Joint Statement by Overseas Filipinos
October 10, 2022
We migrant Filipinos and our families give President Bongbong Marcos a failing grade after his first 100 days in office. After bragging about winning the votes of overseas Filipinos in most countries, he not only has failed to address our pressing concerns, but has continued policies that worsen our plight. As a president, he acts like the spoiled brat son of an autocrat that he is, addicted to parties and insensitive to people’s poverty and suffering.
(1) Marcos has continued the government’s abandonment of OFWs and its criminal neglect of our concerns.
— In his talks with Indonesian president Joko Widodo, Marcos did not seek executive clemency for jailed human trafficking victim Mary Jane Veloso.
— Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia demanding to get their unpaid wages and end-of-service benefits still do not receive any support from the government.
— Victims of human trafficking in Syria may have been repatriated, but the illegal recruiters have not been punished and the government has not provided aid.
— OFWs and their families in the Philippines find it hard to comply with the complicated, red-taped processes in accessing benefits from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
— In Europe, Philippine embassies refuse to attend to the needs of victims of human trafficking unless the DFA gives the go signal to do so.
— OFWs in Hongkong, Thailand and South Korea have yet to receive the government’s pandemic-period assistance, not even those who got sick with COVID-19 and lost salaries and incurred medical costs.
— In Hongkong and other countries, OFWs with finished contracts face insecurity at getting another job or contracts, but the Philippine Overseas Labor Office or POLO and OWWA do not give them any assistance.
— In Saudi Arabia, an increasing number of OFWs affected by the Saudization program are left by the government to fend for themselves.
— The Philippine government is making it more difficult for family members to visit OFWs in the United Arab Emirates, setting high wages as requirement and taking a long time to verify OFWs’ contracts.
— In Qatar, OFWs facing forced vacation, mass layoffs, increased cost of living, and snail-paced bureaucratic processes do not receive any help from the Philippine government.
— Migrant organizations in the Philippines have been requesting a dialogue with the Department of Migrant Workers to raise migrant workers’ concerns but they are being given the cold shoulder.
(2) Marcos has continued the treatment of OFWs as milking cows, squeezing state exactions out of OFWs.
— Government has imposed mandatory membership in PhilHealth, the Social Security System, and Pag-IBIG, and continues to require insurance for OFW. This, despite the fact that Philhealth is useless to OFWs because they can’t use it abroad. Requiring them to buy insurance means the government is abdicating its duty to help them in times of calamity.
— Various fees are still being asked of OFWs wanting to secure an Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC.
(3) Marcos has done nothing to alleviate the worsening economic crisis in the country except push for the intensification of the Labor Export Program. The peso is plunging to historic lows, inflation is soaring high as the prices of basic commodities become more prohibitive for the majority, foreign debt is ballooning, and unemployment continues to rise. The government is doing nothing as agriculture deteriorates further and industrialization further fades away from the country’s development plan. Since unemployment continues to rise and no decent job opportunities are available at home, the current government, like the first Marcos administration, is brokering labor as a strategic response.
(4) Marcos has presided over the red-tagging of migrant organizations and personalities to repress migrants’ right to speak. Even as National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos has publicly opposed red-tagging, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) continues to red-tag migrant organizations, particularly those in Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, The Netherlands, France, Italy, Austria, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Its objective remains the same: to prevent migrants and other marginalized sectors from speaking out, claiming their rights, and demanding government action on various issues.
(5) Marcos has promoted fake news about the present and revisionism about the past. The government keeps attacking those thinking critically about current affairs, demanding that those who remember the dictatorship move on. At the same time, for most of the population, it dishes out fake news and historical revisionism. It claims that the country’s prospects for development are rosy even as it insists that Marcos’ Martial Law was a golden age — both are self-serving lies offensive to Filipinos who suffered then and who suffer now.
We OFWs, migrant Filipinos and our families remember that it was Ferdinand Marcos Sr who started the country’s Labor Export Policy in 1974. In a brazen move in 1982, he signed Executive Order No. 857, forcing OFWs to “remit regularly a portion of his foreign exchange earnings to his beneficiary in the Philippines through the Philippine banking system.” LEP, forced remittance and state exactions, and Marcos’ policies on OFWs, as well as the dictatorship’s general policies, left us OFWs, migrants and our families no option but to wage a struggle against the dictatorship. We contributed to the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship — and this must serve as a warning to the current Marcos government.
Marcos’ first 100 days in office shows us OFWs, migrant Filipinos and our families that we cannot put our future in his hands. We cannot rely on him to uphold our rights and interests, and he is not even trying nor pretending to do so. He is just busy partying and bumbling at his stint as the country’s president.
We the undersigned organizations of OFWs, migrant Filipinos and our families, unite in our stand and will continue to unite and act to help each other out and demand government action on our concerns.
MIGRANTE – PHILIPPINES
Jeddah Filipino Society
MIGRANTE – KSA
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Migrante – UAE
Angat Buhay UAE Volunteers
Gabriela Aotearoa NZ
Migrante – Japan
KAFIN Saitama – Migrante
Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Manggagawang Migrante sa Korea (KASAMMAKo)
Pag-iribang Bicolnon in Korea New Era Foundation
Abra Migrant Workers Welfare Association
Association of Concerned Filipinos
Likha Filipino Migrants Cultural Organization
Migrante Artista ng Bayan
Migrante Tsing Yi
Mission Volunteers (MOVERS)
Cuyapo OFW Association Hong Kong
Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers Union
Filipino Migrants Association (FMA)
Migrante Tsuen Wan
Migrante Yuen Long
Pangasinan Organization for Welfare and Rights (POWER)
Pinatud A Saleng Ti Umili
Gabriela Hong kong Bank Chapter
Filguys- Gabriela Association
Gabriela CHATER ROAD Chapter
Filipino Women Migrant Association (FILWOM)
Filipino Lesbian Organization (FILO- HK)
GABRIELA Hong Kong
Filipino Migrant Workers Union (FMWU)
BAYAN Hong Kong and Macau
United Filipinos in HK (Unifil Migrante-HK)
Promotion of Church peoples Response (PCPR HK)
Mamamayang Liberal, Tess Oleta
UMANGAT – Migrante Italy
Ugnayang Pilipino sa Belgium
Gabriela – Germany
Pilipinong Migrante sa Barrie
Migrante – USA
BAYAN – USA
MALAYA – USA