PRESS STATEMENT, November 25, 2021
Filipino migrant and OFW leaders from various groups and organizations in the Philippines, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Europe and North America held a hybrid press conference today to present a united 10 point agenda and challenge presidential aspirants to commit to taking concrete action on their demands. The Overseas Filipinos Agenda was developed and united on after a series of regional and national consultations were held in the first two weeks of November where OFWs, migrant leaders, church advocates, families of migrants gathered to discuss the critical issues and concerns facing Filipino migrants, especially during this time of economic and health crisis that call for serious attention and action from our national leaders.
Millions of distressed overseas Filipino workers, both land and sea-based who have lost their livelihood and have been displaced or stranded experienced hunger, severe illnesses, including mental health concerns and continue to do so because of the Philippine government’s slow action, inaction and lack of systematic and sustained welfare and financial support.
The 10-point agenda includes demands to urgently address the need for immediate financial aid for migrant workers who continue to suffer from the pandemic, and the decades-long issues and problems confronting OFWs and Filipino migrants such as illegal recruitment, human trafficking, social protection and welfare services for victims of abuse and exploitation especially for Filipino migrant women, and putting an end to excessive fees collected by the government and agencies that cause an immense financial burden and debt bondage.
Despite the immense economic contributions of Overseas Filipinos to the Philippine economy, the Philippine government continues to neglect countless cases of OFWs and Filipino migrants in distress each year. And under the Duterte administration, the situation of Filipino migrants has only worsened.
Filipino migrants and OFWs all over the world are tired of lies and broken promises from government leaders who only pretend to care about our plight but are not sincere in developing and implementing stronger policies and plans to protect and advance the rights of the most vulnerable among us – undocumented, human trafficking victims, victims of labor exploitation, women migrant domestic workers.
The presidential aspirants must present clear plans on how they will concretely address the demands laid out in the agenda. Overseas Filipinos, OFWs, families and advocates will continue to organize and take collective action to hold our next government leaders accountable until all demands are met. ###
(Among the organizations who were present were Migrante International and its global chapters, Migrante Philippines, SANDIGAN (Network of Filipino DH from the Middle East), RAGE Hong Kong (Rise Against Government Exactions), Concerned Seafarers of the Philippines, Association of Concerned Filipinos in Thailand, Churches Witnessing with Migrants-Philippines, MALAYA Movement and KABAYAN Canada)