Palace urged to quiz US on report linking OFWs to Abu Sayyaf

AN ALLIANCE of overseas Filipino workers  in the Middle East on Thursday urged Malacañang to question the report  made by the US Department of State that the remittances sent by OFWs back home could be bankrolling the operations of the extremist Abu Sayyaf group (ASG).

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said the report was not just alarming but was also unfounded and unfair.

“To ensure protection of OFWs, we demand the Aquino government to question this baseless report linking OFWs as source of funds for ASG. It should ask the US government to clear and clarify it,” he said.

Citing news reports, Migrante said the US agency issued its country report on the Philippines last August 5 saying, “The ASG is funded through acts of ransom and extortion and may receive funding from external sources such as remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and possibly Middle East-based extremists.”

“Such sweeping accusation linking OFWs to the source of ASG’s funds is unjust,” said Monterona. “In the first place, OFWs are forced to accept jobs overseas due to anti-labor policies in their country such as contractualization, union busting, meager wages, lack or no benefits, among many others, and no available decent jobs for them in the Philippines.”

He added that the report could pose a serious threat not only to the jobs of OFWs but to their rights and safety as well.

“It may send a wrong signal to the host governments especially here in the Middle East, who are active on their campaign against the terrorism of extremists groups  believed to have links to the ASG in Mindanao,” Monterona said.

OFWs and their families should be spared from the “war on terror” and should not be targets of attack, according to Monterona. D’jay Lazaro

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