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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas and Politics

Note: Forwarded message


20 12 2009

APOLOGIES for the delayed post. It's the Holiday Season people. Everyone is preoccupied with something: doing some last minute shopping, attending Christmas parties, reuniting with old friends, etc.
These days, people in the metro have the same schedule: 5 hours in the office or malls, 4 hours in traffic.
The Senate is holding a lavish Christmas celebration.. Everyone is expected to attend… except for Chiz Escudero. The guy hates parties.
Guess who'll be the busiest senator this Christmas! Who else but Loren Legarda. She'll be hopping from party to party..
The Senate plans to recreate the Nativity Scene. Noynoy Aquino has been tapped to play the role of the Virgin. Manny Villar won't play any part in the Nativity Scene but he volunteered to donate the house, the lot, and the manger.
For some reason, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has rejected suggestions to let Senators Jamby Madrigal, Bong Revilla, and Lito Lapid to play the role of the three wise men.
Sen. Mar Roxas has repeatedly expressed interest to play the role of Joseph. But getting no support from his colleagues, he withdrew.
Eighty-two year old senator Joker Arroyo refused to take part in the activity. But that was understandable since Methuselah was never a part of the Nativity Scene. to be outdone, Malacañang is also recreating its own Nativity Scene. Virgilio Garcillano, Hermogenes Esperon, and Ronaldo Puno will portray the three kings.. However, they are not expected to bring incense, gold, or myrrh. Instead, they will deliver… votes.
When Andal Ampatuan Jr. heard Malacañang's plan, he sent a note to President Arroyo and volunteered his talent.. He wanted to play the role of Herod so he could slaughter innocents.
The characters in the palace's Nativity Scene were already complete when Mikey Arroyo angrily protested his exclusion. To pacify the presidential son, Malacañang people offered him a special but undemanding role. He'll be the shit of a camel.
At the Lower House, congressmen couldn't complete their own Nativity Scene. Nobody dared to play Jesus but everyone was qualified to play the role of an ass.
In Times Street, Sen. Noynoy Aquino has recreated his own Nativity Scene. His three wise men look dazed though because they're following not just one but several stars. as confused are the Three Kings in Sen. Richard Gordon's Bagumbayan Party's Nativity Scene. The kings are having a hard time following the star because of several street signs that say: "Walang tawiran, nakamamatay."
Back to Times Street, Noynoy Aquino had a difficult time finishing his Nativity Scene because Kris Aquino insisted on playing the role of the star.
In Polk Street , chaos marred the recreation of the Estradas' Nativity Scene. Erap played the role of Joseph but everday, a different woman plays the role of Mary.
The Nativity Scene in Gilbert Teodoro's house was reportedly one of the most intricate, beautiful, and well-crafted recreations. Unfortunately, only 2 percent of his friends have seen it.
You can find all kinds of Christmas decors at the residence of environmentalist Nicanor Perlas except for the Nativity Scene. According to the Comelec, he doesn't have the capability and the resources to create one.
The Villars' Laurel mansion in Shaw Blvd. boasts of the most expensive decors. There are two six-foot Christmas trees, two giant Santa Clauses, and two life-size Nativity Scenes. A recent survey showed that Villar has narrowed the gap between him and Noynoy so expect a double celebration this Christmas!
Bro. Eddie Villanueva's own Nativity Scene tops them all. Surrounding the infant Jesus are 5 million sheep!
Finally, the Communist Party of the Philippines produced perhaps the oddest of all Nativity Scene re-creations. Their wise men are in Congress, the shepherds are in the Sierra Madre mountains, and their God is in the Netherlands !
In other news…
Manny Pacquiao, endorser of top brands like Nike, Rexona, and SMB now endorses presidential candidate Manny Villar. Mr. Sipag at Tiyaga is Pacquiao's only endorsement that is currently No. 2 in the market.
Photo of the Weak
Ito po ay isang malinaw na patunay na may kakayahang ngumiti ang isang aso.

