(PHOTOS AND VIDEO) OFWs around the world in welcome, gratitude to Pope Francis

10931696_10153083794889742_3394012186574934826_oFilipino migrants around the world held simultaneous activities in their respective host countries to welcome and thank Pope Francis for speaking out on the neglect of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) during his recently-concluded Papal Visit to the Philippines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the United States:

 

In Canada:

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In the United Kingdom:

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In Saudi Arabia:

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And in Hong Kong:

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Migrante extends condolences to family, OFW mother, of Yolanda aid worker

pope migGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International extends its most heartfelt condolences to the family of Kristel Pasadas, the 27-year-old Yolanda aid worker who died in Tacloban shortly after Pope Francis finished his celebrating his mass.

“We especially deeply sympathize with her mother who is an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Hong Kong. Their family’s is a story of every Filipino migrant family; the tragedy of being forcibly separated from your loved ones out of necessity and desperation and being far away from them in times of hunger, crisis and calamity, and even death,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

“We can only imagine how her mother must feel. She must have felt so helpless when her family had barely survived supertyphoon Yolanda and now this heartbreak. To Kristel’s mother, may you take comfort in our collective mourning. OFWs around the world feel your loss as we continue to fight against the government’s labor export policy that separates us from our loved ones and, as Pope Francis said, destroys families,” he said.

Martinez said that tragic fate of the young Yolanda aid worker also reminded him of “another Kristel”.

“The Pope asked us to pray in silence for Kristel, and we call on him to also pray for justice and call on the public to never forget another Kristel – Kristel Tejada who was driven to take her own life out of despair and hopelessness,” he said.

Tejada was a 16-year-old student of the University of the Philippines who committed suicide in 2013 because her low-income parents could not afford the high cost of tuition in the university. During the time, UP tuition increased from P300 to P1,500 per unit.

“Kristel Tejada, like millions of youth in the country, was a victim of poverty, the ever-soaring high cost of education and the Aquino administration’s abandonment of basic social services. Her parents, as with millions of Filipino parents here and abroad, are forced into slave-like and exploitative conditions because of Aquino’s anti-poor and anti-people policies. If there was one other testimony that would have reflected the general situation of the Filipino youth at the Pope’s ‘encounter with the youth’, it would have been Tejada’s story,” Martinez said. ###

Pope Francis’ sincerity and humility a stark contrast to Aquino’s insincerity and arrogance – Migrante

pope of the poor“Aside from spiritual guidance and inspiration, the Pope’s visit provides the Filipino people a stark reminder of Pres. Aquino’s insincerity and arrogance, especially during times of crisis and calamity.”

This was the statement of Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez on the fourth day of the Papal Visit in the Philippines.

In his homily in Tacloban, Pope Francis said that when he saw the devastation of supertyphoon Yolanda, his first wish was to be with the Filipino people. “In times of grave calamity and devastation, this is what is expected from a leader. Our people expected comfort and commiseration from the President and received none.”

“We cannot recall a time when the President has been anything but defensive, arrogant and unrepentant. Instead of taking accountability for his government’s corruption and anti-poor policies, he is always ready to either blame others or point the finger at his critics. His shameful speech in Malacanang attests to the fact that he has no mercy and compassion for poor Filipinos. We sincerely pray that the Pope’s visit presents this contrast, and urges the Filipino people to continue to work for genuine change and social justice,” Martinez said.

He said that Filipino communities and overseas Filipino workers abroad will be staging “Thank you, Pope Francis” activities as the Holy Father is set to celebrate his final mass in Luneta.

“We appreciate the Pope’s sincere concern for poor Filipinos, his stance against corruption and social inequalities, his respect for human dignity and human rights, and his honest and heartfelt advocacy for Filipino migrants and families.” ###

 

Thank you, Pope Francis, for acknowledging gov’t neglect of OFWs – Migrante

pope migGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos expressed tremendous gratitude to Pope Francis for acknowledging the real plight of overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) and their families.

In his speech delivered in Malacanang, Pope Francis made mention of OFWs and the Filipino diaspora. The Pope said that he “cannot fail to mention” the OFWs “who are often neglected and whose contributions to society are not fully appreciated”. The Holy Father also said that the Filipino diaspora is “helping the life, culture and religious heritage” of other countries.

“Thank you very much, Pope Francis, for hearing our cries! Thank you for speaking in behalf of the 15 million overseas Filipinos all over the world who are being neglected, abused and exploited and abandoned by the Aquino government. Filipinos all over the world are overjoyed and empowered to further fight for our rights and to struggle for genuine social justice so that our common endeavors may be realized,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez also noted the Pope’s mention of “families being destroyed.”

“One of the main reasons of Filipino families being torn apart is the phenomenon of forced migration. Our OFWs are separated from their families because of desperation and the need to survive. Pope Francis, who hailed from a family of migrants, knows this by heart. We agree with the Pope that what we should strive for is a ‘society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace’, something that is very far from what we have now which is a society of corruption, greed and conflict under the Aquino administration,” Martinez said.

