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The People’s Affection

The People’s Affection
Ka Joma urged overseas Filipinos and migrant workers in his messages to many migrant groups and organisations to uphold, defend, and promote their rights and welfare, as well as the rights and welfare of other migrants in host countries.

Tribute to Prof Jose Maria Sison (Feb 8, 1939-December 16, 2022)

We are overseas Filipinos and Filipino migrant workers from Migrante Canada. While many of us have not met Professor Jose Maria Sison or Ka Joma in person, we do know of him — through his books, messages and statements, interviews on TV Migrante, and speeches in online forums organized by groups in Canada. We know him also from his work as the chief political consultant of the NDFP during the peace talks with the Philippine government.

Ka Joma was a fellow migrant, but unlike us, who went overseas to work and could return home, he was forced to live in political exile in the Netherlands and could not return home. He was no stranger to the lives and experiences of millions of his compatriots living and working abroad. Ka Joma has studied and taken our situation and problems, our journey from the Philippines to work abroad, our problems in the host countries, and the families we have left behind. He has contributed to the investigation of our situation as migrants under monopoly capitalism, of our role and tasks as migrants in the great national democratic movement.

We are inspired by Ka Joma’s courage in speaking out and standing up in the face of persecution, false charges, harassment, and attempts to criminalize his voice and the voices of others who speak out against government injustice, both from the Philippine government and the host country. We know that the Marcos government failed to break his spirit when he was arrested, tortured, held in solitary confinement, and imprisoned for nearly ten years; we saw this strength when he overcame all the false charges and won all major cases against him in the Netherlands and the European Court of Justice.

Ka Joma consistently and passionately fought for a just peace for the Filipino people as a member of the NDFP peace negotiating panel for many years. At his funeral service in Utrecht, a representative from the Royal Norwegian Government said that Ka Joma’s last message to her five days before he died was that the “NDFP is always open to the peace negotiations.” Peace was one of the things in his mind before he passed. This is significant for overseas workers because when then President Rodrigo Duterte ended the peace talks in October 2016, the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) was on the discussion table.

The CASER contains concrete social and economic steps to solve the root causes of the armed conflict, which are poverty, social backwardness, and a lack of social justice. We are aware of the issues underlying our forced migration to work abroad. As overseas Filipino workers, we are covered by the CASER. As overseas Filipino workers, we are included in the CASER. We have our own section, Article VI: Rights of Overseas Workers.

The CASER recognizes the need to “eliminate the policy and practice of cheap labour export“ and “create measures to reintegrate overseas Filipino workers in the Philippines such as agrarian reform, rural development, and national industrialization.“ It also declares that it is important to work on the “formal recognition of the legal status of undocumented Filipino migrant workers in their different host countries.” The section on our rights as overseas workers only reaffirms and strengthens our position as an integral part of the movement for change in the Philippines, even if we are thousands of miles away from home.

In his messages to many migrant groups and organizations, Ka Joma urged us, overseas Filipinos and migrant workers to uphold, defend, and promote our rights and welfare, and that of other migrants in our host countries. He also called on us to strengthen our ties with the Philippines, support, and contribute to the people’s struggle for freedom and democracy through the national democratic movement.

We hold him with great affection because of his love for the Filipino people. For Ka Julie, their children, and comrades, please know Ka Joma has the people’s affection.

Ka Joma, Mabuhay ka. Isa kang ‘di pangkaraniwan dahil ang pag-ibig mo sa bayan ay walang hangganan. Mabuhay ka at maraming salamat mula sa mga migranteng Pilipino.


Migrante Canada

January 14, 2023