Eddie Estrada


Growth in employment boosts economy, over-all welfare of Filipinos

Last of a three-part series

The Philippines' employment situation posted growth this year both at the
local and overseas fronts, reflecting an economy that has surpassed earlier
expectations of a negative growth and continued instead to sustain and
promote the welfare of the Filipinos.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said that in the midst of
the global economic slowdown, employment in the country continued to grow in
2009. Citing the labor force survey (LFS) of the National Statistics Office
, he said that the number of employed persons in the country grew by 2.7%
from 34.533 million in October 2008 to 35.477 million in the same period
this year.

The data indicate that despite the global crisis, the economy still managed
to generate nearly a million jobs (+944,000), the DOLE Chief said noting
that the government was on the right track in the implementation of the
resiliency program that focused on employment generation and preservation as
a strategy in enabling the people cope with the crisis.

Aside from OFWs whose remittances continue to shore up the economy, the
additional employed persons have gained incomes to also contribute to demand
which sustains the economy, Roque said.

The resiliency program, which was launched by President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo early in 2009, helped the people cope with the impact of the global
economic recession which resulted in the country's attainment of a modest
economic growth this year.

The Labor and Employment Secretary said the resiliency program particularly
its components geared at promoting and preserving the employment of workers
was crucial in enabling the country to achieve growth, which is an
indication that the state of the nation in terms of the over-all welfare of
the people pulled off an improvement despite external threats brought about
by the global crisis.

He said the employment growth indicates that the government has succeeded in
promoting the people's welfare particularly in helping them cope with the
adverse effects of the crisis through the provision of employment and
livelihood services such as local and overseas employment facilitation,
livelihood loans and grants, emergency employment, and skills training and

Citing a leading financial institution, the Goldman Sachs, Roque also said
the country's economic performance in the wake of the global crisis has
surprisingly exceeded expectations. He also noted that the Philippines was
considered a "winner" in terms of displaying remarkable resiliency and
achieving an impressive rebound in growth this year.

Earlier, the Asian Development Bank said that the global crisis had little
impact on the economy and employment in the country. It cited the
Philippine government's efforts in buttressing the country's capability to
cope with the adverse effects of the crisis.

OFWs' contribution to local employment growth

The LFS showed that the top growth employment contributor was the wholesale
and retail trade sector with almost 7 million workers employed in the sector
in October 2009, up by 370,000 from the number of employed workers in this
sector in October 2008.

Roque attributed the employment growth in the said sector to OFWs
remittances which have been shoring up in large part household consumption
that in turn nourishes the wholesale and retail trade.

He said the OFWs have cushioned the impact of the global crisis and saved
the country from recession.

The other sectors with substantial number of employed persons were
transport, storage and communications (2.735 million); private households
with employed persons (1.9 million); public administration and defense,
compulsory social security (1.774 million); and real estate, renting and
business activities (1.105 million).

The Labor and Employment Secretary said the DOLE relentlessly pursued
employment efforts to facilitate workers and jobs matching. It conducted
nationwide job fairs, notably the May 1 Jobapalooza job fair and the
three-day June 12 Independence job fair that offered hundreds of thousands
of jobs to jobseekers.

Jobs, skills mismatch

The DOLE Chief, nonetheless, acknowledged that the additional jobs generated
were lower than the 1.14 million young workers who have entered the labor
force this year.

He said many of the new entrants to the labor force do not meet the skills
requirements of industry, noting that in the midst of the weak global
environment, there are still establishments in the country such as call
centers, BPOs, and firms in need of accountants, engineers, IT specialists,
skilled workers, and other in-demand jobs which have difficulties filling
up vacancies.

He cited data from culled from DOLE regional offices which showed that the
national network of Public Employment Services Offices (PESOs) solicited a
total of 1.356 million jobs from January to November this year.

He said that out of over a million applicants who registered with PESOs,
about 771,956 were referred for job placement while 176,949 were referred
for skills training. Only 276,016 job applicants landed jobs in the private
sector. Another 22,691 were hired in the government sector.

To address the problem, he said the DOLE will soon come up with a Jobs Fit
road map that would identify the preferred skills needed by emerging
industries or employment drivers. The road map, he said, would guide
educational institutions on the kind of appropriate courses that should be
offered to students to enable them land industry jobs upon graduation.

