New PHL brand = labor export, rotten status quo

Press Statement
12 May 2023

Migrante-International condemns the Bongbong Marcos regime for turning the slogan “We give the world our best,” referring to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and migrant Filipinos, into the new country brand. We reject the slogan as it can only mean heightened forced labor export and maintaining the rotten status quo in the country. 

Filipinos go out of the Philippines to work abroad not because we, as a people, have decided to give the world the country’s best. More than 10 million Filipinos are working abroad because the country’s government has created an economy with widespread low-quality jobs, unemployment and poverty. It has been serving the interests of a handful elites and of foreign governments and corporations, not of the Filipino people. We give the world our best? The Philippine government gives only the worst to its people!

According to the National Migration Survey published in 2019, OFWs and migrant Filipinos are better-educated compared to the rest of the population. While this is an education-centric meaning of “best” that ignores many intelligent and skilled Filipinos who were denied the right to education, this perhaps what the Philippine government refers to in the slogan. The new country brand glorifies brain drain, the exit from the country of many educated, skilled and intelligent Filipinos who could have helped developing the country’s agriculture and industries.  

The Bongbong Marcos regime is really an heir to the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, not only because it is carrying out rampant repression in the country. It is continuing labor export in order to refuse creating decent jobs in the country. It refuses to develop agriculture and industries in order to serve foreign governments and corporations. The government has treated remittances sent home by OFWs and migrant Filipinos as a disincentive to addressing pressing problems such as heavy traffic, high power and water rates, high cost of basic goods, among others.

The new country brand clearly shows the bankrupt economic direction of the Marcos regime. It is already 50 years since the Marcos dictatorship started the government’s labor export program and development remains elusive to the country. The recent Social Weather Stations survey show that 51% of families see themselves as poor, 31% as borderline poor, and only 19% as not poor. The regime’s nostalgia for Marcos authoritarianism will only cause greater low-quality work, unemployment and poverty. 

The Marcos regime’s “We give the world our best” is both a continuation and a worse version of the Cory Aquino regime’s “Bagong bayani (new heroes)” tag on OFWs and migrant Filipinos. It is a continuation of the second because it seeks to flatter OFWs and migrant Filipinos whose hard work, skill, and sacrifices provide remittances that serve as lifeline for the country’s economy. It is a worse version of the second because while the Aquino regime’s slogan talks to fellow Filipinos, the Marcos regime slogan also talks to international audiences in order to sell cheap Filipino labor.

If the Marcos regime insists on using “We give the world our best” as the new country brand, it will face a backlash from OFWs, migrant Filipinos and all Filipinos who are currently suffering from high prices of basic goods, low wages, and widespread unemployment and seek genuine solutions to these problems — not forced labor export and maintaining the rotten, elitist and neocolonial status quo in the country. ###