Struck by the worst economic crisis since the civil war decades, ordinary citizens and foreign workers now find themselves being dealt with the heavy blows of the ongoing neoliberal onslaught in Lebanon. More than 1,000 Filipinos were reported to have flocked in droves to the Philippine Embassy in Beirut to register for the free mass repatriation scheduled in February next year.
On its website, the Philippine Embassy in Beirut instructed Filipinos to submit documents like passport, their birth certificate and marriage certificate to avail of the government’s “one-time” repatriation program. Unable to flee and their travel documents held by abusive employers, Migrante International fears that many OFW victims of maltreatment are in danger of being shut out from this repatriation program just because government-issued papers are not in their possession. We call on the government to ensure that these OFWs be urgently accorded with repatriation assistance.
OFWs coming back to the Philippines will come across a government without a long-term and effective system of reintegration. Like the Lebanese people, Filipinos in the same way are hounded by Neoliberal policies imposed by the Duterte government like tax hikes and dissolution of social services. Only by addressing the roots of forced migration like landlessness and unemployment due to the government’s failure to pursue national industrialization can repatriated Filipinos be effectively reintegrated.
The civil unrest and economic crisis in Lebanon should serve as a wake-up call to the Duterte government in its stubborn adherence to corrupt Neoliberal economic policies that harshly beset people with mounting hardships. Migrante International vows to monitor the repatriation process of the Philippine government as we carry on with raising the pressing issues and demands of our hardworking Filipino migrant workers.