by KBK, GMANews.TV
Overseas Filipinos have asked President-apparent Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to work toward self-sufficiency and the creation of local jobs so that migration would no longer be a “forced option.”
In an open letter circulating on the Internet, the group Overseas Filipinos Worldwide said the advent of a new administration is a good time to examine where the country is heading regarding its migration policies.
“Shall we continue to send out our people and rely on remittances without any development objectives in sight?” wrote the letter’s signatories, which included organizations like Habagat Foundation and Damayang Pilipino in The Netherlands; the Social Enterprise Development Partnerships, Inc.; and the Wimler Partnership for Social Progress in Hongkong.
Individual signatories include Filipinos from the US, Germany, Luxembourg and Saudi Arabia.
The group said government-managed deployment of Filipino workers abroad has resulted in dire social costs, such as the continued loss of talents to overseas work and dysfunctional families.
They urged the next government to set up long-term migration goals, even as they encouraged that urgent migration and deployment issues be addressed in the meantime.
The group posed six suggestions to the incoming administration:
1. Migration and remittances should be only temporary measures in preparation for self-sufficiency, where Filipinos will no longer take migration as a “forced option.” The group said this must be integrated in the government’s Medium-Term Development Plans formulated by the National Economic Development Authority;
2. A Special Presidential Adviser on Migration and Development should be created to work with a technical working group, to come up with updated situationers and policy recommendations so that remittances and migrant resources can be tapped to develop local economies. The social costs of migration should likewise be addressed by facilitating return migration, and providing incentives for OFW investments various fields;
3. The performance of government agencies in charge of migrant workers, such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), and the Department of Foreign Affairs;
4. The disposition and administration of the $25-fee for OWWA membership, which forms a trust fund estimated to be around P10 billion, should be more transparent following accusations of mismanagement. The group thus called on OWWA to impose more strict criteria in the process of selecting people who will sit in the Board of Trustees. OWWA proceedings should likewise be made transparent and open to public scrutiny, particularly the investment of the trust funds;
5. The work of the CFO and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs should be looked into, and the appropriate level of funds and support should be given to the two agencies; and
6. A nationwide program on financial literacy should be institutionalized so that OFWs may be able to use their incomes productively.
The group promised their continued support to Aquino as they noted that his campaign on good governance—better access to health, education, employment and livelihood, and business opportunities for all—seemed to be on the right track. –