OFWs plight worsened under Arroyo regime
Joint Statement of Migrante Chapters in the Middle East
March 16, 2010
Migrante, OFWs and their families will be commemorating the 15th year death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, with much vigor and persistence defending OFWs well-being, rights and welfare.
March 17 is considered by many OFWs and their organizations a significant historical event depicting the real plight of overseas Filipino workers that undeniably becomes worst under the Arroyo administration due to its continued neglect and unparalleled disservice to OFWs despite being hailed as ‘Modern Heroes’.
Migrant workers’ contribution in keeping the local economy afloat can’t be denied as their remittances keep on hitting new record of US$ 17.3-B last year that greatly contributed to our country’s dollar reserves -that makes OFWs ‘Modern Heroes’ unto the eyes and minds of the past administrations including the present most anti-OFW Arroyo administration.
Calling OFWs as “Modern Heroes” does not make sense to OFWs and families where the present Arroyo administration continuously neglecting and committing disservice to OFWs by failing to implement genuine policies and programs that would advance and protect OFWs well-being, rights and welfare.
What OFWs and their families got from the Arroyo administration are anti-OFW policies such as the implementation of a codified OWWA Omnibus policies that phased out almost all welfare programs previously availed by OFWs and families including the Family loan assistance; the POEA Memorandum Circular 04 prescribing rules on direct hiring that was challenged by Migrante, OFWs and families; the guidelines on Land-based recruitment and Household service Workers (HSWs) placing OFWs and aspiring alike at the hands of unscrupulous recruitment agencies collecting from OFWs higher fees amounting to P35thousand – P45 thousand each and other additional payments.”
The Arroyo administration failed to develop our local economy that would absorb the increasing numbers of unemployed whose only option now is to find work abroad; it has intensified its labor export program sending some 3,300 daily Filipino workers abroad and is targeting to send 2-M OFWs yearly; and to ensure intensified labor export, it issued Administrative Order No. 247 ordering POEA to focus on marketing and finding markets for
OFWs and have allotted an increased budget of nearly P500,000 for its marketing activities in its effort to boost exporting cheap labor abroad.
Intensified Labor Export at OFWs Expense
So long as this present administration remains to be subservient to the US-dictated policies of globalization (liberalization, deregulation, and privatization) as opposed to nationalization of basic Industries and implementation of genuine agrarian reform, it will miserably fail to develop our local economy and can’t get out of this vicious cycle of economic reliance on foreign loans and labor export at the expense of our Overseas Filipino Workers.
We kept on saying that migrant workers are not commodities but humans whose rights and well-being should be respected and guarded; their welfare should be given foremost importance and consideration by our own government first, setting an example to the host receiving governments.
But the numerous cases of distressed OFWs due to maltreatment, unfair labor practices, and sexual abuses; the recorded 8 mysterious deaths of OFWs in the Middle East early this year, the increasing numbers of runaways at Khandera Bridge in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and various Filipino Workers Resource Centers (FWRCs) in the Middle East run and managed by different RP post now numbering to about 3,000; the increasing numbers of jailed OFWs and the 26 OFWs facing death in the Middle East; all these tell us one thing: Arroyo administration’s gross disregard to protect OFWs tantamount to criminal neglect!
Misuse of OWWA Fund
OWWA fund is a trust fund pooled from OFWs US$25 membership fee. The Arroyo administration has attempted and it succeeded to a few to divert the use of these funds in a form of investments and creation of task forces presumably to help distressed OFWs abroad during emergency situations and war for OFWs immediate evacuations.
Migrante’s records revealed some of the alleged anomalous investments and misuse of OFW funds under Arroyo administration:
· Transfer of P4B OFW Medicare Fund from OWWA to Philippine Health and Insurance Corporation by virtue of a secret issuance of Executive Order 182 devoid of consultations from OFWs as stakeholders of these funds
· The P260M bogus claims exposed by then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo himself just to justify OWWA Medicare fund transfer to Philhealth under the present Arroyo Administration
· The un-audited US$293,500 for the Middle East Preparedness Team headed by General Roy Cimatu during the US war of aggression to Iraq where repatriation of OFWs never took placed anyway under the present Arroyo administration.
· POEA’s alleged illegally granting of P40 million incentives and allowances to its officials and employees for the past three years since 2002 and allowing its Executives and employees who were issued mobile phones to download about P796,000.00 worth of games, tones and picture messages and other unauthorized items.
· Misallocation of P1-B OWWA funds to its bogus Filipino Expatriate livelihood support program through the issuance of Administrative Order No. 248
OFWs and families at the forefront of defending their rights and welfare
Migrante’s file of the Arroyo administration ‘sins’ to OFWs and families are becoming populated; but OFWs and families will not allow this regime to inflict more injustice and disservice to them.
We will also intensify our campaign urging fellow OFWs to join us in various forms of protests to show our disgusts and discontent to the most anti-OFW Arroyo regime.
Today, we have urged our families and relatives to join the march protest tomorrow, March 17, headed by Migrante International and allied organizations.
As we commemorate the 15th year death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion which symbolizes OFWs persistent struggle advancing its welfare and protect OFWs rights, Migrante chapters and member-organizations in the Middle East vow to reach out more OFWs and families for them to be organized and closely join with the other sectors-- farmers, workers, professionals, government employees, students, laymen and Church workers, and all together will be persistent, once more, in frustrating the Arroyo administration’s evil plans to stay in power beyond her term.
Uphold and defend Migrant rights!
Migrante, OFWs and families keep on struggling for national independence and democracy so that we could live and work decently at home.
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012