Marcos Jr’s Cha-cha: A Threat to Filipino Migrants and the Motherland

Apr. 12, 2024

In the heart of Europe, amidst the picturesque city of Amsterdam, Migrante Europe recently convened its fourth congress on March 30-31, 2024, echoing a resounding rejection of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s proposed charter change, or cha-cha, and its detrimental impacts on both Filipino migrants and the homeland they leave behind.

Under the theme “Filipino Migrants Unite: Jobs at Home, Not Abroad,” over 60 delegates from 18 affiliate organizations and Migrante chapters spanning seven countries deliberated on the looming specter of cha-cha and its implications for the Filipino people. At the forefront of discussions was the sobering realization that economic amendments touted as job creators could, in fact, exacerbate joblessness and drive more Filipinos to seek opportunities overseas.

Gary Martinez, newly elected Chairperson of Migrante Europe, minced no words in exposing the ulterior motives behind Marcos Jr’s push for cha-cha. He emphasized that the purported economic reforms serve as a smokescreen for facilitating the plunder of the Philippines’ natural resources by foreign monopolies. Martinez aptly pointed out that genuine job creation necessitates comprehensive land reform and the development of domestic industries, offering Filipinos viable alternatives to the hardship of seeking livelihoods abroad.

Echoing Martinez’s sentiments, Sonny Africa, Executive Director of the IBON Foundation, underscored the urgent need for migrant communities to resist Marcos Jr’s cha-cha. Africa warned against the insidious extension of presidential term limits camouflaged as ‘economic amendments,’ urging Filipinos worldwide to stand in solidarity against this assault on democratic principles.

Mercedita de Jesus, a member of Migrante Italy, seized the platform to demand justice for her missing son, Gene Roz Jamil “Bazoo” De Jesus, and his companion Dexter Capuyan in the Cordillera Region. Their disappearances underscore the perilous conditions faced by activists and advocates in the Philippines, where dissent often comes at a grave cost.

The congress also reflected on past triumphs and ongoing campaigns, including the rescue of trafficked workers and the steadfast advocacy for undocumented Filipinos’ regularization. These efforts underscore Migrante Europe’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants, even in the face of formidable challenges.

As the assembly drew to a close with the election of new officers, the overarching call to end the Philippine government’s Labor Export Policy resonated loud and clear. It is a call to action, a rallying cry for unity in the face of adversity, and a testament to the resilience of Filipino migrants worldwide.

In a world fraught with uncertainty, where the allure of overseas employment often masks the harsh realities of exploitation and separation, Migrante Europe’s stance against Marcos Jr’s cha-cha serves as a beacon of hope. It is a reminder that the fight for justice knows no borders and that the struggle for a better future begins at home. As we stand in solidarity with our migrant brethren, let us heed their call and strive for a Philippines where every Filipino can thrive, not just survive.

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