Sunday, February 22, 2009

Against LEP

Dear Fellow OFWs, Friends and Migrant rights Advocates,

Kindly find below statement titled "Why We are against the Labor Export Policy and the intensification of its Program?" As its tittle clearly suggests, this is an attempt to provide an answer to some of the querries and clarification we have been receiving for several weeks since we have issued statement criticizing and called for the revocation of the Labor Export policy and intensification of its program vide Mrs. Arroyo's AO#247. We are asking your kind assistance to send the same to the widest possible reach for reading and information of OFWs around the world as well as their families in the homefront. Your usual support and cooperation is highly highly appreciated. For OFWs rights and welfare, John LeonardMigrante-ME regional coordinator.

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Press Statement
22 February 2009

Why we are against the Labor Export Policy and the intensification of its program

On December 4, 2008, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has issued Administrative Order No. 247. On this issuance, the President made a clear and resolute order to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), to "execute a paradigm shift by refocusing its functions from regulation to full blast markets development efforts, the exploration of frontier, fertile job markets for Filipino expatriate workers".

Even prior to this issuance, it could be noted that the POEA, which primary function is the regulation of overseas employment, has already engaged in marketing efforts and initiatives the fact it has spent a considerable amount of its yearly budget for marketing mission abroad. POEA's Overseas Employment promotions services allocated P41.7-M in 2001, and P30-M for 2002 and an almost P50-M last year.

From the above, it is therefore crystal clear the Arroyo administration is promoting Labor exportation which it keeps on denying during the early years of its term. Now it is on full blast intensification of sending OFWs abroad aiming to send 1-Million or more. It is the Arroyo administration that labor export policy has been explicitly declared as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development goals contrary to the provision of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act or R.A. 8042.

Like previous administrations, the Arroyo administration failed to address the growing unemployment problem now reaching to 10.2-M unemployed. Its failure to generate jobs locally could be attributed to its economic policies that are subservient to neo-liberal policies of globalization- - liberalization, privatization, and deregulation.

The Labor Export policy is an example of a policy that is subservient to neo-liberal policies of globalization. It simply means the interests of business and profit is given priority over the welfare and rights of OFWs which characterize low wages, no jobs security, absence of clear mechanism protecting the rights of OFWs and their families, few social welfare and services, overburdening the OFWs due to new additional fees and charges, gross human rights violations in the economic and political realm. In other words, systematic human labor export is turning human beings into a mere commodity. Intensified and systematic labor exportation is COMMODIFICATION.

The LEP is a component of the structural adjustment program imposed on the Philippines by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The LEP is aimed to offset the rising social unrest of the 70's, due to rising unemployment rates and an economic and political crisis; at the same time, its purpose is to earn dollar remittances badly needed by the administration to pay off its increasing foreign debts.

Initially, previous administrations said it was a temporary stop-gap measure; but in reality, it was far from temporary and over the decades, the creation of institutions geared towards the export of labor entrenched the policy further – so that it frames many aspects of our economic, political and social systems.

Given that the Arroyo administration could not stop the exportation of human labor as it desperately needs the billions remittances of OFWs keeping the economy afloat and at the same time to conceal its own failure to generate jobs locally, but the Arroyo administration does not want to take full responsibility to protect and promote OFWs rights and welfare. It passes on its responsibility of protecting OFWs to the mercy of profit-oriented recruitment agencies; that is why there are rampant cases of abuses, maltreatment, and labor malpractices in the Middle East.

It continuously imposes additional fees and charges that overburdening OFWs and their families such as the documentary stamp tax, the recent 25% increase in passport fees and other consular fess by RP posts in Europe, the selective implementation of the anti-OFW ban on direct hiring primarily designed to corner the fees and charges of departing household service workers in Hong Kong and other countries in Asia Pacific. The Arroyo administration suspended almost all major welfare and social services by onerously implementing the OWWA Omnibus Policies on 2004. The OWWA is supposed to be the premier government agency providing welfare and social services to OFWs and their families. All these are part of the LEP scheme which we firmly and resolutely stand against it; we are not against to having employment abroad per see as it is individual's basic right to seek employment, wherever and whenever one chooses.

The majority of the poor and unemployed Filipinos behaving in an economically rational manner in response to condition of economic hardship and crisis which the Arroyo administration is primary responsible are force to seek employment abroad as the only remaining option for survival, for their struggling families.

We are against the LEP and its systematic intensification by the Arroyo administration because it diminishes human beings into a mere commodity.

We are against the LEP and its systematic intensification by the Arroyo administration because the government is now much dependent on OFW remittances, thereby setting aside its responsibility and duty to create enough jobs locally for its own people.

We are against the LEP and its systematic intensification by the Arroyo administration because it is the main cause of family break ups and disintegration making OFW children's future at great risks and uncertainty, thereby ruining our basic social institution, in the long run will ruin the Filipino nation.

We are against the LEP and its systematic intensification by the Arroyo administration because it is contrary to our dream and aspiration for a society where families will never be torn apart just for the need to survive.

It is imperative that the next administration would go away from the neo-liberal policies of Globalization.

It is imperative that the next administration will be working towards local full employment of our people anchored in a pro-poor process of development that generates labor-intensive growth providing for productive and gainful local employment opportunities for all individuals.

The above would be realized if genuine agrarian reform be implemented and nationalization of basic industries will be institutionalized – only then a domestic-based and sustainable growth is achieved. (end)

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

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