New Labor-Export Policy Commodifies Filipinos

Number one pimp

Ilagan told Bulatlat that there is a possibility that the number of abuses experienced by Filipino migrant workers in their receiving country will increase. “Of course, because it is being rushed,” she said.

Ilagan added that this would eventually relax the regulatory laws that protect the rights of migrant workers. For example, it might make it easier for employers to change the terms and conditions contained in the signed contracts making it disadvantageous to the OFW.

“With the passage of the bill, we should expect more cases of rape, various forms of abuses, and beheadings,” said Martinez of Migrante. “We are being bargained. Rush the process, so that we could send people out faster.”

Ilagan, meanwhile, believes that the Philippine government is now the leading exporter of labor. “Even Gloria herself goes out of the country to sell our labor resources.”

“For the longest time, we’ve been saying that the Philippine government is the number one illegal recruiter because they have the machineries such as OWWA and POEA. If we are to select a champion, it is the government that is the number one pimp selling our countrymen,” Martinez said.

Ilagan said the implication of this new policy is that the government will no longer generate local jobs because it would be easier to deploy them to foreign countries.

“This has become a definite, permanent and proactive practice of the government, to deploy migrants despite all the violations in their contracts, and the continuous victimization being done by illegal recruiters, and despite the fact that some OFWs have been imprisoned, some are in death row,” Ilagan added.

The Philippine government might not be able to accommodate the needs of the OFWs if they suddenly increase in number. “There are over eight million OFWs spread out across 193 countries in six continents. Yet there are only 81 government institutions abroad to respond the OFWs’ needs,” the Philippine Migrant Groups and Advocates (PMGA) stated in a press statement.

PMGA also stated that there is an obvious lack of human and logistical resources to support the welfare of OFWs. They also find the obvious lack of empathy and the bad attitude of some government personnel posted abroad toward the OFWs.

“Stories abound of OFWs in distress, especially victims of gender-based violence, who seek assistance from these posts and receive cold or rude treatment by assigned government personnel or labor attaches,” PMGA said.

More women workers

A lot of women, who comprise 70 percent of the newly deployed land-based migrants, work in jobs that are vulnerable to various forms of abuses and exploitative working conditions, such as domestic workers and entertainers. Making matters worse, in some countries, migrant workers are not covered by the local labor and social laws.

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