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. ###




Pope of the Poor, Fight for Us: Open Letter of Filipino Migrants to Pope Francis

pope of the poorPope of the poor, fight for us.

We are Filipino migrants, immigrants, refugees from all over the world who, together with our families, call upon Your Eminence, to bear witness to our struggle. We call on you to speak in behalf of overseas Filipinos in our quest for a better life. We have experienced first-hand human and labor rights abuses and exploitation. Hear our stories and join us in our fight against modern-day slavery.

Of present, an estimated 15 million overseas Filipinos are found in over 230 countries. Massive unempoyment, landlessness, poverty and globalization have been forcing our countrymen to migrate. There exists a widespread desolation, hopelessness and desperation that have caused the Filipino people’s diaspora.

Pope of the poor, fight for us. In your tenet to build “A Church without frontiers, mother to all”, we likewise reach out to you with open arms and hearts for our common objective to open the doors of Your Church worldwide in the spirit of genuine service to the people.

Like you, we stand firm that forced migration is an anomaly and a matter of deep concern involving the lives and dignity of our migrant workers. Ours is now an era of modern-day slavery wherein our migrant workers and their families are subjected to most cruel conditions in favor of greed for remittances and the desecration of human rights.

Pope of the poor, fight for us. We have seen the absence of legal frameworks that genuinely promote and protect the rights and welfare of our OFWs and their families. We have dissected and evaluated the efficiency or lack thereof of existing government programs and discussed ways to bring these to the concern of our authorities. We realize that the Philippines has many policies and laws on migration that need to be translated into concrete action.

We have seen that the continuation and intensification of the government’s labor export policy would only add more to the sufferings of our people, making them more vulnerable to human and labor rights abuses. We ask of you to speak out against this policy. We need to address the fundamental conditions of our society, especially the unequal distribution of wealth and work among nations which drives our people to forced migration.

Pope of the poor, fight for us. We agree with you that human trafficking is indeed “a crime against humanity”. It is a violation of our fundamental rights. It breeds the evils of discrimination, criminalization of undocumented migrants and all forms of violence, oppression and enslavement.

We are also greatly disturbed and moved by the tragedy of the separation of families. We cry for the sufferings and pains of children left behind and growing up without proper guidance, parents and couples estranged from each other, and the resulting economic, emotional and psychological implications of loved ones being uprooted from their families.

We call on you to work hand in hand with migrants’ organizations and advocates in support of the plight of our Filipino migrants. There are still many things that need to be done. Pope of the poor, fight for us.

We call on Your Eminence, that through Your Office, you can help us in organizing and broadening our reach and making our voices resound. There is a dire need to consolidate our efforts in various parts of the world. Together, let us face the challenge of holding the cause of Filipino migrants and their families.

Pope of the Poor, fight for us. In the spirit of service to the people, together, let our aspirations and advocacies be realized. ###