Faced with increasing attacks on all fronts from the Arroyo regime such as the intensification of labor export, its inaction to the drastic nosedive in the value of the US dollar and the imminent eruption of yet another people power uprising because of the ‘un-moderated greed’ and high-level corruption of those in power; Migrante International on March 16 and 17, 2008 gathered its regional chapters and advocates from different sectors in a national consultation that aims to discuss how migrant Filipinos and their families can contribute to the country’s pursuit for societal change and progress.
With the theme: “Harnessing the Role of Migrant Filipinos for Social Change,” the two day meeting was held at the National Council of Churches in the Philippines compound in Quezon City. It was attended by Migrante leaders from the Ilocos-Cordillera Region, Central Luzon, National Capital Region, Central Visayas, Negros and Davao .
Migrante International Chaiperson, Connie Bragas-Regalado opened the meeting that was purposely held to coincide with the 13th death anniversary of migrant hero Flor Contemplacion, with a compelling discourse on why OFWs are “a force to reckon with,” that if harnessed, can certainly help effect genuine changes in our society.
Regalado said migrant Filipinos can become a major political force if it struggles alongside the oppressed Filipino masses. She noted that the Arroyo regime has even developed a stoking fear in the capacity of Filipino migrants, now ten million strong, to rise up and unite in a common cause. “Notice how the regime quivers every time we OFWs decide to collectively air our grievances. Government agencies and officials are sent rushing just to calm and appease us!” she said.
But the OFWs’ importance is never limited to the noise that they can generate in their protests and how the regime dreads the day they rise-up. Regalado said it lies on OFWs crucial role in uplifting the Philippine economy and its undeniable political influence to the country’s vast majority – that even cuts across different classes – who thrives on the money that they send home. OFWs also have a natural tendency to develop a deep sense of patriotism and love of country even if they are physically detached from their homeland. Migrants all yearn to return someday with the country’s eventual freedom and advancement in mind, she said.
“The litany of sufferings, slavery, and abuse on migrants will never end [if we don’t rise-up to put an end to all of them]. As migrants, we can employ plenty of means to fight for our own rights and welfare and that of our families’ and our beloved country. And among them is the fruit of our labor, our remittance” Regalado emphasized.
Recently, OFWs embarked on a worldwide “zero remittance days” campaign as part of the migrant sector’s efforts to intensify the Filipino peoples’ search for truth and accountability and to demand the immediate resignation or ouster of Mrs. Arroyo. This call from the OFWs ‘discomforted’ Malacanang and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, saying that this will truly have a damaging effect in the country’s economy.
Regalado concluded in her speech: “Our consistent effort to arouse, organize and mobilize migrants and their families not only serve to advance the national democratic struggles of the Filipino people, it also serves to further strengthen the surging migrants’ movement worldwide against imperialism and all forms of reaction.”
Migrante’s national consultation was also attended by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Chairperson Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, Gabriela Partylist Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Anakbayan Chairperson Eleanor de Guzman.
The meeting ended on a migrants’ march towards the Malacanang palace to amplify the same issues that OFWs and the Filipino people raised when Contemplacion was unjustly hanged in Singapore exactly 13 years ago. ###