Bishops to create migrants’ desk in parishes

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Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president (center) (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

MANILA, July 16, 2015— The Catholic Church seeks to expand its migrants’ ministry by setting up a system that will assist Filipinos who want to work abroad from the diocesan level down to the parishes.

In a pastoral letter, the bishops said they want to help ease problems of Filipino workers and their families if they should get into trouble while overseas.

“The ministries for the pastoral care of migrants and their families should set up desks in every parish where regular seminars can be given to persons who plan to work abroad,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president.

No crimes

“The persons manning these desks must be trained in their tasks, and thus should also have gone through the proper paralegal courses with the private and government agencies involved in labor migration and foreign travel,” he said.

According to them, the ideal is for Filipinos who have families to be with them and work in our country and not have to be compelled by economic reasons to work abroad.

“But the increasingly global nature of the economy should also provide and ensure that work and travel should be safe and not be a channel for criminal activity,” they said.

The plan was the result of the bishops recent plenary assembly where they discussed the case of convicted drug mule Mary Jane Veloso.

The bishops said Veloso’s “dire situation” showed the existence of syndicates that recruit the people to carry out their crimes.

Case of Mary Jane Veloso

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has earlier approved the filing of charges against the recruiters of Veloso who allegedly duped her into serving as a drug mule.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI), said the DOJ’s move could save Veloso from Indonesia’s death row.

The ECMI is coordinating the church’s programs and has a network nationwide to promote a ministry for migrants.

To date, 80 percent of the dioceses in Luzon have a migrants’ desk, 70 percent in the Visayas, and about 50 percent in Mindanao.

The bishops hope that in creating migrants’ desks in the parishes, the Church could fully protect the interest of OFWs and their families. (CBCPNews)

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