OFWS: No to mandatory insurance, yes to mandatory protection; Group calls on Pnoy to disclose concrete plans to protect OFWs in SoKor

Global alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Migrante International today said that “instead of imposing a mandatory insurance coverage, the government should prioritize ‘mandatory protection’ for migrants instead”.

The OFW group released the following statement in light of the predicament of an estimated 60,000 OFWs in South Korea who may be implicated in the ongoing hostilities between North and South Korea.

Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, has called on President Aquino to “condemn the joint United States-South Korea military exercises for the safety and security of our OFWs.’

“Kung talagang hangad ni PNoy ang proteksyon ng ating mga kababayan, ipakita niya hindi sa pamamagitan ng pagpataw ng mga bayaring maaaring ipasa sa mga OFWs. Sa South Korea, daang libong kababayan natin ang maaaring nanganganib ang kalagayan pero walang malinaw na pahayag at aksyon pa rin ang ating embahada at gobyerno,” Martinez said.

“For the benefit of thousands of our OFWs in South Korea, PNoy should denounce the upcoming US-SoKor war games. It is a recipe for disaster for our OFWs not only in Korea but in the Asia Pacific region as it will surely heighten the tension in the Korean Peninsula,” he said.

Martinez, himself a former OFW in South Korea for 12 years, also criticized the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for “practically dragging the country” into the conflict.

Recently, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo David said the Philippines is “prepared to help” South Korea.

“The AFP chief’s reckless remark betrays his utter ignorance in diplomacy. Nakalimutan na ba nila si Angelo dela Cruz? Gusto pa ba nilang maulit muli ang nangyari dati dahil lang sa pagkampi ng gobyerno sa mga gera ng US?,” said Martinez.

In 2004, Iraqi insurgents kidnapped and threatened to kill dela Cruz, an OFW truck driver, unless the Philippine government agreed to withdraw its troops from Iraq in support of the US’ war of aggression.

Martinez said that should OFWs be imperiled because of Philippine support to the US-SoKor war games, the PNoy administration shall be held accountable by OFWs worldwide.

He reiterated their group’s opposition and demand to scrap the mandatory insurance coverage, saying that it is just a money-making scheme and manifests the government’s abandonment of OFWs’ welfare. ###