Warm welcome just publicity stunt

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 December, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 December, 2000, 12:00am

The Estrada administration's red-carpet welcome to overseas Filipino workers coming home for the holidays is a sham.

Our compatriots are accorded this sham treatment every Christmas while they are neglected and abandoned by the Government for the rest of the year.

We are appalled by the Government's Christmas publicity stunts meant to deceive the public by promoting a pro-migrant image of the administration of President Joseph Estrada. These overseas workers certainly deserve a genuine red-carpet welcome, given the major role they play in helping to prop up the Philippines' unstable economy.

Yet, this same government which claims to welcome them, also neglects to help them with the many problems they face when working abroad. We cannot believe it is sincere in its claim to address the plight of these workers when it:

Issues Executive Order 197 that mandates all government agencies, including Philippine embassies and consulates, to increase their 'service fees' by at least 20 per cent.

Exacts US$25 (about HK$195) Overseas Welfare Workers Assocation membership fees and a host of other fees and 'contributions' from each Filipino working overseas.

Does nothing to help thousands of migrant workers stranded in the Middle East, nor files the appropriate diplomatic protest when Filipinos are beheaded in Saudi Arabia, or when overseas workers are raped or murdered abroad.

Continues to withhold UN compensation to 46,182 Gulf War victims despite their prolonged suffering.

Mr Estrada is doing his best to court the attention of the Filipino people. But his administration is only after the dollars our compatriots send home.

As such, we condemn the sham 'red-carpet treatment'.


Quezon City, Philippines