Noting the peace and order in some Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are still volatile amid on-going protests, clashes between government forces and dissenters, and sporadic bombing incidents, a Filipino migrants rights group today calls on the Aquino III administration to rethink its massive and intensified deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle-east and African countries.
“It is prudent for the Aquino administration to seriously put a break in peddling Filipino workers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), amid the still volatile peace and order situation in this part of world,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.
Monterona noted that Middle-East and North African countries are considered, for the past 10 years, as fertile labor market frontier by past administrations and even by the present Aquino III govt.
He said there are five middle-east countries making on the overall top ten destinations of Filipino workers such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain. There are also a considerable numbers of OFWs in Iraq and Syria.
While in North Africa, there are large concentrations of OFWs in Libya and Egypt, both were besieged of political upheavals last year; both countries peace and order situation is still volatile.
Monterona noted on Friday, January 27, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed car near a funeral procession in southeastern Baghdad killing at least 32 people in the latest brazen attacked since the US troop withdrawal from Iraq.
The incident prompted Philippine Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario to travel Sunday to Iraq ‘to assess the security and safety of the Filipinos in light of the reported escalating violence.’
“Massive buildup of pro-democracy protesters in Egypt has also been noted, while in Syria violence continued. There is fear that the Iran conflict will escalate amid economic sanctions imposed by the Western countries lead by the US and European countries,” Monterona noted.
Monterona said the current political events in some MENA countries should be treated as revealing ‘signs of the time’ that could not anymore qualify these countries as fertile labor market frontiers. ‘Thus, the Aquino III govt. must shun peddling OFWs in MENA countries; instead it must focus creating local jobs with decent pay and benefits.”
“It is high time for the Philippines to develop and have its own vibrant local industries it could rely on –first, by nationalizing its basic industries, and secondly, genuinely implement agrarian reform with support services and technological know-how to develop our agrarian-based economy which will serve as a reliable economic backbone of the emerging Philippines,” Monterona ended. # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator