Peace panels urged to include migrant workers’ welfare in CASER talks

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/05 December) – A migrant workers’ group urged the peace panels of the government (GRP) and National Democratic Front (NDF) to include measures that will improve the conditions of overseas Filipino workers when they resume talks on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socioeconomic Reforms or CASER.

Inorisa Sialana-Elento, Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions Inc. executive director told a press conference Monday that their group has prepared an agenda for submission to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

She said the welfare of OFWs should be included in the negotiations on socioeconomic reforms as more Filipinos are going abroad to seek better opportunities.

“We have at least 16 million OFWs who are spread all over 195 countries. There are at least 6,000 Filipino who are leaving everyday,” she said.

Elento said their inclusion in the proposed reforms will ensure their protection, as well as the welfare of their families.

The group will present its agenda in a forum at the Ateneo De Davao University on December 14, International Migrants’ Day, which will gather around 500 participants.

The CASER, described as the “heart and soul” of the peace negotiations, contains the most contentious such as the agrarian reform, national industrialization, and foreign policy.

The agreed GRP-NDFP common framework and outlines states that CASER aims to eradicate “Philippine poverty and reduce inequality in all their aspects and dimensions to have productive, decent and dignified lives.”

Elento urged the government to mobilize the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children that will look into the security and welfare of children of OFWs.

She cited the case of an OFW, Erlinda Cagalitan, whose 2 year-old child, J.E. Cagalitan, died in the hands of his guardians due to “consistent physical abuse.”

She said their group is supporting Erlinda, a widow with 2 other children, and the other OFWs, both documented and undocumented. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)