U.S. Filipinos Share Stories of Family Separation, Sacrifice and Exploitation in TRUE SONA

For Immediate Release

July 23, 2012

Contact: Terrence Valen, NAFCON President

info@nafconusa.org, 415.333.6267

U.S. Filipinos Share Stories of Family Separation, Sacrifice and Exploitation in TRUE SONA

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) held a nationwide series of activities to present the true Philippine State of the Nation Address (SONA) in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco culminating on Monday, July 23. In these events they expressed the real conditions of Filipinos with a focus on im/migrant struggles in the U.S. to discredit President Aquino’s version which paid no attention to Filipino im/migrants.

“It is both telling and terrible that Aquino’s SONA overlooks im/migrants despite our $20 billion in annual remittances that keep the Philippines afloat. Aquino overlooks us because he is covering up his neglect for our rights and welfare. Under Aquino’s watch the situation of 12-15 million im/migrants worldwide has worsened while 4,500 more Filipinos are shipped overseas daily and treated like modern-day slaves by the government,” said Terrence Valen, NAFCON President.

Since May 1st, NAFCON has been engaged in a campaign to survey the stories and educate the community about the struggle of U.S. Filipino im/migrants that Aquino failed to address in his SONA. The campaign is called Dignity and Justice for Im/migrants. In two and a half months NAFCON has gathered over one hundred anonymous stories with a plan to compile over a thousand more. Early in the campaign, it is already clear that while Aquino leaves im/migrants out in his SONA, there are numerous concerns and dire conditions that his administration needs to address.

For example, one story from the survey shared, “I was 62 years old at that time and started working as a caregiver… In 3 1/2 months of working they discriminated my age and paid me below the minimum wage. It was $60.00 for 12 hours. No bedroom for the caregivers. We slept on the floor of the living room.”

Another person said, “My family and I were undocumented for 15 years. My parents worked jobs that no one wanted, like being a caregiver, working at burger king, janitor, and delivering pizza. My family are not criminals, and we deserve a livelihood too!”

Lastly, a third person shared, “My mom left abroad when I was 5 and my brother was 6 months. She was desperate to find a better future for her children. For nine years, she worked in Saudi Arabia and United States until she was able to petition us. I was 13 when I came to the United States and my brother was 9. The process of our kinship is still taking shape.”

Valen explained, “Here in the U.S., Filipinos are most often separated from their family and work in mostly low-income industries, like the hotel, restaurant, airport, janitorial, security, hospital, carehome and other domestic industries. The work is back-breaking, undervalued and underpaid, and there is often no health insurance or access to other basic services.  Filipinos can barely survive here in this country, but still face the pressure to support our families back home.”

Despite Aquino’s claims of increasing funding for education, decreasing unemployment, improving the economy and creating jobs, the number of Filipinos forced to leave the country continued to increase from 1.281 million in October 2010 to 1.35 million in October of 2011.

“Aquino’s SONA overlooks the fundamental need to change a Philippine economy based on exporting people versus resolving the landlessness and joblessness that forces more Filipinos abroad into situations of family separation, sacrifice, and exploitation,” Valen continued.

NAFCON explains that the Philippine government maintains a system of forced migration through the Labor Export Policy (LEP). The LEP systematically promotes and facilitates the export of human labor. It works as a prime recruitment agency for the benefit of influential government officials, business leaders, landlords and especially powerful U.S. business leaders.

Ultimately, NAFCON believes that the LEP should be abandoned and replaced with genuine agrarian land reform and national industrialization. This means the vast amounts of land in the Philippines, utilized for corporate profit, should be fairly distributed to the nation’s peasant population so it can be utilized to sustain the Filipino people. In addition, the nation’s abundance of natural resources, currently prioritized to profit foreign corporations and few local agents, should be used to develop domestic industry to create jobs.

Until the Philippine government abandons the LEP and addresses the true needs of its people, NAFCON will continue to take on campaigns such as the Dignity and Justice for Im/migrants to hold the Philippine government accountable for the worsening conditions of im/migrants in the U.S. and around the world.

“If Aquino truly believes anything is possible and the Philippines should be for Filipinos then he should resolve the root causes of Philippine poverty instead of continuing to apply band aid approaches such as increasing foreign investment and tourism. The people need land and jobs not stolen resources and forced migration,” Valen closed.

For more information on NAFCON and its campaigns please go to www.nafconusa.org.###

To subscribe to NAFCON’s news list please click here.

Comments are closed.