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Philippine workers seek new work destinations
April 28, 2018, 4:29 pm

Recent atrocities against Filipino workers in the Middle-East has prompted the Philippines government to seek other attractive deployment destinations for its workers. Russia and China along with several countries in Europe are just some of the promising destinations for Filipinos looking for jobs abroad, said the Head of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Bernard Olalia in a recent interview.

“Russia is opening their market for the first time to the Philippines, and they want a government-to-government deployment scheme, just like what we did with China,” said Mr. Olalia. He added that Russia is hiring skilled workers in construction and services and China is asking the Philippines to send over 2,000 English teachers this year. He also revealed that the Czech Republic and San Marino were also negotiating labor deals with the Philippines.

Money sent back by millions of overseas Filipino workers has for decades been a mainstay of the economy and has helped support the Philippine Peso. According to the latest World Bank report, in 2017, Filipino workers sent home an estimated $33 billion, the third highest inward remittance in the world, just behind India and China.

The remittances accounted for about 10 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product, and formed the second largest source of foreign exchange after export earnings. H

owever, with exports falling, the authorities are depending on remittances to shore up the peso, which has lost more than 4 percent against the dollar, and has been the worst-performing currency in Asia, so far this year. The Middle East remains the largest destination for land-based workers with more than 1 million deployed in 2016, and accounting for 63 percent of the total.

But the brutal killing of a domestic worker, whose body was found stuffed in a freezer in Kuwait, pushed President Rodrigo Duterte to order a deployment ban to the Arab state since February. The Philippines is flexing its muscle to protect workers in other Middle Eastern countries amid cases of employer abuse.

“We don’t mind advising the President to impose a deployment ban in countries where our Filipino workers are suffering so much, like Kuwait,” Mr. Olalia said. He pointed out that the outlook for labor demand is strong and deployment will keep growing.

Aging populations are prompting Japan and South Korea to place more job orders for Filipino health workers, while Singapore is looking to hire in its technology sector. According to Olalia, the administration’s policy now is to focus on skilled workers and professionals, whose working conditions are significantly better than that of domestic workers, who formed the main segment that was exploited by Middle-East employers.

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