Millions of Filipinos leave the country to find a descent living in foreign lands. Approximately, there are nearly 11 millions of OFWs worldwide. Majority of them are domestic helpers and personal service workers. Others work as doctors, physical therapists, nurses, accountants, IT professionals, engineers, architects, entertainers, technicians, teachers, military servicemen, seafarers, students and caregivers.
Significantly, they had contributed a lot to the Philippine economy. In 2009, about US$17.348 billion in remittances was sent to the Philippines by overseas Filipino representing 13.5% of the country’s GDP.
More than 4 million OFWs are in the United States and 500 thousands are in Canada.
Europe became a working place and an alternative home for Filipinos. The UNited Kingdom is home to around 200,000 OFWs, while Italy has 131,000 Filipino migrants. Spain has 40,000; Greece , 40,000; Ireland, 11,500 and Norway, 12,000.
Australia has 127, 000 and New Zealand has 17, 000.
In our Asian neighboring countries, most OFWs are in Japan, 250,000; Singapore, over 150,000; Hongkong 140,000; Taiwan, 160,000 and South Korea, over 70,000;
Filipinos make up about 30% of the entire population of Sabah and they enumerate up to 900,000. They work in construction industries, fisheries, and other labor intensive sectors in hopes of a better living. Sad to say, they squatted in slum areas.
In the desert, we have more than 2 millions of OFWs mostly in Saudi Arabia and UAE. 3,000 mostly men working in military bases in Iraq. As many as 30,000 OFWs are in Lebanon. 28,000 OFWs are in Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen. These countries are in political unrest.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda urged the government to pass a P750 million emergency supplemental budget for the repatriation of OFWs in the affected mid-east countries.
Statistics show that there are 669,042 OFWs in the Middle East of which 28,000 Filipinos are working in Libya with 10,383; Bahrain – 15,001; Yemen – 1,417 and Egypt with 483 Filipino workers. These countries are currently under volatile political situation.
With the repatriation of 28,000 OFWs in the Middle East, the country would loss $112 million in yearly remittances which could give a negative impact to the country’s economy.
At least the Aquino government aimed at “Zero Casualty” among our OFWs who were caught by the rising conflict in the Middle East.
As of today, our forced balikbayans continue to surge in the NAIA terminal. Thanks God, they are home safe now. Some went home unpaid of their salaries. They are getting at least P10,000 from OWWA and a promise that there are jobs waiting for them in the Philippines.
It is a sad reality, that Filipinos get greener pasture in foreign lands. The Philippines is endowed with rich natural resources and skilled human race but cannot earn descent living here! Why?
While Philippines is said to be a champion of freedom and democracy, it is evident that people do not enjoy the material blessings of a free economy because of unbridled corruption in the government.
Rich countries in Middle East are fighting to overthrow dictatorship in their governments, but the Philippines is impliedly suffering totalitarianism in most local governance.
How many decades our local governance mostly in far flung provinces is being controlled by few, rich families? In reality, it seems that position in the government is something that is inherited. Are our leaders being elected based on their performance? Or, is it because they have more pesos to buy votes during election?
If our leaders performed well, there were no 11 million Filipinos who submit to be enslaved abroad in exchange of bread and honey.
Our desire is to see our people transformed into a group of performance-oriented community who install leaders based on what they achieved and what they can contribute for the betterment of the country.
I believe in the saying, “What starts well, ends well.” If we want a truly prosperous community, we should start promoting clean and good governance now!