MANILA (Mabuhay) — A migrants’ rights group on Tuesday called on Pope Francis to speak on behalf of overseas Filipinos to stimulate government action for the improvement of migrant rights.
“We call on Pope Francis to heed our call: Stand with us against trafficking and modern-day slavery of Filipino migrants! Struggle with us against [President Benigno] Aquino [III]’s labor export policy!,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, in a statement.
According to Martinez, Pope Francis’ outspoken attitude towards human trafficking.
In his traditional Angelus prayer in 2013, Pope Francis highlighted the plight of refugees and migrants, saying their “dramatic” condition is “marked by fear, uncertainty and difficulties.”
Martinez said Pope Francis’ support would help the 125 Filipinos currently on death row abroad, the 7,000 in jail, and the 25,000 left stranded and awaiting repatriation in the Middle East.
“As he visits the Philippines, we call on Pope Francis to speak on behalf of an estimated 15 million overseas Filipinos in over 239 countries around the world. We call on him to speak out for Filipino migrants in distress and their families,” he said.
Pope Francis, who will be in the Philippines from January 15 to 19, will meet with Filipino families affected by migration, poverty, and physical disabilities at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on January 16.
He will hear the testimonies of OFWs and others during the event, accommodating his wish to have “eye contact” with laypersons.
The Philippines is a major labor-sending country, with at least 1.46 million landbased overseas Filipinos and 367,166 seafarers worldwide as of 2013. (MNS)