The Overseas Front

Defying earlier prediction of a lower OFWs deployment as a result of the
global crisis, data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
(POEA) showed that OFWs who have left the country for overseas employment on
the contrary even grew by 11.7% from 1.149 million in November 2008 to 1.284
million in the same period this year.

Roque said OFWs deployment was buoyed up by demand in traditional markets
like the Gulf countries in the Middle East that have taken concrete steps to
cushion the impact of the crisis. This was complemented, he added, by demand
for OFWs in emerging markets such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Macau,
and parts of Europe.

As a result OFWs remittances jumped by 8.6 percent to $1.4 billion in
September this year as compared to the same month last year. In view of
this, the Central Bank has revised its earlier prediction of a zero growth
in remittances. It is expecting a four percent growth in remittances for
the whole of 2009 to a record level of $17.1 billion from last year's $16.2

Expectedly, the major remittance sources were Saudi Arabia and United Arab
Emirates in the Middle East, the US and Canada in North America, the United
Kingdom, Italy and Germany in Europe and Japan and Singapore in Asia.

Prospects in 2010

Roque said the employment prospects in 2010 would be brighter as nations hit
by the crisis are expected to recover. The global rebound, he said, would
stimulate international trade which in turn would be beneficial to growth of
the local economy and subsequently local employment.

He said that local employment prospects in 2010 in traditional sectors such
as wholesale, retail, and services and sunshine industries such as call
centers, BPOs, and animation, would be complemented by jobs that would be
generated in new industries such as renewable energy, green industries, ICT,
science, and innovative technologies. He said the new industries would be
the focus of investments under the reloading economic acceleration program
or the new resiliency program that the government would implement next year
in a bid to take advantage of the expected global rebound.

Overseas, Roque said the global labor market will continue to offer
employment opportunities to OFWs, particularly skilled workers and
professionals in various industries. He said the key employment generators
for OFWs in the global labor market in the next 5-10 years will include the
following: healthcare, building and construction, petroleum/oil and
gas/energy, tourism/hotel and restaurant and gaming industry, IT/cyber
services, manufacturing, electronics, metals, transport, education,
seafaring, communications, and water and environment.

Middle East countries particularly Saudi Arabia will continue to be the top
OFWs destination as the Kingdom is set to develop 12 mega industrial and
economic cities in the next 15 years. Other countries in the region bent on
pursuing their development plans such as the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and
Libya are also expected to continue hiring OFWs in 2010. In Asia, job
prospects for OFWs will be in Brunei, Japan, Korea, Macau, Malaysia,
Singapore, and Taiwan. Meanwhile, Europe faces a labor shortage due to
ageing population and, thus, intends to facilitate entry of high skilled
foreign workers to prop up its declining workforces. This continent is
projected to hire skilled and professional OFWs especially in the
healthcare, IT, engineering, and services sectors.

The demand for Filipino seafarers is expected to continue over the next
decade given the increasing number of vessels which are becoming larger and
specialized. However, the country faces shortage of officers and surplus of
ratings which is consistent with global trends. Thus, the challenge is to
produce more officers to take advantage of the global demand and maintain
the country's status as the crewing capital of the world.

OFW Journalism Consortium

DOLE YEARENDER: DOLE identifies priorities, employment promotion, speedy resolution of labor cases

Second part of a series

The DOLE again reaffirmed its thrusts in response to the global crisis and
sustain the gains in advancing its mandates on employment and human
resources development, workers welfare, and industrial peace.

Amidst the global economic crisis, the DOLE launched priority deliverables
that underscored its "More than Jobs" thrusts in employment promotion,
generation, and preservation as well as in the facilitation of labor case

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque, who fostered the
development of the priority projects, said the global crisis has challenged
the DOLE to pursue the projects to optimize resources while enhancing the
delivery of its programs and services.

The priority deliverables - Jobs Fit: The DOLE 2020 Vision; Project SpeED
(Speedy and Efficient Delivery of Labor Justice), Ready Tech-Go, Green
Workplace Advocacy, Kabuhayan Starter Kit, and Nego-Kart - are part of
the DOLE's efforts to improve its programs and services to the Filipino
workers, locally and overseas.

"This is in line with the national efforts to sustain the economy and
prepare the workers in taking advantage of the projected global rebound in
2010," the DOLE Chief said.

