Thursday, February 15, 2007

Migrants Manifesto for Issue-based Electoral Contest

We, the Overseas Filipinos worldwide, urge each and everyone in the coming May electoral contest to implore all political parties, emerging parties and their respective candidates to bring forth a platform-based campaign so that the electorate can choose credible persons who are worthy to lead the nation.

In order to advance democratic governance in the Philippines, there should be a structure or process of reform that promotes increasingly participatory and accountable governance. In this context, the will and voice of the people should be respected at all times and the sanctity of the ballots must be safeguarded.

The root causes of human insecurity in the Philippines – and thus, threats to overall peace and development – include conditions of inequity, with an elite few controlling power and economic resources; abject poverty; poor governance; injustice, abuse of authority and violations of human rights; and marginalization of minority groups. And yet, squandering of billions of pesos from legitimate and illegitimate sources had been a common scenario in a personality and patronage based electoral contest. The proposed platform-based campaign is envisioned to change this bad practice. In order to sustain poverty reduction, there must be equitable growth and the poor people who are in the majority must have political power – i.e. with a real voice and space. The powerful and/or the elites—whether political leaders, corporations or other influential actors—must be held accountable for their actions; more specifically, they must be held accountable for their success or failure in their individual or party platform of promised good governance.

We are calling for robust, transparent, internally democratic and accountable political parties in order to develop a stronger democratic culture in the Philippines. Otherwise, the right to choose will remain to be pre-empted by the elites that own the political process, including the political organizations.

We challenge those who want to become legitimate servants and leaders to articulate a concrete and doable developmental plan aimed at the Filipino migrant workers around the world. We pledge to support legitimate servants of the people running for any public position that aggressively promote the interest of our sector on the following issues:

1) Institute meaningful comprehensive electoral reforms starting with the removal of the residency requirement inserted at the last minute by congress in the Absentee Voting Law. Introduce laws that will create a transparent campaign expenditures and verifiable financial source imposing a limit to individual, group, and corporate campaign donations.

2) Creation of an office with a Cabinet status such as the Ministry of Migration and Development that will truly work for the interests of migrant workers. This office must be led by a Minister whose primary task is to manage orderly labor migration, harness the development potentials of migration and development (co-development). Set up an advisory board composed of qualified, dedicated, and credible Overseas Filipinos to advice the Ministry. In addition, the Ministry must:

See to it that the rights of migrants are protected
Facilitate return migration and in such a way that overseas Filipinos who wish to return voluntarily remain active in the labor force or has the necessary means to secure his or her financial future including their families
Monitor the performance of government agencies in charge of migrant workers (OWWA, etc.) and particularly to review structures relating to the migrant workers trust fund to enable migrants to have an effective voice and meaningful representation in policy formation, and to ensure proper administration and management of their fund.
Explore ways to address present gaps and barriers that hinder the effective mobilization, distribution, monitoring, and accountability procedures, in order to achieve economies of scale in current Filipino diaspora giving, including possibilities of replicating the Mexican experience (3 x 1 program) [i]
Facilitate creation of an enabling environment (investments, provide financial services including housing, insurance, education, savings, etc. for migrants) that fully harness the development potentials of Philippine migration
Encourage multi-stakeholder approach to development and promote public-private partnerships [ii]
Support and stimulate the transnational role of Overseas Filipinos so that they can contribute to the country’s development; while the government on the other hand, should establish a systematic way of tapping these skills (not only waiting for their remittances) [iii]
Strengthen the capacity of Philippine consulates and representative offices worldwide to better serve the needs of migrant Filipino workers

3) Promote good governance, honesty, and accountability of our government servants from the highest to lowest position. The virtue of servant-leadership must be practiced.

4) Promote the welfare of our women, elderly and children.

5) Access to a better education for all. [iv]

We urge government groups, media facilities, civil society, church organizations, and other responsible citizens, to organize and support pre-election public forums and other similar initiatives requiring candidates or party representatives to debate and publicly present their platforms on where they stand regarding these migrant issues. This will enable the citizenry, including eligible overseas voters and members of their families in the Philippines, in making informed decisions and to help ensure that only those candidates with clear and sincere intentions of promoting the welfare of the migrant sector, their families, and millions of poor people in our country are elected to public office.


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[i] The Mexican Hometown Association (HTA) experience through the Federación de Clubes de Zacatecanos del Sur de California is a good example. The Mexican government announced in July 2001 a "godfather program" that encourages Mexican-Americans to invest in Mexico. The state of Zacatecas depends heavily on remittances, but under the current 3-for-1 program, each dollar contributed by a migrant or HTA in the US for community development projects, is matched with an additional $3, one each from the federal, state and local governments. Under a new program, the Zacatecas state government and the InterAmerican Development Bank (IADB) provide infrastructure support and financing for returned migrants who invest their remittances in job-creating enterprises. The federación is composed of different clubs. Each club focuses on their respective hometown. The Federación speaks on behalf of the clubs in one voice and this becomes their strength. The federation becomes a mediator and negotiator on behalf of the member clubs. Organizations like the World Bank, IADB, UNDP, the Rockefeller Foundation and even the private sector relate with the Federación.


[ii] Private sector leadership in the Philippines and abroad should be developed in order to promote the Philippines as an investment destination.

[iii] An effective network should be developed to address this. On the strategy to collaborate with Diasporas: promoting knowledge networks and providing market access, there is the Philippine Brain Gain Network (BGN) among other networks. For example, further collaboration can be made between the BGN and the organizers of the Global Filipino Networking Conventions in order to come up with a more result-oriented agenda, more specifically to define a national policy for brain gain in order to harness overseas human resources more systematically.

[iv] Philippine education policy needs to be focused on technical skills and soft skills like scientific problem-solving, logical abstraction and teamwork. Greater collaboration must be undertaken by the DepEd and local authorities on technical academic reforms, particularly those pertaining to the curriculum and policy on language instruction.

1 comment:

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