The Filipino people have elected a new President-Elect Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte in the just finished May national elections. Filipino overseas workers, migrant advocates and organizations and many people’s organizations are closely watching what President-Elect President Duterte is going to do and what promises he is going to keep.
One of those plans is the creation of a department for OFWs which may be housed in the Post Office Building in Manila. He was even quoted in the media that he was going to go after the illegal recruiters.
Migrante International, the biggest global alliance of Filipino overseas workers, delivered its open letter (which is reproduced below) to draw Duterte’s attention to push for the freedom of Mary Jane Veloso who continues to be imprisoned in Indonesia, to put a stop to the many problems that continue to plague OFWs like illegal recruiters and yes, to do something about the fundamental problems that continue to plague the country.
Dear President Duterte,
We congratulate you on your overwhelming victory in the May 2016 polls. The Filipino people have spoken, and they chose change.
Your sweeping victory is a testament to how Filipinos, wherever we are in the world, thirst for a new leadership that is not corrupt and cacique. We want a new government that will depart from all the failures and empty promises of the so-called ‘tuwid na daan’. We want accountability for all the crimes committed by the Aquino government against the Filipino people.
For these elections, despite and against all odds, a record-breaking 407,000 overseas Filipino voters exercised their right to vote and fulfilled their duty to the nation. This big increase is proof of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) stake in the outcome of the May 2016 elections. It disproved all claims that there had been a growing apathy among our OFWs. We have once again proven how significant the OFW vote is.
We are one with the Filipino nation in hoping that your presidency will immediately address fundamental problems that beset the country – widespread unemployment, lowest wages, contractualization, landlessness, lack of basic social services, corruption, violations of human rights and national sovereignty – the root causes of forced migration.
We are one with all OFWs in hoping that your presidency will scrap the labor export policy that exploits our cheap labor and remittances but offers us nothing in return, especially in times of need. We will hold you to your promise to make OFWs your top-most priority in your labor agenda. We want new leaders who will be nurturing to OFWs and their families. We want a new government that will uphold and protect our rights and welfare.
We specifically call to your urgent attention the case of Mary Jane Veloso who remains on death row in Indonesia and others like her who have received no legal assistance from the previous administration; the immediate recall of notorious abusive and erring embassy officials, as well as accountability of high-level government officials responsible for the tanim-bala extortion scheme and other unresolved anomalies in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA); the urgent and full audit of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) funds and its immediate release to rightful OFW beneficiaries; the quick resolution of illegal recruitment and trafficking cases filed by countless OFW victims at the Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC); and, the scrapping of unnecessary fees that are viewed by our kababayan as nothing but ‘legalized kotong’ such as the abolition of the rubbish Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), among others.
We are very much open to hold a dialogue with you to further discuss urgent and fundamental OFW concerns, especially as the nation is set to commemorate Filipino Migrants’ Day on June 7.
We dream of a society where families will need not be broken by the need to survive. We wish to come home to a country where there are opportunities for everyone to live decent and humane lives. Mr. President, these are the changes we want to see in your administration. ###
Tinig Migrante by E. Maestro