Monday, April 23, 2007

Protests – Where are they?

Hello Philippines! Remember Daniel Smith, the US Marine who was found guilty of raping a Filipina? Remember the hundreds of Filipinos that went ballistic and held protests and demonstrations against the US during the trial and when Smith was transferred to the US Embassy? Where are you now? Where are all those signs, placards, and effigies to show your outrage? Sixteen, dalawapu’t anim, fellow Filipinos suffered abuses from the hands of their Lebanese masters and not a single sign of protest against the Lebanese government. Not even a peep. Sixteen were abused including one that survived from being thrown from the 5th floor of an apartment building compared to one who claimed she was raped. The outrage this time should be at least 16 times more compared to the demonstration against the US. But where is it? Why isn’t the Philippine government, the president, making a formal statement to condemn those Lebanese that committed inhumane acts against the citizens of the Philippines? Where is the outrage? This lack of action clearly shows that previous actions especially those directed against the US and Australia are merely ‘for show’, mga palabas lang. There is no genuine concern, just a political ploy by those in power. It is no wonder that the Philippines is never taken seriously by the international community. The Philippines has no influence, just another third world country that can be taken advantage of and easily pacified - paid off - if it tries to complain. And this is evident by the action of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut and the DFA undersecretary. Their action is a slap in the face not just for those Filipinos that were maltreated but also for the entire Filipinos still working in Lebanon and in the whole Middle East. Instead of building a case and bringing criminal charges against those individual abusive Lebanese, the Philippines is taking actions for compensation, most likely monetary compensation. But this is covered by the work contract already. Esteban Conejor Jr’s assurance to “resolve outstanding compensation claims” is not very reassuring. In other words, the Philippine government agencies will fight for the rightfully due compensation for work or services already provided but covered by the work contract already rather than for human rights and the dignity of those Filipinos that were abused. There is either no recourse against foreign employers that commit criminal acts against Filipinos or the Filipino officials that are suppose to be protecting the citizens of the Philippines are downright incompetent. But either way, the OFWs are always the losers because the have no right and no protection and representation at all from their own government. Not until the elected Filipino officials fight for their fellow citizens will Filipinos be respected by other people. In the meantime, OFWs in the Middle East will continue to be treated not as humans but just as another working animal behind the horse and the camel but slightly ahead of the sheep and the goat. Good luck and try not to work for Arabs that live higher than the 5th floor. As Dumia said, “it is indeed miraculous that Pilipinas survived her fall (from the 5th floor)”. Pilipinas had set the record, a fairly high standard, for surviving a fall from a building. It is truly sad that the possibility of getting physically abused by the Arabs including getting thrown out from the 5th floor of an apartment building is still a better alternative than living in the Philippines. Ganyan talaga ang buhay. Or is it?

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