If only

DESPITE the volatile situation in Iran and Iraq, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Western Visayas working in these two Middle Eastern countries were not keen on returning home, this paper reported yesterday. They were on a “wait and see” mode, according to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

If only there are jobs available in the country, no Filipino will go abroad, no family will be broken, no children will be left by their mothers. The lack of jobs and land to till in rural areas are the reasons why Filipinos risk life and limb just to work abroad.

In 1995, the Magna Carta for Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos was enacted. Also known as Republic Act 8042, it institutes policies for the promotion and protection of the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos. However, several administrations have passed and OFWs are still at risk not only in the hands of their employers but also in raging wars in countries like those in the Middle East and North Africa.

In truth, the protection is just in paper. The reality is that the dangerous “labor export policy” of the nation is being intensified because the remittances of OFWs contribute to the country’s economy.

Past and present experiences have revealed the bankruptcy of the labor export policy. What the present government needs to address is real job creation in the country. The challenge to the government is to create more jobs for the people. Nothing short of the reversal of the present system will put an end to forced migration.

There are already some 12 million Filipino workers around the world, and an estimated 4,500 OFWs leave daily to work abroad. For as long as there is poverty, no domestic jobs available, and prices of commodities continue to soar sky-high, Filipinos will be forced to seek employment abroad despite the dangers. It’s a never-ending vicious cycle that will only end if fundamental reforms are in place.


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