“COVID, no work, no pay, no job, wala lahat. Di ko na kaya…Hindi ko na po alam ang gagawin ko dito sa Thailand. Hindi na ako makakain, di man lang ako makauwi sa Pinas.” These were the last words penned by Melvin Cacho, a 27 year old Filipino teacher in Thailand who was reported to have committed suicide due to depression. Cacho is just one of the hundreds of thousands of distressed OFWs who are severely hit by state negligence amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Migrante International is saddened by his tragic passing and we share the pain of loss with Melvin’s loved ones in the Philippines.
As early as April, we have already called out the Duterte government for excluding OFWs from more than a hundred countries (including Thailand) from its Php10K DOLE AKAP cash aid program. There were only 29 countries listed under Department Order No. 212 where OFWs can apply for cash assistance. It is no wonder that OFWs from countries outside of the Duterte government’s priority list feel forsaken and isolated.
Meanwhile, more than a hundred OFWs were left stranded and had to lie down on the walkways outside the entrance of NAIA terminal 2 on Thursday midnight, June 4, while waiting for their flights back to the provinces. This is in stark contrast with how seamlessly Duterte and his IATF officials have flown to Davao City a few days ago. This means that the only VIP treatment we are seeing applies to President Duterte and his lackeys, so Malacañang better stop fooling the public that OFWs are experiencing the same level of comfort and efficiency. OFWs have been incarcerated in quarantine facilities for more than a month and they’ll be returning back to their provinces with the overwhelming majority of them not receiving a single penny from the government’s promised financial aid.
With the railroading of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, the Duterte regime’s priority is really to suppress dissent. Public service is not in President Duterte’s vocabulary. His criminal ineptitude is unparalleled even by his crooked predecessors. Despite the hundreds of billions spent in the Philippines and abroad by the Duterte regime for propaganda, it is miserably failing to aromatize its stinking image now that its rottenness and inutility is being laid bare and experienced by returning OFWs.