How can the Aquino government declare better opportunities for OFWs here at home when it has further tailored the public education system for a more aggressive labor export program?” – Migrante International
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Migrante International belied claims of the Aquino administration that overseas Filipino workers are returning to the country to find work.
“The Aquino government’s claims are baseless, if not utterly false and deliberately deceiving. How can the Aquino government declare better opportunities for OFWs here at home when it has further tailored the public education system for a more aggressive labor export program?” Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, said.
Martinez added that the “K + 12 means more OFW deployment abroad and the Aquino government is starting them young.”
Labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the government is expecting more Filipinos to return to the country to find more lucrative jobs. She said in reports that several companies are now able to provide compensation and benefits comparable to what OFWs are receiving abroad.
“I think we are seeing a rise in the entertainment industry, within that sector… we are seeing a reverse migration because of the high-end quality jobs being offered by these firms,” Baldoz said in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.
She added in the same report that, “I think the momentum for the economic team that the President normally brings on his official travels is to really focus on manufacturing firms as a top priority investment because of the long term and more stable jobs they offer workers.”
Martinez, for his part, said such pronouncements contradict the government’s K+12, adding that “the real motive behind the K to 12 education system is the intensification of labor export, this time systematically targeting the country’s young labor force.”
K+12 geared for labor migration
Migrante International said the government is contradicting itself on the supposed generation of jobs locally. The OFW group said that K + 12 education program is “geared mainly towards exporting labor for the global market.”
Specialized Senior High Program of K+12, Martinez said, will focus on a curriculum that will “enable students to acquire Certificates of Competency (COCs) and National Certifications (NCs)…in accordance with TESDA Training Regulations.”
Migrante International said young workers, mostly semi-skilled, make up about 10.7 percent of the total Filipino labor migration population.
“What the K to 12 system is doing is boosting cheap semi-skilled youth labor. The DepEd talks of a so-called ‘professionalization’ of the young labor force mainly for labor markets abroad but unfortunately continues to ignore the very causes of forced migration, namely, lack of local jobs, low wages, landlessness and poor social services,” said Martinez.
Migrante Middle East coordinator John Monterona, for his part, said the Aquino government should prepare instead for the “large scale reverse migration” of OFWs in the coming months in light of the crackdown on migrant workers in the Middle East.
At least 120,000 OFWs, according to Monterona, is affected by the Saudization policy in Saudi Arabia. This includes 28,000 undocumented OFWs.
Since the crackdown began, the OFW group said only about 200 OFWs from Saudi Arabia has been repatriated.
“Unfortunately, OFWs’ reverse migration phenomenon has been interpreted wrongly by the current administration and its labor honchos to bolster their claim of economic growth, which we expect Aquino to cite during his State of the Nation Address next month,” Monterona said in a statement.
“But, it’s a cheap shot and a mere spin,” he added.
He said that it is impossible to reconcile “reverse migration for good” with the country’s high unemployment rate.
Ibon Foundation said the last three years of the Aquino administration is marred with by a dramatic “slowing in job creation.”
“This is affirmed by the recently released labor force data which shows a 21,000 decrease in employed Filipinos to 37.819 million in April 2013 from 37.840 in the same period last year,” Ibon Foundation said in their report.
Ibon Foundation said that unemployment and underemployment has increased by more than a million under the Aquino administration.
“There were 11.884 million unemployed and underemployed Filipinos in April 2013 compared to 10.877 million in April 2010, or a 1.008 million increase in the last three years of increasingly rapid growth,” Ibon said, “Ibon estimates that the real unemployment rate in April is 10.9%, the highest in the last three years, on top of an underemployment rate of 19.2% which remains markedly higher than the 15.6% reported in the same period a decade ago in 2003.”
Monterona said, “Who does not want reverse migration for good? Yes, we still hope for it. But this will never happen if the country has only superficial GDP growth that only a few rich –the local big businessmen and multinational corporations -gain from it.”