Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hard Times Sugarcoated

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Inquirer Opinion/Letters To The Editor
Posted date: October 11, 2008

This refers to the news story titled “From now on, call them expats, not OFWs.” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10/8/08) By suggesting that we should call our overseas Filipino workers “expatriates” because “the nature of their job is increasingly more on skilled professions,” and “expatriates usually get higher pay,” Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vainly attempts to deny the fact that the majority of OFWs are in difficult working conditions. The sugarcoated term “expatriates” tends to obscure the connotation of OFWs being overworked and lowly paid like the millions of domestic helpers.

In fact, in the face of the current financial crisis, OFWs in the United States, Europe and elsewhere are forced to look for more than two to three jobs just to sustain their support for their families back home.

Filipino migrant workers are victims of the government’s failure to ensure jobs, job security and decent wages at home. OFW remittances are keeping the country’s economy afloat thus, the Labor Export Program of the Arroyo administration is designed to keep promoting Filipino labor migration. Hosting this year’s Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) is one big opportunity for Ms Arroyo to further advertise English-speaking, highly-skilled and cheap Filipino labor.

Filipino nurses work as highly paid caregivers in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Middle East and New Zealand; ironically, there is a shortage of health workers in the Philippines. In New Zealand, almost every rest home employs one Filipino nurse or caregiver. Many of them are victims of exorbitant fees and bond agreements that confine them to work in isolated rest homes. Filipinos who work in Vodafone and Telecom Network, New Zealand’s two leading telecom companies, mostly come from PLDT, Bayantel and Sky Cable companies.

Filipinos are forced to work abroad at the expense of leaving their loved ones, facing the risks of having misguided children and broken families. No thanks to a hopelessly corrupt government that fails to generate jobs at home, steals the people’s hard-earned incomes, and neglects the OFWs who are suffering abuses and indignities abroad.

DENNIS MAGA, National Coordinator, Migrante New Zealand

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