Tuesday, May 20, 2008

OFW Group welcomes family ministry

Press Release
May 20, 2008

OFW Group welcomes Church-led family ministry
for pastoral care and evangelical empowerment for OFWs and family

An alliance of Overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East today welcome the response made by the Catholic Church on the negative effects of migration such as the disintegration of migrant families, among others.

“We are more than happy to hear and welcome any church-led and inspired social mechanisms to foster pastoral care and evangelical empowerment for OFWs and their families with the end in view of curbing the breaking-up of migrant families,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante Middle East regional coordinator.

On his pastoral response on the issue of the break-up of migrant families and itinerant peoples posted on his Web log, Cotabato Archbishop and Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC) secretary general Orlando Quevedo recommended to the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers the setting up of family ministry in every local church that “cares and serves”, “forms and empowers”, a family ministry that build and works for solidarity among members of migrant families and among migrant families.

“We are thankful to Bishop Quevedo, who in his capacity us our beloved Bishop and as a concerned citizen like us, has outlined his response to the issue of OFW family disintegration and realizing the social costs due to forced migration of our workers whose only option is to left their family to find work and earn a living who later will end up leaving his own family for indefinite time, worst many ended to breaking-up,” Monterona added.

Monterona said that OFWs could perform its evangelical task as believers while in foreign land especially in countries where exercise of religious freedom is permitted.

“OFWs could perfectly act as disciples of Jesus Christ and act not only as preachers but also liberators of the oppressed migrant workers who usually are victims of employer’s maltreatment, unfair labor practices, unpaid on their own hard labor, sexually harassed and exploited,” Monterona added.

Monterona said that based on Migrante ME un-published initial study on OFW families conducted on 2006, 5 out of 10 OFW families ended up breaking who have been separated from one another for quite a long time. “Thus, it is fare to conclude that forced migration is considered an evil force that is breaking Filipino families or the value of close family ties among OFW families,” he added.

Monterona further said that the Arroyo administration that is impulsive on intensifying cheap export of Filipino workers relying solely on the huge in-flows of OFW remittances keeping the long in crisis economy is to be held accountable for OFW families’ disintegration and OFWs deplorable conditions abroad that failed to develop mechanisms that will ensure protection of OFWs rights and welfare.

Monterona cited the January 2008 IBON survey that showed 7 out of 10 seeing themselves as poor will be forced to look for a job abroad even though they are aware of the costs, social and financial, in leaving their families behind.

“The increasing employment rate reaching to 7.4% in January 2008 and growing numbers of jobless with almost 200 workers losing their jobs daily , the increasing cost of living that for a family with six members needs to earn Php.780 daily while many of the workers are only receiving a minimum wage of Php.350 a day , the growing numbers of urban poor and squatters living in the cities are indicators of the Arroyo administration’ s failure to improve the economy that could generate local jobs with decent wage and non-wage benefits,” Monterona explained.

Monterona pointed out that only a developed agrarian-based economy and nationalized basic industries could transform our slumped economy into real developing one capable of ensuring food security and creating decent jobs that will hold back our workers to finding work abroad but instead be employed locally with a decent job.

Migrante is urging the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to look deeply into the real cause of forced migration.“Massive poverty due to worsening Philippine economy aggravated by the Arroyo administration is the root cause of forced migration. Our Bishops must squarely confront the Arroyo administration on its numerous ‘sins’ committed against the ‘church’ or faithful but oppressed believers including OFWs and their families,” Monterona ended.

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John Leonard Monterona
regional coordinator
Migrante Middle East
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

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