Incoming NEDA chief eyes more local jobs, less OFWs

Incoming National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Ernesto Pernia on Monday said the Philippines should aspire to be like South Korea and Thailand, countries that no longer need to send overseas workers.

“If you recall in South Korea and Thailand, these were temporary, stop gap measures in the early stage of development because they wanted to address their employment problems,” Pernia said in a news conference in Davao City.

“But now, there is no more urgency for them or necessity or need for these countries to have overseas workers,” he added. “We should try to achieve that kind of situation as soon as possible.”

Pernia said the economic team of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte would strive to generate more jobs so as overseas employment would be an option and not a necessity for Filipino workers.

“But I guess if we can create more jobs here in the domestic economy, then the motivation of our countrymen to go abroad will be diminished,” he said. “I think the policy ought to be to try to generate more jobs here so the desire to go abroad will be lessened.”

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) is estimated at 2.4 million based on a survey conducted from April 1 to September 30, 2015.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in June 2015 reported that OFWs around the world sent $26.92 billion (P1.20 trillion) to the Philippines in 2014.

Pernia, during the press briefing of Duterte’s economic team, listed many downsides of working overseas, among them the injustices committed against the OFW by his or her recruiter or employer.

“You know that many of our OFWs especially our female members of OFWs tend to be abused,” he said. “Even from getting contracts from recruiters, they are already abused.”

“And when they are already in place at their employment destination, it’s not really a happy situation for our OFWs especially the lower level OFWs. I think many of them would rather work here,” Pernia added.

He also said that it is never a happy sight to see children being displaced because of parents who need to go abroad to work to support them.

“There is also a problem here with the children being displaced and they lack attention and they get into drugs. It’s a social cost. It’s a huge social cost, this OFW system,” he pointed out.


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