Migrante International, representing Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in various countries, today expressed solidarity with the first-ever nationwide farmers caravan for land and justice, which kicked off today in Davao and Cagayan de Oro City, and is expected to culminate with thousands of farmers marching to Mendiola on January 22.
"We hail our farmers for their resolve to travel all the way from remote provinces in order to register their call for genuine land reform, which the Arroyo government has left unheeded. OFWs, majority of whom come from poor agricultural provinces, know what it means to be landless. Landlessness is one of the root causes of migration, and thus Migrante supports this historic protest action," said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.
Migrante, currently campaigning for the repatriation of more than 300 stranded OFWs, said that the misery faced by Filipino victims of human rights abuses abroad can be traced to the lack of opportunities in the country brought about by landlessness and lack of national industrial development.
"For instance, some of the 88 OFWs in Riyadh currently on a hunger strike come from poor farmer families. It is most tragic when OFWs escape hunger here in the Philippines, only to be faced with hunger abroad because of government neglect and indifference to their welfare," said Martinez.
Migrante International will join several groups that will welcome the farmers when they arrive in Metro Manila on January 19. The group will also mobilize for the march to Mendiola on January 22, the 23rd anniversary of the Mendiola massacre.
"Farmers, just like OFWs, are heroes, struggling to survive and fight amidst poverty brought about by the government's neo-liberal policies that serve to benefit big landlords and employers first. They serve as an inspiration to OFWs all over the world," Martinez added.