Aquino: PH can find work for OFWs to be displaced in the Middle East
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Benigno Aquino III said the Philippine government will be able to find employment for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) based in Saudi Arabia and Iran who might get displaced should tensions escalate in the region.
The President on Friday, January 8, cited Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz's assurance that the country has the capacity to absorb displaced OFWs and “get them gainfully employed in case all of them are repatriated.”
Tensions are rising in the Middle East because of the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which erupted with the execution of Shiite cleric Sheik Nimr al-Nimr. (READ: Timeline of the latest Iran-Saudi crisis)
Aquino said about 23% of the opportunities to be offered will include jobs as household workers and caregivers in Japan, positions open following Japan’s promise to the Philippines during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit to open its doors to Filipino domestic workers.
“So 'yung walang pangamba si Secretary Baldoz na 'yung kung kakailanganin ay makaka-provide ang gobyerno ng retraining at saka job placement [for] these returning countrymen of ours,” said Aquino.
(Secretary Badoz is not worried because, if needed, the government will be able to provide retraining and job placement services for these returning countrymen of ours.)
Latest statistics from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration show that, as of 2014, 885,541 Filipinos are working in the Middle East, with 402,837 in Saudi Arabia and 188 in Iran.
OFW advocate Susan “Toots” Ople said in a news briefing on Friday that 4 OFWs based in Najran, Saudi Arabia, are seeking the help of the Philippine government for their repatriation.
Crisis has ‘cascading effect’ on OFWs
According to Ople, there would be economic implications for the Philippines should the crisis in the Middle East worsen.
“'Yung isa na nakikita namin 'yung economic implications dito kasi 'pag may mga government contracts na 'di matuloy, ma-defer, o kaya ma-delay ang payments dahil sa austerity measures ng Saudi government, may cascading effect 'yan dun sa mga workers natin, dun sa mga agencies na nag-deploy sa kanila,” said Ople.
(We see economic implications because when government contracts get discontinued, deferred, or delayed due to austerity measures from the Saudi government, there’s a cascading effect to our workers and the agencies that deployed them.)
She suggested the Philippine government identifies the sectors that may possibly be affected so it can prepare the proper response measures for the OFWs and their recruiters.
Focus at home first
Emmanuel Geslani, recruitment and migration expert, said on Sunday that contrary to Aquino's claims, the Philippines does not have the capacity to find work for Middle East-based OFWs who may be displaced.
He cited Saudi Arabia's recent announcement saying that it will reduce its reliance on foreign workers.
"The country should first concentrate on the looming scenario or many OFWs [will lose] their jobs in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries over the plummeting prices of crude oil now directly affecting economies of Gulf Countries in the Middle East," Geslani said in a statement.
The Samahang Pilipino in Afghanistan spokesperson added that the Philippine government should first focus on providing jobs for the millions of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos back home "before even bragging that the country can absorb the over ine Million OFWs in the Kingdom who all have good paying jobs and adequate welfare benefits." – Rappler.com
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As a bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.