PH gov’t using “OFW card” to mask double standards in Sabah dispute

Migrante Partylist today criticized the Philippine government for unduly using the “OFW card” to conceal its double standards in upholding OFW welfare and the territorial dispute over Sabah with Malaysia.

In various statements from representatives, the Philippine government said that Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III’s refusal to pull out of Sabah will endanger the lives of some 800,000 Filipinos in the region.

However, according to Migrante Partylist Chairperson and 1st nominee Connie Bragas-Regalado, the Philippine government’s so-called concern for Filipinos in Sabah is mere lip service and a double standard.

“Now the government appears to take into consideration the lives and welfare of OFWs in Sabah when it has done nothing to address OFWs’ work-related plights and ‘stateless status’ through the years. We now ask, is the government’s stance out of genuine concern or simply a way of justifying its double standards with regard OFWs’ welfare in Sabah?”

Bragas-Regalado said that the Philippine Embassy in Sabah has done nothing to address the problems of Filipinos working or residing in Sabah. “This was revealed to us by our fellow Filipinos during a series of fact-finding missions we launched in Sabah during the last few years. Slave-like conditions of Filipino plantation workers, ‘stateless children’, human trafficking of our women and workers have been rampant in Sabah for many years now yet our government has not lifted a finger to assist them,” she said.

She said that the Philippine government’s sudden “concern” is just be a cover-up of the Aquino administration’s lack of political will and passiveness over the Sabah dispute.

Bragas-Regalado said that the Aquino government is exposing its contrasting motivations and interests in the Spratlys and Sabah disputes.

“It is aggressive in the Spratlys issue to promote and justify increased US troops presence in the Asia-Pacific region while it is passive in the Sabah issue to goad the Moro Islamic Front (MILF) into capitulation and to appease Malaysia which plays a lead role in the ongoing peace negotiations between the MILF and GPH. This is another double standard,” said Bragas-Regalado.

“Migrante recognizes the Philippines’ legitimate historical, legal and rightful claim to the Sabah territory. We fail to comprehend how the government is taking a defeatist stance in Sabah when we have as much right to assert claim as we are doing in the Spratlys dispute with China,” she said. ###