Hong Kong OFWs react over ‘terrorist funding’

Posted By: Chris On:

ANTIPOLO City, Dec. 6, 2010—Filipino workers in Hong Kong assailed the U.S. State Department’s pronouncements that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are financing terrorist organizations like the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), by their remittances.

Dolores Balladres, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-HK) said that it’s a complete “idiocy” of U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham-Clinton to link OFWs to the clandestine activities of the ASG.

“We work hard to earn barely enough because we are one of the lowest paid among workers. Now the US [government] dares to taint our hard-earned income with suggestions that it is being used to support terrorist activities. What right does the US State Department have to brand OFWs as terrorist coddlers?” Balladres said in an email sent to CBCPNews.

Balladres fears that due to the U.S. State Department’s statement, OFWs will be subjected to oppression by international authorities, especially the Anti-Money Laundering Council. She also said that Clinton’s statement might as well cause massive retrenchment among OFWs, due to employers’ fear of being implicated with the accusations of “terrorist cuddling.”

According to reports, Clinton has stated that some Filipinos working overseas are just working to finance terrorism. The statement allegedly came when the Philippine Senate has said that it is high time to review the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), signed, in behalf of the Philippine government by former Foreign Affairs Secretary Domingo L. Siazon Jr., on February 10, 1998.

It was Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a known constitutionalist and expert in international law, who is pushing for the VFA’s review. On September, Defensor-Santiago filed a resolution, urging both houses of the Congress to repeal the controversial military exercise agreement between the two governments. The Palace, via Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda meanwhile said that President Aquino is open to the idea of reviewing the aforementioned agreement.

Nevertheless, Unifil-HK urged President Aquino to react on this issue as he reacted swiftly over the travel ban issued by “Philippine allies.” (Noel Barcelona)

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