Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2 May 2008 – The Overseas Filipino Workers community leaders from various Filipino organizations in Riyadh gathered at Al Mutlaq Hotel in the observance of International Worker’s Day, also known us Labor Day.
In many countries, May 1 is commemorated as economic and social achievements of workers. Being part of the labor force outside the Philippine soil, OFW community leaders celebrate the occasion.
Overseas Filipinos dubbed by the Philippine Government as “Bagong Bayani” or “New Hero” and “Unsung Heroes” because of its remittances uplifting economic downturn in the country. But most OFWs complain that nothing much has been done for the so called “New Heroes.”
Working away from home, the progress they seek is too elusive, comfort they long, yet comfort is a myth.
Many OFWs says “they leave the country honored, they come home betrayed.” An easy prey for illegal recruiters; the sad story and the untold stories of maltreatment and abuse in their country’s destination.
OFWs or Overseas Filipinos probably the biggest sector outside Philippine society yet neglected and unrepresented in Government policy making bodies, even in the Philippine Hall of Congress.
Thus in the same day in commemoration of the Labor Day, an OFW led Political Party is born. They named it “Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino” the worldwide OFW-led national political party for the Overseas Filipinos, Overseas Filipino Workers and the Filipino People.
PPP offers itself as the instrument of the people to sweep away abuses, injustice, graft and corruption, to build a new and nobler Philippine republic. Overseas Filipinos today are estimated eight to ten million in diaspora with more than 20 million dependents in the homeland.
A year ago, an e-group was created as a discussion forum for the purpose of uniting Filipino community leaders and OFW advocates worldwide. After tedious and usual negative setbacks normal to any organizations in its formative stage, the long time dream come true. Exhausting all possible efforts to unite Filipinos worldwide was a great success.
OFWs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the leading proponent of the party’s birth decided to draft the “Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino” Constitution and By-laws. Crafted by brilliant minds in the party chapter Committee on Rules and Resolutions headed by Joey Badong together with long time OFW advocates like Francis Oca, Alex Veloso Bello and the Party President Dr. Lito Astillero presented to the chapter members the party’s draft Consitution and By-Laws. After long intense deliberations the said charter and by-laws was approved. The party members agreed that the “working draft” will be presented in the coming Global Filipino Leaders meeting next week in Manila. If ratified by the founding members, it will be soon registered to COMELEC as the new national political party in the country, the first ever in the history of Philippine politics.
Ramon Ignacio, who support the idea in the formation of an OFW led political party in his proposed party platform outline said “The conscience of the people, in this time of grave national problems, has called into being a new party – the Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino, born of the Filipinos’ sense of nationalism, social and economic justice, quest for progress and demand for effective governance in the Motherland. We of the Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the dreams and aspirations espoused by our heroes and forefathers to stand with the Filipino pride, and in today’s reality – wherever we are.”
“The PPP will be like a national political party, much like the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party where only one part of it will be devoted to elections. The rest will have other concerns like getting OF representation in related government agencies like the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration” said Francisco “Jun” Aguilar one of PPP prime movers.
Jun Aguilar now based at home is a former technical analyst in Saudi Arabia for 13 years and presently a successful “OFW entrepreneur”. He is actively running businesses in the country along with other Filipino expatriates who belong to the Filipino Migrant Workers Group or the FMW Group.
Aguilar added that “this party will open up more slots and positions to willing, capable and qualified PPP members who want to serve the sector. It will create a tremendous clout in any administration which could result in better consultation and cooperation to lead to the improvement of the sector and to good governance.” He further added that “the Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino or PPP will be a party for overseas Filipinos regardless of his or her status in his or her respective host country as well as those who have come home and the families of overseas Filipinos.”
In Jun Aguilar’s concept paper, it is stated that “the basic reason why PPP is born is that overseas Filipinos, despite their large number has never maximized its potential to address its numerous concerns. It has failed to garner a seat in Congress despite several tries by OFW Party Lists. Moreover, the sector has never been consulted on any State policies, regulations and major appointments that would greatly affect its concerns.”
Bong Amora, one of the movers clarified that “the PPP Constitution and By-Laws could not be perfected at this time but if ratified and approve by the Global Leaders in Manila, a General Membership Assembly will be called maybe this year or next year for amendments and election of the party’s National Executive Council.”
He added that “PPP’s participation this coming 2010 election once recognized by COMELEC, will start by forming its political machineries at Barangay or grassroots level and probably support a certain candidate identified as an OFW advocate or to those who are concerns in the plight of the Overseas Filipino Workers.”
Roger Bantiles, one of the founding members based in the National Capital Region also said “the Philippines has more than 42,000 barangays, I doubt if we can claim influence over even 1% of total, or 420 and yet, this is where the votes are first counted and protected. And the barangay people are the ones who will go all the way to the municipal and provincial Comelec offices to protect the votes. PPP, which is global or pandaigdigan, will have to go “barriotic” or “baranganic”, literally “thinking global, but acting local.”
The PPP Constitution and By-Laws dubbed as “The Working Draft” approved by the PPP-Riyadh Chapter during its intense deliberation, OFW Congress Riyadh President and Board Chairman of PPP Riyadh Board of Trustees, in the person of Mr. Alex Veleso Bello will present the “draft” to the PPP Global Leaders in Manila this coming May 8 to 11, 2008. The PPP Global leaders are among the participants coming from all over the world to attend the “Global Filipino Nation International Conference” at the University of Makati.
In the said GFN conference PPP Riyadh will also present in the Political Module the proposed OFW empowerment which is the creation of an OFW led political party as a means for a change in the shattered image of Philippine politics. Mr. Alex Veloso Bello stresses a point during the meeting that it is about time that Overseas Filipinos and dependents at home are represented and be actively involved in Philippine governance.
The goal of the GFN conference would bring all overseas Filipinos who share a common goal of effective governance in the Homeland, anchored on grassroots economic empowerment and resolution of issues facing migrant workers and their families, and with raised consciousness of a nation ready to march as one. The event is an assembly of overseas Filipinos leaders, members of their families, their friends onshore who share the same governance vision, collaborative global business partners and investors, grassroots entrepreneurs, new nationwide potential political leaders.
A job fair will also be held simultaneously at the University of Makati campus.
Article 3, Section 6 of PPPs Charter is as follows:
SECTION 6 – Advocate and/or legislate such programs for the welfare of Overseas Filipinos, like:
6.1. Advocate for the safety and well being of the OFs.
6.2. Promote civic, social and economic programs designed for the upliftment of OFs.
6.3. Advocate for the implementation of a social security systems designed to meet the needs and requirements of OFs.
6.4. Advocate for the national Policy and program for crisis intervention on the plight of OFs in distress in various parts of the world.
6.5. Advocate for the national policy and program for the re-integration of OFs into the mainstream of Philippine economy and society;
6.6. Legislate laws to safeguard OFWs from illegal and exploitative recruitment practices, and enact a law that will provide stiff punishment;
6.7. Legislate laws that will provide stiff punishment to proven corrupt officials in the POEA, OWWA, DOLE and other government agencies mandated to take care of the plight of the OFWs.
6.8. Advocate for upholding the Human Rights of OFs all over the world, and urge the Philippine Government to exert more efforts through diplomatic channels to provide relief to OFs who have fallen victim to human rights abuses.