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    ICHRP stands up for the human rights of Filipino migrant workers

    Over 10 million Filipino men and women are working overseas on short term contracts because of the abject failure of successive Philippines governments to meet basic economic needs since Marcos in the late 1960s. This in itself is a massive breach of human rights set out in the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights which came into force in 1976.

    In December 2000, the UN General Assembly designated December 18 as International Migrants Day. A decade earlier, on December 18, 1990, the UN adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. Almost 25 years later, migrants continue to struggle for their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    Although a signatory to the Convention, the Philippine government has never strayed from its reliance on the policy of labor export to generate billions in remittances for the nation and to address the perpetual problem of joblessness. In fact, the number of Filipinos who leave the country has steadily grown since the Convention was signed by the Philippines. Choosing this path instead of people’s sustainable development removes an individual’s right to determine their future by removing the choice to stay in the Philippines and earn a decent living.

    Although the current BS Aquino government has claimed that it is making domestic job creation a priority so that migrants can return, the policies the administration chooses to implement make that an elusive goal. Its acceptance of the Bali WTO package will continue to undermine local agriculture, food sovereignty, and industry which are key for jobs and livelihood. It is these very policies that have been implemented in the Philippines for decades that have trapped the Philippines in a chronic economic crisis, and in a cycle of deficit and mounting debt. It has created the kind of impoverishment that forces individuals to migrate out of necessity and desperation despite the heavy financial, physical and emotional cost to themselves and their families.

    At the same time, the Philippine government has done little to protect the rights of migrants who face slave-like work conditions, sexual abuse, and human trafficking among other abuses. Doing so would undermine the image they are trying to promote of a cheap, subservient workforce available to fuel worldwide industries, work in the fields, run ships, and fill service jobs. It would put at risk the mirage of a stable and growing investor-friendly market which, in reality, is being propped up by the billions remitted yearly by Filipino migrants.

    It is within this context that the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines stands with migrants who are challenging the anti-people model of “migration for development” and “managing migration”. This false model was called into question most recently at the Fourth International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR4). Through this model of “migration for development”, governments are happily passing the responsibility and burden of financing development onto migrants’ shoulders. They are abdicating their responsibility to create people-centered development in their respective countries, which is impossible to achieve within the neoliberal framework.

    As has been the case with the human rights crisis in the Philippines, the government is unwilling to address the landlessness and joblessness that is at the root of the crisis and promotes shallow resolutions which at the end ultimately benefit the elite and maintain the status quo. We are acutely aware that the vast majority of human rights violations in the Philippines have been committed against individuals and communities who are doing what the Philippine government has refused to do in addressing landless and joblessness.

    The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines stands hand in hand with migrants from the Philippines for the right to people-centered development. We stand and fight with migrants struggling for a future where there exists opportunities for a just and humane way to sustain their basic needs and to flourish. We stand for the right to organize against the economic and political forces that are behind forced migration and the human rights crisis in the Philippines.

    References:
    Canon Barry Naylor
    Chairperson, Global Council
    International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)
    Office: +44 (0) 116 261 5371
    Mobile: +44 (0) 775 785 3621

    Peter Murphy
    General Secretary, Global Council
    International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)
    Mobile: +61 418312301

    Katrina Abarcar
    Member, Global Council
    International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)
    Email: info@katarungan-dc.org

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