Philippines pressured to reintegrate OFWs

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Singapore closing its borders for all but highly specialised expats and the ongoing euro crisis prompting many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to return home are just two recent factors that are putting pressure on the Philippine government to enhance its so-called OFW Reintegration Programme.

Currently, there are some  2.2 million overseas workers from the Philippines scattered all over the world, mostly working as farm or household helpers, maids, construction workers, sailors, nurses and in the tourism and entertainment industry. In 2012, they sent $21.4 billion in remittances home, which represents a large share of the country’s foreign currency income.

However, certain developments as mentioned above and continued discussions about maid abuse, especially in Middle Eastern countries, as well as exploitation of workers, have highlighted the need for improved repatriation programmes to reintegrate OFWs into the Philippine economy.

One move comes with the Philippine labour department’s newest plan to budget  2 billion pesos ($48.6 million) for returning OFWs who want to venture into agribusiness. The department said it will be partnering with the Department of Agriculture to promote agribusiness as part of the national OFW reintegration programme. Under the agreement, the agencies will provide training, seminars and financing to OFW entrepreneurs.

Labour Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the programme will promote “reverse migration,” where OFWs can use the knowledge they acquired abroad to modernise the country’s agriculture sector.

However, labour activists say that the problem needs to be tackled at its roots and the government should provide gainful opportunities in the country so that Filipinos do not have to seek jobs abroad. For many, working abroad is no paradise because they are separated from their families and children. Social costs are high when children have to grow up without one or both parents.

Critics from migrant labour organisations say that the  government was too focused on promoting labour export policies encouraging Filipinos to work abroad  instead of providing better job opportunities in the country. And yet, despite strong economic growth the unemployment statistics in the country are stark and telling. According to the National Statistics Office, the unemployment rate was nearly unchanged in January 2013 at 7.1 per cent compared to 7.2 per cent in the same month the previous year.

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Click to enlarge

Singapore closing its borders for all but highly specialised expats and the ongoing euro crisis prompting many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to return home are just two recent factors that are putting pressure on the Philippine government to enhance its so-called OFW Reintegration Programme.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Singapore closing its borders for all but highly specialised expats and the ongoing euro crisis prompting many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to return home are just two recent factors that are putting pressure on the Philippine government to enhance its so-called OFW Reintegration Programme.

Currently, there are some  2.2 million overseas workers from the Philippines scattered all over the world, mostly working as farm or household helpers, maids, construction workers, sailors, nurses and in the tourism and entertainment industry. In 2012, they sent $21.4 billion in remittances home, which represents a large share of the country’s foreign currency income.

However, certain developments as mentioned above and continued discussions about maid abuse, especially in Middle Eastern countries, as well as exploitation of workers, have highlighted the need for improved repatriation programmes to reintegrate OFWs into the Philippine economy.

One move comes with the Philippine labour department’s newest plan to budget  2 billion pesos ($48.6 million) for returning OFWs who want to venture into agribusiness. The department said it will be partnering with the Department of Agriculture to promote agribusiness as part of the national OFW reintegration programme. Under the agreement, the agencies will provide training, seminars and financing to OFW entrepreneurs.

Labour Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the programme will promote “reverse migration,” where OFWs can use the knowledge they acquired abroad to modernise the country’s agriculture sector.

However, labour activists say that the problem needs to be tackled at its roots and the government should provide gainful opportunities in the country so that Filipinos do not have to seek jobs abroad. For many, working abroad is no paradise because they are separated from their families and children. Social costs are high when children have to grow up without one or both parents.

Critics from migrant labour organisations say that the  government was too focused on promoting labour export policies encouraging Filipinos to work abroad  instead of providing better job opportunities in the country. And yet, despite strong economic growth the unemployment statistics in the country are stark and telling. According to the National Statistics Office, the unemployment rate was nearly unchanged in January 2013 at 7.1 per cent compared to 7.2 per cent in the same month the previous year.

 

 

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