Filipino nun cries foul over human rights abuse of migrant workers during preparations for the Qatar FIFA World Cup
Migrant workers, many of them from the Philippines and employed as domestic maids, are seen amongst pedestrians at a public access walkway as they gather on their weekly Sunday off in Hong Kong's Central district on Sept. 24, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
A coalition of Filipino migrants has accused the Philippine government of brushing aside human rights violations of workers at home and abroad, at the United Nations meeting.
Migrante International, a global alliance of overseas Filipinos and their families in 24 countries, said the administration of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. had no right “to boast” that the human rights of migrants were being protected in the country and outside it.
“The Marcos Jr. government is lying: it is not protecting migrant Filipinos and our families. It is disgusting that it even made a marketing pitch for exporting Filipino labor in its report for the UN human rights body,” the group said in a statement on Nov. 16.
The statement came as the Philippine justice secretary allegedly “boasted” that the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers was proof that the administration of Marcos, Jr. was upholding human rights.
“The establishment of the Migrant Workers Department, something that President Marcos has achieved in his term, is a testimony of the government’s advocacy for the human rights and welfare of the overseas Filipino workers,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla told the UN Human Rights Council representatives during a recent meeting.
Remulla also said that the country has remained in Tier 1 in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons 2022 report.
The Philippines has been under the scrutiny of the UN since Nov. 14 for assessment of the human rights violations in the past administration.
The process is called the “universal periodic review” where 47 member states of the council would evaluate and recommend ways to address various human rights issues in a country.
Remulla said Marcos, Jr.’s performance was not yet ripe compared to former President Rodrigo Duterte, who had been accused of committing crimes against humanity for the alleged 30,000 killings of drug suspects during his term.
“It’s not fair for the president to answer for the accusations on the previous administration. What is important for us is today. We also cannot answer for the administration of the former President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.” Remulla added.
The migrants’ group said Remulla cannot evade the attacks against Marcos, Jr., and Duterte because they are their close allies.
“Marcos, Jr. cannot hide the realities on the ground: the government’s neglect and abandonment experienced by distressed Filipino migrant workers all over the world. The countless cases and testimonies of Filipino migrant workers who have been denied the urgent assistance and protection they need is a more accurate measure of the government’s sincerity in advancing their rights,” the group said.
Several member countries of the human rights council have called on Marcos, Jr. to address violations and issues left by Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.
Meanwhile, a Filipino nun challenged Marcos, Jr. to protect Filipino migrant workers in Qatar, who were demanding compensation from FIFA, the international football association, for abuses, including unexplained deaths, while preparing for the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup.
Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan waved a red card on Nov. 16 against Marcos, Jr., and Qatar saying they had no right to abuse labor rights.
Philippine human rights activist Father Robert Reyes said that the true measurement of the Philippines’ success in upholding human rights is the rule of law.
“The basic indicator is no other than the law- how many were killed yet remain unsolved cases docked in courts? Did anyone go to jail due to his or her responsibility for the killings? Were the killers brought to justice?” Father Reyes told UCA News.
International Labor Organization estimates that about 10 million Filipino live abroad as migrant workers and about one million Filipinos leave the country each year on average to work abroad.
Remittance from migrants is a major national thrust for economic growth in the Philippines.
However, rights groups have documented rights abuses and even deaths of Filipino migrants.
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