ANGIE DE LARA, Migrant Watch - Bulatlat
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants will attend the International Assembly of Migrants and Refuges (IAMR), a counterpart assembly to the Global Forum and Development (GMFD).
Launched by Migrante International and the International Migrants Alliance (IMA), the IAMR will formally convene on October 28 to 30 at the Bayview Park Hotel along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.
Formed in June this year, the IMA is a global alliance of 112 migrants' organizations from 25 countries. Its members come from grassroots migrants like domestic workers, factory workers, agricultural workers, undocumented migrants, workers in the service sectors, and even political refugees.
Jorge Bustamante, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants will deliver a message at the opening of the IAMR.
Bustamante will also attend the Joint Regional Consultation with the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD). The IMA will take the opportunity to bring to the attention of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants cases of migrants including 29 overseas Filipino workers in death row, stranded OFWs and massive crackdown of undocumented Filipino workers in Sabah, Malaysia.
Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante chairperson and IMA secretary general said, "We from IAMR believe that the real agenda of the 2nd GFMD assembly sponsored by the Arroyo government is only to strengthen the labor export program. This is one of the biggest challenges and the reason why the migrant workers all over the world are resisting the GFMD.
Regalado said the IAMR assembly will give voice and space for migrants who have been isolated from the GFMD.
The IAMR assembly delegates and speakers will come from different countries such as South Africa, Germany, Mexico, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Canada, Argentina, USA, India, Malaysia, Italy, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.
"In this assembly, we will be exposing the real face of migration," Regalado said.
Representatives from each organization will talk about their experiences and struggles as migrants. The delegates will also tackle how they will cope up with the global crisis, said Regalado.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Villanueva, vice chairperson of Filipino Migrant Workers Union-Hong Kong and secretary general of the United Filipinos in Hong-Kong (UNIFIL-HK) said they will also discuss the situation of domestic helpers, their campaign for higher wages and migrant workers' rights. Villanueva has been working as a domestic helper for more than 17 years now.
Villanueva said,"While Foreign Affairs Undersecretary and Co-Chairperson of GFMD Esteban Conejos is broadcasting that the protection and welfare of migrants is the main concern of the GMFD, they have isolated us from the assembly."
Villanueva questioned the GFMD's concept of "migration for development". "Bakit kailangang paghiwa-hiwalayin ang pamilya upang paunlarin ang isang bansa? Bakit kailangang magkaroon ng migrasyon para sa kaunlaran ng mga bansa? Bakit kailangang iwanan ng mga magulang ang kanilang mga anak at bakit kailangang iwanan ng mga anak ang kanilang mga magulang para magkaroon ng kaunlaran?" (Why do families have to break up just so the country will develop? Why does there have to migration for the development of countries? Why do parents have to leave their children and why do sons and daughters have to leave their parents to attain development?) asked Villanueva.
He opposed the idea that the GFMD is making the Philippines as the role model for migration. "Our experience of more than three decades of exporting labor was their basis for an efficient labor export program. But until now there is no development for us migrants and for our families."
Violators of migrant rights
Villanueva criticized the composition of GFMD. He said that delegates will come from countries that are rabid violators of migrant rights.
He said that the US has implemented a massive crackdown on undocumented migrants. In Europe, Villanueva said that the new rules will affect undocumented migrants.
He also hit Malaysia's inhumane treatment of deportees from the Philippines and Indonesia. (Deportees from Sabah Endure Inhumane Treatment) "Let us not forget the South Korea, and the treatment they did to the leaders of Migrant Trade Union (MTU) who are citizens of Nepal and Bangladesh.
"If the GFMD is for us migrants why is it that no migrant worker will represent us in that assembly?" Villanueva said the GMFD is only after their remittances.
The World Bank record shows that world remittances reach more than US$337 billion excluding remittances sent through non-formal channels.
Dr. Carol Araullo, chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-New Patriotic Alliance) said that the ongoing financial crisis has exposed that the Arroyo government's labor export policy is of no good.
She said that migration will never be the answer to the development of our country, and remittances cannot sustain all the needs of our country. "With the financial crisis now, more and more Filipinos will seek work outside the Philippines but will only find it difficult, and more migrants will be forced to go back home," said Araullo.
"When they come back, no jobs are waiting for them. The fruits of their hardship have been invested in small business ventures, the daily needs of their family and their children's education," said Araullo.
Araullo said the government should pay attention to the generation and creation of jobs, especially decent and high quality jobs in the country.
She said the financial crisis will generate more conflict. "There will be a clash not just economically but socially and politically throughout the world. Our migrants will find themselves in a more difficult situation."
There will also be international actions against GFMD in South Korea, Middle East, Hong Kong, New York, Canada, the Netherlands and in some parts of Europe.
For Filipino migrants, GFMD stands for 'Gloria Forcing Migrants to Death.' - Bulatlat