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  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.