Just a day after President Rodrigo Duterte relished the thundering applause from his gang of elitist supporters inside the halls of Batasan, Israeli immigration authorities swooped down on a neighborhood in Ramat Gan and arrested two Filipino female migrant workers and their Israeli-born children. Geraldine Esta, her two children and another Filipino lady with a baby were taken into an immigration detention centre. Many members of the Filipino community in Israel are gripped by fear as they anticipate more raids and arrests in the coming days.
“Since my family received the deportation order I don’t know what my future will be. I’m afraid of the poverty in the Philippines..” These are the words of a 13-year old boy, the son of a Filipino woman who is fending off deportation orders in Israel. It is remarkable how at such a young age, this boy already has a full grasp of the harrowing poverty that traps millions of people in his mother’s country of origin.
Going back to the Philippines for good is not an option for Filipinos who have chosen to settle permanently in Israel and in other countries. Migrante International regards this predominant view among Filipino migrants as a complete rebuttal of President Duterte’s much vaunted “malasakit” and “serbisyo” programs which according to his claim are being enjoyed by Filipinos in foreign lands.
No matter how bright and rosy Duterte’s depiction of the Philippines may appear, OFWs are neither inclined nor willing to be duped by the regime’s false claims regarding the true state of the nation. Poverty and the absence of adequate social services are some of the numerous reasons why Esta and millions of other OFWs chose to leave the country.
Instead of providing immediate and on-the-ground assistance to OFWs in distress, Duterte is more hell-bent in sprucing up an over bloated bureaucracy right there at the top through his planned creation of a Department of Overseas Filipinos. We are no longer expecting anything good to come out from this plan since we already foresee that its sole aim is to further systematize the government’s corrupt labour export program.
Whatever solution deemed gainful to OFWs and their struggling families, it must start by addressing the roots of forced migration. This can be attained by addressing peasant landlessness through genuine agrarian reform and development plus the generation of secure employment for Filipinos through national industrialization. Deplorably, the Philippines is governed by a loathsome despot whose foremost intentions are only aimed at serving the predatory ruling class.
As Israeli immigration authorities still plan to deport 100 more Filipinos as part of an even wider scale of their massive crackdown on undocumented migrants, Migrante International will continue to closely monitor the situation of the Filipino community in Israel. OFWs want long-lasting solutions and not just mere stop-gap measures. Accordingly, Migrante International not only works to uphold the rights and welfare of OFWs affronted by government negligence but we likewise demand for justice and security for all Filipino workers and other basic sectors.