By SHIANEE MAMANGLU
It could take a year for Filipino construction workers to determine whether or not they can still be deployed to work in Guam, a recruitment official said Saturday.
Guam earlier announced its plan to hire at least 25,000 foreign workers, including Filipinos over the next five years starting in 2010 in view of some $15 billion worth of new investments and the transfer of the US bases in Okinawa, wherein 8,000 marines and its 9,000 dependents are based.
The relocation plan of the Marine base to a safer place in the US island territory was part of a 2006 treaty between Tokyo and Washington.
In September last year, however, newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama immediately halted the planned transfer of the marine base and called for a review of the 2006 pact, thus straining ties with the US.
He also formed a committee to look at all possible alternative locations for Futenma’s operations.
The Japan prime minister had acknowledged that at least part of Futenma Marine airfield would remain in Okinawa, which hosts more than half of the 47,000 American troops based in Japan.
Emmanuel Geslani said the decision of Hatoyama was not good news to some 20,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were supposed to be deployed this year based on the initial agreement between the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Guam legislators and businessmen.
“This means there will be no deployment this year or until such time the rift between Tokyo and Washington is patched up soon,’’ Geslani told the Bulletin.
“This will also certainly scuttle any plans of recruitment agencies to deploy Filipino construction workers to Guam by 2010,’’ he added.
Geslani claimed that following initial talks between the POEA and Guam legislators and businessmen, recruitment agencies have already been pooling manpower for the various construction activities.
Aside from construction workers, he said that healthcare professionals such as nurses and therapists would have been deployed as well to man new hospitals for the marines and their dependents.
The migration expert said that higher wages and benefits with US and Japanese constructors were the main reasons why OFWs want to work in Guam.
Geslani, however, warned OFWs that there are no large job orders for Guam except for a few selected agencies who have existing employers in that island for new projects designed to accommodate the incoming new residents