The $21 billion in OFW remittances sent to the country last year came mostly from factory workers laboring in richer Asian countries and maids deployed all over the world. And they are hardest hit by the continued strengthening of the peso against the US dollars. “Claims by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that increasing remittances are sent by highly paid professionals and skilled workers are simply not supported by facts,” revealed Lito Soriano, a leader of the organization of recruitment agencies representing the OFWs in the Competitive Exchange Rate coalition. “We are now deploying more and more factory workers and domestic helpers than professionals,” he pointed out. In 2010 alone, he said that deployment agencies failed to fill up 63,223 jobs for professionals, mostly engineers, and 100,153 highly skilled workers. The bulk of filled up jobs were those of unskilled factory workers and lowly paid domestic helpers. They were mostly women. In the seventies and eighties when I was working in Saudi Arabia, there were no women OFWs. Today, OFWs are mostly women who are most vulnerable in foreign countries, he observed. Domestics in Hongkong, for instance, are paid an average of $400 a month which, in peso terms, was equivalent to P20,000 when the peso-dollar rate was P50-$1. It is now worth P16,000 or P4,000 less at P40-$1 exchange rate. To a rural family with the mother working as DH, that is a loss of more than two cavans of rice a month, Soriano said. This trend of declining deployment of professionals and highly skilled workers has been going on for more than a decade now, Soriano explained, flashing figures he culled from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. The deployment trend, he added, is reflective of the state of the Philippine economy where there are fewer and fewer industries left that train qualified professionals and highly skilled workers. “We cannot deploy engineers whose local work experience is in call centers,” he emphasized. They simply redeploy the same professionals who had gone abroad in the past.
Reposted– Abe P. Belena, PHILEXPORT News and Features