Organizers vow to fight for and defend the rights of Filipino migrant workers.
Migrante-Ontario, an alliance of Filipino migrant organizations in Ontario, was officially launched in Toronto this November. Migrante-Ontario is a chapter of Migrante International, a global alliance of more than 100 overseas Filipino organizations in 22 countries. Members of Migrante-Ontario include: DAMAYAN Migrant Education and Resource Center, United Filipinos for Nationalism and Democracy (UFiND), AWARE/GABAY, Philippine Advocacy Through Arts Canada (PATAC), Pilipinong Migrante Sa Canada (PMSC)-Ottawa, Migrant Workers Family Resource Center-Hamilton, UKPC-Toronto, and Siklab-Ontario. Since its launching, initiatives have been put forward for the formation of a Migrante Ontario Youth Collective.
Migrante-Ontario believes it is part of the Filipino people’s movement for national liberation and democracy. Migrante organizes Filipinos overseas and their families back home. Migrante’s mission is to continuously uphold and defend the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and their families.
The need for organizing Filipinos abroad has become urgent since the 1980s due to the Philippine Government’s Labour Export Policy (LEP). The LEP is part and parcel of the government’s counterinsurgency strategy as the biggest safety valve to the country’s crisis. The over 10 million Filipinos now abroad would otherwise be at home un- or underemployed and not sending remittances to relatives also un- or underemployed. Neither would the billions of dollars remitted every year be circulating in the economy to provide work for others. The other elements of this counterinsurgency strategy include massive foreign borrowing and militarization of the country.
For their part, receiving countries like Canada rarely protect the rights of the migrants they so assiduously exploit. Police violence, non-enforcement of employment standards, and restrictive visas are just some of the many weapons used against Filipino migrants.
In its brief existence, Migrant Ontario is already at the forefront of Filipino migrants struggles. Migrante Ontario is seeking cooperation with local Canadian and other migrant organizations. A major task of Migrante Ontario is to mobilize other migrant organizations in Canada to assist in the formation of an anti-imperialist International Migrants Alliance (IMA). The first IMA assembly is set for May 2008 in Malaysia.