Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque today said there is still no massive displacement of overseas Filipino workers as the deployment of Filipino workers for jobs in various destinations overseas remains robust amidst the raging global financial crisis.
Roque said the financial crisis has not yet affected OFW deployment as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration continues to process the deployment of close to 3,000 OFWs who leave the country for their overseas employment on a daily basis.
Roque also assured the public particularly OFWs and their families that the displacement of over half a million OFWs due to the financial crisis as reported in the media would not occur based on the number of OFWs who returned to the country over the past months.
He explained that the reported over half a million OFWs projected displacements was based on a worst case scenario which was crafted in an effort of the DOLE to prepare appropriate responses to the impact of the financial crisis to OFWs.
He said the number of OFWs who, so far, lost their jobs overseas due to the financial crisis and had already gone home is not that alarming as they only constitute part of an average of 1,000 OFWs who return to the country every month. The returning OFWs, he said, also included those whose employment contracts abroad had expired.
Roque said OFWs’ employment termination this year including those adversely affected by the financial crisis is at the same level as that of 2007.
He said that while almost 3,000 OFWs are deployed everyday, only about a thousand OFWs return home every month indicating that the trend of OFW retrenchments in the midst of the financial crisis is within the normal level.
POEA records also showed that OFWs deployment reached 1.116 million from January to October 2008, up by a robust 25.5% (+227,780) compared to the 888,339 OFWs deployed worldwide in the same period in 2007. OFWs remittances also soared to a record high of US$12.3 billion from January to September this year, representing a 17.1% growth above the remittance record in the same period last year.
The DOLE Chief added that reports from 34 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) in various destinations abroad with high concentrations of OFWs did not indicate massive displacements of OFWs due to the financial crisis.
He said that as part of the DOLE response strategy and contingency plan, the POLOs have been directed to closely monitor OFWs displacements to enable the DOLE provide the necessary assistance to the affected OFWs.
On the contrary, Roque said assessments of POLOs in strategic locations in the Middle East stressed that the employment of OFWs remain secure as the financial institutions in countries in the region are “liquid.”
He added that OFWs in Europe are also secure since most of them are engaged in essential occupations.
At the same time, the DOLE Chief said that the labor markets in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Guam, and Japan are stable and expanding to provide more employment opportunities to OFWs.
Leaders of the ship manning industry also reported that some crew of cruise ships who were displaced have been placed with other vessels while others are under process for deployment, “that in fact the maritime sector is still experiencing shortage of seafarers”.
Earlier, Roque directed the POLOs to monitor labor requirements in emerging and expanding labor markets to find new employment opportunities and redeploy displaced OFWs in these labor markets.
The DOLE strategy for OFWs also includes the provision of livelihood assistance to those who opt to set up business enterprises, and skills upgrading and scholarships to those who want to embark on a new occupation.
Roque said that initially, a profiling of displaced OFWs is conducted to determine the affected OFWs’ skills and the kind of assistance they want to be given them. He said, that so far, over a thousand OFWs in Taiwan who lost their jobs due to the financial crisis and had returned home since October have been profiled.
He said that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) have been instructed to assist the profiled OFWs in case they failed to get their wages and other benefits from their employers or brokers in Taiwan.
They would also be referred to the Manila Economic and Cultural Office for endorsement to jobs in Taiwanese firms in the Philippines. Others who prefer trainings and livelihood assistance would also be given appropriate services.
For local workers who may be displaced due to the crisis, livelihood assistance will be provided them under the adjustment measures and income augmentation programs.
Employment facilitation services will also be extended to those who want to find another job locally or overseas.
The DOLE is prepared to respond in the face of eventualities to protect and ensure the employment and welfare of Filipino workers, locally and overseas, Roque said.