OFWs displacement will badly affect workers’ families, dependents – group

A FILIPINO migrants’ rights group Tuesday said Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that have been displaced due to Arab conflicts have to face the adverse effect of their evacuation while they’re back in the Philippines.

“The displaced OFWs from Egypt and Libya will be facing a very tough situation returning to the Philippines unprepared, economically, amid frequent price increases of commodities and services,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said based on displaced OFWs own admission some are yet to receive their salaries, many came home without earnings.

As of Tuesday, there are about 500 OFWs have been evacuated from Libya and arrived home safely.

About 1,500 more are expected to be home any time today or a couple of days as the PH government step up its evacuation efforts, weeks after the Libyan crisis first erupted.

During the Egypt turmoil, there were 94 OFWs have been evacuated by the PH govt. voluntary evacuation efforts.

Monterona said if the government data is to be believed, there are 13,000 OFWs working in Libya. “But this is a very conservative figure. On our estimate there are more than 26,000 OFWs working in Libya and this figure is directly related to the rate of increase of remittances Libya-based OFWs had sent last year and previous years,” he explained.

Citing records from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), as posted on its website (www.bsp.gov.ph), there was a huge remittance growth rate recorded -about 120.93% jumped from 473,000 US$ on 2009 to 1,045,000 US$ last year.

“So, the 120% remittance growth rate from OFWs in Libya would not be possible without the massive deployment of OFWs going to Libya; in fact, it is one of the labor market frontiers identified by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) under the Arroyo administration’s intensified labor export program,” Monterona added.

Asked if the Egyptian and Libyan crises would affect the remittance growth this year, Monterona said: “The effect is minimal, though one wouldn’t be surprised if the remittance growth will be static this year.”

“In fact, we are seeing the Aquino government, like previous administrations, to intensify the deployment of OFWs by exploring the highly competitive but constricting labor markets amid the economic crisis felt in America, Europe and in other countries in Asia,” Monterona opined.

Monterona added like most of the Filipino workers in the Philippines, displaced OFWs, once again, will be confronted by grinding poverty due to worsening economic condition.

He added: “The government’s reintegration program that comprises skills training and entrepreneur program and providing loans for small business will be put to test, which we believed is not enough as a fall back for displaced OFWs.”

“OFW remittance-driven Philippine economy is incapable of absorbing the increasing labor force that arises mainly from the countryside – the millions of unemployed landless peasants and the struggling wage-earners in selected urban centers, due to PH govt. continued adherence to neo-liberal economic policies of globalization as opposed to a well-planned socio-economic structure,” Monterona said.

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