To call the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Migrante International launched its Global Petition of Filipino Migrants on Sunday, 30 June 2019 in Hongkong to raise the “gross human rights violations committed against Filipino migrants” by the Duterte government,
“Its aim is to present the collective demand of Filipino migrants for a UN investigation on the exacerbating human rights situation in the Philippines under the Duterte regime,” Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion stated.
The launching commenced through a solidarity program held at Chater Road in Central, Hongkong attended by about 300 supporters from various OFW groups and migrants rights advocates from different countries. It was then followed by an indignation march before the Philippine Consulate. The mobilization was jointly organized by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and by the Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP).
Concepcion added that the Philippines does not deserve to retain its seat in the UN Human Rights Council because of the “Duterte regime’s abhorrent human rights record.” The Philippines was part of the 18 member states elected by the UN General Assembly in January for a 3-year term to the Human Rights Council. Calls for independent investigations on the brutal killings in the context of Duterte’s so-called war on drugs and counterinsurgency program have been repeatedly rejected by the regime.
Expressing support to the call of 11 UN Special Rapporteurs to push through with an independent investigation, the global petition highlighted the impact of the killings on OFW families and advocates. “Our children and family members have been directly affected by the thousands of unlawful deaths and police killings as a result of the so-called war on drugs. Our organizations and leaders are maligned, harassed and threatened by state forces. We all suffer from the repressive imposition of Martial Law in the island of Mindanao,” the petition stated.
In addition, the petition also sought justice for the socioeconomic rights of Filipino migrants and their families who are yoked with unjust state exactions while suffering from government neglect. Despite contributing $33 Billion in foreign remittances annually and another $20 Billion worth of funds in the coffers of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), “the Duterte government has spent very little resources to protect us and has neglected its duty in assisting migrant workers in distress. There has been no adequate legal support provided to migrants who are facing legal cases abroad.”
Aside from the inadequate protection accorded to OFWs who are facing severe exploitation and various forms of abuse, the petition highlighted the plight of 81 OFWs who are in death row. It likewise pointed out to the hundreds of unresolved cases of OFW deaths and the absence of assistance to thousands of OFWs who are languishing in detention facilities abroad.
More than just the inadequacy of a genuine reintegration program, the petition slammed the dire situation where Filipino “migrants will be returning to a country where our basic human rights are being trampled on daily by the tyranny of our own government and state forces.”
“People’s organizations that have for decades defended and supported the rights and welfare of Filipino people and migrants are being systematically attacked through unscrupulous government regulations, red-tagging, financial witch-hunt and other forms of harassment,“ it added.
The petition concluded with the demand for an end to the regime’s human rights violations and to make the Duterte government accountable for its crimes. Copies of the petition will be circulated online and among Filipino migrant communities and families overseas as well as in the Philippines.