Sister Pat arrived back in Australia amidst a crowd of Filipino and Australian friends coming from various member organisations of Migrante Australia and the Philippines Australia Solidarity Association (PASA), bearing placards and streamers welcoming her, thanking her for her genuine service to the poor and oppressed Filipinos, whilst protesting President Duterte’s harassment and attacks on critics and those who oppose his fascist and dictatorial rule.
72 – year old Sister Pat has lived in the Philippines for 27 years. She has worked among the poor, the peasants and the underprivileged Filipinos, shared their hardships and supported them in their struggle for survival, dignity and justice. She understood that it is not fate that has made them poor and powerless, rather it is the neo-liberal and anti-people policies and practices of the Philippine government.
Filipino migrants in Australia are amongst the millions of Filipinos outside who left the Philippines to seek a better life for their families. The Philippines, despite being a very rich country with bountiful natural resources and fertile, arable land cannot feed its own people, provide decent jobs with decent wages and guarantee human rights of the Filipino people. The forced migration of Filipinos will not stop unless the root causes of poverty is substantially addressed.
Yet government after government – especially the current government allowed the Philippines natural resources to be exploited by foreign companies and has made a mockery of the Filipino people’s desire for progress, for peace, freedom and justice. Those who fight are massacred, tortured, detained, persecuted, arrested and like Sister Pat, branded undesirable alien and forced to leave our country.
Sister Pat understood and embraced the aspirations of the struggling Filipino people. At the airport this morning, Sister Pat called on Australians to start taking responsibility on what is happening over there in the Philippines.
We are inspired by sister Pat’s dedication, we thank her and salute her and look forward to standing together with her in our fight for justice and lasting peace for Filipinos here and in the Philippines.