Risks for migrants, benefits of migration to be tackled in PHL forum

The rights of migrants and risks that they face are among the topics to

be discused when hundreds of delegates from all over the world converge at the

5th World Social Forum on Migration (WSFM) next week, organizers announced Thursday. Aurora Javate de Dios, executive director of the Woman and Gender Institute (WAGI) of Miriam College, said at a press conference that the Philippines is a big stakeholder in setting the agenda for the rights of migrant workers as nearly 10 million Filipinos reside overseas.

During the five-day forum, to be held from November 26 to 30 at the Miriam College in Quezon City, delegates are expected to discuss various issues related to the migration phenomenon. These include the consequences of global migration, the rights of migrants, alternative models of migration, the debts of migrant workers, marriage and migration, and recruitment agencies.

Expected to speak at the event are United Nations Committee on Migrant Workers chair Abdelhamid El Jamri and House of Representatives committee on overseas workers affairs chairperson Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello. On the third day of the program, delegates will have the option to choose among three diverse field visits in Manila, Pampanga and Batangas to get a closer look at the effects of the migrant experience on Filipinos.

The participants of the summit will also conduct a march along España Boulevard on the last day of the program and a rally at Mendiola in Manila. On its website, WSFM describes itself as "a summit of civil society, social movements and activist groups involved in the growing challenge of migration around the world."

The Philippines is the first in Asia to host the WSFM. The past four summits were conducted in Brazil, Ecuador, and Spain. Good, bad examples of migration

De Dios noted the good and bad examples of migration in the context of the Philippines. She said as an example that the contribution of the remittances of OFWs to the Philippine economy is recommendable and admirable.

“On the other hand, we know that being a migrant is full of risks and danger,” De Dios said.

“Ibig sabihin nito di lang natin ipinagtatanggol ang mga Pilipino, ipinagtatanggol din natin ang karapatan ng lahat ng migrante, kahit saan pa sila manggaling,” De Dios said.

“So iyon ang papel ng Pilipinas: it plays a significant leadership in the human rights of migrant workers,” she continued, noting that “kailangan ng mundo ang mga OFWs.” Not black and white Rex Varona, a trustee of the Migrant Forum in Asia -- a network of civil society organizations and unions in Asia advocating for the rights of migrant workers and their families--

noted that the “face of migration is not black and white.” He said there are many perspectives on issues related to migrant workers and their families, which the summit will discuss.

According to the 2010 Stock Estimate of Overseas Filipinos of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, almost 9.5 million Filipinos can be found all over the world.

Data from the National Statistics Office, meanwhile, peg the number of Overseas Filipino Workers at around 2.2 million, based on the 2011 Survey on Overseas Filipinos.

Meanwhile, migrants worldwide are estimated at around 214 million, based on data from the International Organization for Migration.

- VVP/YA, GMA News

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