Senator Leila M. de Lima has called on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to help promote human rights, freedom and social justice by being seekers and defenders of truth no matter what side of the world they are in.
In her message on International Migrants Day today, De Lima also urged Filipinos, including OFWs, to continue showing compassion and concern to all individuals who flee their home to seek safety or find better opportunities abroad.
“Despite the negative image that the current government has in the past three years, I hope that wherever you are in the world, you will continue to showcase true Filipino values—professionalism, competence, compassion. Let us all be seekers and defenders of truth,” she said.
“Sa huli, ang paggalang at pagtanggap sa kapwa, dayuhan man o hindi kakilala, ay hindi lamang pagkakawanggawa o dikta ng moralidad. Ito ay obligasyon ng bawat isa para sa kapwa, na kasalo nating namumuhay sa iisang mundo—tungo sa kolektibo nating hangarin na makamit ang kapayapaan at kaunlaran na walang sinuman ang napapabayaan,” she added.
Annually held every December 18, the United Nations (UN) International Migrants Day aims to recognize the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide.
According to the UN, this year’s observance of International Migrants Day focused “on the stories of social cohesion, which are as varied and unique as each of the 272 million migrants living new lives and building new communities in every corner of the globe.”
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, pointed out that it is everyone’s duty to lend a helping hand to those in need of assistance and protection, regardless of their race, creed, age, gender, economic status or country of origin.
“This is why as Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, I am pushing for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) No. 379, which seeks to promote and protect the rights of refugees and stateless persons,” she noted.
“Dahil nga po sa mga pagbabagong dala ng modernong panahon, naging mas komplikado at malawak din ang mga pagsubok para sa mga migrant worker, gaya ng dinaranas ng ating overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) na nagsisikap at nakikipagsapalaran sa iba-ibang bahagi ng mundo,” she added.
SB No. 379 calls for the establishment of the Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Board as the central authority in matters relating to the determination of status, and eligibility to avail of protection, as refugees and stateless persons.
The proposed measure is considered to be the first of its kind in the history of Philippine Congress, as there has not been any law yet enacted for refugees and stateless persons in the country.