The execution of Sally, Ramon and Elizabeth highlights how Filipinos are victimized many times over by a system that continues to drive them towards life and death situations.
Sally, Ramon and Elizabeth were victims of large drug syndicates who took advantage of their unawareness, vulnerability and desperation to earn a living for their families. If anything, their plight and deaths have made the government and the Filipino people aware that for as long as masterminds, operators and coddlers of international drug trafficking syndicates remain scot-free, there will be more victims like them who will be trapped in the unjust situation of being drug mules. To date, there are more than 70 Filipinos on death row in China alone for the same offense.
Indeed, no Filipino goes out of the country with a death wish. When Sally, Ramon and Elizabeth went to China, when the 122 others on death row and more than 7,000 in jails abroad left, they were full of hopes and dreams to provide a better future for their families, especially for their children. Our 15 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), likewise, were compelled to leave the country to seek so-called greener pastures abroad in the absence of jobs, livelihood and decent living conditions in the Philippines. Unfortunately, this crisis of forced migration continues to be aggravated by the Philippine government’s promotion and advancement of a labor export policy that has become more systematic and sophisticated over the decades.
These last few months have been grueling times for OFWs and their families — the execution in China, civil wars and wars of aggression in Libya and looming elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa region, the earthquake in New Zealand and most recently the multiple disasters that hit Japan. Combined with the continuing onslaught of a global economic crisis that is translated into unending spates of price hikes and the Aquino administration’s intensification of privatization, liberalization and deregulation policies in favor of foreign interests, these are arguably the worst of times for our 15 million OFWs and their families.
Through these all, it has become more apparent that the Aquino administration is no different from previous regimes with regard its adherence to the policy of labor export. The Aquino government’s consequent actions and overall economic and political programs bare the sad fact of how our OFWs are being treated as cheap commodities for export. The present predicament of our OFWs are glaring examples of just how insincere, insensitive and inept the Aquino government is in upholding and securing the protection and welfare of our workers overseas, while ironically also showcasing a more blatant and unapologetic labor export policy that exploits our OFWs’ cheap labor and influx of remittances but sadly offers them nothing in return, especially in times of need.
Instead of addressing the root causes of forced migration through genuine land reform and national industrialization, Aquino had further opened up the national economy to abuse and exploitation of our workers’ cheap labor by foreign capital and interests through his so-called flagship program, the PPP (public-private partnership). Migrante International strongly believes that for as long as the labor export policy is in force, there can be no genuine protection for our OFWs. Government programs and policies, through the continuance of the labor export policy, will not serve to protect and uphold OFWs’ rights but only exist to further exploit and abuse.
What our OFWs and their families need during these hard times are actions and programs from the government that would enforce the creation of jobs at home and ease the onslaught of price hikes in order to curb, if not stop, forced migration. What our OFWs and their families need from the government during these hard times are fundamental and radical reforms that would deviate from the government’s continued implementation of the labor export policy.
The deaths of Sally, Ramon and Elizabeth and the sacrifices of their families should serve as a potent slap on the face of the Philippine government to work and push for the building of a self-reliant economy to stop labor export and promote social equity and justice for the advancement of genuine national development.
News release by Migrante International on March 30, 2011.