Other options for our migrant workers

Published by rudy Date posted on April 16, 2011

With hundreds of thousands of our overseas Filipino workers displaced by the contagion of unrest in the Middle East, North Africa and the triple whammy that hit Japan, the government is hard put at not only repatriating them but also looking for alternative destinations for their re-deployment.

Even as the flames of discontent are still sweeping Syria, Yemen and Algeria, and even as a civil war rages in Libya, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario announced  that the Philippine government will have to evacuate more Filipinos living near the stricken Fuskushima-Daiichi nuclear plant  because of radiation concerns. Del Rosario acted with dispatch after Japanese officials raised the radiation level at the leaking facility to 7, reminiscent  of the world’s greatest nuclear plant disaster in Chernobyl in the Ukraine.

The cost of another chartered flight, according to the Foreign Affairs Secretary, is estimated at $400,000. The government would be ready to fly Filipinos out of Japan starting tomorrow, Sunday.

The only kink to this is that many of the Filipinos are women married to Japanese nationals. Some of these married Pinays are now also Japanese passport holders. Who will pay for the non-Filipinos on this mercy flight? Under the Philippines’ policy of granting dual citizenship to our nationals who have settled overseas, we can only assume Filipinos in the Fukushima area will be included in the mercy flight. There are those who do not want to leave Japan and merely want to be evacuated from the danger zone. The Philippine embassy in Tokyo has buses to cope with the situation.

Even the Japanese husbands can avail of the flight as long as they sign documents of indebtedness to pay for the cost of fare later, Del Rosario said without the usual hemming and hawing to show his compassion. He does not want to separate families. Considering the Japanese people’s present dire straits, it is but a small payback for Japan’s generous economic aid during better times.

It was against this bleak backdrop that officials of the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration discussed the government’s program of retooling and redeploying our displaced migrants. Venue for the forum is the Balitaan  sa Aloha Hotel every Wednesday hosted by Lolly Rivera, former reporter of Manila Standard.

Panlists included DoLE Director Nicon Fameronag, POEA Administrator Carlos Cao, Jr, and  Teodoro Pascua, Deputy Director of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the relevant government agency retooling migrants who have returned home.

Three other panelists were Dr. George Roos, language trainor and labor recruiter based in Finland ; Martin Antonio Crisostomo, executive director of Business Processing Association of the Philippines; and this columnist, a former ambassador in eastern and central Europe who spoke on employment opportunities in Poland and Hungary.

Taking a cue from President Aquino’s “spread the good news” gospel about what the Philippine government is doing, Cao said that despite the global economic crisis, some 406,000 Filipinos found jobs overseas in the first quarter of the year. Up, he said by 70 percent. The job placements were in the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Malaysia.

Cao conveniently sidestepped the fact the same number of Filipinos, if not more, were displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and the worsening nuclear plant crisis in Japan, the civil war in Libya, the continued unrest in Syria, Yemen, Algeria , and Egypt where protesters are again locked in confrontation with the military government that took over from ex-President Hosni Mubarak .

Cao even claimed that the Democratic Republic of Congo is now opening its job market to foreigners. He should know that the African country is anything but democratic before he starts deploying our unwitting workers there.

Pascua, on the other hand, said his agency was retooling workers who came back to acquire new and better skills to find higher- paying jobs once they are redeployed.

The problem, he said , was that Filipinos who had a taste of the higher wage scale abroad, do not want to be placed in the domestic labor market.

”This mindset is the barrier to filling up our job vacancies, said Martin Crisostomo, executive director of  Business Processing  Association of the Philippines.

Roos, a Filipino married to a Finn, described Finland as the “next oasis” for Filipino professionals because of the Scandinavian country’s graying population. By 2030 a quarter of Finland’s citizens would be more than 60 years old. This, she said, would create windows of opportunity for Filipino nurses and caregivers.

On my part, I told the forum that except for Poland there are hardly any job openings in Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia Herzogovina. Hungary, I informed the audience, is almost xenophobic and does not welcome foreign workers.

Serbia (what is left of the former Yugoslavia) and Bosnia-Herzogovina, the two  countries in the vortex of the Balkan wars in the 1990s—started by the ethnic-cleansing  Serbs—are still trying to stabilize  their economies and cannot provide enough jobs even for their own people.

Poland, where the Philippines reopened its embassy in Warsaw in 2009, could be the next destination for Filipino workers. With a growing economy and a potential market that is next to Germany in terms of  size and population, it is doing better than the economies of the PIGS in the European Union. PIGS, of course, stands for Portugal, which just recently asked for an EU bailout , Ireland, Greece and  Spain, which is still in denial mode that it needs EU aid. –Alejandro del Rosario, Manila Standard Today

Month – Workers’ month

“Hot for workers rights!”


Solidarity with CTU Myanmar,
trade unions around the world,
for democracy in Myanmar,
with the daily protests of
people in Myanmar against
the military coup and
continuing oppression.


Accept National Unity Government
(NUG) of Myanmar.
Reject Military!

#WearMask #WashHands

Time to support & empower survivors.
Time to spark a global conversation.
Time for #GenerationEquality to #orangetheworld!
Trade Union Solidarity Campaigns
Get Email from NTUC
Article Categories