For International Migrants Day 2021
December 18, 2021
This year’s International Migrants Day, Filipino migrants and their families assert our 10-point electoral demands to challenge candidates and government officials in the 2022 elections to address the urgent concerns and plight of Filipino migrant workers.
The 10-point electoral agenda include immediate financial assistance, free repatriation assistance, holding accountable illegal recruiters and human traffickers, comprehensive and free health care services, increase in the national budget for legal and welfare assistance for distressed and exploited migrant workers, job security and protection for seafarers, and upholding the democratic rights of Filipino migrants by putting an end to state repression of migrant rights defenders and organizations.
Furthermore, we demand that the case of Mary Jane Veloso and other Filipinos on death row and those languishing in jail especially our women migrants and victims of human trafficking and crimes must be given priority in order to save their lives. They should be provided with immediate and continued assistance including their families in the Philippines.
The Philippine government must strengthen its protection of migrant workers who have been unjustly deprived of their rightful wages and benefits such as the case of more than 50,000 Saudi OFWs who have yet to receive their end of service benefits from their companies who filed for bankruptcy almost five years ago. In addition, the mandatory collections of fees and other revenue-making schemes targeting Filipino migrants must be scrapped.
One year and half into the global health and economic crisis, the Philippine government has continued to neglect the needs and demands of Filipino migrant workers. We continue to demand the Philippine government for immediate financial assistance relief, including welfare assistance such as food, drinking water and temporary shelter for all Filipino migrant workers who continue to be affected and displaced by the pandemic.
The Philippine senate recently approved a bill to create a new department for Migrant Workers but we believe this will not solve the problems facing our migrant workers. We are not deceived by the proposal of a “one-stop shop” because in essence, this would only fast-track the export of our people to be exploited overseas, without assurance of the protection of their rights and would bleed dry our migrant workers with the mandatory fees collected by our government and private recruitment agencies.
While the Philippine government serves as one of the “champion countries” of the Global Compact on Migration, it has failed to protect our most vulnerable migrant workers and more importantly, address the root causes of forced migration of millions of our people each year. Duterte’s “politics of change” and promises to OFWs such as abolishing the OEC and direct hiring was a sham. Indeed, he was a deceiver! Under his leadership, the OFWs and Filipino migrants became more vulnerable to exploitation.
This International Migrants Day, Migrante International demands for justice, jobs and protection and not labor export! We vow to advance the struggle to defend the fundamental rights of Filipino migrants and their families. This upcoming historic Philippine elections, we will not allow the son of a dictator and architect of the Labor Export Policy to return to power and lead our country and allow the continued reign of Duterte. Both have committed grave human rights violations and plundered the wealth of the Filipino people. Neither deserve our vote and support.
We will choose political leaders who truly serve the needs of our Filipino migrant workers both land and sea based. We challenge candidates to demonstrate what they have done to improve the conditions of our OFWs and overseas Filipinos, and what they plan to do to address the democratic demands of the Filipino people such as genuine sovereignty and peace, land reform, creation of sustainable jobs and living wages, protection of our environment and resources, and creating a stronger public healthcare system and delivery of free social services. We shall never allow the return of plunderers, impostors, tyrants and traitors.
We stand in solidarity with migrants all over the world who are fighting and resisting against discrimination, slavery, exploitation and exclusion, imperialism and authoritarian governments. We stand with migrants who are organizing all over the world for justice, genuine democracy and rights! ###