Bello does not represent OFWs – Migrante

Migrante International today echoed calls by different sectors and organizations for the disqualification of Akbayan! partylist.

According to Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, Akbayan! Partylist, either as a group or through its representative Walden Bello, holds no substantial track record of consistently promoting the rights of Filipino migrant workers or overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Bello, Akbayan!’s representative to the 15th Congress and its first nominee for the 2013 partylist elections, claims to be a representative of “overseas Filipinos”. Bello is currently the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Overseas Workers’ Affairs (OWA).

“Bello claims to be a representative of ‘overseas Filipinos’ yet Filipinos abroad hold no affinity with him. Even during his short stint in the United States, he was not part of any OFW advocacy group or migrants’ rights organization. So we ask now how Bello perceives himself to be a representative of our sector?” said Martinez.

He also said that Akbayan!, in all of its years of existence, cannot claim to have actively led any particular campaign or advocacy concerning the upholding of the rights and welfare of OFWs.

“They were silent and remain silent to this day on issues that continue to plague OFWs. They have also not presented a clear and categorical stand against the Aquino administration’s continuous, more rigorous and more vigorous implementation of a labor export policy,” said Martinez.

“In fact, Bello’s short stint in the United States and his succeeding trips and activities with Filipino communities abroad stirred nothing but his and his groups’ usual red-baiting against known Filipino organizations abroad. So how can he claim to represent OFWs when he has failed to unite and be in solidarity with them, their interests, campaigns and demands?”

He added, “His disconnect with the migrant sector becomes more apparent now that he is clearly a mouthpiece and apologist of the present Aquino administration in terms of its policies concerning migrant workers and labor outmigration.”

Migrante International is signatory to the petition for disqualification filed at the Comelec against Akbayan! Partylist on grounds that it has become over-presented and therefore no longer marginalized and that its nominees and officers are not genuine representatives of the sectors their partylist claims to represent. ###