Project SpeED

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said all the agencies
involved in Project SpeED aims to substantially declog their case dockets
through salient and practical approaches.

He said the approaches include the adoption of an efficient quota system, as
well as sharing of resources and manpower wherein the DOLE Regional Offices
with less cases will assist and complement those that have current backlogs,
adding that strict monitoring and provision of performance-based incentives
and imposition of sanctions on non-performance will be observed to achieve
the expeditious resolution of the cases.

He added that under the project, labor cases docketed in the National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC), National Conciliation and Mediation Board
(NCMB), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and other DOLE
offices and agencies would have to be on current status by March 2010.

The labor chief also reiterated that Project SpeED has complemented the DOLE'
thrust in reducing the incidence of debilitating work stoppages or strike
which has now reached its lowest record levels in the country's history.

The NCMB, and office attached to DOLE, reported that six (6) agencies and
offices of the DOLE which enrolled in the project, have relatively succeeded
in reducing the backlog of cases and have disposed of a great percentage of
the unresolved labor disputes.

The Board also enrolled in the SpeEd Project a total of 872 cases pending as
of April 30, 2009 comprising of two (2) actual strikes, 135 notices of
strike/lockout, 217 preventive mediation cases, 398 single entry approach
(SENA) cases and 120 voluntary arbitration cases. As of October 30, 2009,
the Board has disposed a total of 811 cases, or 93 % of the cases.

The resolution of the cases benefited a total of 17,269 workers who received
P 1.3 billion in monetary benefits comprising of awards in settled voluntary
arbitration (VA) cases, collective bargaining agreement (CBA) package, and
separation pay in notices of strike/lockout, preventive mediation and actual
strikes, and restitution benefits in SENA cases.

The Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) also enrolled in the project 115 pending
cases as of April 30, 2009, broken down as follows: 25 certification
election cases, 68 appealed cases, 15 original cases, 5 cases appealed to
the Office of the Secretary (OSEC) and 2 regional circuit cases. So far,
the Bureau has disposed a total of 48 cases or about 42% of the cases.

Meanwhile, NLRC enrolled 23,308 and disposed a total of 17,010 cases
comprising 73% of the total deliverable cases.

The Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) also enrolled 5,148 in the SpeEd
Project, broken down as follows: 4,349 Labor Standards (LS) cases and 799
Small Money Claims (SMC) cases. The Bureau disposed a total of 2,085 cases
or 40% of the total deliverables: 1,588 LS cases, and 497 SMC cases.

The DOLE's Legal Service on the other hand, enrolled 544 cases in the
project: 252 LS cases and 292 POEA cases. The Service has disposed a total
of 127 cases comprising 23% of the total deliverables.

The Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) likewise enrolled and
subsequently disposed all 95 cases under Project SpeED.

Projects Jobs Fit: A solution towards addressing job mismatch

The year 2009 has presented us with extra challenging situations. Natural
calamities, such as typhoons and floods wrought havoc to Metro Manila and
Northern Luzon. Multi-million dollar institutions were brought to their
knees by the global financial crisis and subsequently created chaos in the
financial industry all over the world.

Through tough reforms and sound economic measures, the government was able
to weather the deleterious effects of the financial crisis. But without
excuses, the DOLE admits that more have to be done.

"Project Jobs Fit: The DOLE's 2020 Vision" is seen to address the gaps
between the jobs available and the skills being required by these jobs. The
Jobs Fit project aims to identify by March 2010 the new and emerging
industries and preferred skills on key employment generators that must be
produced per region through review of current situation and consultation
with stakeholders.

Under the program, an action plan that will serve as the basis of the
academe and other concerned stakeholders will be put in place in order to
develop appropriate curricula and career materials, thereby guiding students
and jobseekers on what course and skills training to take in order for them
to immediately land a job and reduce, if not eliminate job mismatch and
unemployment in the country.

During the last quarter of this year, Labor and Employment Secretary
Marianito D. Roque directed the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), Maritime
Training Council (MTC), Professional Regulations Commission (PRC), Technical
Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and DOLE Regional Offices
to fast-track the consultations with stakeholders in order to identify the
preferred skills in priority industries.

