Labor migration is a global phenomenon that cannot go unnoticed, undermined and unappreciated. Today, we celebrate the might and courage of our migrant workers and at the same time, call for better protection of their rights and welfare. Regardless of status—documented or undocumented—they are human beings who are endowed with their rights. They are indispensable and essential to the global and local economy. Their issues cannot be silenced.
In 1995, Flor Contemplacion moved the Philippines into action. Her story prompted Congress to enact Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 on June 7, 1995. To mark the date, June 7 was declared as National Migrants Day.
The nation hoped her story would not be repeated again. Yet, here we are, in 2017, with the story of Joanna Demafelis who was found in a freezer in Kuwait after two years of going missing. The continuation of harrowing stories of abuse experienced by our OFWs must be perceived not as isolated cases but as reflections of systemic abuse of migrant workers. Hence, on the occasion of the National Migrants’ Day, we call on the Philippine government to look at at the multifaceted dimensions of labor migration comprehensively and both tactically and strategically and to work towards the eradication of violation of our OFWs’ human and workers’ rights. We call on our government to effectively implement and enforce the provisions of RA8042 and its amendatory laws RA9422 and RA10022. We have been hailed as a model for migration protection policies and yet their effective implementation remains a big challenge especially because the number of our OFWs continues to increase tremendously over the years. Furthermore, we should ensure that these policies are gender-responsive and cater to the actual needs of our migrant workers.
CMA also calls for the crafting of a comprehensive exit plan for our OFWs who are forced to work abroad because of the lack of decent work opportunities in the country. The implementation of mechanisms to ensure the protection of migrant workers’ rights should be accompanied by the provision and betterment of the local working conditions in the country. Labor migration should not be perceived as a given to keep the Philippine economy progressing.
These are calls we hope the government and other sectors of society rally for. Let us stand in solidarity with our migrant workers who endure a lot for the development of their families and communities and the whole of Philippine society as well. They are human beings with dignity entitled to their rights which should be respected, protected and fulfilled.
Implement all provisions of the Magna Carta for Migrant Workers!
Today, we let migrants’ voices be heard and celebrated. RESPECT, PROTECT AND FULFILL MIGRANT WORKERS’ RIGHTS!