Workers’ group to gov’t: Attend to distressed Filipino workers overseas
MANILA, Philippines – An alliance of Filipino workers in the United States (US)is urging the Duterte administration to address the plight of Filipinos workers who are victims of human trafficking and other issues overseas.
“The Duterte administration should take responsibility for the conditions that force Filipinos to find jobs away abroad, which put them at risk of overstaying and becoming victims of human trafficking,” Migrante USA chairwoman Bernadette Herrera said in a statement on Monday.
The US government last week imposed a one-year ban on Filipino workers seeking jobs across the US under the federal H-2A and H-2B programs.
Herrera was reacting to statement of Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo who said that Malacañang would respect the latest restriction.
“If that is the law in the US and there were violations, then we have to respect if they have basis for that… But if [the workers] violated the laws of the US, then they have to face the music,” Panelo said.
Panelo also assured Filipino workers that they could still find jobs in other countries amid the US restriction.
Herrera, however, said Panelo’s suggestion was futile and insensitive.
“Simply telling them to look for other countries to go to while the ban is enforced is insensitive and futile,” she said.
“The U.S. government will continue to resort to such stop-gap measures to mask their poorly regulated, for-profit and anti-worker labor and immigration policies that only benefit the 1%. But ultimately, Filipinos will continue to gamble abroad for a brighter future unless there are real productive industries with livable wages and land to till back home,” Herrera added.
Meanwhile, Susan Pineda, vice chairperson of Rights and Welfare of Gabriela-US, raised the concern of Filipinos who were affected by labor practices of American businesses.
“Furthermore, many of our kababayan become victims of human trafficking due to the unscrupulous labor practices of American businesses as well as the deregulated recruitment industry in the Philippines that bureaucrats and private businesses profit of,” Pineda said in a statement.
Last Jan. 18, the US Department of Homeland Security banned the entry of additional Filipino workers with H2-A and H2-B visas due to overstaying and human trafficking concerns.
The one-year ban is valid from Jan. 19, 2019, to Jan. 18, 2020.
H-2A visas are temporary visas for foreign agricultural workers while the H2-B visas are given to foreign workers providing non-agricultural services in the US. /gsg/ac
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