Expatriates or overseas slaves?

From gmanews.tv

Arroyo accused of having ‘delusions’ about OFWs

Expatriates or overseas slaves?

This was the question posed by migrant advocacy group Migrante International to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after the latter said that overseas Filipino workers (OFW) should now be called expatriates.

Mrs Arroyo on Tuesday said she took her cue from a well-known and well-paid Filipino working overseas who claimed that more Filipinos are now working as skilled professionals abroad and receive higher pay, thus they should be called expats instead of OFWs.

But Migrante claims Mrs Arroyo could be engaging in a “delusional game” because she “doesn’t have her facts right.”

“Do not glamorize the plight of OFWs. Majority of migrants are working practically as slaves and are living miserable lives that are a far cry from that of expatriates,” said Migrante chairperson Concepcion Bragas-Regalado in a statement issued on Wednesday.

According to Regaladao, data from the government itself refute the statement of Mrs Arroyo on Filipino skilled workers abroad.

She cited the National Statistics Office’s 2007 Survey of Overseas Filipinos which showed that only 9 percent of OFWs are professionals or skilled workers.

The same survey said that most OFWs or 35 percent were unskilled workers; 30 percent were plant and machine operators; 14 percent were service, shop, and market sales workers; and another 14 percent were workers engaged in trade and other related jobs.

Migrante also belied the President’s claim that there are now more OFWs with high pay. It said that most OFWs only remit $200 to $300 or about P10,000 to P15,000 monthly to their families.

“Their earnings are barely enough for their families to subsist back home, given the spiraling costs of basic necessities and the government’s lack of social services. No one is living the good life, not OFWs nor their families,” said Regalado.

The group likewise said Mrs Arroyo was lying when she said that her administration’s “policy is not to export labor” but “to protect” Filipinos who work abroad.

“We only have this to say to Mrs. Arroyo: liar! Right now, there are 5,000 OFWs in jails worldwide, 30 in death row, and more than 200 stranded in the Middle East alone. And yet, the government has the temerity to host the GFMD,” said Regalado.

Migrante said the GFMD or the Global Forum on Migration and Development to be held in Manila later this month “is a sham process that aims to legitimize and strengthen existing labor export policies that will never lead to development but only open up migrants to further exploitation and abuse.” – GMANews.TV

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