The migrant leader said that he hopes the Pope’s statement will “open new doors and networks among churches and their brethren for the promotion and protection of the rights of Filipino migrants and their families around the world”.

Lastly, Martinez called on all OFWs and families to continue to organize, unite and struggle for social justice and revolutionary reforms. “The Pope himself said, ‘Dear migrants and refugees! You have a special place in the heart of the Church… Do not lose your faith and hope!’. For us, this should translate to the message that, despite and in spite of all our sufferings and torments, the people united shall never be defeated.” ###

Aquino’s “doomsday” statement mars Pope’s imminent joyous visit – Migrante

pope migGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International today slammed Pres. Benigno Aquino’s seemingly “doomsday” statement on the upcoming Papal visit.

In Aquino’s message to the public on the arrival of Pope Francis, dated January 12, he called on the public “to exercise utmost discipline…cooperate with authorities…remain vigilant, take all precautions necessary…keep calm; do not push; do not run.”

“It is as if instead of a joyous affair, the President and Malacanang are expecting chaos to ensue. This is not a very welcoming message to the Pope and it sends a message to the international community that the Filipino people are nothing but an unruly bunch,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez said that Aquino may also be pre-empting expected activities appealing to the Pope to heed the cries of the poor and oppressed Filipino people against wrongdoings in government.

“Aquino knows too well that the Papal visit will once again bring the Philippines under international scrutiny. He cannot have the Pope, a staunch advocate against corruption and greed, denouncing transgressions in his government. With this statement, Aquino may well be attempting to prevent international humiliation by passing off well-meaning welcomers as nothing but rowdy, undisciplined hooligans.”

Martinez said Aquino “is nothing like the Pope who is much-loved by the Filipino people”.

“Unlike the anti-poor Aquino, Pope Francis has high regard for the masses. He is humble enough to listen to the cries and pleas of the people and to speak on their behalf. He is open to dialogue and gives primacy to the interests of the poor and oppressed. This is why Aquino is loath to have him see the sentiments and real conditions of the Filipino people under his presidency.”

Migrante International is part of the multisectoral People’s Committee to Welcome the Pope (People’s Welcome) which will holding series of activities in time for the Papal visit on January 15-18, 2015. ###

 

 

 

#DearPopeFrancis Filipino migrants and families call on Pope Francis to heed cry of OFWs in distress

pope migGlobal alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International will hold a small gathering at the Plaza Miranda later this afternoon to welcome the arrival of Pope Francis and to call on the Holy Father to heed the cry of Filipino migrants and their families, especially those in distress.

 

Around Metro Manila, simultaneous activities were also held earlier today to gather “letters to the Pope” from families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in distress.

 

In a previous open letter to the Pope, Migrante International had called on the Pope to “bear witness to our struggle. We call on you to speak on behalf of overseas Filipinos in our quest for a better life.”

 

According to Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, “We are thankful to Pope Francis for consistently speaking on behalf of migrants and refugees. We agree with him that human trafficking is indeed ‘a crime against humanity’ and that forced migration is ‘an anomaly’ and a matter of grave concern for our migrant workers and their families.”

 

“As he visits the Philippines, we call on Pope Francis to speak on behalf of an estimated 15 million overseas Filipinos in over 239 countries around the world. We call on him to speak out for Filipino migrants in distress and their families,” Martinez said.

 

There are currently 125 Filipinos on death row abroad – the most number of whom have been executed under the present Aquino administration. At least 7,000 Filipinos are languishing in jails abroad without legal assistance and at least 25,000 are stranded and awaiting repatriation in the Middle East alone. Millions are undocumented and in danger of being criminalized abroad as host countries continue to impose more strict immigration and border policies. At least half a million Filipinos, mostly women and children, are victims of trafficking. Millions more suffer labor abuses and violations and endure modern-day slavery for the sake of their families back home.

 

Despite all these, Martinez said, the Aquino administration has intensified its labor export policy. “The Aquino government has highly praised itself for its supposed efforts to work with migrant-receiving governments to ensure the rights and welfare of OFWs. But the truth is OFWs are plagued with an assortment of issues and problems throughout the entire migration cycle yet the Aquino government has barely done any decisive action to support and protect OFWs and their families. The Aquino government’s ability to uphold Filipinos migrants’ rights and promote their welfare has lagged behind its apparent success in implementing its labor export policy.”

 

Pope Francis is a staunch supporter and advocate of the rights and welfare of migrants and refugees. He has been very vocal in his criticisms on forced migration and the criminalization of undocumented migrants and refugees, and his stance against trafficking in persons and modern-day slavery.

 

On January 16, the Holy Father will be holding a dialogue with some Filipino migrants and their families at the Mall of Asia Arena.

 

On the same date, Migrante International will be holding an International Day of Prayer and Solidarity to bring to the Pope’s attention the plight of Filipino migrants and their families all over the world.

 

“We call on Pope Francis to heed our call: Stand with us against trafficking and modern-day slavery of Filipino migrants! Struggle with us against Aquino’s labor export policy!” Martinez said. ###