Migrante calls for end to labor export policy

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MANILA, Philippines—The migrant labor rights group Migrante International urged President Benigno Aquino on Monday to stop the country’s labor export program, saying that the number of overseas Filipino workers seeking its help had tripled in just one year.

Garry Martinez, Migrante chair, said that his group handled 1,500 cases annually before Aquino came to power in 2010 but this has “shot up to 4,500 by the end of 2011.”

“OFWs around the world are outraged by Aquino’s failed promises and empty rhetoric. In the past two years, the situation of OFWs has deteriorated despite Aquino’s declarations of improved welfare and services for them,” Martinez said.

For the first half of 2012, the number of cases Migrante handled reached an average of 35 to 40 a month.

“Unlike before when majority of our cases were either individual cases or cases similar in nature, we have borne witness to a much wider scope of cases under this regime, ranging from overcharging, illegal recruitment, to wide-scale human trafficking and different facets of government neglect,” Martinez said.

“More OFWs have also become victims of maltreatment, abuse, labor violations and foul play than our experience in previous years,” he said.

“Stop the labor export policy,” Martinez said. “Because of the Aquino  administration’s desperation to further seek job markets abroad due to the country’s worsening economic situation brought about by its unreformed policies, its only recourse has been to intensify its labor export program at the expense of the rights and welfare of OFWs. It has become more clear that the labor export policy is nothing  but a big business venture from which the government profits, with OFWs as the milking cows.”

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