Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas today reported that a total of 933,588 documented OFWs were deployed in some 190 countries worldwide in 2004. She said that for the first time, global OFW deployment breached the 900,000-level as traditional destinations (like Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Italy, Singapore, Qatar, and the United Kingdom), and emerging markets worldwide, both maintained their demand and preferences for OFWs.

Amidst the development, the labor and employment chief voiced confidence that the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) shall touch the one million mark, or even surpass it, in 2005. She said the DOLE’s projection is supported by the fact that the 2004 deployment figure is only 66,412 below the one million-level.

Her report was supported by developments that affirmed the OFW’ great productive role as follows: a) total OFW remittances reached US$8.5 billion in 2004 confirming the DOLE’s projections; b) the Philippines has been delisted from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) anti-money laundering list thus boosting sound remittance channels, and, c) OFWs continued to be in demand in both emerging and traditional markets around the globe.

“To ensure that the goals for 2005 are met, the DOLE and POEA, in cooperation with the legitimate private recruitment industry of the country, shall be conducting high-level marketing missions to tap and strengthen OFW markets,” the labor and employment chief said.

Accordingly, she said that the DOLE shall proceed with the 2nd International Employers Awards and the International Jobs Fair within the year, while it will lead the quarterly marketing forum for private recruitment agencies, and actively promote, and sustain OFW services.

She said that based on these strengths, “our plan to stay the course and stay on top has a multiple goal, to wit: a) maintain and boost our strengths in the traditional markets of OFWs; b) tap effectively the new and emerging markets; c) sustain our efforts to ensure the welfar,e and reintegration programs, for the benefit of OFWs and their families; and, d) redouble our efforts against illegal recruiters in order to neutralize their nefarious tendencies.”

Sto. Tomas, citing the POEA’s Marketing Plan for 2005, stressed that “to generate an additional 65,000 overseas jobs, we are aiming for new and additional opportunities” in the following markets: 1) Israel for caregivers, tourism, and construction workers; 2) Macau for hotel and other workers; 3) Singapore for teachers; 3) Australia, Norway, Trinidad and Tobago, and South Africa for health care workers; 4) the Cayman Islands for restaurant workers, and the Bahamas for medical and skilled workers; 5) the United Kingdom for social workers, and physical and occupational therapists; 6) Kazakhstan for technical and professional workers in the oil, energy, and construction sectors; and, 7) Iran for skilled workers.

Sto. Tomas had been apprised by POEA Administrator Rosalinda D. Baldoz on some of the encouraging developments in both the land- and sea-based sectors in 2005 as follows: a) in the land-based sector, the Employment Permit System (EPS) of Korea will be a “sure source of more jobs for Filipino workers as we see a 200 percent rise over last year’s deployment figure surpassing 900 together with smoother hiring procedures;” b) the Special Hiring Program for Taiwan will “take off for higher ground to generate at least 1,000 jobs for production workers;” and, c) on the maritime front, the deployment of seafarers on board ocean-going ships shall continue to grow by at least six percent worldwide in 2005

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