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Sep 29th
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice Migrapartheid: How Home and Host Governments Discriminate Against Overseas Workers
Migrapartheid: How Home and Host Governments Discriminate Against Overseas Workers PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Saturday, 26 September 2009 10:04

Part One of an Occasional Series


R emember how “Apartheid” became the universal word that meant the social-and-political policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by Caucasian-dominated minority governments in South Africa from 1948 to 1994? Well, there is a new kind of “apartheid” that many home and host governments practice against overseas workers. This writer, for want of a better name, calls these discriminatory practices against migrant workers the “Migrapartheid.”


For purposes of this position paper, we will discuss the perils and persecution of, and the prejudice against, the Overseas-Filipino workers (OFWs).


While many Filipino national and local leaders have hailed the OFWs as the country’s “modern-day heroes” (BalikBayani) for their billions of dollars in annual foreign remittances, the tribute to the Filipino expatriates is actually merely lip service, if not “consuelo de bobo” (roughly translated, “consolation for the dumb”). The OFWs have remitted more-than $19-billion in 2008, and counting and which equaled almost 20-percent of the country’s GNP. Their annual remittances – as tracked by the Philippine Central Bank – did not include the remittances via the Black Market and the value of the tens of millions of shipping boxes containing canned foods, clothing and other necessities that they send by sea freight to their kin in the Philippines.


In actual practice, many Philippine government offices and their officials treat the OFWs as instant sources of graft, if not unwilling givers of bribes. The Philippine government actually considers the OFWs as “necessary evils,” for their foreign earnings keep the economy afloat and the rotten bureaucracy well-fed.


In spite of the campaign by some OFW leaders, still the Philippine (home) government has not done much to protect its expatriate workers. Here is a move initiated by Ms. Amanda Bueno and Ms. Freda Contreras in their efforts to educate OFWs on their rights, Simplified summary or Cliff Notes on: “Protecting Overseas Workers: Lessons and Cautions from RP


Here is another self-explanatory indictment of the Philippine government’s policy insofar as woman OFWs are concerned:

The Exploitation of Filipino Woman Workers by the Arroyo Dispensation Continues


The Issue of Woman OFWs


T his writer and other authors have penned several articles about the injustices that woman OFWs suffer at the hands of their foreign employers and the bureaucracies of the home and host governments. Readers can browse the articles in this Women’s Section of the at this hyperlink,


The national leaders of the Philippines must and and should realize that even Arab women are treated as second-class citizens in many countries in the Middle East. So, one can just imagine how woman OFWs (in the Middle East) are looked down, abused emotionally, physically and sexually. – Bobby Reyes


Ms. Winda Lagumbay-Petilla, a Filipino-Canadian writer and online activist, has described the perils of being woman OFWs in this article, Ms. Moonglow’s Sad Stories and News Briefs About OFWs, Especially Filipino Maids


And there are host governments of which the eyes of their immigration bureaucrats turn blind when young foreign women enter their airports or seaports of entry as tourists. How can foreign women – young and often penniless – enter Japanese ports of entry with just a visitor’s visa? The truth is that countries like Japan need young Southeast-Asian women like the Filipinas to work in their night clubs, massage parlors, if not the houses of their Red-Light districts.


In 1994 I brought to the attention of the Japanese Prime Minister the issue of what this writer called, “the modern-day version of Japan’s Comfort Women.” To read more about this topic, please click on this hyperlink: Does the World Care About Japan’s Modern-day "Comfort Women"?


And worse, even the two woman-Presidents of the Philippines continued, and the incumbent continues, to tolerate the abuses against the woman OFWs, as stated in this indictment, The Woman Leaders of the Philippines Must Protect their Fellow Women


I mentioned my correspondence to the Japanese Prime Minister in my 1995 letter to the Pearl S. Buck Foundation about former Philippine President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, as stated in this article, Not Getting Mad at, But Getting Even With, Tita Cory


The sexual abuse of some OFWs is not restricted to woman workers. Francis Oca, our contributor from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), wrote this article, Report from Riyadh: Filipino Men Are Being Raped


OFWs Are Often Treated as Second-class Human Beings


O FWs receive more-often than not the raw end of the criminal-justice system in the countries where they work. Several OFWs have been meted the capital punishment – and beheaded – in the KSA and the home government of the Republic of the Philippines (RP) has been rendered toothless, if not helpless, in protecting the civil rights of the OFWs who have been accused of criminal offenses by the host government.


Even OFWs drivers face the daunting problem of being blamed for traffic accidents that are caused by citizens of the countries where they work. To read a specific example of this illogical application of local laws in the foreign countries where OFWs work, please click this hyperlink, Filipinos Must Learn Middle-Eastern Logic and Filipino Rape Victim in Kuwait Accepts Settlement


More Discrimination Even in Healthcare


As a general rule, OFWs are discriminated in matters of religion and even in healthcare.

OFW Christians are not afforded the freedom of religion in many Islamic countries. Nor are they granted freedom of speech and/or of the press. In many countries – other than the
United States, Canada, most European countries and Australia or New Zealand – OFWs and even their children born in the host countries cannot become immigrants, if not citizens, of the nations where they work. They are not even permitted to court a native woman in the host country. In short, if the native women in many Islamic countries are treated as second-class citizens, OFWs are treated like second-class human beings.


Even in the matter of healthcare, OFWs are given raw deals. Even in the liberal and progressive country of Canada, a Filipino woman OFW was almost denied life-saving healthcare services until a massive international protest persuaded Canadian authorities to reverse their decision. Here is an article published in this website about the case of the said Filipino OFW in Canada:


Cancer-stricken Filipino Caregiver Will Be Allowed to Stay (and Probably Die with Dignity) in Canada



(To be continued . . .)


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Last Updated on Monday, 28 September 2009 14:27
Comments (1)
1 Saturday, 26 September 2009 11:51
Hi, Bobby,

We are here in Manila witnessing the accounts of the aftermath of storm "Ondoy".
We were unable to meet with you but hope you'd be here in December. Just ehn, we can arrange to meet.

Thanks, I read your Migrapartheid article. True indeed. The exploitation continues as long as there are OFWs who are willing to take risks for uncertain terms of employment abroad.

They are like sugars (OFWs) for ants (employers/exploiters/traffickers) to devour!!

All the best in your crusades.

// Ninang Elsa

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