Government urged to take steps to absorb returning OFWs from Middle East, Japan

Published by rudy Date posted on April 18, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The political turmoil in the Middle East and the nuclear crisis in Japan are likely to translate to high unemployment rate in the country with a high number of overseas Filipinos expected to return to the Philippines.

As such, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said the government must build the “necessary social and economic infrastructure to accommodate and absorb them back in our society.”

NSCB secretary general Romulo Virola said this means that the government needs to create more jobs, provide the needed social services and tap other markets such as China and India.

To determine the kind of policies and strategies that need to be developed, Virola said the government may use the “power of statistics.”

Virola noted that that effective use of statistics would enable the country in meeting the millennium development goals by 2015.

“Unfortunately, many of our decision makers including our politicians have not appreciated statistics enough to translate them into policies and programs that may spell the difference between achieving and not achieving our MDGs by 2015. Neither have they appreciated statistics enough to muster the political will to invest in statistics,” Virola said.

Virola said the government should start looking into the demographics of overseas Filipinos so that it can prepare what jobs they would need. Citing the 2009 survey on overseas Filipinos, Virola said close to 72 percent or about 1.37 million of sea and landbased OFWs are below 40 years old.

“About 32 percent of our OFWs are laborers and unskilled workers, 14 percent are plant and machine operators and assemblers, 15 percent are trade and related workers, 15 percent are service workers and shop and market sales workers and 10 percent are professionals,” Virola said, citing the survey results.

Furthermore, Virola said most of the OFWs come from Calabarzon (16.4 percent), Central Luzon (14.7 percent), the National Capital Region (13.9 percent), Western Visayas (9.2 percent), Ilocos Region 8.6 percent and 15.7 percent come from the Mindanao regions.

They earned P1.4 trillion in 2008 and P1.5 trillion in 2009, survey results also showed.

As such Virola said that the crisis in the Middle East and in Japan would lead to severe unemployment in the Philippines if the problem is not addressed.

“The Middle East crisis, coupled with the terrible tsunami that hit Japan where about 13,000 landbased OFWs were deployed in 2008 and 2009 combined, from levels of 63 thousand, 74 thousand and 43 thousand in 2003, 2004, and 2005, respectively, and exacerbated by the upward volatility in commodity prices, particularly food and oil, is indeed a challenge that we cannot be complacent about,” Virola said. -Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star)

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