Genuine land reform will reunite us with our families and country
Filipino migrants’ unity statement on the Nationwide Peasant Caravan for Land and Justice
The Filipino migrant community expresses its solidarity with the ongoing 10-day Nationwide Caravan for Land and Justice, wherein thousands of Filipino peasants are traveling from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to reach Mendiola Bridge in Manila by January 22, the 23rd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre. This historic caravan is a collective protest against the worsening landlessness, human rights violations against peasants, and plunder of agricultural funds under the administration of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Majority of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) hail from backward rural communities that offer no decent livelihoods or opportunities for its impoverished people. It is estimated that seven out of 10 peasants do not own the land they till, and give around one half to two-thirds of their harvest to wealthy landowners. Meanwhile, agricultural workers (mostly victims of landgrabbing by corporations, the government, and landowners), receive less than US$1 per day during cropping season, and left to fend for themselves doing odd jobs for the rest of the year.
This situation has forced many of us to seek overseas work, in the hope that we may be able to provide for our families’ basic needs. We incur huge debts in the process of applying for work abroad, the amount needed for which ranges from US$ 2,000 to 4,000, including exorbitant placement fees and state exactions. However, upon reaching foreign shores, many of us realize that we are unable to fulfill our dreams after all. We realize that we have become victims of exploitation and abuse by our recruiters and employers. We realize that the government has sold us out to employers and foreign governments, which it shamelessly woos to open up their labor market even at the expense of our most basic human rights. The number of distressed OFWs increases by the day; so does the number of new deployments. The Arroyo administration has made it a point to break previous records of OFW deployment (currently at 4,500 workers per day) and OFW remittances (at US$1.5 billion in October 2009), clearly using labor export as an artificial means to sustain the perennially bankrupt Philippine economy.
The Filipino migrant community believes that the government’s labor export program is not the solution to the economic crisis, and landlessness experienced by farmers in the communities we came from and in which our families back home are still struggling to survive. Because of our situation abroad, which ranges from being financially tight to downright dehumanizing, most of us have been unable to pay off our debts, much less secure a good future for our families despite years of hard toil. The global financial economic crisis continues to be a threat. It has forced and will continue to force thousands of us back to the countryside, which we believe will continue to be bereft of opportunities.
It will be bereft of opportunities until lands are handed over to farmers instead of agricultural or mining corporations that merely extract natural resources and exploit labor for profit. It will be bereft of opportunities until the Arroyo administration puts an end to militarization, which only serves wealthy landowners and corporations, while terrorizing rural communities. Since 2001, there have been 561 civilian farmers extra-judicially killed, while hundreds more have been abducted and remain missing or illegally arrested and detained. The deaths of our farmers, such as in Hacienda Luisita, grieve us like we grieve the unjust deaths of our fellow OFWs at the hands of employers and foreign governments.
We salute the Filipino peasantry for undertaking this long march for land and justice. We urge the government to heed their calls, as well as ours, that only genuine land reform and national industrial development will uplift the Filipino people from poverty and address the root of forced migration. Indeed, only genuine land reform and national industrial development has the potential to reunite us with our families and enable us to truly offer our lives and labor in service of the country.
Philippine Australia Solidarity Association
Pinoy In Austrian Society For Integrity, Reforms and Social Transformation (PINAS FIRST)
KASAMMAKO-(Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea)
PINAY-The Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec
Migrante Saudi Arabia
Migrante Partylist - KSA Chapter
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan - Riyadh
Migrante Al Khobar
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan - Dawadmi
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan - Al Jouf
Samahang Manggagawa sa Saudi Arabia (MASA)
Migrante Eastern Province
Jeddah Filipino Society
Makabayan Saudi Arabia
MIGRANTE-Ras Al Kaimah
United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society - Hong Kong (ATIS-HK)
Filipino Migrant Workers' Union - Hong Kong (FMWU-HK)
Cordillera Alliance in Hong Kong (CORALL-HK)
Association of Concerned Filipinos in Hong Kong (ACFIL-HK)
Abra Migrant Workers Welfare Association (AMWWA-HK)
Friends of Bethune House in Hong Kong (FBH-HK)
Filipino Migrants' Association - Hong Kong (FMA-HK)
LIKHA Filipino Migrants Cultural Organization (LIKHA)
Mission Volunteers (MOVERS) Hong Kong
MIGRANTE Sectoral Party - Hong Kong
GABRIELA Hong Kong
Migrante - Shatin
Migrante - HSBC
Migrante - Chater Rd.
Migrante - Naguilian (Isabela) Hong Kong
Pinatud a Saleng ti Umili (PSU)
Filipino Friends in Hong Kong (FFHK)
Cuyapo Association in Hong Kong
Pangasinan Organization for Welfare, Empowerment and Rights (POWER)
MIGRANTE Netherlands (Amsterdam)
MIGRANTE Netherlands (Den Haag)
Filipina Circle for Advancement and Progress (FICAP)
Filipino Migrant Center (FMC)
Center for Japanese-Filipino Families (CJFF)
Kafin Migrant Center
Philippine Society in Japan (PSJ)
Migrante international-taiwan chapter
Migranteng Ilonggo sa Taiwan
Gabriela womens party_Taiwan chapter
Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand
Migrante International Chairperson
Mobile no: 09393914418