“Hands off our Migrante members in Negros!” — Migrante International to Duterte and AFP

In a forum conducted at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos and University of St. La Salle by the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army in Bacolod City on 24 August, Migrante International along with other progressive groups representing different sectors were maliciously tagged as “NPA recruiters.” 

Migrante International strongly denounces this vilification campaign which is meant to stoke repressive and violent attacks against members of progressive organizations. It is no secret that organizers, volunteers and rights workers belonging to advocacy groups are being subjected to many forms of harassment. Enduring threats and surveillance from military and police elements, many end up getting abducted, tortured or killed. 

Amidst the spate of killings in Negros instigated by Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32, this endless redtagging threatens the lives of our Migrante officers and members. This will also take a toll on OFW victims being assisted by our Migrante chapters in Negros. Migrante Negros has always been active in raising the cases of OFW victims like when it sought justice for mistreated OFW Jessie Lloren who died last year just days after returning from Kuwait. 

PHOTO: From Adrian Bobe’s FB wall

The Duterte regime’s vilification campaign also extends overseas through the deceit-lated seminars conducted by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Using public funds and government resources, NTF-ELCAC agents have been going around in Philippine embassies and consulates abroad. The Duterte regime is dead set at discrediting the resounding record of Migrante International in extending assistance to our fellow OFWs. 

AFP’s rehashed tall tales are only meant to justify the regime’s bloody crackdown on the opposition and its planned militarization of schools and communities. If Duterte’s militarist honchos think that Filipinos will just sit idly as the last fragments of our democratic rights are quashed, they are grossly mistaken. 

OFWs know very well that poverty is one of the root causes of the conflict because it is what forcibly drove them to work overseas. No wonder OFWs were among the sectors that ardently pushed for the resumption of peace talks back in the early days of the Duterte presidency. It can be recalled that the group Kababayan4Change was formed to raise the people’s agenda to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. Instead of addressing the roots of the armed conflict, the Duterte regime has bolstered the plagues of inequality and oppression in the country. 

Migrante International has prominently contributed to upholding the rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos. OFWs disillusioned by government negligence continue to seek out our assistance. Aside from offering help to OFWs in distress, Migrante has also raised the level of political consciousness among members of the Filipino community abroad by exposing the roots of forced migration and the rottenness of the government’s labour export programme. 

The Duterte regime is terrified of collective action from high-minded OFWs and citizens engaged in the struggle for socio-economic change. The only changes the regime have in mind are destructive impositions targeting the poor which all the while will further enrich the local ruling elites supportive of imperialist dictates. 

Duterte’s Fascist reign stands opposed to the interest of the vast majority of the Filipino people. Migrante International calls on all freedom-loving Filipinos to register our strongest defiance against tyrannical suppression. Let us unite and confront state terror with our impenetrable collective resistance.