Ellene Sana of the Center for Migrant Advocacy – Philippines said that diaspora philanthropy, or the efforts by Filipinos abroad to support the needs of the motherland, can be used as a leverage for others to be concerned with the issues and concerns of the overseas Filipinos sector.
“The general public may want to have a look at the issues facing overseas Filipinos – from the national to the international levels,” Sana said during the conference Good News for the Poor: A Conference on Filipino Diaspora Philanthropy held at the University of Santo Tomas.
She said migrants and their advocates have long called on government to “generate jobs, particularly decent-paying jobs” to minimize Filipinos’ forced migration. But if overseas migration cannot be prevented, Sana said government should accord protection to migrants.
Overseas Filipinos, Sana thinks, however are not confident with the government which does much “lip service” to them. “Government officials tell OFWs that they should feel ‘government’s presence in their lives.’ But what happens on the ground does not suit well with migrants,” she explained.
Among the common problems facing migrants, particularly temporary contract workers, include illegal recruitment, exorbitant fees, low wages, inhumane working conditions, verbal, physical and sexual abuses, trafficking, increase of mysterious deaths, job insecurity and illegal termination, absence of social security benefits, social costs of migration to families, and problems when the migrant returns back home for good.
Sana also called for reforming laws such as the Migrant Workers Act, Overseas Absentee Voting Law and the Dual Nationality Law by having provisions that truly benefit migrants and their families.
Sana said migrants should also be represented in policymaking bodies that serve the interests of overseas Filipinos, such as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
“I hope the government has the political will to enforce laws that benefit migrants, and to harness the potential of international migration to the country’s benefit,” CMA’s executive director said.
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Mobile phone: +63917-823 8260
You can download a copy of the proceedings of Good News for the Poor: A Conference on Filipino Diaspora Philanthropy held at the University of Santo Tomas 9-10 June 2005 at http://www.cfo.gov.ph/ProceedingsUSTconference.pdf
and from The Philippine Diaspora Philanthropy Portal web address at http://www.filipinodiasporagiving.org/