EDITORIAL: End of labour export

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Hailed as new heroes for bringing in billions of dollars a year to fuel the growth of the Philippine economy, many overseas Filipino workers are, in truth, martyrs for slaving abroad just to help their families survive back home.

As of last count, there are about 12 million Filipinos-more than 10 per cent of the population-working in some 200 countries across the globe. In 2011, they sent home US$20.1 billion to the families they left behind.

In the first half of 2012, OFW remittances amounted to $10.13 billion. The amount for June was the highest on record for any given month at $1.8 billion, which the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (central bank) said was due in part to the high global demand for Filipino workers even as the world economy struggled with the dampening effect of the economic crisis in Europe.

Yet behind these glowing figures are the hardships, exploitation and other sufferings of OFWs whose distressing accounts we are all too familiar with. Remember, for instance, the four Filipinos who were executed in China for allegedly being drug mules, the abused Filipino domestic helpers and many others embroiled in legal difficulties.

The labour export policy was supposed to be a temporary solution to the economic crisis in the 1970s. The dictator Ferdinand Marcos allowed the use of the country's surplus labour (basically the unemployed) for export to the oil-rich countries in the Middle East. But this became a permanent component of the country's labour policy with the creation of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) in 1982.

Government data showed that in 1972, the annual deployment of Filipino workers was only 14,366. This grew each year and breached the one-million mark during the time of President Gloria Arroyo, reaching 1.06 million in 2006 and 1.43 million in 2009.

The result is what Professor Mary Lou Alcid of UP's College of Social Work and Community Development described as "transnational Filipino families "-the father in Saudi Arabia, the mother in Hong Kong, the daughter in Taiwan, the brother in Dubai and the youngest left in the Philippines.

The social cost of the labour-export phenomenon is just enormous. Alcid cited illegal recruitment, trafficking in women and children, contract violations, transgressions of human rights, violence against women and an average of two to three people returning to the country in boxes every year-not to mention its toll on the bodies, minds and spirit of the workers themselves, their families, specially the children who grow up without one or both parents; and of course the continuing loss, by the thousands each year, of teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers and other professionals.

These include the 22 weather forecasters and observers who quit their jobs at the Philippine weather bureau between 2005 and 2011 for better-paying jobs in the Middle East and Australia; the 80 or so geologists who left the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; and the dozens of pilots poached by foreign airlines from the local flag carrier.

More disturbing is the fact that the hazards of labour migration, various studies indicate, are greatest for women, who are mostly relegated to the service sector and areas considered traditional women's work like housekeeping, caregiving, teaching and nursing.

POEA data showed that in 2010, of the top 10 occupational categories of deployed land-based OFWs, domestic helpers were number one, with women accounting for 98 per cent of those deployed.

"The nature of their jobs is inherently vulnerable. They live in their employers' homes, work long hours without breaks, and have difficulty accessing their rights. Many are subject to abuse and exploitation as a result of living and working in a space that is so difficult to regulate, " said the centre for Migrant Advocacy in a submission to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers in April this year.

In his inaugural address on June 30, 2010, President Aquino said his administration's goal "is to create jobs at home so that there will be no need to look for employment abroad. "

Social scientists have found out that the migration phenomenon is common among developing countries transitioning from agricultural economies to industrialisation.

Four decades after the labour export policy was adopted in the 1970s, the POEA is now "seriously considering " a five-year phaseout programme on the deployment of domestic helpers. However, the best expert advice we have found is that the government must start with the understanding that labour exports will end only when the Philippines achieves economic development, as what South Korea and Malaysia did.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options