Parallel migration forum in Manila kicks off with protest

  • Posted on: 22 October 2008
  • By: pirate

Oct. 22, 2008

MANILA, Philippines- Foreign and local participants of the People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights kicked of the event on Wednesday with a protest rally in Manila against the lack of protection for migrants worldwide.

A GMA News report aired over QTV’s Balitanghali said the
activists rallied at the Rajah Sulayman Park in Malate even as the
Manila City government revoked their permit to stage the event there.

With the theme,"Migrant workers are human beings, not commodities," the
nine-day PGA, as the activity is called, is meant to supplement the 2nd
Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)

This year’s GFMD will be held in Manila from October 27 to 30, with the
Philippine government as host. Policies on migration and its
relationship to development, including migrants’ rights, and
negotiations on bilateral agreements on migration are expected to be
discussed during the forum.

The GFMD came out of the recommendations of the 2006 UN High Level
Dialogue on Migration and Development in New York to serve as platform
to “understand the implications of the migration phenomenon," as well
as “counter the marginalization, abuse, and discrimination that some
groups of migrants still face today."

Hardly represented

But various non-government organizations opted to organize the PGA,
noting that the subject of the GFMD are hardly represented in the
global forum.

“The parallel forum is not meant to jeopardize the process, we are actually taking part in the process," said

Ellene Sana, executive director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy
(CMA), said in an interview with GMANews.TV on Wednesday that the PGA
is meant to accommodate all issues that would not be discussed during
the GFMD.

The PGA participants, however, were disappointed with the revocation of
their permit to use the Rajah Sulayman Park on the recommendation of
the Manila Police District.

“We are outraged by the revocation of our permit to hold activities
from October 22 to 30 at the Rajah Sulayman park, a public space, as
parallel events…to the forthcoming 2nd Global Forum on Migration and
Development (GFMD)," they said.

They refused to accept the Mehan Garden or Bonifacio Shrine near the
Manila City Hall as an alternative venue offered by the police.

“Doing so would mean accepting the further exclusion of migrant workers
and their advocates from the global discussions at the 2nd GFMD that
would ultimately affect their plight," it said in the same statement.

On the other hand, the local government said they transferred the venue
of the event to avoid any unnecessary nuisances during the group’s

Safe dito sa loob, hindi kagaya dun sa labas, kung lalabas sila, maaaring yung ibang grupo sumali sa kanila na hindi nila alam
(It’s safe here inside unlike outside, if they go out, some groups may
infiltrate them without them knowing)," Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim’s
chief of staff Ricardo De Guzman told GMA reporter John Consulta in an

Flimsy reason

PGA’s organizers were not convinced of the local government’s reason.

“The stated official reason for the last-minute revocation of the
permit is a flimsy reason without basis, and no more than the usual
standard excuse whipped out by authorities when no other reasonable
justification could be produced," the group said in a statement.

“The revocation of our permit is most unreasonable, and we cannot but
view it as an extension of the national government’s policy of
continued denial of migrant workers’ rights and the citizens’ rights to
freedom of expression," they said.

Protection for migrants

Many of the foreign delegates voiced out their concerns regarding migration and the protection of migrants during the event.

“Migration is a choice, people are free to go anywhere but because of
no job generation at home, people are looking, scavenging the global
market for jobs," PGA’s Philippine Working Group convenor William Gois

“(Migrants) should be protected by the basic human rights as stated by
the UN and by the migrant workers convention. Everybody should have the
same right," said Sara Callaway, a foreign delegate.

On the other hand, former tourism secretary Gemma Araneta talked about the implications of working abroad.

Di ba mahirap naman kung iiwan ninyo ang inyong pamilya,
magtatrabaho ka sa dayuhan tapos pagbalik mo pala eh wala ka namang mga
(Isn’t it hard to leave your family behind? You’ll work
for foreigners and when you come back, you don’t even have benefits)
They (the government) should be the ones to generate the jobs," she

They said they do respect the GFMD and its well-meaning intentions.

“We recognize the GFMD in the Philippines as an event that can open
opportunities for migrant workers and their advocates to meaningfully
contribute to the current global discourse on migration and
development," the PGA statement said.

However, they said the PGA is also important because it is “a
demonstration of global cross-border solidarity among migrant workers
and their advocates that is peaceful and legitimate."

The PGA’s convenor is the Migrant Forum in Asia, and its members are
the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Asean Trade Union Council
(ATUC), Asian Migrant Center (AMC), Atikha, Batis Center for Women,
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino(BMP), Center for Migrant Advocacy
(CMA), Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD),
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women in the Asia Pacific (CATW-AP),
Daughters of Charity, Focus on the Global South.

Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Global Network Asia,
International Gender and Trade Network-Asia (IGTN), Jubilee South-Asia
Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, Kakammpi, Kanlungan Center
Foundation, National Union of Building & Construction Workers/BWI,
Philippine Consortium on Migration and Development, Public Services
International (PSI/PSLink), Solidaritas Migran Scalabrini-Philippines,
Stop the New Round, Uni-Apro, Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services
Foundation, and Women and Gender Institute Miriam College (WAGI). - Kimberly Jane T. Tan, GMANews.TV