EDITORIAL - Modern Slave Labor
The Philippine Star
April 17, 2015
It can be an indication of an improving economy, but the growing presence of undocumented foreign workers in the country is worrying local labor groups. The workers reportedly accept jobs for wages below the minimum or below industry standards and do not demand benefits mandated by law. The foreigners, mostly from neighboring countries, find willing employers who want to cut labor costs.
Local workers’ groups are worried that the trend is growing and may pose a serious threat to employment opportunities for Filipinos, especially in less developed communities where jobs are badly needed. Workers’ groups said the trend has been reported in Metro Manila, Bataan, Batangas, Central Visayas, the Davao region and Zamboanga peninsula.
The influx is difficult to regulate particularly when the illegal workers enter through poorly patrolled coastal areas. The migrant workers reportedly find jobs in construction projects, manufacturing, electronics and service industries.
Foreigners are not prohibited from working in the Philippines. As in other countries, however, they need to get an alien employment permit from the government and submit several requirements. Undermining wage laws can aggravate the country’s unemployment and underemployment situation, according to labor department officials.
Undocumented migrant workers are also vulnerable to labor exploitation and other forms of abuse. There have been reports even of Filipino workers being locked up by abusive employers in office buildings after office hours. Undocumented foreign workers are even more vulnerable to such types of abuse.
As overseas Filipino workers know, people become migrant workers out of necessity, for lack of opportunities in their own land. Exploiting these needy workers is a form of human trafficking and a modern version of slave labor that must be stopped. With local labor groups sounding the alarm, the government must confront this growing problem. Immigration, labor, local government and security agencies must carry out a coordinated effort to stop the trend. Labor and immigration laws must be enforced. Anyone found to be engaged in human trafficking and labor exploitation must face the full force of the law.
The Philippine Star
April 17, 2015
Filipino Expats From 30 Countries Meet in Manila
|Filipinos based in more than 30 countries gathered at the Manila Hotel for their 3rd global summit. INQUIRER.net PHOTO||Rosalyn Dawila Venning, seen here with Dr. Roel Palo Anicas of Dammam, Saudi Arabia, helps educate thousands of stateless kids in Malaysia. INQUIRER.net PHOTO|
MANILA – “We like coming because we love meeting other overseas kababayan and getting ideas from everyone,” exulted Roger Castaneda, who along with his wife, Remy, is a hotel musician in Sanya, Hainan, China.
|Roger and Remy Castaneda, hotel musicians in Hainan, China, are among the nearly 600 delegates at the summit.|
The Castanedas are among the 600 or so Filipino expatriates from 30 countries who convened at the Manila Hotel February 25 to 27 for the Third Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora.
The summit is held every two years with assistance from the Commission of Filipinos Overseas. CFO Chair Sec. Imelda Nicolas welcomed the delegates, while budget secretary Butch Abad gave an update on the reform programs of the Aquino administration.
There are 10.5 million overseas Filipinos consisting of 4.9 million permanent immigrants or naturalized citizens of other countries, 4.2 million temporary immigrants or OFWs and 1.36 million irregular immigrants or undocumented, according to CFO data.
Loida Nicolas Lewis, president of the Global Filipino Diaspora Council, exhorted delegates to “work together, use our skills and knowledge and give back to the Motherland.”
Gene Alcantara, chair of the European Network of Filipinos in the Diaspora and Fidel Escurel , chair of the Middle East Network of Filipinos in the Diaspora gave updates on their efforts to coordinate activities and promote the interests of the expatriates in their regions.
Meanwhile, lawyer and INQUIRER.net columnist Rodel Rodis of the US Pinoys for Good Governance asked overseas Filipinos to continue participating in the political life of the country and contribute their voices in international issues confronting it, such as the West Philippine Sea conflict with China.
Other messages and presentations covered interests such as medical tourism, retirement in the Philippines, overseas voting, prospects for the return and integration of overseas Filipinos, remittances, action plans for “2015 and beyond” and entrepreneurial initiatives by expatriates.
Participants represented a wide range of interests and concerns. Copenhagen-based Rosalyn Dawila Venning, originally from Tawi-Tawi, is now working in Sabah, Malaysia as founder and director of PKPKM Education Projects for stateless children, many of whom are Badjau Laut. She has helped educate 1,900 stateless kids with the help of the Finnish Embassy and firms like Sime Darby.
“Philippine Ambassador Ed Malaya is also very helpful in introducing me to potential donors,” said Venning, a Muslim. Venning shared a table with Dr. Roel Palo Anicas, an arts and education academic manager in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, who is active in helping protect the rights of domestic helpers.
Louella Cabalong, an IT consultant with Sears Holdings in Chicago, along with her nurse-husband, Baron, is setting up “youth-led medical missions,” even while being active in the Sama-Sama musical project, which produces folk-modern fusions of Filipino music.
“I find gatherings like this very informative and I love meeting people from all over the world,” said travel consultant Azucena Lumagbas, based in Winnipeg, Canada, but now working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
The Castanedas of Sanya, Hainan, are active in the Sarap-Buhay Group, of which Roger is president. It is a mutual-help network of Filipinos working in China and elsewhere. “If anyone needs support for whatever reason, they can come to us and we will help them,” Roger enthused.
Supporters of the summit include Medical City, Vibal Group of Companies, Department of Tourism, The Filipino Channel, Philippine Retirement Authority and Manila Hotel.