MANILA, Philippines - A militant overseas Filipino worker’s (OFW) group on Thursday threw its support behind a Catholic bishop's call for family ministries catering to the needs of OFWs and their families.
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said they welcome church-led social mechanisms for pastoral care and empowerment for OFWs.
"We are thankful to (Cotabato) Archbishop (Orlando) Quevedo, who in his capacity us our beloved archbishop and as a concerned citizen like us, has outlined his response to the issue of OFW family disintegration, realizing the social costs of forced migration. Overseas migration has led to the break-up of some families," Monterona said in a statement on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines website.
Quevedo had recommended to the Vatican the setting up of a family ministry in every local church that "cares and serves," "forms and empowers."
The bishop sought to start a ministry that builds and works for solidarity among members of migrant families and with other families.
Monterona cited an unpublished research by Migrante-ME in 2006 showing that half of OFW families end up being broken due to long separation.
"So it is fair to say that forced, we say forced because most of our kababayans leave the country because of poverty and lack of livelihood opportunities, back there in the Philippines, migration is an evil force that breaks up Filipino families and devalues the importance of close family ties among members of an OFW family," said Monterona.
Monterona said he believes in the capacity of his fellow OFWs to be “ambassadors" of the Word of God, by working us missionaries among fellow OFW.
"OFWs could perfectly act as disciples of Jesus Christ and do so not only as preachers but also as liberators of oppressed migrant workers who usually are victims maltreatment, unfair labor practices, sexual harassment, nonpayment of salaries and all forms of exploitation," Monterona added.
He cited the case of seven OFWs who were deported from Kuwait because they joined a protest action against their employers at the Al-Jassim Trucking Company for giving them low hazard pay.
The seven OFWs (drivers driving trucks carrying different supplies for different camps and utilities in war-torn Iraq) had joined the picket of some 400 workers of different nationalities.
Instead of pay increase, the Kuwaiti police arrested and deported them.
Monterona also asked Quevedo to look deeply into the government's “labor export policy."
"Our bishops must squarely confront the Arroyo administration on its numerous 'sins' committed against the 'church' or oppressed believers including OFWs and their families," he said. - GMANews.TV