October 28-31, 2008
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – WSCF AP women joined fellow youth, migrants and migrant advocates all over the world in actions and discussions at the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) on October 28-31, 2008.
The IAMR, held as alternative to the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development, criticized the latter’s neo-liberal framework of liberalization, deregulation and privatization, exploiting the desperation of the poor peoples of the world to move out of their countries for economic survival. It is spearheaded by the newly formed grassroots migrant organization International Migrants Alliance (IMA).
WSCF AP Sub Regional Women’s Program delegates
participate in women’s march against GFMD.
As founding associate members of the IMA, the SCMP and WSCF AP took time to discuss the issues of forced migration, neo-liberal Labor Export Program of governments especially from under-developed and poor countries, remittances, and exposure with women groups in urban poor communities in the WSCF AP Sub-regional Women’s Program held before the IAMR at the National Council of the Churches in the Philippines, October 24-27.
The GFMD identifies itself as “an informal multilateral and state-led multi-stakeholder process” that is open for the 192 United Nations members. In paper, it aims “to identify practical and feasible ways to strengthen the mutually beneficial relationship between migration and development”.
After the first GFMD in Brussels, Belgium in 2007 carrying the banner-theme migration as tool of development, the GFMD in Manila purportedly talked about migrants’ rights which were criticized by grassroots migrants groups for excluding the migrants’ voice to be heard in the discussions, even in the Civil Society Dialogue held days before the GFMD.
According to the IAMR, “While there is some truth that remittances temporarily alleviate the financial woes of families of migrants, this perverse notion signifies greater commodification of migrants and the perpetuation of conditions for cheap labor, not to mention the social costs of migration, especially on children and families.”
In the IAMR proper, WSCF AP co-sponsored a workshop titled “Global Migration and Education: Dissecting the Links and Impact of Globalization on Education, the Youth and Family” on October 30 which highlighted the issues of globalization as anathema in the development of social and human capacity.
Prof. Robyn Rodriguez, IMA International Coordinating Body member and a Filipino immigrant in the United States, shared some historical events which present relevant experiences in organizing and raising awareness of migrants as well as the second-generation immigrants. She also discussed how the legacies of US colonialism and imperialism in the underdeveloped countries also have an impact on the policies for labor export.
Prof. Sarah Raymundo, member of the Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy, and Ken Leonard Ramos, chairperson of Anakbayan (Sons and Daughters of the People) presented insights on the state of education in colonies and neo-colonies, and how globalization policies in education are imposed so that people, especially the youth, are sent out of their countries to add up to the workforce in receiving countries.
Kane Te Manakura of Conscious Collaborations in Aoateroa/New Zealand, shared a narrative of organizing young people in the context of globalized education and forced migration. He shared interesting stories about organizing young people and communities and promoting a culture that will counter colonial thinking and subservience.
October 27 was declared as International Youth Action Day by national youth groups in the Philippines together with the Asia-Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA), International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Asia-Pacific, International League of Peoples’ Struggle Youth (ILPS) and WSCF AP. Gathering in the streets to the US Embassy, the youth demonstrated in many creative forms to show that “The youth are not for export, the youth’s future is not for sale” and “No to forced migration, no to labor export.”
To dramatize how forced migration made people as items for export, WSCF delegates wore boxes labeled “for sale” or “for export.” For example, one box says “nurses for export” to show that poor countries train nurses not for local health care but to send them abroad where there is a need for nurses.
Maria Cristina Guevarra, SCM Philippines Secretary General said that the example of the Philippines, one of the world’s top remittance-reliant countries, if not the most, is “reflecting the economy of underdevelopment, always in the verge of collapsing and only buoyed up by Filipino overseas workers’ dollar remittances”.
Guevarra, herself a daughter of a migrant worker who is in Saudi Arabia for more than 20 years now, said, “Now is the time not only to show the real situation of migrants all over the world, but to expose the agenda behind holding the GFMD and the policy of migration being imposed by governments and foreign monopolies.”
“Instead of addressing the roots of poverty, decades-old landlessness and agricultural unrest, indebtedness, phenomenal unemployment and injustice in the home countries, the imperialists and neo-colonial governments force their people to migrate despite harsh working conditions, low salaries and human rights trampled upon,” she said.
Estimates of global migration reached over 200 million today, aside from the undocumented migrants and refugees. Likewise, international remittance has reached US$226 trillion, with Asia-Pacific receiving one-third of the global remittance, and Philippines as one of the three world’s highest recipients with Mexico and India.
These issues deem reflection on the phenomenon of “forced migration,” and pose a critique to this system that has been unmasked as a modern-day form of slavery.