Protests Await Arroyo In London : Migrant Group

Protests await Arroyo in London : migrant group

Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 17, 2009 20:26:00

MANILA, Philippines A Filipino migrants group based in the United Kingdom has announced it will stage a picket protest on Friday in front of the Londons Riverbank Plaza Hotel at 3:15 p.m. (local time).

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is scheduled to give a keynote speech about the Philippines' economic resilience and growth amidst the global crisis during The Economist-led 2009 Emerging Market Conference.

The supposed stability of the Philippine economy is paid for by the blood and sweat of Filipino migrants through taxation and remittances. How dare Arroyo brag about this when she did nothing to address the problems faced by Filipino migrants in the UK? lamented Rafael Maramag, coordinator for Migrante-UK, in a statement sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer Thursday evening.

Migrante UK, together with the Kanlungan alliance of Filipino organizations in the UK, said it has been actively campaigning for the right to UK settlement of Filipino senior caregivers who have been disadvantaged by changes in immigration rules.

Kanlungan is set to file a judicial review against the UK Border Agency to challenge the latters rejection of settlement applications of affected senior caregivers.

We challenge Ms Arroyo to directly lobby the UK government and directly address this issue during her visit. Senior care workers have a right to settle in the UK, said Jamima Fagta, Migrante UK Secretary-General and project worker for Kanlungan alliance.

Fagta said it was shameful for the President to meet investors and other companies and continue to peddle Filipino workers as cheap commodity, while a lot of overseas Filipino workers who have been affected by unreasonable changes in local immigration laws have become undocumented migrants.

Ms Arroyo should put as a priority and push for the proper recognition and documentation of migrant workers in the UK, she said.

The UK Border Agency has avowed a big shake-up in managing migration, implementing speedy removals of undocumented migrants and failed asylum seekers while instituting return bans for up to 10 years for offenders.

According to Maramag, joblessness and extreme poverty in the Philippines are forcing hundreds of Filipinos everyday to seek jobs abroad, including in the UK, even if it meant the risk of being exploited and becoming undocumented.

But Ms Arroyo doesnt seem to care as long as remittances are being sent back home. What she should do is take action in addressing both the welfare of the more than 200,000 OFWs in the UK while creating real jobs back home rather than churning out lies of economic resilience in the Philippines, he added.