga ito – at laging nanganganib ang buhay ng ating mga migranteng Pilipino saanman sa mundo,” he said.
Martinez said that as they continue to call for more active and systematic repatriation efforts, they are also calling on the Aquino administration to take a position condemning the impending US-NATO military intervention in Syria. “Our government’s support for US wars of aggression and deployment of US troops continues to endanger the lives of thousands and thousands of Filipinos in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Iraq and wherever else they wound want to strike,” he said.
Martinez further criticized the Aquino administration’s continuous intensification of its labor export policy despite escalating violence and conflicts in the Middle East-North Africa region and the worsening global economic crisis.
“Nothing short of the reversal of the present system will put an end to forced migration. Past and present experiences have revealed the bankruptcy of the labor export policy. What the Aquino administration needs to address is genuine land reform and national industrialization so that Filipinos do not have to leave their families and homeland at great risks and difficulties abroad,” Martinez said. There are already some 12 million overseas Filipino workers around the world. An estimated 4,500 OFWs leave daily to work abroad.
“For as long as there is landlessness, no domestic jobs are available, and prices continue to soar sky-high, Filipinos will be forced to seek employment abroad despite the ongoing global economic crisis that continues to displace thousands of OFWs or place them in imminent danger or war. It’s a never-ending vicious cycle that will only end if fundamental reforms are in place,” Martinez said.###