OFW Demand Stabilizes Philippine Economy

By: Kathleen Yu

Manpower resources are one of the Philippines’ greatest exports. Presently, over eleven percent of the population are employed as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Filipino communities are found in almost every industrialized nation in the world. The OFW diaspora regularly injects dollars into the economy in the form of remittances from Filipino professionals working abroad sending money home to their families. This has assisted the Philippine government immensely, and kept the local economy afloat.

There are over 8 million registered Filipinos working abroad with the United States alone employing over 3 million Filipino migrants. Despite the global recession, Filipino professionals working in the US remitted over $17.3 billion in the last year alone, an estimated 5.6% increase from the 2008 figures. Saudi Arabia employs over 900,000 OFWs and the numbers are growing.

Overseas Filipino Workers are appropriately termed “modern day heroes” because of the sacrifices they make in leaving their families to work abroad. Most of them are blue collar workers, employed in jobs like caregiving, nursing and housekeeping.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is a government agency that monitors and assists OFWs working abroad. OFWs are required to register with the POEA, while in the process of applying for working visas and other permits to go abroad. The POEA is also tasked with registering and monitoring recruitment agencies in the Philippines to ensure that no OFWs are led into forced labor, and other forms of abuse.

According to corporate lawyer Amanda Carpo, legal counsel of Makati-based firm Kittelson and Carpo Consulting, “The number of overseas recruitment agencies setting up operations in the Philippines is growing at an exorbitant rate. This is primarily because OFWs are considered a global commodity. Higher salaries and superior living conditions have lured a large number of OFWs abroad, and more and more Filipinos are following in their footsteps. This bodes well for the Philippine economy, which can only stand to gain from an increase in OFW remittances.”

On the other hand, as the Philippines undergoes a change in government and the job market abroad gets continually more competitive the question arises as to whether or not Filipinos will continue to venture abroad, in search of greener pastures. With such a competitive overseas job market, OFWs may be returning home to the Philippines making for highly-skilled overseas trained employees. The Philippine government should be prepared to respond to these scenarios and to support the OFWs who have been and continue to be a positive force in the economy.

Government-MILF peace talks resume in Malaysia

A security officer stands watch outside a hotel room in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are being held. AP

MANILA, Philippines – The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panels resumed formal peace talks yesterday in Malaysia as government officials assured the rebels that the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao is limited in terms of objectives, duration, geographic coverage, and operations.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, government panel chair, had informed members of the International Contact Group (ICG) for the government-MILF peace negotiations about the proclamation of martial law in Maguindanao before the Dec. 8-9 negotiations in Kuala Lumpur.

President Arroyo issued Proclamation 1959 declaring martial law in Maguindanao last Saturday to quell what security officials claimed was an ongoing rebellion in the province allegedly staged by supporters of the powerful Ampatuan clan that were implicated in the gruesome Nov. 23 massacre of 57 people, including women and journalists.

Read More>>

Arroyo govt failed to create the millions of new jobs it promised

http://www.dw-world.de/image/0,,1659853_4,00.jpg

Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

The Arroyo administration was unable to create the jobs it promised to generate during the past five years, a report made by the Philippines’ socioeconomic body said.

Unemployment “remains high and meeting job creation targets continue to be a challenge,” the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said in its updated Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 2010.

Although the government created 3.5 million jobs from 2004 to 2008, these jobs “represent a backlog of the 3.5 million jobs, given a target of at least 1.4 million employment created per year,” the document added.

Read more >>

3rd son of Gen. Garcia now also detained in US

CHICAGO – All the members of the Garcia family are now accounted for – in United States detention centers.

Timothy Mark Garcia, the third child of former Armed Forces of the Philippines’ comptroller Carlos F. Garcia, was the last to turn up under detention in New York. His mother and two elder brothers had earlier been arrested and locked up in separate detention centers pending resolution of extradition cases filed against them by the Philippine government.

Read more..

Arroyo okays new RP baselines

The new baselines law takes the place of a 1961 statute and complies with a United Nations treaty, giving Philippine territory international recognition, officials said.

Republic Act 9522 stipulates that disputed territories such as the Spratly Islands or the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Scarborough Shoal are not part of the main archipelago, but are still owned by the Philippines as a “regime of islands” — much like Hawaii is owned by the United States although not part of the mainland.

“We are sending the message to the whole world that we are affirming our national sovereignty and protecting our national interest. This is the right thing to do,” Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita told Palace reporters.

Read Full Story

‘Mike’s slip showing in defending Mercy’

FOR going out of his way to come to the defense of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, presidential spouse Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo consciously or unconsciously himself confirmed the accusations in the impeachment complaint against her, Sen. Manuel Roxas II said yesterday.

“What are the reasons why the First Gentleman himself has chosen to come to the succor of the Ombudsman in such a brazen and unrestrained manner? Personal ba ito o opisyal niyang tungkulin? Utos ba ito ng kanyang maybahay? Did he make it as a private citizen? Or did he make it in behalf of his office, for indeed, there is an Office of the First Gentleman in the Office of the President in Malacañang. Or was this statement made in behalf of President Arroyo?” Roxas said in a privileged speech.

Read Full Story

2008 borrowings exceed program

The government has resorted to borrowings to support its budget and to fund, among others, various social programs and priority projects designed to prod economic activity amid the current global crisis.

The bulk of the borrowings were owed to domestic creditors, which accounted for P429.77 billion or 86% of the total, while foreign creditors accounted for P71.31 billion.

Read Full Story

World Bank: Mike part of syndicate

THE World Bank had named presidential spouse Jose Miguel Arroyo as a participant in the rigging of biddings for WB-funded road projects and this information was relayed to the Ombudsman 15 months ago.

This surfaced after a briefing yesterday by WB officials of senators on an investigation in 2006, which found that a “cartel” of local and foreign contractors, assisted by public works officials and two “public figures,” had been colluding in bidding for contracts.

Read Full Story

RP may give guarantees for infrastructure loans

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government may agree to pay for debts of companies implementing infrastructure projects if these fail to settle their obligations, a cabinet secretary said.

The government may guarantee 85 percent of the loans incurred by private and state-led companies that will build roads, bridges, and schools as part of economic pump-priming efforts.

If approved, a proposal will make it easy for private companies to secure loans from banks and other financial institutions since these debts will carry a sovereign guarantee. The said guarantee gives an assurance that loans will be paid by the government if private companies fail to do so.

Read more..

Charter change move rejected

“[Charter change] is not in our minds right now. It’s not in our priority agenda,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri told BusinessWorld, noting the Senate has no counterpart measure on the issue.

House Resolution 737, filed by Speaker Prospero C. Nograles, was approved on Tuesday by the committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws.

The proposal, which seeks to spur investments by also allowing foreign corporations to fully own lands besides lifting the 60-40 ownerhip limit in firms, does not, however, specify the mode of amending the Constitution.

Read Full Story