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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Two days before International Migrants Day, Migrante storms DFA to protest inaction in repatriating distressed OFWs


As the world gears for the observance of the International Migrants Day and celebrates the Christmas holidays, families of overseas Filipino workers stormed the gates of the Department of Foreign Affairs and threw rotten fruits on the agency's seal.

"We are enraged over DFA's inaction to the distressed OFWs long-overdue repatriation. We have done all diplomatic means in forwarding our demands. But our cries just seem to fall on deaf ears. Arroyo's administration is really rotten to the core," excalimed Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

According to Migrante, they are assisting at least 300 cases of requests for repatriation. All of which are victims of gross contract violations, maltreatment and sexual abuse and are now stranded in various countries particularly Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Also included are Filipino workers who were wrongfully accused and jailed.

Martinez further continued by saying "families are also saddened bacuse while the whole world marks two important events, hundreds of OFWs and thousands of their relatives all find themselves in a sorrowful state. How can they value Migrants Day when the lives of the family breadwinners are in danger? How can they feel joyous over Christmas when their loved ones are stranded miles away from home?"

It was on December 18, 1990 that the United Nations adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrants Workers and Members of Their Families. In 2000 the UN General Assembly designated 18 December of each year as International Migrant's Day. On this day UN member states are encouraged to give particular importance to migrant welfare.

"What we cannot stomach is the callous media gimmickry of the Arroyo regime during this time of the year. To gloss over her administration's inutility in providing quick response to distressed OFWs, Arroyo will throw parties for the families and give red carpet reception to arriving OFWs at the airport," expalined Martinez.

Martinez called on Arroyo to "stop using peoples money for your pretentious pomp". He insisted that the fund should rather be used to concrete steps for OFW repatriation such as providing legal assistance and plane tickets for Filipino workers.

Earlier in the day, Migrante and the families were supported by the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran by  holding a mass to pray for the plight of the overseas Filipino workers. ###

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