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Unifil marks 36th year with call for govt accountability and improved workers’ welfare

07 July 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Unifil-Migrante has been serving Filipino migrants for the past 36 years

One of the oldest organizations serving Filipino migrants in Hong Kong has marked its 36th anniversary with its leaders urging members and supporters to help expose the lack of financial support for overseas Filipino workers amid the pandemic, and the governement’s failure to provide enough jobs back home.

Dolores Balladares, chair of United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-Migrante HK) said in her speech during an online program held on Jul 4, Sunday, that the lack of job opportunities back home has been a long-standing concern of her organization, but this has been made worse by the spread of the coronavirus.


Balladares said the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has done nothing to protect the rights and welfare of Filipinos working abroad.

Kailangan na patuloy na ilantad ang kawalan ng suporta at tulong sa mga OFWs lalo ngayong pandemya, para igiit sa gobyernong Duterte  at tiyakin na ibigay ang lahat ng tulong sa mga OFWs,” Balladares said. (We have to continuously expose the lack of support and help to OFWs, especially during the pandemic, so the Duterte government can be forced to ensure they get the help that’s due them).

Duterte's government has failed to fulfill promises he made to OFWs, says Balladares

With less than a year to go before his term ends, President Duterte has nothing to show in terms of fulfilling the promises he made to OFWs, said Balladares, from removing the overseas employment certificate that adds to their burden each time they have to go home, to giving them jobs back in the Philippines.

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Puro pangako, pero mabilis sa koleksyon at panunupil at pandarahas sa mga Pilipino,” said Balladares. (He made a lot of false promises, but <his government> was quick in exacting fees and suppressing and intimidating Filipinos).

She said all throughout its 36 years of existence, Unifil has always fought for improving the lives of Filipino migrants so that they may soon be able to go back home and be with their families without having to worry about providing for a better future for their families.


Shiela Bonifacio, Unifil’s vice-chair, said the government’s attempts at “red-tagging” migrants who dare speak out against their unfavourable treatment and the ills that the country faces, is a desperate attempt to cover up for its failures.

Lahat tayo sa paningin ng gobyerno ay terorista. Tayo kasi ang naglalabas ng tunay na kabulukan ng gobyerno,” Bonifacio said. (We are all terrorists in the eyes of the government. This is because we are the only ones who dare expose its rotten mishandling of the country’s affairs).


As an example, she said: “Kaya galit ang gobyerno ni Duterte sa Unifil kasi dahil sa atin, hindi sila makasingil ng mandatory PhilHealth.” (The reason why Duterte’s government is angry at Unifil is because we are the ones who have prevented them from enforcing mandatory contribution to PhilHealth).

She urged her fellow migrants not to give in to attempts to silence them, saying that is precisely what the government wants, which is to silence them.


Taking a bolder stance in addressing problems faced by migrant workers and the country as a whole was Eman Villanueva, Unifil secretary-general. Villanueva said the only way to eliminate the many ills that have beset the country for the past five years was to get Duterte out of his post.

Villanueva says people should not wait until next year's election to boot Duterte out

He said people should not wait until the presidential election next year to get relief from all the problems that have beset the country since Duterte came to power in 2016.

Hindi na dapat patagalin ang berdugong rehimen ni Duterte,” he said (Duterte’s killer regime should not be allowed to continue). “Kung magtatagal pa ito ay lalong maghihirap ang ating bayan.” (If it lasts longer our country will suffer even more.

Villanueva said the country continues to suffer because its wealth is in the hands of a few, there is widespread corruption, and the government continues to enable the corrupt while punishing the innocent and the powerless.

Villanueva, who also chairs Bayan Hong Kong and Macau, is the longest-serving officer of Unifil-Migrante.

Meanwhile, a string of Filipino community leaders representing various organizations and interests congratulated Unifil on its anniversary, and extolled its many years of service to migrants.

Former Labor Attache and Commissioner Bernardino Julve, a Hong Kong resident, also sent his well-wishes to Unifil, a group he had worked closely with during his posting in the city. Julve is now one a convenor of 1Sambayan Hong Kong chapter, a group dedicated to choosing the best possible candidates for the national posts that will be contested in next year’s general elections.
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