Sunday, January 25, 2009

A.O.247: Arroyo administration's intensification of labor export program

Press Statement
25 January 2009

A.O.247 proof of the Arroyo administration's intensification of labor export program
amid increasing numbers of rights violations and scarce welfare and social programs for OFWs and their families

With the issuance by the President last December 4, 2008 of Administrative Order No. 247 outlining what it called a "paradigm shift" by refocusing POEA's functions from merely "regulation to full-blast market development efforts, the exploration of frontier, fertile jobs markets for Filipinos expatriate workers", it cannot now deny the fact that it is actually intensifying its labor export program.

For the past years, the Arroyo administration keeps on denying that it does not promote overseas employment as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development. With its aim to send two million (2-M) OFWs yearly in line with its policy statements, no wonder that indeed it is determined to sell-out cheap human labor by now shifting all government concerned agencies tasks with much focus on finding possible new job markets and even revival of old markets to absorb the increasing numbers of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos not thinking that these labor agreements are to the detriment of OFWs rights and welfare.

AO No. 247 could not be considered a "paradigm shift" in real sense as the Arroyo administration calls it. AO No. 247 only spells out and put in writing, to appear it "legal" what this administration is unlawfully doing in the past years so that it could have a firm mandate to its line-agencies to intensify exportation of human labor.

It is notably and equally important to mention that the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act or R.A. 8042 on Sec.2, Declaration of State Policies, specifically states (c) "While recognizing the significant contribution of Filipino migrant workers to the national economy through their foreign exchange remittances, the State does not promote overseas employment as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development" x x x…

Failure of the Arroyo administration to continuously create local employment opportunities with decent pay and just benefits, to mention that a reported 15,000 Filipinos have already loss their jobs early this year, forced Mrs. Arroyo and her economic team to further institutionalizes the exportation of cheap human labor, like previous administrations. For one, labor export is a lucrative business on the part of the government that is earning billions out of OFWs remittances and through numerous state exactions by overcharging of fees and other charges. Secondly, the exportation of labor provides a temporary stop-gap solution to the problem of unemployment that keeps on increasing yearly.

Both, first and second reasons stated above, provide an entry-ticket for the Arroyo administration to continuously avail "developmental loans" from foreign financial institution like World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank to support our long in crisis economy and is worsening under the Arroyo regime.

In other words, labor exportation, massive marketing of OFWs, commoditization of human labor, whatever you call it, is made a required collateral by foreign financial institutions to ensure that borrowing Third World countries like the Philippines could pay its foreign debts because massive sell-out of cheap labor by Third World countries is a guarantee that it could pay its burgeoning debts to WB-IMF and ADB through the huge remittances from ever exploited and alienated migrant workers.

Enlightened OFWs and their organizations are correct in saying that the intensification or massive sell-out of OFWs abroad is inline with the imposition of the imperial domination of First World countries primarily of the United States, in control of foreign lending financial institutions, to Third World countries.

We strongly believed that the issuance of AO No. 247 by the Arroyo regime is but in compliance to the dictate of its Imperialist master during it's hosting of the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development last October 2008 in Manila. That the real intent and objective of the 2nd GFMD and any other GFMD events to come is not to look after the welfare and protection of migrant workers including OFWs but to smoothen the in-flows of migrant worker's billions remittances by formally institutionalizing labor exportation through issuances, decrees and laws by receiving and sending governments. By so doing, the remittances in-flows will be smoothened from receiving governments to the sending governments and eventually to the shark-like mouth of foreign financial institutions run by Imperialist countries.

On the other hand, early this year we have unprecedentedly receiving cases of rights violations from our fellow OFWs abroad. Cases of maltreatments, sexual abuses, non-payment of salaries, working more than the required 8-hours, no day-offs, are seems to be a normal complaints Migrante chapters received in an average of 5 cases daily. Migrante has already recorded 6 cases of mysterious deaths this month. And yet with these increasing numbers of cases, the Arroyo administration has been remiss and reluctant to provide protection to OFWs rights and welfare. These violations on OFWs rights and welfare are happening amid the worsening global financial crisis hitting hard our OFWs and their families.

We are reminding the Arroyo administration by quoting the provision of R.A.8042 that states "The existence of the overseas employment program rests solely on the assurance that the dignity and fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Filipino citizens shall not, at any time, be compromised or violated. The State, therefore, shall continuously create local employment opportunities and promote the equitable distribution of wealth and the benefits of development,".

It is high time for the millions of OFWs and their families around the world to move forward and forge our unities stronger than ever in our quest to be recognize as humans and not as commodity that could be sold out cheap without guarantee that our rights will be protected and our welfare be promoted. To this, we shout:

Stop the intensification of labor export!
OFWs are humans, not as commodity for export!
Expose and Oppose the intensification of Labor export by the Arroyo regime!
No to Labor Export!

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

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