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Get Filipino OFW’s Out of Lebanon,

by COALITION IN DEFENSE OF IMMIGRANT RIGHTS (CDI Monday, Aug. 07, 2006 at 4:58 PM 231-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

Up to now, less than 2,000 out of the 30,000 have returned to the Philippines. The President’s promise to “evacuate all Filipinos out of Lebanon” is just another empty promise that she is fond of making to endear herself to the country but to no avail. What we see now is the slow pace of evacuation being done by the government. There is no serious plan on the part of the Manila government to get the majority of Filipino OFW’s out of harm’s way.

Press Statement

August 4, 2006

Reference: Jack Vergara, 213-241-0995

Get Filipino OFW’s Out of Lebanon,

Assure Their Wellbeing and Safety – CDIR

Los Angeles -- “They call as modern heroes (Bagong Bayani) yet they treat us as like rags (yagit).”

This comment sums up the feelings of Filipino overseas workers now trapped in Lebanon for more than 20 days. More than 30,000 of them working in the embattled country that is being collectively punished by the fascist aggressor Israelis who are, in turn, prodded and supported by the Bush government in the United States.

Up to now, less than 2,000 out of the 30,000 have returned to the Philippines. The President’s promise to “evacuate all Filipinos out of Lebanon” is just another empty promise that she is fond of making to endear herself to the country but to no avail. What we see now is the slow pace of evacuation being done by the government. There is no serious plan on the part of the Manila government to get the majority of Filipino OFW’s out of harm’s way.

The sad plight and the sorry conditions of our fellow OFW’s in Lebanon and other parts of the world speaks volumes and reflects the prevailing conditions in our homeland where education and people’s welfare ruefully take a back seat and are not priorities in the national budget, and where the military budget gets the lion share and the infrastructure budget is distributed through government officials’ pork barrel. What and where is the money left for the people to serve?

“Bakit pa kami uuwi kung magugutom lang kami. Mas mabuti pa rito, kikita kami. Bahala na!” (If we go home, we will be hungry. It’s better to stay here and try our luck. Leave it to god!)

This is the common response of OFW’s in Lebanon when asked if they want to go home or not. This is also the reason that the government officials are repeating in order to justify the slow pace of evacuation of our compatriots trapped in the war in Lebanon.

Other bourgeois media writers blame the lack of government facilities like a modern navy, a modest air force and even an airline or a national carrier that can handle the evacuation of our citizens abroad. They still have the illusion that the present Arroyo government can stand like the western countries that evacuated their citizens at a moment’s notice. Maybe the Philippine government is copying the US government that initially wanted to charge its citizens for their evacuation but later relented and was only able to get a little over 8,000 American citizens after more than 15 days of work.

But who can blame the OFW’s in Lebanon for staying in the lion’s den if they do not have any choice but the devil and the deep blue sea? In the first place, the best question to ask is: why are Filipinos going abroad and going to places like Lebanon. In the first place, the Philippine government should have learned from the lessons of Iraq, the war in Iraq in the 1990’s and other world crises. But when will they ever learn?

TNT’s s in the US – An invisible population to the Philippine government?

Here in the United States, more than 800,000 Filipino immigrants or TNT’s are on their own working illegally without proper documents because of government neglect. The Philippine government cannot even advocate nor speak for them. The funds allotted for their welfare is not being properly used for their benefits. They are being referred to non-profit agencies when they go to the consulates for help in their problems.

The Philippine government does not even recognize this big immigrant population and like the Mexican government leaves them to the mercy of the US government which is now filled with racist and anti-immigrant advocates.

The US government even cited the government indifference to the high rate of sex trafficking that involves Filipino women but the Manila government only worked to get the Philippines out of the US government list to crack down or really stamp out on these predatory activities, instead of taking real steps to ensure the eradication of this phenomenon.

The Philippine government is also terribly quiet on the implementation of the family reunification law. There has been a backlog of more than 15-20 years. The latest setback on petitions was over six years: More than 5 million Filipinos have filed for their visas in the US Embassy in Manila and yet the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has set back family petitions once again by MORE THAN SIX YEARS!

Like the OFW’s in Lebanon, the OFW’s in the U.S. are fighting for their lives to survive and send money to their families. They do not need the “consuelo de bobo” that they are modern heroes and songs that sing praises to their contribution to the national economy.

They are our people and they need the government’s decisiveness to bring them home if they are threatened. More than ever, action is needed to send our fellow OFW’s in Lebanon home now! At most, the government must assure their safety and well being in the foreign lands where there is war and neglect that befalls them.

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