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.

  • Indonesia informs convicts of execution, Frenchman excluded
    Indonesia informs convicts of execution, Frenchman excluded

    Indonesia said Saturday it has officially notified eight foreign drug convicts that they will be executed, but a Frenchman was granted a temporary reprieve after Paris stepped up pressure on Jakarta. The eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- have been transported to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan where they will face the firing squad along with an Indonesian prisoner, despite strident international criticism. "Today, just now, we just finished …

  • Double Celebration
    Double Celebration

    Ropali Corporation, one of the top multi-brand motorcycle dealers in the Philippines, now holds two Guinness World Records. In the span of four days, Ropali Corporation broke two records, namely: The Largest Parade of Motorcycles with Sidecars and The Largest Simultaneous Motorcycle Burnout. As such, it also became the first motorcycle dealer in the Philippines to become a two-time Guinness World Record holder. The record for The Largest Parade of Motorcycles with Sidecars was previously …

  • United States seeks access to Philippine bases as part of Asia pivot
    United States seeks access to Philippine bases as part of Asia pivot

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft, and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington's next phase in its Asia "pivot", deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia "pivot" has already seen U.S. Marines rotating through the …

  • China's island-building to loom large at SE Asia summit
    China's island-building to loom large at SE Asia summit

    China's creation of new island footholds in contested seas will hover over a Southeast Asian summit that has become an annual test of the region's nerve in standing up to its massive neighbour. The South China Sea hot potato drops this year into Malaysia's lap as the rotating chair of the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and host of Monday's meeting. ASEAN states Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the strategic South China Sea, but Beijing …

  • Philippines, China trade accusations over sea threats

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines accused China of aggressive maneuvers against its reconnaissance plane and fishermen in disputed seas where Beijing has stepped up construction of artificial islands, but China reiterated its claim on the strategic waterways. …

  • Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others
    Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others

    Indonesia has ordered preparations for the execution of 10 drug convicts, including Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, as the Philippine government filed yesterday a second appeal for judicial review of the case to save the maid from death by firing squad. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) of Indonesia released an official letter dated April 23, instructing prosecutors to prepare for the execution of 10 convicts, the Jakarta Post reported yesterday. The execution would be conducted after the …

  • Business groups back K to 12 program
    Business groups back K to 12 program

    The government’s K to 12 program adding two more years to basic education received support from various business groups yesterday. However, they urged relevant government agencies to deal with issues regarding the implementation of Republic Act 10533, the Enhanced Basic Education Act or K-12 Law. In a statement, business groups led by the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) said RA 10533 is a milestone piece of legislation that intends to bring the Philippines up to par with the rest of …

  • Happiest nations: Phl ranks 90th
    Happiest nations: Phl ranks 90th

    Switzerland is the happiest country in the world, while the Philippines placed 90th, according to a global ranking of happiness unveiled in New York on Thursday. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options