Noli wrong: Rising number of OFWs show Philippines’s bankruptcy Migrante

Sep. 02, 2007

MANILA — Contrary to Vice-President Noli de Castros assertion that the growing number of Filipinos employed abroad was proof of an economic boom an alliance of overseas Filipino groups said the rising number of OFWs underline a worsening Philippine economy.

VP de Castro is sorely mistaken. OFWs are forced to seek work overseas precisely because there are no jobs here for them. They represent the thousands of unemployed and underemployed. They testify to the governments failure to provide decent livelihood for the people, says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International Chairperson.

Official first quarter employment data shows the number of jobless workers grew by 13,000 and reached 2.9 million last January. Underemployment also rose by 442,000 to 7.2 million.

Citing an IBON report, Bragas-Regalado added that Arroyos boast of creating more jobs is also misleading because the majority of these so-called jobs were among the lowest earning or outrightly non-paying ones. IBON figures state that around 673,000 or more than half of the net increase in jobs of one million in April 2007 from last year are in unpaid family work (524,000) and in domestic household help (147,000). There were also 105,000 jobs lost in the manufacturing sector in April 2007 from the same period last year.

The heavy reliance on OFW remittances to prop-up the economy further belies the Arroyo regimes claims of strong economic growth. While some other countries also have large numbers of migrant workers, the Philippines is the most heavily dependent on remittances, she added.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas figures state OFW remittances last year was US$12.9 billion while it forecasts remittances to reach US$14 billion this year. According to the Philippine Overseas Administration, there were 546,212 OFWs deployed in the first half of 2007. Last year, POEA figures show there was record high of 1.06 million OFWs deployed to 197 countries.

Instead of making incredulous statements about OFWs and the economy, VP de Castro should first focus on genuinely addressing the countless cases of OFWs beaten, abused, exploited, raped and killed yearly, concluded Bragas-Regalado. To date, the Arroyo government still fails to locate and rescue Melissa, the OFW domestic worker shown being raped in a video recently.

VP de Castro is also the Presidential Adviser on OFWs. #

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