Migrants advocacy group alarmed over new OFW deployment policy

MARK JOSEPH H. UBALDE, GMANews.TV
01/23/2009 | 06:29 PM
MANILA, Philippines — A group of cause-oriented groups for overseas Filipino workers has expressed concern over the government’s new policy to aggressively market Filipinos for jobs abroad.

The Philippine Migrants Watch (PMRW) said the new policy is embodied in Administrative Order No. 247, which orders the Cabinet to support the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) “so it can aggressively deploy” Filipinos without much “institutional hurdles.”

Such a policy “is tantamount to promoting migration as economic tool,” said Ellene Sana, executive director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy and a member of PMRW.

The alliance said the added function of the POEA is against the government’s policy of non-dependence on OFW deployment as a solution to save the economy.

The Philippine government’s policy under Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 on overseas labor says that overseas employment should not be promoted by the government.

“While recognizing the significant contribution of Filipino migrant workers…the State does not promote overseas employment as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development,” reads RA 8042’s declaration of policies.

Sana, who is a member of the PMRW, fears that the regulatory function of the POEA would be set aside to make room for the aggressive marketing of OFWs in other countries.

“AO 247 is a written and explicit evidence that (the government is) dependent on OFW remittances,” Sana said.

The POEA, which is under the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment, was created in 1982 by Executive Order No. 797 and is mandated to regulate the overseas employment industry, facilitate the employment of aspiring OFWs and protect their rights. (See other core functions in this link)

PMRW added that AO 247 is also against PGMA’s previously backed policy of strengthening the regulatory function of the POEA.

According to the group, the President’s instruction was contrary to the “intent and spirit” of Republic Act 9422 which strengthens the regulatory functions of the POEA thereby repealing Sections 29 and 30 of RA 8042 on deregulation.

“The President was with us in this campaign which took 11 years before RA9422 was finally enacted in 2006. She certified this bill as urgent in the 12th and 13th Congress but now, she is setting it aside in favor of aggressive marketing of our people overseas,” PMRW said.

The signing of AO 247 came on the heels of the global financial crisis, which economists fear would result to the economic recession and more retrenchments for Filipinos in the country and abroad.

The $15-billion annual remittance from OFWs is tagged as the lifeblood of the Philippine economy, boosting the country’s dollar reserves. The global economic crisis has threatened the jobs of thousands of Filipinos employed in export-dependent countries like Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, which have felt the brunt of the US-led crisis.

“Is this the way for government to respond to the global economic meltdown?” PMRW asked in a statement, “Should we not be doing the paradigm shift by veering away now from an economic dictum that is quite dependent on external markets?”

Recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani, however, told GMANews.TV that the government simply has to admit that it cannot survive without the OFWs’ contributions.

Geslani said that RA 8042 should be reconciled in order to justify the new mandate of the POEA.

Despite the new policy, Geslani believes the POEA would not give up its task to protect Filipinos in securing jobs abroad. – GMANews.TV

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