Fourteen years after the enactment of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 or RA 8042, the problems confronting OFWs remain the same and are even getting worse. Without urgent action from the government, at least 41 overseas Filipino workers in different parts of the globe stand to suffer the fate of Flor Contemplacion.
BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Fourteen years after the enactment of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 or RA 8042, the problems confronting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) remain the same and are even getting worse. Without urgent action from the government, at least 41 overseas Filipino workers in different parts of the globe stand to suffer the fate of Flor Contemplacion.
Contemplacion, a domestic helper in Singapore, was executed for murder on March 17, 1995. She was accused of killing Delia Maga, a fellow Filipina domestic helper and a four-year old boy Nicholas Huang. Two Filipino witnesses testified that Contemplacion was innocent but the execution went on.
In a forum entitled “Migrant Rights Protection, Not Labor Exportation,” March 12, Garry Martinez, chairperson of the Migrante International, recalled that the RA 8042 was a response to the death of Contemplacion. He said that after the passage of the law, the Ramos administration vowed that Contemplacion would be the first and the last OFW to be sentenced to death.
Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, discusses the worsening plight of overseas Filipino workers.
“Kung ipinapatupad ang batas, bakit pataas nang pataas ang bilang ng bibitayin?” (If the law is being implemented, why is it that the number of OFWs in death row keeps on increasing?) asked Martinez.
According to Migrante, 41 OFWs are currently in death row, mostly in the Middle East.
Migrante also documented 29 cases of mysterious deaths of OFWs. “Pinatay sila. Walang naniniwalang nag-suicide. Lahat ng kasong ito, wala pa ring katarungan hanggang ngayon,” (They were killed. It is not true that they committed suicide. But justice has not yet been achieved in these cases.) Martinez said.
Martinez said that contrary to the said law, the Arroyo administration has considered migration as a tool for development. In fact, Martinez said, the Philippine government hosted the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development in October last year.
Sec. 2 of the law states, “While recognizing the significant contribution of Filipino migrant workers to the national economy through their foreign exchange remittances, the State does not promote overseas employment as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development. The existence of the overseas employment program rests solely on the assurance that the dignity and fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Filipino citizens shall not, at any time, be compromised or violated.”