Migrants assail govt’ for sitting down on issue of stranded OFWs

Sep. 30, 2008

Migrante International assails the Philippine government for sitting down on the issue of about 6,000 stranded OFWs in different countries in the middle east.

The group particularly criticized acting Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Esteban Conejos, Jr. for literally waiting for the response of the UAE government before acting on the matter.

“Again the DFA is depending on the mercy of the host country, instead of initiating concrete actions to save thousands of our distressed kababayans,” said Migrante spokesman Garry Martinez.

Thousands of Filipinos were stranded in several areas in Oman and Iran after their applications for United Arab Emirates (UAE) tourist visas were rejected. The rejections came as the Filipinos’ visit visas that allowed them to work temporarily in the UAE expired.

Under a new law, visit visas will no longer be renewed. Instead, visit visa holders should apply for re-entry to the UAE as tourists. They have to wait the whole day for the decision whether their visa application is approved or not.

“As we all know, stranded OFWs live in very poor conditions. Most them were crammed in a single room and hardly eating three square meals a day,” Martinez said.

Martinez also chided Conejos for irresponsibly blaming the stranded OFWs for not listening to their warning regarding the new rules. .

“This is a conduct of unbecoming for a DFA secretary and also the co-chair of the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development,” Martinez said.

On the hand, in her recent visit to the US, President Arroyo hailed the overseas Filipino workers as “true global pioneers” in her speech before the 63rd United Nations General Assembly. This is a marketing scheme of Arroyo’s export of human labor towards achieving its target of 2 million Filipinos to be deployed overseas starting 2010.

“This coming October, the government will host the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development and the Mrs. Arroyo, being the poster girl of the GFMD, will promote migration and cover-up it’s ill effects such as the case stranded OFWs in the Middle East” said Martinez.

Meanwhile, Migrante International and the International Migrants Alliance, membership of both are grassroots migrant organizations around the world, will be holding the International Alliance of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) coinciding the 2nd GFMD to challenge the Arroyo administration to put forward the legitimate concerns and issues of OFWs and send a clear message to all sending and receiving participating governments that human labor exportation entails further commoditization of human labor that would only bring havoc to the well-being of migrant workers around the world. #

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