Introduction

We left the Philippines and the Filipino people in the midst of extreme poverty and oppression. Nevertheless, we are an integral part of the democratic and positive sectors in Philippine society namely the workers, peasantry and the middle class.

Despite the many attempts to improve the country’s situation by way of changing the guards in government like EDSA 1, EDSA 2 and the recent elections, everything but substance came out of them. They are simply the fort and ground of traditional politicians in their play for power. However, they also proved that a people united can topple regimes that are elitist and anti-people.

We are witnesses to the continuing social, political and economic helplessness in our country. Corruption is so widespread that it has clearly become an impassable moot for the Macapagal-Arroyo government.

The loss of hope and scarcity of opportunity to find a stable source of livelihood that is humane and dignified forced millions of Filipinos to migrate in other countries.

Situationer

A. The basic problems of our country reflect the enduring poverty of the Filipino people: where a great number of farmers and small farmer-cultivators continue to be dispossessed of the land they are tilling through landgrabbing, land conversion, and corporate farming; and, where many workers today have no jobs, underpaid and are suffering from alarming conditions in the workplace. We are seeing the closure of several firms and the plunder of our national patrimony by foreign multinational corporations.

Racing along these grim realities are the soaring prices of basic commodities and the scarcity and oftentimes futility of the basic social services of the Macapagal-Arroyo government.

Adding up to the pile is the ever-worsening culture of corruption in our country recently made manifest by the widespread vote-buying and massive cheating during the May 2004 elections, as well as, the fresh expose of anomalies and corrupt practices within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as highlighted by the case of Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia who is now facing “plunder and corruption” charges in the civil and military courts.

B. On the other hand, we the Filipino migrants in Austria despite earning a decent living with a few resources to spare are deprived of the company of our loved ones; exposed to varying degrees of racial discrimination; and found ourselves struggling to adapt the culture and traditions of the Austrians. Many of the rights and benefits afforded to all citizens and foreign residents are seldom availed by many of us due to lack of information and reliable references or undocumented status. Nevertheless, many of our fellow Filipino migrants in other countries face much more difficult conditions that need to be immediately addressed like the recent hostage-taking of Filipino workers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

C. Meanwhile, quite a number of Filipinos are drawn and inspired by the growing phenomenon of Christian renewal movements that they proclaim themselves in various organisations here in Austria like the Couples for Christ (CFC), El Shaddai, Love’s Flock, Jesus is Lord, and many more evangelical and born-again congregations. They have their own sectoral agenda although a little deepening in their concern and understanding of the problems of the Filipino people (as they are also Filipinos) need be pursued. Many of them have the basic understanding of the gospel imperative of preferential option for the poor and can be potential allies in the process of liberation.

Our Tasks

We can however find solutions to these problems of landlessness, lack of jobs and absence of basic industries if we Filipinos get organized, work together and help each other. The problems of the farmers and other farm workers can only be resolved through a genuine agrarian reform in true collaboration with the government. At the same time only the nationalization of our basic industries and control of our national patrimony can address the continuing unemployment of the workers. These two main programs must be embodied in a national movement for social transformation in the Philippines as we all together push for the democratic and patriotic rights of the Filipino people.

It is only but rightful for us as Filipinos to be a part of this movement though we engage outside of the country, among the ranks of our fellow countrymen overseas, particularly among the migrant Filipino workers. We must broaden and establish it among our fellow migrant Filipinos most especially here in Austria in order to give more strength in pushing forward and developing the cause for social transformation.

Our task is to conscientize, organize and mobilize the migrant Filipinos aimed at promoting their rights and their excellence in different fields while drawing them to support and actively participate in the broader national movement for social transformation in our mother country. Such objectives are complimentary to each other. The struggle to promote their rights and their excellence in different fields will give vigor and strength in their support and active participation in the movement which will ultimately usher in the resolve to the basic societal problems of the Filipino people.

Until there are no meaningful social changes in Philippine society, the phenomenon of overseas migration and its negative consequences will continue to haunt the Filipino people particularly the Filipino migrant workers and their families.

And as Christian Filipinos it is therefore our duty and obligation to heed the calls for the renewal of our faith in the light of social justice and peace. We must draw into the movement the many well-meaning Filipino Christian organizations and individuals so they would be part in the great task of rebuilding our nation and help in bringing forth “a new heaven and a new earth” in our beloved Philippines.

The struggle for justice is the struggle for peace. As the prophet Isaiah said:

The Lord says, “The kind of fasting I want is this:

Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives. Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you, my presence will protect you on every side. When you pray, I will answer you. When you call me, I will respond.”
(ISAIAH 58:6-9)

Our Lord Jesus Christ also said:

“Fortunate are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.”
(MATTHEW 5:6)

The radical and transforming messages of the prophets and of Jesus Christ and our forefathers’ struggle for national freedom is our source of inspiration.

This is the basis of our unity! This is the basis of our actions!