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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Migrants Slam Treatment of OFWs as Commodities

A group of international migrant workers groups has asked the government to address not only the issues of increased remittances but also the responsibility of the country to uphold the rights of overseas Filipino workers wherever they may be found.

They confirmed that a meeting of migrant workers NGOs will convene in Manila on July 11 and 12 to launch the People's Global Action, which will group together hundreds of migrant workers' organizations that will campaign for the protection of their rights in the Philippines and in all other countries capitalizing on the OFW market.

The Global Call to Action is also organizing a parallel meeting in Manila to coincide with the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development, which the Philippines is hosting in October, to oppose perspectives being promoted by governments that "perpetuate migrants' exploitation, reinforce gender oppression, undermine human rights and surrender State responsibility for development."

The Philippine Working Group on GFMD and the Migrants' Rights International said in past meetings, governments focused on maximizing the development benefits of migration while reducing discussions on the human rights of migrants, the causes of massive migration like failed economic development programs and widespread poverty in many countries.

This time, according to the migrant workers' alliance, a broader framework would be set in place with a parallel forum that will call on governments and other parties involved to renounce the treatment of migrant workers as commodities.

The meeting of government officials in Manila should now veer away from the themes promoted by banks, remittance companies and corporate giants, which centered on treating migrants as sources of revenues and as financiers of social development programs.

"These are all consistent with the neo-liberal agenda of making the people bear the burden of development, reducing government responsibility and accountability and ensuring more profits for the companies," the organizers said.

"We oppose the perspectives of making the GFMD an extension of neo-liberal globalization so that it becomes an instrument of the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to promote corporate globalization, this time capitalizing on migrant workers," they said.

Organizers emphasized the Manila forum should be an opportunity for hundreds of delegates from all over the world to discuss the impact of migrant workers who remit more than $300 billion annually to their home countries.

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