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Aquino deceitful on migrant workers

HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : Migrant workers have been persistently ignored by the president of The Philippines, Noynoy Aquino, in his annual State of the Nation Address, but this year they did make the cut.

Aquino held up the numbers of migrant workers returning to The Philippines from abroad as a sign of the inclusiveness of his economic development, saying that it shows that things are looking rosier for them at home.

However, figures from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration reveal the opposite story. During the five years of his presidency the number of workers being deployed each year has risen steadily, from a shade over 1.5 million in 2010 to 1.8 million in 2014.

That equates to an approximate daily average of 4,018 in 2010 and 5,054 in 2014.

But the one statistic from the Department of Labour and Employment that belies Aquino’s boast is that the daily average of deployment for the first six months of this year stands at 6,092.

In a July 29 press release, Migrante International said that these statistics reveal the chronic joblessness and low wages in The Philippines.

It also points out that the number of migrant workers deployed overseas far outstrips the number of jobs generated domestically. The Philippine Statistics Authority says that the number of local new hires in The Philippines in 2014 stood at 1.02 million, which equates to an average of only 2,805 additional jobs filled each day.

Although 2014 looked like recording the first drop in numbers being deployed overseas, a record level of deployment in the last quarter saw it reach a record high.

While large numbers have been returning from countries like Saudi Arabia, which recently instituted new legislation limiting the number of migrant workers a company can employ in an effort to create more jobs for locals, the number of land-based workers deployed has increased by some 34 per cent over recent years.

Similarly, the number of new hires went up by 32 per cent and re-hires by 35 per cent.

Seafarers have remained at a fairly steady level, showing only an 11 per cent increase in the past five years.

Migrante International says, “Combined with the growing number of irregular Overseas Filipino Workers, who leave the country through backdoor means, even the overall government figure of deployment does not in any way support Aquino’s claim that migration has considerably lessened during his presidency.”

It adds, “In fact, Overseas Filipino Worker deployment has picked up considerably despite ongoing crises in host countries.”

It says that if the government was citing this as the reason for the reverse migration home, then it would hit the nail on the head. In addition, it could add to that number the thousands of traumatised and distressed workers that have been deported or forcibly repatriated by foreign governments due to civil unrest, calamities, economic instability and other factors.

Sol Pillas, the secretary general of Migrante International, named Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Libya as being the main trouble spots, adding that increased numbers of undocumented workers being deported from Europe, the United States of America and Canada can be expected in the near future.

But Pillas said that attributing the reverse migration to inclusive economic growth in the country is deceitful and misleading.

Nevertheless, she added that even these factors will not stop the ever increasing outward flow of workers unless there is growth in real terms in the domestic economy of The Philippines.

“And so the cycle continues,” she concluded. Today, 25 per cent of the Philippine labour force is overseas.


But Pillas said that attributing the reverse migration to inclusive economic growth in the country is deceitful and misleading