Monday, August 17, 2009

Helping OFWs is not a Crime

17 August 2009

Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994

Helping our Fellow Kababayans Abroad is not a Crime!-Migrante

The largest alliance of Filipino migrants organizations today raised concern over the arrest of some of the officers and members of Migrante-Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS) by Saudi Arabian authorities on August 14. Migrante International also called on the Philippine government to do everything it can for the release of the remaining detainees, including the runaway OFWs Migrante-KGS was counseling.

“The defense and protection of the rights of migrant Filipinos have been sorely lacking that our officers and members in Saudi Arabia have been forced to risk their lives and their safety so they are able to help OFW victims of maltreatment and abuse in Saudi Arabia,” Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, declared. “While we appreciate the efforts that embassy officials have made to work for the release of the detainees, we would like to call on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to ensure the release of all our officers and guarantee their safety.”

The KGS officers were arrested in a safehouse where the organization provided for OFW runaways. They were conducting their regular weekly case dialogs and counseling to OFW victims of maltreatment and abuses who ran away from their employers.

According to John Monterona, Migrante Middle East Coordinator, Migrante’s Saudi chapter has been receiving an average of five cases daily. The number of cases has significantly increased since the Philippine government intensified its labor export policy as its response to the global financial and economic crisis.

Martinez continued, “Our KGS chapter is a trailblazer in providing emergency assistance to OFWs in distress in Saudi Arabia. Since its inception, KGS has rescued or facilitated the rescue of thousands of our kababayans in Saudi Arabia. It has also been at the forefront of the campaign for the defense and protection of migrant areas in the region. Our officers and members deserve all the guarantees of protection and defense the Philippine government can offer.”

Migrante International together with its chapters abroad has its program in providing service through a very responsive move on the welfare needs of OFWs in distress. “If this kind of advocacy is a criminal act, who among our kababayans will give attention on the increasing numbers of distressed OFWs given the fact that the Philippine embassies are inutile most of the time in giving immediate action on the problems of OFWs?”, Martinez added.

Martinez called on the Philippine government to decisively address the problem of migrant rights violations in Saudi Arabia which are increasingly becoming more serious in number and in intensity.

“And to our kababayans, given the repressive situation we have, Migrante will not stop in giving attention on your issues to continuously promote the rights and welfare of OFWs”. “We must ensure our Filipino communities abroad to insist our rights to Philippine embassy officials to hear our clamors and demands”, Martinez ended.

On the other hand, Migrante Europe strongly condemns this assault on a sanctuary for Filipino migrants in distress. The assault by the Saudi authorities is another mockery of those whose rights have already been abused and violated. The Philippine government should strongly protest this assault.###

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