Global alliance of overseas Filipinos and families Migrante International today announced its participation in the upcoming People’s SONA (State of the Nation Address) on July 23 in light of the unprecedented rise in the number cases of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in distress it has handled since Pres. Benigno Aquino III took office.
In a press conference today, Migrante International was joined by returned distressed OFWs, OFW victims of government neglect, overcharging, illegal recruitment, human trafficking and foul play, families of OFWs in jail and on death row and maltreated seafarers.
“They are testaments of Pres. Aquino’s failed promises and empty rhetoric for OFWs. In the past two years, the situation of OFWs has deteriorated despite Aquino’s declarations of improved welfare and services for them,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.
Martinez said that this was evident in the record-high increase in the number of cases their organization has handled in the past two years. “From 1,500 cases yearly before Aquino assumed power in 2010, the number of cases we have documented and facilitated has shot up to 4,500 by the end of 2011. This does not yet include cases handled independently by our chapters abroad,” he said.
Martinez said that for the first half of 2012, the number of cases they have handled has reached an average of 35 to 40 a month. He added that cases they have processed so far have “broadened in scope and widened in range.”
“Unlike before when majority of our cases were either individual cases or cases similar in nature, we have borne witness to a much wider scope of cases under this regime, ranging from overcharging, illegal recruitment, to wide-scale human trafficking and different facets of government neglect. More OFWs have also become victims of maltreatment, abuse, labor violations and foul play than our experience in previous years,” Martinez said.
The migrant leader also said that there was a significant rise in the number of cases they have handled in the past two years of jailed OFWs and OFWs on death row. “For the first time in history, four (4) of our kababayans have been executed abroad, and in just a span of two years. It’s incredible, it’s horrible.”
Martinez attributed these to Aquino’s implementation of a more intensified, aggressive and sophisticated labor export policy.
“Because of the Aquino administration’s desperation to further seek job markets abroad due to the country’s worsening economic situation brought about by its unreformed policies, its only recourse has been to intensify its labor export program at the expense of the rights and welfare of OFWs. It has become more clear that the labor export policy is nothing but a bug business venture from which the government profits, with OFWs as milking cows.”
”Despite his promises and posturing, without doubt, President Aquino is cut out of the same mold as a modern-day slave trader. Increasingly millions of migrants Filipinos are seeing through this. For OFWs, wala namang nagbago. We now see Aquino’s promises and posturing for what they are. Lies, nothing but lies.”
Martinez said that OFWs and their families here and abroad will be holding simultaneous actions in time for the People’s SONA, July 23.###