WE WOULD like to respond to the latest round of lies that Rigoberto Tiglao peddled in his column, “Akbayan’s OFW parasite and con man” (Inquirer, 11/22/12). First and foremost, we are not at all surprised with how low Tiglao sank in slandering Jose Valencia, president of Kasapi Hellas, an OFW organization in Greece. The slanderous remarks about Valencia and Akbayan were prompted by the concerted, successful effort of migrants, led by Valencia, to remove Tiglao from office due to his shoddy performance as Philippine ambassador to Greece.
Contrary to Tiglao’s accusations that Valencia practically lived off the hard work of Filipino workers in Greece, Valencia has a long history of working with Filipinos and other migrant workers to improve their living and working conditions. His reputation as an OFW leader is beyond question, painstakingly built through long years of raising public awareness on the plight of Filipinos and other migrants in Greece. In fact, his leadership and hard work are recognized not only by migrant communities but also by the Greek government itself—Valencia is part of the City of Athens Migrant Integration Council. Valencia is well integrated into the civil society in Greece; his work is recognized and supported by Greek nongovernmental organizations and trade unions.
If there is anyone with the right to evaluate Valencia’s long years of service, it would be the Filipinos and other migrants who have worked with Valencia, and not Tiglao. Tiglao doesn’t have the ascendancy to question Valencia’s credibility as an OFW leader especially because he had been remiss in his duties as Philippine ambassador to Greece.
Tiglao writes blatant lies against Valencia and Akbayan because they succeeded in ousting him from the office that he usurped. His resentment springs from the fact that he was exposed as one of the worst in Philippine diplomatic service.
We believe that the traumatic experience that Filipinos in Greece endured under Tiglao’s ambassadorship should not be replicated anywhere else. We urge the Aquino government to further professionalize and strengthen the diplomatic service to prioritize the needs and interests of the OFWs. Philippine embassies must truly become centers of OFW care.
—RENE NACHURA, RENE RAYA, Center for Migrant Advocacy, Philippines; FR. AVELINO R. SAPIDA, parish priest, Personal Parish for Filipinos, Barcelona, Spain; THOMAS MOORE, African Roots Movement, The Netherlands; SR. MARGARET HEALY, St. Louis Sisters London, United Kingdom; FR. AODH O’HALPIN, Society of St. Columban, London, United Kingdom; FR. APOLO DE GUZMAN, Brussels, Belgium; EVERT DE BOER, Philippine Solidarity Network in the Netherlands; COLIN RAJAH, Migrants Rights International/National Network for Immigrants and Refugee Rights, USA; and 27 other signatories belonging to different groups and Filipino migrant organizations in Greece, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Japan