The Arroyo government’s deafening silence on the European Union’s newly adopted directive on return of illegal immigrants proves its lack of concern for Filipinos abroad, according to Gabriela Women’s Party representatives.

“It is unsettling how President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seems unfazed by EU’s repressive ‘return directive’. It is unthinkable how her government can sit around while tens of thousands of Filipinos are in danger of being detained in foreign jails and subjected to human rights violations,” Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda C. Ilagan said.

The directive, which was approved at first reading on June 18, permits EU-member countries to detain third-country nationals without proper documents for up to 18 months prior to deportation. If enforced in 2010, it will affect more than 94,000 Filipinos, including women and children.

“What is scary about this new directive is that it treats undocumented immigrants worse than criminals. Men, women and children can be jailed without trials and means, in violation of several universal rights and laws,” Ilagan said.

Ilagan advised Arroyo to follow the example of Latin American leaders who demanded the European community to immediately repeal the new law. The presidents of Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru consider the new law as discriminatory and condemned the European Parliament for its passage. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez even made threats of cutting off oil exports to the continent.

The Gabriela Partylist representatives also urge the government to undertake immediate measures to protect not only the Filipinos threatened to be expelled from Europe but also those in other parts of the world. Last week, the Malaysian government expressed its plans to chase illegal migrants, many of whom are Filipinos, out of Sabah.

“These undocumented immigrants were forced to leave the Philippines and enter a foreign country at their own risk because of their need of jobs which the Philippine government failed to provide,” Ilagan said.


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