02/19/2018, 14.40
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Church offers prayers and solidarity to Filipino migrants abroad

by Santosh Digal

About ten million Filipinos work abroad. From January to November last year, they sent home about 1.4 trillion pesos (US$ 2.6 billion). They often endure abuse and exploitation. The country’s bishops back the government’s "the total ban" on workers going to Kuwait.

Manila (AsiaNews) – The Filipino church yesterday expressed its solidarity with Filipino migrant workers and others on the occasion of 32nd National Migrants’ Sunday (NMS), calling for better treatment towards them in host countries.

The NMS is designed to promote awareness, understanding and appreciation of the realities of economic migration. This year’s theme was ‘welcoming, protecting and integrating migrants and refugees’.

Since 1987, when it was established, the Church has used the event to show its concern for the situation of overseas Filipinos and their families left behind at home.

At present, some 10 million Filipinos work abroad, many of them in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Kuwait and Qatar.

Their remittances contribute to the country’s economic growth. In previous years, the money sent home have saved the Philippines from financial crises and now represent a major source of revenue for the national economy.

From January to November last year, overseas Filipinos sent home at least Pesos 1.4 trillion (2.6 billion US Dollars) through banks, the central bank of the Philippines said.

However, on 14 February, Filipino authorities ordered the repatriation of 10,000 migrant workers from Kuwait.

This follows a "total ban" imposed two days earlier on emigration to the emirate, which includes Filipinos who already have work permits but have not yet left for the Gulf state.

Previously, President Rodrigo Duterte had lashed out at Kuwait for frequent cases of abuse and exploitation of Filipino workers.

Mgr Ruperto Cruz Santos, bishop of Balanga and president of the Commission for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerants (ECMI) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), yesterday expressed support for the decision, calling on the government to offer better social protection to Filipino workers.

“Our migrant workers should be safe,” Santos said. “They should not be threatened or exploited. Their rights must be protected and their dignity respected”.

Above all, “A migrant is a person,” he added. “He has feelings, emotions, and a history. He is created by God, gifted by God with specific talents and individual skills. Thus, he is not a tool for profits, nor an instrument for pleasure”.

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