At the same time, the Labor Chief also tasked the Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration (POEA) to determine the skills needed by foreign
employers and establish linkages with Philippine Embassies abroad for the
setting up of labor market intelligence in countries without Philippine
Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs).

In response to the said directive, the BLE, MTC, PRC, TESDA, DOLE Regional
Offices and other concerned agencies immediately rolled-out the first phase
of the program that involves the conduct of regional consultations with
industry partners and stakeholders all over the country, which ran from
August to the 2nd week of September 2009.

The final phase of the program, which involves consultations with industry
executives and business taipans are already on the way and by March 2010,
the full report of the process can already be made available to industries
and all stakeholders concerned.

K-ITO spawns youth volunteers

The Kabataan-ITO project has spawned a new breed of young volunteers tasked
to teach IT and Internet skills to out-of-school youth, indigenous peoples,
and other disadvantaged sectors especially in rural areas.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the Kabataan-ITO or
K-ITO project of DOLE has, so far, identified 1,500 youth volunteers who
have already started conducting mentoring sessions to K-ITO beneficiaries on
how to use the computer and the Internet.

He said the project is the DOLE's contribution to the National Youth Service
Program of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that seeks to promote
volunteerism and community spirit especially among Filipino youth.

"The spirit of volunteerism is the core philosophy of K-ITO, " Roque said
noting that the "K-ITO volunteers have been tapped by the DOLE to instill or
raise the IT literacy of the disadvantaged sectors who have yet to set
their hands on a computer and want to find employment and livelihood
assistance and other government services online."

K-ITO aims to bring the government closer to the people through free,
supervised Internet access to online government programs and services. The
project is also part of the DOLE's efforts to help the beneficiaries
especially the youth to have a share in opportunities that are usually
available to those who are skilled in IT.

The DOLE regional offices had set up K-ITO corners in strategic places where
interested individuals could be taught IT and Internet skills. The K-ITO
corners are found mostly at the DOLE regional offices and their partners
which include local government units and educational institutions in the

The K-ITO volunteers teach an IT module consisting of preparatory lesson on
computer hardware familiarization, computer operation and MS Word processing
application, and a lesson on the Internet for search and communication.
The volunteers render part-time service of less than eight hours a day or
less than five days a week. They will be paid a stipend of P25.00 per
mentoring hour.

Project Ready Tech-Go to provide monitoring of labor cases through Internet

Developments or status of labor cases and complaints of workers including
OFWs may soon be monitored through the Internet with the Case Docket and
Monitoring System (CDMS) which will be implemented under the DOLE's
Internet-based "Project Ready Tech-Go."

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the CDMS will enable
local workers and OFWs who have filed cases or complaints with the DOLE,
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), National Conciliation and
Mediation Board (NCMB), and the POEA to view or track the status of their
complaints through the Internet.

He added that through the CDMS, workers as well as the concerned DOLE, NLRC,
and POEA personnel will be updated on hearing schedules and deadlines and
other events related to the prompt resolution of labor cases or complaints.

The system is part of the DOLE's efforts to facilitate the disposition of
cases, Roque said adding that the CDMS has been piloted in the National
Capital Region specifically at the DOLE's regional and satellite offices in
Manila, Quezon City, Makati, and CAMANAVA (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas,

He said the system will be fully implemented next year.

Green jobs, Green workplaces

The DOLE has also urged labor and management to adjust work standards in
accordance with the demand of climate change to arrest its adverse effects
not only to workers but also on business and economy.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque advised labor and
management sectors to shift to greener ways to work and establish green
standards for the labor market that will promote green jobs and decent work.

He added that since climate change affects the world of work, DOLE is
working towards climate change adaptation programs at work through knowledge
building, organizational strategies and green jobs advocacy.

To help avert the adverse impact of climate change on employment, Roque said
the DOLE will lay the foundation that would provide for the collaboration
of the Department's social partners in developing green technologies and
green workplaces.

Roque further said that the prospects for generating green jobs are bright
as the government's new resiliency program in 2010 would include investments
in new industries such as renewable energy, and innovative technologies.

To drum up a multi-sectoral efforts towards green workplaces, Roque also
signed a Green Pact with the Federation of Free Workers and the Philippine
Green Building Council in taking steps to sustainable growth, greener jobs
and workplaces.

