Thousands Filipino families lost hardworking ‘absentee’ breadwinners

THE recent explosion of a fuel tanker in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia curtailed the lives of more than 20 people, among them a Filipino truck driver, and injured 11 other overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) together with a hundred of victims per the latest information from the concerned authorities.

It is so unfortunate that the family of the Filipino truck driver lost a hardworking breadwinner.

The grim reality is there were thousands Filipino families lost their beloved breadwinners working in far, far away land as overseas workers since the birth of the PHL government’s labor export program in 1972, according to the leader of a Filipino migrants’ rights group.

Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona noted that in 2006, at the average, there were 3 to 5 OFWs cadavers repatriated daily, which landed at the then Manila International Airport (now Ninoy Aquino Intl. Airport of NAIA) per Migrante’s monitoring.

The same figure was cited by Ed San Juan Jr., US-based director of the Philippine Cultural Studies Center, in his paper ‘Globalization and the Emergent of Filipino Diaspora’ written in 2006. Eventually, this number became an entry in the Wikipedia.

In the absence of official PHL govt. records or there are maybe but not publicly disclosed for obvious reasons, Monterona does an arithmetic on the numbers of OFWs cadavers repatriated to the Philippines on a daily basis citing the 2006 average of 5.

‘In a year, there were about 1,850 OFWs cadavers repatriated. In ten years’ time, from 2006 to 2015, the figure will reach to an estimate of 18,500 cadavers,” Monterona adding, ‘this is a conservative estimate’.

Monterona, however, noted that recent monitoring revealed new figure of OFWs remains repatriated daily.

‘Now, OFWs remains repatriated on a daily basis landing in various PHL international airports, meaning not limited at NAIA, ranges from 7 to 10,’ Monterona clarifying that this has to be officially confirmed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration-Repatriation unit.

‘Since the beginning of PH govt. labor export program in 1972 ‘til this date, our estimate of OFWs remains repatriated to the Philippines ranges from 35,000 to close 40,000,” Monterona averred.

“A considerable percentage of this figure, let’s say about 40% were due to natural deaths and accidents,” Monterona added.

Monterona explained that the figure is in proportion to the surging numbers of OFWs cases involving labor malpractices and abuses that lead to deaths, some in mysterious ways, not only in the Middle East but also in other OFWs countries of destination around the world.

“This is part of the grim realities of intensified forced migration, and it’s no joke!” Monterona lamented.

Is the incumbent Aquino administration aware of this? “Certainly, yes. But it keeps on peddling a million of unemployed Filipinos yearly as it continue to look for labor markets abroad amid it’s poor performance in local jobs generation,” Monterona lamented.

Good-humored Filipinos would say, ‘Ang iba naman ‘sumakabilang-bahay’, referring to broken OFW families whose wife or husband separated due to alleged third party involvement.


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