09/30/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Filipino Church: migrant work is destroying the family

by Santosh Digal
The bishops denounce government policies that encourage workers to move abroad: migration is causing a crisis for the institution of the family, because of deep wounds for the children, who feel an overall sense of "abandonment". There are about 10 million Filipino workers abroad.

Manila (AsiaNews) - The Filipino government must rethink profoundly its policy of promoting migrant work, because it undermines the foundations of one of the most important institutions of civil society, the family, and fosters its disintegration. This is the charge from the Filipino bishops' conference, which is calling upon the government to create "more employment opportunities in the country, instead of fostering migratory policies", which threaten the "basis of society and the family, on which it is founded".

Fr Edwin D. Corros, executive secretary of the commission for the pastoral care of migrants, expresses "special concern" for the children, the category hardest hit by the departure of their parents abroad in search of work. "The government is very good at promoting policies on migrant workers", Fr Corros emphasizes, "but when it comes to putting these into practice, it demonstrates all of its weakness".

There are about 10 million Filipino workers abroad, and in Manila, in recent days, a conference was held on migration and development, with the participation of UNICEF - the UN agency dedicated to children - with special emphasis on the condition of Filipino children whose parents work abroad. The United Nations organization also stresses that migration must be only "one of the options available", and that the benefits often "do not exceed the problems or difficulties that this brings". Vanessa Tobin, deputy director of the UNICEF program, highlights in particular the "feminization" of migration, and confirms that this further "complicates" life for children, who are forced to "grow up without their mothers". According to the UN agency, there are between three and six million Filipino children whose parents work abroad. They grow up with the sense of having been "abandoned", and are unable to understand the reasons for their parents' decision and the presumed "economic benefits it would allow". Among older children, there is a "resentment" toward their father or mother, because they have to take care of their younger brothers and sisters.

Last weekend, in Manila, the second national conference of parents was held, organized by the Parents of Visually Impaired Children, under the slogan "Hand in Hand, Building Bridges". The event united parents, educators, teachers, thanks to the collaboration of the government and private associations, to "build a better future for the children".

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