He added that more green jobs will be available to Filipinos as the
government continues to create and promote awareness of green workplaces.

"All work with environmental component is a green job," the Labor chief
said. "I know companies that invest in green jobs, implement green workplace
and promote green jobs.

In 2010, the DOLE will spearhead institutional capacity and knowledge
building on raising the awareness on climate change through the National
Green Jobs Conference which will address the concerns of seven sectors with
different types of exposure to climate change policy drivers. The seven
sectors are: energy generating sectors, renewable energy sectors,
alternative energy sectors, employment sensitive sectors, competition
intensive sectors, sectors vulnerable to climate policies and climate
sensitive sectors.


The Negosyo sa Kariton, also known as Nego-Kart, a financial assistance
program to help ambulant vendors in major cities of the country, was
launched by DOLE in line with poverty alleviation program of President
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to protect the welfare of workers. The Bureau of
Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) is responsible for the overall
management and supervision of the Nego-Kart project.

Many ambulant vendors who used to run away from the policemen chasing them
and had been patronizing "five-six" lending scheme now belongs to the list
of Nego-Kart beneficiaries. Most of them are workers from marginalized
informal sector, displaced and disadvantaged workers, returning overseas
Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families.

The Bureau of Rural Workers (BRW) reported that as of November 30, 2009 DOLE
distributed vending carts with accessory livelihood tools to qualified
beneficiaries in the National Capital Region (20), Cordillera Autonomous
Region (39), and Region 1 (10), Region 2 (26), Region 3 (10), Region IV-A
(1), Region IV-B (100), Region 6 (65). In Region 7 (65), Region 10 (20),
Region 11 (65), 12 (20) and 20 in CARAGA. On the other hand, Regions 5, 8
and 9 are still evaluating their lists of beneficiaries.

Under the program, each beneficiary is provided with total of P15,000
assistance including a Nego-Kart vending cart and accessory tools worth
P12,000 along with P 2,500 working capital and P500 worth of training
assistance. Assistance in securing business permit is also provided.

DK Starter Kit Project

Since most Filipinos prefer putting up businesses as an alternative sources
of their income, DOLE also launched the DK Starter Kit Project, a
Micro-Business Enterprise Development concept, to benefit the informal
sector workers and the OFWs and their families.

The DK Starter Kit is consist of a package of priorities and services that
will enable qualified beneficiaries to quickly start a livelihood
undertaking and become self-employed like simple house-to-house service
oriented skills; skills that can be enhanced/ improved through short period
training; as well as new skills that can be acquired through formal


OFW Journalism Consortium

DOLE YEARENDER: DOLE looks forward to labor and employment gains in 2010



First Part of a Series

Despite worldwide sluggish employment figures, the Philippines posted increases in employment in both the local and global fronts in 2009, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.  

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque emphasized that the country's integrated responses to the global financial crisis have affirmed the great productive role of the Filipino workers and the distinctive global preference they enjoy.

The Global Financial Crisis:  Bringing out the Best in the Filipino Workers

The Labor and Employment Chief sees positive gains in 2010 in remittance growth and the opening of new markets abroad, alongside sustained vibrancy at home in the country's Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and the services sector, and other industries.

Roque cited the figures of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) which showed that in the first 10 months of 2009, amidst the sustained deployment of skilled and higher-paid overseas Filipino workers, the OFWs worldwide injected a record US$14.3 billion to the country's economy.  As the trend sustains, and with the OFWs remitting more than US$1.4 billion per month on the average, the total year-on-year global remittances this year would likely reach, if not surpass, the US$17 billion mark, above the US$16.2-b level reached last year.  He cited that in October 2009 alone, the OFWs' remittances had reached US$1.5 billion.

Roque maintained that in the long term, the OFW deployment trend would also remain on a favorable global footing, affirming the global preference for the skills and services of the OFWs.

The DOLE Chief said that notwithstanding the global financial crisis, almost 400,000 (397,626) OFWs, or 4,418 daily, had been deployed worldwide as of the 1st quarter of 2009, exceeding by 143,413 the 254,213 deployed in the same period in 2008.  The POEA's approved OFW job orders (JOs) reached an almost equal number (381,192) during the period, reflecting the preferential regard for their skills and services in the Middle East (with 288,490 JOs), Asia (62,828), the Americas (15,542), Africa (7,671), Europe (4,583), and the rest in Oceania (2,302) and the Trust Territories (496). 

