OFWs and families took to the streets alongside workers and other sectors to join the calls for an end to all forms of contractualization and neoliberal attacks on the working class, to junk DOLE Secretary Bello’s Department Order 168, and for a legislated, across-the-board, national minimum wage of P750/day for the private sector and P16,000/month for government employees.
“Packaged as the solution to workers’ problems, Bello’s DO 168 is sugarcoated to hide the Department’s real intention to not eliminate but instead, to intensify and legitimize the already rampant problem of contractualization. Justifying the existence of recruitment agencies, the DO liberates the employers’ obligation under permanent employer-employee relationships on which Philippines and international labor laws are based,” Mic Catuira, Migrante’s Acting Secretary-General said.
During his campaign period, President Duterte firmly stood his ground that contractualization must be put to a stop, even ordering that an “end on endo” must be achieved by the yearend of 2016, a move that was widely welcomed even from overseas. After six months in his office, contractualization remains rampant, and will continue to do so with Secretary Bello’s new Department Order.
“We are expecting more or less 350,000 Filipino migrants to be deported or repatriated immediately in light of the ongoing economic crisis in the Middle East and looming mass deportations of undocumented migrants in the USA and Malaysia. They are to return to their home country only to forcibly leave the again to seek decent-paying jobs abroad that they will not be able to find here,” Catuira added.
Under the Aquino administration, the number of OFWs leaving the country increased from 2,500 daily to approximately 6,500 daily. This is the result of massive unemployment, low wages, landlessness and privatization of social services.
“Duterte’s pronouncements against contractualization got our OFWs’ hopes up. We lauded his statements when he promised a better Philippines that Filipino migrants will permanently come home to, a Philippines that will not rely anymore on the government’s labor export policy. This vision of a better Philippines cannot be achieved through intensifying and legitimizing the scheme of contractualization. We therefore call on the President, a better Philippines for us OFWs is a Philippines with local, regular jobs and sustainable wages. We call on the President to completely deviate from the government’s labor export policy and instead focus on creating local industries through national industrialization and genuine land reform. Only through these can our OFWs stay in the country for good. Only these will pave the way for a better Philippines.” Catuira concluded.###