This is a special day (June 7) where we salute the great contributions to our country of the Filipino migrant workers.
Known as the overseas Filipino workers or OFWs, the sea- and land-based migrant workers have substantially and consistently propped up our economy while enduring extreme loneliness, hard work, and even deprivations and dangers in far away and strange lands and seas. But the honor bestowed upon them by the government as Mga Bagong Bayani or modern heroes has remained a lip service. What with the mediocre service the government agencies provide these workers. Moreover, aside from the corrupt and inept bureaucrats that OFWs have to deal with when applying for jobs or processing the required documents, while abroad, and even during their homecomings as balikbayans, a series of Philippine governments has vigorously pursued the one-sided liberalization or specifically the deregulation of the migrant labor market. For one, they seek to transform the labor export market into a strictly employer-employee domain, wherein the state will relinquish its regulatory functions and let the bosses and their workers settle their problems, just like the much abused dictum of letting the so-called market forces run their course. This, despite the rampant and unabated anti-worker practices in this sector from illegal recruiters to abusive foreign employers.
This deregulation frenzy is in fact at the core of RA 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act of 1995, which prompted the establishment of AMEND (Alliance of Migrant Workers and Advocates to Amend 8042) as well as other organizations of Filipino migrant workers and NGOs.
We should, however, never lose hope in our struggle. while commemorating the Migrant Workers Day, we must reaffirm our commitment to intensify our diverse but interconnected efforts to make Filipino migrant workers, and all workers, in general enjoy the fruits of their labor; and that their rights, benefits and privileges are being complied with and fully protected.
Statement (excerpt) from MARINO and MMOA (Merchant Marine Overseas Association) solidarity message during the Migrant Workers’ Day Yr. 2002.Posted at (APL) Alliance of Progressive Labor.