Roque, citing the preliminary data of the DOLE's Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), added that as of November 2009, some 1.284 million OFWs have been productively deployed worldwide, representing a growth of 11.7% from the 1.149 million deployed from January to November 2008.

Joining Hands Against the Global Financial Crisis

Roque emphasized that the country's Three Plus (3+) Social Partners (labor, management, government and other sectors) responded to the call, made by no less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to confront the global crisis as one.

At the very event attended by the representatives of the country top labor federations, business and employers chambers, and government, the President also launched a novel initiative, the DOLE-led Nurses Assigned in Rural Service (NARS), in line with the pump-priming strategies under the country's Economic Resiliency Plan to mitigate the impact of the global financial crisis by saving and creating jobs, and expanding social protection. So far, in two batches lasting two semesters each, in cooperation with the Department of Health, and the DOLE's Professional Regulation Commission, Board of Nursing (PRC-BON), reinforced by the Department of Education and local government units (LGUs) nationwide, the training cum deployment project   has so far deployed some 10,000 nurses nationwide, in batches of 5,000 per semester, to act as warriors of wellness in the country's poorest communities, in the process successfully providing crucial health services to areas hit hard by the recent typhoons.

The DOLE, for its part, had been galvanized by Secretary Roque into a resolute mode of response to the GFC from 2008 to 2009.  As soon as the global crisis hit the DOLE was in action locally and globally to mitigate the effects and ease the plight of workers and industries.  In an effort built around the theme, "Responding to the Challenges Facing the Filipino Workforce Amidst the Global Financial Crisis," Roque gathered the entire DOLE leadership on an action planning exercise determining its local and global responses.  Vitally, he directed the establishment of the 24/7 DOLE GFC hotline [632] 527-4337 to respond to all pertinent queries from all sectors on available assistance to affected workers, under the supervision of the DOLE's GFC Task Force whose creation he had directed.  In January, the DOLE reported successfully assisting 4,460 affected workers through emergency employment assistance, job referrals, legal assistance on money claims, skills training, and livelihood assistance/seed capitalization.  At the same time, the DOLE's global Phil-Jobnet system in the Internet, was readily accessible to affected workers seeking its job opportunities posted by industries here and abroad.  The DOLE also entered into agreements with leading employers' groups, such as the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce, Inc. (FFCCCII) and its 170 member-firms, along with other top chambers of business, for the accommodation and re-employment of workers who may be displaced.  Crucially, Roque issued DOLE Advisory No. 2, series of 2009, on the adoption of flexible work arrangements to guide employers and workers in the private sector towards mutually acceptable work schedules in coping against the adverse impact of the GFC.

The results of these and other salient responding thrusts has been that, at the height of the raging crisis, the DOLE's Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) confirmed that as of May 2009, about one-third (51,978) of the workers displaced by the GFC in the past eight months, had been recalled/rehired or returned to normal work in the country's industries.

Nationwide Employment Facilitation and Productive Results

Meanwhile, on the broad local front, notwithstanding the global crisis, the government's DOLE-led employment facilitation efforts continued -- geared towards achieving its strategic goals towards a gainfully employed, globally competitive, safe and secure Filipino workforce.

Despite the GFC, the DOLE's Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) indicated in a preliminary report that it successfully solicited a total of 632, 187 job vacancies nationwide from January to June 2009.  In the process, mainly through the efforts of the BLE-supervised network of more than 1,000 Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs), some 519,662 job applicants were assisted in registering for their job options, with 320,813 of them successfully placed in all types of productive jobs. Furthermore, the DOLE, through its 16 Regional Offices (ROs) nationwide, successfully supervised some 624 job fairs, which effectively assisted the jobs search needs of some 448,537 job seekers in the first semester this year.

