By Rev Dwight de la Torre, IFI
The Obsipo Maximo/Supreme Bishop of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente/Philippine Independent Church, The Most Revd Ephraim S. Fajutagana, issued a pastoral message on 3 August 2015 on the occasion of the 113th Proclamation Anniversary of the IFI. He based his message on John 4:5-10 which I like to call, “The Encounter by the Well”
In his statement he recognizes that “joblessness and the lack of adequate employment in triggered have triggered the diaspora of millions of Filipinos to many parts of the world” and that the “…Philippines for the last 50 years, is a leading nation in sending its own people as migrants overseas.” He understands also that the current Philippine government affords the migrants, both land and sea-based, inadequate support of OFW’s. He decries thet fact that it is insincere and insensitive in upholding and securing the protection and welfare of our workers overseas, while ironically also showcasing a more blatant and unapologetic labor export policy that exploits our OFWs’ cheap labor and influx of remittances but sadly offers them nothing in return, especially in times of need.”
He likened that woman to the “the millions of mothers and daughters and sisters,… Filipino migrant workers who have left their homes to draw water for their families from wells far from home.”
He challenges the churches in receiving and sending countries even as he continues to challenge his own church to be churches witnessing with migrants, and like Jesus meet human needs where they are. He challenges churches to journey with the [Filipino] migrants throughout the world “…towards the promotion of justice, development and dignity … in the affirmation of human dignity and the universality of human rights” . that encounter was for His eminence, “serves as the foundation for the mission of the Churches in addressing the structural phenomenon of global labor migration and in offering solidarity and hospitality to migrant workers.”
This is a happy coincidence as it is for these reasons that the MEMW was established. It is for these reasons that St John’s, the MFMW and the churches in the Philippines cannot sit idly by and let the migrants suffer in silence. “We share their pains living in lands far away from their loved ones and working under harsh conditions. We feel their anguish as they fall victims to various forms of exploitation, discrimination and rights violations.” Thus we have the Labour, Employment Assistance Programme (LEAP), the initial contact point between the migrants in distress in Hong Kong and the MFMW. The LEAP addresses the immediate causes and tries to assist the migrants in distress in their quest for elementary justice: payment of unpaid terminal wages and others.
We also stand by this statement of His Eminence: “We take our stand that the only way to resolve forced migration – and the complex web of social and economic conflicts in the country – is to address the root causes of poverty in the country through genuine land reform and national industrialization.”