16 November 2022
We migrant Filipinos condemn the Philippine government’s boast before the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) about migrant Filipinos. The Marcos Jr. government is lying: it is not protecting migrant Filipinos and our families. It is disgusting that it even made a marketing pitch for exporting Filipino labor in its report for the UN human rights body.
As expected, the Philippine government boasted about the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) as an achievement to show its commitment to protecting Filipino migrants and fight human trafficking.
It cannot, however, hide the realities on the ground: the government’s neglect and abandonment experienced by distressed Filipino migrant workers all over the world. The countless cases and testimonies of Filipino migrant workers who have been denied the urgent assistance and protection they need is a more accurate measure of the government’s sincerity in advancing their rights.
Furthermore, the biggest chunk of the 2023 national budget passed by the Marcos Jr. administration for the DMW is allocated for the operations of the department and agencies under and attached to it, such as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
With this budget allocation, concrete services that would benefit Filipino migrants and their families will surely remain inadequate — while bureaucratic loot for the ruling family’s cronies is assured.
The Philippine government included in its UNHRC report a marketing pitch for exporting Filipino workers! In its written and verbal national report, the Philippine government focused on measures for the “training, upskilling and retooling of OFWs.” It talked about making the recruitment and deployment process for Filipino migrant workers more efficient.
These statements clearly demonstrate the government’s interest in upholding and aggressively implementing the neoliberal agenda and policy of labor export — which contrasts with its supposed protection of migrant Filipinos’ human rights and the need to create decent jobs at home.
Filipino migrant workers are clamoring for aid, livelihood and jobs at home; stronger social and welfare protection; and justice for victims of labor exploitation, abuse and discrimination, unjust detention and human trafficking.
Since the onset of the pandemic, thousands of displaced Filipino migrant workers have yet to receive any form of financial assistance, while those who were forced to return to the Philippines did not receive livelihood assistance and support.
The Philippine government also bragged that the country remains in the US State Department’s Tier 1 Ranking for efforts against trafficking in persons. It failed to report, however, on the true extent of the problem, citing only selected data from a few agencies.
The government failed to demonstrate how it will ensure that traffickers, especially those who hold positions of power in government, are held accountable and that the most vulnerable, women and children, are protected.###