Across the country, the government's National Statistics Office (NSO) said that in the July 2009 round alone, the Labor Force Survey showed that almost one million (+916,000) jobs nationwide were created.  Overall, its preliminary data positively show that, as of October 2009, the country's employed population had grown to a level reaching 35.5 million, and on the average, the year's employment gains based on four LFS rounds would reach almost one million to 35.06 million (+977 thousand) in the entire 2009, compared to the average 34.089 million in 2008.  


Monday, December 21, 2009

Migrants slam Arroyo’s non-adherence to UN Convention on Migrant Workers, demand repatriation of OFWs for Christmas

Hundreds of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) marched to Mendiola Bridge to demand that the Arroyo government exhort all efforts to reunite more than 300 stranded OFWs with their families this Christmas season.

Families of stranded OFWs, together with OFWs from the Middle East, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Australia held the protest action in commemoration of the 9th International Migrants Day. "Today marks the ninth year of the United Nations Convention on Migrant Workers and Their Families. While President Arroyo signed this convention, in reality, the plight of Filipino migrant workers did not improve and in fact worsened under the government's relentless labor export program. Nine years under the Arroyo regime saw the unprecedented rise in human rights violations of OFWs," said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

He said that Arroyo's non-adherence to the UN Convention is proven by the fact that more than 300 OFWs, mostly victims of abuse and exploitation, are in need of immediate repatriation, according to the records of Migrante International alone. These include 89 caregivers who are victims of gross contract violations in Saudi Arabia; 51 female runaway domestic helpers at the Doha deportation center; 50 male detainees at the Jeddah deportation center; and 17 OFWs languishing in jail for crimes that they did not commit.   

"It breaks our heart to think that these OFWs would spend another Christmas away from their families, when all it takes is the President's political will to send them home. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration have all the power and hard-earned OFW funds at their disposal. And yet the government refuses to fulfill its duty to citizens whom it pushes to virtual slavery overseas because of its failure to provide jobs at home and keep the economy afloat without the need for remittances," said Martinez.

Migrante International's records show that in almost all of the cases of stranded OFWs, Philippine consulate and overseas labor officials neglected the plight of OFWs, and were even the ones defending abusive employers and companies.

The Filipino migrant protesters, in a symbolic display of anger at the Arroyo regime, threw paint bombs at a picture of the President, as well as OWWA and Department of Foreign Affairs officials.

"Instead of celebrating what is supposed to be the day for us so-called 'modern-day heroes,' here we are, still being reduced to begging for Arroyo to hear our cries of despair. If she will not heed us our cry to bring home stranded OFWs for Christmas, then let the world know: this government has done nothing to protect migrants. It is migrants that must be protected from this government who systematically milk OFWs of their hard-earned money and have nothing to show for in return," Martinez concluded.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Debt crisis not affecting Dubai economy; has little impact on OFWs


The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said the debt crisis in Dubai won't have a significant impact on the employment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as the crisis is not expected to affect the economy of Dubai and the entire United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque, citing a report from Labor Attache Virginia P. Calvez of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Dubai, said that the debt crisis affecting the Dubai World, a major investment firm in Dubai,  is mainly viewed as purely a commercial concern with very little impact on OFWs employed with this firm.

Dubai World was set up as an independent commercial company that manages and supervises businesses and projects for the Dubai government across a wide range of industry that promotes Dubai as a hub for commerce and trading.   Last month, Dubai World announced that it is restructuring its loans and requested creditors for a six month grace period for payment. 

Roque said moves have promptly been set in place to address the problem in view of the fact that the Dubai economy is an integral part of UAE which is the second largest Arab economy.  

The UAE Central Bank recently moved to inject more liquidity into the UAE banking system to prevent worsening of the situation and subsequently sustain the Dubai economy.

The DOLE Chief has received assurance that the debt problem of Dubai World will have little impact on the jobs of OFWs employed in three of Dubai World affiliates.  One of them is Drydocks World which is accredited to two Philippine recruitment agencies and presently employing 4,000 OFWs.

DOLE has monitored no lay-offs of OFWs at Drydocks World.

Another Dubai World affiliate, the DP World, which is accredited to two Philippine recruitment agencies, is not included in the loan restructuring efforts.

Meanwhile, Istithmar World and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre have few OFWs processed on a name hire basis.  They are not accredited to any Philippine recruitment agencies.