“If Bonifacio were alive today, he would be at the forefront of the continuing struggle of migrants and workers against modern-day slavery and imperialist exploitation, and the Duterte administration’s betrayal of the Filipino people by allowing the burial of the late dictator Marcos at the Libingan ng mg Bayani.”
This was the statement of Migrante International as it led overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families in the multi-sectoral rally today commemorating the 153rd birth anniversary of Filipino hero Andres Bonifacio.
According to Mic Catuira, Migrante International deputy secretary-general, OFWs and their families belong to the exploited and oppressed sectors. “We are workers and farmers, students and professionals, who were forced to leave the country and be separated from our families out of desperation and poverty, because of joblessness, landlessness and measly wages and lack of social services, because of the growing divide between the rich and the poor.”
Like Bonifacio, Catuira said, Filipino migrants and their families are fully aware of foreign and private exploitation of cheap labor and the effects of imperialist neoliberal attacks on workers of the world. “We feel the effects of the present global economic crisis locally through its effect on our families. Abroad, OFWs have become more vulnerable to all sorts of abuses and violations, such as racism, discrimination, xenophobia in our workplaces and in our host societies.”
Catuira said that the Duterte government’s persistence of implementing the four-decade long labor export policy, which started during Marcos’ time, belies his earlier pronouncements of treating OFWs’ plight as an urgent national priority.
“Instead of addressing the root causes of forced migration through genuine land reform and national industrialization, Duterte had further opened up the national economy to abuse and exploitation of our cheap labor by foreign capital and business interests fueled by the greed for OFW remittances. For as long as the labor export policy is in force, there can be no genuine protection for our OFWs and their families. Government policies and programs, through the continuance of the labor export policy, will not serve to protect and uphold the rights and welfare of OFWs but will further perpetrate modern-day slavery,” he said.
Catuira also called on all OFWs and families all over the world to continue calling for an end to the Duterte-Marcos alliance and all legacies of Martial Law.
“We are here today to affirm our commitment to carry on Bonifacio’s struggle for nationalism and democracy, against tyranny and fascist rule. We call on Pres. Duterte to do away with Marcosian actions and tactics. He must prove himself still worthy of the people’s trust and confidence by holding accountable all human rights violators in the military, police and in government. He must cease from carrying on the legacies of Martial Law by releasing the more than 400 political prisoners. He must put a stop to Oplan Bayanihan that continues to terrorize communities nationwide despite the ongoing unilateral reciprocal ceasefire declarations by the AFP and the New People’s Army,” Catuira said.
The migrant leader called on all freedom-loving OFWs and families to continue Bonifacio’s revolution.
“The struggle of OFWs and their families is not isolated from the struggle of other exploited and oppressed sectors. The problem of forced migration is deeply rooted in the fundamental problems of Philippine society. Our struggle for dignity, rights and welfare, against government neglect and against forced migration plays a very important role in the struggle for genuine freedom and national democracy. The only solution to the problems of the Filipino migrant sector and their families is through system change so that families would not have to separated and broken apart in order to survive. ###