Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos failed to win the Deputy Director General position for the International Organization for Migration.
"We are relieved to find out that Undersecretary Conejos opponent won by a landslide," says Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.
"We see this failure of Undersecretary Conejos to bag the nomination as a vindication of our call that the Undersecretary does not deserve to head such an important migrant body."
Martinez, continued, "We were outraged when President Gloria Arroyo herself nominated Usec. Conejos last April as the country's nominee to the global migration body. It was of no consequence to her that, under his watch, the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Affairs, has turned from bad to worse in terms of protecting the rights of migrant Filipinos. "
Migrante together with their chapters and network here and abroad sent a barrage of letters to the Director General of the IOM stating their strong opposition to the nomination of Undersecretary Conejos as IOM Deputy Director General.
"Since Conejos appointment and assumption to Office as Under Secretary for Migrant Workers Affairs with the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs under the supervision of the Office of the President, cases of abuses, sexual, physical and mental and numerous cases of jailed Filipino migrant workers and on death row have tremendously increased in the absence of the Philippine government affirmative intervention. Numerous cases brought by our organization to his office has either not been acted upon or has been subject to numerous delays," Martinez explained.
The group claims that the Arroyo administration decided to nominate Conejos to the IOM after his appointment as co-chairperson of the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development which was held in the Philippine last year.
"We hope that Conejos failure to be promoted in an international body will serve as a lesson to government officials who have done disservice to distressed OFWs abroad. We believe that exposing Conejos' track record of incompetence and wanton disregard for the plight of millions of Filipino Migrant workers were the reasons why he dismally failed to win the said election," Martinez warned.
"We would like to congratulate IOM and its new Deputy Director General Laura Thompson. We sincerely hope that Ms. Thompson would, indeed, serve the interests of migrants well," Martinez added.
Laura Thompson is a former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations Office before winning the IOM position. She was elected by a two-thirds majority vote of the IOM Council, which brought together the Organization's Member States including the Philippines.
"Meanwhile, the only way Undersecretary Conejos can get back the trust of OFWS is if he sincerely and compassionately addresses migrants' rights and concerns," Martinez concluded.