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The movement of overseas Filipinos have time and again employed
different strategies and approaches. These include welfare service
provisions, policy recommendations to the Philippine government,
campaign for the ratification of ILO and UN Conventions governing
migrant workers and their families, international and local campaigns
on specific migrant issues and concerns, education, solid organizing
and mobilizing economic and political struggles on migrant and related
But what prove to be more relevant and more empowering are the last
three approaches mentioned above.
a) Education and Solid Organizing
It is imperative to develop the sectoral movement of migrant Filipinos
in the country. The direction of work is towards addressing the
fundamental issues and problems in the country. Hence, the sectoral
movement should be visible and active in pursuing the issues, concerns
and demands of compatriots abroad as well as the major issues confronting
the Philippine society.
In doing this, migrant workers must be properly equiped with the
understanding and grasp of the basic problems of the Filipino people
- the root causes of forced migration.
The series of campaigns launched by Filipino migrants would have
not been successful if the migrant workers were not organized. In
fact the campaign itself helped hasten organizing efforts in many
Of course organizing and waging a campaign against anti-migrant
policies will not be complete without undergoing education work
among the rank and file members of the organizations concerned.
All of those engaged in the campaign have to understand the issues
and its implications on the rights of the migrants and how these
are related to their daily lives.
Education that shares the lessons and experiences of its own sectors
in dealing with their different issues is very important. It provides
guidance among migrants on their day to day actions and decision
making such as what forms of protests should they effectively employ
and how to gather more support for the campaign even from advocates
and other entities. Likewise, it is important to enlighten migrants
by showing them the links of a particular issue among important
national burning issues in their respective homeland.
2. Solid Organizing
Organizing takes various forms depending on the specific conditions
in the given country. Migrant organizations usually take the form
of associations along regional and sectoral groupings (i.e. Ilocanos,
Visayans, women, youth, etc.) national minorities (Cordillera, Moro,
etc.), territorial formations (West Coast, Bay area, etc.), lines
of interests (cultural, sports, religious, etc.) or in alliances.
Formation of support groups for mass organizations in the Philippines
are also encouraged.
Forming an organization undergoes a process or step-by-step method.
It begins with initial social investigation to building contacts,
organizing groups, a committee of organizing groups and the formation
of a formal mass organization that will genuinely uphold the interest
of migrant Filipinos and the Filipino people.
The step-by-step organizing yields a solid and active participation
of members in an organization. A solid organization is very important
because it binds the membership into one voice that will pave changes
to their conditions and to the situation of the Philippine society.
b) Formation of Strategic and Tactical Alliances
An alliance is an expression of unity and cooperation of various
migrant organizations towards a common aspiration, interest or objective.
An alliance may be built on a temporary or long term basis depending
on the basis for its formation. A temporary alliance is formed based
on the collective unity to launch an issue-based campaign. A long-term
alliance is formed to pursue the continuity of assistance and cooperation.
Alliance building can be formed among Filipinos and among different
nationalities of migrants. Its form may vary depending on its basis
of unity and membership. For tactical alliances, this could take
on the form against excessive placement fees, for repatriation of
stranded workers or against high cost of travel documents for undocumented
workers willing to be repatriated back home.
term alliances, one common form among traditional Filipino organizations
in Hong Kong is the setting up of federations of province or
region wide organizations. Another is based on defending the
rights and welfare of Filipino migrant workers and linking them
up with the whole Filipino progressive movement back home like
the UNIFIL. Both are formal alliances in the sense that they
have a general assembly composed of representatives of organizations
under them, an executive committee and a secretariat.
Formation of an alliance with different nationalities takes
on another form. An example of this is the AMCB in Hong Kong.
Although it is a long term alliance, it does not have any formal
structure other than a spokesperson. This is because its membership
of five formations of different nationalities work in solidarity
with each other in defending the rights and welfare of migrant
workers in Hong Kong and have different levels of consolidation.
Each member formation also have their own issues that are better
addressed to their own countries.
must also have active and mass based organizations under it as a
prerequisite. If not, it will only become a paper formation with
no mass following. We should also distinguish between a formation
of mass or peoples organizations from NGOs which have no mass membership
and whose main tasks are to provide services and support to grassroots
Guiding Principles in Alliance building
The following are guiding organizational principles that must be
observed and practiced within an alliance: decision making by consensus;
the majority cannot dictate on the minority; the minority cannot
veto the majority; mutual help and protection; and mutual benefit
and cooperation. These are principles that guide the continuing
unity of migrant organizations wherever they are and in countries
they are in. These principles will also ensure that the right of
each member organization is assured and democracy is observed and
practiced within the alliance. In a long-term alliance, the general
assembly is the highest decision-making body. Under it is the executive
body and the secretariat. The executive body serves as the implementing
organ in between congresses, making sure that the unity and programs
decided by the congress is smoothly implemented while the secretariat
does the day-to-day operation and tasks within the alliance.
Reaching out to locals and other advocates
Local groups in the host country specially workers organizations,
church individuals/groups, NGO's, students/academicians, legislators
and other sympathetic sectors must be reached out to support campaigns
and other needs of migrant workers. They should also be encouraged
to join and actively participate in campaigns against anti-migrant,
anti-worker proposals and policies.
This is in the context of establishing a strong solidarity between
migrants and the local people, especially now when there is an unprecedented
economic crisis wherein the migrants are being used as scapegoats
by host governments on woes of local workers. At the same time,
new anti-migrant policies are being introduced like in Hong Kong
and Taiwan. A forum to discuss common issues with local workers
and supporting also the local workers in their own struggles will
help in forging a common front against against exploitation.
Coordinating local campaigns with the homefront
Beside what was stated earlier in the importance of education work,
local campaigns of migrants must be coordinated in the homefront
since the main target of any such campaigns should be the Philippine
government. This is because the government has a labor export policy
to the extent that it has targetted one million new jobs for abroad
last year. As such, it is not sincere in addressing the numerous
problems besetting the migrants but in fact is part of the problem.
It imposes various fees on its own citizens wishing and those already
working abroad and remains indifferent to their plight. This extends
to just accepting new anti-migrant policies such as those implemented
in Taiwan and proposed in Hong Kong and just tolerating existing
policies in several other countries. The Philippine government has
this stance so as not to antagonize host governments importing cheap
Filipino labor lest it hampers the earnings of the RP government
through the dollar remittances sent by its citizens working abroad.
There is also a need to create a strong public opinion on the homefront
on the disservice that the Philippine government is doing on a little
more than 10 percent of its population working abroad and link it
to the overall movement for national independence and democracy.
The long term solution to forced migration is the resolution of
the ever deepening crisis that Philippine society is experiencing
brought about by a backward, agrarian and non-industrialized society.