IMA Statement on Duterte visit to Israel

To Philippines and Israel: Uphold rights and dignity of migrant and peoples! End war and exploitation!

Uphold migrants and people’s rights. End fascism and war!

This is the message of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) to both Philippine and Israeli governments in the light of the planned visit by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte to Israel this September.

Among many other objectives, the visit is intended to have both governments strengthen relations on the issues of security and counter-terrorism. Israel is known to supply arms to the Philippine government. However, rumors abound that Duterte will also visit Israel to seek medical attention as his health condition is allegedly failing.

For the IMA, both governments have to account for their many policies and actions that have violated the rights and dignity of people.

Israel, for example, needs to answer for the many crimes it has committed against the people of Palestine. Since the Al-Nakba, the Palestinian exodus of 1948 that saw the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinian people from their homeland, the Israeli government has been relentless and unabashed in its occupation of Palestinian territory while mercilessly assaulting and mistreating the Palestinians.

Philippines, on the other hand, has seen the onerous rise of civilian deaths (approximated at 14,000 deaths) claimed by Duterte’s wars (war against drugs, martial law in Mindanao, and war against terrorism). Some of these victims were relatives of Filipino migrants or were formerly migrant workers. Recently, many of its agencies have harassed, intimidated and attacked the rights of foreign nationals visiting, residing or working in the Philippines.

While Philippines is a migrant-sending country and Israel is a migrant destination, governments of both countries have issued policies and actions proved detrimental to the interests of migrants and peoples. The Philippine government, for one, has reneged on its promise of resolving the phenomenon of forced migration and instead sped up the export of more Filipino labor abroad. It won’t be a surprise if Philippines will start sending migrant workers to Israel despite the latter’s absent regard for migrants’ rights.

Both governments also need to provide support to, and not persecute, approximately 6,000 undocumented migrant Filipinos in Israel, many of whom may have been trafficking victims. In 2008, the Israeli people were successful in stopping the Israeli government’s plan to deport 1,200 children of undocumented migrants.

The IMA believes that capitalist exploitation and war has caused the intensification of international migration we have characterized as forced. People from impoverished countries become cheap, docile and expendable exported labor with limited rights and movements as refugees grow in number due to wars of aggression and proxy wars. Both governments are party to these and should immediately refrain from continuing any further.

The International Migrants Alliance values the life and dignity of migrants and their families. No family should be broken apart by their need to survive. The Philippine and Israeli governments should uphold the rights, freedoms and dignity of their people and other nationals by ending their unjust and oppressive wars. #


Eni Lestari, chairperson

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