SONA lacked plan for OFWs –- Loren Legarda
Last updated 12:41pm (Mla time) 07/25/2007

Sen. Loren Legarda laments Malacañang’s “lack of responsive strategy” to deal with the rapidly growing overseas employment of Filipinos.


“We were definitely counting on the President to present a purposeful and viable strategy with respect to overseas employment. Sadly, the President made no mention of this at all in her State-of-the-Nation Address,” Legarda said.


The President did not mention migrant Filipino workers in her speech except in passing, when she said that the country’s business process outsourcing industry is seen to generate $12 billion in annual revenues by 2010, “the same amount remitted by our overseas Filipinos today.”


“Labor migration is unstoppable. This is not just a function of poverty and joblessness here, but also of globalization – of an increasingly borderless world,” Legarda pointed out.


The senator stressed the need for government to come up with a “conscious strategy” to handle the more than a million Filipinos workers who continue to leave the country every year in search of greener pasture overseas.


“Our point is that if we cannot stop labor migration, government might as well manage the trend, and make sure that outbound Filipinos are directed to the best possible labor markets overseas, where they will enjoy the strongest protection and the greatest possible reward for their skills,” Legarda said.


“We may also have to deliberately push open new lucrative labor markets abroad, while ensuring that those who leave for overseas jobs are armed with adequate skills that will ultimately provide them a solid defense against abuse,” she added.


A total of 1.1 million Filipinos left the country to work abroad last year alone and a total of 564,320 Filipinos left for overseas employment from January 1 to July 11 this year, according to figures from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).


Meanwhile, Legarda welcomed government’s reported huge investments in public infrastructures, particularly in transport systems, to which the President devoted a considerable portion of her address.


“The challenge now is not just to quickly complete these transport projects, but more importantly, to make sure that these will actually result in cheaper farm and fishery produce – to more affordable food – on the table of every Filipino household,” Legarda said.


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