10 October 2023
Amidst reports of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Israel going missing, being injured and needing rescue because of the flare-up of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Migrante-International is calling on the Philippine government, especially president Bongbong Marcos, to prepare a repatriation and employment plan for distressed OFWs.
News reports and commentators say that the current level of attacks is one of the highest in recent memory. Our members and friends in Israel tell us that this is the first time in many years that they are fearing for their lives in relation to the conflict. Israel has just vowed a genocidal counter-attack to defend its occupation of Palestine, while Palestinians are courageously fighting for national liberation. These are reasons to say that the conflict will continue.
Marcos, through the Department of Migrant Workers, the Department of Foreign Affairs and their agencies, must ensure that the almost 25,000 OFWs in the Middle Eastern country are safe. They must guarantee that those who need refuge are provided refuge and those who want to go home are supported by the government in going home.
This eruption of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is yet another wake-up call for the Marcos regime to create decent jobs at home by developing the country’s agriculture and industries. Recent data show that unemployment in the country remains high and fluctuations in employment figures show the informality and precarity of most of available jobs. OFWs who would return to the Philippines because of this war face another war — waged by joblessness and hunger.
Emergencies such as this further expose the anti-migrant and anti-people nature of the national budget for 2024 that contains huge allocations for foreign debt payment, military spending and confidential funds. Funds for services for OFWs should have been increased. The government should have endeavored to improve agriculture and industries and allocated the funds for these purposes.
The root causes of labor migration from the Philippines must be addressed — joblessness, landlessness, poverty and hunger. Similarly, the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be addressed: Israel’s violent occupation of Palestine must be ended, together with US imperialism’s support for this. ###