By Ian Dexter R. Marquez
PARIS, France – Various organizations throughout Europe are urging the Philippine government to provide social assistance and mass testing to all Filipinos, including overseas workers.
A number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) throughout Europe may have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and need assistance from the Philippine government, Migrante International chapter Nagkakaisang Pilipino sa Pransya (NPSP) said.
“Filipinos in Europe are also largely affected by this pandemic,” NPSP spokesperson Seyra Rico said, pointing out that so-called undocumented OFWs are most vulnerable during the crisis that has also hit the world’s most prosperous region.
“Most of them (undocumented OFWs) do not qualify for social welfare due to the nature and status of their work,” Rico said.
Aside from fears of deportation, undocumented Filipinos have no access to health services and financial assistance from their European host countries, she explained
The organizations urge the Philippine embassies and consulates to provide financial assistance to nationals without access to health care and social services in their host countries.
They also appeal to host countries to provide health care for undocumented Filipinos and to ensure the safety of Filipino health workers in foreign hospitals.
In France, NPSP said there are an estimated 65,000 Filipinos, 60% of whom are undocumented.
About 106,200 persons have already been infected by the virus in the Western European country with 17,167 deaths, including seven Filipinos.
Weekly noise barrages
To demand immediate action and highlight the plight of compatriots throughout the continent, Filipino organizations in Europe will hold weekly noise barrages starting on April 18.
The weekly protests, held in Filipino homes across Europe, are scheduled every Saturday at 12 noon central Europe time (6 PM in the Philippines) and will culminate on May 1.
The culmination will coincide with International Worker’s Day as a tribute to all Filipino migrant workers and front-liners at home and abroad, the Filipino organizations announced.
The protests are spearheaded by Migrante International, Anakbayan Europa, European Network for Justice and Peace in the Philippines and International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.
In France, NPSP shall lead the protests, “in solidarity with our compatriots in the Philippines and abroad,” Rico said.
Rico said the noise barrages shall also call for an end to the autocratic and “dictator-like” tactics of the government in implementing its lockdown in the Philippines.
They also demand social assistance and food distribution for the Philippines’ most vulnerable sectors, instead of military actions and state violence.
“Since President Rodrigo Dutere placed Luzon under lockdown in March, millions of workers have been displaced and out of work; communities left in need of assistance; medical workers dying from lack of PPEs; and government critics muzzled, arrested, or even killed,” Rico said.
Rico said that the government response against the virus, including the Php 285-billion package announced by Duterte, has proven to be grossly inadequate to sustain the needs of families in Luzon affected by the lockdown. #