Overseas alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International today welcomed Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle’s sincere concern for the plight of migrants and refugees.
In his address delivered before the Filipino-American community at Fordham University in New York last week, Tagle said that the Church “must lead in viewing migrants and refugees beyond numbers and beyond categorization, towards a recovery of the full human dimension of their condition.”
According to Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, Tagle’s latest statement is a significant recognition of the Catholic Church’s role in addressing the plight of migrants and their families. Cardinal Tagle is a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants.
“We are very glad that Cardinal Tagle continues to take on the cudgels for our poor countrymen, especially our migrant workers. His acknowledgement of the phenomenon of ‘forced migration’ is a huge step forward in the Church’s view of the situation of our overseas Filipino workers. We are willing to work with Cardinal Tagle, especially in the urgent matter of addressing the root causes of forced migration in the country resulting in massive deployment of OFWs abroad and social costs of migration,” Martinez said.
He said that they agree fully with Tagle in the view that forced migration can only be resolved if factors such as poverty, unemployment, landlessness, conflicts, hazards and disasters are decisively addressed by the Philippine government.
Martinez also urged Cardinal Tagle to call the attention of the BS Aquino government for its implementation of a more aggressive and anti-migrant labor export policy.
Under Aquino, the number of OFWs deployed daily has risen from 2,500 in 2010 to 4,884 in 2012. Last year, Aquino has breached the two (2) million mark in deployment of OFWs for a year, the highest record in history.
Migrante International estimates that some 15 million OFWs, documented and undocumented, are currently outside the country. “Poverty, unemployment, landlessness and lack of social services feed on the desperation of our people, forcing them to migrate and risk unstable and dangerous conditions abroad,” he said.
“We hope that Cardinal Tagle can help us give voice to the growing number of faceless and voiceless OFWs who continue to call for justice, rights and welfare, and protection. His statements give testament to the growing inequality and injustice in the country. Only through genuine land reform and national industrialization can forced migration be curbed,” Martinez said.
Martinez said that Tagle’s recent statement will prove instrumental in the framework-setting of the upcoming Church Witnessing With Migrants (CWWM) International Conference on May 11-12, 2014 which will be held in Sweden. The said conference will be attended by representatives from the Catholic Church, Protestant and Christian churches, as well as various stakeholders in the migrants’ sector. ###