Filipino overseas workers in several countries in Asia-Pacific have expressed anger over their abandonment by the Philippine government “in these trying times of severe health risks, loss of jobs, reduction of income, and increased need of our families”.
In a joint statement signed by Filipino organizations in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Macau SAR, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, the Filipino workers scored the Duterte government’s absence of a comprehensive assistance plan during lock down as well as inaction on their concerns in countries where they live and work.
They identified areas of urgent concern where the Philippine government have yet to take decisive action, such as: risk of infection and lack of access to health services, loss of job or reduction of income and the lack of economic relief, visa and labor problems, and lack of consular and labor assistance, grave situation of families, and lack of economic relief, and problem of return or suspension of work abroad.
“The modern heroes are now the forsaken people of the Duterte government,” the OFWs said in their statement.
They demanded the Duterte government to:
- Develop a comprehensive plan to urgently respond to our worsening conditions in health, livelihood and lives both abroad and for our families back home.
- Ensure uninterrupted services to all Filipinos by all Philippine overseas posts especially during these times of the COVID-19 crisis. Open Embassies/Consulates for those in need of service.
- Provide Filipinos overseas with free masks, alcohol and hand sanitizers especially to workers at risk, undocumented and frontliners. Conduct food relief drives to Filipinos abroad who lost economic means to survive.
- Immediate financial assistance for all OFWs in need irrespective of visa status. Aid – including food provision and shelter service – to our undocumented workers, international students and other workers in dire need overseas. Swift and free repatriation should also be made available. Repatriated workers should also be fully assisted until they reach their final destination.
- Moratorium on monthly collection from OFWs. Immediately stop the premium increase and mandatory collection of PhilHealth and SSS to OFWs.
- Free processing of travel documents especially to undocumented workers, and those detained and in need of repatriation.
- Expand the economic relief in the Philippines to cover everyone in need including OFW families.
- Stop militarist actions and the attacks on human rights of the Filipino people
- Mass Testing Now in the Philippines.
- Make representation to host governments to ensure protection of rights and provision of services to all migrants regardless of status
They stressed that these are the calls “we shall hold the Philippine government accountable for as we also join our compatriots in the Philippines in the campaign for free mass testing, medical solution and not military actions, broadest coverage of sufficient economic relief, job security and even for Duterte himself to answer for his neglect, irresponsibility, and failure to act quickly, efficiently and comprehensively to address the COVID-19 crisis.”
Migrant Filipinos all over the world have started their online weekly “Kalampagan ng Migrante”, to ventilate their indignation of the Duterte government’s mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and to express their solidarity with frontline workers in the Philippines and all other people around the world fighting the pandemic. The weekly online noise barrage is an offshoot of the noise barrage held weekly by many communities in Europe severely hit by the Covid-19, to give moral support to each other and hail their health workers in the frontline of the fight against the pandemic. [Pinoy Abrod]