6 November 2013
Abandon labor exportation amidst Saudization, group urges PNoy
‘Right time for GRP to abandon labor export program, to invest in local job generation through genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization’
Thus, said today by the Filipino migrant rights group Migrante-Middle East and North Africa (M-MENA) upon analysing the number of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) yearly deployment based on the statistics released by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), an adjunct agency to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), which serves as the primary labor exportation arm of the Philippine government.
“Since the re-intensification of Saudization in 2010 through Nitaqat scheme, Saudi Arabia’s protectionist labor program that aims to localize Saudi’s labor market made available to the growing numbers of unemployed and underemployed Saudis, we have conservatively estimated around 120,000 OFWs sent back home directly affected by Saudization,” said M-MENA coordinator John Leonard Monterona.
Monterona added the number of OFWs affected by Saudization is expected to increase as the Saudi authorities resumed rounding up of undocumented migrant workers on November 4, a day after the November 3 deadline imposed by the Saudi govt. to all ‘illegal’ and overstaying migrants either to correct their status or leave the Kingdom.
“Aside from the 7,000 to 10,000 stranded OFWs seeking govt. assistance for repatriation since April 2013, there are 40,000 to 60,000 documented OFWs in Saudi Arabia who will be either directly or indirectly affected by Saudization especially those working in sales, marketing, banking, and other office-based job categories which will soon be occupied by Saudis,” Monterona added.
Monterona added, “The Saudi govt. is on track implementing Saudization which is actually the gradual phase out of its labor importation. Saudi Arabia has been dependent on the services of expatriate workers, mostly Asians including Filipino workers, for more than 4 decades now, but its government is dead serious to correct this.”
Monterona took note the number of new hire OFWs in Saudi Arabia from 2008 to 2012 that indicated a dwindling pattern as seen on the attached table taken from POEA released 2008-2012 Overseas Employment Statistics:
Number of Deployed Landbased OFWs (New hires only) in KSA from 2008 to 2012
Data showed a decrease in OFWs (new hires) deployment in Saudi Arabia during the years 2010 and 2011 with 6% respectively, compared from the preceding year; however OFWs new hire deployment rebounded on 2012 totalling 115,289, with 2,641 additional new hires, compared to 112,648 of the previous year (2011).
“Noting that the Saudi govt. has intensified Saudization this year, we are expecting a drop of new hire OFWs deployment to about 4% to 6% from the previous year,” Monterona predicted.
Monterona said given that Saudi Arabia has been the No.1 destination of OFWs for more than 3 decades now and rank number 3 in terms of the amount of remittances sent to the Philippines yearly, the PH govt. should take seriously the dwindling of OFWs deployment amid gradual Saudi labor importation phase out.
“We have been hearing from the previous administrations and this time from Pres. Aquino III so much rhetoric about ending forced migration and ‘migration as a choice’ becoming a reality. Undeniably, like the previous administrations, PNoy has not done any substantial efforts to ending forced migration, instead it intensified the peddling of Filipino labor as cheap as of commodities for export,” Monterona averred.
Monterona said there is one right option for the PNoy administration to do -that is to seriously invest in local employment generation through genuine implementation of agrarian reform program and national industrialization.
“The billions of congressional pork allocations, the presidential and special funds including the funds for Malacanang-invented Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and other lump sum allocations under the direct control of the president would be better spent in implementing genuine agrarian reform and related support services to our farmers alongside the building and strengthening of PH basic industries towards nationalized operation that recognize labor as a primary economic force in contrast to the view that labor is a mere object of alienation by the government controlled by exploitative monopoly-capitalists class,” Monterona concluded. # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Coordinator, Migrante-Middle East
Mobile No. 09399489080