Press Statement | February 16, 2017

Leaders of Migrante Europe held a dialogue with Secretary Silvestre Bello III (Department of Labor and Employment, DOLE) and Dr. Jun Cruz, Director of OWWA in Holiday Inn, EUR Parco Dei Medici, Rome last January 24, on the sidelines of the 3rd round of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Ann Brusola, Secretary General of Migrante Europe, took part in the dialogue. She said that her group was looking forward for positive news after almost six months when they presented the Migrant’s Agenda to Sec. Bello and the GRP negotiating panel in Oslo, Norway, during the first round of peace talks.

Among the urgent issues which Migrante Europe presented to Sec. Bello were: protection for undocumented Filipino migrants; lobbying for the regularization of the undocumented; legal assistance for those who are in distress and victims of abuse; and the unconditional scrapping of unjust and excessive fees like airport terminal fees, Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), travel tax, and consular fees.

Sec. Bello III explained that the government of President Rodrigo Duterte wants to make things easier for overseas Filipino workers. According to Bello, under Pres. Duterte’s administration, all government agencies and offices related to procurement and processing of documents is now situated in one building. He further added that Filipinos abroad keep the Philippine economy afloat. The government accumulated PhP5 billion from unreimbursed terminal fees, about PhP19 billion for the OWWA fund, and US$28 billion a year from the remittances of Filipino migrant workers.

Sec. Bello III stated that it is the intention of Pres. Duterte that one day all Filipinos working abroad are send back home for good.

Migrante’s Brusola explained that the lives of Filipino migrants are getting harder everyday because of the economic and financial crises in Europe. It is especially difficult in Italy and Greece, which are amongst the countries hardest hit by the still worsening economic crises. “We have no intention of staying forever abroad,” Brusola stressed, “we dream for a better life in the Philippines with our loved ones. But as long as the government cannot guarantee a more dignified and economically stable life for us, efficient and corruption-free social services for every Filipino, we have no choice but to remain working abroad.”

With Sec. Bello III were OWWA Dir. Dr. Jun Cruz, and Rome Labor Attaché Ponciano M. Ligutom who promised a monthly dialogue with Migrante organizations to discuss issues and concerns of migrant Filipinos in Italy. Finally both parties arranged for a quarterly meeting in Rome.

Richard Torres Garcia, Coordinator of Migrante Firenze, expressed the need for a consular office in Florence, where there are about 15,000 Filipinos residing in the city. Sec. Bello promised to study the proposal and to be implemented through consultation with Migrante Firenze. At present there is an Italian Honorary Consul in Florence. Labor Attache Libuton promised a monthly extension services in Florence.

Other migrant leaders who were present during the dialogue discussed other vital issues from their respective places: Aldo Gonzalez of  Migrante The Hague  expressed his concern for the undocumented Filipinos in the Netherlands and appeal to the government to lobby for regularization and bilateral talks with the host country; Darwin Timbol of Migrante Mantova lamented the excessive government fees and unjust government policies toward overseas Filipinos; Edgardo Bonzon of Migrante Partylist Rome and Tedy Dalisay of Socio-Cultural and Sports Committee of Sentro Filipino Catholic Chaplaincy pressed issues on human trafficking and asked the government to intervene and to make concrete moves regarding these issues.

Migrante Europe and its member organizations are actively campaigning for the continuation of formal peace talks between the GRP and NDFP, in order to address the root causes of the armed conflict in the country, and resolve the worsening poverty and forced migration of Filipinos.#

For references:

Revd Fr. Herbert F. Fadriquela Jr.
Chairperson, Migrante Europe

Chaplain to the Filipino Community
Diocese of Leicester
Church of England

Email: chairperson@migrante.eu
Mobile No: +447456042156

Ann Brusola
Secretary General, Migrante Europe
Email: secgen@migrante.eu
Mobile No. (+39)-3278825544

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