Friday, March 25, 2005

Philippine Government Pushing to Get US$9 Billion in Remittances from Overseas Workers

Media Statement
National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada/SIKLAB (OverseasFilipino Workers Group)
For immediate release: March 24, 2005

The National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC/national alliance of Filipino women advocacy groups) is critical of a recent release by the office of the Philippine President which projects that overseas Filipino workers (OFW) will remit a whopping US$9 billion for 2005.

The Philippine economy, currently in an extreme fiscal crisis and burdened by an insurmountable foreign debt, is unable to absorb its workers. The Philippine government developed the Labour Export Policy(LEP) – a means of selling its own people to countries abroad in orderto ensure foreign remittances. This policy guarantees the Philippines as the world’s largest migrant nation.

“Already, ten percent of the population of the Philippines live and work abroad, that accounts for about eight million Filipinos worldwide sending money home to the Philippines,” says Cecilia Diocson, Chairperson of NAPWC. “It is convenient for the Philippine government to set such a projection for Filipino workers around the world while their basic human rights go unprotected”, states Diocson.

“As OFW’s, we also see the intensifying militarization and human rights violations against our fellow progressive Filipino compatriots. These increasing violations put OFW’s in a compromising and uncomfortable position as they continue to send remittances home to ensure the survival of their families.”

“As overseas workers, we remitted $8.5 billion last year alone. This enormous amount being sent back to the Philippines helps prop up thePhilippine economy, encouraging the government to keep on sending more and more Filipinos abroad", asserts Diocson.

According to Migrante International, an alliance of people's organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and their families, every hour, around 100 Filipino workers are forced to work overseas and approximately 60 to 70 of them are women. In 2004, there were 894,661 Filipino workers exported to do the cheap and dangerous jobs.

“These workers are forced to leave the Philippines to work abroad and support their poverty-stricken families, yet the Philippine government does little to protect their rights,” states Glecy Duran of SIKLAB (Overseas Filipino workers organization), which is a member of NAPWC. “We come to countries like Canada where we end up doing the dirty and treacherous jobs that no one else wants,” continues Duran.

The Filipino community is the fourth largest visible minority group inCanada and the third largest in B.C. where they number about 60,000. It is estimated that there are over 8,000 domestic workers in B.C. and 93% are Filipino women.

Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is a perfect fit to the Philippines’s LEP. Under this program, domestic workers are forced to live-in their employer’s homes and are only granted temporary immigration status as “foreign workers.”

Earlier this month, several progressive members of the Philippineb Congress introduced a resolution calling for an investigation into the LCP after groups like NAPWC and SIKLAB have been actively calling for the Canadian government to scrap the LCP. The resolution recommended measures to protect the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) working as caregivers in Canada as well as in other countries.

SIKLAB will be gathering the Filipino community during a day-long consultation to celebrate its tenth anniversary on April 16, 2005 under the theme, “Halina at sama sama nating itaguyod ang karapatan at kapakanan ng migranteng Pilipino” (Come! Join us in upholding our rights and welfare as overseas Filipino workers). This day long event will bring the Filipino community together to share their experiences of migration and struggle.

For more information, contact Glecy Duran at #604-215-1103
or e-mail: siklab@kalayaancentre.net

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