Resumption of peacetalks urged

CONCERNED Filipinos in Australia and New Zealand have joined calls for the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to immediately resume formal peace talks without preconditions, especially on the second substantive agenda of Social and Economic Reforms.

In a letter addressed to Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the heads of the GRP and NDFP Peace Negotiating Panels, leaders of Filipino community organisations declared, “We urge the GRP and NDFP panels to ensure that migrants’ issues and concerns would be among the priority agenda in the negotiations. We ask both parties to actively lobby for the governments of Australia, New Zealand and other migrants-receiving countries to immediately ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; and to forge specific agreements to protect migrants from discrimination and abuse.”

“It is deplorable that the US State Department make Filipinos especially those in the Middle East more vulnerable to racist attacks, random questioning, harassment, raids and arrests with its grossly  irresponsible report that “the Abu Sayyaf Group is funded through acts of ransom and extortion and may receive funding from external sources such as remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and possibly Middle East-based extremists,” George Kotsakis, Chairperson of Migrante Australia,

Dennis Maga, Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand national coordinator says, “OFWs are working in difficult  conditions, fighting hard for economic survival, denied of government assistance, insulted by the likes of
Hongkong Labour Attaché Labatt Salud and other negligent officials. We need our government and  migrants-receiving governments to protect and promote migrants rights rather than endanger their lives and jobs through unjust US-led terrorist listings.”

In the last four weeks, Filipinos in New Zealand and Australia gathered in a series of public meetings on the status and prospects of peace talks between the Aquino government and the NDFP during the peace speaking tour of Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma of the NDFP Peace Negotiating Panel from 28th October to 27th November. In these meetings, Ledesma has noted, “We have been living as political exiles in The Netherlands since the Marcos dictatorship. Today around 10% of the Philippine population are also forced to be ‘economic exiles’ because there are not enough jobs and vast tracts of land remain in the hands of multinationals and traditional elite in the Philippines.”

“As the nation commemorates the birth of the great freedom fighter Andres Bonifacio today, we reiterate challenge to the Aquino government to increase workers’ wages and create decent jobs at home so that Filipinos will not be forced to work abroad. The worsening poverty of Filipinos under corrupt government after another compel us to fight for change just as colonial oppression compelled Bonifacio and the Katipuneros to fight for our nation’s freedom over 100 years ago,” Maga concluded. D’Jay Lazaro


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