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OFWs in HK dance vs Charter change

First Posted 20:02:00 12/29/2008

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MANILA, Philippines?About 100 Filipino women staged a dance-protest in downtown Hong Kong Sunday afternoon to show their opposition to moves to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

The women, mostly domestic helpers and members of the women's group Hong Kong chapter, lined up at Chater Road in the Chinese's territory's central business district and held a square dance to the tune of an anti-Charter change (Cha-cha) song entitled ?Maling Akala.?

Chater Road is famous for being closed on Sundays when the road and its surrounding areas are full of migrant domestic helpers and child caregivers who gather and meet to enjoy their day off.

Gabriela-HK chair Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, in a statement, said the current administration should consider itself warned that Filipinos abroad do not stand for changes in the Constitution that shall extend President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's term, and all her her anti-people and anti-migrant policies.?

?Filipino migrants have every right to oppose charter change for it shall only further intensify the inhuman labor export program of the Philippine government,? she added.

Aside from term extensions, Gabriela is particularly opposed to amendments giving more economic rights to foreign businessmen.

?With a sellout of the country's patrimony and resources to foreign capital, there can be no doubt that it will bring more massive displacement of people from their lands, jobs and livelihood. The already more than 10 million Filipinos who have been forced to migrate shall surely increase faster as the people seek ways for their families to survive,? Tellez said.

She added that the Philippines is suffering from economic difficulties because of the Arroyo administration's continued adherence to the policies of liberalization deregulation and privatization.

?With the blind adherence to these policies, the export-oriented and import-dependent economy of the Philippines shall surely sink deeper into crisis. Millions more are expected to become jobless by the next year. With widespread poverty, the people will be caught in the vicious labor export program?exported as commodities, squeezed dry by the government and recruitment agencies, neglected, and unprotected,? Tellez said.

The Gabriela protesters said other reasons for their opposition to extending Ms Arroyo's term include the alleged corruption of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration's fund; the string of burdens to OFWs such as documentary stamp taxes on remittances and mandatory psychiatric tests; and rampant illegal recruitment.

A footage of the dance protests has been posted by the group in the popular video-hosting site YouTube.

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