Filipino migrants in Italy protest “middle name rule”

Migrante International and all its chapters and networks around the world stand in solidarity with overseas Filipinos in Italy in their campaign against the Italian Ministry of Labor’s implementation of Circular No. 29. The Circular was endorsed and is being enforced by the Philippine Embassy in Italy ‘to aid in Filipinos in their integration in the Italian community’.

Circular No. 29 was imposed by the Italian government last October 7, 2010, ordering Filipinos living and working in Italy to ‘drop their middle names’ in official documents ‘to avoid confusion in the use of middle names’. Italians do not have middle names.

The Filipino community in Italy led by Migrante-Italy has long been campaigning against the measure on grounds that no consultations were held; it has caused greater confusion within the Filipino community; and, it is a huge inconvenience because it requires all Filipinos in Italy to revise their official documents, namely, passports, IDs, and as such, an added expense.

Despite appeals and requests from the Filipino community to repeal the measure, the Philippine Embassy implemented the policy. In an overwhelming show of unity and protest, Filipino communities in Italy launched Task Force Circular No. 29, otherwise known as Alliance of Filipino Migrants in Italy, which to this day continues to appeal to both the Italian and Philippine governments to repeal the circular.

Migrante International fully supports the campaign of our compatriots in Italy. The ‘dropping’ of Filipinos’ middle names is discriminatory and disrespectful of the Filipino culture. Through the years, Italy has become a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural nation and this entails the Italian government’s recognition and respect of other cultures. On the other hand, the Philippine government’s acceptance and enforcement of the ‘middle name rule’ also speaks volumes of its one-sided and subservient foreign relations, as well as its insensitivity to the demands and civil liberties of Filipinos in Italy.

It is in this light that Migrante International joins the Filipino community in Italy in their call to repeal Circular No. 29.

Migrante International also stands in solidarity with Filipinos in Italy in their equally urgent calls and demands to the Philippine government to lower e-passport fees and to lobby to the Italian government to allow retired Filipino migrants to enjoy their pensions in the Philippines.

These demands are just and imperative in the midst of a global financial and economic crisis that is affecting host countries in the Europe – resulting in less work hours, lower wages and job loss for many Filipino migrant workers.

Migrante International calls on the Philippine government to ensure the rights and welfare of Filipinos in Italy who were forced to migrate and work abroad because of massive unemployment, landlessness, low wages and lack of opportunities in the Philippines.###