5 July 2008
Refer to the Migrant Forum in Asia
MIGRANT GROUPS SLAM TREATMENT OF OFWS AS COMMODITIES
A COALITION of civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Philippines on Saturday urged the government to address not only the issues of increased remittances but also the responsibility of the country to uphold the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) wherever they may be found.
They confirmed that CSOs from Asia, Europe, Africa, America and Latin America will convene in Manila on July 11 and 12 for the International Strategy Meeting and launch of the Peoples’ Global Action on Migration, Human Rights and Development.
Peoples’ Global Action on Migration, Human Rights and Development is a parallel civil society event in relation to the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) which the Philippines is hosting in October, to oppose perspectives being promoted by governments that “perpetuate migrants’ exploitation, reinforce gender oppression, undermine human rights and surrender State responsibility for development.”
The Peoples Global Action will be held on 22-30 October 2008. It is independent from the official GFMD process organized by the friends of the Forum and the Philippine Government. The Parallel event will bring together migrants and people’s movements from around the globe to discuss models of migration policy that respects migrants’ and all people’s human rights, which will require exploration of the full range of issues involved in migration, including the underlying problems of development, poverty, joblessness, and how we can collectively address these.
The Philippine Working Group on GFMD and the Migrants’ Rights International said in past meetings, governments focused on maximizing the development benefits of migration while reducing discussions on the human rights of migrants, the causes of massive migration like failed economic development programs and widespread poverty in many countries.
This time, according to the migrant workers’ alliance, a broader framework would be set in place with a parallel forum that will call on governments and other parties involved to renounce the treatment of migrant workers as commodities.
The meeting of government officials in Manila should now veer away from the themes promoted by banks, remittance companies and corporate giants, which centered on treating migrants as sources of revenues and as financiers of social development programs.
“These are all consistent with the neo-liberal agenda of making the people bear the burden of development, reducing government responsibility and accountability and ensuring more profits for the companies,” the organizers said.
“We oppose the perspectives of making the GFMD an extension of neo-liberal globalization so that it becomes an instrument of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) to promote corporate globalization, this time capitalizing on migrant workers,” they said.
Organizers emphasized the Manila forum should be an opportunity for hundreds of delegates from all over the world to discuss the impact of migrant workers who remit more than $300 billion annually to their home countries.