As representatives of states meet on October 29-30 for the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), we call on our fellow migrants, migrant advocates and supporters to join the genuine voice of migrants as we say “No to GFMD!”
The GFMD is a device created by First World countries and international financial institutions (IFIs) like the World Bank to corner the remittances, borne by the blood, sweat and tears of migrants, and use it in funding for the “development” of poor countries. It is being used to sell neoliberal anti-poverty financing strategy that relies on the remittances of migrant workers.
The false notion of “migration for development” that the GFMD peddles further promotes the systematic exploitation of cheap labor. It is meant to capture the remittances of migrants to ensure super profits of bank monopolies and ensure that debt-ridden economies have enough reserves to pay off debts, especially amid the raging financial crisis. The GFMD thrives on the poverty of Third World countries and forces them to institutionalize migration policies. Clearly, the agenda and framework of the GFMD reveals that what is in store is greater commodification of migrant labor, and greater exploitation and miseries of migrant workers.
The GFMD holds more significance this year because it is being hosted by the Arroyo regime in the Philippines. The Arroyo regime is the nightmare ofoverseas Filipino workers (OFWs). No other regime has bled the OFWs dry with enormous exactions from fees to charges to taxes. It has duped OFWs to part with their earnings in collusion with big business, illegal recruiters, traffickers and racketeers, and in utter disregard of the abuses and violations of migrants’ rights. It is currently riding high on the phenomenal increase in dollar remittances even as OFWs continue to reel from the falling value of their dollars.
It is time to expose that the GFMD is a predatory scheme that does not address the root causes of underdevelopment and the massive migration of poor people, much less consider the harsh conditions and legitimate issues of migrant workers. The GFMD does not promote the development of poor countries but pushes them deeper into the quagmire of poverty.
The GFMD is a sham assembly that talks about migrants but deliberately excludes the migrants themselves. It talks about the protection of migrants but in reality violates our rights. First World countries, IFIs, banks, businesses, and governments of poor countries– which have profited immensely and unscrupulously from our hard labor– are the same institutions that are behind the GFMD. After years of neglect, abuse and exploitation, it is time that the genuine voice of the migrants be heard: No to GFMD! No to labor export policy! No to forced migration! Create jobs at home! End poverty! Defend and advance our rights!
Contrary to Pres. Arroyo’s statement that the ratification of Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) will protect the country from the global financial crisis, research group IBON Foundation says it will make the country more vulnerable to economic shocks.
JPEPA and similar free trade deals further opens the local economy to more foreign plunder and drags the country to the global crisis worsened by trade and investment liberalization, said IBON research head Sonny Africa. Bilateral deals like JPEPA enables beleaguered countries like Japan to pass their crisis to other economies in the region through more liberalization.
Even as Japan claims that it is on the way to recovery, its economy has grappled with stagnant growth and high unemployment for nearly two decades and is aiming to further open up other economies to cope with its internal problems. The emerging scenario of a US economic slowdown, financial disorder, soaring energy and food prices only make its situation more urgent.
The experience of the country with similar free trade deals such as the GATT-WTO, which the Senate ratified in 1994, has proven that no amount of safety nets could protect the economy and people’s livelihood from the harmful effects of liberalization.
According to Africa, it is ironic that the Senate ratified the JPEPA even as the WTO talks broke down precisely because of questions on the supposed development gains to be achieved from trade and investment liberalization. “When will this government learn from the harmful effects of liberalization on the economy?” he asked.
The approval of JPEPA surrenders Philippine sovereignty and will reinforce the country’s backwardness. The country will be further prevented from implementing economic policies essential for its development and will be obliged to give similar disadvantageous terms in pending deals with the US, European countries and others.
There is no real gain for the Philippines and especially the poorest and most marginalized sectors with JPEPA. In agriculture it is the big corporate plantations that will gain and not the country’s millions of small farmers, Africa added.
To protect and build the domestic economy, the country needs trade protection against imports such as tariff and non-tariff barriers and investment controls, and not free trade deals like JPEPA that only further expose the country and deepen its links to the failing global economy. (end)
IBON is one of the convenors of No Deal! Movement Against Unequal Economic Agreements.
It is not surprising but still disappointing that the government has clearly not learned its lesson. The current global turmoil and its impact on the Philippines underscore the vulnerability of our economy. The country is extremely vulnerable because of nearly three decades of reckless “free market” policies of globalization.
Progressive groups warned in 1994 about the damage that a World Trade Organization (WTO) deal would cause. Yet the government insisted on ratifying the deal and even implemented policies opening up the economy beyond what the WTO agreement required. The so-called safety nets were ineffectual and local industry and agriculture has been devastated causing unprecedented joblessness.
The economy’s fundamentals are very weak and will be weakened further by JPEPA and other such deals to come. The country’s historic jobs crisis will worsen, more Filipinos will be forced to try and find work abroad, millions more will suffer poverty and deprivation.
We condemn the surrender of the country’s sovereignty and patrimony by the government through JPEPA. The country’s negotiators have absurdly given up nationalist and protectionist policy measures that Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand for instance held on to in their respective trade deals with Japan.
The only acceptable deal for the Philippines is one based on the principles of solidarity, mutual benefit and development for those who have long suffered poverty and backwardness. The JPEPA however is a treasonous deal that must be completely rejected.