Migrante:Raising OFWs’ political awareness
Just like other sectoral groups aspiring to win a seat this 2013 election, MIGRANTE partylist is anticipating that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will finally give them a go signal thru a resolution before this month of September ends.
The filing of nationally elected positions, from Senators to partylist nominees, is set October 1 to 5, 2012.
The group, with its increased membership from about 50,000+ to about 100% conservatively reaching to 100,000 members worldwide, has been leading the promotion and protection of migrant workers. Not to mention the dependents of OFW members in the Philippines, the group also has 203 member-organizations practically present in 5 continents. While in the Philippines, they have 9 regional chapters and more than 20 provincial chapters of OFWs families.
During 2004 partylist elections, the group only garnered 86,000 votes. This time however the group vows to garner at least 250,000 votes to gain a seat in the House of Representatives. Although they understand that OFWs are more “economic-minded rather than political,” they have maintained their expectation that Overseas Absentee Voters will be wise enough to actively participate not only to OFWs issues and concerns but to important national issues.
“Winning a seat is foremost to our expectation. Secondly, raising the political awareness of OFWs and their kin is also in our expectations,” said John Leonard Monterona, the Sectoral Party Vice chairperson (and upcoming campaign manager in the Middle East and North Africa).
If given the chance to get seat in Congress, their focus will be on putting bills that would spell out what they have in their platform of governance.
Their political agenda include: Seeking justice and indemnification to migrant workers who are victims of human rights violations; directing services and assistance to migrants and their families; pushing for the accountability and prosecution of abusive and erring government officials who plunder of OFW funds and neglect their welfare; protecting migrant women and minors; stopping all forms of illegal recruitment and trafficking; scrapping all other state exactions and exorbitant fees; promoting bilateral agreements based on international labor standards and other instrumentalities; repealing all anti-migrant laws and policies; pushing for domestic job generation over labor export; and representing in government or in decision-making bodies for other OFW concerns.
Particularly, the group has been leading the fight against the migration of minors, 70% of whom are girls, which remains unabated and disturbing as recruiters continue falsifying their ages or allowing the use of official travel documents with the complicity of government officials in seaports and airports. They have been opposing OFW welfare services through the $25 contribution to OWWA on per contract basis which according to them “goes less for direct and onsite services…but more for unliquidated expenses, anomalous investments, scandalous perks and junkets of government officials.”
For years, they’ve been opposing exorbitant pays from the government for their application, recruitment and hiring. They said OFW pays government some P18,000 just to complete basic documentary requirements, which for them is another reason why undocumented work has become even more appealing despite risks to migrants.
Also this group representing our migrant workers is more serious on promoting domestic jobs for the reason that government has now become “dependent on labor export” to sustain the economy instead of pushing for agriculture and other local industries.
They said that recorded annual deployments has already outstripped yearly job generation over the last decade , with 9.60 million deployments in the 1997-2008 period compared to just 7.46 million additional domestic jobs generated (jobs data from the NSO). In 2008, POEA has documented a record-high of 1.2 million OFWs that were deployed in different countries abroad. Yet, for 35 years now since 1974, government’s labor export program has not led to the promised economic development.
Accordingly eight to ten million Filipinos working or residing abroad send million dollar remittances to save their families at home as well as lighten the country’s trade and debt burdens. This is more than enough reason for OFWs to gain the right of representation.
Though inexcusable, the government is still able to ignore, prevent, or deny migrants’ representation in government from their own sector such as the case of the unjust and illegal delisting of Migrante Sectoral Party by Comelec. Given their crucial role in society, migrants should play a role in the formulation of laws and policies that affect them and their families. And there is no better way for that representation to happen than to have migrants represent themselves.
Also Migrante shall fight any attempts to have OFWs disenfranchised in many ways from non-recognition to fraud to blatant violation of rights. As it has lobbied for the passage of the Overseas Absentee Voting Law, so shall it demand from government to allow the participation of genuine partylists in the electoral process instead of delisting them on dubious or flimsy grounds. Migrante shall push for genuine representatives from the sector to sit in governing bodies and oust the charlatans and the fake ones.
Let’s wait and see how the wise men at Comelec will render their judgment this time. (Comments at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By: Ronald O.Reyes
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