Was he focusin’ on the ‘person’ on this one?

Speaking of poverty, today being Blog Action Day and all, I am reposting here Migrante International’s press release on the yesterday’s beheading of another OFW in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The 8-10 million OFWs after all is one of the most palpable indications how extreme poverty is in the Philippines.

On October 27-30, the Philippine government will host the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development. It is expected to be attended by 192 states worldwide and even the UN head honcho is expected to grace the event.

GFMD 08 Chairman and Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos says the forum intends to “shine the spotlight on the human face of migration” and that it would “not focus on the money. (But) on the person itself.”

So where on Earth was his and his agency’s focus when OFW Jenifer Bidoya was beheaded in KSA yesterday? Ah, he was busy answering questions in this interview.

Migrante says it right, he’s busy promoting the GFMD. He’s busy selling OFWs.


OFW beheaded while Conejos promotes global forum on migration

As Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Esteban Conejos is boasting of the protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that the upcoming Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) will bring about, a Filipino was executed in Jeddah yesterday.

“At approximately 10 a.m. yesterday (Saudi time), OFW Jenifer Bidoya a.k.a. Venancio Ladion was executed in Jeddah, one and a half hour before Conejos was shamelessly bragging the benefits of hosting the GFMD to OFWs welfare protection”, according to Gina Esguerra, coordinator of Migrants Assistance Committee of Migrante.

Bidoya was convicted of the crime of murder of a Saudi national and sentenced to death by the Jeddah Sharia’h Grand Court in April 2007.

“Conejos said the GFMD will focus on the ‘person’ itself, the migrants. But how will he explain the death of Ladion?, Esguerra said.

Esguerra added that the case is just a part of the whole picture of migration’s ill effects.

Migrante’s Migrants Assistance Committee receives almost a thousand of OFW cases annually ranging from illegal recruitment, human trafficking, non payment of wages, physical, mental and sexual abuse, mysterious deaths and OFWs in death row.

Esguerra said her committee is currently handling other cases of Filipinos in death row like the case of brothers Edison and Rolando Gonzales in Jeddah and Cecilia Alcaraz in Taiwan.

“Families of these OFWs fear for the lives of their loved ones. They handed the cases to Migrante because the government is doing nothing to save them” she added.

Esguerra slammed Conejos for saying that GFMD will focus on migrants and insisted the forum will focus really on the commodification of Filipinos as cheap and docile labor.

“Aggressive marketing of Philippine government made it the biggest recruitment agency not only in the country but in the whole world. This only shows how desperate and how dependent our government is in overseas employment and remittances. They sell us in the name of so called ‘development’ at our expense”, Esguerra added.

Esguerra also said Conejos should not take pride in hosting the GFMD because it is tantamount to hosting representatives of host countries who are conducting crackdown on undocumented Filipino migrants, inhumane deportation of refugees, torturing them to forcibly admit crimes they did not commit, and inflicting various human rights violations on OFWs.

“GFMD is actually a gathering of anti-migrant governments and a market place for modern-day slave trading. That’s why the main stake holders, the migrants themselves, are not invited in the forum to voice out their real situation” she said.

Esguerra also chided Conejos for saying that migration of Filipinos is a supply and demand thing.

“It’s not a supply and demand thing. Filipinos are going abroad not out of free will but were forced to be separated from their loved ones due to their family’s need to survive,” said Esguerra.

Migrante is worried that the news on the beheading of Jenifer Bidoya will only exacerbate the depression already being suffered by the families of Edison and Rolando Gonzales and Eduardo Arcilla whose death sentence where affirmed by the Tameez Appellate Court in Jeddah just a month ago.

“We are afraid that the longer this government promotes GFMD, the more OFWs will come home in coffins. We demand that the millions of pesos that the government plans to spend in this international forum be re-channel instead to saving lives of OFWs and for the immediate relief of their suffering families,” Esguerra concluded.## #

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